Writing Challenge: Sky Full of Stars

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Ice, Water, Steam.” Wrote in my phone and edited it on the computer. Wasn’t as short as I thought.

Inspired by a real conversation.
And yes I stole the title from Coldplay. Shush.


‘It’s hard to see stars in here.’

Although it is a common complaint in the North part of the city, I looked up anyway. I wonder how he came up with such notion that second of all times – there were quite some numbers twinkling in the pitch black background tonight. The cold breeze told me it won’t be for long, though. I stopped for a second just to avoid falling on my face along the unevenly-paved parking lot and glanced aside to my drinking partner of the night. He kept walking with his eyes fixed on the sky. Sighing, I followed suit.

Finding any idea to counter the tactless remark against my hometown was not supposed to be a hard thing to do. But that time, it was. So I gave up and replied, ‘It’s because of the pollution. You should go the beach.’

He snickered, the Southern accent popping up in his words like every time he drops his guard. ‘You mean like that place I went to last week?’
I rolled my eyes. ‘That place is crap. Or maybe The Pass? The sky is clearer there.’

‘Are there a lot of pretty girls in bikini there?’
‘…it’s in the mountains.’

‘Ah. No then.’
Effing foreigners. Is that the only thing you look for in my precious city?

I found myself ransacking my memories for any place to simply observe stars but nothing came up. The lights in the lamp-posts flickered as if trying to slam my thoughts down to the ground. I stopped at my track, realising that I have never waste precious seconds to look up and appreciate mother nature – too busy, as the last hundred excuses said. Then I just stared at his back for a while, thinking about this small self-discovery.

Maybe it’s the booze. Maybe it’s me being enlightened. Maybe it’s that son of a gun who enjoys torturing my mental health, simultaneously being someone-whom-I-want-to-drink-with and someone-who-makes-me-want-to-drink. Maybe it’s because I just got myself a simple goal for this new year: to look for stars. For whichever reason it was, a grin crept across my face as I continued walking along the lines of cars. In the middle of the night. Under the rarely-seen stars. Excited.

No matter how much I hate to admit it, I have to give some credits to this frustrating being who keeps accidentally changing me into a different person.
Bit by bit.
Slowly.
But sure.

2014 in A Bowl of Soup

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Countdown.” and writing prompt: “Alphabet Soup.” Took forever to finish this because I wanna reminisce 2014 like a boss.

Cheers, 2015 ©mk17design

Cheers, 2015 ©mk17design

A for Authorization
“Trial and error” is basically what comes with it when it came to a mentally-unprepared me. This year, I made thousands of mistakes and (somehow, sometimes) learnt from them – a courtesy of a certain someone who once encouraged me to fail. A lot. For this, I’m torn between saying ‘thank you’ and ‘damn you’.

B for Benedict Cumberbatch
Smaug. Alan Turing. Penguins. That Madam Tussaud wax figure. Come on, people. This year is Smauglock’s year.

C for Someone Whose Name I’m Going To Use in My Next Book If I Ever Finished It
There are 2 kinds of people in your life. First one is the kind of person whom you want to drink with. Second one is the kind of person who makes you need to drink. In the last 5 months, I deal with the one person who turns out to be both.

D for Drinks
A few days ago, it was the first time my folks had seen me getting home a wee bit drunk, smelling like smoke and alcohol. It was a one-time event, I ate a lot during those few hours, I remember everything, and thankfully someone took care of me, but seriously it’s not a pretty sight you want your parents to see.

E for Elimination
Survival of the fittest, they say. Number of people cutting themselves off the grid (ehm) are getting higher this year. I wonder what’ll become of us next year. It’s like sitting on top of Titanic with the iceberg about a kilometer away and still you do nothing because there’s simply nowhere else to go.

F for F*ck You That’s Why
Realising that it’s impossible to please everyone. Not you nor I am a jar of Nutella. Live life the way you want it. Go where you want. Read what you like. Kiss who you feel like kissing. You only live once anyway.

G for Goals
My goal is to have a day off on Christmas. Sounds simple, but it was elusive for the last 3 Christmases so it would be the perfect present for me next year.

