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life

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.” –

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

A grotesquely hot summer’s day, the hottest ever recorded in seven years in Britain. The air was consistently thick, a dense wall between my being and the rest of the world. Still, it did not prevent me from tarrying in the cobblestoned streets of this luxurious city I gave so much of my life and heart to. The last time I had been back was three years ago; but then, I had not been away for long enough to miss the city so.

Summer: a season of erstwhile freedom and a temporary erasure of problems. Is it the heat, do you think? It’s far too hot to think, I think. The crowds had swelled in enormous proportions since the last time I was there.

I spent one morning in Hampstead Heath with my family. I walked past George Orwell’s house, a red bricked unassuming home one could imagine him living in all his macabre gray tones. I also walked past many benches with poignant messages inscribed. Of the many I walked past, one particular pithy message struck at me:

“Always and in all ways”

I am a maudlin fool; I love stories, and I love hearing and reading stories. London is full of people laden with untapped stories and horrifically repressed emotions. Keep calm and carry on, they said in 1939, and many times thereafter. British sensibilities are oft underrated.

It was so ridiculously easy to live here and become subsumed by the city with all its bright lights, neverending stream of straight-faced people, the schizophrenic weather, the boring snacks, and the brown jackets. So easy.

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what an exhausting but exhilarating ten days it’s been. i fear that only extremes in emotion can compel me to write. does this mean i have to subject myself to feeling all sorts of things in order to put anything to paper? probably. i’ve travelled to east malaysia (for an intensive group adventure), to kuala lumpur (for the elections) and back to singapore (so i can feed myself).  adventure caving is a lot more dangerous than the name suggests. climbing up sheer slippery rock walls in wet caves is apparently my unexpected idea of fun. i have a terrible phobia of heights, even small ones like when a person hangs a few meters off the ground like i did in a dark dank cave. i felt it even more when we scaled to the top of gunung api to see the mulu pinnacles. climbing down a sheer mountain complete with jagged limestone rocks could have resulted in a lot of pain. i tore my special edition olympics 2012 tights. boo, materialistic me. the jungle has no mercy on the world of material. i would do it all over again.

the jungle allows the mind of a person to expand into vast spaces that were never previously traversed in the city. there is no internet, limited electricity. sometimes i entertain the thought of severing all connection from the city and the digital world. what a burden the city can be: the incessant chatter of mindless talk, the pressures of finding oneself, the glare of urban uniformity. it was lovely sitting alone by the river engulfed in complete darkness. i have never underestimated the importance of alone time; for everyone who does not allow ten minutes a day to digest the day, i highly recommend it.

for there has been a lot on my mind lately: leaving this country, planning trips home, trying to craft some sense of stability into these cagey times in my country, leaving my new old friends behind, going to see r on a more permanent basis.

in the jungle i came across a hairy, hairy caterpillar with long, white hairs and a chunky red body and a speckled head. i wondered what kind of butterfly such a beautifully repulsive creature would turn into. i wondered also if the caterpillar knew what it was going to become. does it? how does it know when to wrap itself up in a cocoon?

maybe it doesn’t know, and it just goes with the flow, or something to that effect in a lepidopteral fashion.

as i looked at the grotesque disproportionate creature, i thought to myself: nothing stays the same forever.

if there’s one thing a blocked nose gives you, it’s the lucidity of the space between waking and sleeping brought on by the lack of oxygen. might i want to look into that as part of my research? i spoke about this at length a few weeks ago. i would conduct the grandest experiments on human subjects. but i dismissed them all for there is no mathematical basis for philosophical research.

i have larger, more pressing questions: does my bottom look too big in these very tight jeans? i thought yoga was meant to make it smaller, not larger. damn you, deep lunges, damn you. maybe i ought to do deep lunges in my very tight jeans to stretch them out. the button popped on it the other day the first time i tried them on, precisely how you envision it: me walking around the house breaking the trousers in, and then having the button go “pop” onomatopoeically. i have been told i am a real life cartoon. i don’t know where i end and where my projection begins.

i thought of writing about my future as i was washing my hair, but i decided against it; for it does not pay to speculate. carpe diem, que sera sera, and all those idioms that come from other languages.

i took the afternoon off. rachel ray is presently on tv, talking about making a turkey bacon sandwich. to that, i can only say that turkey bacon is a blasphemous sin, and that her vivaciousness offends me on occasions like these. meanwhile, have you seen the food blog i rarely post in? myhappybellea.wordpress.com

three months into the new year since i last blogged.

i’ve learned that people like it when you end a sentence with their names. e.g.

“you look nice today, Cindy”

i don’t like it when salespeople do this to me, though. my patience wears thin, which is, incidentally, something i’ve been working on. good news, eh.

i just want to focus next year. nothing more, nothing less.

“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”

i’m afraid i know what i want.

i’m grateful for everything that has and hasn’t happened this year, for everyone i have met and have not yet met, for everything i have and have not yet. so much more to do, so many more people to meet. it’s just starting.

i ran outside this afternoon. i usually run in the evening if i go outside. otherwise, it’s the artificial chill of the gym for me. city brat.

the weather was nice. it wasn’t sunny, neither did it rain. i felt a few drops on my face at one point, but i ignored it and continued.

i had adele’s “turning tables” looping in my head for a good 20 minutes. i felt like a weird machine. if you haven’t heard it, you should – here. it brings me back to a dark place in my life that i have come to peace with. it’s almost like reading or every time i stopped thinking about work or what other people were doing on saturday afternoons. i only met two runners along the way. they were both male. and by “met”, i mean noticed them as they zipped past me. they didn’t notice me. oftentimes, i hate this city for its lack of soul. where does that line lie between not smiling at anyone and stopping to help a severely injured toddler on the road? city brats.

i ran along the main road. the crowd was paved with random people, mostly people waiting for the bus who just look at me like i’m some sort of, well, abnormal person. one fat kid stopped to point at me and said something in vietnamese. or it could’ve been chinese. i don’t know, i’m such a bad asian.

i ran for about four kilometers before i started to feel thirsty. i’d forgotten about the perils of running outdoors in the sun. slap me already. so  i decided to run up the forested hill aka mount faber. bad mistake. i plodded up and plodded back down.

after that i spent the rest of the five or so kilometers thinking about water. obsession can be a terrible thing, especially when you’re dehydrated. no matter which path your mind meanders, all thoughts lead back to good ol’ H2O.

i would worry about humanity and its eventual end later.