#87 – covers and thingamajigs

hello!! (:

so recently, i performed at a concert – it was the first time ever i took to a stage (well there was that once in kindergarten but that hardly counts), and it was incredible.

stage fright was always something i struggled with. i mean, i already clam up whenever there’re more than 5 people talking around me, so you can imagine how terrifying it is for me to stand in front of 50++ people & sing – and sing well at that. i have no idea why i agreed to take part in this in the first place, and i have no idea why i stuck with it even though my friend gave me outs whenever i felt like i couldnt do it. some part of me wanted to get rid of the stage fright asap i think, and that part seemed to take control whenever my friend asked if i really did want to quit.

i’m immensely grateful that i didn’t withdraw, though. this experience taught me so much about perseverance, confidence, and support. huge thanks to my friends who encouraged me and held me up when i felt like i was crumpled and defeated, who always believed in me even though i barely believe in myself, and who treated me with nothing short of perfect patience and understanding. it’s without a doubt that i say that i could never have gotten through this stressful (well i mean, i make most things stressful in my mind), time-consuming but all around wonderful adventure.

though there were days/weeks when i felt incredibly exhausted and incredibly ready to give up, there were others when i felt motivated and inspired to continue to practice over and over again, and i will always remember those nights i’d burst into song in the middle of my room and spin, spin, spin to the music until my head was dizzy and my chest lighter than it’d been that entire day. i guess i’ve learnt just how much i love music and how much i love being a part of it — i’m seriously considering doing a double major in uni now, one in ecology and one in theatre (i’m super interested in musicals and such), but if i’m unable to do that, you can bet your lil butt that i’m gonna keep singing and dancing around in my room alone.

as i’d expected, though, being up on that stage after months of rehearsals felt scary and foreign and all kinds of wrong at first. and at second. and even at third when we had to perform for real. but it was unforgettable. the rush and the thrill i got just from stepping onto those lacquered wooden planks (even if the maroon curtains were drawn and intermission music was playing) can never be replaced. i felt like a right fool, running and dancing up and down the stage in an attempt to assuage my nerves, but in a strange and extremely unfamiliar way, the stage became to feel like home. although we’d only been on it thrice, and although i was shaking and scared before/during/after the performance, i felt a tiny tingling that reminded me of the time i realised that i loved being in the water, even though i hated swimming of the time. it’s strange, because while i was all kinds of anxious while on stage, i was smiling too – i was proud of us, proud of my friends, and proud that we actually got on stage and put on a decent show (so my friends tell me). i felt so energised and silly on stage that i think i forgot to be self-conscious. i forgot to think about how i’d look like, if my shirt was okay or if my skirt was tilted. i fell into the music the moment my friends started playing and never wanted to be yanked back out.

maybe i’m constructing romanticised images again, but i genuinely would never ever have had this experience any other way. the butterflies in our stomachs as we rushed down to backstage, the little group hugs we had before and after our performance, the long and sweltering walks we shared to daniel’s house — these are the things i will remember for a long time to come, and these are the things i already miss with all my heart.

so much of my time was spent trying to sing better these past few months, such that i’ve neglected many other parts of my life (mainly the social and academic and fitness aspects, oops), but it was worth it.

i have nothing but gratitude for the people who have supported me thus far. dylan, gabby and daniel, on the very off-chance that you’ll read this, thank you for being there for me every step of the way, and thank you for being so kind and caring and understanding when i’m nothing but a ball of nerves and self-deprecation. you guys mean so much to me and i’m so glad we met on the Taiwan exchange programme. we’ll definitely go back to the esplanade to record a few songs after As!!

as this is already excessively long, i think i’d better end here. there’re no lessons tomorrow (yay for founder’s day holidays!!) but i have yet to catch up on the work i’ve neglected these few weeks.

see you (maybe) soon with another post!! i hope the week has treated you well (:

-sonia

#84 – blood. blood and nerves. and multi-potential.

a post for future!sonia:

so the past few weeks have been busy & tiring & all kinds of stressful due to the upcoming exams… this post’ll probably be short cause while i dont wanna forget everything ive done thus far, i also need to get back to studying (it’s 9pm now & i need to face the fact that i am horrible at Bio & shouldve started on it earlier ugh) before bedtime.

let’s do a quickquick run-down of key things that happened the past 5 weeks. if i can remember them. i will consult the faithful RI planner.

