Writer. Fighter. Lover. Dreamer. The doctor's say she's generally functional.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Are you doing okay?

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm doing fine. It isn't easy, but I'm okay.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, it's a constant struggle. But I'm getting there.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I wish someone asked more often. Because every day is difficult.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, sometimes, I'm really not sure. But I'm so glad you asked.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, not today. Just, not today.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm doing my best.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I am. But I wish you knew how much effort it takes to be okay.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm so exhausted from trying. But I'm never, ever, going to stop trying.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, just because I'm not the mess I was a year ago, doesn't mean it gets any easier.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm not always sure how I'm doing this, how I get by. But I am. And I'm doing okay.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm done with being trouble to anyone but myself. Because life goes on. And I want yours to, too.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, you really don't need to worry about me. I worry about me enough. And I'm okay.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm doing so much better than I was before. Because I've learnt how not to let everything hurt.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I stopped writing because that's the only time when I'm honest. And it hurts too much when I write.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, sometimes I disappear. And that's because sometimes I need time to regulate myself. Because I've learnt how, and I practice it every day.

If someone asked, are you doing okay?
I'd say, I'm doing just fine. I'm doing just fine. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Butterflies have the best secrets.

She cupped his face in her hands like it were a butterfly, or a secret, carefully keeping him from all the harm that wasn't there.

An indulgent secret she wanted just for herself, he was her last bottle before the bar ran dry.

But a butterfly must fly, and secrets are best when they're shared, she decided.
Nothing's real unless you throw it up to the sky right before you've sucked the life out of it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

25 Milestones Before 25

Today, I turn 25.
I'm writing myself a list of things that I've done; it's easy to believe in yourself if you have a list. <3

25 Milestones Before 25 

1. Hair for Hope

Shaved off all my past-shoulder length curls to raise funds for kids with cancer. More than $2000 was the final count. One of the things I'm most proud of.

2. Mum & Dad's 25th

Threw the best surprise party for Mum & Dad's 25th anniversary complete with childhood friends, freshly flown in Sister from Sydney, buffet spread and their favourite priest to renew their vows.

3. Quitting my job

Quitting your job because it makes you unhappy might be the wisest career choice you make. 

4. Backpacking solo

And then I took off into the wild, met some of the most interesting people I've ever come across and backpacked solo in South-East Asia.

5. Cambodia

I spent the most time in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, teaching English to orphans and street kids. It was there I learnt that people in developed countries are not as rich as we seem. Those kids taught me what joy really is.

6. Barefoot for Poverty

Raising awareness for people who can't afford shoes by walking a day in their life. Experienced both the ugliest and kindest behaviour from fellow Singaporeans.

7. NSP

Worked with the National Solidarity Party behind-the-scenes as part of the Social Media team during the General Election period. We fought a good fight.

8. Peace & Conflict

Represented our little island in a 3-week course in Southern Thailand about Peace & Conflict in the region. An amazing introduction to South-East, South and Central Asian politics, conflicts and people.

9. Activism

From taking photos and sneakily distributing flyers for Make Poverty History to selling tshirts for SlutWalk SG, joining the fight for Yong Vui Kong's life and saying NO to the Death Penalty, there's so much to be done. It's amazing to be a part of something great.

10. Vegan with a Vengeance

Vegetarian is easy. Vegan is hard. That is all.

11. I Fought the Law

A remarkable fight for justice in university, when I was denied a fair grade because of scumbag lecturer. It went all the way to the top. I won.

12. Meeting Paul & Mick

I met Paul Simonon and Mick Jones (bassist and guitarist from the Clash) and Paul said I was pretty, and that I inspired him with my passion for their music.

13. Urbanwire

Being 1 of 2 kids running a website and a team of 17 reporters was crazy, so much fun and a great introduction to path I later ventured into in my career.

14. Full-Time Job & Degree

Getting your degree with holding down a job in an advertising agency has been done by lots of people. That doesn't make it easy.

