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.

Christmas in Sept

Today I became one of those people that buys christmas wrapping paper in Sept (see: above). I know I have probably paid too much for something that is essentially meant to be destroyed, but I really couldn't resist especially given that christmas 2016 will be my first christmas celebrated with the Tius.

Also, Barnes and Noble had 50% markdowns on clearance items, so I scooped some things up for gifts. Hooray for cheap-ness!

But on a very extravagant and unnecessary note, I also ended up buying a whole pile of bridal magazines in a stress induced rage. Zzzzzt.

Weddings Suck (Especially When You're Unemployed)

Last week I went on a holiday with Jon to Olympic National Park, Portland and Seattle from Sunday to Friday. It was a nice (albeit tiring, cause we tried to cram so many things in + Jon apparently likes to wake up early even on holidays) trip, and a great break from trying to plan and organise things like the wedding ceremony (how can something more than a year away cause so much stress?!). Today however (and Sunday is a very close tie), I am sick to death of dealing with wedding associated stress, the chief reasons being: 1) the crazy amount of money it requires 2) wanting to please as many people as possible (with Jon and I of course being included in this).

On Saturday, hot off the heels of our night flight back to NYC, Jon and I saw 3 places with his parents. The first, the Metropolitan, we loved, but his parents thought was too grunge-y and not formal enough. The cost was also very do-able. The second, we all loved, but I had worries about the excessive cost (to which the other 3 had a myriad of different responses). The third, Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo, mum and dad Tiu outright said 'NO'. Housing Works Bookstore was of course, also another affordable option.

Since then, and with long spreadsheets from Tim and Sona's wedding plans for Nov 2014, Jon and I (ok, mostly me) have been scrambling to look for more places that are unique and interesting enough to us, and would be more acceptable to his parents, and are cheap. I basically feel right now an impossible task is being asked of me, and I am super motherfucking frustrated.

I also feel very alone in all of these frustrations and worries (juggling both sets of parents - each with their own agendas and lack of giving-a-shit-about-the-other-side, worrying about money, worrying about having no job, worrying about needing to fork out more school fees for teacher certification, worrying about how his parents perceive me as a wife, worrying about the fact the BHLDN seems to have messed up my wedding dress order, worrying about available Saturday dates for Oct/Nov 2017 running out...).

Despite a kindly Doc telling me that the only thing I should worry about for a wedding is whether an earthquake will happen/whether the planes people are travelling on will be hijacked (the Doc that's doing my health assessment for the green card application), and that you can never please everyone, I feel crazily burdened by these things that are all completely out of my control. Most irritatingly however is that some of these things seem like things that are completely in my control to someone else, and I feel like I'm failing in some critical area by not being able to solve the situation.

I just really really hate feeling helpless, and more than anything else, HATE THE IDEA OF HAVING TO PLAN A FUCKING WEDDING WHEN I HAVE NO JOB. But no, the parents (all 4 of them! + my Mama) insist we have the church ceremony and reception next year, because they're convinced if we don't have it next year, we'll never do a church ceremony and reception. And by that definition, we will never actually be married in their eyes.

Good grief. Legally we're already married. Jon and I found out in Seattle that that means we don't have to pay to add me as an additional driver for the rental car. See, we're already reaping the best benefits from our marriage, and without a costly and extreme-stress-inducing wedding. 


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