April 30 – watched Augmentum, the dance concert, after watching bowling Masters. dear future!sonia, you have some embarrassing footage of Bert on your phone (if you kept your stuff that is) from that night. (use it well)

May 7 – took the SATs: the room was freezing & the constant short breaks were confusing. you were nervous about eating food in the room but gave up caring when you realised you brought awesome bread in. (i hope youre not as much of a glutton now as you were then?? i hope)

May 20 – watched the RI production of All My Sons, which was all kinds of amazing. there was a magnificent & impressive set & you had a great night.

May 28 – you went to the book launch of Bert & Rae. it was really cool but you had to leave for rehearsals/recordings. earlier that day you found out that the busking the next day was cancelled, and you were depressed for about a minute before bouncing back. dude, i’m proud of you for not sinking into the sadness youve been known to indulge in. good job!

May 30 – you took a mock lit paper that was 3h long & your butt nearly died. you ran out halfway to use the bathroom and ran back, but still didnt manage to finish 2/3 essays. sigh. you tried?

June 1 – you met with Han for a sushi express lunch (as usual) & ate 6 plates. 6 plates. why did you do that? it was $10.80 & i think you took more than one plate of dessert (unsurprisingly). it was a good lunch though.

June 3 – went to the bestbro’s place & booked Scoot flights to Taipei. Scoot didn’t ask for passport details & you & the bestbro freaked out for a bit. then you guys went to Kyushu Pancakes for AWESOME (and super expensive) Matcha Tiramisu pancakes (they were $18.80?! what). you guys then went to Plaza Sing for snacks cause neither of you felt like studying. oops.

June 4 – attended a very wedding-dinner-like birthday party with your family & got mahjong chocolate for a gift. also you ate the bestbestbest piece of fried cod w/ garlic youve ever eaten in your life. goodness this fish was amazing

June 7 – last physio session for the foreseeable future. i hope you havent had to go back since then!

June 8 – went to Heather’s house for a lunch/tea & a surprise birthday celebration for Chris! it was amazing & you had a great time with the 100-plus scavenger hunt, planning it & all.

June 10 – you went to a Mr. Maker live show with your sis + your niece & nephew for some reason. it was a very confusing 1.5h but hey you got KFC at the end of it so i guess it balances out??

June 15 – you went to Tampines with your sis for some errand-running (she convinced you to buy a H&M dress, the first & maybe last thing you own from there. it looks & feels good tho) & did next to no work. oops.

June 16 – received your SAT scores, which i hope youve burned into your brain. not bad for someone whose only studying involved using the SAT Practice App in the 2 weeks leading up to the test…

June 17 – YOU WATCHED LES MIS & IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Eponine was your life’s goal for the day, and Javert was who you want to meet for real so you can smack him up the head & shout “YOU ARE THE MAN WHO CAN’T CHANGE”. regardless, you loved them & you wanted to watch it again. i hope you’ve since managed to catch the West End version! and i hope that by now youre able to sing On My Own without sounding like your throat is made of rocks!

June 18 (wow these were some eventful few days) – you helped your big sis with a dog charity event at her estate & it was awesome. you walked Zoey & met about a dozen different dogs and it was awesome. dogsdogsdogs. also you got to eat swiss rolls & curry puffs so i mean it kind of balances the non-studying?

June 20 – went to Mustafa with the real bro & bought nut milks & spices thatll last you at least 3 years (cause who buys 200g of cinnamon for one person?!).

and today’s June 23 & nothing interesting’s happened since June 20. this has been an incredibly boring listing of random and probably seemingly unimportant events, but it’s taken you 20mins to type them all down anyways.

back to the books (& self-loathing) i go. dear future!sonia, i hope that by now youve sorted out the whole anxiety attacks thing that’s associated with studying for too long or with a certain topic in Biology. i also hope that you didnt blank out during your major tests/exams because we both know how important those are/were… if you did it’s fine, we’ll get there one day yeah?

see you (sometime) with another catch-up dummy. hope you’re doing good.

