Mid-year thoughts

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Happy June. Can you believe it’s actually been 6 months through 2016?
This year, being 26, is another seemingly tough year of growth for me. It has certainly been a lot of about endurance, patience and acceptance. Things that have come my way may not necessarily have been pretty, nor easy, but I’ve learnt to handle things easier and get back on track by myself faster than before.

Today, however, I am feeling a little bit more than other days, and I just felt like writing my thoughts down.

  1. Self worth itself is precious and fragile. Loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you are, especially understanding your flaws and how to work your way around them in the course of life, is important I guess. I’m not saying that you should like WOOOHOOO yeah to flaws! but more of like, I have flaws, so does everyone. So be it.  Like how I’ve been clumsy and chorlor my whole life and though people may see it as me being really careless (things just really drop from my hands all the time), I reckon it as a pretty annoying yet adorable characteristic now that I can’t change. Teehee.
  2. Life’s too short to hold grudges. I fell out with someone terribly last year and even half a year later I still felt shitty and sorry about it. We had a good friendship and it was just a shame if things ended awkwardly this way. I sent that friend a mail in the beginning of Spring and somehow we met up and now we are cool. Most importantly, I think both of us lifted that stone from our hearts and sort of threw it away together and felt much better. I guess time also plays a part in realising how important some people and some relationships are to you. Recently, I fell out with someone due to a really unnecessary misunderstanding and I do hope that one day, when the right time comes that we’ll be able to speak to each other comfortably again.
  3. Being alive and being healthy is already a blessing. Truly.
  4. I’ve come so far to be hindered with distraction. Coming to Japan was the most important decision I had to make for myself and after three and a half years, it is my last year of school. I’m going to rock it till the end. And just be glad to make it this far. While eating a lot of yakitori. And meeting a lot of awesome people. And having lots of crazy experiences.
  5. No matter what happens, you don’t have to be strong. Because you are strong.  *Shrugs* at least that’s how I feel. As long as you stay hungry for the things you do and that you continue loving the people you love, everything’s gonna be okay.

WE BUILT THIS CITY! WE BUILT THIS CITY ON ROCK AND ROLL.

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It’s okay if I can’t fit in your art/ design squad

Yesterday we had a special talk from a collective in Japan who base their work on giving small artists and creators a platform by organising markets, pop-up shops, events and so forth. I’ve been to their markets before and everything is well curated, displaying small items like accessories and letterpress postcards, to fabric and tote bags that you can totally imagine on your favourite tree-hugging bear lovin’ friend that you know. I’ve always admired this collective and how they take the time to organise these events.

In the talk the representative shared with us how they choose the artists for their markets. He said something like this, ” 美しい物を作っていること”, meaning, “(We choose) artists who make beautiful things”. He did understand that the word “美しい”, meaning “beautiful”, can be subjective, and goes on to say that the definition of beautiful to him is finding something with a good balance, something that might be fresh, but more than that something that shows the artists’ unique character. These points seem fair and great, actually. I’ve always liked the word “balance” and I have been thinking about that a lot lately.

However, by the end of the talk, I still find myself unconvinced about what he said about the selection of artists they choose base on them being “beautiful”. It is probably because I’ve been to their events before and I know what kind of artists and works that they like to showcase. The designs are usually very clean, cute, and don’t get me wrong, really nice and I like them a lot as well. I’m not trying to argue about their definition of beautiful, however, I’d rather challenge for them to be a little more honest and specific about what they say about choosing artists. Because let’s face it, you don’t only choose things that are beautiful, in addition to that you have to also choose items which you feel suits your collectives’ image, that suits the taste of your target audience that comes to your events.

You see, if the whole event space is filled with really nice and, for a lack of a better word, “kinfolk-like” items, you wouldn’t suddenly spot an artist who has really dark and intense portraits for sale, even if it they were beautiful. You wouldn’t suddenly see bags with neon paint and cut up barbie doll heads, even if they were beautiful. Because even if they were balanced, even if they were fresh, even if they do show the artists’ unique character, you would not choose them because it doesn’t fit the events’ image. (My apostrophe usage is horrendous I’m sorry!) Do you see why I get frustrated now? It is like telling everyone that hey there is a space for one and all as long as you are beautiful! But no, not you, because, erm, you’re beautiful, but you look different from the rest of the models.

