Still Trying

I revised my 2017 resolutions after posting them on this blog, so in short, they were:

– Run an 18K

– Shave my head

– Keep my grades above a CAP of 4.0

Okay, so first things first. I shaved my head in March, and it was at once the scariest and most exhilarating things I’ve done, and I’m glad I did it, even though I almost didn’t.

This was about a week – 5 days? after I shaved my head, and the henna was a huge reason why I finally went for it. I did get a lot of stares on the train. When I went to Vietnam for an overseas volunteer trip at an orphanage, all the kids ran away from me. I ran into my dad’s cousin at my usual running spot, and he called my dad up afterwards to say that I should be careful in case I get recruited into a gang 🤦🏻‍♀️ Friends and family said – I think you look prettier with long hair – which made me mad, because pretty was never on the table to begin with.

And then for me there was the new feeling of a cold, smooth scalp. My head was the first thing to get cold right after I got out of the shower. For the first few weeks, I couldn’t run a towel across my head without it sticking like velcro, and I barely even needed to wash my hair with soap. I was afraid I’d look odd, but I got used to my botak head almost straightaway, and I thought I looked cool. For the next few months, I watched in the mirror every day as the henna faded, I grew a buzzcut, the awkward “long, floppy buzzcut” stage, the guy haircut, the defying gravity stage, the terrible bowl haircut that looked better the more it grew out, the “sort of short bob” stage, and, if you look closely, you can kind of see everything backwards in your head, to that first shave. Every week, my hair would look different, and then it would start to look the same, and somewhere down the line, I stopped counting. I never did get the cool pixie I desperately wanted.

Will I do it again? Not in a heartbeat, but yes. Would I do some things differently? Yes! I still want my cool pixie. And with experience, I think I could navigate the awkward hair stages a little bit better.

That was long, so I’ll try and keep the rest of it short.

I wanted to be a morning runner last year, but the weeks leading up to my 18K run were mostly evening runs, because I can get up and run 10 kilometres, but I can’t go to bed a few hours early and I suck.

It wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because the hours after a run make you blissfully amnesiac. Regretfully, you persuade yourself that, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.” All my long runs were also “Just go slow” kind of runs where I distracted myself by looking at the scenery, or running in the dark and panicking. I decided to utilise the time-honoured carrot-and-stick method by dangling the promise of an easier half-marathon this year.

I’m beginning half-marathon training in the next two weeks, and here’s my carrot:

I considered making it my mobile homescreen to serve as extra motivation, but my brother rolled his eyes and commented on the machine’s ugliness.

I would like to politely refute his point.

School is starting next week, so I don’t really feel like launching into another long spiel about maintaining my grades – honestly, my only motivation for keeping them up was to be able to go on exchange.

I’m not sure I have another carrot to dangle in front of me this semester, but I’ll think about it.

This year, I’m running a half-marathon and reading 20 books. My carrot for finishing those books is being able to buy more books – and until then, I’m on a self-imposed book ban.

Will I make it? Honestly, I don’t know. I feel much less willing to move and do things than I’ve done for the past two years, but I’ll try.


6 years 

Six years ago, I skipped my school play so I could be wheeled into the operating theatre to cut my head open and stick a metal octopus in it. It sounds gorier than it actually is, I promise!

Six years on, and my cochlear processor is none the worse for wear – except for the fact that it’s starting to lag when I start it up. I don’t feel particularly emotional today, because I still don’t hear much out of it compared to my left ear. But I do remember the bewildering cacaphony of noise I heard as I very excitedly (and a little anxiously) switched it on for the very first time, and my delight as my ear started to pick out high and low tones and later, voices. Sometimes the battery goes out and I don’t notice, but when I switch it on, everything always sounds fuller. 

Six years. Happy anniversary, and I’m glad you’re here. 

Amara Hotel

I do not know how to read these gleaming tiles
that stare back at me from
the hotel room
because, of course, it is not them I am looking for.

With what tone of voice, what expression, what emotion,
with what pride, regret or ambivalence should I mention,
in passing,
to you as we saunter past the Amara Hotel
my ahgong’s tailor shop once stood here
before they tore it down? Here they were,
all these tailors in Tanjong Pagar, in the old day.
(all Cantonese, no Hokkiens, just me. Why? I also don’t know.)
Enough skill between them for a boy to pilfer.
In the curve of crotch curves, fly-fronts, side seam pockets
my grandfather marked his notch. The cutting table
fed its upstairs twin. This way
Turn right for ahma chiselling buttonholes open,
the cut edge already fraying in the muggy monsoon damp.
It’s an October rainstorm and guests are hurrying in from the Garden
upstairs to their rooms, shaking the rain off
my mother and her siblings haul fabric bolts to dry
because nobody knows if it’s going to flood.

New Year’s Resolutions 2017 – aka things that get me supER dUPER EXCITED!!

Because obviously, it’s that time of year again.

  1. Shave my head. I’m still deliberating on whether or not I should buzz it short or just shave it all in one go. Should I have a go during Hair for Hope, or just do it alone? Or with friends? Document the process? How do I grow it out? Should I get contacts so my face looks less distracting? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!
  2. Knit a fish hat. To go with the botak head, of course. I giggle every time I think of it.
  3. Run a 18.45km race! I completed this year’s resolution of a 10K, so I don’t want to run another 10K next year. I’m still deliberating between 15km, 18.45km, or a half-marathon. My heart says GO BIG OR GO HOME but my rational self says I’m really scared. I haven’t decided the exact distance yet. There are too many possibilities – will I stay in hall next semester? Do an internship or go on exchange? I’ll have to figure out new running routes because I don’t fancy running around in more circles. And do a ton more cross-training. But why do I feel weirdly excited?

