Tuesday, July 30, 2019


He flew constantly to meet her.

In these long distance relationships, maybe each of them enjoys the freedom of being free.
Then the feeling of being wanted is amplified in the moment that they are together.

Yet, in the spirit of being free, some things get lost no matter what.

Complications. Betrayal. Things get tossed, arguments.

Yet, even till now, he says he can't bear to listen to music that they enjoy together.

"I have it in my phone like right now." He taps his phone that's on the table, to make his point.

"I just can't press the play button, I can't listen to it. It reminds me too much."

I nodded. I didn't have any words to offer him. Stuck, it seems.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


He has never been good at cooking.

Learnt a new recipe, he decided to try to make it again himself.

He bought mascarpone, he bought eggs, he got the kahlua, he has the savoiardi.

What the fudge is mascarpone, he thought to himself. Well he bought it.

Taking out the hand blender from behind the cupboard, to be honest he has not used it ever before. Though, he sure as shit am not going to beat the eggs by hand.

Combining ingredients, he carefully layers on all of the items.

The one thing he did not take into account. The eggs were almost expired.

Oh no, he messed up. He messed up big time.

He found another recipe sometime later.
It was different enough to give him hope. The best part of it all, no eggs.

He thought he did a good job. He was still afraid though.
That kind of reputation hit, not sure it can be rebuilt. He offered, but to no avail.

Recounting now, he smiles to himself, what a klutz.

Haha. Let's stick to professionally prepared foods from now on.

Friday, July 26, 2019


He has been with her for a long time.
He wonders if they were meant to continue.

He came from the East, and her from the West.
One grew up with cha-siu, the other pasta all the way.

They both made compromises to stay with each other.

Is it just convenience that they are together?

In passing amidst the conversation, he said: "I really like her".

"Don't you mean love?"

He stopped talking, looked directly at me, realizing what he just said.
Might have stopped breathing too.

Maybe it is pride, or insecurities, not being able to say the L word out loud.
Keeping the emotions in, keeping it in check.

He did not respond directly.

"I think you do. I got a good feeling about you two."

He exhales, and nods.


Shuffle has a way of finding songs from my library that I forgot. Today is one of those days, it played multiple songs from a while back that I added, thought they were great, but never really thought about it.

It has been a busy, tiring and frustrating week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


The recurring dream.

He wonders if it was lack of sleep that he has been experiencing.
Regardless, he wakes up around the same time every day. Too early.

It would always be in the same scenario. A housewarming, surrounded by family and friends, coworkers. Laughing.

It's peaceful, the afternoon sunset glows through the windows. It's pretty.

He wakes up with a smile on his face.

The peacefulness is fleeting.
His smile stops, he tries to go back to sleep. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.


Amidst the party that was going on, sitting on their newly bought couch:
He asked
"Are you sure you want to get off the express train?
Even if you get off, there would be nothing but dessert.
Would you walk on dessert?"

"I will"


I need to find a time to watch The Farewell again.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

65 of 88

I went to see The Farewell yesterday.

I first heard about this movie during the press tour of Crazy Rich Asians. Awkwafina was expressing that the Asian representation in Hollywood movies was growing, and that she was starring in a more personal story.

If you did click through the trailer, you'll have the gist of what this story is. Whether or not you relate to it personally is of course a separate discussion.

For me well, it was hard to sit through sometimes. It was ... too real.

The story did not answer whether or not the lie was good, but instead focused on everybody's reaction and action to it. The answer ultimately is up to you. Is it good to keep a lie going for the sake of them being happy? Or should the person know and prepare for the eventuality? I'm not going to spoil the ending, but it did go one way over the other.

There was one part that stood out to me, and part of it is in the trailer. The difference between East and West.

What was not in the trailer... the idea that telling her will just shift the guilt and responsibility to Grandma, that she is now facing her own mortality. A lot of Asian families will choose to carry that guilt as a whole, preferring not to tell Grandma, and shoulder the responsibility together as a unit.

There is a saying in Chinese 报喜不报忧. Loosely translates to "report happiness but not sorrow". You can not only see that in this movie as a whole to grandma, but even little things. Even as the main character's failing in life, she doesn't tell Dad that things are not going well, she can't afford the rent.

The subsequent viewings gave me some more perspective. Actually I noticed an interesting dichotomy in the audience. There is a set of people who would take a particular scene at face value, and laugh at the awkwardness of the situation. The other set would initially chuckle, but quickly quiet down. It seemed to me that the second group of people understand that while the situation looks ridiculous, they did find some particular point of connection.

