#2073 | hashtag cheryl blossom


starbucks’s new green tea strawberry blossom is ultra grammable

Is it normal to love coffee so much? I really don’t know. I drink it black and cold (like my heart) almost exclusively nowadays, but one must make exceptions, and my exception this week was a sip of shane’s green tea strawberry blossom frap. so sweet. so pretty. so indulgent.

the new blossom frap reminds me of the ever annoying cheryl blossom from riverdale, this new netflix series that i cannot stop bitchin about. everyone i know, and i do mean everyone, is obsessed with it. even my self-proclaimed cinephile friends, and film-maker friends. I’m in disbelief. as someone who grew up in absolute love with cole sprouse (or dylan, i dont care, my affection is interchangeable), devoted in heart and spirit till i was in junior college and discovered sterling knight aka chad dylan cooper from disney’s sonny with a chance, this breaks my heart. i vowed to love everything my boy sprouse was in. but i cannot take riverdale seriously. i just cannot.

putting aside the fact that i told everyone i had no more time to tv cos, yknw, #thesis, i still dont stand up as well to peer pressure as i thought i would. i finally got suckered into watching it by martin who insisted that its surprisingly damned good. thus four hours of my life passed, and at the other end of four hours i came out and yelled at him for another four for making me do that.

firstly what the hell.

is no one in the show at least attempting to be believable? i cannot bring myself to believe that betty loves archie. she looks like she secretly hates him off camera. i have never seen anyone look so unconvincing when declaring to their gay best friend their love for the generic main protagonist. and generic is cutting it too close for comfort – whats up with archie? dude’s way basic. yes ok he’s cute – but so is literally everyone in the show. plus why are we pretending that his songs about heart break are revolutionary and indicative of talent?! hearts get broken, songs get sung. entire careers are built on this trope. ahem taylor ahem swift. this is nothing new. I’m tired of people using artistic endeavours like music or painting or whatever as a crutch that’s meant to symbolise that a character is ~varied emotionally and deep~. couldnt they have been a bit more respectful of female standards instead of making betty and veronica fight over this lame boy?

is the show’s aesthetic that no one can act? is this everyone’s first real role out of acting school? why is veronica always crossing her eyes everytime she wants to look serious? i cannot believe that veronica is a real person. she is very attractive but i think that’s the actress and not the character. who wrote this show? why do the character lines and dialogue feel like they’re trying to teach me something about ~insert hot social issue here~? and what is up with cheryl blossom? is she a fake blair waldorf? why is she so unbelievable as a character? why are all the parents in this show crazy? is this show channeling pretty little liars? when are we going to stop using this idea of male-female-bestfriendship as a vehicle for one party pining for the other? it is totally possible for men and women to be friends without one falling in love with the other. every single time a tv show turns a platonic friendship into a plot device for a romantic relationship, a fairy dies somewhere. tinkerbell, save me.

the only thing i liked about it was the appearance of josie and the pussycats, whom i loved in the comics. but then the representation of josie confuses me too. why is she so angsty? why is she so unnecessarily bitchy to everyone she talks to? wheres all this emotion coming from josie??? tell me!!!!

I was bitchin about this in the car, on the way to supper with my uni friends. the occasion was that emmanuel, who had migrated to hongkong a month ago, was back in town for twenty four hours. and in the car, we were talking about television, and either one of us brought up riverdale, and i went onto this tirade again.

watched episode one and hated it, he said. does it get better?
I’m on episode four and it still makes me want to smack something.
ok never mind then
i dont understand why its so unbelievable emman i really dont. why didn’t they qc the acting a bit more??

emmanuel stopped and stared at me.

its the CW, jem. acting is not their priority. hot people and melodrama is.

and i suppose he has a point there.

so that’s kind of my life update for the week, i guess. been studying, drinking starbucks, and bitching about television. i think school related stress is making me unnecessarily emotional about everything. my boyfriend was looking at emman and i go on and on about riverdale, and he finally said: jem, why u gotta be so triggered?

hashtag life.


#2069 | life update; feb


Ola, guys

No, I am not drinking two cups of coffee. One is my boyfriend’s. Though I would not put it past myself to drink two cups at a go, or three, or four…

Anyway. Like I’ve been complaining rather self consciously to the people around me, life has taken a decidedly more contained outlook this year thus far. This relates mostly to matters of academia, where my not so secret double life as a masters student has been cannibalising most of my time, of which I’d already had limited supply. This mostly means that in between commercial work, hosting, teaching, and thesis-writing, I have a window of about seven and a half minutes to do other things like try and have some semblance of a social life, and so my social circle has shrunk to about three – my boyfriend, my cat, and my other girlfriend who also rents office space at the Hive a desk over from me.

