Empathy.

I have been ill for three consecutive weeks. I have missed two work days out of five for these three consecutive weeks and it is more than putting a glower on myself, I am feeling a basketful of guilt for leaving the manning of the fort to my two superiors. My two unequivocally professional and beyond worthy to my superiors. They are vastly more improved than I in this profession (I still use the Media and Comms excuse) but their invaluable kindness and mentorship has made it much, much easier for me to be ill. And I say this for the entire company.

The company that knows just how much an individual person is worth.

Even so, in the creative department, I have disappeared upon these pages too. How have you all been? Did any of you have a sweet apple today? Dipped it in yoghurt for a snack? Did someone climb a particularly challenging staircase this week? Or fumbled down the couch as they reach for the remote control?

I know I have done less than dismal of physical activities. If I count walking to the car, walking to the refrigerator, stretching by the bed, using my thumbs as I wreak havoc on a gaming console…

To continue is to make a fool of myself.

Alas, I feel braver. Braver in my insecurity, that is. As oftentimes I catch myself needing to apologise for my human condition of illness. And I thought, why should I?

But it helps. It thoroughly helps when empathy is your ally.

Fashion spiel

I cannot account as to how long it has been since I last shopped at a direct factory outlet. I recall driving past and pausing at our local shopping centre not ten-minutes away, and usually I’ll get driven thanks to some learner pals.

So when I went today, after having returned some notes from my piggy bank, I felt far from disinterested when the sale signs launched their marketing assault. What kind of brands do I silly in?

Pfft, everything, I think to myself as I lunge after that orange box numbered “size 8”. Appalled by my brother’s holeful socks, I did not have time to deliberate. I was taken straight to the counter.

My real purpose was to buy myself a camera bag and some mints but instead, my name was screamed at a store and I was given a 50% discount by my fashionably A+ friend. Here’s my fashion rundown, Tavi Gevinson:

Peach is the new rose gold. Even if a CEO scoffs at it.

Always white shoes over black and white. Because you already have a black and white somewhere, don’t be greedy.

Slightly expensive black socks.

Coats.

It’s a must.

 

 

Overnights

Before the reception, we went to a a burger joint. I ordered a hotdog. I realised my mistake as soon as I took the first bite –  the mustard-twisted-tomato sauce with bits of onion spilled over my scarf and my mother’s expensive (I borrowed) coat. It left a stain, of course, and I still haven’t the chance to dry clean it as per her stringent specifications. I doubt I’ll miss the trouble of wearing it on said day.

To recap, my whirlwind weeks has been disastrous in non-vulgar ways, and peaceful in the cold, blistery sessions. On the eve of a Thursday, I packed some bags for an overnight photoshoot near the Great Ocean. The photoshoot lasted the usual eight hours, the night lasted long, long, long into the early hours of the morning.

The million-dollar home with a view handcrafted by the Architect was astounding to behold in the glory of the morning and the shadows of the evening. We rested at a ten-bedroom villa with a fireplace stoked by one Alexander, and the company was jolly in laughing tears.

“It’s just cold coffee,” I exclaim when I tasted my first ever espresso martini. Everyone laughs in mockery but my eyes illuminate my judgment. Not to take offence, but it’s as pretentious as it sounds. Well, for a tea-drinker anyway.

We took a drive down to Moons’ the next morning after some hustling out of bed. I am most thankful for the fact that I had a bedroom all to myself. I squeezed myself a few hours of tranquility as I readied for the two-hour drive ahead. Will it be painful? It most certainly was.

FM: You successfully captured some footage of the whole day as well, didn’t you?

H: Most definitely! I have a rough cut somewhere and the lighting is to die for.

FM: 20 seconds – what was your favourite meal?

H: Oven-roasted chicken sandwiches for lunch.

FM: Outfit you felt most confident in?

H: Tracks, Uggs, Hoodie, Ring.

FM: What made you laugh hysterically?

H: Backwards knees.

FM: If you could paint a part of your trip, what would it be?

H: SLR 0601 rusted bicycle by the mezzanine. It was blue with an extra wheel.

FM: Favourite person?

H: M-cat.

FM: Warmest hour?

H: For fifteen minutes I blistered in the heated car.

FM: Coldest?

H: Liquorice liqueur or whatever. Not bad.

FM: Resolution?

H: Always pack heavy.

 

Be brave.

Harper looks me in the eye. Really looks me, then walks off towards the display cakes. I blink a couple of times, trying to get my bearings before following her line of sight – a Mississippi Baked Cheesecake topped with chocolate cream rosettes. It doesn’t matter that it was sprinkled with peanuts (of which I am deathly allergic too). When Harper’s eyes find such gleam, you cannot escape from it.

One of Harper’s favourite excuses to eat this cheesecake is when one of her family members, who is ambivalent to decision-making and tastes, celebrates their birthday. Unfortunately for her, it was not this day.

We went home with a three-tiered Black Forest cake, chicken ribs, and a sour face. Sulking, I blasted the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack to amuse myself.

“Jack Sparrow would have wanted that cheesecake.”

Captain,” I correct her. And she blows raspberries at me. Harper’s sort of stuck in a limbo at the moment. She aches for her newly acquired camera to arrive, and she aches, physically, between her left shoulder and neck. She says it’s always been like this. I turn down the volume and I pinch a chicken rib from the set.

“I can’t wait to see the stars!”