-sonia

#78 – of fear, force and faith (see: bowling)

hello!! (:

last week (on 27/4/16), something extremely significant occurred. my bowling journey (schools-wise) ended!

last wednesday was the very last day of my very last competition in these 6 years of playing for (2) schools. sure, there was masters on the 30th (saturday), but it wasnt as important to me as i wasnt competing (woke up real early to watch it though — our teammates won 2nd for both guys & girls!! they put up an extremely admirable fight)

the weeks/months leading to this competition was intense – jam-packed with training, team lunches, batch studying sessions and insanely unforgettable bus rides (mr. white & charades). they were undeniably tiring days, undeniably frustrating days even, but nonetheless, i enjoyed myself to no end. it was the perfect way to end this long journey of mine, and though i am sad to leave, as we all must, i am (considerably) much more grateful for picking up this sport 6-7 years ago.

when i first started out, i was bowling for fun. i was bowling with my cousins, taking after my brother (i’ve always wanted to compete with/against him in everything besides sailing) and not really caring about my techniques being correct, and not really caring about the scores that unfolded on the monitors above and before me. this mere hobby turned into something much more, though, when i joined AGAPE and got more serious about bowling. my parents pushed me into the sport (by this point, i’d been voicing out my displeasure at being forced into swimming for a long time, so i assume they’d been trying to find me an alternative), and though i was (still am, sometimes) riddled with self-consciousness, i soon found that i was having fun learning a totally foreign sport. before this, the only sports i’d known were swimming, table tennis & badminton – all of which are, in no way, related to bowling.

i admit that i wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of mental exertion and control bowling demanded. my coaches always say, “Bowling is a mental sport“, and they are absolutely right. the intensity of the focus required shocked me when i realised i was more tired mentally than physically after training one day, and i could have given up (we both know how bad my mental state can be), but i persevered because i saw a beauty in the sport. a beauty that persists despite hours and hours of fruitless training sessions, persists despite a plethora of injuries and muscle disproportions, persists despite countless (genuinely countless) disappointments, despairs and downward spirals.

the roll of a reactive ball soothes me as much as it mocks me sometimes – mine is slow, of course, hooking way too early due to my snap-back (extension, sonia!! extension!!!), but it taught me patience in the early days when i was made to hold my finishing position until my ball reached the pins. the straight trajectory of a plastic/polyester ball gives me a sense of certainty, as i always know where my ball will go. i turn away too early sometimes, walking back down the approach and to the console either annoyed (that my ball wasn’t headed for the spare) or victorious (when i knew i could depend on my 12lb Columbia White Dot to roll over the pin/s).

i will miss the comforting feeling of letting the weight of my ball(s) sit in the crook of my right arm, or in my left as i’m waiting for my turn to go. the etiquette in bowling has made me (as all etiquette do, i suppose) become more mindful, more considerate and (of course) more courteous. the polite demeanour with which you high-five an opponent, or the simple and plain exuberance you exude when you high-five your elated teammate will never leave me. i will always miss this spirit, this competitive team spirit, that drove me to continue even though all the signs pointed to me quitting.

as much as i’ve learned from the sport, i believe i have learned more from the people i bowl with. my teammates – be it from TKGS, CSC or RI, have all, in some shape or form, contributed to my growth as a person, friend, teammate and sportsperson. without them, i am certain that i would not be the same person i am now. they have all influenced me in different ways (some more insidiously than others, but influence they did all the same).

just this year, my team (RI) helped me through some incredibly tough times. bertrand, rae ann, falisha, boaz, ryan, daryl, valerie, shaun, nicole – though our time as a team out on the lanes has ended, all of you will have a place in my heart for as long as it shall go on. i don’t think i’ll ever tire of the fun times we had (& will have – i’m not letting this batch go for a long long time to come), and i don’t think i’ll ever forget the camaraderie and energy we shared and created as a batch. you guys are the best batch i could’ve ever wished for, and though we all come from different walks of life, i think it’s safe to say that we’ve had the great fortune of being able to form an enviable batch. in the words of a senior from a year+ ago, when we’d just come together, “I think that anyone can be EXCO, and I think that no matter what happens your batch will be damn nice to work with. Cause you guys are already so bonded. Everything will be fun.

