Category: Introspection

Trip trip, family.

I vanished, I know, I know! A thousand, a million, an armada of apologies…it’s been, how does one say it? A whirlpool?

That doesn’t sound right.

The theme for the past three weeks is on the facet of one’s existential dilemma – careers! I clutched F.M. after they said their goodbye to their failed foreign correspondence craft. When I said my goodbye to Marketing, I opened the revolving doors to the vast world of that which I completely adore:

Ernst Lubitsch.

He’ll be on the next issue though, so watch out for his touch then. For now, I am feeling giddily overwhelmed every time I receive the daily dings of my countdown calendar screaming C A N A D A.

I haven’t mentioned, haven’t I? My whole family’s venturing off to the vast mainland of its Eastern Coast. My aunt is married to a preacher and they have two sons. One of them is immensely intelligent with dreams of becoming the first doctor in the family brood. The other son works in South East Asia as a financial consultant.

He’s never stopped thinking, hoping, praying, to return to his family. Someday, one day.

I can see it all though.

The tears roiling down my grandmother’s face when she sees her eldest daughter after twelve long years. The sisters reuniting in crescendoed shrieks as they fall together in a hugging heap. The cajoling and the reminiscing and the exchanges of pure, unadulterated adoration for each other.

I can never really stress the importance of family to me. And why Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year for me. And the clan continues to grow and grow and grow!

My uncle, the preacher, he would say how blessed we are, how fortunate and privileged to have a family to call home.

And I’d echo it right back as I pass a kerchief to my grandma and a glass of water to my auntie. As I clamp my ears shut, my mouth straining in a wide smile as I watch the sisters laugh and harass each other in the only way they know how.

What a time.

What a time of our lives…


4th of July

Here’s something major: I’ve never celebrated a 4th of July. When I told my brother then my parents of the weekend I booked with my ex-roomies to celebrate such occasion, they look at me like I’ve academically disappointed them.

I divide my days in 30-minute increments courtesy of a self-help article I read on Flipboard two hours before the dawn of a new day and finding myself offended by my binge-wanting antics, I let go.

Hence, my 4th of July indictment of ignorance and the means of rectification by flying direct. Ain’t nobody got time for a stop over.

I have no knowledge of the certain goings-on in this day of independence. All my reference is tailored to a certain swift Taylor and a gal group of matching bikini sets, inflatable ducks and a battalion of now ex-boyfriends.

(I’ve condemned myself to this expectation, haven’t I?)

Nevertheless, I left the planning to my American gals. They have a combined 78 years experience to their credit. I’m more eager to see their pet pig, really. On a scale of one to bacon, one, you terrible human.

I’ll catch you all up in these extravaganzas after I’ve composed myself to a family dinner in Boston. It’ll involve roses doing the Irish jig, conversations around a table overflowing with past issues of The New Yorker, and sandwiches from the local deli I once visited on Christmas Day.

I’m bursting with excitement. I have three countdown apps on my phone reminding me in constant intervals throughout the day of this impending departure to the known and unknown.

If you haven’t seen me this excited,

too late!


Harper is literally throwing a fit right in front of the family albums. We attended a crafts bazaar for some Mother’s Day inspiration earlier today and we purchased two bouquets of wild petunias, paper bags, and decorative wood letters: F, I, and T, which she painted a dark, bleeding magenta.

Then she threw them. Up, everywhere, in her room. Kicked the F, tried (failed) to snap the I in half. The family albums sat intact, smiling faces judging her, Harper beyond care. It was a frenzy.

Brooklyn 99 has just been cancelled and Harper was one of the 16.1 million people who tweeted it to trending the entire day.

She says, “What do you watch when you’re feeling sad when it’s the show that you watch when you do feel sad?”

For once, I had nothing witty to say back.




When my brother and I put our differences aside, we became best buds. He’s two years older and I remember punching him in the face in ’09.

(I apologised straight after).

I remember being fourteen or fifteen, torn between a handsome vampiric character and a shirtless werewolf whilst he had some runes to escape from. Or shoot at. I’m not familiar with the gamer’s jargon. I grew out of the former, he upgraded to a console with the latter. Either way, I can still hear him screaming at his “mates” from across the hall.

Now at a mind-boggling three and twenty, we have shared moments of paramour frustrations, ubiquitous fashion tips for the mid-vain, and a playlist titled Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude. It’s not a very liberal playlist but we sneak in a Celine Dion hit here and there. We’re not animals.

My younger brother, on the other hand, has bought a seriously cheap car for a girl he claims he doesn’t actually like. He buys these ridiculous overpriced sneakers that all look the same but his potential for greatness is limited by his warped view of his talents.

He was the first to move out, much to our parents’ chagrin. But he’s home pretty much all the time. He jokes that we have better food.

He’s not wrong.


Fashion, secret sleeping.

Last night, Harper invited me over for hot cocoa and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2016 full coverage that she found online. I reprimand her for not watching last year’s show and she all but skips to about halfway through the video when Gigi Hadid proudly and emotionally shows off her little sister Bella; it’s her first time to walk the coveted runway of the dazzling show.

