When I was younger I wrote a poem about tangerine dreams that filled the sky, and this one lemon tree atop a hill where lovers liked to meet. When I was younger still, but old enough to know, I filled several blank sheets back-to-back with an essay on the circle of life, having just watched The Lion King for the first time. When I was even younger, while walking in a mall with my family in Hong Kong, our humid stopover before reaching our new life Down Under, I lamented (rather melodramatically for a nine-year-old) Continue reading
It was the opposite back then: I was always a pink girl. When I was the age girls are when all they want to do is become a princess, and so make up for their lack of birthright by dressing up thus, I wanted everything pink. Pink for my Barbies and me. Pink stickers, pink toys, pink hairbands and clothes. Of course, my complexion means that 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
She wanted to eat the world for it was right in front of her eyes, on a platter, blue and ready to be consumed. But she had neither fork nor knife—not even a toothpick was in sight! She looked at her hands, at the other people sitting alone at their individual tables eating their share of the world with forks, knives, chopsticks and whatnot, realised there were no spare utensils lying around and certainly no servers from whom utensils could be acquired, and decided to eat it by hand. Hungry and eager to have what everyone else was having, she tried to lift the heavy watery globe with her hands. Continue reading
Dear 15-year-old me,
I know all you can think about right now is the major science project that’s due soon. You’ve always been an exceptional student—every report card confirms your status as a ‘high achiever’ of scores, firsts, and awards—and you intend to keep things that way. Maintaining a perfect academic record means everything to you, and it doesn’t help that you’re every teacher’s pet. Later, you’ll realise that every mark and praise you worked long and hard to receive was a means to fill the gaping hole where a secure sense of self-worth should be, and isn’t Continue reading
Sitting at the corner of my mind is a sprawling metropolis of abandoned ideas and incomplete drafts, all of them feverishly conceived. Some are penned in haste and barely legible, others the result of fingers tap dancing on screen. Continue reading
The first part of my sexual awakening took the shape of Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon‘s resident overdressed douche who, while standing atop a crescent moon, would throw red roses with comic gusto to save the (usually crying) title character/heroine from her plight. Unaware of the now infamous damsel in distress gets saved by Prince Charming trope, of feminism and girlpower, my princess-obsessed, Lois Lane wannabe five or six-year-old self was smitten with him. ‘Oh, mother, look how handsome he is!’ I had gushed day in, day out, while brandishing shiny trading cards bearing his angelic image. Unsurprisingly, I wanted to be Sailor Moon, that immaculately beautiful yet adorably clumsy celestial princess whose fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes were, retrospectively, to blame for the onset of my inferiority complex: that rude shock whenever my mirror reflection revealed black hair, black eyes and yellowish skin instead of Little Miss Victoria’s Secret (ft. Bouncing Blonde Curls & Sea-Coloured Eyes). Things worsened when cruel, inevitable adolescence arrived and ushered in page after page of glossy models who looked nothing like me, but who looked good in everything…but this is a tale for another
time post. So, I was five or so and I loved Tuxedo Mask and I was a girl and he was a boy and it was all easy-peasy.
Throughout high school, especially after my (re)discovery of boys at the age of 14 after a long, Barbie-fuelled hiatus, I continued to pine after good looking penis owners, be they effeminate Japanese idols or vampiric teen heartthrobs by the name of Edward Cullen (yes, I was a crazy Twilight fan, the type who had all the books, DVDs, T-shirts and merchandise). I had heard of gays and lesbians, I think, but not bisexuals. I had a very limited knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community, as it were. Straight was the norm, and I even had a crush on a string of cute male teachers (textbook daddy issues; pun intended) so I never even thought about my sexuality.
Then came university, and the second part of my sexual awakening. It took the form of one Ellen DeGeneres. Continue reading
Boy: So what should I get her? Some red roses? A necklace with a moon pendant? That’d be clever, wouldn’t it, and romantic too.
Me: Must your lover be doomed to either receive a wilting bouquet symbolising love or have your love for her compared to a dull satellite that waxes and wanes?
Boy: Are you always like this? It must be exhausting.
Me: Exhausting? I find it most exhilarating; don’t you? Continue reading
Or, had the precise terms for Baudelaire’s leisurely metropolitan stroller-cum-observer and The Catcher in the Rye‘s free-flowing narrative mode exuded less enigma, ‘Walking down the street: a list of things seen and thought about’.