everything was fun. and meaningful. and wonderful. we’ve done it, guys. we won girls 1st, and guys 2nd. thank you for this breathtaking run. it was impeccable, immaculate, and impossibly brilliant, and i wouldn’t have had it any other way. thank you. i will never be able to thank you enough. thank you.

i will leave this world of bowling for a few months (possibly 6-7) to focus my energy on a levels (as we are all encouraged to), but i will undoubtedly miss it, and i will feel it like a phantom life, a phantom life cloaking over my movements and making my middle- and ring-finger grip air while my thumb slides cleanly out of a perfectly tailored ghost insert.

to end off this (really long) post, i’d just like to thank all my coaches and friends  from bowling — from AGAPE (coach aloysius & coach leonard!!) to TKGS (uncle adam & coach clara!!) to CSC (uncle rick & coach jeff!!) and finally to RI (uncle yong, coach eugene & uncle jensen!!). they will probably never see this, but future!sonia, these are the people you should be grateful to. remember this.

what a wondrous journey it was. i will love and cherish it for a long time to come. thank you. thank you. thank you.

see you (soon) with a next post.

-sonia

#75 – ADEX 2016

hello!! (:

this is gonna be (quite) a short post about ADEX 2016, where i was a volunteer for Nature Society Singapore (NSS) (:

so, ADEX was from 15-17 April, but i went only on 16th & 17th. the first day was very much full of introductions & getting familiar with how ADEX was like, and because i was/am inexperienced, i learnt a lot about our marine ecosystem & about the organisations that work to protect it (:

here are some shots from today!! this was a talk on Hae-Nyeo (sea women) that ended in people throwing free (but wet) bottles of body moisturiser:

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and this is me with 2 Hae-Nyeo from Jeju Island!! (the lady on the right is 86 years old!)

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i managed to meet plenty of like-minded people & was surprised at how friendly everyone was (: i thought that i’d be a bit of a burden as i’m still very new to this world of conservation, but everyone was extremely keen on helping me get started (:

i can’t wait to join more events & get more involved with NSS. nature’s really where i want to be most of the time, and i think that there is hardly a better place to be than in nature’s warm embrace, surrounded by millions; billions of years of miracles. i can only dream of knowing the world as intricately as these beings do – i will spend my whole life trying to, will dedicate my whole self to the wonderful, magical world, because that’s the least i can do.

alright, i’ll end this really short post now, because i’m tired and season’s coming up (2 days!!). i’m excited and nervous and everything else in between and beyond. my team is wonderful; beyond wonderful, and since this is the last time i’m gonna play with them (this makes me so so so sad. i’m gonna miss them so much), i have to make it count. no matter what happens on the lanes, i will always remember the love i feel for my team.

let’s go friends (: we got this!!

see you (soon?) with a next post (:

-sonia

#72 – stars

hello! (:

these past few weeks have been quite tough on me, and i’ve done some things i’m definitely not proud of, but last night i did something i think has helped me achieve a better mental state.

last night, i walked from serangoon gardens country club (where itc was at) to myVillage, a small mall in the middle of cafes and roads and shophouses. i went upupup to the roof, found a spot where no one was at, lay down, and watched the stars.

i counted 37 stars in total (including Orion’s Belt), and said hello to all of them before starting to talk to them in my head. this may seem weird, but i tend to do this when i need answers – answers to questions i’ve been asking myself forever.

the calm, cool air genuinely helped in creating the perfect quiet atmosphere that i needed last night. gone were the insecurities and overthinking tendencies, and floods of clarity raced to fill that hole.

the last time i went stargazing, i was given a happy illusion, a fantasy world where i thought i could live in forever. that parallel world could never come true, though, and i know that now almost a million times as clearly as i knew that then. i let myself live in my folly for a long time, but last night, surrounded by celestial balls of ever-burning gas, i was given lucidity. i could not pretend to be alright believing in this made-up place i thought i could work towards. i could not continue to hold onto a fast-slipping string, one that cut and burned me as i did all i could to prevent it from leaving my sight.