I cried, she cried, they all cried. Harper has her ways of emotionally blackmailing me…and I thank her for it.

When Harper’s own little sister came barging in, I sneaked to the pantry for some dry biscotti.

“It’s a school night,” Harper tells me afterwards. “I have to keep the volume to a minimum. What’s the point of those ear plugs then?”

“She wears ear plugs?”

“And a purple unicorn sleep mask.” Harper does this eye roll that negates our combined failed relationships past and future, and I squirm.

“How old is your sister again?”

“Not old enough.” Then she starts crying again. Mostly for accepting half my biscotti just after the Fantasy Bra makes its underwhelming appearance.

I offer to drink the last remaining sips of her cocoa and she complies. The show just finished to the 24k magic song and I can see in her eyes that she’s starting to reminisce.

“My cousin’s expecting a baby, you know,” she tells me, wistfully, still staring at the video on pause. “Can you believe it’s been an entire year since that dream wedding?”

I could.

“Any weddings this year?” She nods her head.

“Just one. Sarah’s.” She smiles widely this time, like she’s been handed, you know, whatever her heart desired.

Victoria’s Secret!” she screams, ignoring the entire household this time. “I have gots to get her some lingerie!”



Ending the possibilities.

When Harper was imitating Amy Santiago‘s celebratory bird dance, I made sure that my tea was as far as possibly away from her flailing arms. In that success, I squished her into a bear hug she did not appreciate as much as I did.

She kept patting my head like I’m one of Peter Pan’s lost little boys.

“I am so so so proud of you,” she says afterwards, squeezing my shoulder blades. “Like, infinitely. Immeasurably. An unmatched distance of pride.”

“Are you going to show me off?” Her conspiratorial eyes were terrifying. She leads me to the pergola in our bare feet and shirts too thin for Autumn, then leaves me shivering. She returns with portable speakers and a lousy bluetooth music player.

“Don’t you dare play John Mayer,” I warn her. She laughs merrily.

“This isn’t the time to slow dance, dummkopf,” a German phrase she learnt during her enlightened childhood. She strums an air guitar, tunes it, then tosses it my way. I catch it with my feet.

“Freaking Out The Neighbourhood by Mac Demarco is a Grammy!” And I could not agree more.

Three full days ago, I celebrated the end of my professional career as a budding foreign correspondent, two months away from their sending me to my expatriate father’s patria, thousands of kilometres north east of my current station. Harper was the only one who’s ever seen me in my most miserable (forgetting to brush my teeth) and who was also the very one who was supportive enough to be blunt about my career pickings.

I took the advice of a Targaryen – ending my possibilities before discussing such possibilities. I needed to execute this plan with the willpower of a dragon. If not, I’ll simply wilt away; a dying possibility in a world of non-possibilities.

The song ends and Harper replaces it with something a little more nostalgic.

“You are so brave,” she says, looking at me admiringly.

“Not as brave as you,” I tell her. I pull out my phone and I remind her of her adventures in New Zealand five months ago and she cannot believe that it’s been almost half a year already. She looks towards the grey clouds wistfully.

“You’re going to do it too, aren’t you?” I ask her even though I already know her answer.

She smiles that kind of smile where you bite your lip between your teeth with a sigh.

“I already have!”

Ice cream owls.

Harper hands me her phone, or rather, thrusts it at me with impassioned fear, and, as probably intended, it hits me in the face.

Her reasoning: she was in the midst of a mindless Twitter scroll when she stumbled on a photograph of a girl holding an ice cream cone but upon closer look, it was actually a tiny owl.

“Why do photographs betray you like that?” she says, crouched by the foot of her bed as I nurse my nose, now throbbing.

“Have you met a photographer before?” I ask her. She looks at me with wild eyes before turning on her bluetooth speaker. She plays a song that could’ve been sung by an elf at a speakeasy before pulling out two instant memories from her dresser.

“When Rebecca took this picture, she was half dizzy with lemon lime bitters. When I told her to give me the camera, she batted my hands away with such force that I toppled over the bridegroom.” I wanted to react in disbelief but Harper just glares at me with sinister knowing.

I pass the phone back to her to calm her.

“You weren’t in love with the bridegroom were you?”

“He used to be in love with me.”

I watch her sneeze, the corner of her eyes filling with tears. A symptom, apparently.

“Of what – sadness?” I shrug a maybe and she laughs so uproariously, the neighbour’s dog started barking. She orders me to stare at the photograph once more and I can’t help but admire her dress. It was soft pink, off-shoulder, embellished with pale green lily pads. Her face was ostentatious in its glee, a hand on the bridegroom’s shoulder, steadying herself.

She flicks the back of the photograph with her fingers. “Do you see happiness there?” I nod. “Do you see sadness?” I shake my head. “Do you see a flicker of doubt? Fear on anyone’s face?” I look straight at her.

“It’s an honest photograph,” I say. “Just a bunch of friends laughing, celebrating.”

She pushes her phone right in my face again, and with malicious anger, “Yes. Unlike this Stupid. Ice cream. Owl.”

Edit: *bridegroom, not groomsman. Harper thrives on drama.