Category: Mag

Who drank coffee?

For a record-breaking entire week, Harper drank coffee.

After each day she would interrogate herself with personal, intrusive questions because she has a penchant of terrorising herself at a constant, educational basis.

She was afraid to tell her boss that she drank coffee for said full week, fearing that he will never, ever let her live it down in her entirety at this boisterous company of coffee-drinkers and spillers. Harper believes she may just keep this to herself until the Christmas party.

FM: It’s been a solid 6 months of declaring your love for tea in the entire office.

H: *with a headache* And I’ve never regretted mouthing such prideful words in my life.

FM: Tell us something extraordinary!

H: Two weeks before, I attended a 70’s themed pre-Christmas party. Most of them were younglings and it was such a fabulous affair of dress-ups and boogies. Imagine two lines of 10 kids dancing to YMCA simultaneously. It was glorious.

FM: Do you feel old?

H: I am so swamped at work that I feel like I’ve put on ten years just this past week. Hence, the caffeinated swamp. But I will always be the “baby” at work as they so affectionately (horrendously) call moi. Most are far too engrossed with this band called Midnight Oil while I’m like Tay-waah? Good thing a fellow-person of nine and twenty believes in me.

FM: What’s the hardest thing about graphics design?

H: The severe underestimation. Folks, if you’ve never done graphics designing in your life, stop asking for a turnaround time of today. You’ll get quality American coffee (disgusting).

FM: Imagine yourself three days from now: It’s two a.m., you’ve got your luggage checked-in, Bon Iver as a lullaby, cameras packed, organic, 100%-sugar juice bought at a ridiculous airport price…what’s the takeaway?

H: Sleep! Much, much sleep! I won’t get it until the night of the next day at a country as foreign as my knowledge on the Lord of the Rings and even then, there will be lots of catching up with my soul sister whom I have not seen in two, very excruciatingly long years.

FM: Even though it’s pretty much gone by?

H: Even though. I talk to her pretty much every day. I talk to him pretty much every day too. There’s never a limit to how much one can mean to you.

FM: Last thoughts before sleeping?

H: Don’t buy a gimbal.



Unapologetically free.

Harper fetches a decaf green tea, dodges a chocolate croissant and sits by her newly-acquired desk. Contemplating, whirring, lazily trying to collate her thoughts on the subject of availability.

When she has lunch everyday at five past twelve, rarely anyone joins her. “I like it,” she admits, sipping her tea. “I’m quite antisocial and it wouldn’t be fair to them if I replied to messages while they talked adult stuff.”

Harper says “adult stuff” like the lady to her right isn’t three years older than her. “Yeah, but she’s building a house.” And that was the end of that conversation. She alludes to the rhetoric of being available in a society so nuanced in its busyness. She hardly finds the time nor (definitely) the energy to even sit her butt and finish her little novella, about three years old now.

FM: What’s it about?

H: A limping girl. With a secret.

FM: Sounds obvious.

H: See my dilemma?

And she blames everyone’s attendance in her life though she is mostly preoccupied by napping.

FM: I remember once you saying how cumquats should not look like oranges.

H: Because one grew large enough to be mistaken as a mandarin. Do you know how unfairly disappointing that was? It was summer.

FM: Perhaps this limping girl grows cumquats.

H: And while she’s trimming the plant, she falls on her bad leg illiciting a small cry of pain. And who but comes?

FM: A gentlem-

H: A cat. Or at least, I’d like to think it’s a cat.

Then she drifts off on a tangent about croissants.

Harper finds herself always on the lookout for the presence of wonder. One time she went to climb the peak of a mountain simply to sit and stare. Her best friend panicked, thinking she was about to fall off (and mighty be such death), but she simply shrugs in amnesty. She says that sitting on hilltops or mountain peaks at a summit high above ground makes her grow nervous in anticipation for the wondrous unknowns. She asks, “Have you ever felt that?”

And I am reminded by the time I decided not to climb that gargantuan Redwood tree because I was afraid to get scratched.

“Live freely,” she says, blinking a few times. “Unapologetically.”


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.

To have or to hold.

I brought in Harper to talk about the mature at heart.

Context: Harper’s first friend of a line-up of 3 pairs for this year got married an exact month ago.

H: I don’t feel disembodied to the reality of this friend and the 3 others who will enter in to matrimony at such a permanent age; an age of which I tower over all of them. Accomplishment shouldn’t be measured by another halves’ perfect opinion of you. It should be trialled and tested and left to flow. Drive yourself in independence. Exhaust your pipes singing your way through the Appalachian, or shout across thunderous ocean wide. What do I value, what do they value…

FM: That seems rather opinionated. Some really do just want to settle down.
H: I’m not a harbinger of judgment. My soul is more sincere in its drive to see the world through one pair of eyes first before settling with another pair. Perhaps that is why I cannot seem to accept it as well as I hoped I would by now.

FM: So you feel like their settling means they will miss much?
H: There’s a line, of course. They have their own adventures, I have my one. The difference being is that their pairing will be permanent. There will be no “I” any longer, and you’re always on the constant lookout for the other’s thoughts in matters. Spontaneity will be overridden by assessment. And you cannot get that back anymore. Unless 1 of 2 died, of course, but we never wish that!