Down the street I go.
Uneven pavement: the human skin (birth marks, deformities, blotches, spots and dots), success, life, the colour of elephants, scrapped knees, summer heat, pebbles and dryness.
An elderly Greek lady: hearty home-cooked meals, the laughter of boisterous grandchildren at play, immigration, old photographs gathering dust, early morning bus rides, flowers at the cemetery, gold jewellery begging to be polished.
Oranges on display at the fruit market: something to throw at your arch nemesis; action movie sequences involving white men on motorbikes and confused people of colour; the rough texture of a Cézanne.
Cars: destination, rage, modernity.
My family’s Chinese restaurant: familiarity, home, mother.
Asian shop signs: age, haste (waste?), and money; Cantonese BBQ meat hanging in the window, glazed and dripping sauce into oily silver trays below; a steamy bowl of Vietnamese pho.
Butchery: Babe, bacon, pink, rawness, blood and cartilage, rubber boots, wet tiles, cha-ching, thank you, next!
Traffic lights: dusk-lit skies, grey suits, vacant stares.
Café: chocolate brown, the inevitability of stale cake (‘It’s all fresh!’ – the shop girl), cigarette smoke, friends and lovers wiling the day away, the trusty ch-ch-chUAAAA of the milk steamer and the resolute BANG BANG of used ground coffee being emptied, muffled music and ice cubes jingling against glass, lipstick stains on napkins, crumbs and spillage.
Liquor store: ID card (1991!), old men in tatty shirts, filthy motel rooms, vintage porno mags, the pungent odour of drunkards’ piss (why the fuck must it linger for days?), the queue at Centrelink, sweat stains…the promise of gin and momentary relief from All That Is Going Wrong (don’t).
I cross the street and enter grease, fatty patties, sodium galore, glaringly cheesy 50s Americana and pimply teenagers. They call it Hungry Jack’s. At this point we must part our ways, reader, for *Yoda voice* trash my body, I shall.
There is a carpark opposite my apartment, and a grassy plot of yet-to-be-developed land beyond it. The houses had been torn down many years ago, and for a while it seemed I was doomed to face an ugly patch of soil and debris whenever I stood on my balcony and gazed down. Ungifted at natural science, I deemed the land infertile. Nothing will ever grow on such a barren piece of land, I thought. Nature, she who wields the wind and rain, thought otherwise. So did the Australian sun. Slowly but surely, patches of grass began to grow. Soon, it had covered the whole fenced-off, apartment-sized square. Then, miraculously, trees started growing. Over a year later, these trees are still small, barely taller than your typical shrub, but they are thriving. And sometimes, flowers bloom on trees, don’t they? Yay or nay, this knowledge is to play a part in the hilarious incident I am about to relate to you; its partner in crime is my terribly shortsighted vision. One day, when brushing my just-washed hair while standing on the balcony sans glasses, I noticed that big, bright orange flowers had appeared on one of the trees, unbeknownst to me until then (or so I thought). I was delighted, but thought little of it once I reentered my living room and became preoccupied with the humdrum chores of daily life. I had forgotten all about those ‘orange flowers’, and would have went on believing that they were indeed what I thought they were — made of petals, pollen and seeds — if I never saw them clearly, with my glasses on. This is precisely what happened yesterday. Exhausted from the glow of my laptop screen and the rigidness of my chair, I decided some fresh air would be good and stepped out to the balcony. I took a deep breath, looked at the clear sky above, the church buildings on the side, and the grassy land in front with the growing trees, one of which is bearing flowe–wait. Hold on a second, it can’t be—is that what I think it is, filling the gaps between the leaves from where I stand? A discarded, corrugated iron-looking piece of orange construction thing lying right behind the tree in question? In a way that makes it look like orange flowers on the tree because parts of it are hidden by the tree’s leaves and others, blossom-sized parts, not? Yes, my corrected eyes and common sense said, yes of course it is, you daft. You mistook an ugly, manmade thing for nature, said the melodramatic overthinker in me. What’s more, it continued, the object is used to construct buildings, which destroy nature. How ironic. How wonderful though, to have mistaken such a thing for nature’s work of beauty, gushed hope. The writer in me began typing.