#2048| just a thought

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Yesterday at a literary panel about Southeast Asian writing appealing to the world, a woman stood up in the audience and said oh well you know you need to listen to what us readers want and if we don’t want to read this because we don’t like it and it is not entertaining to us then we just DONT. And she was shouting and her hand was on the back of my chair and there was some spit that had landed on my lap and I stared at it for too Long and the moment to turn and address her had passed, and anyway, her comment was not aimed at me it was aimed at the panel.

This woman was old (are we still allowed to say that? Or is that now non-inclusive?) and so one might feel compelled to kind of brush it off or not expect her to change her views while at the same time holding on to the knowledge that she would be full of rage about having been dismissed so easily. Before the panel started, earlier in the evening, I overheard her and her friend talking loudly behind me about “books nowadays being too long, just read a bit from the middle and then go to the end and you’ll know if it’s good. Plus now that (she) teaches in school (she) feels like (she) needs to know what the book is, you know, about”. And when she later stood up and addressed the panel this was something she said again: that she bought but didn’t read books, and she said this with something like a sense of pride. This was very strange to me, both the incomprehensible choice to bring that kind of attitude to a literary festival and also the fact that Teachers like that exist. I hope she doesn’t teach English or literature but life doesn’t always follow your hopes. She spoke like someone highly educated and proud of it, and more likely than not she lectures in a higher degree institution somewhere. Or something. And in that vein this is what I wanted to say to her, that I did not, because I was staring at the spit on my lap. That literature is art and art does not exist to follow your desires.

Of course you can choose to only read what appeals to you. It’s your life and your privilege and your eyes and certainly your brain. Nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to try and understand postcolonial literature or infinite jest. One may subsist his/her whole life on a diet of dan brown, and while it is something I personally disagree with, I have to still say that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. Why? Because it’s your life. But when you stand up in a panel to shout (lets face it that was what she was doing, shouting) this at three very accomplished very hardworking very serious novelists then it becomes a problem because 1. You have started a dialogue which must be then receptive to response and 2. You are being rude.

So since a dialogue, shouty or not, has been started, here is a response. You may of course live your life wrapped in the comfort of easy reads that serve to reassure you and your way of life and hold books that you nod at sagely every few lines, thinking, mm, this book gets me, gets my life, is so good and worthy, etcetera etcetera. But art is not here existing to validate your world view. It is here to unsettle you and poke holes in your brain and make you very very uncomfortable. And in that extreme discomfort it might hopefully help you recognise your privilege and understand what other people and communities go through, and help you understand how to care, and how to empathise in a way that is not burdensome to the people on the receiving end of your empathy. I do not have it figured out. I struggle with understanding/ synthesising both the complications of my status as a woman and my privilege as a young chinese able bodied woman in Singapore. I stumble around looking for the right words when trying to articulate my thoughts to and about these things. But I am trying. And I can say that I probably know to try because of the books I have been very fortunate to have been recommended, or given, or that have somehow fallen like blessings into my lap. Learning to embrace this discomfort while putting your pride aside and understanding that it is not always about you is a good and essential life skill when approaching the arts. And this is my view which I do not forcibly foster upon you or shout about in public panels and certainly not shout until my spit lands on the lap of some poor girl who just happens to be within firing distance. But if you want comfort, you should get a blanket.

x
Jem

#2013 | Mocha Mondays: Starbucks Fullerton Waterboat House (noch ein mal)

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Mocha Mondays is a new and semi-regular feature on cafes and how workable they are, for freelancers or students looking for a place to park themselves at while getting work done. It may or may not actually feature mocha.

The fun fact of the day is that noch in mal means one more time in German, drips and drops of the residual German I’ve retained from seven months living there a couple of years ago. And there you have the enrichment portion of today’s post – checked.

I’ve actually featured the Starbucks Fullerton Waterboat House in my Mocha Monday series before, so for those of you who havent seen that, here’s the TL;DR:


TL;DR
Starbucks on Fullerton Waterboat House
Famous for: BEING STARBUCKS
Seats: Plenty
Wifi: YES
Power points: YES!!

I went back recently to try out the new Starbucks lunch menu, which is basically a $9.90 set comprising one of their gourmet sandwiches with a tall-sized iced freshly brewed coffee or tea, running from 11am-3pm. The rest of the new items are available through the day, and what I’m really excited about is the additional food options for those of us who work through the night at one of the many 24hr Starbucks outlets – finally, something else substantial to munch on at 3am!

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My favourites from the set include the tuna sandwich, the country chicken pie, and the triple turkey pie, all of which are unreasonably good for a place that is mainly known for coffee and convenience. No complaints, though. Since trying the set I’ve been back several times to get the tuna sandwich, although opinions differ: most people prefer the meatball sandwich which I’m honestly quite half-half on. Team Tuna, you guys!

