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August 14th, 2011

again

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I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over

Never mind
I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me", I begged
"I'll remember", you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead."
Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead,
Yeah.

You know how the time flies
Only yesterday
It was the time of our lives
We were born and raised
In a summer haze
Bound by the surprise
Of our glory days

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.

Never mind
I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me", I begged
"I'll remember", you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead."

Nothing compares
No worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes
They are memories made.
Who would have known
How bittersweet this would taste?

Never mind
I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me", I begged
"I'll remember", you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead"

Never mind
I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me", I begged
"I'll remember", you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead"

"Sometimes it lasts in love
But sometimes it hurts instead"

loving someone is embracing both the good and the bad, that's why it's so hard to find..

April 6th, 2011

(no subject)

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O: yesterday will be the day that we all remember for a long long time. It was really beautiful =)

tears

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Waved at D in the morning from across the road where he was having a meeting, then invited him to lunch after with Olivia at Maison Balud. BR spoiled us rotten--he custom-made lunch for us, and paired each of the five courses with a wonderful glass. Started off with champagne, then two reds, two whites and desert wine. the food kept coming. oh! i wish i had a more discerning palette!

then we make our way outside onto the terrace and continue with a Troublesome Creek or two. And then another yummy citrusy cocktail-- two of them. Then champagne again, then a whisky. It was a brilliant blue day under the sun, sitting on the terrace of this beautiful building in the legation quarters, stalled in time, with nary a care in the world. savouring the luxury of time and pretend-leisure, conveniently forgetting entirely our responsibilities and worries. Wonderful conversation throughout--from the systemic problems with the Chinese legal system, Russian sophistication in realpolitik, Singapore's remarkable achievements, Britain's has-been place in the sun; to financial independence, architectural conservation,vengeance, reading Chekhov at 6 am in the morning and visiting the newly-opened National Museum. We move in when the sun sets, sinking into leather seats in the chequered-floored lounge... we open the louvered doors for ventilation and drink till dinner time at 8pm, before making our way to Ed and Bella's for a home-cooked meal. This is a Monday! it was to have been packing day.

In between the drinking, which was well paced and interrupted with conscious swigs of water, I run out of the lounge onto the terrace and into a corner, and cry. painful choking tears. they keep flowing and won't stop. I don't know why i'm crying but it comes fast and furious, so easily and with relief. my body is shaking with this release. Olivia and D come outside to check on me, and see me convulsing. D retreats, and Olivia comes to seek and comfort. She starts crying too, against her will. She says she hates me for making her cry.She begs me to leave her alone as she's doubled over the veranda, sobbing. I don't know what the source of this pain is, but i realise it's been there all the while. Under the surface,a surface kept tight and taut by pride. My heart really hurts. My head is light and heavy at once. B comes out to envelope me in a hug. I wipe my tears and go back in.

I realise it still hurts. that the heart defies my reason, living in body and spirit what the mind tries to ignore.

In the taxi from Ed and Bella's, i tell him i've missed him so much. Does he say he misses me too? I forget. Throughout lunch, he keeps bringing up our relationship. in a off-handed, matter-of-fact manner (though he thinks i'm the first to bring it up, when i respond). how for example, he spoiled me for the entire three weeks our relationship lasted. we mentally revisit the places we've been to--the weekend retreat at the great wall, the walks we've taken. even during dinner, he talks about how i walked out on him.

i don't know if talking about it this way makes it easier for him. it makes it easier but also more painful for me, making light of it. We part in kisses, and i cry again all the way home.


what a treat it is to have spent the day with him.

----

the day before i have a conversation with A, her boyfriend W and their friend--he had John Rawls as one of his professors!! while W's thesis advisor was jeffrey sachs, and his other mentor was stiglitz. they say joe would have liked me, and rub it in that i made a really terrible decision to go to O, instead of to Columbia and Yale. I know it is too late, and i don't want to think about it.and this briliant guy who thinks he's heideggar's successor, the final one. heideggar's family gave him the key to the black valley where he had written his last works...really fantastical. the diversity of people here in Beijing!

---

i just hosted dinner for some diplomat friends at home. the movers are coming tomorrow and this is my last night at home. i have yet to start packing. how can one move one's heart from where it has made its home?