15. New York, New York

Being selected to go on a journalism field trip to New York where we met lots of important people from NYT, Boston Globe, MTV and all that.

16. JD Pilgrimage

I visited Ian Curtis' grave in Macclesfield. I c/wouldn't leave until they made me.

17. Moving Up

I have at least once been given a raise and a promotion. The fact that I can successfully do grown-up stuff still fascinates me.

18. Band Travel

Whether it's Hong Kong or London, I'm there if a band I love is there. I like this about myself. 

19. Roller Derby

I bought some skates, put them on and have never looked back since.

20. Broken Bone

Painful, frustrating and tiring, but it is actually something I'm glad to have experienced. A badge of honour in  my Roller Derby life. Once is enough. 

21. Getting Help and Letting Go

Acknowledging that there were some things I couldn't handle on my own and realising that even the best people out there need help. And I'm so much better for it.

22. Blogpost

Writing a blog post about painful parts of my past and sharing them with the world is possibly the scariest thing I have done. The amount of support shown, and the number of friends who confided in me, as a result, was overwhelming, humbling and beautiful.

23. Mindanao

I fell in love with children on a mountain while helping to rebuild their homes. I think about them every day.

24. NaNoWriMo

I completed National Novel Writing Month. My 50, 027 words are still a work in progress, but I finished it.

25. Being 25

After a year that has seen so much change, disappointment, joy, confusion, love, heartbreak, trust and misplaced hopes, I'm back on track with a new job, old friends, amazing family, countless crazy Internet people, and a badass list to remind myself in dark and lonely times that I have done, am doing, and will continue to do some amazing things.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo Tips for 2012

10 Tips to get you started on NanoWrimo

1. Don't read what you've written. There's no time. It might not make sense, but at least it exists.

2. I read somewhere recently that saying you have writer's block indicates there is only one pipe from which words come from. This is not the case. Leave the blocked pipe alone and tap into others. The blocked pipe will eventually sort itself out. 

3. Don't fight it if your mind gets ahead of you. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it takes you to dark places. Let it. Sometimes you don't know where any of what you're writing is coming from, and sometimes that scares you. That's okay. 

4. Don't be mad at yourself for not meeting your daily word count. Start again tomorrow. 

5. Missing a few days means you'll be a few thousand words behind. Do not panic, you can catch up. Do not give up, there is still time. 
This is my chart from 2011 - you can plateau plenty of times, but you can still win this. I promise. x

6. Engage with people on Twitter on @nanowrimo or #nanowrimo or #nanosprints - the countless 3-minute sprints and hour-long marathons are what may make it happen for you. These are real people doing the same thing you're doing; there is no better place to find people who really get it. Because of how global NaNoWriMo is, this community is accessible whether you're writing during your lunch break or while weeping bitterly at 4am. Sprints remind you, you're not doing it alone. And that's important. 

7. Don't interrupt your writing because you think you've been taking to long to describe Sarah's first day at school or Mark's decision to leave his wife. Long-winded as that path may seem, it will take you to place you had not yet imagined. Sometimes, your subconscious creativity outdoes itself. 

8. Have a routine. Wake up 15 minutes earlier and start your day with Nanowrimo. Write during your lunch break. Write after work. Take notes while you're waiting for the bus. Listen to music you haven't tried before. Think about the sound the bus makes. Look at how people stand, talk, move. Eavesdrop on conversations. Write more when you get home/to the pub/wherever. 

9. What's your character's favourite colour, band, food, author? If you don't know, he/she doesn't know either. And if he/she doesn't have a favourite band, how interesting could he/she possibly be?  

10. Have a playlist that makes you write more/better/faster. Make playlists for your characters. But be careful which songs you choose; none of them will ever mean the same thing to you ever again. 