If it is not abundantly clear haha, I highly recommend people to see it.

In any case that you don't intend to see the movie but are interested to know what happens.
This is the episode of This American Life where writer and director of "The Farewell" Lulu Wang recounts the actual story:


Love 爱. Family 家庭. Responsibility 责任. Conviction 执着.

I did not know when responsibility came around.
I was driven, blindly. I missed a lot of things, I glossed over a lot of things.

It is apt then, when I did open today's piece of paper:

"Building blocks of Andy's Life"

- "Family"

Damn it. Got me again.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019



あの日の悲しみさえ あの日の苦しみさえ
那日的悲伤 与那日的痛苦
そのすべてを愛してた あなたとともに
胸に残り離れない 苦いレモンの匂い
化作了深深烙印在我心中的 苦涩柠檬的香气
时至今日 你仍是我的光芒

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cast Away

Oldie but a goodie.

I really like this movie.
To put it in its straightest of terms, this is a story about survival. Of a man trying to survive.

Through the movie, he survives, he perseveres on the island, beating the odds.

The loneliness, the bleakness, knowing the probability of being rescued gets closer and closer to zero.

HELP being written in the sand, and being washed away, and then the resourcefulness of it all. Figuring out the fire, the tides. Burying his washed up co-pilot. Using the ice skates as axe blades, reusing coconut containers for water storage.

Every night, he looks at the picture of Kelly in her family watch.
Every day, he fights against the elements.

Until this becomes the norm.
He has Wilson, the best rubber ducky pair you could ever ask for.
But Wilson is not the reason for his will to survive? Nobody is going to live for a volleyball.
It had always been Kelly, she was his drive, she was his goal, she was his survival.

Four years. Four years is a long time.

He makes it back, and everything has moved on from him.
He can't sleep in the bed, he needs to sleep on the ground, where he's the most comfortable for the last 4 years.

Kelly, the person that he has been surviving for, moved on. It is not anyone's fault, just as the movie says, she had to. The chances of coming back were close to zero.

He went back and gave her the watch, it was the only reason he would want to meet up anymore. He did get his car back though... not before saying sorry to each other.

"I never should have gotten on that plane. I never should have gotten out of that car."

The rest... I'll let the clips do the talking.

I admit. This got me good.

Conviction is a more directed version of stubbornness.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Chapter 6: 30.6

They say passing 30 is like a big milestone. The proof that you've moved onto the bigger challenges in life.

These days I call it adulting.

I'm laughing at my younger self now. Calling it the "end" of something. He wasn't wrong, yet he didn't cover everything.

Now, especially now, as I spent more time sorting through my emotions, it's become somewhat clear that I need to write this to clear my head. The last chapter was 9 years ago. It has been a long time.

I never really ever set a goal for myself when you hit the big three-o. I was always on the track of you'll figure it out when you do. These days, well a lot of my friends are getting married, having kids, taking care of them. I'm here wondering if my life experiences could match up with everything they were doing.

My other grandma passed away last year. Her 90th year. She was the same zodiac as me, Dragon. 60 years apart. She was the one in Shanghai. The one I couldn't really leave behind, and yet I did. My memories of Shanghai, the time when I was young, was completely with her.

From what I remember, she single handedly brought up my dad and his four other siblings. My grandpa died when my dad was in his teens. Everything from that point onward she raised them all by herself. I have scant memories of the old place they used to live at before the siblings got married one by one. It was cramped. Traditional one big room, and because it was a big family, they had... I guess what I would call them would be "bunkbeds" that are on top of the kitchen area. As time went on and everyone started moving out, it was decided that my grandma would move in with us. I think it is because of me being the only male born son in the family (and because of the one child policy).

I really have fond memories of her. She didn't receive any education when she was young, so she couldn't read. She couldn't speak Mandarin Chinese either. It was only Shanghainese (specifically a particular variation of Shanghainese) that she could speak. She took care of me from birth really, and from what I can remember from other people, did clash with my mom on how to take care of me. I have to assume that this may be a rite of passage for all moms to go through.

My memories of her were she would always come to me with a smile on her face, with her fake teeth implants, asking me what I wanted to eat. I remember afternoons with her where I just "help" with making rice dumplings. I would try to get the leaves to make the rice dumpling shape for her. However, I would evidently always miss a spot with my small hands somewhere where the raw rice can leak out, causing her much annoyance.

