#2037 | ah yes, fashion

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Lombok, Indonesia

Believe me you, Athena was not pleased that I had a bird on my shoulder and did not bring it home for her to play with. You may ask how she would’ve ever known, but cats always do.

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Jem

#2036 | i am a pumpkin

All my friends back home wanted to know how I spent my first American Halloween, America being the one place halloween is an actual cultural touchpoint and not simply a means by which one gains free entry to Zouk… well the very unexciting truth is that I put on some disco pants, sat down on the couch with an open bottle of red, and did not move for four hours, until the parties going on all around the upper west side were well over, after which, i slumped off the edge of the couch, sloped down to the grocery store where i took this photo, and then thought i may as well have a beer at the bar, which i did with my girlfriend kate, until it got too noisy with the energy of post-partygoers on the better side of their twenties, the incentive for me to shuffle home, put on some tea, and do a face mask till it was time to drift off to dreams.

so went my twenty-seventh year.

x
Jem

#2035 | A Private Bubble, A World

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New York, New York

When I first knew I was moving to New York Roz turned to me and said your earphones will be your best friends.
I don’t actually listen to music that much, I said, and she shook her head.
Trust me, she said, you will.

I place more stock in Roz’s opinions than I do the usual person not only because she is wise and smart and funny but also because it was at twenty seven that she, too, moved across seas to chase her dream. Ten years separate us but when we are together we do not feel it except to benefit from the endless comparing of notes from days past and present. Ten years ago Roz packed up and got on a flight to Taiwan where her career as an actress developed; ten years later I rolled my life into a suitcase and stepped on the plane to New York with big dreams and a pen in every bag. Ever since she and I have obsessively texted and skyped and continued exchanging stories in every medium possible. I press my earphones in and listen to her voice messages on my walk to school. I think to myself: she was right – my earphones did become my best friends – but not in the way she had expected. Everytime I slide my earphones on, the voices of my loved ones back home chatter in my ear. So much of my days here, now, are spent with a foot in each country: america, singapore. Just a week ago I watched a friend walk down the aisle and heard the sniffles in my ear while feeling the chilly autumn breeze raise goosebumps up and down my back. I have a body that exists in two states.

As someone who identifies as technologically curious, I made the transition to wireless headphones years ago, and as headphones evolved in more compact and amazing ways I followed suit and have used exclusively true wireless earbuds for the past couple of years. How incredible they are, automatically waking and pairing once you snap the case open, pausing your track if you take them out, giving you the option to take calls or change tracks with a casual tap on your ear. And buds are so subtle. The fact that I affect a slight Luna Lovegood air when muttering observations about new york to whoever is invisibly on the line can only be a plus.

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With the bud-sized world I now carry around of course my appetite for music has increased. After countless earpieces snapped, frayed, and tangled, I was slowly weaned off a perpetual background track years ago… something that slowly started coming back in the last few years after investing in home speakers and wireless earpieces. But True Wireless Earbuds as a category is honestly unparalleled in terms of convenience. After the first pairing, it’s automatic and quick, the minute you take the earbuds out of their case they link up to your phone and are ready to rumba. And not all earbuds are created equal. It surprises literally nobody that my current babies, Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM True Wireless earbuds, are an audiophile’s dream, delivering excellent sound, as per all of Sennheiser’s offerings. Bluetooth technology has been a major debate for audiophiles for a long time, always seen as a trade up between sound fidelity and the hassle of wires, but Sennheiser has handed the reigns of control back to the user – through the companion app you can tweak the bass, the treble, the highs and the lows to your personal preference. And as someone who is absolutely addicted now to orchestral game music (I wrote a whole piece to the soundtrack of Pokemon Red’s Pallet Town theme), I can assure you, simply walking down the street takes on an epic quality.

Because I have no issues talking out loud to the apparently empty air I get a major kick out of telling the linked Google Assistant to change the track or adjust the volume: this is new york, talking to the sky is the least shocking thing you can see a stranger do. If one so wishes, the buds can even feed in some ambient noise from the outside world (the transparent hearing option toggled in the app) the result being that I never miss MTA announcements while waiting for the train.