This is what I struggle with sometimes, not just in japan, but also in the graphic design industry or when I join events and group exhibitions. Even though my work, which is most essentially a form of myself, as opposed to it being my strength, it becomes a weakness. I’ve been told, “The things you make are really great, but it takes a certain kind of person to want to buy it.”, or, “Your items are really nice, but they are too colourful and I’d buy them if they were grey or black.” The funny thing is, does it mean that if I just change my work and make it really clean, minimal and Scandinavian, maybe, you know, and make sure all my typography and packaging is done perfectly neat and tight, you would start to like me more? If I draw small cats fat cats cats eating donuts rolling polar bears and do a sweet letterpress on them, maybe my things would sell like fat cat hotcakes? If I use less neon colours and patterns on my designs would I be more acceptable through your shiny new pair of Moscot glasses?

I’m sorry I can’t fit in your art/ design squad. And that is okay. Actually, I am very lucky that I don’t get affected by this pressure and look down at my own work and imagination. Not to forget, I know there are many great people, friends and family who support this crazy fluorescent mess. (Really, thank you.)  This year for me is really accepting and knowing your self worth, that even though you might not be that kind of beautiful in other peoples’ eyes, you know that you are another kind of awesome.

*Throws mic on floor and walks backwards exiting with a peace sign*

About Love.

The best thing about writing is the ability for the reader to finally read and listen to what this person has to say. In a world filled with people, with people filled with their personal opinions, with opinions filled with past experiences, the writer might finally write at ease and go, Okay, my turn. 

Why do sad love songs always hit you in the heart so hard? Why are singers and songwriters always making songs that are always of unrequited love, loneliness, mistakes and untold confessions? I’d like to think that, maybe throughout history people sing or yell from their hearts in a certain note just to reach out to people and express their feelings. And slowly, those notes turned to melancholic melodies and painful to listen song lyrics. Maybe songs are in fact a way to reach out to people and go like, “I hurt. And if you hurt too, let’s share this song together.” And you find people from ages around the world in a karaoke box, grasping oily microphones and maybe also stretching their arms over friends, singing these love songs with all their might, knowing that somehow, the words are special. And that they carry meaning, especially when people hurt.

I’m going to dive right in at moment to tell you that I haven’t been okay. Being heartbroken is like having a fever. When I tell everyone I have a fever, everyone tells me that I will get better soon. The funny thing is everyone knows how shitty it feels to get a fever. But because it is so common, they kinda forget how shitty it is if they aren’t in it. The person having the fever is feeling the shittiness. No matter how people say you will get well soon with time it is still shitty to feel shitty. However people are trying to be nice and what can they do, they can’t cure my broken heart. Well neither can I cure my own, either. And all I can do is to wait for the shittiness to fade away.

Here’s one thing I do not understand. Somehow whenever I give my all to something or someone it never works out. I know there’s a dozen reasons to counter that but I am here saying, I tried my best. I always do. And I don’t think it is a wrong thing to do my best at things, but why do I feel like people are trying to tell me not to try so hard like it is a crime? And yet, I try and it doesn’t work out and I get tired. I’m mentally drained wondering why it always comes to the same outcome. Maybe if you meet the “right” person you don’t have to try so hard.

The second thing I do not understand is how people come into your life and create special moments with you and then suddenly disappear when they want to. Maybe meeting this person is a lesson for you that you might understand in the future, a friend might say. The thing I don’t get is why am I being taught a lesson when I did nothing wrong? That if I were single the whole time I would have been more than happy to not meet the person that will break my heart the next minute? Instead of it being a lesson why does it feel like a punishment that I don’t need?

For once I want to not hear that what I have been doing so far is wrong, or that things happen the way it is because, well, life. For once I want to stop worrying whether I am a girl that is difficult to be loved, when all I did was to give. Just once I want to prove them wrong, hold a future lovers’ hand in the mountains and go like, “See! We made it happen! We’ve done it! I’m not such a difficult person to love at all and this guy, this guy loves me to bits and so do I!