And it’s true. Harper’s travelling to New Zealand close to the end of this year. Her soul sister is traversing half the world just to do so. She didn’t have many options earlier this year when her focus had been to look for jobs and the variety of weddings she’s been to. But, she thinks, it’s been a rewarding, selfless, human-sensory-explorative half a year. She’s ready to divest into late-spring and no care.

“Be brave,” she tells me once, when I wouldn’t budge into trying that mint chocolate chip ice cream at the chocolatier. She tried it, despised it, and flaunts it.

She says, “At least I tried it.”

And she’s right. She really is.

Anniversary countdowns and exorbitant buys.

I’m excited to my bones for this wintery month of June. Summer, for those who live in the hemisphere that still refuses to measure in metres.

Work has been loaded with luncheons here and there and call me nasty, but I’m starting to understand why the term “food snob” was purposed. Perhaps, it’s to limit the collateral damage, but mostly because the food in this city, this gorgeous, luminous, effervescent city is just unparalleled. Nevertheless, I still enjoy a fusion Chinese night out with my fam and a half.

The rollercoaster ride of reaching three months at work is at its peak now that we’re halfway through 2017. To be more specific (alluding to my topic sentence above), June went on a metropolitan train ride to the likes of SoHo or the Emporium armed with recyclable shopping bags and a thirst for the adventurous efrits.

Firstly, my parents’ wedding anniversary is finally on countdown. They are booked for the wondrous, unexpected glory of New Zealand, a southern journey closest to our penguin pals down in the whitest south. Us begotten children o’ theirs have ramped up their sojourn with as much luxury as we can afford between a university student, two full-timers with bills to pay, and one with a monthly Netflix subscription.

Let’s just say we told them to pack heavy and to pack in style. *insert wink face*

To the personal creative, I, the filmmaker, finally bought myself a cinema camera worth all that marketing collateral changes and in-house designing with my very limited eye sight. It’s the perfect time to bust out the cinematic perspective of two odysseys ahead: 1. An all-expenses paid photoshoot slash hike come July, and 2. My own New Zealand trip with my “Denmarkian” upon thine end of her Masters exchange in November.

All day I’ve been thinking up of brewing tea and never getting around to it as I launched tab after tabs of research into the best lens for a dandy Blackmagic, ready to unleash the Patty Jenkins in me.

Sure, it seems costly to an Adidas shoe-buyer, but I’m a future-thinker gal. I invest on solid certainties only. i.e. I don’t buy books if I won’t re-read them again. And that’s a guarantee.

Suffice it to say, I have not been this excited for exorbitant purchases for a while now. Sending my parents off has always been my dream, and something I’ve worked very hard towards. I am enraptured for them as I peruse the bookings we made, and the places they will visit. They deserve much more, but this is a start.

I am also keeping myself accountable for all such spendings by creating an excel spreadsheet, and if my glasses don’t say otherwise, I am really feeling the “adult” in me butterfly-ing.

But hey, I love new chapters. Especially in my own book.

I wish

I wish the ocean chose me.

Or the sea, the river, the pantheon in its destruction.

I wish they stretched long, structured, crumbling limbs and I saw the stars reflected by the waters, the ripples pooling beneath my teeth.

I wish the constellations chose me, the stars chose me, the wind, the Sun, Spring, chose me.

If I were to be chosen,

I want to be chosen by the earth, by the universe, by the melted snow, and the dying flowers, and the cascading brush of ice and deep, coldest waters.

I wish the tallest mountain chose me. Or the regime of stalks and wheat, of rice-steps, and hawks in mid-flight.

I wish the winds chose me. And the bright, luminous cascades of the ethereal, burgeoning of life, and sound, and music, chasing me, hounding me. The invisible, and the real.

I wish,

I wish,

I wish…

Steam train no go’s.

Harper nudges me with her elbow, pretending that I am not constantly aware of her presence at all times. She sighs belatedly, sliding down her chair till her head’s about the height of the ignition.

“We were supposed to go on a steam train journey on Saturday.”

Ah yes, she mentioned that. In fact, I believe she mentioned it to everyone at her work and now she’s afraid that she has no adventurous story to tell any longer. 

“Sure, we had stuffed crust pizza and I binged and slept like a mama without her newborn.” She makes a noise at the back of her throat that resembles a choking dog. “But a steam train. That was supposed to be my grand weekend adventure! Doesn’t matter if, by the end of it, I’m an icicle.”

When Harper’s exchange friend visited from the U.S. last July, she was keen on making certain she made the most of what her wonder-home had to offer. One of them was said steam train adventure, mostly for young children, but they were all unabashedly children at heart, anyway. And so they went for a little trip to Belgrave, blasting Frank Ocean tunes and admiring the gables and rusty greens. 

They reminisced about that time they watched “Something Rotten” in Broadway, recalling the annoying couple who watched themselves more intently than the wonderful display of art and music before them. They all agreed: #WhatAWaste

And upon arrival at the end station, they grabbed hot cocoa and took pictures of pretty birds, not minding their vanity at all. Harper recalls how much her friend hated birds (a flamboyant flamingo said cause) but she stood courageous enough to snap some shots. For her dad, apparently, whom she expressly missed so.

“Perhaps we can go next time,” I tell her, strapping her seat belt on. 

“They’ll probably go this Saturday and I won’t be able to come.” They, meaning her family. “I specifically made sure that it was last Saturday. Specifically. I even declined a surprise birthday party.”

I offered to buy her fast food to sate her and she simply shakes her head. Then her eyes light up like someone turned on the switch too early, blinding everyone in the room.

“Let’s go and watch a musical!”

And that’s another story to tell…