Oct 22, 2012

Friends in the worst of times?

It isn't that hard to find a friend to hold you up when you're at the lowest of times. If you're in the darkest of moments, those around you would be concerned; they wouldn't want you to land yourself in anything stupid, and they'd be concerned, they'd give you a hug, listen to you cry.

But that's just the deepest point in a valley. It's dramatic and people don't want you to die, so they'd feel obligated to be there for you. Those who show up during the hardest of times are definitely true pals, but don't forget the ones who notice and are there with you in the points leading up to the lowest, darkest moment, as well as those who bother to follow through that, who are there with you in the weeks you spend climbing out.

There are those who sense that something isn't right before you hit the bottom, who bother listening to your whines the whole long way down. Weiliang, for example, listened to my emo rants for a whole year before the real hurt arrived, at all the points leading up to the pit.

And there are those those who keep on checking if you're okay after that period of deepest darkness, making sure you don't fall back in. Alex was also prominently there for me at my lowest point, and he also saw me through every day of my upward crawl, sending me lovely quotes and great encouragements every single day for weeks leading up to the A's, making sure I was doing fine.

Those who are there for us before and after the worst of times are those we often forget to be grateful for. They're the ones who know we're not doing all that badly yet, but still make the effort to help us feel better. They're truly selfless, too.

Oct 20, 2012

Day 5 and I'm stranded

After lunch, Aunty Sian drops me off at the train station to try and get a refund for my ticket (to no avail). And then I'm off on my own, map in hand, determined to check out at least two museums.

I stray into a clothes store.

Forty-five minutes fly by and I'm still trying to convince myself not to get the beautiful Christmas cards. (Will have to sell some away, just a heads-up, they're REALLY PRETTY) I instantly fall in love with a wallet. And then it's drizzling outside, so I hop in and out of shops - from Next to River Island to Fatface. And then I'm like shucks it's almost four-thirty I need to get to the museums before they close!!! And then Mum reminds me that I'm supposed to Skype her, so I spend another twenty minutes in Starbucks. And then half an hour in Boots trying to decide on which face moisturiser to get. And WAIT TWELVE POUNDS FOR BURBERRY WEEKEND?! I spray it on my wrist and love it, and fall into the buy-or-not-buy dilemma again. And then I decide that I really need to get to the Ashmolean Museum.

I spend about forty-five minutes there and cover the basement. Gotta go back there soon. And then it's almost 6pm so I decide to head to Castle Street where I'm supposed to take the bus back to the vineyard.

- Okay, actual rant about interesting experience starts here -

So the bus arrives at 6.15pm - strange, the electronic guide said it was supposed to arrive in 24 minutes -  but I decide not to take it because I'll arrive at the bus stop before Aunty Sian and Uncle Richard get home, so they won't be able to pick me up from the bus stop, and in the dark, I'd rather wait at a lit, crowded bus stop near the city centre than at a completely unlit, deserted bus stop in the countryside.

A kind girl directs me to the bus timings schedule, and it turns out that the bus is scheduled to arrive at 5.50pm, 6.20pm and 7.20pm. So the bus that I deliberately missed was probably the 6.20 bus, and now I have to wait till 7.20. Argh!

I wait at the bus stop for another fifteen minutes looking at the electronic guide to see if they'll tell me when exactly the next bus will arrive, but my bus number never appears on the screen. At about 6.40 I give up and assume that the next bus will arrive at 7.20, so I make my way to a nearby restaurant to get a £5 burger meal -


I say "shit" out loud and walk back towards the bus stop (for what?) and wonder what bus that was - the actual 6.20 bus, or the 7.20 bus, the last one. I stay at the bus stop and stare at the screen for fifteen long minutes (that's sixty seconds times fifteen of standing there craning my neck, mind you), hoping that my bus number will appear on the screen - if it doesn't, that might have been the last bus of the day.

Okay, okay, calm down now. Sniff your wrist. It smells so pretty. Gotta get that Burberry perfume.

