HE SAID, MARIE, MARIE, HOLD ON TIGHT
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
Thursday, January 31, 2008
i am making soup now. soup in the late afternoon, while the house is quiet. i fry onions, garlic. the frying onions sting my eyes. i cut up a vine tomato, shred an ear of corn, three stalks of spring onions, eggplant. i open a can of mushrooms. i feel like i am cooking for a sad child. i think about what would comfort a sad child. i decide to steam rice. i stir the pot. i am tired from heels, and rushed mayonnaise-filled sandwiches. i didn't have much to say in class today. i think my life is a perpetual google search sometimes. and thus i shall read in the kitchen for the moment, because it is calming.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
random book trivia
there is an institute of the future of the book-- http://www.futureofthebook.org/
and really interesting shit about university publishing presses at the chronicle.com
Monday, January 28, 2008
Hippolyta: How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?
Theseus: She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and her passion ends the play.
(A Midsummer's Night Dream, 5.1.302-3)
i lost my winter coat today. cos the hookah/tobacco shop that did dry-cleaning, closed down when they couldn't pay rent. and i walked down dryden, hoping to get my coat, and they had disappeared. and this happened in the same week the inkshop (an art gallery where i worked last year) got engulfed in fire, lost two presses, and the work of its artists. they managed it well--turned it into a beautiful commercial gimmick to draw the crowds. (this is why we need arsonists to burn down struggling bookshops, cos burning buildings have the immense capacity for generating sympathy and thus, money) but i think about jennifer, and neil, and their beautiful etchings lost to fire. but one must be matter of fact, and mature about these things. although it was a lovely coat. calvin klein, army green. it was also a steal. i bought it in chicago, black friday, '06. its got a lot of good memories in its pocket. spring '07, new york in december, newark airport. so after frustrated attempts at calling the shop, leaving notes, (and even calling the police--yeah, i kinda bewildered the police, but i guess i really wanted my coat back), i traded my disappointment for a north face on ebay. its an xs, but its huge, and its white. it makes me look like frosty the snowman. cool. now ive got camouflage in ithaca, when the foxes try to get at me. so jenn, i ask, do i look like a snowball? hmm, she says, while watching tv and eating (disgusting, american) mac and cheese, i think it's cute. i think about how i've lost glove after glove, and all the beanies ive dropped. pretty gap ones, guy's beanies (i love buying guy's sweaters and guy's beanies--they're so much warmer and more practical), crappy st mark's place beanies. one was a present from my mother. one i gave to a friend. one i dropped, and its loss proved a rather ominous symbol of something--but i'm really matter-of-fact about these things. now i have a rusky orange one, and a grey one with a rabbity furball thing on top. and badass black open finger gloves--good for driving and pretending to be a gangster in new york city. :)
Saturday, January 26, 2008
meeting my mom on facebook for the first time
my mother just friended me on facebook. which raises a whole lot of questions. is facebook a corporate branding exercise for her (cos all her friends are her office buddies)? why didn't she say she was married? why am i immensely glad my facebook picture is a picture of me with a fuzzy dog, and not anything else? why do i intensely not like it when office people add me on facebook? why do i proceed to sift through their drinking photos, knowing that nothing--and everything--is at stake, and yet doing it with a certain self-deprecating, laugh-y sense of "oh it's just facebook, i'm just being completely stupid." i'm thinking now of e's crazy site-tracking program that monitored who had been on his lj, and where--get this, where--they're reading it from. barthes said ideology is when history (as a project by those in power) becomes confused with that which is natural--like it was meant to be all along. how many times have i said, "oh it's just facebook, it's just completely ridiculous, it's just facebook, it's one of those things."
today was the day she realised because she was not in love, she was never sad anymore. neither was she lonely like she had been when she was in love, because love was exclusionary and was lonely, and every attempt to break out of exclusion had been laced with guilt. but now that she was not in love anymore, she had stopped writing, she also had stopped breathing. she stopped noticing things, things she would ask the other to bear witness to. look, she said, look at this, now do you see what i see? now do you see what i see.
