#2106 | Amenable

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This is what I consider press-conference garb, obviously. Here you see me sleep deprived and in between interview sessions at the Dr Wu press conference last month, a mad 48 hours in Taipei, running across the street for – you got it – the strongest iced americano the place has. My hair is no longer that color of purple-rose thanks to my recent diving expeditions, but when I saw this picture in my phone’s photo album I felt this pang of missing something artificial and man-made but something that you’ll still love to bits anyway. I’m currently in Okinawa filming a travel series for Jetstar and Okinawa Convention, blonde, because I’m sure i’ll dive here too, but I’m thinking about going back to that hair color when I get back. Yes, thats exactly what I’m thinking of – my hair. This is really the extent of my consideration and concerns at this point in my life because the girly frivolity is precisely what I need to balance out things in my head. Not that life has been super mega heavy for me of late, but for some reason I’ve felt incredibly low on energy and I suspect I went through a minor burn out somewhere in the last one month without me noticing. As a result yesterday I did something I havent done in years – I went shopping. I got into a cab during my half-day alone in bangkok, went to the nearest mall, bought like five things, and then I went to get a matcha latte from some specialty matcha store, and I recognised the cliche mimic of my actions, and I liked it. I remember thinking to myself at one point: I work hard. I deserve this. and I remember the reflexive guilt that came with it. I dont know why we are all conditioned to be so hard on ourselves. Perhaps this is the strange limbo between graduation and assured adulthood that I am experiencing, this unmooring, this coming undone. Perhaps not. Either way, it will pass, and so will your phases of doubt. Chin up.

x
Jem

#2105 | Sediments

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Omg the exhaustion is real.

I’m reading Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko now and I miss reading, damn it. I’m so tired nowadays my eyes dont focus properly on the words and I just give up and take a nap instead. I want to watch TV all the time now because my brain has obviously rotted, but I dont, because my eyes are tired and dont want to work too, which is what watching TV would feel like. Anyway i have been spending time working and stuff. I’m whining, forgive me. It’s bedtime.

x
Jem

#2104 | August in Panic and Wonder

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We are so quickly here in September I cannot believe it. It seems only yesterday I claimed to be offended that July flew by so fast. But it did, and so did August, and now here we are.

August in particular was a pretty insane month for me. I did three huge things in August which I will elaborate more on when I have the time/headspace to do so – I 1. submitted by Masters thesis, a monster two years in the making, 2. took my Advanced Open Water diving certification and 3. launched the film + campaign that I conceptualised, wrote, and produced for Laneige Singapore, which you can watch here. That one was a year in the conceptualisation and refinement, which probably would have been shorter if I hadn’t been trying to write my master’s thesis at the same time. And also because of the nature of the project it was very secretive which meant I couldnt talk about it at all, and so whenever I looked like I was about to die of stress people nodded sympathetically and were like, it must be really hard doing your masters. Which i mean, it is, but that’s besides the point.

Anyway, those are all things that I am pretty proud of, so I’ll definitely want to properly document them here when I have the time, if only so I have something to look back on and remember the intensity of emotion and ardour that went into the three separate things. And then also in August, I had a couchsurfer Shane and I crashed with in Salzburg come visit, so we did a really touristy weekend, I emceed Melissa’s wedding lunch and dinner over two days, so I did a weddingy weekend, and then I also fit a 40 hour press trip in there to Taipei and a shoot for the National Heart Foundation and gave a talk to my church’s youth group, so I did a lot of things lah is the point. Actually now looking back I think it was no wonder I spent most of my August in a kind of red alert high panic mode daze, walking around in horror and jumping at every little thing. On hindsight of course I’ll say it was all amazing, and I do think it was. But that’s essentially what August was for me – a solid mix of panic and wonder.

