I started a joke which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me
I started to cry which started the whole world laughing
If I’d only seen that the joke was on me
I looked at the skies running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed hurting my head from things that I said
‘Till I finally died which started the whole world living
Oh if I’d only seen that the joke was on me
The song of the moment – I Started A Joke by the Bee Gees.
– – –
I turned 31 yesterday – there were no parties, no balloons, no countdowns – it was all quiet, but lovely. The thirty-first year of my life just silently crept up on me. It was a very strange birthday I had this year.
Two weeks ago, my first thought was to sneak away to Eastern Europe to spend my birthday with complete strangers from, I don’t know, a hostel? Dubrovnik in Croatia, Budapest in Hungary, Lviv in Ukraine, Moscow in Russia – I had sussed out what are the kind of people, food and sights to expect in each of these cities, talked to friends who’ve been there. But in the end, I changed my plans because of work obligations and a lack of courage. When people asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I would say I don’t know and even brush it off by saying things like “It’s just a birthday; it’s like every other day”. But I’m one of those annoying girls – those who would say nothing when there’s actually something.
The best thing I learnt on my birthday is – life is really easier when you don’t ask for much, when you have no expectations. The moment you start harbouring hopes for something, from someone, there’ll be a chance you’ll be disappointed. I don’t mean for this to come across as a depressing and pessimistic statement, I meant it as it is.
I spoke to Buttons over texts a few days back because I got acquainted with one of his ex-student while he was still teaching in ACS(I). The student had already graduated from law school and I suddenly realised that Buttons has been in Beijing for more than 4 years now. We laughed about how he still has my watch, but it’s alright because, his guitar is still with me. His dog passed away a few months back. And he also realised on the same night that I now have a nephew. He was impressed when I remember one of the composers he adored – Chen Qigang – and he had actually done a recording in his studio! So proud of him!
I ran into an old friend at a bar three nights ago and spent the evening talking to her, listened to what she’s been up to and had been through in the last ten years that I haven’t seen her. Her stories gave me strength, and I could almost feel that I leveled up a little after talking to her. Haha! *Sorry too much Pokemon Go*
And then there was Sim, my ex-staff who is currently touring Western Europe all alone now who would send me pictures and videos of her travels, stories about people she met, helping me travel vicariously.
Denys who would swing by every so often to just sit around at the cafe with me for multiple back-to-back cups of caffe latte (for me) and cappuccino (for him).
Ukulele lessons and random coffee sessions with the amazing Sharon.
Rachel and Sammi who are always looking out for me; they know all the right things to say and the right time to pass me a glass of whiskey on rocks.
I made a few new friends; all of which are amazing people and they all have interesting stories to share – of the tales of Knight Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, of a possibly-grand same-gender wedding in New Zealand that never happened, of the bell of happiness, of barter markets, of nail biting habits, of dragon kilns, of chasing passion vs the reality of getting a stable job, of dog whisperers, of promiscuous ex-girlfriends, of underground casinos in UK.
All these stories fascinated me when I least expected to be intrigued.
And through Buttons, I finally found out the title of that song I used to like but can never remember the title! It’s called Je l’aime a mourir. It’s freaking French, for the longest time, I kept thinking that it was Spanish!
I spent a lot more time with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and nephew. And it was really, really nice.
And I discovered Lang Leav, who writes the most heart-rending, gut-wrenching poems and proses about love and loss. There were many times when she was the one who puts me to sleep at night as I read her poems aloud, in my best poet voice. Hahaha!
A Dangerous Recipe
To love him
I hold highly
Like having something,
so very delicious –
then being told,
to do the dishes
I know that I don’t own you,
and perhaps I never will,
so my anger when you’re with her,
I have no right to feel.
I know that you don’t owe me,
and I shouldn’t ask for more;
I shouldn’t feel so let down,
all the times when you don’t call.
What I feel – I shouldn’t show you,
so when you’re around I won’t;
I know I’ve no right to feel it –
but it doesn’t mean I don’t.
Lost And Found
A sunken chest,
on the ocean ground,
to never be found
was where he found me.
There he stirred,
my every thought, my every word,
so gently, so profoundly.
Now I am kept,
from dreams I dreamt,
when once I slept,
All Or Nothing
If you love me
for what you see,
only your eyes would be
in love with me.
If you love me
for what you’ve heard,
then you would love me
for my words.
If you love
my heart and mind,
then you would love me,
for all that I’m.
But if you don’t love
my every flaw,
then you mustn’t love me –
not at all.
I have forgotten the last time I actually felt sad. Isn’t that swell?