Breaking.

Valentine’s Day. A woman jumped to her death from the 5th floor of a busy shopping mall while I perused eye creams to combat the dark circles around my eyes. The sales ladies whispered among themselves nervously, wondering why she jumped, who was responsible.

When I got out of the department store a tent had already been erected to cover the scene from the prying eyes of mall goers. But a quick search online would show that someone had already uploaded a short clip to Twitter of the woman lying face down on the mall’s tiled, white floor, already lifeless, blood pooling around her. The clip’s caption read, ‘a woman just jumped to her death here in megamall, scary!”

And just like that, her story ended.

Exactly three days before was my birthday. It would have been a happy birthday but I had spent the past two weeks working like a maniac, as if my off the charts productivity could stop the inevitable end of another relationship.

Sometimes you see the end and you run in the opposite direction like a nutjob climbing an escalator that goes downwards. You could definitely try, but the escalator won’t change directions.

Here was a man I held hands with and kissed in public even when I hated public displays of affection. Here was a man I karaoke-sang Madonna’s Crazy for You to on the phone while doing my groceries at the supermarket, nevermind the absolute cheesiness of it all. Here was a man who stood by patiently (ok he also recorded it and may have laughed too) as I ugly cried while hugging an elephant. Here was a man who cared enough about my allergies (marked his messages with !! to remind me not to eat seafood). Here was a man who traveled halfway across the world to be with me. Here was a man who was not afraid to show me his heart, and was not afraid to see mine.

We tried. But in the end, we had to say goodbye.

So I spent my 37th birthday nursing my broken heart, alone in my darkened room asking why things never last (yes, you could be a strong, independent woman and still ask questions like this while crying yourself to sleep in a fetal position. Being strong doesn’t make you immune to pain, just gives you the balls to get through it)

Yesterday was his birthday. I sent him a message at exactly 12am (the same way he did for my birthday) and tried to maintain my composure as I wished him all the happiness and love in this world.

He replied with a warm and friendly thank you, and hoped that I was feeling better.

I let him go.

Somewhere on Twitter someone said, “always rewrite your story.”

But tonight, I am just grateful that I have one.

 

to live with less

I had a moment of clarity randomly reading about this article on the minimalist movement.

I currently don’t own (and have no plans to own) a TV, an air conditioner, a refrigerator, a microwave oven, or a washing machine. I have an electric stove that I rarely use (mostly because I’m too lazy to cook), and 99% of my clothes don’t need ironing (yes, because lazy too). I could survive without an electric fan to be honest- but I like the whirr of the fan when I sleep, and the breeze reminds me of afternoon naps near the ocean.

I don’t own a car or a motorcycle, or wish to. Of course we can all agree that maybe I am just poor and probably can’t afford a car anyway- very well for me then, what you don’t have you don’t need it now.

I plan to dispose of many things in my life that I don’t actually need: tons of clothes (half of which I don’t get to wear anyway), sentimental “keepsakes” and purchases that only serve as clutter, old boxes with things from a life I no longer care to remember.

These days I constantly worry about the environmental impact my simple purchases make: the 12-pc shampoo and conditioner sachet set that I know will somehow end up in a mountain of garbage in the shadier parts of the city or at sea (despite my best efforts to segregate my trash), the growing collection of plastic bags stashed in my kitchen cabinet that I refuse to throw away because maybe I can use them, the plastic utensils and the straws that came with the food delivery even when I asked to no longer include them, the animals tested on for my lotions and creams.

The other night I passed by the neighbourhood wet market and saw the dead pigs laying side by side on the display table. I have consciously stayed away from meat as much as I can and the sight of the pink, lifeless bodies slightly sickened me. I felt a little silly for feeling so- am I the only one who didn’t think it was funny when a pig tried to escape to freedom? But I digress.

There are a lot of things in this world we can feel helpless about.

I had to write this down, as a promise.

To live with less.

If there is anything I CAN do for this planet it will be this. And I will.

eighty two, pearl st.

I want to come knocking at your door

with my heart in my hand

see this fucking bloody miserable thing?

and I would leave it on your doorstep

staining your floor and the spot where you

stand when you turn your keys to

unlock your door, staining your worn

out shoes and your worn out carpet in your

cold living room, staining your hands

the window where the light comes in

staining your bed, your face,

your life.

silly, silly girl.

dreaming of brick houses

and grey-coloured skies.

were those crumbs that you followed?

now the birds laugh at you

and you can’t make

the forest

for the trees.

here we are, alive.

and so here I am at 1 o’ clock in the morning, eating pancit canton (always a good idea) and waiting for Ariel (yes, the detergent) to finish ‘cleaning’ my dirty laundry. No, I don’t have a washing machine. I live in a tiny studio apartment and I wash most of my laundry with my hands, some I pay the laundry shop downstairs to clean and try not to lose.