I love eggs. When I was young, I love it when it is... I guess in English it would be over hard (crispy please!)? That was not the main attraction for me. It was the crispy egg white sides that were amazing to me. Even now, I don't think I can get to that level (or maybe I shouldn't?). Coupled with the amazing soy sauce (宴会酱油) I can eat that for days. FOR DAYS. I remember my grandma being super excited that I was enjoying her fried eggs that she burst out crying exclaiming how happy she was.

That... did not last long.

My grandma was heartbroken. She would continue to live at our old place, alone. I would see her only during June and December school holidays. This was still in the late 90s. I would want to get a laptop and use the internet, but of course in those days... it was dialup. She would get exceeding frustrated at me for hogging the phone line, and me at her for disrupting my download (Commandos Demo was a ~50MB download IIRC, that would take forever). Even more important than hogging the phone line, she would lament her phone bill. It was much much more than what she was used to.

The other change... was more drastic. My grandma took up religion. She became a devout christian. I actually do not remember how she got into it, but I do know why. She would ask me to pray with her, to pray that my parents would get back together. She would ask me to go to the Sunday mass with her. I was extremely uncooperative, in my mind it was ... something that was not going to happen. That or it took up time on my holiday. It would be a source of disagreements that I have with her.

That being said, I do appreciate her new faith. It led her to start reading, actually reading. At 70 years old, being a completely uneducated farmer, she read the bible, page by page. It was tough, but she persevered. She would ask whomever was around for help when she didn't know how to read a character. It was difficult for me. All of my Chinese I learned in Singapore, and my grandma did not know how to pronounce words in Mandarin, only Shanghainese. I had to do some leaps in logic to help transition those words into the dialect. I did what I could.

There was a time when my mom and I were very much into puzzles. We did quite a bit of puzzles together, Disney ones, scenery ones. One day we were browsing the store and we found something interesting. It was a 1000 piece puzzle of the Last Supper. Completed the puzzle in three days, glued it up, framed it. My grandma was overjoyed when we presented her with the puzzle. It hung on her wall till the day she passed.

She moved around after we sold the place. That was an ordeal on its own. She first moved to one of the places that my aunt lived at. However, it was on the top floor of a 6 floor apartment, and there were no stairs. I remember she would try to climb the stairs and then tell me to go first, that she will be resting for a little bit. They ended up buying a place for her that had an elevator after I entered university.

It was here that I was taken aback with how much I reminisce about my younger more innocent/naive times. My grandma kept all of our old furniture. The dresser where she kept a lot of photos. Some of them me of my various trips back, some dating back to when I was younger with her. Photos of aunts and uncles weddings, of cousins sharing the time together. There was one that was bigger than the rest, it was the photo taken at the airport when I left for Singapore.

I remember the time when I got the call, my dad told me. She fell at home. Undergoing surgery, she had metal installed in her left leg. She was not the same as before. From that point on, she started losing cognitive function, she would forget people, forget names, forget. Cerebellar atrophy, that was the official name. It got worse and worse until remembering was the shorter period, and even that period got shorter and shorter. The family got her a maid, and did a really good job taking care of her.

I went back as much as I could. Then there was a period of time that I couldn't visit her, I couldn't go anywhere. I was praying, praying that I would be able to see her the next time I could fly. She pulled through, but she became bedridden. Everyday was assisted, solids became liquids, words became gibberish, and soon not talking at all. When I finally was able to visit 1.5 years later, I broke down. She had deteriorated to something I was not expecting.

The family moved her to emergency ward care. The maid came everyday. She would bring her the three meals, wipe her back, wipe the drool off of her mouth. When I'm in Shanghai, I would visit. I would talk to her, tell her what has been happening, to me, to my cousin. Tell her about my life, my work. Most times, I would say nothing, sitting there holding her hand. Every time I leave, I would tell my dad... take care of her.

Shortly after my trip, she was transferred to an old folks home in May. She couldn't stay at the hospital anymore. A couple days later, she passed away. My dad told me not to come back, I had been there just a month ago. My mind was a blank, that month was especially hard to go through.

I flew back for her funeral. Winter Solstice, it was the same time as my uncle who passed.

Writing this look longer than I wanted to admit. This past year has been challenging to deal with.

My best friend is getting married in a month. I'm happy for him, truly truly am.

Listening to: 田馥甄 - 爱着爱着就永远