Now that it’s over, and my three biggest projects are more or less wrapped up (still handling PR for the Laneige film but the bulk of that is also done), I feel like it’s time for me to really get back into the grind of life and get my shit together. The last two years of my life have been more or less on standby while I was working on my masters, and now I’m finally able to get back on track with everything else and establish a semblance of routine and so i am EXCITED for that. HURRAY, i say. Time to make some plans.

x
Jem

#2103 | An airplane is a stateless place

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In the air, the best and worst of people surface. Shoes come off and toes are splayed. 32,000 feet above sea level, people don’t believe that they are bound to the authority of any land, and it shows. Does the person in front of me and really believe I cannot see him pick his nose and wipe it on the plush of the airplane seat, I don’t know. I turn to the window, wanting to nap, but someone’s toes are propped up, wedged between the tall edge of my seat and the airplane wall. In the air, I am almost a person who can poke at these oblivious toes with a pen, nudge them hard off the seat so they go back to their rightful place on the floor and not beside my face. But I don’t. I pull a book out of my bag and read instead.

The first meal is served as we’re passing over Puerto Princesa. There is always a queue for the restroom after the meals are served. Meals on board are curious – you see people tell themselves carbs don’t count while in the air while they scarfe down mediocre pasta, you see people drink too much because it’s free. And then there’s the queue for the restroom. People standing around in close proximity pretending the other doesn’t exist, which is fine, I guess, and then I see a kid trying to pry open the door to the crew quarters. I think: people behave so badly in the air. But maybe kids dont have a sense of personal boundaries even when they’re grounded.

I end up sleeping after all. I am woken by a bumpy landing and find myself in Taipei. For a moment we are both in a new state and not, half bound still by the communal bubble of stale airplane air. The seat belt sign is still on and the plane is still moving when a man stands and starts pulling his bag out of the overhead compartment. Immediately the stewardesses erupt into a chorus of Kindly sit down sir Please sit down Kindly but they are still belted to their crew landing positions and don’t (can’t?) get up. The man, incredibly, acts like he cannot hear them. The hint of a pause doesn’t even register in his movements, he continues yanking things from above, duty free shopping bags and the like. The refrain from the stewardesses continue. He stays vertical. Kindly sit down please be seated kindly kindly kindly. We all stare. Then the plane grinds to a halt and although the seat belt signs are still lit, more people get up. Kindly sit down please please. You have to give it to the stewardesses for persevering in the face of such humiliation. They keep on going until the seat belt sign clicks off and then they have to get up and help. You really have to give it to them. For smiling and nodding at each passenger as we disembark, despite their in flight authority being completely and publically dismissed. I absentmindedly nod goodbye to the one closest to me. Thank you see you again thank you for flying with us.

Later on I see the same man who started it all stride out of immigration, brimming, and kiss his wife hello in the arrival hall. It’s the kiss of confidence and for a hot minute you can kind of see how he’d have charmed her back in the day. In that moment I feel communal in this charm. I walk past them and think to myself how an airplane is a stateless place.

x
Jem

#2102 | The one where Georgie turns 25

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Ah, twenty five.

Here begins the slow but sure segue into adulthood: you can say but I’m only eighteen! only twenty one! only.. twenty four? Twenty five seems to be pushing it re: pleading naivety and youth, and who knows it better than us, the generation of ’92 kids?

I met Georgie when we were both sixteen going on seventeen, and within the year she upped and moved to New York, where I’ve visited her thrice. This year marked her first year back – and her first birthday back in Singapore. The idea was to give her the basic 21st birthday experience many Singaporean girls had (given as she spent her 21st out of the country) – you know, the whole staycation, cake, golden foil balloons, SURPRISE! shebang. The key word: Surprise. We concocted a super elaborate plan + many excuses and backstories on why and where we were meeting.. which were never used, so yes, I think we went overboard. But half the excitement is in the planning, so yay! Here’s the lowdown on what went down that day. Kindly read the point form bits while playing the theme music from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE in your head.