“you don’t know what ‘third world’ is,” he laughed, as I half-joked, half-complained about my third world life.

I have a roof over my head, enough (and sometimes actually healthy) food in my small cupboard, a job that pays the bills and sometimes allows me some luxuries (a massage, trips to the beach, new shoes, a 24/7 internet connection). I don’t have a gun to my head and I don’t have to beg for water.

Maybe third world is just a feeling?

But this bright spot.

He touches his face a lot, a nervous tick, and I want to reach out and cover his hands with mine, you don’t know how beautiful you really are.

My mother is excited. I’m excited too. AND terrified. But she doesn’t have to know that.

36 years old. It seems like it was only yesterday I was hanging out in her office, asking her about her office mates who were pretty but still single. How old are they? Thirty. Why aren’t they married yet? They’re old! Oh, how times have changed. Now I know exactly why.

Things I thought about while doing the laundry:

1. singing pit bulls

2. generation catatonia

3. first world, ‘modern’ [whiny] feminists (proud feminist, but seriously, not all men are creeps)

4. parents, don’t forget to let your children climb trees

5. remember what life was like, before we learned to filter it?

love liberates.

sometimes I put my arms around myself to keep me from exploding.

sometimes I just eat chips.

strike three.

Lessons are repeated until they are learned.

By heart, every single sinew of the body–

so that it runs through veins

every gap and hole, filled

breathing through skin, almost

like one’s scent, sure

and personal.

Lessons are repeated until they are learned.

Not vaguely recalled during

times of stress or confusion

or heartbreak.

For it is an armor

and not a souvenir.

 

This is a mess. 

I should start packing.

the tourist.

And so you wake up one day and you realize that you are finally too old to be carrying around grudges, so you decide to leave your baggage of hurt behind along with the last drink you had. Travel light, travel far.

 

And you suddenly want a garden. 

Will you let me listen to your new favorite song? I have so many things to tell you.

 

 

 

this puzzle doesn’t solve anything

Know that when you point to my loneliness

as some sort of disease

I can see your misery

through the gap 

in your bright colored sleeve.

 

And you will learn

to lift your chin up

to an angle so sharp

the liquid heat

brimming in your eyes

will simply refuse

the fall.

 

I walked the streets

earlier in what I thought

was a smart suit

Hurried, like I had somewhere

terribly important to go

From elsewhere a stranger had asked me

what are your long term plans

and I could not think of an answer

I may not even live that long

I was tempted to answer

while I imagine a stern voice warning

don’t tempt fate

but what is fate but the hand of

eventuality

sometimes buried in dirt

planting flowers, in

books, the glorious curls of a lover’s hair

or shoved in our pockets

protected from cold

or from the warmth of

somebody’s fire

I walked the streets and

from the corner of my eye

a little girl shifts and turns

on a folding bed, blue dress

it’s hard to sleep when

your bed is under an overpass

this side of the mall, main highway on the other

you are always just sweet talking

I tell him, he just laughs

and my fingers find their way

to the pimple on my forehead

I am aware of skin,

the hardness of the skull underneath

and how sooner

or later

this will all be nothing

 

dancing with two left feet

morningglory

I have a thing for mornings and windows, and sunlight streaming in. I think it’s the perfect way to open your eyes. This morning was no different – I felt like the universe had crept into my room while I slept, made itself up (like we would when we’re going out), and waited there, barely containing its excitement, ready to go – for me to wake up so it could show me something.

So I got up, decided that it was a The 1975 kind of morning, and made myself coffee and a peanut butter banana sandwich. My mug is chipped and I realized that I like it a lot. Like I like old, worn T-shirts with holes in them. I don’t mind brokenness. It has a beauty in it that perfection or flawlessness does not have. Maybe it’s the same reason that I’m drawn to people or things with questionable intentions or outcomes. Or maybe, I just like learning things the hard way? Hah, I don’t know.

Is there somebody who can watch you

The song takes my thoughts to someone in another continent and I had to laugh at myself. Sometimes we let things hit us so we can tell ourselves these stories in our heads. Like how we think scenes in a movie should be. Like how it would be wonderful waking up to sunlight streaming in and those eyes, the color of my favorite marbles, or the pieces of broken glass I liked to pick up from the ground and imagine I could make something beautiful out of, as a kid.

My bed sheet and my pillow cases don’t match, neither does my socks when I sleep (yes I like to keep my feet warm). I hardly care about matching my bra to my panties, or my shoes to my bag or belt. I think my life has been a series of mismatches so far.

Still, I regret nothing.

An upbeat song comes up, what happened to just messing around – and I dance around in my room.

I can still dance.