March 24th, 2011

天下无不散之筵席

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I have about two and a half weeks left here. I'm filled with a deep, heavy longing, thick with nostalgia. My body is breaking down, knee has taken on a life of its own and shudders at night, keeping me awake at night, and keeping me distracted through the day; the pain in my feet from the scare in Japan is coming back. My body, beaten hard in the past, is now unfamiliar with this new prolonged state of inactivity and is crumbling into a soft mesh. I've aged tremendously during my time in BJ, and yet, if I could, i'd do it a hundred times over in a heartbeat.

I shocked myself by crying today, full throttle, in front of esteemed external colleagues.

I caught up with S, his wife couldn't make it. It's been 6 months since we last met, since they cooked me dinner at their hutong in nanchizi. After a strong cocktail and tasmanian oysters at Apothecary, we head down to the malatang stands outside, the first customers to dig into the skewers of mushrooms, seaweed and tofu soaked in ma la broth, sitting in the middle of the road on stools under makeshift tents, as the wind bellows outside. We are the first customers at 945pm. We are informed that we can't really eat till 10pm, because the stalls aren't supposed to operate while the policemen are still on duty. This despite the fact that the stalls are all set up and ready for business, right under the eyes of the gong an. But no matter. As long as they aren't selling anything yet, the gong an can rest easy that there were no illegal operations under their watch, and can congratulate themselves on a job well done. At one kuai per skewer, we go at them. I make conversation with the bunch of middle-aged fellow customers to my left, asking them what dialect they are animatedly conversing in. They say Guangdong hua. I say bullshit. I'm from the south as well, and this is not cantonese. I'm from Fuzhou, Fujian. So you speak minnangyu. No, i speak fuzhouhua. The pretty girl "cooking" the skewers finds a loose piece of black fungus floating free in the broth and plops it on my plastic covered tin plate, and i am touched by her generosity. Only in China. Maybe she'll pose for you S says. I can only secretly hope.

Next to us is the "English Bookstore" its fancy cheap green and yellow wording. With books from the Obama's The Audacity of Hope to Murakami's Kafka on the Shore to Gladwell's Blink, the stall's owner who cannot speak English has his pulse on the books moving the english-speaking world. I go crazy and narrow down my choices to four. 120. 110 pls? How can i make money like that? Pls? Ok. Only in China. I feel bad at the knowledge of hypocrisy i so easily smother, but i know that i've just spent hundreds of dollars over the past couple of weeks sourcing for originals across the world, just in time for the literary festivals (both the Bookworm and Capital M), and how i paid three times the price of a book anywhere else, because the books just aren't easily had here. I remember how starstruck i was speaking to Leslie Chang and Peter Hassler, and how the tears fell while listening to Priya Basil and Aneesha Capur. Alienation, and the sense of isolation, arise from being misunderstood by the people you care about she says. I understand it cerebrally, only to comprehend it to the core when Mother comes to visit. The alienation, the betrayal, from your own mother not knowing who you are is sharply painful. How our families can trap us even as they give us the foundation on which we can become ourselves. Basil talks about arguing with her prejudices, Capur about her sheer love of writing. A series of words prompting thought. What are the compensations of faith that make the greater sacrifices worthwhile, Basil asks? Dostoyevsky wrote that literary fiction should be about human beings striving; Faulkner that the problem of the human heart in conflict with itself alone makes good literature. I hate that i read so slowly.

I line up for a taxi in the stinging wind. people behind me line up patiently and orderly. I am so impressed. i wait. taxi after taxi is stole by people dashing out onto the road in front of you. The neat line behind me realises the penalty they pay for adhering to order and courtesy. the line disintegrates. I cave in and hop onto a makeshift tuktuk, a tin box basically balanced on a motorised bike. We go against traffic. Only in China.

China has spoken to me like no other place has. I love every bad-weathered day, because the good days are so much more brilliant. I love the contradictions, the constant internal negotiation between old and new, self and foreign. the iterations of how they want to present themselves to the rest of the world, as the country struggles to find its sense of self under the watchful eye of everyone else. It strikes me that my 10 kuai malatang dinner is so much more satisfying than my 1369 kuai lunch this afternoon at Nadaman.

How will i leave this place?

天下无不散之筵席. I will be back my dear.

February 1st, 2011

It's probably been two years since I've really sat down and written. Have avoided writing because I did not want to indulge and live in my emotions and thoughts there and then, when I knew they would pass...