Friday, January 25, 2008
the strangest thing in the kitchen today. amanda asked, "wanna join me for running outside?" i sputter, because it is negative zero. and i sputter again. something in my mind snaps--really snaps--because i suddenly remember the memory of a dream. yes, once i had a dream, where someone told me to run out in the cold. i was not in ithaca, i don't even think i was in new york. yet the dream was distinctly wintry, distinctly one of upstate ny. i can't even begin to describe how intense that feel of deja vu was. i'm lousier with words these days--probably because i have so many words and different languages to manage these days. the scariest realisation i have come to is the realisation of the book as an academic object or commercial product. this either means i am growing up, or growing old.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
early mornings are full of ache. i intend to nurture quietness.
this term--physically demanding, requires physical discipline. early classes, late night classes in the heart of winter, also many classes and many books, science class too. good for me, will make me strong. we will all become strong.
Monday, January 21, 2008
the love of good things
yesterday, speaking across many rivers, i said goodbye to a best friend--we're promising to be still until we meet again, and then re-evaluating the situation during christmas. it's the stuff of games and dreams--two bears playing hide-and-seek. i'll stay here, count to 300, go and hide, we'll meet at the foot of the hill. i messed up the goodbye by getting angry, for no reason, really. he tasked me to pick up sticks and build myself a good tent in the field, so no harm would come to me. i got mad, i said, i can look after myself. he got extremely sad. i can't ever love this part of you, he said. i can't love that part of myself, either. i intend to hide till it's time to surface again. in the time spent counting to 300, i intend to get over my fear of the dark and other monsters. i'll hunt out ducks and geese in the field, maybe we'll be able to sit by the fire and i'll cook a pot of golden things for both of us. the meal might not be romantic, it might be laced with sadness even, sadness, and ultimately the love of one another, and the love of good things. all the best for your exams, and keep warm.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
from spain, from singapore, with love.
so in this trainstop, the girl comes in at 5.30am, switches on the light, melts --- yes melts--- my pencil and burns--yes burns--my receipts. and starts writing in her journal with the lights on. i don't know what to do, i pick up my phone, listen to a drunk voicemail from my best friend in new york. start getting angry with my life. then i wake up, and its lovely out, and the girl is getting ready to go to church. and two people are smiling.
i feel funnily closer to you ever since december. i dont know if it was the same for you it's probably just that was the time i was trying to reconcile my beliefs and was super confused and you helped me alot. im going to pray soon, i don't pray in front of people, because i can't pray as fast as everyone else, i take very long to think of what i want to promise god. they're okay liao, now there's less tension and they fight only about sweet sour pork. im actually very happy, i dont know why. even though i only have one day of rest a week, it's all going fine and i have great people around me at school. i miss you and you're obviously more than fine haha.
I´m really glad you´ve found somewhere peaceful. Madrid is slower than nyc and it makes for a nice break. I met some lovely girls last semester and I miss them, although I´m starting to meet new people. I also fell in love last semester- unrequited love, the craziest kind. You know what´s great? I´ve stopped being obsessive about what I eat and it´s made me happier. Living here helps because there´s a strong food culture. I cook a lot and have found a cooking school here where I´d like to take classes during the semester. Today I´m on the hunt for cheesecloth. Also, all that hair dye is slowly growing out, and although it´s a drab color, I like that it´s all mine. ;) Spanish literature and culture is my major right now, but since I´ll finish it by the time I leave here, I need to find something else to do. I should print the list of majors and minors and eliminate what I can´t do and then see what´s left. What are you studying? Dating anyone?
Saturday, January 19, 2008
went for a highway code class today, with a sheriff, who talked about nightlife in ithaca, and professors who steal police cars. i left the house very early--it was eight, the first time seeing the landscape outside at eight. i drove around the commons and across the lake yesterday--it was beautiful to see dusk glide across the waters of cayuga lake. "this has got to be the scariest car ride i've ever experienced," j said, while i went crazy in an empty carpark pretending to drive a bumper car, and held up traffic on the main road, earning a dirty look from the driver behind me. there are two other cars in this house, and i might be getting enough practice to earn the third car. my house is filling up, and the spare bed and first floor and the pretty windows might potentially change the room into a bit of a train station. i think my name is winter--soon the waterfall i live across will freeze, and so will the landscape inside me.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
apples and milk
we walked up the hill with our bags full of apples and milk, smelt the smell of burning firewood. up buffalo street, a straight road lined with lights that stretches all the way from east to west, absolutely straight, so that from the top of the hill, you can see the terrain of ithaca, winding, jealous. would you like to buy something else? maybe rice? 10 kg of rice? i laughed. we kept walking through the snow and my butt hurt so bad, but we finally got to the top of the hill, where the air was fresh and i felt new in a way i hadn't felt in so long.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
the girl and the mirror
you don't know what you want, said the mirror, you'll be sorry when you get lonely.
