Hanson were abysmally young when “Mmmbop” became a commercial success. I was 9 then. Zac was 12. Taylor was 14. Isaac was 17. I had no idea what the song was about, but I sang it anyway. Rather, I listened to “Middle of Nowhere” as much as I could after school on my grandpa’s CD player. I loved Hanson the way pre-teen girls in 1990 loved Michael Jackson – in a boundless, exalting fashion. It was the only way to love anything or anyone who wasn’t related to you.

Today, on a Monday like any other, I realised this convivial tune is about birth, death, and the seconds in between.

I have always treasured Hanson in the same way a girl might with an old childhood friend: she’s always there when you need her. This year, I discover that they’re releasing a new album in June. Better yet, they’re going on tour. And better yet, I might actually get to see them! For the first time in my life! They came to Kuala Lumpur once when I was 13. I was big My friend Sara suddenly called me and asked if I could head out to see them at Hard Rock Cafe. It was 9.30 on a Tuesday night. Naturally, I could not go. She was terribly kind; the next morning, she gave me a guitar pick Zac tossed into the crowd. I still have it.

And in an mmmbop, I’m almost a quarter of a century old. To have such wisdom to sing about the transience of time at such a young age. It’s literally the second law of thermodynamics: in an isolated system, entropy only increases with time. There is no going back.


With music, I like to believe time travel is an option. An audible memory, unlike glass, is non-fragile. With every watershed moment in our lives, there is a song that we associate with. Everyone has a song that makes their heart stand still for a second. Every tear, every laugh, every shenanigan, every year in our short lives has one song playing in the background.

It amazes me how one band has stuck with me through the years. While everyone looks back and recounts memories of mmmbop, every album has become part of my natural surround sound. Just today, I became emotional while thumbing through Taylor Hanson’s Instagram account. I wonder how I’ll react when I see them live.  I will sleep now and hopefully tonight I will dream of more pleasant things.


The only time my passion for reading steered me in the wrong direction was when I let it persuade me to go to graduate school. There, I soon realized that my love for books was unshared by many of my classmates and professors. I found it hard to understand what they did love, exactly, and this gave me an anxious shiver that would later seem like a warning about what would happen to the teaching of literature over the decade or so after I dropped out of my Ph.D. program. That was when literary academia split into warring camps of deconstructionists, Marxists, feminists, and so forth, all battling for the right to tell students that they were reading ‘texts’ in which ideas and politics trumped what the writer had actually written.

I left graduate school and became a writer.

-Francine Prose, “Reading like a Writer

how i know i never regretted taking my deep-seated love for writing into the academic warzone.

I had a dream that I went to the Saint Laurent store in Paris to buy myself a new black wallet. It was a lovely store. I liked the way Hedi Slimane had redone everything. It was all black everything. Literally. I’m not sure why I didn’t dream about buying myself a new pair of these minimalistic shoes. As one of the girls on my new favourite TV show, “Girls“, would say “oh em  effing gee, [these shoes] look amaze.”

They would never fit my broad feet in real life, maybe they’d’ve fit me and looked good on me in the Other World.

Obsessive personalities, if channelled wrongly, will probably result in the death of someone.

I tend to channel my obsessive nature towards songs, books, shoes and 80s TV shows. And a great extent goes to my academic career, too, I suppose.

One night, as I was obsessing over a piece that I was writing for academic purposes, I had to click on a link on Twitter that led me to the Season 2 Trailer of ‘Girls’, my new favourite show (regardless of what people say about Lena Dunham and all her white girl first world problems. I could probably just as easily be her minus the famous parent part. And the fact that I’m Asian not living in the United States).

“I’m an individual, and I feel how I feel when I feel it, and right now, it’s a Wednesday night, baby, and I’m alive.”

But more than those deep words that resonate within the confines of my shallow heart, I wondered what the name of the song that accompanied that scene was.

Being the excellent investigator that I am, it turns out if you trawl through YouTube comments, amid the “you racist fuck” and “i’m so fuken exited for this show” chatter, you can actually find the answers to some of your questions. The song that I was after is called “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding. It also turns out that this song has received quite a lot of airplay on the radio. I felt old, like how I imagine my father felt when I taught him how to print.

Since then I’ve probably listened to the song no less than 70 times. At least twice a day everyday.

The song is a stark reminder of how we could live our lives: everything is a concrete, steady “could”, not a “should” or a “would”. “Could” is the simple past tense of “can”, thus implying that something can happen.

2013 is coming.

For once, I’m exited.

Bearing witness to the reelection of the first black president of the United States, I think that we live in extraordinary times: climate change; worldwide volatile economies reminiscent of 1997, 2008’s financial crisis; the Arab Spring; Palestinians still don’t have a home; the Malia generation: young people growing older, coming of age to speak for our generation. In the age of the internet, I’m not sure how loudly everyone needs to speak in order to be heard. Everyone is a voice of a generation, and nobody is the voice of a generation any longer. Everyone needs to be fiercely competitive in order to survive, the meek are weeded out. Many young people I know are directors of blossoming start-ups. I think it’s fantastic. At this age, it seems like everything is at your feet and you just want to change the world bottom-up, top-down. We can do it all. We can look good and feel good and earn well and live well and run knee breaking marathons and we’ll wake up the next morning and do it all over again. If I was dreamy as an adolescent, my dreams – no, goals – have gotten bigger now. It’s dangerous, tottering the edge between reality and the free-fall to heartbreaking disappointment.

“But he is so wary, wary. Has visions of his life, but in a hiatus as to their implementation—wants to fly, and hasn’t yet started to take off, so resents extra weight.”

 I’ve cited this description so many times, but it resounds in my head more often than I would like.

I resent this extra weight I bear. Please take it off of me.

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

“But he is so wary, wary. Has visions of his life, but in a hiatus as to their implementation—wants to fly, and hasn’t yet started to take off, so resents extra weight.”

i have spent the past few months ensconced in my very own prism of self-reflection, most of which i feel not at liberty to publish. i am private that way, more so than i thought, given the vacillating existence of this blog. i cannot reveal myself until i am sure. i have been keeping a small diary. even then, sometimes i forget to write. my writing is hideous and it pains me to read my own writing.

the best laid plans are oft slowly executed. and i am no stranger to laborious executions; my waking world is filled with daily inexorable cockups, and yet i harbour moderate to little antipathy towards my job. “gathering experience,” i say to myself on a good day. “wasting your bloody life,” i say to myself on a bad day. who knows.

everyday i choose not to go to sleep unhappy with a life that i am not happy with.

so, from here on i choose to lead a life focused solely on my vision. that’s what your twenties are for: digging a grave so deep the only way out is to emerge victorious from the other side.