I also wanted to take the chance to sneakily introduce a new book recommendation: an extraordinary short story collection. Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon. The man makes the short story form look like an art. The ten stories are loosely connected, self aware, and sharp in their humour. For those of you who’d like a preview, here’s one of his short stories from the collection – the titular Love and Obstacles: read here.
(Also, if being featured on the New Yorker isnt a stamp of approval, what is?)

Till next time.

x
♥jem

#2003 | give me two hours and i will give you:

I loved her as much as ever and I still did not know how much that was.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room. Book review up on my book blog: here.

x
Jem

#2001 | Untamed.

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Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones. They held me captive for thirteen days.

They wanted to break me.
It was not personal.
I was not broken.
This is what I tell myself.

—-

New post(s) on my book blog.

x
♥jem

#1891 | YOUR BEST START TO THE YEAR! TPB x Jemma: 2016 Planner

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The Paper Bunny x Jemma, 2016 Planner

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
-Oscar Wilde, The Importance of being Earnest

Hey you guys,

This is something I’m so freaking excited about that I’ve been keeping quiet for a really long time.

So sometime at the start of the year, late January, early Feb maybe, Jaime and I sat down for a casual lunch at Veganburg to discuss life and dreams. And from there, the idea for the TPB x Jemma planner was conceived. As something of a litgeek myself, luxe stationery is something I find myself pouring over with lust and love.. but of course, the perfectionist in me picks out things I’d want to improve, or that I wish were included.

Enter: The TPB x Jemma 2016 Planner! This planner was about 8 months in the works, and I have Jaime and her team to thanks for endlessly working on the design and illustrations, all of which I am 0% gifted at. On my end, I drew inspiration for quirks and features I wanted included in a planner I’d actually use myself by browsing bookstores from all over my travels, and sourced a reservoir of quotes to be peppered across the planner. They were originally all going to be literary quotes (you’ll see my adoration for Eliot and Twain pop up between the pages), but later they expanded to include my favourite inspirational quotes from all over – books i’ve read, figures i admire, the charming laughter and snippets of conversations I overhear in bars..

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The Planner comes in three iterations – Pink, Black, and Marble

The TPBxJemma planner has everything I’d want in my own planner, obviously. Everything I dreamed of when flipping through my various planners over the years. First things first: it’s light. It’s a slim volume, made of fine paper, easily slipped into a handbag. I have a penchant for creamy, thick, paper myself, but for 365 days – I prioritise the ability to actually carry my baby around. Secondly: it’s got the calendar month view at the start of every month, for an overview, and then at the top of each page so you know where at the year you’re at. Each month has it’s own side tab as well for easy flipping – it drives me nuts when planners dont have this.

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A closer look inside the planner x

Thirdly: it’s got a generic birthday&celebrations page, a goals page, and a budgeting page. A to-do segment at the side of each day’s space. Things I actually need, and use.

And lastly, it’s got character. There are ways to tell every story. We have sifted through works from past and present to bring together a neat little collection of powerful quotes from writers of classic and contemporary literature that pepper the planner, and I hope that they’ll inspire you as you continue to pen down your own story from the day to day in this agenda – read, write, and make it sensational.

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I have also put together a little video showing you what the flip through of the planner is like in real life – I hope you like it!


Filmed on my gopro and edited in iMovie – one of my first attempts at video editing, so please be kind!

Giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of a year of hard work, TPB and I want to give you the best gift we can think of – the best start to your new year. We have collaborated with Ready To Tour and my old flame Nikon Singapore for an epic giveaway, running one week from today.

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We are giving away:

A trip for 2 to Khao Lak, Phuket, inclusive of accommodation, flights, and itinerary c/o Ready To Tour
A Nikon 1 J5 camera c/o Nikon Singapore so you can shoot gorgeous pictures of your amazing beach holiday
and
2 TPB x Jemma 2016 planners of your choice, the best planner in the world, obviously.

ISNT IT THE BEST GIVEAWAY IN THE WORLD?! Yes. Yes, it is.

All you have to do, is match us –

1) Post any photo on your Instagram and share about your best moment of 2015;
2) Tag and Follow our partners @ReadyToTour, @NikonSG, @JemmaWei and @ThePaperBunny; and
3) Hashtag #YourBestStartToTheYear,

*Terms and Conditions Apply. Singaporean Residents only!

The giveaway runs one week from today and will end on the 8th of November. All the same, I wouldn’t leave it a week – start early! And remember to keep your instagram account public, so we can see your entries.

Alright then! I hope you guys are as excited about this as I am, because that is a lot. It’s been a long year – now go and make the next one great already.

The Paper Bunny x Jemma 2016 Planner drops in stores and online Wednesday, 4th November.
http://thepaperbunny.com/product-category/planners/

x
♥jem