My playlist from 2011.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Graveyard Grief

A short descriptive piece I wrote at a writing workshop today.
Setting: Cemetery
Emotion: Jealousy

Her footsteps draw closer, brittle autumn leaves break beneath her as she wanders, stopping at each new address, her own more temporary than any of ours. Her shadow lands on my doorstep, silhouetting her curves as her saddened eyes come closer. Her fingertips trail the inscriptions on my door as I feel my existence confirmed by her touch. I would like to meet her, but I haven't the words and she hasn't the time.

Footsteps, again they begin as I ache for her touch, now drawing further away. I hear her tears fall on the fresh ground beneath her, and I wish those tears were for me. I reach out to her; she looks away. She moves on, leaving nothing but flowers and a hollow memory of footsteps that were never meant for me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Preacher's Warning

A knock on the door reminds her;
She'd almost forgotten this place.
A surge of poison defiles her;
She was always forgetting the way.

As she wonders and waits
For this too to pass,
She sees no light for each
Of her hearts and souls lost.

The sun sets in a rush
As her fire burns out.
And cinders coat her smile
To fill the space it once was.

The people stop to watch
In distant disregard,
In curious concern, and in helpless admiration,
In a way that makes her wonder
If at all it's worth the searching.

Of the sin of despair
And helpless nothings in the morning,
The preacher demands
In mock-tainted warning,
"Sent by the Lord I declare,
Any true child of God,
Has never been there."

- Loretta Marie Perera

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Cat Who Saw

Indie Ink Challenge October 24 - 28 2011

Prompt:   Tell us a ghost story. The kind you would tell while sitting around a campfire eating roasted marshmallows.

There has to be a cat. There always is, in any good ghost story. Those stealthy creatures with their malevolent eyes and maccavity claws. Those violent hisses, they know there's something there long before you do. And that's why they're so disconcerting. They know. They see.

It was on nights like tonight that Chloe resented having a cat almost as much as it comforted her. The feline company assured her she was safe; this feline watchcat could alert her if she wasn't. This frightened her.

A stormy night in that old creaky house was enough to frighten anyone. The chills were in, in full force.

Chloe's mother would arrive the next morning, and the same catly apprehension applied. The Alzheimer’s, it had gotten worse. And she knew she'd have to explain again. About Josh, how he wasn't with us anymore, about how he'd been a bad, bad man, and he was better off gone. About Sarah, and why she wasn't here anymore. About the two urns atop the piano.

Mum had always been so fond of him and by the time the beast in him had begun to surface, she'd been in no state to understand the truth. The truth about what he really was: a charming, charismatic, loving father who was an abusive, vicious, drunken bastard.

But what her mum couldn't remember the court knew, and Chloe had been let off in a good call of self-defence. She'd gotten state-funded therapy and rehabilitation for her suffering as well.

Any man who touches my child, she thought, deserved to suffer. Any man who takes my child from me deserves to die ten times over. Even if he was her father. Sarah had been just 3 years old, but she hadn't lived to see her birthday. Josh had been all of 34, and he'd never live to see another day.

Still, she always felt like he was there, watching, mocking her for that extra drink she indulged in daily, scoffing at her holding her breath on the weighing scale, staring with hate if she even spoke to another man. She always felt like he was there.

It had been a year since she'd made him leave for good; a year since Sarah had been ripped away from her too. You don't get over that, and you certainly don't forgive that. You never do. No mother can.

Both their urns, placed on the purely ornamental piano, the only place in the house safe from dust and its sheath. She needed to get rid of him. She just couldn't decide how. It had been too long that he tormented her in her own home. Hell would be a better place for him, failing which, a good dumpster would do.

She'd never regretted it for a minute. He'd deserved to die, and she was glad to be rid of him. She wasn't sorry. She hoped he wasn't watching.

The nightly ritual of the same thoughts came to a halt as she heard a pitter-patter overhead. Mr. Skittles, he took care of the house pests well. For such an old house, it was surprisingly clear of rats and roaches, which do tend to fester in old wooden floors.

He slept in Sarah's room, that lovely cat, and she was glad. A child's room was not meant to be empty, and his occasional purrs and movement in her daughter's room kept Sarah alive for Chloe. It was almost as if she were still alive.