The self conscious element kicks in because I know that all things considered, it is a good life. A brief sacrifice of social life / fun is hardly a blip in the grander scheme of things, especially since, as everyone tells me, it’s only till August! But knowing that and feeling it is completely different matters. All my friends have gone out to play šŸ™ I told my boyfriend, and I wanna go too.

Then go, he said.
I cant. I’ll feel guilty.
Then don’t.
But I want to play too.

And so the conversation loops and drags on. Sometimes I just loop the same conversation over and over to see how long it’ll be before the boyfriend tosses me a glass of wine to shut me up. But his patience has been both amusing and impressive thus far.

The only till August part saddens me too, because I love being in school. I love it! I’ve always been the type of kid who loved going to school everyday because I am a nerd and i love learning about new things that i may not have had the chance to encounter otherwise. I think I only started hating school when I was eighteen, and that was because I am seriously not a morning person (side note: all three classes I’ve taught so far have been extreme morning classes, and so I’ve started to think the university has an agenda against me.. or something). But even then I freakin loved finding an empty spot by the study benches to drink cheap 3-in-1 coffee and eat dollar-seaweed-chicken and study with friends. And so it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t, because I wish I had more time but I love the thing that is precisely taking up all my time, ie. school, and so.. I don’t know. This is a good problem to have, and a privilege, and I am just being a whiny bitch.


Having a 4pm beer by myself on the roof of my office during my 7 minutes of free time per day

In any case. The commitment I made to myself to not go out and play till, I dunno, August – with the exception of 1. momentous occasions, aka my friends getting married or something 2. friends playing the friendship SOS card, aka someone broke up, someone has a emergency and needs support, someone etc etc etc 3. a friend from abroad dropping in to singapore, which happens more often than you’d think – has given me the mental freedom to devote nearly all my time to work and writing. The idea was to start off with 1-1.5k words of academic writing per day, then on alternate days either moving on to replying business emails and working on commercial work, or continuing my academic research and marking student papers. So far the plan has been functioning okay. If nothing else, I had a moment where I realised that no matter how spontaneously I’d like to believe I can live my life, I am still ultimately the sort of person who thrives on routine and compartmentalised decisions. The word neurotic has been used on me far too many times in the past year. I cannot find it in myself to disagree.

In concrete terms tho, this meant that in Feb I read two books, wrote about the best six books in my past six months, had a new editorial out for Paypal SEA, started working on phase two of my Times x Jemma Recommends book collection which is rolling out soon, and hijacked exactly two talks (one talk show for power98, one hosting gig for huawei mobile) with what I thought modern feminism represented, despite them both having engaged Jemma and not Jemimah to speak. Which, again, is how I realise that no matter how hard i try to keep them apart, my two worlds always inevitably end up crashing into each other. The other day I went to school and told a student I liked her eyeliner. Horror!


BTS of recent gigs i did

In general I was feeling pretty productive and proud of my progress work wise and academia wise, but that is not to say (i explained to the bf) that i dont miss just hanging out with my friends. I wish i had something else to sacrifice, like a video game habit, but i dont. Which is why I was so chuffed when we decided to work out of a starbucks instead of the office yesterday, and a couple of our friends nearby crashed!!!!!!!


And suddenly life was flowers and rainbows again.

A new week. Onward, I say. Happy Sunday, y’all.


#2062 | life buoy


Male, Maldives

The new semester has begun, as has my rubber-band launch back into the seesaw balance between my academic and professional life. Writing my thesis on a liveaboard in my head was one of the many ways one doubles up social and work life, an efficient use of time, if you will. Dive by day, write by night. I’m sure this wasnt what Papa Hemmingway had in mind but it works, for now. Surprisingly it’s been wonderfully productive. You’d think that an arrangement like that would never work, and it probably wouldn’t long term, but something about the mix of sea air, waves with a chance of dolphin, and literature, makes for a fantastic combination. The beer doesn’t hurt too, nor the dozen Blackmores Travel Calm pills I take per day. What’s a girl to do when she loves to travel but is deathly afraid of plane rides and gets sea sick at the slightest rock of the boat? Not sure if this question were ever asked, but if so, the answer is right here.


#2060 | Cafe (waiting love?)


Starbucks Singapore, Tanglin Mall

Singapore, you were pretty exhausting today.

It is a perpetual struggle to accept that it’s okay to be both fulfilled and exhausted. To love what you do but also want to give everything up for five more minutes in bed. A horse a horse my kingdom for a horse and all that. There are easier routes but none in my head. Life has become a giant check list and my brain, cotton candied mush. How can you ache for something you’ve never had? How can your chest pang for something you know you wouldn’t want if offered? We are walking ironies stitched together by the kindness and love of others. We all hope they will accept us for the ridiculousness that we are.


