Holland Village


 
It’s been about three months since moving to Singapore! They have flown by, and I’m slowly getting used to working weird unconventional hours, having a monthly income, eating amazing cheap food for lunch and sweating constantly and profusely. A month ago I moved into my apartment, a place I’ll be living in for at least 18 months. Every time I sign something for a set amount of time (be it the phone plan, the internet plan, the lease, etc.) I have a mini panic attack. Ok maybe not so mini. Day to day I’m excited to live here, but when I see long term, how far away I am from people I love, I get overwhelmed. But overall, I have been extremely lucky with this whole process. 

After living for two months with relatives (with maid service!), I recently moved to Holland Village, which is known as being expat central. My HDB building (Singapore public housing, which I doubt is anything like US public housing) is mostly filled with older folk, so I feel quite safe. I’m still not quite used to calling neighbors “Uncle” or “Auntie.” Across the street there’s a supermarket, drugstore and a 24 hour café that sells good kopi and curry puffs. Behind my building (seen from the window in our living room) are the streets that most people associate with Holland V. It is only about two to three streets separated from the main road with tons of restaurants, high end and low end. However (other than the food courts) these restaurants aren’t known to be the best, but good for expat taste buds. For my birthday, we celebrated at a Mexican restaurant and while the atmosphere was great, the food was as quite subpar (compared to US Mexican food). Often on a Friday or Saturday night the small street will be filled with people, locals and expats alike, outside grabbing a bite, drinking a beer or watching a football game on the television (no, not American football). And during the day the street will be filled with the Ang mo (white expat) wives and me on my day off. It’s a fun atmosphere. This photo is the view from our apartment window.

I guess I'll have to learn to love shrimp now


A few months ago, I wrote this post, not knowing where I’d be next year. Well I still don’t know which bed I’ll be sleeping in, but I do know the country. After a year of trying to be in Southeast Asia, I just about gave up hope and graduated about a month and a half ago without any prospect of a job or relocation. However, an unforeseen job opportunity arose a few weeks ago and, in possibly the most rash decision of my life, I decided to take it. So here I am, preparing to move to Singapore tomorrow and start work next week. I wobble between extreme excitement and nervousness every ten minutes.

I have a lot of goals for myself for the coming months, one of which is to write. To write on this blog, to write creatively, to write privately and to write to friends and family. I’m hoping to visit all these coffee shops, sit down with kopi and write everything I’m seeing and learning.

Singapore has been a country I’ve visited countless times but never lived in. It has been one of my deepest regrets, having gone almost every summer growing up but too young and naïve to care. I always complained about leaving my dad for too long, about the heat, about the lack of spaghetti and burgers, about Singlish. I’m so happy to have a second chance, to see the same country through different eyes -- older and hopefully slightly wiser eyes.

While I am not a fan of Ted Hughes (because of his moral choices not his writing), I can’t help but love his encouragement to his son, “As Buddha says: live like a mighty river. And as the old Greeks said: live as though all your ancestors were living again through you.”


Illustration by my sister, Lauren Monaco.

Saying nothing, eating


“People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two loves, but this, too, was great; sitting between his sister and his brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel -- before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Looking at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.” 

Quote by Zadie Smith, On Beauty.
Photo by Natsumi Akatsuka.

If we start there



"The sun is perfect and you woke this morning. 
You have enough language in your mouth to be understood. 
You have a name, and someone wants to call it. 
Five fingers on your hand and someone wants to hold it. 
If we just start there, every beautiful thing that has and will ever exist is possible. 
If we start there, everything, for a moment, is right in the world."


Beautiful words by Warsan Shire. Photography by Jennifer Causey.

Oh this heavy heart is missing you around

This following seemed like an apt thought to describe the current and upcoming post grad life.

Post title from from My Live, My Love by Family and Friends, a lovely band I saw in Chicago last weekend.



I've been walking through the mountains, I've wandered through the trees

I love this home in Antwerp. It is so simple and full of light. I found the photographs through Eefje de Coninck who views an individual's decoration and home as an artistic expression of that person's character. Check out more photographs and the interview here.

Post title from She Lit a Fire by Lord Huron.




Curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight



We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us 
something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. 
Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight 
or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

e. e. cummings

Photo by rose & crown.

Made my way to the dance floor, danced til I wasn't drunk anymore

This is quite a cute coffee shop in Singapore called The Reading Room, and I would very much like to go, sit and read. Books, coffee, city, architecture, sounds perfect to me.

Photos from Cafehopping. Post title from Is Your Love Big Enough? by Lianne La Havas.





Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Poem by Mary Oliver
Photography by Olivia Rae James.