Sometimes, Mr. Skittles would crawl into bed with Chloe, and she liked that too. In the middle of the night, when it was really dark, she'd sneak into her bed, just like Sarah used to do, in between the two of them. They never said a word, never touched, but acknowledged each other's presence with a silent sigh of calm.

A knock on the door; Chloe was startled. No one called at this time of the night, but a familiar voice rang out. It was her mother.

Quickly unlatching the numerous locks she had installed, Chloe gazed in joy and confusion at the sight of her dear mother.

"Mum, how did you get her?" she demanded to know. She was meant to pick her mother up from the airport the next morning.

Old Mrs. Wang pottered right in to the house, wrapping her only daughter up in a big motherly embrace.

"It was our little secret, Josh and I!" she cackled gleefully.

"He called me once he heard my flight would be in early, said he'd pick me up! Such a sweetheart he is, mind you keep him around!" she advised.

"Said he had to be out of town for a meeting, but he'll be back tomorrow to pick the three of us up."

"The.... the three of us?" Chloe whispered, refusing to believe what she'd just heard.

Mr. Skittles clearly up to something again, as she heard him in Sarah's room, and then bound down the stairs. Cats were meant to be quiet hunters, really.

"Of course, silly, you, me and Sarah! Where is that little angel?"

Just then, a meow came from outside as Mr. Skittles sauntered in.

"Oh there's our other darling!" Chloe's mum yelped. "We saw him all the way out along the road; you really oughtn't let him out so late! He must've been out for ages."

"The patter down Sarah's room grew louder, coming to a halt, as Chloe stood, her eyes on the sealed urns of her husband and her child on that piano.

Behind her she felt a quiet presence as her mother's eyes lit up. Just then Josh's voice came in on a voice message.

"Hey babe, sorry I couldn't stay; you know I have somewhere I'm meant to be. Dropped your mum off at home, give Sarah a kiss for me. I'll be over tomorrow to bring you all out for a treat. It's a surprise, but let's just say, it's somewhere you've never been before. A surprise, from Sarah and I."

Chloe felt her heart fall out of her body as a tiny hand snuck its way towards hers and squeezed her finger.

"There's my girl!" Mrs. Wang cried, as the voice recording ended leaving a hollow, never-ending tone of nothingness. 

This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Kirsten Doyle, who gave me this prompt: Tell us a ghost story. The kind you would tell while sitting around a campfire eating roasted marshmallows. I challenged Random Girl with the prompt It was the dirtiest window, but it had one hell of a view.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jenny with a View

Indie Ink Challenge October 17 - Sep 21 2011

Prompt: After 25 Years of Marriage
Another wedding invitation in the mail, tossed on the table as carelessly as the two fools had rushed into this impending parade of painted faces and painful shoes.

Jenny eyed the golden embroidery that outlined the off-white envelope, letters grandly drawn in ye olde Englysche penmanship, spelling out the name, the very existence of, the addressee. It was for her. She sat there resenting it. How something as easy as a string of letters meant it was for her; how something as simple as two people, four spoken words and a few signatures could glue people together.

Twenty-five years, Carl.

A voice echoed out of her neighbours apartment, down the corridor, barging into Jenny's room. She thought it quite rude to arrive uninvited, to come uncalled for.

Twenty. Five. Fucking. Years.

The voice got louder. Jenny smirked at Mrs. Cho's preference for emphasis over punctuation. So very dramatic, you could almost see her rehearsing her lines in her head before she spat them out.

Unable to avoid the parade going on next door, Jenny listened to Mrs. Cho's increasingly agitated shrieks. It would seem that her husband had not quite been the devoted spouse everyone assumed he was. He'd been naughty, Jenny knew, and she was upset by this disturbance.

In the quiet of her cosy home, her most devoted lover was paying good money to keep her in this fancy apartment so she would always be close, and this outburst was very unbecoming of a high street setting. Take it to the street, won't you?

