NOT CLEANING, BUT WRITING

 Sunday, August 25, 2019 @ 23:07 

pat barker, whose work i wasn’t familiar with until this interview, shared timely writerly advice: “to be a writer you must resist the urge to clean”.

i have not been able to resist this urge in the last eight months. and no joke, before sitting down to attempt this — i was tidying my room. and when i tried to, i couldn’t even count on my fingers the number of times i’ve chosen to tidy my space over writing a blog entry. i’ve cleaned so much in the last few months that i have even ventured beyond my room and de-cluttered the rest of my mother’s apartment1.

it’s been almost a year since my last entry. i was meant to write a follow-up post about my eczema, but then my last long-term relationship ended and my skin condition worsened in its aftermath. the flare-up wasn’t caused by a small thing either, it was caused by (in the simplest terms) extreme anxiety regarding my personal safety, which was then prolonged and further aggravated when i chose to cat-sit for friends. public note to self and to friends: i will always love animals, but cat dander and eczema really don’t mix.

hong kong graffiti, january 2019

there had been times in the last few months when it had cleared up and had even felt smooth and healed. but, while i run a finger over the patch (the same one as i’ve written about before), the bumps and its dryness remind me how healing not only requires time —as with writing— requires a conscious daily commitment.

nic and i in bali with some neighborhood kiddos. february, 2019.

if i’d started to write this entry in february, i would have written about my first ever trip to bali and the circumstances surrounding the trip, but also about how upsetting it is that people still find the wrong sorts of behaviour, romantic2.

mark, gael (on my right), my eczema patch and i painting kl in neutral colours! march 2019.

if i had written this in march, i would have written about the road trip to kuala lumpur that i went on with friends and how i had discovered how underrated that city is.

goodbye twitter-celeb, nic shields — you can @ him even though he’s on a social media detox.

if i had written an entry in april, i would have written a very emotional piece about the pains of living in “limbo land” singapore (because everyone leaves) and how one of my closest friends, nic shields, had left a hole in the shape and size of his wonderful ethnically ambiguous self (see his ethnically ambiguous form above and in the first picture).

after a trek in la union, san juan with some very inspiring friends. may 2019.

if i had written in may, i would have written about meeting my half-siblings for the first time, my friend’s beautiful wedding and how despite it being three years since i last visited manila, how it continues to be full of surprises. i would have also gone on to write about how lucky i am to have friends and family there and how grateful and proud i am of my filipino heritage3.

see sub-titles: i love travelling and in this one, i get to be the token “diversity” talent!

if it had been in june, i would have shared about ending my contract at the embassy i worked for, returning to bali, and the fun projects my friend(s) cast me in. one of them was a bank commercial i appeared in that came as a surprise to friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances when it popped up on facebook and movie theatres (i had not intended to talk about it).

in late july, or earlier this month, i would have exclaimed from all rooftops, both real and imaginary that i have recently been honoured with the responsibility of being the godmother to a beautiful human baby4. i would have also written about my new life as a freelancer and that my first official client is the socially-conscious and inclusive bookstore called, the moon.

between my trip to manila in may and navigating the gig economy these past two (almost three) months now,  i would have also written about how amidst all of life happening, i’d lost my year-long meditation streak, which took a while to let go of. but, if zen and meditation continue to teach me anything, it is that we are always beginning again, at every moment and we can always write and re-write who we are. a meditation streak does not define me — nor should an eczema patch.

my happy vein, my eczema patch and i earlier this month enjoying some sunshine outside the moon on mosque street. august 2019.

at this moment, as i let the words come to the page, i acknowledge while this entry isn’t an opus, it has been written and i’m here to celebrate it exactly as it is.

this post is dedicated to long, start-up founder and coder, who texted me yesterday just to remind me about the promise i made him on our friend george’s birthday, of having a new entry published by this month. thank you for holding me to my word.


  1. she hasn’t noticed — but that’s another story for another time. 

  2. i.e. grand gestures are things of the past. boundaries and knowing your friends’ or partners’ boundaries is what relationships are all about. respect them. 

  3. those are a lot of feelings for the philippines. to be explored and continued next time. 

  4. i’m stoked!!! 

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