STEP ONE: We got a room at The Warehouse Hotel and booked dinner at Po, the restaurant linked to the hotel.
– When she asked why Po, the explanation was because ITS YOUR FIRST BIRTHDAY BACK IN SG WE THOUGHT YOU SHOULD HAVE SOME SINGAPOREAN FOOD PLUS YOURE SO CHI CHI YOU WOULDNT WANNA GO TO A HAWKER CENTER FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY.
– To which she said, huffily: “I’m not chi chi”
– And thus she was successfully distracted and we went to Po is the point.

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Po is a mod-sin restaurant and does pretty sick dishes, the most famous of which is the popiah. It was SUPER yum. It also comes in dessert form – a peanut ice cream popiah which tastes just like peanut butter. YUMZ.

I just gotta say that we were all mega impressed by the service at Po. We mentioned that it was a birthday celebration when making the reservation, and they came in the middle of dinner with a leather-bound notebook and card from the restaurant for Georgie wishing her happy birthday!!!! I mean, what even. Plus over the entire dinner, they refilled our water the minute we ran out without ever hovering around our table, which really feels like they pay a lot of attention to each table, yknw???

Anyway, after dinner, we adjourned to the lobby bar for drinks.

STEP TWO: DRINKS AT THE LOBBY BAR.

– When Georgie first came back to Singapore last year, she came to The Warehouse Hotel lobby bar for drinks before the hotel officially opened, and because the hotel was so new, the manager on duty gave her a tour of the hotel – rooms, pool, etcetera – and left a super good impression on her.
– Since then she has been regularly suggesting the warehouse hotel for drinks to our group of friends, which none of us have a problem with anyway cos the place is gorgeous and the drinks are good, yknw?

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– After about an hour of talking by the bar, Georgie started to get sleepy and I took the chance to explain to the other two girls how almost a year ago she got a hotel tour (they already knew this) and I was like, omg, we should try to get them to give us one too!
– Girls agreed enthusiastically except Georgie who pointed out that that was before the hotel officially opened so maybe she got lucky then. And then we told her not to be a hater.
– I went to the counter and asked nicely if they could give us a room tour cos it was my friend’s birthday to which they enthusiastically replied, SURE!

SEGUE: They knew about this already because it was ~all arranged beforehand~, so the girl at the counter looked super excited when i was walking up to her and there was this air of us all being actors in a drama and i was trying SO HARD NOT TO GIGGLE. IT WAS GREAT AND DRAMATIC AF.

STEP THREE: GET THE HOTEL STAFF TO BRING YOU ON A “HOTEL TOUR”

We went up the stairs to level two of the hotel, following the front counter girl who was really milking the performance. She was all like: Here is level two.. here are the stairs.. the room i am about to show you is extremely exclusive and we are super proud of its heritage… etcetera. THAT GIRL WAS KILLING IT! And the whole time Georgie was whispering to us like “She’s really nice, she seems to really like her job, wow maybe I should poach her..”

And then with a flourish, she opened the door of the room we had spent all afternoon setting up, evidently pumped about the grand reveal…

And Georgie walked in..

And she turned around and went, oh shit, we accidentally walked into someone else’s room.

All of us stood there, caught off guard, amazed that she did not automatically make the link that it was her birthday celebration given that 1. it was her birthday and 2. there were HAPPY BIRTHDAY BALLOONS everywhere.

And ten seconds later, the girl from the hotel started singing: Happy birthday to you..

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oblivious. lol

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IT WAS GREAT. Thus began a night of partying hard, you know, which when you’re twenty five basically means sitting around with wine and chilling and talking and laughing at the next person’s work related anecdotes.

And in case you were wondering what our balloons said..

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For obvious reasons.

It was such a great night. As we get older each moment we can afford to carve out as purely for quality friendship time becomes rarer and more precious, and this was one of those times. And so quickly here we are – twenty five.

Never change, G. We love you.

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x
Jem