Went to bed last night with the realisation that all the world’s a sham, except maybe the art of bread-making. Supplying fresh wholesome handmade loaves to the local community, donating what’s left at the end of the day to charity. Betty’s Bakery. No! That means brand logo, catchphrase, and marketing—I’ve already joined the ranks of those from whom I wish to escape (a calculator sounds in the distance, an interior designer is hired). What then? Ought I arm myself, self-consciously and pretentiously, with a copy of Walden and off to the woods, a retreat from modernity and its attendant excesses? In the company of humans their expectations and norms I live a life of anxiety, said anxiety owing to the way my brain is wired which, in turn, owes to the life I have lived with the temperament I was born with. In the company of nature and wildlife the expectation is to survive, but not so long ago just last year I think I had to look up the definition of fortitude. The definition, once read, made me laugh at myself for not knowing what it was. I’m good at that. But self-deprecation won’t do when faced with a bear, a deadly bite, the ensuing infection, and, worse than pus, the silent panic through it all. Better people and walls, calculators and clocks, after all.
There’s something incredibly comforting about Greek delis—the grubbier a deli is, the more homely I find it. This has everything to do with The Greek Deli being a permanent fixture of my Inner West upbringing and also says everything about mine being a creature of habit, in other words a lamenter of change. Continue reading
“Tell me that you want those kind of things/That money just can’t buy/I don’t care too much for money/For money can’t buy me love”: these are the words of wisdom sang by Paul McCartney on The Beatles’ 1964 hit “Can’t Buy Me Love” which he wrote with John Lennon. They send me soul-searching every time I hear it, and I hear it a lot because A Hard Day’s Night is one of my favourite albums. Continue reading
Every year, on the 31st of December, the old year and the new are separated by a flimsy second at 23:59:59. For me, not for as long as I remember but as the years piled on and forced me into the 25th anniversary of my existence with an unrelenting hand, that second is the loneliest, saddest, most hateful out of all the 31,536,000 seconds there are in a year. Continue reading
america, books, charles dickens, christmas, cinema, culture, england, family, film, food, harry potter, history, holidays, j. k. rowling, life, memory, movie, music, nostalgia, pop culture, reading, television
I am Chinese, my family is small and we are not religious. We don’t do gifts and parties, nor do we transform our home into a tricolour tinsel and cedar wonderland. I never even believed in Santa, thanks to my mother’s casual ‘Santa and magic and stuff are not real, it’s all made up’ when I was very young.
For Christians, Christmas is the birth of Jesus. For the non-religious, it is about Santa, reindeers, and snow. For us, it is a time to eat together: we mark the day celebrated by many with food and family, the pillars of Chinese culture, and I would not have it any other way.
But Christmas itself—be your take on it Christian or capitalist—is not Chinese, no matter how I celebrate it. Christmas in my mind is a kaleidoscope of Anglo-American sights and sounds. Continue reading
The disillusioned teenager in me never died. James Dean called and I answered; that is to say, his brutally realistic portrayal of troubled teen Jim Stark reminded me of myself all those years ago—I think 15 is the average age at which one sheds their childhood coil—when, along with my peers, it became more apparent than ever to us that pain and suffering are inevitable, as is death.
The angst was real and it was raw. For the hypersensitive ones who felt and thought about everything deeply and personally, creative expression Continue reading
How would you like to be left at a concert by your very best friend? Aside from feeling utterly gutted, I was sick with guilt and worry. What was I doing dragging her to something she wouldn’t enjoy, and how was I to live with myself if something were to happen to her on her way home, alone at night? To further complicate things, that live performance ended up being the most emotionally intense musical experience of my life. It was, paradoxically, the best and worst night ever. This is a raw and honest open letter to my best friend about that night. Continue reading
The most gorgeous little boy came into my workplace today. I was talking to his mother when a blur of blonde swished past her hips; my view was blocked at first by the high counter behind which I stood, but when I brought the catalogue of Christening cakes to her table later, I couldn’t help but take a good look at what I knew would be a child cherubic enough to send Raphael into a frenzy of Sistine proportions.
And he was: his perfectly round little head, platinum under the sun just then, was now strawberry blonde verging on faux ginger as he sat where the light did not reach. Add to that a chubby buttermilk face that was freckle-free and spotless, fresh and soft the way all baby skin are, and add also his impossibly light, fairy-like golden lashes and you almost have the whole picture. Almost; but oh his eyes! Continue reading