really? the girl asked. she was juggling globes of air--one was red, one blue, one green, tilting her body to catch them all, quite out of breath.
yes, said the mirror, and you'll come to me crying with your eyes of tears.
and we'll have a party out of it, said the girl. we'll toast with glasses of tears, and stay up all night till we're quite drunk and silly. why, to the promise of tears!
to the promise of tears, sighed the mirror, sometimes you make me feel so old.
in truth, i am quite sad, said the mirror. i am doing everything you have asked of me. i am ironing out my face, i am eating my vitamins and vegetables, i'm running in the snow and walking down suspension bridges and, aaaah...wearing your awful striped tights--
and my flippy tops, and my short shorts?-- asked the girl
yes, your flippy tops and short shorts, sighed the mirror --- but the striped tights... aaahh, the striped tights. (the thoughts of the striped tights against your thighs distract me, like misplaced chairs.) but i must finish. i had wanted to say this: in truth, i am quite sad.
what? asked the girl.
in truth i am quite sad, said the mirror.
what? asked the girl, what?
in truth, I Am Quite Sad, the mirror repeated.
she could hardly breathe now. the words came out like scrambled eggs. she was hyperventilating, choking on her own laughter.
nothing, said the mirror. i'm going to sleep now.
you can't sleep until i sleep, said the girl, that is the truth, whether you admit it or not.
you make me quite a horrible person, said the girl, such a troublemaker.
no, you were horrible because of yourself, said the mirror. you were the one who chose to wear those striped tights.
i would never be horrible, if you didn't show up my horrible-ness, said the girl.
and neither would you never be beautiful, if i didn't show up that face of yours.
i'm leaving, said the mirror, will you miss me?
no, because you would have never left, said the girl.
you had to be the heroine of the story, didn't you? said the mirror, you had to have the last word. you know what? i'll give you the last word. say something clever, or pretty. like you're good at.
she resisted the urge to say "sardines!" and kept very quiet.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
i'm packing up again, leaving this house. moving to the house up the hill. packing and touching old things. it's a bit like grief.
new york was playing with genies with leon, like children. i thought someone was knocking at the door. it's the wind, leon said. he seemed really faraway and small. i'm scared, i told him. don't sleep yet, wait till it goes away, he said. i'll stay up till you get to sleep. like walking someone home, i said. i left new york yesterday, after chasing cars in jersey. goodbye old brother, i said to leon, write me.
travelling with a guitar is like travelling with a friend. kalmaljee was in front of me, pure coincidence. the bus driver made conversation over guitars and nursery rhymes and childhood. we were in the catskill mountains. ithaca via binghamton. new york state is beautiful and disarming in the darkness. i thought about stories in the dark: a woman sewing scarves out of tears, children playing broken telephone, a dying goldfish. i finally got in at valentine place. ithaca seems smaller than i remembered it as, after the flying. will stay here for the last couple of nights before i leave again.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
i'm packed the day before for the first time--half the weight composed of things for other people. just like when i came back. it's funny to be in love with two places at one time. perhaps my life will always be composed of many loves, some often conflicting. last night i led a prayer for my sister. it was my first time. i've come to realise that people need me here and my presence matters, because of how immensely fragile they are. yesterday, lia left, we all knew it would be the last time she saw my grandfather. don't worry, i said to grandpa, i still am here for the moment. of the 2 rejected notebooks i stitched at books actually, one went to my grandfather, who is using it as a sketchbook now. people inspire me here--they do so much with the little they have. and people inspire me there too. because they live by certain ideals, no matter how abstract or obtuse they are. i just called judy in ithaca--she was supposed to have a hip replacement operation, that good ol' bird, and its comforting to hear her. when preaching to her the benefits of feeling whatever , i talked about feeling absolutely whatever, when i jumped out of a plane. so we should go skydiving together i said, just for the sake of being outrageous, and she fell out of her seat. it's really hot and wet here, i said. but it's home, she said. yes, and i have two homes, i said, and that's wonderful, she said.
