I was standing in front of the boarding gate when a message arrived from my AirB&B host in Portland: “We’re sorry but our place is no longer available.” I read the message over and over again. Did my host just cancel my stay? Just the night before, they had been texting me information on how to get to their place from the airport.
It was hard not to panic: I had a twenty hour cross-ocean journey ahead, I had never been to Portland, and less than fifteen minutes to decide if I wanted to get on the plane or arrive in a foreign city without a place to stay.
In this room, in almost the exact same spot where my desk now sits in this photo, lies my earliest childhood memory. I was in kindergarten, around four or five years old, sitting in the wardrobe, wearing a dress I did not want to wear. I remember the soft, warm colour of morning filtering through the curtains, my sister still sleeping in the next bed.
2019, was for me, that year of change. It took me several more months to do something about it, but once I did it was as if a door had opened in my heart and the pieces began to fall into place. I realised I had gotten it all wrong. I was afraid to call myself a writer because for years I had struggled to get anything published, only to realise I was trying to put the cart before the horse.
Crash Landing on You is probably the first South Korean drama ever where:
1)North Korea isn’t the bogeyman
2)North Koreans feature prominently, the roles acted by top South Korean actors
3)North Koreans have rich emotional lives
Growing up, I never thought of myself as ‘pretty’. Pretty was my older sister, who got stopped on the street by modeling scouts and asked out by Eric Cantona when Manchester United visited Singapore. I was the awkward, bookish sister, who wore pink plastic glasses and could hang with the boys, but was never seen as a ‘girl’.
She died alone at night. One by one she had watched the lights go out around her, including her husband Tony a few years earlier. At home, she had always found something or other about him annoying, but in their final years at the old folks home, his presence became a surprising source of comfort.
I will say this off the bat: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me is the most powerful book I’ve read all year. And everyone should read it.
Between the World and Me is an electric force. And yet his words are never complex or bombastic, but slow and quiet. His words have a life of their own so that they are not just words, but an energy that leaps off the page. To read Coates is to burn; to come so close to fire something in you ignites. To read Coates, for me, is to realise the gap between the writer I am right now and the writer I want to be.