suddenly got picnic

it happened mere minutes after i finished typing up my previous blogpost. i was in the learning commons, attempting to concentrate on studying about UK constitutional reforms but continuously failing to focus amidst the heat and its consequent drowsiness. and so, hopping on the summer bandwagon, i impulsively texted the group chat, “lets go for a picnic”. you don’t usually get such nice weather in manchester and i was already counting down my days. due to its suddenness that came out of nowhere sans pre-plans, i was not expecting a lot of affirmative answers but one turned into two, two turned into three, and in the end there were seven of my friends in total who was on board my impulsive idea and minutes after sending off my first text, i found myself creating a whatsapp group and planning an impromptu picnic outside the learning commons that very evening.

i packed up my things and was literally running out of the learning commons in excitement. went home to grab my faithful JBL GO and a deck of cards in case anyone wanted to play bridge. met up with yee lin and ash and then rumin and lionel at turing tap to get pizzas and chicken wings. there weren’t as many people on the field anymore when we were there, so we chose a relatively shady spot and started to buka puasa, together with bubble milk teas brought by wilson. ee min and cc joined us too a bit later on.

the whole time, my heart was bursting with so much gratitude and love.

in itself, i was already an incredibly massive fan of spontaneity. add on to that my friends’ unconditional agreements to indulge me in my whimsical needs (a picnic? at 7pm? on a thursday? my friends made me realise it’s more likely than you think). it only lasted for two hours, and ended up with us hopping from foot to foot in cold because once the sun had set the temperature began to drop drastically, but i was so, so happy, and so, so grateful. grateful for the relationships that i have established with the friends i’ve made here for the past three years, grateful for the freedom and mobility that comes so easily within reach here in manchester, grateful for being able to make great memories like this that i will cherish forever and ever and ever.

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the summer effect

there is no reason for me to hate summer.

it’s 26ºC in manchester today. for the past two nights, i have woken up in the morning sweating even with the window open. some time during this week, the mancunian weather just suddenly decided to do a 180º from its previous season renewals of The Beast from the East to a sudden pop-up of Coachella right in the middle of my campus.

not that i’m complaining. there is no reason for me to hate summer, after all.

but for the past two years, i have subconsciously come to associate summer with bad feelings of reluctant leaving. the lengthening of daytime hours and the rise in temperature are elements that have accompanied the impending arrival of an expiry date of my time in manchester, and this year, it’s for good.

contrary to my initial plans of staying back in manchester to do the BPTC, i’ve decided to go back to malaysia to take the CLP instead. making this decision felt like a break-up decision (lol); i really didn’t want to, but i felt like it was the only right thing for me to do, and thus i should do it. and so, even though ultimately i was the sole decision-maker in this aspect, i was very anguished over it for quite a long time. still am, but since i also have no plans to make a change to my decision, i can only focus on the path i’d set ahead for myself and be optimistic about it. there is no right or wrong decision in life after all, only compromises. like janice said, every choice can be the right choice with the right perspective. and with all things considered, it would not be the most terrible thing for my third year to be my last year here. and i plan to maintain it that way. as it is, i want to be excited for an expansion of horizons and comfort zones, as i always have been repeating to myself, on here and in my own mind.

i want to make this year’s summer in the UK the best one yet, before i bid farewell to this place that i’ve come to call a home.

After Two Years, London

When I told some of my friends that I hadn’t been to London in two years, the most common response I’d gotten was surprise, and I can understand as much, what with London being the place where everything happens compared to Manchester. And so, this Easter break, I took the chance to travel down south for a couple of days and stayed over at Janice’s, and I’m really glad I did because I found myself falling in love with London all over again.

My relationship with the city of London is somewhat a complicated one. My first time in London, back in 2013, was love at first sight. Of course, it was my first time in UK itself, so it was difficult not to be in awe of literally everything in a foreign country. But fast forward two years later during my first year of uni, my phone got stolen on Oxford Street and I was intimidated by the bustling crowds of the city, and that was when London turned into more of a foe than a friend in my mind’s eye.

This time was different. It felt like I was revisiting a whole new place all over again. And technically I was, seeing as how different a person I am compared to who I was two, five years ago.

   

    

    

    

Frankly, my trip to London this Easter can easily be confused for one to Japan instead, not that it’s something I would complain. From the first day of visiting the arcade to play taiko drums and Hatsune Miku songs on the Groove Coaster (apparently the only single one machine of this game in the whole of Europe is right here in London oh wow), to queuing in the rain to enter the exclusive Isle of Dogs exhibition at 180 The Strand, to visiting Japan Centre three times in the span of two days (each time with different company at that), and ultimately, to feasting on Japanese food and desserts for literally every meal I had in London, it was really fun and interesting to be so immersed for those couple of days within a subculture in the melting cultural pot that is London.

And of course, what is a place if not for its people? Special shoutout to Janice, Karu, Yi Jing, Rumin, and Lionel for being great company while I was there, and for making London feel like an already familiar friend to me, even after these two years.