She drummed her fingers on the wedding-laden tabletop, a lock of her hair tucked girlishly into her mouth as she sucked on it like a straw. She wondered how she knew. She wondered if he'd told her.

The screaming stopped as Jenny's blank gaze took her further and further away from what she new would be reality rushing to meet her, to greet her with one hell of a blow.

A loud, deadly knock on the door, followed by a sudden buzz; Jenny's table on the phone with a new text message. It contained two words, two simple words, 8 strung-out strung together letters that meant something; they really did. They meant something that she didn't need to be told, really.

She knows.  

This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Deborah Elliot, who gave me this prompt: After twenty-five years of marriage. I challenged Jules with the prompt And at once she knew, nothing is quite as it seems.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fire Eyed Girl

The screaming was coming right at her, full force ahead with brute strength and unavoidable repercussions.

She was quite alone in her room, studying a spot on the ceiling for cracks she only imagined. Most times she felt it was the only place where she was really safe.

In your head, that's where it's safe.

Our faces split the coast in half was playing now. First track, for something new.

 Something old, something new, something's broken, just like you.

Tracing her toes on the tiles she felt the floor shake. It got faster and harder, a slight rumbling from beneath, fluctuating in intensity. But still everything stays in place. Violent tremors now. A rush down her spine. Mostly instrumental.

"Emily." he says abruptly, as if it were a declaration rather than a name. A form of address. Something she went by. But no, merely a statement.

"Get out of bed."

Again with the statements. Not even a suggestion. Not even a demand. A request, even. None of that for Tony. No way in hell.

He sat down next to her as the bed creaked beneath them. It didn't really, but that's what people use to describe sitting on a bed, and so she decided that was how it should be. Saying the bed creaked makes people believe what you say. She had decided this, just now.  

She looked into the mirror and thought she looked quite grand. Emily sighed extravagantly as she lay back in bed quite simply.

Elegance, my dear, is something you'll never have.

The shouting had stopped; it was almost a whisper now. Such malice.

He reached for her hand as she rolled over, just out of his reach. A slight smile played on her lips. Gold.

The sun was rising, announcing the arrival for the 28th hour she hadn't left her bed. Remarkable, surely.

You're gonna go far, kid.

While she listened intently to the bright future that lay ahead, Tony got up as abruptly as he had spoken. It had been the same thing for days. His patience, like Emily's body, was quickly running thin.

"I'm leaving."

Make it stop.

"I'm leaving you, Emily."

Final song comes on. It's all gonna break. Way to close an album. Couldn't be better.

He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. Her eyes everywhere but on him. He went for her forehead instead.

It's getting really dusty. The ceiling is falling, and the old man has stopped snoring.

His last kiss startled her as she looks at him, finally. She thinks she's calling out as his retreating back introduces itself to her as the first she's seen of him in this room. He really should've said something.

He really should've said something.

She looked into the mirror and thought she looked quite grand.

Emily sighed in defeat as she lay back in bed quite simply.

The screaming was coming right at her, full force ahead with brute strength and unavoidable repercussions.

This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Shiv, who gave me this prompt: Elegance comes from simplicity. I challenged Jen O. with the prompt She had decided to start saying no.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I'm not actually married. I'm not actually anything.

Indie Ink Challenge Sep 3 - Sep 9 2011

Prompt: I'm not actually married. I'm not actually anything.

It was hardly 6.30 in the evening, the time when Evelyn usually popped by the store. But it was a hot day, the sort of day where humidity hangs in the air like a velvet cloak of inconvenience, wrapping everything in its sight tightly, forcing each poor passerby to fight its way through the street, a seasonal rage against climatic resistance.

It was at this time Evelyn decided to do something different, as she sometimes did on a Wednesday. She thought it was the best day for difference. Every day was good for change, but Wednesday in particular had a certain midweek skepticism about it that just about demanded something new.

