#2085 | Things I was impressed by in 2018

Untitled

Hey guys:

Not exactly a gift guide (though feel free to lift liberally from it for gifting ideas) but a random assortment of things that made me go oh wow in 2018.

1. Wireless Chargers

I am in love with wireless charging. I have a standing wireless charger in my office which is made by Samsung, and I bought a Belkin one off Amazon as well. The Samsung one is significantly easier to use, and I feel like it charges phones faster too, but the Belkin is cheaper and still functional. Wires? Pft. Wireless charging is the very chi chi future.

2. Suubalm Moisturiser

So simple but so effective. If you’ve ever known the pain of a mosquito bite itch, which is part of the guarantee living in a tropical country like Singapore, then this is pretty much a godsend. The Suubalm moisturiser is a menthol product which makes the spot where it’s applied to feel minty, which works to distract you from the itch till it goes away. It’s formulated at the National Skin Center Singapore, which gives me faith that it’s all of the good things. Obviously I drank the gov’s kool aid.

3. Scented Candles

See this blog post for backstory, but yes, belated to the party as I am, I am now extremely into scented candles and I think they make excellent gifts.

4. Short hair

I went to the salon to try and get my hair dyed pink and they cut it all off instead, which proves that my stylist really knows best because I LOVE IT. In fact I am now particularly excited whenever I see another girl with short hair, it’s like being in a secret club. My boyfriend is not amused by this (like all boys, he likes the hair long), and he was like please dont when I said I wanted to go even shorter. I was all like, who cares what you think?!?!?! I dont live for some mans approval!!! and he was all like, … we’ve been dating five years..

Untitled

I cut my hair with Calvin at Hairloom Singapore

5. The High Low Podcast
I’m new to podcasting(ish), I’d dabbled in it before, earlier in the year, but they were all very specific podcasts that had to do with one topic or were basically musicals, so they weren’t habit forming per se. I got into podcasts again during my time in the UK because everyone there listens to podcasts, and on the recommendation of a colleague I started listening to pop culture podcast The High Low by journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. I listen to it when I’m doing housework or driving, so basically whenever I cant be using my hands or eyes (ruling out reading or watching TV), and I am really loving it! I now feel like Dolly and Pandora are my friends, which of course they arent, so I kind of hope I never run into them IRL because I will probably definitely be extremely uncool about it.

6. F45 Training
I started working out at f45 this Feb and something about it just makes you want to commit. Alright, it’s probably the money. It’s pricey but essentially boutique gym price (meaning you pay the same as say if you’re into spin or boxing), and it’s the kind of workout that triggers momentum, so you feel compelled to keep going back. Reader, I kid you not: I feel guilty when I miss a day. Anyway, having a workout routine feeds very well into the whole becoming more of an adult business, so I’m very pleased about this.

7. Multiple books, all of them.

I read a lot in the second half of 2018 by virtue of the editorial traineeships I did in London. First half of the year was insane, and I am ashamed to say I barely got any reading done. But I more than made up for it in the second half because not only did I read a lot, I read a lot of good books. Will post a list soon, but the books are usually more or less all on my IG story highlights. Yay! #bookstagram

8. Elizabeth Arden’s Skincare & etc

I know it’s odd to be impressed by like, a whole brand, but I only got on Elizabeth Arden this year and my word I love it. I’m obsessed. I haven’t tried a single thing from them that I dont like yet. My favorites are the Superstart Probiotic range (the 1 min clay mask and skin booster) and the Retinol ceramide capsules which I am basically addicted to. I let my sisters try them and they are very annoyed at how much they like the capsules because EA is totally not student-budget range. Haha. But yes I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve tried from them so far, skincare wise.

Since we’re on the topic of skincare, I was also very taken by the local products I tried in Okinawa whilst on shoot there earlier this year. The Suisavon clay mask and the Nuchima-su sea salt in particular I am loving. The sea salt works as a scrub, which you can use maybe 2x a week for exfoliation, with immediate and visible brightening results. The Suisavon clay mask spreads like a dream and leaves your skin really fresh and soft.


The travel show I did with Okinawa Tourism Board and Jetstar, here

9. The Google Home Mini

Also a longer backstory at this blog post, but I love my google home mini so much I actually bring it with me when I travel. Hot tip: I’ve customised my google home to trigger a series of routines when I get home by saying ‘google I’m home’, and it immediately a. welcomes me home b. sets an alarm for 11pm (which is my bedtime) c. reads out my next day’s events pulled from google cal and d. plays this ultra chill home playlist which I curated myself on spotify thank you very much! Unimaginatively, it’s called Google I’m Home and you can listen to it here.