I’ll see you real soon again, London. またね, ロンドン。

i’m just protecting my soul

sam "i know my songs are very depressing, BUT" smith, everyone

A post shared by M (@mchelleteoh) on

Michelle’s People I’ve Watched Live List, updated:

existential five a.m.

i was hit with news of a potential drastic change in future plans this week that made my stomach drop in dread each time i think about it. and that was when i realised that maybe i’ve been immersed too high up among hedonistic clouds of freedom and recklessness for too long that something like this proved to be a rude awakening (read: crashing).

i didn’t like it. i don’t like it. i really, really don’t like it. i’m not prepared to leave, to return to a relatively more restricted environment, when i feel like there’s still a lot for me to discover out there, so many more people for me to meet. now that i’ve had a taste of how huge the world can be and how many possibilities and opportunities are actually within reach, i’m too afraid of having this wide, wide sky snatched away from under my nose and watch as i’m unnaturally forced back into a restricted mould of narrow-mindedness and a suffocating culture of limitations. i’m afraid of reverting back into a despicable version of myself filled with fear, anxiety and low self-esteem. it took me so long to crawl out into this skin that i’m currently comfortable and happy with, and i’m deathly terrified of losing all of this all over again.

but most importantly, i’m afraid of people that i’ve grown to love becoming mere memories, untouched and unreachable. which is ironic because this fear has followed me since years ago and is ultimately inevitable, a noble feat lost to the cruel and relentless passage of time.

新春快乐 (and yet spring is nowhere in sight)

     

Oooh it’s always so strange for me to return here after an extremely long writing drought. I get very antsy when words don’t flow out of me as smoothly as it usually does. The feeling is akin to losing my voice and being unable to communicate and interact with others.

Here’s a confession: in my pursuit to expand and learn and absorb as many life experiences as I could, there were times (especially since the beginning of third year) where I’d fallen pretty hard and didn’t really know the right way to get back on my feet. I’m sure this is a relatable feeling for most people. Days and weeks whizzed past like they were nothing significant, and the only way I could keep track of what I did or where I went was by recording my days in the calendar app. I wasn’t forgetting, I was just too obsessed with chasing after new stimuli every single waking second to dwell (too much) on what had happened, in certain aspects.

As a result, I was constantly disorientated, lost, anxious, of any current state of being I was in at the time. There were times when dread and anxiety kept me up at night and my appetite at bay. There were times when I felt like all I could ever be was the emotion of sadness. There were times when I would obsessively do a mental scan of pillars that could help fasten me sturdily onto the here and now of what was real and what was not but turn up zero; a convincing persuasion of my mental state that I was only truly alone in this world.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the conversations I’ve had with some of my friends regarding my fears and emotions, it’s that these self-pity parties that I always throw for myself have a dangerous tendency to be blinding. Literally – blinding me from realising that I am not as empty as my nightmares dictate myself to be, that sometimes it can be easy to take certain things and people for granted in the presence of idealistically high expectations, and that there are some things and people that are just not worth the anguish I brew within myself.

You’ll never catch me verbally uttering the words “new year, new me”, but I’ve set benchmarks for myself based on that phrase three times now this year: the start of 2018, the start of my second semester, and now, Chinese New Year. This CNY, I want to leave behind all my regrets and inadequacies, want to focus my efforts instead on the things that do matter and the people who do care. The happiness I felt this morning when I headed for the CNY festival in Chinatown might be slightly sleep-deprivation-induced, but it was a feeling that told me everything was going to be okay, and that this joy was well-deserved. There need not be a deeper analysis of what is in front of me, it can just be.

These few days reminded me that there is a lot to be grateful for, and I am so, so grateful for my family and friends, without whom I couldn’t have possibly made it this far in life.

 

i still dream about the northern lights sometimes

i came back from iceland for a week to find out my houseplant had died.

at first i was in denial. it was a very hardy breed, this one, which used to be able to go on for days without water and still not brown around the edges of its leaves. when i came back, its bottom half was withered, but since the top half still showed signs of greenery, i continued watering it in hopes that it would be revived eventually.

but for some botanic reason that i couldn’t fathom, it still continued to wither, water filling up half the pot dish like a moat surrounding a castle. except this kingdom was dying. maybe i’m just bad at taking care of things. it was very ostentatious of me to assume that i can take care of another living specimen when i’m already doing a bad job taking care of myself.

but constantly looking at this dying plant next to my window feels more apt than ever in this bleak month of january. iceland already feels so far away, has been ever since i came back and realised how much work i have to do for midterms. and since then, it’s just been daily repetitions of obsessively going through my head the amount of time i have left for which and which subject, in addition to applying for bar school, worrying about the uncertainty of (maybe) staying back in the UK for another year, and constantly reminding myself to keep my emotions in check, around other people at least.

i don’t like that this period of slaving away in front of laptop screens and nose deep in textbooks is taking away from appreciating my remaining time left in uni. it’s very soul-draining to hyperfocus on something for such long periods of time, completely oblivious to my surroundings while time whizzes past without hesitation. by the time i hand in my last paper, january will already have been over. how the hell is that fair.

time feels so convoluted when you’re measuring them by pages and topics and subjects, trying to figure out how you can slot in time to eat. it barely feels real that just two weeks ago, i was in the backseat of our rented SUV in reykjavik, skeptical about yet another online tip on the appearance of northern lights but – it was real this time! after a week of driving out on barren icelandic highways with no streetlights present at all during ungodly hours of both the night and morning in various states of semi-slumber, we finally managed to catch the ever elusive aurora borealis, cold negative temperatures temporarily forgotten in the face of excitement. there was no way i could’ve written a better epilogue to our week-long trip in iceland.

but now the only elusive thing in my current circumstances is time, and it’s all i can do not to dwell on this deficiency too much to the point of breathlessness.

hm. i just watered my plant. maybe i’ll still try to save it after all.