Friday, January 04, 2008
i tagged along as a toddler to watch beauty world (cha cha cha cha) with my mother when it first came out. i didn't understand it because i was too young. i still remember the theme song ("beauty world cha cha cha cha") because music never fades (when i played for the ailing, dementia patients in ithaca, they still remembered songs like "amazing grace" and "god bless america," and listened despite claiming to be deaf). returning to beauty world after 20 years is as much a return as it is departure.
when the owner of beauty world steps back into the cabaret, he says "it's been so long since i came back to beauty world, and it's different but still the same." such self-referentiality is as much a referencing to the play as it is a referencing to history. for me, the return to singapore is as much a return as it is a departure. ivy seeks to return to the past in search of the lost father, and in the process returns to her mother, but this found mother who is the cruel cabaret queen, departs from her preconceptions of mother. her return to the distant past, is a betrayal of her immediate past at the same time--she falls for ah hock, becomes a cabaret girl. i used to think that change was betrayal, returning this time, i realise change is not betrayal. the worst betrayal is the facade of constancy that masks change.
the musical was a spoof of everywhere, a bit like a confused modernity, but with songs like "single in singapore" and "no class" and lyrics like "pout a little more, or it shows you're from johor," the slightly rascist and xenophobic humor, the hokkien swearing, the play resonates of home. neo swee lin in the mama-san role is really neo swee lin in growing up. ah hock is really gary in growing up. perhaps nostalgia isn't a longing for a mythicised past, but a longing for a past we did have and could not articulate. and the humor is the same apologetic humor that characterizes singapore humor--self-deprecating, over-the-top, aware of its fundamental un-funniness. the crazy vacillating between singlish and queen's english. and the cigarettes. and the number of cigarettes that was lit on stage reminds me of theaterworks, my first cigarette (rolled, furtive, eternally sweet), alan on his motorbike, whatshername on the scooter, hamly pissed off with us interns making a racket, going to the back to light up.
that, of course, is history. in the last scene ah hock--the forlorn underdog antihero--watches ivy leave with frankie back to patu pahat. she has to leave beauty world, of course. she doesn't belong to the world of moments. ah hock doesn't say anything. he lights a cigarette. it fails to light up. on the darkened stage, the other cabaret girls hold out their lighters to him, and light them. the whole stage becomes ablaze with little flames from lighters. i came back to singapore from new york, with the notion i had to resist this place. i'd made a lot of decisions, eg, i need to leave, i'm only here for my brother's wedding anyway, and not to fall back in love with here. but singapore, like beauty world, seduces you with the music of the past, and leads you like the voluptuous lulu leads you to a stage where, in spite of change, the music never died.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
went orchard tower-ing and tequilla shot-ing (lick, swallow, suck, she directs me) and then kampong glam shisha-ing with my cousin from australia. completely not me, but it's nice to see her happy. there will be saturday zouk too, which will be madness. i can see why foreigners think singapore is fun. im sleepy and slow now though, and all i really want to write about is how the dawn must have rushed into your (red-eyed, bleary) vision this morning as you took off, and how you must have been marvelling at how the sun rose so quickly because of the acceleration of the engines. all this rush, and then, your desire for slowness.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
signed my contract for 308 wait avenue in ithaca, with 14 other girls:) im so excited.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
i don't know what to do this new year. i woke up this morning to the sound of my aunt crying to me over the phone, and was incapable of doing anything for the rest of the day. consequently, i have done nothing. im trying to make a big speech tonight to him, but i have nothing more to say. i really have nothing more to say. i resent my own relationship problems, especially when people talk to be about their children who are mentally disabled, or people call me to cry about husbands having affairs. i want to go back to ithaca, because it is peaceful there, and i have a sense of direction, and am far from the crowd. im tired of sleeping on the living room couch and feeling like a visitor in my own home. a lot of things sadden me about singapore. i'm worried about my sister, who told me that she was so scared about what happened when i went to ithaca. i'm worried about what happens when my grandfather gets older. i can see my mother growing old, and i know i will have to take care of her. and i can see how my parents are in denial in their failure to realise their lifestyle cannot be carried into their age. holidays are supposed to be about going out with friends and doing shit, but this holiday has been spent in painful realisation. you are right, and i am not strong enough to look after you. i'll always be here if you want to talk. but i don't want to pretend we're in a place that we're not in. i don't want you to miss me.
[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.
holding on tight -- vol ii
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