Finally, at about 6.55, my bus number appears on the screen! It says it's arriving in 27 minutes - someone near me exclaims "twenty-seven minutes?!" - but I don't know how reliable that is since the count was 24 minutes off just now, so I decide to just sit there and wait until it arrives, so that I don't miss it again.

It's cold now, and the sky is dark. The crowd at the bus stop has now been reduced to two, including me. All my Whatsapp conversations have stopped - it's sleep-time in Singapore. Battery's low, so I switch off my 3G. Cut off. Now, I think, this is the kind of scene that is supposed to fuel some emo blog post - memories are supposed to be flooding me and I'm supposed to be all gloomy and wistful now - but there's not a hint of any of that. I'm cold and I need my bus to arrive. I look at the bar nearby and wonder if I should risk going in and grabbing a bite, so I wait for my bus number to pop up on the screen again, just to be sure.

After forever, the screen displays my bus number again. 19 minutes. That gives me until about 7.15pm. I go into that bar and check out their food and the burger meal's also £5, so I order one and ask if I can do a takeaway. "No, we don't do takeaways... The burger takes about ten minutes to make..." I'm like ARGH NO SERIOUSLY and my phone says 7.07pm so I say ah nevermind and rush back out. And the screen says 14 minutes more -.-

Cold, cold, where's my bus, and then FINALLY it says the bus is "due"! I'm so relieved that I even take a photo of it.

And I wait, and wait, and wait, and the bus doesn't arrive for at least another five minutes. Finally it comes and I get on. One stop later, these men get on and one of them goes, "So I was waiting for the 6.20 bus and I missed one that came at 6.15, and then I tried to get the timings for the next one but the system wasn't responding, so I walked into (eating place) and then I saw the bus go right past me! So I had to wait an hour for this bus!" I turned around and said that it happened to me, too. "Yeah, what a donkey, ey. Hate it," he said in that English accent.

I almost miss my stop at the countryside - everything's totally dark outside so I really wouldn't have known where to get off if I had not walked to the front and asked. When I get off, it's a starless, moonless sky, and the only lights come from the red traffic lights and the small Shell station sign (not the station itself) a distance away. I turn on my iPhone flashlight so that I can see where I'm walking. My breath makes that fog thing. I'm shivering. I'm carrying my coat, but I can't stop and put down my stuff and put it on when it's almost pitch dark. Being cold while your coat's draped over your arm - it's like thirsting to death in a boat in the middle of the sea.

As I'm heading towards the petrol station (where there's light), I hear someone call out to me. It's Uncle Richard! I cross the street and make my way to him. I'm all shivering and jittery in the car.

"So how was it?"
"Man, that was... an experience."
"A bad one?"
"An interesting one."

Oct 19, 2012

Reflections on what Christianity means

This will be a quick one, because lunch's coming soon.

A few months ago someone asked me why I was a Christian and how different my outlook on life would be without God. For me, knowing that there was something bigger than this life was so important because things weren't an end in itself. I mean, we dream to impact people and change lives, leave a mark when we pass away, but these people we impact will pass away too, and there are six billion people in the world right now, and if once you die everything about you vanishes with a poof and everybody else vanishes with a poof and the whole world will one day die away, then what's the point of this endless cycle of creation to death? Basically, God gave me meaning in life - life here is merely a preparation for an eternity with Him. It doesn't matter if I'm a law student who dropped out in my final semester or a kid who never does well academically or a businessman who loses everything overnight. What is success but transient? Bigger things await, and the key is in how you take what God has given you to glorify Him, whether success or failure, big or small.

I saw it as a selfish reason, though - my relationship with God was something I needed to have meaning in life. What if I was just holding on to a piece of philosophy because I found comfort in it? What was the point?

