Singapore

god that was strange, to see you again

1. I hate the feeling of too many thoughts swirling in my head, too fast for any one to be sufficiently verbalized, too full for me not to want to attempt to, at least.

2. So school is officially out – has been since Friday 10 AM – and it’s day #2 of liberation. I’m in my host family’s house (they are very nice people, and their house is very comfortable, if not exactly the size and grandeur of the one I stayed in during Project Week, but the location more than makes up for it; I’m only a 20-minute walk away from downtown Victoria) and I spent these two days leisurely walking around downtown, letting my gaze be attracted to each little shop tucked away under an antique or curious awning or behind an intricately wrought metal grills. There’s been plenty of surprises, plenty of yearning and (I am such a consumerist, I swear – the intermittent pulls of vague yearning to the various knickknacks and odds and eds, though I have been very good so far about not spending extravagantly) I’ve only been to less than a third of downtown itself. There’s still Chinatown, which would be exciting, I feel, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve never been excited about going to Chinatown before in Singapore, and the other part, and then the outskirts and then the rest of the island.

It’s a good walk out, and the neighbourhood itself is the quiet suburbs, with a small profusion of shops: three coffee shops (Starbucks, and two other local places), a few tiny cafes, a drugstore, a supermarket, a video rental store, among others. On the way downtown, there’s a spacious city park; it’s not a bad wlalk at all, and this remimds me of what  I love about the temperate climate, that it makes it so easy to use walking as a means of transport, because I don’t actually ever need to take a bus, if I’m walking around downtown. Amber (the 1st year Canadian staying with me for a couple of days before her flight back) and I walked for almost four hours yesterday, just downtown, and today I was out from 10.30 AM onwards to 4.30 PM I FEEL TONER HEH also hobbling a little by the time I got back today, but, eh. This will save me from having to go to the gym/pool everyday, as I was planning on doing – I was even checking out the one-month membership price, god.) Yesterday, highlights included the library, which my host parenst stopped by to return and borrow some audio books, this tiny Italian shop selling gourmet coffee and chocolates, this new/used bookstore with some really awesome books, this joke shop with this nifty contraption where you have to press a button when the green light flashes and if you’re too late, you get an electric zap (Amber totally jumped when I played with her), this shop called The Papery with lovely cards and notebooks and stationery, including this "stapleless stapler" (it cuts a piece of paper from the paper you’re stapling and uses it to tie the sheets of paper together!) and this music sharer thing which lets you plug in two sets of headphones so two people can listen to the same music, and then we had dessert at this Dutch bakery, lemon cream pie and blackforest cake, which was such a treat! It was more comfortable than I expected, walking around with Amber, even though we didn’t really know each other all that well before; we are, by no means, unparalleled friends now, of course, but I’d expected things to be a lot more awkward.

Most things, in fact – talking to my host family, saying goodbye to people, hanging out with people, because most of the people staying in Victoria aren’t the people I’m closer to, but mostly it’s been fine (my social graces seemed to have crawled out from the corner it was trying to curl up and die in to grace the occasion) or maybe it’s just the breaking of the bubble; going around to say goodbye to everyone before the bus left was easy, even though most of them weren’t people I was marvellously close to, and talking to my host parents has been successful, so far.

I met up with a few people in town today; I spent a couple of hours on my own, just walking around again; I went to Chapters, which had this great selection of notebooks (and books on sale and I was tempted so many times I lost count), including a Love Listography, and on the page facing the list, People I Want To Kiss, was the drawing of a woman and my name (\o/), so that endeared itself it to me. There was also a notebook for books you’ve read, recipe boxes, this hilarious line of notebook about people you despise and also about why you are crazy, with relevant quotes and all that jazz. I was mostly in The Bay, the principal mall downtown, because I was supposed to meet two groups of people there, and there were the usual shops, but some of them were having massive sales, like fifteen-dollar club dresses and ten-dollar dress sweaters, so I’m definitely going back to buy clothes \o/ Probably during the post-Christmas sales, I guess. There was also a 7-11; I am always surprised when I walk past it, and this fudge shop selling squares of awesome looking fudge for $2 because the flavors are being discontinued, and marble slab ice-cream, and I’m not sure what makes everything shiny and new and exciting when you’re away from home, but they do seem so. There are kayaking calendars I wouldn’t have cared about back in Singapore, inspirational tote bags – I am controlling my impulse buys! I miss the food courts we have in Singapore; the ones here cannot compare in the least. There was a Pacific Northwestern art gallery I went into, too; there were acrylic paintings, boldly outlined and uncomplicatedly geometric, and a giant, lovely canoe, and some sculptures; though I don’t understand it, I quite liked it; there was a sort of unassuming simplicity and charm to them – skill too, of course.

3. I have so many books to read this holiday. I have three easier French books, my English text, one with Sartre’s essays, another one on post-WWI/pre-WWII Europe and then, because I’m halfway through it, Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, which I remember deliberating over one day last year in Nat Lib and did not borrow, ultimately. And then I went more, oh gosh. I also want to learn Spanish ): This is terribly inopportune; the only reason is that Spanish is an over-represented language here in Pearson – so many people speak it. I had lunch today with six Latinos, and they’re all unabashedly vocal about speaking Spanish, whereas the francophones will always use English in front of ~company.

4. It is almost a sort of relief being on my own, walking on the streets with the promise of anonymity. Strangers do talk to you sometimes, but with a kind of careless, inconsequential goodwill that is easy to respond to in kind. Music, and books, and coffee – I almost wish I had homework to do, to justify the spending of my time in coffee houses. These might be one of my more productive holidays, though I don’t want to jinx it by proclaiming that.

5. Have a poem:

Survival poem #17 – Marty McConnell

because this is what you do. get up.
blame the liquor for the heaviness. call in late
to work. go to the couch because the bed
is too empty. watch people scream about love
on Jerry Springer. count the ways
it could be worse. it could be last week
when the missing got so big
you wrote him a letter
and sent it. it could be yesterday, no work
to go to, whole day looming.
it could be last month
or the month before, when you still
thought maybe. still carried plans
around with you like talismans.
you could have kissed him last night.
could have gone home with him, given in,
cried after, softly, face to the wall, his heavy arm
around you, hand on your stomach, rubbing.
shower. remember your body. water
hotter than you can stand. sit
on the shower floor. the word
devastated ringing the tub. buildings
collapsed into themselves. ribs
caving toward the spine. recite
the strongest poem you know. a spell
against the lonely that gets you
in crowds and on three hours’ sleep.
wonder where the gods are now.
get up. because death is not
an alternative. because this is what you do.
air like soup, move. door, hallway, room.
pants, socks, shoes. sweater. coat. cold.
wish you were a bird. remember you
are not you, now. you are you
a year from now. how does that
woman walk? she is not sick or sad.
doesn’t even remember today.
has been to Europe. what song
is she humming? now. right now.
that’s it.

 

6. Leave me your address in the previous, comments-screened, post if you haven’t already! 
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