I was awarded with the Summer Writing Fellowship by Yale-NUS to go to the University of Iowa for two weeks to attend their creative writing course, and I decided, since they were paying for my plane tickets, I might as well make the best of it and go around as much as possible.
The night of my birthday, after NGO Bootcamp and a chill-out with a few lovely people at Vivo, Wei Liang and Derrick arrived at my doorstep with cake and a beautiful framed set of photos of us, and the dudes fetched me to the airport.
My first stop was Mississauga, Greater Toronto, where I stayed with my mum's friend's family. Over the weekend we drove up to their cottage.
Then I stayed for a couple of days with Zach, and he and Nik took me around, which was really fun. Also met the primary schoolmate Bryson for dinner!
Then I left for Ann Arbor, and just getting there was another crazy story. I changed train itineraries at the last minute and had to get to the other end of Canada, find my way to the Detroit border, and then find my way to the train station to get to Ann Arbor. Thankfully the bus driver that got me past the border also had a bit of time, and helped me out. He was from Albania I think, and we talked a bit about how Singapore's doing, and Japanese hentai. Also, apparently you can get an orgasm by having someone else stick their tongue into your eye????!?!?!
I only had two days in Ann Arbor, but i absolutely loved the vibe. Brown brick buildings infused with the energy and creativity of youth.
Ann Arbor is where I met the friendliest strangers. From the Potbelly's guy and the live singer to the NeoPapalis girl to Billy the liquor store guy, everyone seemed genuinely interested in you, and wanted a good chat. I was alone, but felt far from lonely.
Then I moved on to Chicago for about a week, where Fang Jiunn and I started at the theatres with Maleficent and ended with The Fault In Our Stars - the day-before premiere!!! Walked down the Magnificent Mile, got some Garrett's, checked out the Bean and a gay bar in Boystown, etc. Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, UChicago. Our apartment had two adorable cats - one was practically a dog with its attention-seeking meows and nudges, and the other was a beautiful timid tricoloured female.
And then it was Iowaaaaaaa
and I cannot emphasise enough HOW MUCH ART THERE IS. okay? okay. just understand that this town, while small, is alive with music and art and nightlife. All these young people looking for a good time, all these creative people looking for some energy, families looking to dance. I love it. I love how the whole community comes together to make music and hold festivals. I'm so glad I got to spend my time with Hamid. I learnt a whole lot in the two weeks of our writing course - I gained so much invaluable feedback about my writing (which I hope has improved) and a whole lot of ideas from everyone else. The pieces I put up on my blog are all pre-edited, so while I've received comments about them, I haven't gotten around to doing a second draft. During the course, I experimented with a lot of different things, like dialogue and stories inspired from other stories (e.g. Isaac), and while they probably aren't my best pieces, they were fun to try.
So, my bus from Iowa to Chicago reached really late thanks to traffic, and I missed my train to Pennsylvania. Thankfully, Fang Jiunn hooked me up with the Carnows, and I spent the night at a beautiful home. And I'm so glad I got to go to The Pancake House again - that Danish Garden pancake!!!
So, on the road again. I had a wonderful five-hour chat with a guy called Brian, and it was lovely seeing a person grow up through his stories - from childhood memories to high school to getting married and having kids.
Okay, let's do this.