Last Post of 2016

Today's the last day of 2016, and every year around this time I try to take a moment to settle down and think about the year that has passed. Unfortunately this year because of a combination of down-ed wifi (the cat likes sitting on the router, turning off the wifi, and it took me a while to figure that out), a present heightened stage of agitation (Jon and I just finished playing 3 rounds of 7 Wonders Duel, where I won the last game but felt throughout that I was constantly losing and so felt defeated even though I eventually won) and time pressure (we need to leave to go have an early dinner with his friend soon), I find myself unable to fully sum up my thoughts about this year.

Overall, I have sat down and written much less. Although by count not the year where I've written the least, it's the year where I have written the second-least. Before I blamed this on being busy, but this year, especially the second half, I haven't been busy at all. In fact, I find myself melting away from boredom, but I suppose that in itself is a deterrent to writing. I find my life and myself boring, and ponder how things ended up this way. Alternatively I find myself panicking - what if this is all I'll ever amount to be? What if I really am a good-for-nothing? So then that's when I try to stop thinking altogether and distract myself. So in this case, my idle mind has really become the devil's workshop. And I feel much less optimistic about my future prospects, though in reality they remain the same as ever. All this from 6 months of being at home because I can't find work.

The most important thing that happened this year of course was that I got married, albeit in a civil ceremony. It means I have made the decision, together with someone else, to remain committed to this person and relationship for the rest of my life, which is of course no small potatoes. We attended a pre-cana session as a requirement of the Catholic Church a few weeks ago, and it was enlightening. It reminded me at least of the commitment I have made to Jon, and that we are in this journey called life together.

The last main thing about this year is of course that Saffron came into our lives. From waking me up at 7am in the morning meowing pitifully because he's hungry to using me as a scratching post (WHYY?! He has actual scratching posts that he doesn't want to use), having Saffron in our lives has made it that much more well-rounded, meaningful and hilarious. Just over a month into this, I'm still woefully bad at cleaning up cat puke, but now every time I hear the Knights of Cydonia by Muse, I always think of Saffron, because for some reason every time he sits on my laptop, that song plays on itunes even though I haven't listened to it in ages before.

So to end of this year's last post, 3 pictures of Saffron. who is such a crazily good-looking cat:

Carrie Fisher and Star Wars

Feeling slightly sad now at the news that Carrie Fisher has passed away. I'm not one to typically mourn or feel sad at celebrities dying, but Carrier Fisher remains particularly fresh in my mind I suppose, because Jon and I watched Star Wars Rogue One just last week when he was off work and having a week-long vacation. We saw it at the Union Square Regal cinema, and our immense enjoyment of the movie was not the least dampened by the fact that it was easily of the the crappiest cinemas I have ever been to.

As everyone surely knows by now *SPOILER ALERT*, all the main characters die at the end of Rogue One when the Death Star aims at the planet they're on. The surprise appearance of Princess Leia right at the end before the movie cuts to the credits is the scene that reminds the audience that the movie does end on a hopeful note, to be continued in Episodes 4, 5 and 6. And seeing her, as I was feeling terribly sad (and horrified!) about the characters all dying, made me feel somewhat better. It also made me want to watch Episodes 4, 5 and 6 again, though of course it's always a question of when Jon will be free enough to watch the movie together.

In the mean time, I shall feel that little bit sadder.

Swing Time

Earlier today I went for a reading of Swing Time by Zadie Smith at the 92Y with Shirin. It felt pretty awesome to see an author that I respected in person and to be able to listen to her read her work in her voice. Although I haven't always been a fan of all her books (felt disappointed by NW especially when contrasted with Penelope Lively's How It All Began), I have been an admirer since I first picked up a pirated copy of White Teeth in a tiny bookstore in Sapa, Vietnam, when I was backpacking in South East Asia with my Dad in 2011. So of course I jumped at the chance to listen to her speak and do a reader for her latest book, Swing Time. I was also excited because I thought the book explicitly involved swing dance, but I think it just involves regular dance.

Anyway as much as I enjoyed the evening, there was a part of her conversation with the moderator, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, where she mentioned that she wrote the book with black women in mind, and that made me feel awfully put out. It made me feel excluded, which of course would make anyone feel not-very-good, but it also made me feel sad because there really wasn't any one writer out there that would write for me in the same ethnic-trying-to-traverse-the-Western-World-sense way. There is no author out there that I know of that has written anything close to what I feel, think, and experience as I navigate the world, and so I rely on the writings of outsider-like figures to echo my inner voice. And of course that makes me sad, as I feel alone in the things I feel and worry about.

Growing up I always wanted to be a writer, not as a main occupation, but as something in addition to my regular work. I wanted to pour out my embellished experiences and deep emotions, for inside me I knew I could write about universal themes that linked human experience. As I grew older however the strings of words, coherent introspective thoughts and universal ideas have become even more fleeting and scanty. They have been crowded out by other things like worries, mental to-do lists and thoughts on more prosaic things. And so slowly, year by year, I find myself less able to feel like I can write, and at the same time am less inspired at length to sit down and write. It is a combination that can, and most probably will, mark the end of my teenage dream to write the novel. But of course for every time I am reminded that I am an outsider, the spark to write reignites, and it is only something time can tell whether I will be able to successfully follow through.

