What was I doing thousands of miles from home, in a place that had no interest in who I was or where I came from? Was it wishful thinking, hoping to find an audience for my work in the US? What I came to realise was that Tin House may mean the world to a writer from Singapore, but a writer from Singapore may not necessarily mean anything at all to Tin House.
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.
(me, left, and my older sister)
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’.
Somehow last night I crossed 1,000 followers and for someone who had like 200 followers my first 10 years on Twitter that’s just insane.
I started posting more actively a couple of months back after leaving Facebook, with a vague sense that I might find an audience here. I never imagined I would meet so many new friends/make so many new connections here, just by opening this door in my heart and “putting myself out there”.
Do you believe in fortune tellers? I’m feeling a little low after a flurry of rejections, so I’m just going to talk to myself here.
Once upon a time, around the time I was born, my mom saw a fortune teller in Hong Kong.
What is this strange thing that happens with age? In my teens I could just pop a few things in a backpack and walk out of the house to explore the world. Which I did, at eighteen and again at nineteen, backpacking around China. The latter trip was with two older boys, a schoolmate and his friend, and we spent three months traveling from Hong Kong to Guilin, taking the long overnight train past Guizhou to Yunnan, where we spent nearly a month, on to Sichuan, and after which we parted on different routes. Many years later I met that schoolmate again, and oddly enough, we had both moved on to work in private equity. He mentioned a trip he had taken a few years ago to remote Mongolia, staying in very basic accommodations, and moving the very next morning to a luxury hotel because he was too uncomfortable.
“Cannot already lah,” he said. “I need my material comforts.”