July Showers

Today for the first time in a long time (since the disastrous Mt Snowden climb with Tiff, Jingkai and a girl called Rong Xin in circa 2011) I got utterly drenched by the rain. I had just gotten off the subway after visiting the Bronx Museum of the Arts when I noticed that the sky was really dark and foreboding, and wondered if it was going to rain. I walked about 5m before feeling drops on my head, and started rushing. Just as I was trying to manoeuvre past this guy with a weird hat ("tourist!" I remember thinking to myself), I noticed him looking backwards, towards the West, and laughing.

"Look!" he said, with the glee of someone who knows everything is fruitless. And so I looked, and HO BOY, you could see that just ~50 meters behind us, the entire area was engulfed in a ferocious storm. I think at about this time I said "Run!" and started running myself. I could have easily ducked into a small store or waiting by the side of tiny awning, but I was afraid that the rain would last for too long and that I had better odds making it home.

I ended up running past hordes of people huddling under awnings, some who laughed and said "keep running!" to me and the few other people I saw running. I almost collided with a guy that was running too. It wasn't until I reached 28th and 2nd Ave that I realised I had been running so mindlessly that I had taken a slightly longer route home, partly because that rain had been so fierce that my visibility decreased significantly.

By the time I got home, I was sopping wet. I peeled off all my clothes and instantly headed for the shower. The exertion from running in the rain made me feel sick, my body not having run for two months since my Columbia gym membership expired.

I guess this means I should sign up for a gym again.

White Bread

In what must be a symptom of my growing age and general awareness of healthy living (and/or living and being together with someone who always scrutinises the nutrition labels), I now feel guilty when I buy white sliced bread vs whole wheat sliced bread, or another more fibre-packed alternative. I feel slightly bad that I'm consuming empty calories and endangering my colonic health. At the same time however as a Singaporean person, there is no way in hell that I'm eating kaya toast (which I haven't made yet, cause this is the first time I've bought white bread in a while) on whole wheat or any other sort of bread.

Anyway I just ate a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich on white bread. It was tasty, and I feel happy, especially because its exactly the sort of sandwich I used to eat every Sunday night when I watched Law and Order episodes on Channel i in 2003/2004. Except of course I had a toaster oven then and didn't have to awkwardly keep flipping bread in a pan over the stove. Still, that can be easily rectified. 

Gua-ma

My gua-ma just passed away. Last time I saw her in person was just under a year ago, when I was back in Singapore for the Summer. My main memory of her is of holding her hands, and feeling how papery thin her skin felt in its many folds over her knuckles. I feel sad that I cannot be home, and am reminded of the sacrifices I have had to make (mainly becoming more estranged from the family and friends I love the most) in choosing this path in life.

Downtown

Moved into the new place just over a week ago, and the house is still in a sorry mess despite my best efforts (hello having no furniture until yesterday!).
All I got to say is: every time I move I wonder how the hell I've acquired so many clothes. 

Moab and Moving


I got back from a trip to Moab, Utah with my parents early yesterday morning. The flight was a red-eye, and I arrived at JFK feeling very spent. I can't imagine how much worse my parents must have felt, given that they were collecting their bags and boarding their next flight back home to Singapore (via Guangzhou) just a few hours after we landed from Utah. As for myself, I spent most of the ride home on the A train drifting in and out of consciousness.

I am genuinely glad that I managed to go on a trip with my parents. Although they were driving me nuts in NYC with incessant questions about my graduation and other things, I knew the tone of their visit would shift when we were away from NYC, and I was right. I had a great trip with them. We went trekking, rafting, horse-back riding and even skydiving. We ate tons, and I got to drive them around Moab.

It felt weird however, realising that as I was having fun with my parents that this was probably one of the last times I would get to travel with them. The trip really hammered in the idea that with the choices I have made in my life thus far, my bond with Singapore and my parents would continue to weaken over time, while my emotional bonds for other things would continue to grow. At this moment it feels like I am right in the middle of this monumental transitionary stage, and if I start thinking too much I'll start to feel overwhelmed.

On a related note, I realised earlier today that I have not lived in the same space for more than 2 years since 2009.

