New beginnings this March in an unfamiliar city. I’ve been here a couple of times before, but I’ve never been fond of many things. This is an opportunity to learn, both about the area and the part of me that has been partial to London in the past.
Reading back old entries has made me laugh loudly in the stillness of my room here in Singapore. I want to say that nothing has changed the past couple of months, with small projects and literally, questioning the smallness of our lives. However, an argument has to be made regarding potential chain reactions that is to come due to the internal stock I’ve been taking in my life. No regrets, but I do wish it didn’t take a pandemic grander than the Spanish flu to set me reflecting and (the difficult part), creating habitual change.
I’ve suddenly found myself shopping intensely for winter clothing. (Winter really is the best season provided you are kept warm and fuzzy.) I am preparing for a change of scenery come January, and also looking forward to flexing a different part of my brain; one that doesn’t have the luxury of being used often, and has potentially become rusty.
It is hard to believe that I have not left our sunny island for 11 months. If someone expected me to say I spent time understanding my home better, I have to say I did not.
Well, just 35 days left here. As they say, faith is the expectation of good things to come. It will do me no good to worry. It is both exciting and daunting to move halfway across the world (all over again) but I do believe I have some kick left in me to enjoy this process despite the growing anxiety. It definitely does not help that I am moving to a place where the pandemic has not yet slowed down, but life should continue with care, right?
Maybe my new year’s resolutions should including penning some of my thoughts more? A thought to contemplate.
It’s August, and we are no longer in quarantine (aka circuit breaker.)
Apparently it is June, or so they say. May came and went, but I hardly noticed (save for scribbling tally marks on the wall in the lavatory.) It has been approximately 75 days since what I could consider a near sentencing, but really, who’s counting? Some ominous music cue 2001 is perfect for this melodramatic moment.
It was probably toward the second week of isolation when I had decided to “do something about this” wretched attitude of mine, and promptly transformed this into an exercise of adjusting the brain. As such, lists created, notes scribbled, nonsense purchased, new goals at long last achieved.
There is nothing much noteworthy to add, since I have not been travelling (4 months grounded, this must be a record of some kind), and tend to shy away from writing out my truest of words, as they, how do you say it, “may be used against you in a court of law.”
However, I sorted out my bookshelf to toss out old books I literally (ha-ha) did not enjoy reading, and rediscovered a section of books I’d collected and were waiting for the lazy sack in me to get off my sorry ass. I had forgotten how enjoyable Capote’s works truly are. Even the mundanities of everyday life are presented so warmly that it takes you a breathing moment between each narrative. All I want to say is, how are words so beautiful my dude?
Well, a couple more weeks to go. Hope I can remain sane for the remainder of days, so that I may emerge from my cave for a moment of merryment before realising that I in fact, choose to stay home on a regular basis.
“The death of a dream is no less sad than death, and indeed, demands of those who have lost as deep a mourning.” – Truman Capote, New York, 1946.
Or Is This Real Life or Is This Just Covid-19?
Lately, I’ve been feeling sluggish and losing direction in life. It’s funny how life throws you a curveball and everything comes to a standstill. It’s certainly hard to imagine living frivolously through a difficult time such as this one when the realities and fragility of life comes at you hard and fast.
If I should be so lucky to live through this challenging time, will I simply forget these thoughts over time, counting my lucky stars that I, like many others narrowly avoided a catastrophe? Is rebuilding and recovering imminent, or does this mark a new beginning in our current world as we transition over to the next? These are the things I’ve been thinking about day in and day out. How about others who have faced life altering situations through losing loved ones, or the actuality of necessary (not precautionary) lockdowns and much more…
On good days, I laugh and joke with my friends online as we discuss developing situations around the world, howling at literature memes or learning and creating new things (thanks to the internet), even though I haven’t particularly felt interested in anything since we’ve begun to feel this imminent danger in our increasingly delicate lives. In the meantime, it’s heartwarming to see people band together to form organisations and campaigns to help different groups and clusters affected by this virus as well. I feel terribly blessed to have friends who are so keen on giving as much as they can, in turn inspiring me as well. It doesn’t necessarily offset the scammers and evil people doing what they’ll always be doing – but we just do what we can.
In reality, does death really matter? For me, it is a transition from this life over to the next so it doesn’t feel as bad as it could, and I think I can safely say that with each passing day, my heart believes it stronger as my faith grows, but as with everything, there are good and bad days so there is so much more to work on.