FM: You’ll find yourself in their position someday too. You dream of it, you’ve told us as much. They’re simply accelerating a few years before you.
H: Of course, of course. There is no doubt to it. But that is still a few years they can never have back anymore. Sure, time is not of the essence when you’re an eternal-thinker. But we are physically limited humans. Death is inevitable. And there are far too many nations, cultures, cuisines, aromas, felts, brushes, blossoms and pigmentations to wonder at. Therefore, their deep desire for permanent companionship over the immeasurable value of this amazement baffles me.

FM: You can travel together.
H: And the spontaneous trip with your girl friends or boy friends are out of the picture.

FM: You heart fill be full and fluttering and blushing.
H: A conversation with a stranger on a moonlight stroll, unprompted and naturale.

FM: A kiss or two?
H: I can wait.

FM: Tell us what you picture.
H: A quiet room with a filled bookshelf. You’re inside your covers, perhaps you’d like to turn on a movie or open to the last page of your book. Tomorrow, you fly to a cousin, an auntie eight/fifteen hours away. You create magic with your gifts, and you return home to replete.
Then again, perhaps I am overthinking it.

FM: Do your own thing and they do theirs. You’ll find both your paths, accelerated or not.

H: Thank you. That is a deep wish.

Harper loves love. She romanticises romance and often daydreams of what it would be like to be the Elizabeth Bennet to someone’s Fitzwilliam Darcy. But like Lizzie, or perhaps, dear Belle, there is a great world out there. A place that one cannot compare.

For some, that may be a person. For others, it may be the places. For Harper, it’s a little bit of both. But the former can wait, she speaks. The latter is vehemently, absolutely, for now.

Issue I: H-

In this novel issue, we wanted to record a small little compendium of quips and arbitrary moments of reflections from H- from her trip to Paradise Island for her cousin’s wedding. As you may all know, she has been trying her hardest to log her own esoteric reflections through teasers the lasts posts but since H- has just returned from a recent, pulverising trip, we wanted to be casual but at the same time amazed.

Be prepared, because both H- and us have a reputation for being fickle.

I don’t like chickens in the mornings if they sound suspiciously like automobiles. I tried to convince my 3 brothers to arise but those howling things beat me to it.

FM: You have a bit of a reputation with your old friend back in your home town, birth home (whatever that means for us). Apparently there were teases of dates?
H: Ah yes, it’s a cousins banter. Everyone enjoys the harmless fun.

FM: What outfit did you end up sporting on every hot humid day?
H: Let me just stop you right there. Like Titus Andromedon would say, you don’t choose the outfit. The outfit chooses you. Unfortunately, I was missing a strapless brassiere so there goes the planned. Fortunately, I packed like I’ve been an independent traveller all my life. Resourcefulness is, in some ways, a virtue.

FM: Arcade while waiting for a friend? It was one of the reunions you were most looking forward to.
H: We lost to a guy named Jason who randomly joined our race through the San Franciscan streets. Did we complain? Almost. He was in earshot.

FM: There was that eventful Sunday morning prior to your flight to the Island. You mentioned an emotional and physical roller coaster?
H: My birth town is an extremely humid place. Though I’m grateful for the double-sided fans (!!!), the reunited company, the nails done, and the hair as bright as the sun, I had to tap on my back-up energy. I felt like young Anakin Skywalker on the Boonta race. Sandy.

FM: Tell us something mischievous.
H: I ate an entire coconut by myself.
FM: How-
H: I just finished snorkelling and I was famished and parched and both those things were quenched thanks to the sea-side vendor. He was tanned beyond anything.

FM: Did you read the book you packed?
H: A couple of pages, at least. Flights are crushing. Have you ever felt that? It’s like hammering your skull. I really would rather be in a state of dormientes.
Gravity’s a bit of a scary concept, if not, titular in some respects. For instance, I take it for granted when I was on our dingy boat on our way to the reefs. I mean, how does a life-jacket defy it and I can’t jump more than my knee height? Perhaps I should just be a theorist.

FM: That could be fun! You visited NASA before so you’re a lot closer to that pathway than anything.
H: Ha! I’d rather be a linguist. I am far too in love with Latin and its derivatives more than anything. Which reminds me, my friend lost my ring that one hazy, dark night and he still owes me a new one.

FM: Pub-crawls are dangerous.
H: *snorts* If you’re with the wrong kind of people. Him, he was slightly dangerous (read: ring lost). At least it wasn’t my aquamarine gem stone. And my cousin was with me the whole time. In fact, she directed me and convinced me to come because it was our hoo-ha before the wedding rehearsal the next day. Thank goodness I didn’t sport a headache.

FM: The wedding…

H- takes out her laptop and places it between us. Her eyes were gleaming as she opened up the video and turned the volume up. It was a same-day edit, she said, and she was speechless upon remembering, sitting next to her partnered groomsman (her brother). We couldn’t help but tear-up along with her.

H: I’ve known the couple for the totality of their relationship. I remember the first mentions, the introductions, the shyness and awkwardness. And it blossomed to something so tangibly beautiful that its final beginning at that ceremony truly ripped me apart.

They were made to love each other.