Commencement


Today was Columbia Commencement, and Ban Ki Moon gave the opening address. It was a pretty good speech, and completely unexpected because he called out climate change deniers and politicians that played on hatred in order to get votes (hello Trump!) I felt quite impressed, especially given that earlier I had commented that Ban Ki Moon had a rep for not actually saying anything substantial to a bunch of my classmates. Today was also overall a lot more fun compared to yesterday's TC Convocation, as it was a less solemn affair, although I saw comparatively less friends around. Overall, it feels funny to think that my Columbia experience has now ended, but at least it ended on a very meaningful and high note for me.

Begin, End, Begin


On the way to the United States, I visited Romania with my parents in Summer 2014. Romania was unexpectedly cold, and so I found myself in need of socks. This pair of socks, stripy purple and weirdly hitting just above the ankle, was one of those socks that I took from my Mum and obviously didn't return. Every time I see it, I am reminded of the fact that it's an article of clothing that belonged to my Mum (though of course I doubt she noticed it went missing), which makes it feel particularly significant to me. It makes me think of how I was and how I felt when I first acquired these socks (shucks, this really makes me think of Dobby), when I was about to start a new life in a new country and simultaneously afraid and excited by the things that lay ahead.

Today as I did my laundry and started to begin packing up my apartment, I couldn't help think that this would be one of the last times I would do such a thing in this place. For example, these socks: I don't think I'll be wearing these socks now as the weather gets warmer, which means I probably won't be washing them in this same laundromat when I do my laundry for one last time in a few weeks. Whenever and wherever I wash my socks next, it will be me in another yet-unknown place and in a different stage of my life. This is because I'll soon be moving out of my lovely place with Marina on Broadway Terrace, and moving into a place in Gramercy with Jonathan.

At the same time, my life as a Masters student will officially end next week with graduation, and a new phase of my life will begin. A physical uprooting mirroring an internal change in status. So now when I walk around my usual haunts of Washington Heights/Inwood, Norwood, Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, I cannot help but think that this could very well be the last time in my life that I would ever walk on a particular street. Mundane things have now become imbued with an odd and sentimental significance. But such is life and the human condition, that we arbitrarily romanticise the world around us as we attempt to make senses of things. 

Teaching

I have decided to return to teaching, but in a foreign land. I cannot help but feel extremely anxious at all the unknowns that lie ahead of me, fear that I won't be able to do a job as good as I would want to in a school culture that is foreign to me. I also think of the times I have walked away from a lesson and felt like a utter failure, or felt so exasperated. At the same time however I also feel optimistic and hopeful, because I remember all the good parts of teaching and the love I felt for my students. This decision to return to teaching feels strange because I over the past 2 years, I have undergone a whole tumult of emotions and changed mindsets about teaching as a career for myself, and worried personally about the future trajectory of my life.

At the end of the day however, I cannot deny that even though teaching might not feel like the number one best career I could and want to do (number one in Development Aid being out of my reach because of job conditions and timing), it is number two. Number two above many, many other things that one can realistically work at in this life, and perhaps that is good enough. Now, fingers crossed as I go through the whole job application process. 

Disconnection

I have spent the last few days of waking consciousness with thoughts interspersed with memorises of a recently deceased friend. Part of a problem why I feel it's so hard to grapple with my feelings towards this is because I haven't seen the guy in about 5 years, and that I am no longer part of that friends circle that we used to be in. If I haven't really seen someone in 5 years or even spoken to them in that long, am I even entitled to feel sad that they are gone? Yet when old memorises rise the surface as I do mundane things, it's startling to realise that oh gosh, he was there too, and I cannot help but feel weighed down.

If only life was easier on everyone.

Human Misery

There is a massive jam building up on the Southbound lane of Broadway, from 200th St onwards down, probably towards the GW Bridge. Earlier when I set out with my laundry, two firetrucks went by. Then, the traffic was still flowing. After putting in my laundry and going to Key Food, I came out to see a massive jam as far as the eye could see. I counted 6 Bx7s and 4 M100s stuck along the stretch from Key Food to the Dollar Tree.
I feel slightly bad for the people stuck in traffic now, but I am sure as hell glad that it's not me.

Acquisitive Behaviour

When I am stressed I buy things.

Now as I look at my bookshelf - exactly one day after I have submitted my thesis in final, hard copy form to the department office - I find myself amazed at the sheer number of books that fill its shelves. I don't think I've ever bought so many books within a single year of my life before. Amazon simply makes buying books far too easy, but leaves the problem of where to store them afterwards especially when one is done reading the book.

I need to find a place to give away the books I no longer want before I move.


 

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