With that said, I am thankful to every single person I have talked to in the past week because all of you gave me such wonderful advice and perspectives about the situation. I’m going to say it again because I mean it, that even though my love life is a wavering piece of meat in the air, I seriously have the best friends in the world and with that I am so thankful. I’m not a strong person at times and I’m glad people are around me. I don’t know when the next one will come but if he does, I hope that he will appreciate me as much as I do him.

PS: My ending thought for the night is that – if your other half tells you that he thinks that it is better to be break up because he doesn’t want me to feel sad or feel like I am trying so hard for the relationship when he can’t, then I think the lesson I learnt from this (finally! A lesson I can finally get) is that if loving someone seems like a burden for him then he doesn’t understand your love and thus, does not deserve your love. If someone feels that you loving him is something “heavy”, he is no way ready for a relationship and you will end up feeling like you did something wrong when all you did was to love. So I’m going to walk away from this right now knowing I tried my best.

Home is why I am away, and why I am coming back.

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I have to start this post by sharing with you that I love mountains. And I often wonder why I do. Maybe it is how small we little humans are compared to their majestic sizes and heights.  Maybe it is how I find it amazing how these triangles made of stone and reaching clouds cannot be sculpted by man. Maybe it is because there are no mountains in Singapore that I find them fascinating. One question does come to mind, though, that if I were living in a place where I could see mountains everyday, would I appreciate them as much as I do now? Probably not.

This comes in relation to what I want to write about today. It has been two years that I have been away from home. Now that I am back for a short holiday, I start to see and appreciate things about my country that I would never have noticed nor felt if I didn’t study overseas. It is not that I was oblivious or ignorant, though, but more of the fact that it never came to mind because it was everyday life to me. This isn’t a tribute post to Mister Lee Kuan Yew, who has passed away on Monday morning because I do not want to seem like I have the best knowledge at all about his contributions for our country. However, this is a post about thanking my country, Singapore. That even though we don’t have mountains or many natural resources, we have the people and this will always be home. That Singapore is the reason why I can still dream.

I was talking to a cab driver in Bangkok two days ago. He loved to smile and laugh. He told me, “Singaporeans are very happy people. Thailand is number two.” Feeling confused on why he thinks we are the happiest people in the world, I asked him why. He just insisted that Thailand was second. Then I asked him if he is happy. “Uncle is always smiling. If I’m happy. I smile. If I’m not happy, I also smile. Sometimes I don’t smile because I don’t get what I want. But I think if I want many things, I won’t be happy. If I want nothing, I will be happy.”

That made an awful lot of sense to me that I felt humbled. Here I am in Thailand, shopping and indulging as much mango sticky rice as my tummy can fit (per day) because I can. Someone once said that, “Travelling is already an indulgence”, and I truly believe it. Some people are just happy to get by with a simple job and am just grateful to live another day. While someone like me, who whines if she doesn’t get to travel in a year, still gets to study overseas, and furthermore, still gets to chase after a dream? I for sure, am one lucky lucky human being to be able to do the things I want to do so far. Going back to what the cab driver said, I feel sorry that I want more out of life, and out of myself. I can’t help the hunger for my ambition, so much so that I really respect how he can live every single day in a simple manner, because I can’t do that at this moment. I can’t help but to dream.

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I do not come from a family with a lot of money. But if you were to define what is rich, I think my family and friends at home are worth more than paper notes and coins. My mother raised my sister and I up almost single-handedly and even though she is at the age of retirement, she still supported my choice of studying in Tokyo. My friends, whom I thank for always keeping me close and always asks me how I am doing even if I only get to see them twice a year. Their support means a lot to me and is one of the biggest motivations for going to school everyday as one day I am definitely giving back.

That is also the reason why I am coming home one day. People always ask me, would I stay or would I go? See, Japan has millions of opportunities and possibilities, especially when it comes to the textile world. Since I know the language, I could make use of it and start something up in Japan with a possibly better response. But it would give me so much joy to make something for my own people, my own kaki lang, who asks me if I want more sambal belachan on my economical bee hoon, who would randomly come up to me and complain together when the weather is unforgivably hot. Coming from a country that does a lot of importing, there is still a lack of local brands and products. I do not want to be unfazed just because not a lot of people do it, nor be scared because it is difficult. I want to give back to the country who has given a lot to me. And make products, though small compared to the masses, special to Singaporeans and for people who come to visit us.