In the meantime, I am longing for the day where we are all blessed and we can emerge from our little caves to find meaning in the simple things (outside) once again. This poem has stuck with me since I read it close to a decade ago. It was inspired by a walk taken by Wordsworth and his sister, where they came across a long belt of daffodils near Gowbarrow park. There is so much hope and pleasure derived from seeing nature simply, doing its thing. What a dream.
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Finally, an updated website for a new lease on life this March.
I was feeling restless for a couple of days, and forgot about a to-do list I wrote down back in December that was filled with things I wanted to do but was “too busy” to do it while I was working 15 hour work days. I was adamant about accomplishing them before starting the year anew in August (more on that another time.)
It turns out that coding a new website, transferring domain host and other stuff I had to re-learn only required 16 hours of non-stop work, an obsessive need to get things done and some very pleasant tea. I’m very grateful for having inspiring friends who share their experiences with me. I probably wouldn’t have buckled down to start this project if it weren’t for them (though I’ve had this nagging feeling at the back of my head, wanting to re-code and trash all my old work for quite some time.) It all started when my banker casually asked ‘whether I knew I still had a website’. Yikes. Embarrassing much. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve felt this accomplished in a long time. If someone finds this somehow, I’d like to say I’m proud of what I put on the internet.
This photo I’m using above was taken during the summer of 2012 at the old Whitney Museum on the Upper East Side. It was taken with my favourite film camera at that time, the Natura Classica with Fuji Colour 1600 film, both of which can no longer be found. (I lost the original files somewhere, but I managed to find this one with a watermark from my first website.) What a throwback! It seems like we have come full circle.
In the meantime, I’ll be porting photologs and some older notes over. I’m excited to have a blog again. It’s very 2000 and I am having all sorts of diaryland feels, except I hope that I do cooler things than I did in the past (play basketball all day and whine about my classmates.)
London is particularly beautiful towards the end of summer – some sunshine even with cloudy days, which really remind me of Magritte’s paintings. There were so many terrific exhibitions going on, and I ended up with museum fatigue close to the fifth or sixth day but I powered through. Exhibition FOMO must exist outside of me. Some exhibitions turned out to be loads better than others, and I even saw an exhibition that resulted in my Master’s acceptance. When I look back, I am very grateful that I ended up going to London (though a little daunted and reluctant in the beginning, since I’ve always had a tenuous relationship with the city.) However, I am pleased to report that I am liking it a little more than I have in the past. Hooray for quelling an out-of-date sentiment.
I’ve been to the Barbican a couple of times now (typically for concerts or art shows), but I’ve never forked out the time to go for an architecture tour till this time round. The docents were knowledgeable and brought us to places that were closed off to the public. We even got to see the sculptural additions of the mid ’90s, where decorative features and random statues were added to the mix (to soften the brutalist architecture) – it was weird to say the least.
One of my favourite bits about the tour was how it quelled the myths and preconceived notions of the space. For example, the Barbican estate was never considered as council housing, but was owned and managed by the city of London. This meant that there was a right to purchase, but in reality it’s just extremely expensive housing that is mostly privately owned. In many ways, it seems to be the elevated form of socialism. What I would give to look inside these homes and a deep study into the quirks of these folks! I remember there was a book a while back that did give some overview on the residents of the Barbican, but it turned out to lack depth (on people, not design.) I was not very interested in the standard usage of Dieter Rams knobs (though I can appreciate them, kinda.) Okay, I realise how this sounds. Please ignore my lack of shame and applaud my desire to understand the human mind? Moving on…
The vision of the 50’s to create an all encompassing space for living, work and play seemed to have hit the nail on the head, yet I don’t feel like we see more of these estates (not just in London, but around the world.) Is this because it’s too esoteric and not necessarily beneficial for ‘all of society’ as compared to an ‘elite few’? Just a thought.
After the tour, I walked around a little more and spent almost half an hour trying to find an escape from the estate. Can’t say that was fun…
Sleepless by France-Lise McGurn, 29 June – 8 September 2019, Tate Britain.
Humanity in all it’s excitement – for better or for worse is such a wonderful study in intimacy. The idea of on-site specific exhibitions where the art transcends the canvas is beginning to charm it’s way to me. It’s a pity more people won’t get to enjoy it but this is also the draw of being present.
More snaps from Copenhagen. This city is brilliant and photogenic from every angle. People on the streets seem to have a wonderful sense of style, but beyond that, the city itself has this crisp, refreshing vibe – aloof and detached; everyone in their own element and really just enjoying being. I, too, enjoy being here.