October 31, 2014

Everything has to Start Somewhere

I've been afraid to say it aloud (much less in print) but here it goes: I'm writing a story. Should I call it a novel? Yikes. I'm not sure yet. But I'm really writing this time. 

For whatever reason, I've felt too nervous to tell anybody. I've felt nervous, embarrassed, worried that I'll seem too bold or presumptuous or some other terrible, negative adjective. I need to mention it, though. I need to see how it feels when the whole thing becomes real.

See, there's been a cast of characters dancing around my brain for the past few months, and their story has slowly come into focus as I've opened myself up to the idea of actually writing it. But the truth is, I've been scared. Really, really scared. The idea of writing a novel carries its own weight, its own pressures and assumptions. What if I can't finish it like previous times? What if I do and it's no good? What if?

The what-if fears have been plaguing and paralyzing me forever, but hey, why not huh? So I don't finish. So it's terrible. So what.

As I slowly but surely move through this complicated story-writing business, I'd love to know: what's the best, most inspiring or helpful writing advice you've ever heard? If there's any?

October 30, 2014

On Love and Looking In

Recently I was talking to a friend about relationships, about the ones that work, the ones that don't, the ones that would have worked or could have worked, and the ones that probably, definitely never should have worked. Eventually, inevitably, the conversation turned to ourselves.

I love talking about relationships. All kinds, really. But I especially love to hear what people have to say about themselves in relationships. It's interesting, isn't it, to think about who you are to someone? To think about the best, worst, and strangest parts of you, all tangled up in love and sometimes loss and sometimes everything all at once? To think about what it's like to love you?

In my younger age I went through a handful of dark and heavy things that forced me to look inward. To look at myself and my place in the world, at why I was who I was and what that meant and where that would take me. I learned to reflect and look inward very early on, too early, maybe..and that, coupled with my writing habits of stepping outside a moment, make me self-aware.

And it must be interesting, so to speak, for better or for worse, to be in a relationship with someone so drenched in that sort of awareness. I think about how odd and tiring it must feel to be in a relationship with someone so aware of moments, someone who steps in and out of them and back in again, all the while internally narrating the ifs and the buts and the maybes. And then I think: seriously, Aemy, stop thinking so much.

Once, in college, a girlfriend joked that our friendship would steer her straight into therapy. She said that my self-awareness is rubbing off. I cracked up, knowing all too well what she meant. We eventually became roommates, and no, she didn't end up in therapy. But there were a lot of late-night talks. And snacks and movies.

Still, that stuck with me, the idea that my self-awareness was something other people were aware of, and that my tendency to reflect might somehow wedge its way into my relationships one way or the other. For better or for worse. I found myself thinking about those faded friendships and relationships with a new sense of clarity, a genuine empathy, realizing what a real turn-off that might be for someone who'd rather not look back or inward. Because not everyone wants to doubt and change and shift and evolve all the time. And that's okay.

I talked to Ifo about what that friend said back in college and he agreed, saying my sense of self is a tangible part of me. I felt a bit embarrassed, then, at 1st, a bit ashamed of that curious, sensitive piece of me. But then I thought about what it all meant, because if it's true, if that piece of me somehow really does rub off, then how lucky I am to be there when that self-awareness strikes, when those walls come down. How lucky I am to grow into relationships with people who look in at themselves, and at me, and who hold both of us accountable for being our best and truest and most sincere selves. For better or for worse.

October 27, 2014

Let our Scars Fall in Love

We're all seeking that special person who's right for us. 
But if you've been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there's no right person, just different flavors of wrong. 
Why's this? 
Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way.
But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. 
And it isn't until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems, the ones that make you truly who you are, that we're ready to find a lifelong mate. 
Only then do you finally know what you're looking for. 
You're looking for the wrong person.
But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person, someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, "this is the problem I want to have."
I'll find that special person who's wrong for me in just the right way.
Let our scars fall in love.

October 20, 2014

You Listen and Let Go

Sometimes you know and bury that knowing underneath petitions like, I should do this, or this is expected of me, or people will be disappointed...and that process is called forgetting. Trying on faces and wanting them to fit..but they don't and this is called confusion. 

By this time, you've forgotten what it is and wonder what's going on and why's this not what you thought. Small things trigger small thoughts that remind you of that thing, the knowing. Seeing an image in a perfect swell of music. The stars. Driving past yellow lights in the black of night. A moment that triggers a dream you had, but before you can stuff it away, you grab the ends of it by the hands and say, wait. And, what's that?