#2055 | The Golden Years


Los Angeles, America

Back in LA I was given a choice: attend the premiere showing of La La Land (Emma Stone was to make an appearance at the end) or catch Maroon Five live. I chose Maroon Five because I reasoned that I could watch the movie when it broke in Singapore, and also, I’m generally not star-crazy so I was happy to just watch Emma onscreen forever. Ah, this life of privilege. And looking back, I’m kind of glad I didn’t watch it in LA, because I don’t think I’d ever recover from being a mess in front of the international media over there. The show hit me hard, friends. Hard.

I wonder how much of it I can go on about before giving it away. The premise of the film already begged to be loved by my sort – song, dance, and color? And Emma Stone?! Count me in. Emma is incredibly talented – I absolutely adore her work, I love love loved her in Easy A, in The Amazing Spiderman, Crazy Stupid Love, Birdman.. I don’t think she’s ever really been fully utilised to the best of her talent, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a lot more of her in the coming years. Neither she nor Gosling can really sing, but that adds to the adorable factor of it all, I suppose.

And I also liked that it’s a standalone movie. Not a sequel to yet another Marvel film (which, full disclosure, I also love, but am kind of getting numb to) or a prequel to a huge franchise (Fantastic Beasts) or borrowing from a wealth of popculutre/literary tradition (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). Just something fresh, something that resonates with people aching for the nostalgic old films from golden hollywood, something that promises to please..

The film opens on a jammed up freeway, classic los angeles. Everyone is listening to something different on their individual car radio, and a brown girl in a yellow dress leads the first solo. Soon, everyone jumps out of their car and starts dancing. It’s extravagant. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. It makes your heart jump. I found it an interesting and deliberate choice that the first two solos of the show’s first song were people of color, which I thought was fantastic, and although I would have liked seeing more people of color as leads in the show (John Legend makes an appearance as a supporting character in the middle of the movie) but yknw, we take what we can get. The musical number soon cleaves to introducing Emma and Gosling, and then we follow them from there.

The movie is essentially the age old tale of the tension between romance and ambition. Emma wants to be an actress. Gosling wants to be a “serious” jazz musician. Boy meets girl, boy and girl dislike each other, boy and girl decide that they kind of really like each other after all, boy and girl admit to Loooove, capital L, multiple Os. But they don’t just like each other, they like the other’s passion for their craft. At one point, someone says: “People like people who are passionate about things they love!” And when different ideas of who should chase what dreams clash, hearts ache.

I found myself in a mess at the end of it all. To be fair, it’s always been a genre that hits me hard – the idea of lost time and big dreams sweetened by sugary sweet showtunes and moony dance numbers. The music plays my heart like a fiddle. The plot smacks me in my big sappy face. And I loved it so much, but I couldn’t listen to the soundtrack without breaking down into tears again. Private crying! You learn to do it as you get older. Cry in the toilet instead of in front of others. Then talk about your feelings on the internet. Thus the modern generation is espoused.

2016 has been a strange, tiring year. Not just for me – for the world, I think. You know what I mean. People were dying left and right – and not that they generally dont, of course, and this is not to say that one person’s death means more than any other. But people become icons that represent something to us, personally. Prince and Bowie gave many struggling kids all over the world representation, and a means of understanding that they can be safe, be accepted, be welcome in a weird world. Alan Rickman is, well, Snape!! The number one icon of love for the Harry Potter Gen! And Christina Grimmie was our best friend, the everyday, relatable, girl next door, who touched people with her open heart and her talent. When these people were lost to us in 2016, the world seemed strange and suddenly alien. Nothing was sacred anymore. This is, of course, rubbish. Statistically 100% of people die. Plus three out of four of the people I mentioned were old, which is when it gets more acceptable to expire. But they were iconic to many, and in their icons they became more than just another person, and so their deaths hurt many. And it’s not just them. Somehow, in 2016 the internet felt more raw and open than ever, a gaping wound that was ready to fight back. Alton Sterling’s death slapped rage and hurt across the world, and people started to stand for fairer, more human treatment of everyone. (At least, it seems that way to me). Women the world over rioted at the outcome of the Stamford rape case – a widely publicised one that triggered in more ways than one women who’ve ever felt harassed, unfairly treated, and plain violated.

And yet for every angry person there were a thousand more anonymous ones brushing these off as no big deal. At the end of the year, people started crying as they watched numbers tick across a vote count that told them they and their problems were possibly no big deal.

Yeah. It’s been an exhausting year.

Will La La Land fix that? Of course not. It doesn’t have the answers. But it does have something else, something almost as precious. It has hope, but not stupid hope – it’s dashed with realism, but at the end of the movie you can smile and choose to be foolish and nod at your younger, sillier self with near respect. At the end of an insane year it’s with something like hunger that I inhaled the film, having forgotten how hungry i was for that kind of silly, sweet hope. It’s another day of sun, the characters sing during the opening number, even when the world lets you down.

Yes. Yes it is. And there are worse ways to close the year than with some tears and a smile.

Recommended: 10/10