She ruffled her hair and pulled her t-shirt down, leaving it to show just enough but not too much. Subtlety was key in this grand masquerade she had in mind.

Joe was at work and the kids were at school, so it was the perfect time for an afternoon adventure. She checked her reflection before leaving the apartment and strode confidently forward, her journey only briefly interrupted by a deep crack in the pavement. She wasn't the sort of girl who ever wore heels, so that wasn't really anything to worry about.

The wind, barely there and now exaggerated in her mind with its only occasional presence, spurred her on. It wasn't often that things went her way, and now it was clear; today would be the day.

Joe had been distant for a while and she needed the attention a woman needs. Surely every woman does, she thought, her skirt dancing about her knees with a wind that, as we have learnt, wasn't really there.

She'd put some lipstick on, which was rare, and she hoped he'd notice, the young man at the store. He could at least pay her a compliment first. By now, she knew, that no one would be at the store at this time, save for the occasional school kid on their way home, or a stranger to their little village who really had no right to be there in the first place.

This is my town, Eve thought to herself, and as her pace quickened she checked in her bag, for the fourth time - she preferred even numbers - that she had brought the necessary equipment. Protection was vital for a woman of her status especially.

It would be soon. 

She entered the store, appreciating herself in the reflection briefly as she did so. An only slightly sexy skirt to show off, cute tee for herself. The bell rang, reminding her instantly of her childhood and midnight escapades to 7-Eleven for an ice cream, or a bar of Crunch, her then-chocolate of choice.

There had been a Crunch commercial, she remembered, with a charmingly skinny young man whose pants fell off every time he took a bite. She vaguely recalled lots of girls and lipstick kisses, too.

She'd laid down the rules since those young years, that she was only allowed to take her first bite when that ad was on. The ad had stopped running for years, and she still had a bar at home, waiting for the day that would never come; she hadn't been able to enjoy that magical chocolate that was her favourite ever since. It was against the rules.

She stepped in. Check number 5. She was almost ready.

She had long since mastered the look of a woman who wanted something, and was going to get what she wanted. She'd tried it on Joe, but he never saw anything. He barely saw her at all. So, she never got what she wanted from him. Which wasn't really much at all, when you came to think about it. It almost killed her every time. But today would be different.

Jason was behind the counter, as he always was, probably texting the girlfriend that she rightfully assumed he had, partaking in an activity that she similarly assumed he wasn't supposed to be up to at work.

"How're you doing, Mrs. G?"

"I'm no Mrs," she growled, almost to herself.

"Your husband, he was in here earlier. Said he needed breakfast. You're not feeding your man, Mrs. G?"

He had some nerve, this kid; an irreverence that excited her.

Her face changed. He noticed.

"You alright Mrs G? You're all pale."

"I'm not actually married," she said pointedly.

His reaction: what she'd been waiting for.

That hesitation. That uncertainty. That was her big call to action. That was all she needed.

"But...." he started, clearly unsure where this was going.

She started at the top of her head, right along the sides of her face, tracing her neck and silhouetting the sides of her shapely self.

He stared. She continued. She'd only just begun.

6th check - even numbers. She hesitated briefly. She reminded herself of all he'd done, all he hadn't done. He never noticed her. He never noticed anything.

The 6th time was the last. He was completely enthralled now.

"Do you want me?" she asked. She already knew the answer.  It was all she needed.

He stood, speechless, waiting for more, hoping, begging for more.

She reached into her bag and pulled out Joe's gun. It's about time someone did. It's about time he noticed.

Staring into his eyes, his eyes filled with confusion and defence, as she pointed the gun at his head. They held each other in a dead stare, his mouth slightly open. She held it there as long as she could; her arm started to tremble. It felt like hours.

"I'm not really married," she said again, decisively this time, as she withdrew the loaded pistol from his face.

"I'm not actually anything."

And Evelyn, the lovely lady that she was, knew he'd finally take notice as she shot that bullet right into her pretty head. 


Prompt from Amanda.
My answered challenge from Sarah.