I really hope I manage to keep on knitting and sewing next year, too – my impatience at regular shopping will probably take care of that. And next year I’ll join a club or stay in hall, so hopefully that’ll take care of the loneliness.


喜欢的诗篇//poetry’s surprise

In English, first, if you please, because it is yours to keep.

Of all the poems in Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife, “Mrs Quasimodo” is my favourite by far. It’s perhaps a little long for a blog post. I contemplated putting in a shorter poem, but instead I’ll just put my favourite bit down, and hopefully, it’ll inspire enough curiosity to read everything that I’ve left out here.

Mrs Quasimodo          Carol Ann Duffy

[. . .]

Where did it end?
A ladder. Heavy tools. A steady hand.
And me, alone all night up there,
bent on revenge.
He had pet names for them.
The belfry trembled when she spoke for him.
I climbed inside her with my claw-hammer,
my pliers, my saw, my clamp;
and, though it took an agonizing hour,
ripped out her brazen tongue
and let it fall.
Then Josephine,
his second-favourite bell,
kept open her astonished, golden lips
and let me in.
The bells. The bells.
I made them mute.
No more arpeggios or scales, no stretti, trills
for christenings, weddings, great occasions, happy days.
No more practising
for bellringers
on smudgy autumn nights.
No clarity of sound, divine, articulate,
to purify the air
and bow the heads of drinkers in the city bars.
No single
funeral note
to answer

[. . .]


竹简          顾城著







Upcoming Projects – An Update!


My nearly-completed projects have successfully passed into the realm of done-and-gifted bits, as you can see –

The Two-and-a-Half-Month Culottes, for my grandma. Ta-dah!


I redid one of the pockets, and had to rip out four lines of stitching, then decided to recut the pocket fabric because there were tiny holes left in it from the stitches. I had the most trouble with the curve on the fly front. The hem is blind-stitched to the inside of the culottes.

A Hermione Hearts Ron hat, for my cousin J.

I cast on 11 stitches less than what the pattern called for, on account of my yarn being worsted weight, but knitted the same number of pattern repeats (J asked for a slouchy hat). I knitted to LOTR, Jewel in the Palace, a few episodes of Gilmore Girls and, I think, The Fundamentals of Caring. Whew. That’s a lot of TV!


Here ya go, a piece of glorious pinkness.

My now-In Progress things can best be summed up, I think, with these pictures:

I have been spending TOO MUCH this month, and these lovely fabrics started it all.

After my Chinatown excursion, I trooped off to Straits Art and Overjoyed the next week for calligraphy supplies for a friend’s birthday present, and grabbed a Pilot Kakuno fountain pen for myself. And then of course I just had to see a set of Pilot various coloured ink cartridges, and of course I just had to have that :/ AND then I bought a 1″ bias tape maker. And reserved a 3/4″ bias tape maker. And to top it all, I bought my notions, got another zipper (a 7″ zipper is a little short for my purposes), and my mom accidentally collected 3 3/4″ bias tape makers instead of 1 – I suspect some miscommunication on my part. And I have been dreaming about all these extra notions I don’t need at all. Or…do I?

Anyway. So I’m on a spending embargo for the rest of the month.

In the pictures: A soft brown Thai poly-cotton (S$12 for the lot since it was the last of the batch. I’m estimating somewhere between 1-2 yards), 1.5 yards of a grey woven poly cotton (around S$6/yard) for the Colette Sorbeto top, a really super swoon-worthy three-tone cotton that reminds me of the sea (S$17 for 1-3/4 yards) and charmingly grey Cotton + Steel fabric (S$8/yard) – I got three yards for a wrap dress. Not pictured: Lining for the skirt, and plain blue woven cotton for bias binding.

One Pleated Skirt – now gathered! Owing to a passing comment on its resemblance to bedsheets, I hereby christen it the Cloud Bedsheet Skirt (that’s a terrible name). Pictures up as soon as I’m done with it!

The $5 Pencil Skirt (well, $5.35, to be exact) – Black cotton twill, snatched off the bolt at an Arab Street store. Also the last remnants off the bolt. One and a half metres. Fair weight, very lint-y. Pictures up soon, too, but here’s a summary of what I’ve done with it so far:

Instructions from Simple Simon and Co.’s pencil skirt sew-along, here. They had a tutorial on a self-drafted pencil skirt sloper, too, which I largely followed with some modifications. Sloper drafted, skirt cut out, basted, adjustments made. Next: to sew!

I’m going to bind the facings with an excellent red skull-print fabric that I got way back in 2012 (I was 15! I can’t imagine being 15 anymore, but I think I can.). I’ll save the pockets for another project. A 9″ invisible zipper for the back, which I’ll sew in over the weekend, and a back split for mobility (and getting up buses).

M’s Sweater – I’m done with the swatch. Knitted up using TECHknitter’s method, but I haven’t measured and blocked it yet. Here’s the early beginnings of said swatch:


This is, I think, a forgiving acrylic yarn. Here’s to hoping it knits up well!

When I’m done, or halfway, or three-quarters of the way done with these projects, I’ll tell you all about all the new ideas roaming around in my head, like the relatively inexpensive cotton rib knit I’m eyeing on Etsy, all those beautiful buttons I see online, and lately, even sergers (nooooooo!) have started creeping into my daydreams.

I think my New Year’s resolution for next year will be to: shave my head and knit myself a fish hat. I giggle every time I think of it.

I also spent today hunting down bow-tie and tie sewing tutorials. A distant maybe?

But! Lately I’ve been a little worried that my hobbies are kind of esoteric, or ‘out-there’. Am I stuck in this little bubble of interests that no-one outside understands? Should I be going out and joining clubs and making more friends? Oh, well. I’m trying to apply to one of the university halls next semester – email sent out! – so fingers crossed, I do get in.