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.
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.
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.
Sometime in my youth it became cool to make fun of the military displays, tacky costumes and cheesy mass dance performances at Singapore’s annual National Day Parade. As a working single National Day became a welcome day of rest, perfect timing for a short getaway.
I was a student at UC Berkeley when gay marriage was first legalized in San Francisco by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004. By then a junior, I had come to realise Berkeley was a beacon for both out and not-yet-ready-to-come-out students; it drew bright teenagers from all over America and the world, really, who were struggling with their sexuality; and for many of these students it was the first time in their lives they felt at home. Berkeley was where it was okay to be different, it was okay to be weird, it was okay to not be okay.
for the Tin brothers
Why PSLE matters
I was watching this Korean drama recently, and it moved me not just because of the story or the acting, but because of its insights on motherhood. There were many memorable lines about motherhood, and one of them was this:
“That’s why mothers are so obsessed about their kids’ grades. It’s like their report card (on how they are doing as a mom).”
He motored into Starbucks on a blue plastic contraption that looked like an adult’s Go-Kart, parking next to our table. His hair was not yet grey, his skin a weathered brown, with a moustache that showed he still bothered to shave. Perhaps he had been handsome in his youth, tall with a large build, but age and disability had worn down his muscles. He shifted his weight, trying to swing his bandaged right leg to the other side. After much difficulty, he clambered off his motorised device.
There’s been a lot of nonsense from various quarters about “tolerating the gay person” but not the lifestyle, and supporting gay people who “accept the status quo and don’t push their agenda.”
Let’s not even get into whatever-the-bejeezus a “gay agenda” or “gay lifestyle is”. Hello, do you even know any gay people? No, Dick Lee doesn’t count.