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#1 goal for today: find a place to nap in between classes

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Still Trying

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.

I feel much less willing to move and do things than I’ve done for the past two years, but I’ll try.

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.

A man after my own heart.

Adam Grant recently wrote a piece in the New York Times titled “Why We Should Stop Grading Students on a Curve”.

My feud with the Bell Curve God aside, I also understand the logic of grading on a curve. Mostly, though, my emotions have ranged from frustration to ambivalence.

I think Grant puts it well. I would like to see alternative or modified grading schemes of the sort he proposes – it sounds like it’d be a weight off our shoulders.