Right now, when I question myself again, I realise I've had another way of looking at this for quite some time. Right now, God, to me, very obviously exists. I just can't deny it. Whether it's the God of the Christians or Muslims or Jews, it's a higher power in control, one that created everything and whom I can feel. Being  a Christian, to me, doesn't simply mean acknowledging that God exists and believing in Jesus; it means wanting to have a relationship with this God. You could acknowledge that God exists and yet not be a Christian; believing doesn't mean wanting to take the time to cultivate a relationship. As a human being, as something with life, love, compassion and goodness wired into me - along with the capacity to sin and areas where I fall drastically short, I am a testimony of God's work. As a body with life - not just a mass of cells - I am proof that God exists. Being a Christian just means I want to be with Him.

Oct 15, 2012

UK Day 1: Oxford

We're in London! And as I look down at the mass of buildings I think, there are so many people. How can there be so many buildings in one city? How many business, families, schools, just so many people and this is just one city -
And think, every single one of them knows Justin Bieber.

I mean, Michael Jackson, sure, practically the entire world knows him, and he was a legend. He deserved it. But Bieber? It's just...not right.

I walk out of the airport and realise I haven't cut off the Espirit label on my jacket.

I narrowly miss the bus to Oxford twice, so I'm stuck here for an hour. I step outside just to get cold. Lovely weather! Okay, it's getting bit too cold... why did I get an iced drink? Noob Singaporean. Well, good, cold is good! Treasure every biting second! Finally away from the Singapore heat!

Low brick walls, the cold, pigeons indoors, "Do not feed the birds" signs... this is it! I'm here!

At Gloucester Green, Oxford, Aunty Sian and I wait for each other for more than an hour - a misunderstanding about the cafe at which we were supposed to meet. 

In the car, Zoe and her friend sing along to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, and Sasha has Mean on repeat in her room - I immediately need to Whatsapp the Taylor Swift fanboys Dylan and Jackie (CRAP I just realised that sounds like "Divian and Jacqui" :OOOO); how much they'd love it here!

Their house is lovely, and the girls are so friendly, open and genuine. Zoe warmed up to me really quickly, and made an effort to be friendly. The family is so close and loving, it's really nice just to be here with them. The girls are lovely and loveable, and as they have their funny chats with their dad, it isn't hard to see how a father will lay down his life to protect his children.

Oct 14, 2012

Old posts

Okay y'all, my old blog posts make me cringe. It's just that I can't hide a whole chunk at once - I'll have to click 'Save as Draft' for each individual post, and it'll take too long. Just... don't bring up my old posts to me and then laugh at me for being so dumb when I was younger. Dude I was fourteen. I was entitled to be dumb.

On a happier note, I'm going to the UK today!!! I'll be there for a month, and I'll be going to Oxford, central London, Edinburgh, Warwick and Barnet. Really excited, but I'm so unprepared - if I have the time, I'll do a post later about my Yale-NUS journey so far, something I've wanted to do for quite a while.

I love lazy Sunday mornings (where I don't have to wake up early to give tuition).

Oct 12, 2012

We can be heroes / Just for one day

The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

"Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?"
"They accept the love they think they deserve."

"Why can't you save anybody?"

You know how sometimes you come across an old friend's Facebook status or Twitter feed and you realise she's going through crap and you know exactly, exactly how she feels, but you can't just text her because it'd be weird since you haven't talked to her in forever? Or how you might overhear a conversation and you feel like the stranger's words are your very own, and your heart really hurts for hers, but it'd just be weird to go up to her and say something? Or how you feel so much for a friend, and you want to give him a hug, but you don't want him to take things the wrong way?

I hate standing by watching and not being able to do anything to soothe the pain, because we all know how hurt feels; we all can relate to it, and we know that what we all need is a little bit of love. I've been so fortunate to be blessed with so many friends who are there when I fall. And I'm okay with being really sad. I know I can take it; I'll just write and cry and whine a little and tomorrow things will be okay. But I hate it when others are sad, perhaps because I blow up their emotions in my mind since I feel so intensely, and especially when there's nothing I can do to take away the pain. Or when someone's on the road to disaster at full speed and all you can do is watch. They won't listen; they don't want to.

