And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot

Wednesday, August 29, 2007
saussure and classes, dancing, made me happy today. tomorrow, willie perdomo is reading his poetry here. you're all set, sweetie, the cashiers croon here, if you wear a dress. they don't say "how are you" that much as in manhattan, i suppose it's less superficial this way. i treasure my dance lessons, because i get to feel so intimately connected to people, i haven't actually talked to anyone, it's a different kind of connection, being aware of space, the spaces between bodies, dancing not to music, but to the voice of a beatboxer, moving to another body. the alabama instructor: "see these thighs, it took me years to get them", "oh c'mon, that was a joke, it's only the first week, please laugh?", "the floor's your friend", "drink lots of water, sleep, eat fruit, that's all you need", "stretch your archilles", "the most important thing in the world? breathe. when all else fails, breathe".
yesterday, i climbed to the lake behind my house with a copy of the times - there were stockings and underwear strewn around the clearing, remnants of the night before. three people were splashing around the creek, screaming because they'd seen a snake, the big black girl slipped and fell over the rocks in her bikini, "you're good?" i called out, "nome, just freakin' out!" she said. the other day, i didn't know what to do, i took my bike up to sage chapel, and sat, i was better after that. i know i could love this place, i can feel my body getting stronger from the air, and i love every book i lay my hands on. but sometimes when i'm navigating a difficult sentence, just waiting in queue, my body freezes, in recollection.

Saturday, August 25, 2007
the road behind the house
it was a hot day today, i read till my head throbbed from the heat, put on my sneakers and stepped out of the house. i past an indian man who was gesturing wildly while talking to his partner, he only had one hand, the other was a stump on his right. i wonder, what it is like to only be able to gesture with one hand. is gesturing involuntary? i usually take the red brick road that leads from the back of my house to the steel bridge that arches over a creek full of stones. i have never ventured beyond. i took a left and ran uphill. the road is long and winding, and guarded by tall trees, beneath the creek lies, glittering and silent. i had a feeling that i was running but not moving, because the road was so long. i passed old, wooden houses, timber houses on hills. i had the strangest feeling that if i held my breath, i would be able to see fairies. the sky suddenly grew dark, turning from orange to a inky black in seconds, as though populated by smoke. and i was afraid. in ithaca, they say, the weather is unpredictable. a guy in a pickup truck stopped, asked if i knew the way to ithaca college. i felt the wind was pushing me, like the hand of another, telling me to quickly go home. there was, strangely, an orange moon, large, almost complete. i think being afraid is like opening a door, when you are afraid, things, people smell it on you, and enter. i sprinted uphill till my lungs ached, arrived in the house heaving. ck was cooking, and everything was normal.


in yantai, i remember walking alone one night in yanda shi shang, the university market. i was lost, and the hutongs stretched out like a maze of noodle stalls, smoking men, men playing cards, stray dogs, wang bas. i remember a burst of fireworks flew upwards into the air -- perhaps someone was getting married, or some errant children were showing off their brilliance. with all its dirt, stray dogs, and the strench of piss, and the smell of cigarettes, china has the ability to make you feel real, aware that living takes effort, and living is difficult, difficult because life has the capacity to defy you, like stubborn, sleeping seeds on a barren field.

Sunday, August 19, 2007
the breaking of all spells
left at 4-ish, arrived home 11-ish. my mother and father were waiting for me. i am pragmatic about entrances and exits. the important thing is not to regret. got into new york, then ithaca. in ithaca, miles away, i returned to the person i left months ago, reentered his life. i haven't seen his face for half a year, will not for almost another half. it is a different kind of poetry here, not lyric poetry, there are no complex metaphors to this life i have chosen. this does not make it simple, but it makes what needs to be done clearer. this time, there is no desire, no free-falling. love, like ironing, like the folding of daily necessities, heroic daily acts and choices, enduring choices. the father asked what i was doing for thanksgiving, if i wanted to go back to the place where we spent last spring, where he took me out on a sled, said Marie, Marie, hold on tight. his sister complains of how he is too intellectual for conversation, that she can never win an argument with him, that he is like his father. we laugh, and i tell her the only arguments i have won, i have won by force.

traveling from singapore makes me feel light, too light to write. i love singapore too much, i am too involved with people, the place is swarming with memories. away, my heart ceases to brim. maybe here i will learn that the purest form of joy, unlike crystals and salts, cannot be distilled in the form of laughter. and perhaps love, as it is written, is the breaking of all spells, even its own.