10. Wakesurfing!!!

My friends and I are always looking for new things to do together and this year we alighted on wakeboarding/ wakesurfing. One of the benefits of living in a tropical country is the easy access to water sports, either locally or in the region, and I’m a total waterbaby. I used to wakeboard in school as an elective but I was all kinds of horrible, so it’s a relief that adults have better balance (it seems). Still, in addition to regular wakeboarding, I tried wakesurfing for the first time and I freakin love it! I texted my boyfriend and I was like, youre so lucky cos youre obviously dating the next wakesurfing olympic champion. He’s obviously used to my nonsense because he wasn’t even fazed, he was like, aight.

Anyway, I love it.

Untitled

I’m sure there’s more stuff I was impressed by but here are the top ten off the top of my head. In retrospect there arent that many there that can be repurposed as gifts, but, yknw, whatever, this aint a gift guide.

Till next time x

x
Jem

#2084 | To all the girls I’ve loved before

UntitledUntitled

This essay was written and published in Her World’s 2018 December issue. Many thanks to David and team for housing it – you can get the issue in stores now. x

Three years ago on Christmas Eve, I got down on one knee in a tiny Italian bistro, the name of which I no longer remember, only that it was dark, candle lit, and had tables squeezed too close to each other. I pulled out a long speech typed on my phone’s Notes app, started and stopped a few times, then abandoned the doomed speech entirely, and asked: “G, it’s been seven wonderful years, the next seven I believe will be equally wonderful, or more, anyway, what I am trying to say is – will you be my friend forever?”

There were tears, gasps, complimentary wine, and way too amused servers. One of them said: “Now I’ve seen everything.” I remember the music in the background: French. I remember thinking it was a strange choice for an Italian establishment. There was a ring, an eternity band in rose gold and silver. We were extravagant in our celebration of friendship that night, and lived like church mice for the subsequent few months. Our friends rolled their eyes at our melodramatic tendencies. And we leaned into each other and giggled right back.

The proposal was based off the popular but questionable myth that any friendship that makes it seven years will last a lifetime. Still, accurate or not, it was about that time that the truth of the underlying principle began to make itself apparent to me: good friendships are rare, they take work, and when done right, are a joy to behold. It is a principle that I live by now, a guiding principle that informs my interactions with people around me, that rules my time with intentionality. Friendship, when enacted meaningfully, can be the stuff of epic romances. Toss out what you know from garden-variety Hollywood infatuations; this is the real deal.

In an essay published earlier this year, Elena Ferrante, best known for her novels on female friendship, breaks down the etymology of the term. “The Italian word for “friendship”, amicizia,” she writes, “has the same root as the verb “to love”, amare, and a relationship between friends has the richness, the complexity, the contradictions, the inconsistencies of love.” Let us note specifically the equivalency she draws between the value of friendship and romances, and the power she attributes to both in a world that focuses frequently on only one. This ability to induce joy and confidence should not be taken lightly – in today’s climate, we need it desperately. The truth is, we all know that very good female friendships are rare and powerful, and it is in our best interests to constantly seek them out, for they will then govern our values, our behavior, our ethics. Our individual bodies and communities become the bearers of these friendships, and we grow and become stronger by them. It makes for not just a better world, but better lives.

This is especially important today in an era of girl squads and cliques that flip to feuds in a matter of seconds. These glamorized friendships do little justice to kinships forged over deep conversations, practiced empathy, and shared experiences: bonds that see you through a life of good times and bad. Clearly we can do much better – especially now when female solidarity is having a moment. In pop culture, literature, and film, there has been increasing demand for more stories of complex, nuanced friendships. I don’t doubt the correlation between this and the happenings in the world – art has always responded to the zeitgeist of the era. 2018 has been internationally recognized as a demanding but defining year for women. It is almost impossible to keep one eye on women in global politics and keep the other eye dry. And in navigating the cesspool of rage the modern world inevitably creates, we have seen women band together the world over, in fury, in tears, and in celebration. It is almost primal, what we are witnessing today, if only we pay attention.

