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A strange thing happened.

It’s Friday the 13th today. Not that I’m superstitious about this. But just seems appropriate to mention.

So I had coffee at 3pm to stay awake and as a result, I was TOO awake by 7plus and had a huge craving for beer. Got it at Kok Sen with Amelia—last minute plans. And so on the bus home I was knocked out and slept through most of it. Just about at the Marymount stretch I was up but still drowsy, looking out the bus window.

Then I saw stuff coming out of an old man’s mouth—looked like white, watery foam from where I was—and he just about collapsed onto the ground from a sitting position. He was at the busstop one stop from opposite Whitley. I was still too drowsy to be fully in control of my mind and body so for some unknown reason, I whispered “oh my god”, pressed the bell (the bus was just moving off) and leapt off the bus.

I was urgently questioning the man before I became fully conscious and lucid. Raised voice, heart pounding, asking him sternly if he was all right and what happened to him.

It turned out to be a false alarm anyway. Called the police and everything only to see the old man stand up and hobble onto the next bus, leaving me, and some people at the busstop, bewildered. Lady told me he was probably drunk.

(Old man high as fuck, foaming in mouth and shit)

And so this episode has me now in some existential crisis. Like how is it this is my reaction, unconscious. And that I am completely ready, prepared, to break up. Completely ready to find myself, to throw myself in hot water and discover the stuff I’m made of. Once again, here I am. You can never plan anything in your life. And at the end of it, you always return to yourself. There is no one else who can be there for you. Just you, always waiting. And you will be anything when the time comes. A steel core, if need be, because no matter what anyone else promises you, only you can be strong for yourself, make the decision you need to make and take the step into the fire.

I feel so alone in this world. And yet, so empowered because of that.

in medias res,

If I die in medias res, is this what I want to be doing?

No.

First of all, I don’t want to be here. I know you hear this from 1,563 other 20-year-olds every day. I may be no different from them but I’m determined to do things differently.

In a little more than a year from now, I want to be bathing orphaned chimpanzees rescued from forests destroyed by man, or hearing Bhutanese natives tell their life stories. I want to be taking silly perspective shots on Bolivian salt plains, or kicking up a soccer dust storm with baby elephants. Trek through Iceland, polish up 3 whole pizzas in Naples, walk the streets of San Marino, live in India wearing a sari, chase the northern lights, see Macchu Picchu. And more.

The choices I make now will define me and I refuse to be defined by fear and hesitation. I refuse to grow up making excuses for the person I was 5, 10, 15 years ago. Refuse to be bitter and narrow-minded because I did not meet enough people, hear enough stories, walk in enough shoes—live, enough.

I need to find my story, outside, and I can’t wait for courage to happen. If nothing else, this year and a half in advertising has taught me that nothing is impossible and impossible is nothing. If I need to live, I can find it in myself to do what it takes.

This is a promise to my 25-year-old self, a little more than a year from now. Please kick me if I don’t do this.

Books read:
Snoop, Sam Gosling

death:

I find it hard to grasp how someone can be so alive one moment and dead the next. Death steals in, from time to time, and leaves you feeling cold and shaken. He lingers for a while and when he’s gone, he’s completely absent until the next time he comes and he consumes everything like exploding paint in an enclosed room.

To think a person you know will never again talk, or walk, or laugh, just wiped off save for traces that will be hidden under a layer of dust, after a while. And other more lasting traces in the memory of loved ones, but always taking up less and less space until it becomes a picture kept in a tin box stowed away in some private, personal cupboard. The one you only unlock in private, pensive moments, once in a while.

I can’t understand death, the way I stare into black sky or behind closed lids and try to imagine my body surrounded by endless space—I can’t understand the vastness of space. But death sits on you like a dead weight, still until it lifts.

Why Regret is important:

I have a theory that we don’t want to be happy. At every point, we have a choice between what could potentially make us happy and the other. And time and again, we choose the lesser path, and then make excuses for why we couldn’t take the better route.

We are such complex creatures.

The irony is that regret makes life easier to live. Regret kills us, but it also keeps us alive. Regret gives us hope—it is the possibility that if things were different, our lives could have been better, happier. It is the possibility of a happiness that exists safely in the realm of imagination where it can’t be destroyed by reality. In truth, there is no happiness.

In Before Sunset, the unrealized future with Jesse gives Celine hope that in an alternate storyline, she could have found happiness. If they had met six months later at that train station as planned, they would have killed that dream. Because they would have fallen into a relationship, spent a magical few months wrapped up in each other’s world, held together by liminality, and then reach a plateau where he gets tired of the very things he loved about her and she would despise him for god knows what and they will basically spiral into the dumps. At this point, they would have no escape—they would not know a ‘could-have’ to escape to.

True story: there was a documentary where this man paid a prostitute a small fortune to film her life for three days, hoping that at the end of this, she wouldn’t have to prostitute herself anymore. That money could have bought her a farm back home and provide enough for her to live comfortably with her husband and kids. A year later, he found her to be exactly where they parted, the money squandered away. And her answer to that was, “That’s just life.”

If Romeo and Juliet didn’t die, it would not have been a love story. It would have been a true story of life. Tragedy is the reason love even exists.

We are fucked up and we need to believe that that is not the only ending. That there is another way our story could be written.

Ps. Joyce—I love the random things that come out of our conversations.

Books read:
1984, George Orwell
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, Luke Sullivan
Till We Have Faces Again, CS Lewis
One Day, David Nicolls (blah)

Incomplete:
Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher
God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (almost!)
Other Colours, Orhan Pamuk
Snoop, Sam Gosling

on children.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

– Khalil Gibran

Very beautiful and very true. I think parents will be wise to accept this; it will save everyone a lot of grief.

preloved books.

So cute. My books sent me a letter:

Hello Valerie,

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note – it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)

Holy canasta! It’s me… it’s me! I can’t believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I’ve got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can’t believe I’m leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already – the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge – so many memories. I don’t have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s time to see the world!

I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?

I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I’ve had, I’m ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn’t take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I’ve found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.

But hey, enough about me, I’ve been asked to brief you on a few things:

We sent your order to the following address:

Valerie Oon
Block XXX Bishan Street XX
Singapore, Singapore XXXXXX
SG
Order #: 11284XXX

We provide quick shipping service to all our customers. You chose International Mail shipping, your book should arrive within 10 – 21 business days. Some shipments may take slightly longer to arrive.

At this time, we are not able to offer tracking on our International Mail shipments.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email my friends in Customer Care at help@betterworldbooks.com. If you could please include your order number (11284XXX) that would be very helpful.

Eagerly awaiting our meeting,

Blue Like Jazz (Special Edition with dvd & study guide)
Sati
Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

ENGAGE ME.

ah fuck. i’m sick of a mediocre life.