As for the mountains, we have our own monumental awesomeness. I come back home appreciating the things that make proud to be Singaporean. Firstly, our multi-racial society, where I am colour blind as everyone to me are basically friends and neighbours. Secondly, our bilingualism is really something not to be taken for granted, man. Learning English and my mother tongue (Mandarin Chinese) is an advantage and it makes travelling and meeting new people so easy. Thirdly, our Singlish, which is simply a really rojak kind or rojak, where I can use it anywhere back home and will feel buay paiseh about, and nobody will find me gila or siao and actually know that I am not talking cock. And lastly can I just say that once I came back it felt really heartwarming seeing people eating outside or just walking around the neighbourhood with their family, young and old? Coming from Tokyo where many people eat alone, it is really nice to see families having meals together, as  I am happy to share a half white chicken with mine.

So Singapore, you are the reason why I am able to leave the country and you are the reason why I am coming back. You are the reason why I have the ability to dream. Even though we have no mountains (which is really such a pity!), we have reclaimed land. Jokes aside, at least this is where I know it’s home.

Finding home in Taipei (+ a small café and shop guide!)

Let me ask you a question—where is home to you? Is it the place where you were born, or the place where you grow? Is it the place you run to when you feel like crying, or the first place to go to when you have good news? Is it the place where you can be yourself, or the place that allows you to be someone else? To me, home is everything that I have mentioned. And as I travel I realised that home might not mean just one single place. I find little pockets of home wherever I go, and this time I found myself home in Taipei.

Maybe it’s the way people smile when they say “你好! (Ni hao!)”, the way people talk and laugh loudly on the streets with their friends while drinking bubble tea, the way my friends go an extra mile for me because they want to make sure I am okay, the way we could make friends with strangers in 5 minutes with a single conversation. It is really endearing and heartwarming. I feel human here. I feel like I can be accepted for who I am here without hiding my imperfections. In fact, imperfections are good, if not better. Living in Japan where I am constantly striving to improve myself and perfect my craft, it felt like Taiwan gave me a pat on the back saying “You have worked hard enough. Now you can relax.” So I roamed the streets of taiwan freely, laughing loudly, dropping things without feeling sorry about my clumsiness, and eating as much food as I can without worrying about the stains on my skirt. I am free. I am finally free.

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My friend Josiah and I finally took a well deserved break from school work to spend an awesome week in Taipei. My taiwanese friend Ava was super kind to accommodate us in her cozy warm home. I swear we groaned thinking about our coffin sized rooms back in Tokyo while stepping inside her house. We’ve celebrated the week with tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) and a mini christmas party. 🙂 This time I managed to walk through many interesting places I’ve never been before! It is always exciting to see different things or looking at places with a different perspective. In this post I will share with you some of my favourite cafés and shops in Taipei.

I would like to sincerely thank every single person I’ve met in Taiwan that has been super kind and awesome. It is a kind of warmth that I will never forget. You are really special to me. And one thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be back again. 🙂

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LOOPY 鹿皮
One phrase summary: my favourite cutest weirdest kind of wonderland (I need to tell you that the shop owners are one of the warmest and happiest people I have ever met.)大同區赤峰街41巷2-4號二樓
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/loopy

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Glasense Studio 眼鏡工作室
One phrase summary: Timeless glasses handmade and designed in Taiwan. (second phrase: I got a pair of glasses done here and the quality is amazing.)
台北市敦化南路一段161巷71號1F(69弄巷內右邊第一間)
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/glasense

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Fika Fika Cafe
One phrase summary: Swedish-ish one-of-the-best-coffees in Taiwan
台北市伊通街33號一樓
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/FikaFikaCafe

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好丘Good Cho’s in 信義  (+ Simple Market)
One phrase summary: Charming looking village with yummy bagels and weekly sunday handmade markets
台北市信義區松勤街54號,信義公民會館 C 館
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/goodchos

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Toasteria
One phrase summary: Hot toasts with cheese grilled so perfect hotdayumm
Quite a few shops around the same area, so do check the link!
For more information: http://www.toasteriacafe.com/