This part of yours that knows is like an old friend that you lost touch with. Only now, you're remembering how things used to be and how you wanted them to be and how they aren't that way now, so you suck it up. You call her up. You apologize. You say, "tea?" with a sad laugh. And when you get together, it's awkward, hesitant, neither of you look like you remember. 

You're meeting a piece of yourself that you pushed away for years and coming to terms with who you are. You're looking yourself in the face and saying, I don't know you. But you sit there. You drink your tea. You have another cup, force yourself to be still. But most importantly, you listen. You don't interject what you thought, what you think. You listen and not say a word, and when she's done talking, you're weeping. Shaking from apologizing. 

Calm down. Now what? And she's saying, well, you know now, you remember. So, go do, kiddo. And you're laughing, what, it can't be that easy? But she's got a smile borne out of waiting and shakes her head slow, sipping the rest of her tea. It's not that easy, but it's that simple. You know. Her smiles slips and she's serious now. To not go after it now is to say your desires don't matter. That your authentic center isn't worth it. That your deepest beliefs and truest hopes and realest loves can't measure up. That your story, message, song isn't enough. Don't do that.

Now you're at the door and you can choose to part ways, say let's talk again soon. Or, you can listen. And you can let go of what you thought, of all the shoulds and coulds and woulds. And you can be brave enough to start over and live out what makes you come alive. You know, a part of you knows, that the same part in your heart that stings listening to this music or cries from that film or feels lopsided and soft in your hands is the same part that knows what you're supposed to be doing, what you want to be doing, what's your thing. Maybe it's like finding out that you knew where home was the entire time, that it wasn't where you thought or what you dreamed, but upon discovering it, walking into it, you realize it's better than what you thought you wanted.

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.- Joseph Campbell

October 14, 2014

If You Love Something, Set It Free

If I knew that there's a happy ending at the end, I wouldn't be afraid of letting go. But that "if" strikes untold fear into me. But then again…I guess that's what love is…you love them anyway, despite the fear of pain. ;)

October 12, 2014


Lately, for whatever reason, I've been having a lot of conversations about relationships and friendships; why some of them work, why some don't, why others sort of straddle a strange line between the two. Almost always the conversations begin and end with empathy. And really, that's usually what it boils down to, isn't it? Understanding, appreciation, insight. All those words that run along the spectrum of what it means to be a compassionate, self-aware sort of person. Of course, someone can be as kind and as thoughtful as they know how to be, but that isn't always enough.

Wait, I take that back. "Not enough." That's a phrase that's always bothered me a bit. "Not enough" for what? For who? So often I've heard someone say, "I did everything I could, but it just wasn't enough." Or, worse: "I wasn't enough." To me, that isn't the point. It's not that you aren't enough for somebody else. It's that you aren't enough for you in that relationship, because whatever is or isn't between you and another person doesn't make you feel good. That's the point. It's how you feel about yourself, not how you imagine you stack up against some made-up measurement or expectations.

Because here's the thing, if you're putting your all into something, fully invested in a friendship or a relationship, it better be a something (or someone) that makes you feel good, right?

October 7, 2014

Perfect, Sweet-Filled Birthday

3rd October 2014 was my 24th birthday. And, inevitably, I find myself considering where I am, where I've been..whether I'm who I expected to be at this age, whether I'm doing what I expected to do. Truth is: I am and I'm not. Some things have fallen right into place, right where I always imagined they would. Other things, though, have been surprises. Good and bad ones. But all of it, I'm very happy to say, feels right. As if it's inevitable. Certain, in the most wonderful of ways. And if I have one wish for 24, it'll be holding on to that. The feeling that everything, even the unexpected, is just as it should be.

When asked how I wanted to spend my birthday, I said I just wanted to spend it with the ones I love. Just like in the past. I didn't expect any cakes, gifts or celebration. But actually that's what I really got.....

After having a movie night (Anabelle..stupid creepy doll) and sleepover (it's been soooooo long since high school) with my girls (Farah and Jana) at Farah's place, Ifo took me out for a date on my birthday. It's a simple, lovely date; just me and him, watching Dracula Untold (awesome movie!), eating pizza, talking and talking and laughing. And hey, I got new books! If I stay and Where She Went, both by Gayle Forman. 

Two days after my birthday, we went out again, with other friends this time. It was raining heavily outside and I thought that something hot or soupy would be nice, so I suggested to eat at Natural Kitchen. But Ifo insisted to go to Secret Recipe, so we did. When we got there, Selvin and Russel were already waiting at the table. They hadn't ordered anything but plain water. Then Ifo excused himself to call Jasper outside, so we waited for them while browsing the menus. 