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And there is no talking about the MOMENTUMs without at least a brief mention of the case, which is a tactile luxury, solidly built and encased in grey fabric. Perhaps bite sized luxury is the best way to think about the MOMENTUMs, which are small and excellent, compact and comforting, which have followed me across the seas to my new life here where they will stay for the foreseeable future.

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Jem

This post is brought to you in collaboration with SITEX Singapore. All views expressed are my own. Visit SITEX for more details of the Travel Tech Experiential Zone, and click here to read more about the Sennheiser MOMENTUMs – straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say.

#2034 | Six years!


New York, Singapore

When people ask me what the MFA program is like I tend to compare it to having a nutritionist or physiotherapist – you identify the areas where you want your body (of work) to be strengthened, enriched, fixed, and a specialist works with you through small, cumulative repetitions to the end of extending, widening your range of movements. In that light it feels telling that I am taking not one, but two classes that have to do specifically with time, and on top of that, a lecture by a writer who is also preoccupied with dismantling the presence of a clock in every work of fiction. In my masterclass, (mis)adventures in time, ayana mathis asked during our first meeting what the significance of time was… how it functions, specifically, in each of our lives.. automatically I replied it seems to exist purely to frustrate me. And it is true, I sometimes feel like time is something I dip in and out of, but of course what I am starting to see is that, inevitably, it is something one is bound to, happily or unhappily it progresses and with it we must go or rage.

In The Time Traveller’s Wife, which was a favorite book of ours (shane and i, when we were twenty one), audrey niffeneger explains time travel as traced back to a gene that causes one to be chronologically displaced, involuntarily dropping in and out of time, and it was an idea that immediately echoed in me… so much of my life I have tried to organize in boxes and discipline into schedules, I like timetables, the rigidity, the solidity of something that I can rely on when otherwise things dance around in my brain with no fidelity to order. But when you live in a body that lacks chronological rigor things old and past can seem fresh and new, sometimes intrusively, sometimes pleasantly. Was it seven years ago that we took the train together from the west to the east and found each other familiar or six and a half that shane bought me a plate of NTUC sashimi to cheer me up after a long day of wrangling with an essay on modernism? Or just yesterday that he read me a poem on the ADM roof and asked me to be his girlfriend – was it this morning that I replied oh, finally or two months ago that i read the play he wrote, the play with which he asked me to marry him, or just a year before that I said, as a writer i will be broke forever, are you sure … round and round my memories go, mixed in an undiscerning swirl.

Perhaps ten years from now I will be confused as to whether we had gotten the dog or married first, or if the fights preceded the apologies or vice versa. Perhaps my need to record has always traced back to a need to explain to myself the order of things, this happened, and then this, and then we got older, and time compressed here, here, and lingered here. Perhaps. But for now it is enough to say that it feels new and fresh and amazing and wonderful and fun and incredible and all the things that! I woke up one day and! We were six.

x
Jem

#2033| No Ticket No Taco!

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los tacos no. 1, times square

when you live in a new country you suddenly become extremely defensive of your homeland which otherwise regularly frustrates and inspires affection in you, as with all familial relationships, but one thing I must say is that after tussling with multiple, multiple people here re: food (what the grand heck is general tso chicken?! or singapore noodles? I must tell you now it does not exist except outside of singapore and is the sort of thing we look upon as a sort of litmus test for: are you a sucker or not?), i must admit that two things and only two thus far have thoroughly impressed me. One: bagels, a doughy contraption I previously regarded as a pointlessly lumpy ball of carbohydrates. But I now live around the corner from the best bagels in new york city and when i first bit into their freshly baked warm sesame bagel with cream cheese i nearly whimpered and cried mama. Two: Tacos, and specifically, Los Tacos NUMBA ONE, which melody recommended, which is located opposite the HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD theater, which you keep not winning lottery tickets to, which really annoys you, which is not the point, the point is this taco shop, which requires a half hour queue, which has a secret menu cheese shell item that costs three extra dollars, which they dont tell you about, which shocks you upon receipt of the bill, and again when you take a bite, for it is wonderful, amazing, all the words, and over too soon. And the day after you first experience LOS TACOS NUMBER ONE you march to the gym and sign up for a monthly membership and you think alright i suppose all that fuss was worth it after all.
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Jem