Thursday, August 16, 2007
now that she's back in the atmosphere
outside there is a strong wind piping up. it will storm soon. the maple leaves are making a sound that is like the rush of water, even the cicadas are silent. my room is hot from afternoon in summer, but soon it will be cooler.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007
i am in ithaca now, learning new roads, navigating maps.
there are deer and otters in my backyard. they tell me, there is a creek behind, they will take me there, and to the diners, and the lakes. i find myself perpetually surrounded by laughter and voices, occasionally missing the loneliness of new york, it is a loneliness that breeds a certain kind of intelligence, an intelligence that is constantly searching and never ceases questioning, it is also an intelligence that makes you lonelier.
in new york, i walked down the west street with leon, to canal street. the sunlight was brilliant, i'd never seen a new york like that before, brooklyn river bright and brilliant. i jammed with justin on the last day, then left that crazy morning with my ten boxes, you moving in with justin? asks mr kim downstairs, i laugh. no, i'm just taking my stuff from his flat. the other people in the korean deli laugh at the sight of big boxes coming down the stairs like big elephants.
these days, i find myself incapable of free falling, apathetic, obsessed about consequences, impatient, dismissive. i never imagined i'd be able to censor love out of my life, and convince myself of it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007
we've known each other since we were 9 or 10
im in new york again. i am disoriented by being thrown 12 hours behind.
i talked to the steward on the plane. taking a flight is like undergoing an x-ray, he says. on the polar route to new york, he tells me, one travels closer to the sun, exposed to 3, 4 times as much radiation as the pacific route.
the night before i left, i sent an email, and then called my brother at 2. i did not sleep till 6am. i slept an hour, and then took a flight.
the flight took 18 hours. on the flight, i thought a lot, i thought about you in the sun. i gripped my pillow, and didn't loosen my hold on it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007
cakes and cookies are lovingly made here at ummisbakery.blogspot.com (managed by nurul's mom!)
spread the word.

excess luggage
today is national day.
i'll be flying in two days, back to nyc, then packing up and leaving.
i am packing now.
packing for a long journey always leaves you with mixed feelings. most times, i've always left packing to the last minute -- shanghai was packing till 5; yantai was packing till 3, new york was not sleeping, repacking excess luggage at jfk, exhausted.
i was talking to nurul, she was talking about alfian sa'at, she said, for all the dissatisfaction of sa'at with the country, in his writings, there is always love. we need to question the things we love, to affirm their existence. perhaps one characteristic of love is dissatisfaction. i think when people say, i'm sorry, i'm too young for love, it really means, i'm too young to be dissatisfied, to be the source of perpetual dissatisfaction.
which makes me think of the opposite of dissatisfaction: apathy. if so many people today are apathetic, this lack of care must mean an absence of love. i hope i never will, or have not driven anyone to apathy. i hope the little dissatisfactions i feel (of the heat, of its barbarism) never overshadow my ability to love this country, and various people.

Thursday, August 02, 2007
In the sun
I picture you in the sun wondering what went wrong
And falling down on your knees asking for sympathy
And being caught in between all you wish for and all you seen
And trying to find anything you can feel that you can believe in

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you

I know I would apologize if I could see your eyes
’cause when you showed me myself I became someone else
But I was caught in between all you wish for and all you need
I picture you fast asleep
A nightmare comes
You can’t keep awake

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you

’cause if I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find
If I find
If I find my own way
How much will I find

I don’t know anymore
What it’s for
I’m not even sure
If there is anyone who is in the sun
Will you help me to understand
’cause I been caught in between all I wish for and all I need
Maybe you’re not even sure what it’s for
Any more than me

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you

Michael Stipe with Chris Martin, In the Sun

[publishing] Publishers Weekly . Dystel & Goderich . New York Center for Independent Publishing . Association of American University Presses . Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

[people] clarisse . nurul . aunty zarina (ummi's bakery) . jeremy . pak . cyril . softblow . karen & kenny (booksactually) . eric . joel .

[other loves] digitaljournalist . ballet dictionary . poetshouse . urbanwordnyc

[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.

[yesterday] holding on tight -- vol ii
death and new york city
ever get afraid of sounding stupid, boring, uninfo...
sleep activism
things im excited about
thinking about flight
accents and attractions
i got an on-campus job--production assistant at th...

[archives] January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009

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