We can't save anybody. We all need to crash into walls ourselves.

When I write, sometimes I hope that a broken heart finds this blog and realises that she's not alone in feeling that way, that I speak to her soul, and that I can bring her out of her pain. A few strangers, acquaintances and friends-of-friends have emailed me before to say that they came across my blog and I helped them emotionally in some way. That's when I remember my dream: to speak to hearts like a close friend, and let people know that I share their pain, to bring them out of it.

Sucks that I've been blogging too much emo crap that doesn't really help anyone. Just gets people bored of reading this blog.

So this is to anyone. If you've got a hurt, you know that I will empathise. If you're willing to open up to me, I will listen. Just a disclaimer, though, that I might feel very intensely for your situation, and I just might feel inspired to do a blog post about it. And you must accept my hug.

Train wreck

But love is not a victory march 
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

I'm sorry. I made a promise to a friend that the next post would be a happy one, but I keep putting them off and pain can't wait.

 There are some things that are doomed right from the start, like a train doomed to wreck. We all see it coming, but some stay at the platform and let it pass by, while some decide to hop on. Maybe we love the brilliant tragedy.

 I don't know what this is, but my hands are trembling. I'm taking deep breaths. I really feel like throwing up. I need to cry. I knew what I was doing. I built myself that train and took the front seat. Why? I didn't have to deliberately head for the wreck. I took the front seat and went full speed toward the wall.

 What is this, the deep breaths, the trembling, the nausea? I need to get off. I need a field. I need a hug and a cry.

Come on skinny love, just last the year 
Pour a little salt, we were never here 
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer 

I tell my love to wreck it all 
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall 
Right in the moment this order's tall 

Oct 8, 2012

Oct 5, 2012

Forced distance

Ever felt like you had to force yourself to numb over, go cold, because if you relaxed your grip on yourself you'd start flying again, and you couldn't afford that kind of pain anymore, you couldn't afford to feel that raging fire of life?

"Just leave me alone," she cries. "It's what you want anyway."

"If you're going to put words in my mouth, then I'm going to put some in yours," I say. "I know what you're doing, and I know why you're doing it. I realise you're mad."

"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Lucy mutters.

"But you're not mad at me, You're mad at yourself. Because against all odds, in spite of the fact that you were so damn sure that you would hate working with me and coming to music therapy sessions, they started to work. And you like coming." I put the ukulele down on a desk beside me and stare at Lucy. "You like being around me."

She glances up, her face so raw and open that, for a moment, I forget what I was saying.

"So what do you do? You sabotage the therapeutic relationship we've built, because that way, you get to tell yourself you were right. That this is a load of bullshit. That it would never work. It doesn't matter how you do it or what you tell yourself is the reason we're in a fight. You ruin the one good thing you've got going because if you ruin it, then you don't have to deal with being disappointed later on."

Lucy stands abruptly. Her fists are clenched at her sides, and her mouth is a livid red slash. "Why can't you just take a hint? Why are you still here?"

"Because there's nothing you can do or say or any way you can act that will drive me away, Lucy. I am not leaving you."

She freezes. "Never?" The word is like tempered glass, broken and full of beauty.

I know how hard it is for her to lay herself bare, to expose the soft center under that hard shell. So I promise. I'm not surprised when the tears come, when she collapses against me. I do what anyone else would do, in that situation: I hold Lucy until she can hold herself.

- Sing You Home (Jodi Picoult)

Oct 4, 2012

Pour a little salt, we were never here

Emotions are measured by the level of energy in your voice, and by how difficult it is to smile. You don't feel like doing anything. You don't want to try to describe it because no words can suffice, and it'll just come out sounding stupid and inadequate. You'll let the songs do the talking for you. You'll just sit in the sunshine, feel the outside air take the million tiny specks of your burden far far away, take away the suffocation of a closed room.

You chance upon a glittering speck on the floor, and you find yourself smiling 


that was the last straw