#2051 | dirty

A few things:

1. Corona has messed with my hair real bad, not even going to pretend this is a look anymore so much as it is a sign of the times.

2. All i wear now are various sets of pajamas – I now have a rotating wardrobe of fancy pajamas, chill pajamas, and i’ve-given-up pajamas. This old star wars t shirt and pj shorts are basically part of the last category.

3. the other day, as i was working in the living room, my dad looked at me and asked why i type like im fighting enemies off in some video game. so i guess i know now why my back hurts all the time. it’s because my posture sucks and i left the orthopedic love of my life in new york.

4. i was sick all weekend – not pandemic sick, just stress sick i think – and so hibernated nonstop, essentially, and just emerged from the haze of slumber to the very happy news that i’ve been awarded the Felipe P. De Alba Fellowship at Columbia University, which is the first time i have been a fellow of anything, except for maybe when i was 10 and sorted into Yellow house in primary school, and all my friends in the Green house laughed at me for being a yellow yellow dirty fellow. Well, now i am the dirtiest fellow of all, so jokes on them.

x
J

#2048| I am not a robot

It’s been a very odd and solitary month, you guys, one spent mostly closeted in my room in Manhattan for two weeks, then, punctuated by a brief interlude in the air, in a temporary service apartment in Singapore, under quarantine, and now, back home, shuffling between a makeshift study and a makeshift bed, living underwater in new york time as the rest of singapore continues on GMT+8.

It was with this sense of cotton mindedness that I came to the sign-in page of my blog today, thinking to myself that i must write something, but not knowing what. For some reason, a few websites refuse to keep me signed in, the new yorker, the new york times, the paris review, and my own website, this page, jemmawei.com. All websites i pay to access (or in this case, host) and all of which boot me out unceremoniously after the session ends, requiring me to sign in again, and again, and again..

Anyway. Every time I come to jemmawei.com to sign in and write a post i need to verify my human status, tick the innocuous i am not a robot box, which i’ve never thought much about, but today i came to it and thought, what if instead of wallowing in this grumpy haze, this pandemic panic, i opened my mind up and sharpened my attention to every microscopic detail, saw each question posed as an opportunity for a prompt?

I am not, of course, saying that the same grey i am not a robot box is what inspired californian based writer Minyoung Lee. On the other hand, what a perfect balancing clause – i am not a robot, but make me one.

All of that to say that I read this wonderful short story today on Monkeybicycle, and now you can, too.

Make Me a Robot by Minyoung Lee

x
Jem

#2044| saltwater

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Saltwater / Quarterly Literary Review Singapore

Don’t worry, she wanted to tell him, I just got excited. I won’t accidentally ascend again. I am in control. But all she could do was blow bubbles at him through her regulator.

I have a new(ish) story in QLRS about the different ways one can be sick at sea. Question: if you wrote a story a long time ago, but it just got accepted for publication, do you think of it as a new story out or an old story being put to rest?

I am quite sleep deprived and that is the question operating at the forefront of my mind, presently.

x
Jem

#2042 | Reading Update #4

October

The lonely passion of Judith hearne by Brian Moore
The blind owl by Sadegh Hedayat
On earth we’re briefly gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Know my name by Chanel Miller
The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Home Remedies by Xin Juliana Wang
Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

Book(s) of the month: Know my Name by Chanel Miller, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

November

The Testaments by Magaret Atwood
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
Autumn by Ali Smith
Do you Hear Them by Nathalie Sarraute
The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
Dear Girls by Ali Wong
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang
The Pyramid by Kadare
Dolly City by ORly Castel-Bloom

Book(s) of the month: Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang, Autumn by Ali Smith

December

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
A Tiger Remembers: The way we were in Singapore by Anne Wee
Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
My Heart Hemmed In by Marie Ndiaye
My Brilliant Friend (re read) by Elena Ferrante
The Story of a New Name (re-read) by Elena Ferrante
Those who Leave and Those who Stay (re read) by Elena Ferrante
The Story of the Lost Child (re read) by Elena Ferrante

Book(s) of the month: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

And that’s a wrap for 2019! At last count I read 113 books this year, which I’m pretty pleased about, this was an excellent reading year with many beautiful books that took my breath away. And I know we’re barely dipping our toes into the new decade, but my reading list is, like, a mile long already. Did I just say mile? I guess I’ve truly assimilated into America. Ha.

Happy reading everyone!

x
Jem

#2032| Reading update 3

July


Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
(Screenplay)
Frankisstein by Jeanette Winterson
Severance by Ling Ma
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
The 80 Minute MBA by Richard Reeves and John Knell
Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Book of the month: Exhalation by Ted Chiang

August

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
How to Pray by CS Lewis
We are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Water Dancer by Ta-nehisi Coates
Veronica by Nicholas Christopher
Still Here by Lara Vapnyar
Everything I know about Love by Dolly Alderton

Book of the month: Everything I know about Love by Dolly Alderton

September

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolenteni
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirschenbaum
Monsieur Teste by Paul Valery (hated)
The Face: Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw (Re-read)
Miss lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West
Day of the locust by Nathaniel West
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
Glory by Vladimir Nabokov
Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Book of the month: Mrs Bridge by Evan S.Connell

When you have to read two novels a week for school you realise things move very, very fast indeed.

Last quarter of 2019, here we go.

x
Jem