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Artifacts
One phrase summary: Superbly well curated fashion and lifestyle goods store
(I like the store in 東區 best!)  No. 23, Lane 177, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
For more information: http://www.artifactsstore.com/

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A ROOM MODEL
One phrase summary: Vintage goods and good taste which you’d hate to share with your friends
台北市大安區敦化南路1段161巷6號2樓
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/aroommodel

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Flower Whispering
One phrase summary: a small Kawaii grunge 90s nippon explosion with the cutest shop staff
台北市大安區忠孝東路4段205巷26弄4號
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/flowerwhisperingshop

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好氏研究室 (Good Studio)
One phrase summary: A young scientist meets botanist secret experiment
台北市大安區溫州街48巷22號1樓
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/gooooodstore
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光一咖啡 (Light one cafe)
One phrase summary: hidden second floor coffee corner encounter (good coffee!)
中山區中山北路2段20巷1-4號2樓
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/lightonecafe

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Nichi Nichi 日子咖啡
One phrase summary: simple and minimal interior with solid coffee
台北市大同區赤峰街17巷8號
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/cafenichinichi

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T. Loafer 閑隅
One phrase summary: cozy little mysterious café obsessed with cats and windows
台北市中正區臨沂街55-3號
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/T.Loafer

(thaaaaaat’s it~! Merry christmas and happy holidays!) 🙂

this is… wait for it!…

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In life we do a lot of waiting. They are the simple things to begin with—waiting for the bus to come, waiting in line to order a burger, waiting for a laughter from someones face after telling a really (bad and) cold joke, waiting (anxiously) for the reply from your favourite person as the chat application shows that he/ she is “typing…”. (then sadly waiting again when they stop “typing…”.)

Then, the waiting that is pretty much inevitable and slow. The general things. Like waiting for the last day of school in order to graduate (finally), then waiting for a job, then waiting to be promoted, after which waiting to retire, then waiting to see your grandsons face, and finally, waiting to die.

We also have the waiting, the waiting that everybody has done before. The kind of waiting we do, without knowing when it would end. The wait that has no answer. The wait that stings. The one that is hardest to let go. Like waiting for a sign from someone you are fond of, hoping they’d like you back. Like waiting for the heart to heal after saying goodbye to someone you once loved (or still love). Waiting to find out the answers to burning questions on life, science, romance, the reason why people do crazy things sometimes, and the reason why you do crazy things sometimes.

I happen to do a lot of waiting, I feel. Wait, if I do a lot of waiting, does that make me… a…waiter? (ba dum tss!) So much so that I do not seem to be very much in the present sometimes. I have this thing I do where I wait for the particular event to end even before it starts, so that I could to move on to other things. As much as, say, if I were in an amazing party, and I’m enjoying myself and having a crazy good time, I see myself also checking the time a lot waiting for the time to leave and do other things. I know that might seem a little bad, a little impatient, but I am always looking forward to the future because it is seems so exciting! The great big unknown!

Then there are times where you tell yourself to stop waiting for silly things. Give it up. Enough is enough. Quit waiting for something to happen and start doing things. Quit waiting because nothing good is gonna come out from it. Quit waiting because it makes you feel wonky. Quit waiting for nothing. That’s where you start making shit happen. That’s where you start being independent than relying on signs and peoples whatsapp replies. That’s when you become stronger, when you know that it is time to make yourself happy instead of waiting to be happy.

So what are you waiting for?

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I waited to watch the stars with you. You’ve told me once that it would be really awesome if we ever did. I agreed, looking at your message from the backlight of my phone. Although we were miles apart, you never did seem so far away. I looked up to the sky, thinking you’d do the same. I imagined how your eyes may twinkle as bright as the stars as you tell me about your dreams, or something embarrassing that you’ve never told anyone about except for me. A story you are willing to entrust me with, that if I might tell anyone your story you might be caught with a thousand snakes on your head and I, human sushi on someones dinner table. Of course, in that way, I thought I was that special to you. That you would tell me a secret story, knowing that you might be taking a risk of being Medusa the next day. Should I call myself dreamy and naive, should I call myself foolish? That we may even meet somehow, that you would be willing to let me in? But on that night onwards I waited to watch the stars with you one day.