In the light of current happenings, one would think that the value of strong female friendships would be immediately obvious to all. But this is not the case. Too often, significant female experiences are misread as exclusionary or taken as an affront to other forms of relationships. A claim to female solidarity is not a threat to a healthy romantic relationship, for example, though it is frequently read as such. Another thing I have heard said: “Platonic heterosexual friendships are amazing,” as if more than one thing cannot be amazing. Many things are and can be incredible: healthy romantic relationships, solid familial bonds, trusting platonic friendships between men and women, life-long bromances enacted between men and other men. They can be incredible simultaneously; we do ourselves a disservice to assume a limited capacity on this front. It is time for us to also unapologetically include thriving female friendships when taking stock of how far we have come. What female friendships uniquely offer us, individually and together, are a source of strength, derived from shared experience, a way to approach and navigate the world. Something this worthy and powerful has to be earned, and sustaining it takes work. It is not simply an empowering slogan printed on a T-shirt. And there are steps we can take to get there.

Here is how we begin. Recognize the women who have helped you. Help other women. Create communities that encourage and enable mentorship. Consciously, and with intentionality, be a good friend to other women. Articulate this in your language and behavior. Call out toxic behavior constructively. Do not fall into the trap of popularized language and tropes – the generality of the bitch, the slut, the crazy ex girlfriend. Allow other women to be people, and not simply characters. Don’t take your friends for granted. Work at your friendships, and work hard. Celebrate them. (You can even have a few proposals!) I have said this so many times already but I cannot say it enough. Friendship, when done right – it is amazing. Amazing.

x
Jem

#2083 | Clap your hands for tinkerbell

Untitled

My time in london has had the unintended effect of endearing candles to me — previously unable to understand why anyone would drop fifty dollars on a scented lump of wax, now I gaze longingly at the likes of the Jo Malone and Diptyque shop windows, painfully aware that I am shedding layers of my skin only for the most basic of chinese girls to emerge. Was this the metamorphosis marketed to me regarding adulthood? One would have hoped for more political astuteness, or clarity of mind, but I suppose there are worse things than a keen appreciation of a citrus scented home environment. You know, the word I think I’m searching for, is hmm.

x
Jem

#2082 | I have become the sort of person who..

Untitled

.. takes photos of myself in mirror-selfie style. It is an unintended consequence of a solitary life led in london, the result of internal warring: increased effort to dress up due to the cosmopolitan and weather conditions here, a desire to document this change, a painful reluctance to ask a stranger to snap a shot for me… etcetera etcetera. So many thoughts that flash through ones mind before a rather superficially happy smile.

x
Jem

#2081 | Another one from another life

Hi guys,

Another one of late. I knew I was going to be taking a break from entertainment for the year end to work on the literary side of things, so the months leading up to November were actually insanely busy, crammed with shoots and revisions and scripts and projects yet to come to fruition, but promising promising, busy yet still promising. I am equal parts excited and intimidated, the tension between the up down up down up down is enough to wreck. A. Girl. I’m telling you! And yet I would not have it any other way. I wake up everyday horrified at all the things I have yet to do. Everyday I feel like all I’m doing is catching up. And on and on we go.



Anyway here is what I was talking about, re: another one. I hosted the Secrets of Okinawa travel episode for Okinawa Tourism Board x Jetstar Asia, a 5 day shoot that ended in a typhoon (!!!). Which obviously didnt make the final cut. For reasons.

I adore Okinawa. It’s my second time back – the first I was also hosting a travel video, a mini travel series in three parts that was more lifestyle and fun. This one is a little more documentary style. I actually prefer this one because of the homestay I got to do, which let me really sit down and get to know my hosts even after the cameras stopped rolling. Also – the extremely uncoordinated me got to do some hiking, which I have steadily refused my entire life, just knowing I would fall on my face and have my front teeth knocked out.. well, I didn’t, which is a nice surprise, though all it really does is reaffirm the extreme paranoia I carry around with me. Etcetera. Aside: that’s one way to get me to do physical activity I normally refuse – have a client request it. Ah well.

Because so much happened in between the shoot and release date, I actually forgot all about it.. until I saw it online. And then the memories all came rushing back. I thought to myself: Gosh. I love camera work. I actually really love it. When I go on set it’s like a different version of myself surfaces, a more extroverted, excitable, playful version, and it’s like running on an adrenaline high. It is second only to writing – which brings with it a different, deeper, more settled joy. And then when the camera cuts I settle back into my regular person. I guess that’s why it always feels like I’m watching a self from another life when I watch my own camera work after it releases, that shock of uncanniness not entirely unpleasant, but not exactly comfortable either. But then again I have become accustomed to discomfort.

Till next time.

x
Jem