So many of my beautiful friends, my best friends in Asia, the US and Europe, are sad. Thickly sad, enveloped in veils they are afraid will always stay with them. Afraid of suffocating under them. sick of being disappointed in the world, in people and in love. tired of going home alone. and scared that they won't be able to get out of it. Friends who are so beautiful but who cannot see it in themselves, or those who see it but then begin to doubt for the dearth of resonance with the world. and so it carries on in this iterative process.

i was confused, and then annoyed when he talked of loneliness. I didn't, i couldn't understand the concept. Couldn't wrap my head and heart around it. Why couldn't he just toughen up and trudge on. Build up your own inner resilience so you are impermeable to the vagaries of other human beings. I couldn't empathise simply because i never felt it. I had never felt lonely in my entire life. I'm only now beginning to understand.

p.s. I've just checked. It's strangely enough been only almost a year since i started posting again. I think it's been a resolution at the start of the year, like all my other new year resolutions which hang on the tree like a sad expectant dream.

February 22nd, 2010

Beijing

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Today, the temperature climbed its way up and ventured into positive territory for the first time in months! and went up to as high as 11 degrees c. I walked outside dressed in single shirt. Blue skies and brilliant sunlight. Lying on the grass in Central Park with a book (on China's social inequalities, in Chinese!) and a berry milkshake, I was gloriously happy.

Attended a colleauge's housewarming, with lots of food, which was really nice. Chatted with a few people who I really like. Realising with more acute clarity that time has passed us by--12-year old children calling me Auntie S!

Then rushed to a (second) home cooked dinner with R and co. He made coq de vin and a yummy date and banana/walnut milkshake, his girlfriend made prawns, and his french roomate Amade a yumy walnut/hazelnut cake with hot melted chocolate! and fresh goat's cheese and another kind of cheese I cannot pronounce, flown in directly from france, courtesy of A's sister who's visiting. dinner conversation a mix of english, chinese and french. how lovely!

surrounded by people who inspire me to be better in so many ways.

February 19th, 2010

not yet ready

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I realised today that I don't think I'm ready for love.

I'm not mature,full, or selfless enough to accept love and to love as only love deserves to be requited.

I thought it was about time i was, but quite evidently I am not.

I'm so so sorry...

February 9th, 2010

and so we go again.

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I spent a short weekend in Singapore, catching up with best friends, re-acquainting myself with old ones, realising again how much I love some people, and why.

I was not looking forward to going back, knowing that such a short trip would drain me of energy I already lacked. Been very sick recently, falling ill once a month, somehow developing shingles, with layered, ridged nails..but at the airport, just seeing him at the crack of dawn, i am instantly happier--so much happier. I realise with a full clarity how much I love him and why I do. L.The feelings I have when I am with him are real and undeniable, as much as i pereversely forget or chose to forget.

I've not written here in years, my life becoming increasingly unreflective. But meeting up with Y for the first time in a couple of years, he asks if i still write--and then i remembered that i actually used to. So i thought i'd try again. I'm beginning to realise that writing kept me sane.

I love it here in Beijing--everything about it. This visit home this time around however showed mehow wonderful it is to be surrounded by people who've known you and loved you forever, even when loving yourself was hardest.

I will make the best of my wonderful opportunity here. Look forward, not back.

November 27th, 2008

Paperweight

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Been up all night staring at you
wondering what's on your mind
i've been this way with so many before
but this feels like the first time..

you want the sunrise to go back to bed
i want to make you laugh
mess up my bed with me
kick off the covers, i'm waiting

every word you say, i think
i should write down
don't want to forget come daylight

happy to lay here
just happy to be here
i'm happy to know you
play me a song
your newest one
please leave your taste on my tongue

paperweight on my back
cover me like a blanket
mess up my bed with me
kick off the covers i'm waiting
every word you say i think
i should write down
don't want to forget come daylight

and no need to worry
that's wasting time
and no need to wonder
what's been on my mind
it's you
it's you
it's you

every word you say i think
i should write down
don't want to forget come daylight
i give up
i let you win
you win cause i'm not counting
you made it back
to sleep again

wonder what you're dreaming..

July 6th, 2008

of memories and places

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walking through chinatown yesterday, i was caught off guard by the way that places are toweled with memories, and by just how much.

the buddha tooth relic temple, the orange shawl, the desert stall at the five-foot ways, scarlet hotel, tea chapter, pgp...afternoons with golden-hour sunlight, evenings with the urgency of tomorrow's imminent dawn.

*********

gonggong is sick, and i'm so afraid it may be too late.

If you can't turn back the hands of time, Time, can you at least please stand still?
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