Few minutes later, Ifo and the rest appeared at the stairs; Ifo (playing ukulele), Desmond (holding a cake), Jasper, Mark and Carol. They're all singing out loud a Happy Birthday song, clapping..and I was....oh my God, I was so speechless, so surprised..I didn't know what to say. I just laughed and felt touched and ashamed at the same time. Touched, because I didn't expect any of those and it's been so long since I had that kind of surprise celebration..embarrassed, because everybody in the restaurant was looking at me and clapping along. Suddenly I became the centre of attention. Lol. It was all Ifo's idea..he'd been planning everything for almost a week, he brought The Baks and Wonder Women (girls group consisting me, Carol, Nelly, Fytt and Etha, but only Carol available that day) together as a team to celebrate my birthday. How nice! They even made a secret group chat to discuss the whole things. 

It was so sweet and wonderful. Thank you, everyone..thank you so much for surprising me good, I owe you guys a big time. I'm so grateful to have you guys in my life. And darling Ifo, I can't thank you enough..I love you. :)


I'm a happy birthday girl

the cake was awesome

my sweethearts

I love you ^^

October 1, 2014

And So, You Get Up

Sometimes, life's heavy.

You don't notice it at 1st. It's like collecting stones. You start slowly, gently. At 1st, you can't feel the weight. Then it becomes harder to notice what's in front of you. You can't see the scope, the slope of the landscape, because you're focused on carrying the foundation. It's easier to shoulder it all and numb yourself to the weight.

But there's that place. That point where you read your threshold, your valley. Maybe you've walked for so long that you're bone weary and ringed with grief. Or perhaps you ran, the entire way, and your breath's knocked out of you. And you realize you don't know where you are, how you arrived. You look back and see that you've missed the markers, missed the milestones, missed the moments. Too busy holding onto the heaviness of the journey. It's been like that for so long that you're afraid you won't know who you are without it.

You have to let it go. To not go apathetic. To not go numb. To not go quiet. Don't let sorrow swallow your song. You need to be awake to the world, to life, to yourself. It feels like running for the 1st time, like stretching your shuddering muscles, like walking in the cold dew of morning. It stings. You start in the dark, with only the promise of sun. There's no light to outline the path. It doesn't matter. You've forgotten the road anyways. You've walked so long without one that trails are unfamiliar and foreign.

There's no hiding from brokenness. There's no running from grief. Some manage to evade it for longer, others find it knocking on their door daily. It has a face you cannot forget, leaves its calling card everywhere it goes. We're each stitched with ribbons of our every heartache, except, some of us are frayed. Even the best of us have tears.

Sometimes it feels easier, better, to go cold. To give into the pain and become numb, and once again, pick up the skeleton of who you were before grief marked your face. To let your heart harden. Lock it away and melt the key and live in the motions, never the moment. At the very point of pain, it seems less exhausting. But passivity's a silent slow killer, a lie that laps away at the texture of life like water on the stone.

And so, you get up. You keep moving though your bones ache. You walk until you run. You hum until you can sing. You catalogue small things until you can once again take in the scope. You choose to be awake. It's surprisingly painful. It's sobering to look around and realize you have forgotten what it means to be alive, for so long. It's October and you're barefoot and the ground has still not thawed.

Breathe. Again and again. Dive into the core and pressure point of your pain, the heart of your ache. It's red hot and white and bitter black. It shakes like starlight. You swallow it like stones. But you emerge and understand, it hasn't added a layer to your heart, but a ring. It's not a mark, but a message.

The thing about being awake is you notice things; good, bad, beautiful, painful, sorrow, sweet, bitter, broken, dizzying between everything. You cry more. You laugh deeper. You understand broken things and encourage flowers to just be. You find your soul sprouting little green things, that the roots of the marrow of being haven't left after all. And it's painful, the fire of wakening running like blood. You've been asleep for so long feeling's foreign.

But you begin to appreciate what's small. You begin to breathe gratitude. You stumble on meaning, find grace woven alongside ache. It's not easy, it's not quick. It's gradual, a journey. This time, instead of collecting stones, you're collecting colors of the sky. You jot down thanks and let them go wild in the plum breath of the evening. The smear of jam on toast, black coffee in the morning, a walk in the evening that lingers.

Look at the trees, how they burn. Look at the fields, how they deepen. Look at the world, how it cries. It's a choice to go deep and live through your pain, to feel it all, to choose to be awake to what comes. Bravely, when the time beckons, to let it go. Knowing that the struggle and searching builds strength, story, a song. Only, you'are alive and present and find the words to sing inside you, and they were, all along.


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