so i thanked the stars and i packed my bag and i stood up, ready to confront reality again. walking down the escalator, the perennial weight on my chest seemed to relent a tiny bit, and i found that i could breathe with more confidence.

soon, season will start, and i will be sucked into movement and chaos and jarring but exciting sounds yet again. last night was a rare one, as stars are hard to find in the starless life i subject myself to, and i will cherish it for a long time to come.

see you (soon?) with a new post (:

-sonia

 

#70 – lights out (i still hear the rain)

hello!! (:

firstly, here’s to wishing everyone an early happy Earth Hour (which is in about half an hour’s time)!! here’s to taking a step towards saving our world & to helping the future generations have a world they can be proud of (:

i havent been good at updating this  blog recently… i’ve been really bad at it, in fact, and i apologise to future!sonia for this. i guess i lost the motivation to keep records of my experiences, and i guess as a result i’ve lost moments to the omnipresent waves of time that constantly washwashwashes these light sands away.

mono no aware. the pathos of things. the transience of things. last week i hit a low point, the lowest i’ve ever been this year, in which i was perpetually subjected to the fusillade of negative, circling thoughts that came from my own mind. i didn’t want to do anything for a few days – didn’t want to talk to people, didn’t want to study, didn’t want to eat properly even (i had a packet of mamee noodles for breakfast one morning & didn’t even think twice about it). i’m glad that i’m out of that state of self-entrapment, but those few days were really tough for me. during that time, i became increasingly aware of the simple temporary state of being. i’ve acknowledged this phenomenon in the past, but never have i understood it more clearly than i did when i felt as if i was caving in on myself.

memento mori. remember that you must die. this fleeting life, this fleeting existence and earthly being, is short, and will be gone before i know it. through our lives, we are all continually being reworked and remade, just like the memories that play in our heads (or are written in diaries, even ones like these), to suit different purposes in different people, and soon every single one of us will be gone. as we all slowly fade to dust, what does it mean to be now? what is the point of surviving when every single particle of our bodies, the plants that grow on the corpses of stars, will eventually be returned to the universe to continue this cycle?

thoughts like these can really play with my heart at times. my brain can form logical conclusions, but they don’t always sit right with how i feel. at times like these, i usually soothe myself with books, comforting myself with the illusion that nothing matters outside a world where i don’t. seeking familiar words calm me in a way nothing – and perhaps no one – else can. maybe this is because when we pick up a book, or press “play” on a movie, we forget that we are mortal, and that the Earth still continues to spin at thousands of miles a minute as we try to make sense of another world. i sometimes dive into commitments too, busying myself with service and events to prevent me from having time to talk to myself. this fools me into thinking that everything is fine, and that everything will continue to be fine should i do the same things every single day, although that is never true – everyone, including myself, and everything never stops changing. there is no way anything will be extraordinary if we neglect to take into account its very nature and go about with our hard-headed ways.

i’ve probably been babbling & making too little sense (like a Polonius), but this is what’s been troubling me for the past few weeks, plain and outright. i’ve gotten over the bad hump (thank goodness), but i’ve also become aware of the limits i have.

mono no aware. i have to be gone one day, and everything and everyone else will have to be as well. this present will not matter in the scope of the world’s history, it being just a speck of time in a speck’s life, but while it holds me here, it is my everything. and while i exist, my past will be integral to who i become in the future. there has to be an appreciation, i think, of every second of the universe we are allowed to feel. though it is sometimes depressing to think about how we will all one day return, with all our senses and minds dulled beyond the point of renewal, to the stars, i think that because we know how finite our lives are, we should cherish and take advantage of the time we’ve been accorded. for now, this time is everything to us, so make the most of it.

Not everything was lost in the flow of time. We truly believed in something back then, and we knew we were the kind of people believing in something – with all our hearts. And that kind of hope will never simply vanish.” – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Hayuki Murakami

i will see you soon (hopefully). have a wonderful week ahead!

-sonia