Kitty Litter and Floors

Since acquiring Saffron my floors, aside from the bits of kitty litter, have never been cleaner. This is because I find myself constantly wiping them down in order to get rid of the kitty litter, which while not in itself dirty, is incredibly annoying to walk on. It doesn't help that Saffron, as a male cat, is large for a cat and the constraints of our apartment mean that we only have a small space to put his litter box. This means of course that he kicks the kitty litter all around the area. URGH. Stupid cat.

The Revenant

I just finished reading The Revenant by Michael Punke in slightly over 24 hours. I can't think of the last time I've finished a novel this quickly. This is of course in part due to not really having anything else pressing to do, and in part to the lovely way the novel has been written and narrated. It reminded me quite a bit of both Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson, books that I loved and read over and over again when I was a kid for its tales of human ingenuity. The Revenant of course is significantly more bloodier, but made me feel the same similar sense of wonder and intrigue I felt when I was reading those two books just under two decades ago. Oh how time flies!

Tutoring at 1960 First Ave

I've been tutoring twice a week in East Harlem at an after school program for Middle School students since late August, working with about ten Grade 7 boys and fifteen Grade 7 girls, and after a tough first few weeks I'm starting to become more and more used to the students and how the centre functions. Besides that I've also got my schedule for those days timed nicely too; for example it takes me about 10 mins to walk from the 103rd St subway to the centre, and so I must leave home by 3:15pm to be there by 4pm. In other words my Mondays and Wednesdays, other than any strange new behaviours by the students, has become rather routine - which I quite like.

Today however, as I walked to and fro from the centre, two strange things happened: a young adult walking along 103rd randomly decided to declare that he was in love with me and to marry him, and as I walked by Metropolitan Hospital I came across a middle-aged/elderly man openly urinating onto the sidewalk, apologising and turning away from me when he spotted me walking. It was, all in all, bizarre for an otherwise normal day, but still within the realm of normality for life in New York City.

Saffron the Cat

Last Tuesday (15th Nov) I went to the ASPCA on a bit of a whim and ended up going home with a cat named Saffron. Jon and I had been talking about adopting a cat for a while now, but with me having no job, the extra cost of needing to support another living being seemed a little too high for us to afford. That being said though, it's moot now since Saffron came home almost a week ago (oops!).

During the taxi ride home from the ASPCA, Saffron kept meowing so pitifully in his hard carrier, that the taxi driver and I felt so bad for it and I thought about him as the poorest thing in the world. When we got home and the carrier was finally opened however, out came the boldest cat that I've ever met. He spent literally 0 seconds in the carrier and practically sprang out when we opened the door, and proceeded to investigate every single square inch of our tiny flat, jumping up and down all our tables and counters. That first night, we also began to realise that we would have trouble shooing him off our bed as he would snarl at us at us when we tried to get him off. So since then we've resorted to keeping the door closed, much to Saffron's chagrin.

Jon and I have quickly fallen in love with Saffron. He's an old boy at 14 years old, and spends most of his time sleeping. When he's awake however, he still likes running around the flat at top speeds and climbing all over things. He loves being scratched under the chin and has a particularly violent and strong angry tail wag that makes thudding noises. He also has no problems showing his displeasure by snarling. Yesterday he went into the bathroom when I was trying to clean up the mess made from all the kitty litter and proceeded to roll around and freak out on the litter that was on the ground, and when I tried to wipe him down with pet wipes afterwards he got upset with me. So we ended up spending the remainder of last night displeased with each other.

Adopting Saffron has brought up a whole barrage of other questions for Jon and me, and another dimension to our relationship. We now talk about things entailing shared responsibilities and differences in approaches towards taking care of the cat. We wonder what this means for us, when we become parents one day.

In the mean time however, we enjoy our time with Saffron as much as we can. He could live for another year or even another five years, either way because of his age, we know that we should treasure every moment with this persnickety fellow. 

US Elections 2016

I sincerely hope that this election is the most depressing US election the world has and ever will see, because it has been so unbelievably terrible that I can't fantom a worse election between two more unlikeable candidates, one who of course is an absolute insane asshole and the other a definite career politician. I feel very bogged down emotionally about all of this, and am praying that Hillary comes out a winner tomorrow.

Engagement Photography

This last Sat Jon and I met with our photographer, Robert Carlo, to take engagement photos in Brooklyn DUMBO.

It felt a little weird being back there again after several months away (used to be in that area twice a week for my internships earlier this year) and noticing the several small changes. I was worried that Jon and I would be awkward and weird in front of the camera after the issue with our earlier photography session during our civil marriage, but we were lots more relaxed and comfortable this time, and as a result the pictures came out great. Hooray! 

AC Jumpy

A pigeon landed on the AC window unit facing the street and its sounds almost gave me a heart attack.

I turned around when I heard the strange clicking sounds of its feet on the metal body of the AC, and my thought before I saw the pigeon was "oh my God is that thing going to fall?!?!" and worrying about 1. killing someone, 2. the cost of the AC, which $200.

Miliseconds after I turned to look at the AC and noise, the pigeon flew off.

But I still feel worried that the AC, which is supported by an AC support bracket as per NYC regulations, is going to fall and kill someone/be destroyed.


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