H for Hello, Goodbye
Pretty sure every Hello is cursed with a Goodbye. In my case though, there’s always this someone whom I have to say goodbye to before I even say hello. Just because it’s nonsense. This whole thing is absurd, it’s exciting and it’s choking, it became my raison d’être and will probably be the death of me anytime soon. Yet here I am, holding on to a fantasy of impossibility.

I for Idealism
Hard as it is, sometimes it’s unavoidable to think that it’s vain to live our ideals because the world is just too f*cking corrupt to embrace the idea.

J for Father J
Because everything I have up until now, I owe it all to Him.
Also because He’s the pioneer of free-flow wine.

K for Kaleidoscope
The only constant thing in the world is change and I feel like changing a lot from last year. For the better or not, I’ll let others decide.

L for Love
It’s debatably the most overused 4-letter word beside the one that began with F. One can’t live without love, people often tell me. I won’t be able to be who I am right now without the amount of love my dear family and friends give me. On the other hand, love has a wide range. In my case, it begins with trust. Trust means putting a loaded gun into someone else’s hand and believing him/her to not use it against you. I don’t trust a lot of people, but this year I realise that I have quite a handful of them already. And for that, I thank you all.

M for Milan
Made up my mind to save up for Milan Expo 2015. That’s it. That will be my motivation to live in 2015.

N for No
It’s my 3-year-old niece’s favourite word this year.

O for Off The Record
Off-the-record conversations are the best ones I’ve been privileged to have. Definitely one of the few reasons why I’m still here in this blasted place.

P for Proud
Somebody told me he’s proud of me. He has no idea how much I needed it. (On the same conversation, though, he called me a name that made me want to poke him in the eyes so it’s even).

Q for Quotes
My one and only ever-growing post. My hope for next year is that I get to hear a lot from that particular guy again to make this post longer and longer. Stick around, o captain, my captain!

R for Receptions
People are getting married a lot these days. For now, please stop asking when my turn is.

S for Starbucks and Soju
Pretty much my life supplies in 2014.

T for Tickets
Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Bali, Gili… not too shabby pour moi.

U for Something I Will Never Write Here
Source of all my tears and bloodshed. Enough said.

V for Villain
Felt like one when I need to do something against my conscience, but the show must go on and the crowd is unforgiving.

W for Workaholics
Take the road less taken, they say. It’s all FUBAR now, isn’t it?

X for X-Ray
When X-ray revealed nothing, I went to the other doctor and was diagnosed with compartment syndrome. Had a bed rest for a week because I wasn’t allowed to walk almost at all. One of the most frustrating week in 2014. That was when I realised I really need to value health more than… well, work.

Y for YOLO
Decisions. Feelings. Getting drunk on booze and blind love. Need I say more?

Z for Zurich
Cabin Pressure’s Zurich episode. Feeeeeeeeels.

Writing Challenge: The Unreliable Narrator

Prompt from here.
.
.
.

there is no feeling like it

it’s not love
it’s not lust
it’s pure longing

the longing to see
that ridiculously childish smile
the stray lock that stuck out of that head

the longing to hear
the voice well-recognised even though it went through horrible signal
that spontaneous and infectious laugh

the longing to feel
safe and sound
like being guided through a blackout with an LED light

and simply
the longing to
be.

Manifesto: Appreciate.

Prompt from here,
with a touch of this prompt.
“Write a manifesto”, they said.
Took ages to Google what it really means.
Is this even a manifesto?
.
.
.

Appreciate
/əˈprēSHēˌāt/
verb
1. Recognize the full worth of.
2. Understand (a situation) fully; recognize the full implications of.

It’s easy to explain what this word means, but it could be quite hard to actually try and it. Have you appreciated something today? Life’s been good to me lately, so I’m taking these moments to actually stop and… well, stare.

Don’t just stare.
Observe.

“You see, but you do not observe.”

What are the things you take for granted?

The random coins you found in the pocket of your jeans?
Your parents calling just to say hi?
That time when you managed to squeeze the last drop out of your toothpaste tube?

 

Appreciate.
Get used to doing it.
It makes this world a better place.

Don’t know where to start?
Try this.

  1. Fact: my small rented room.
    What to appreciate: its air-con and water heater and cable TV.
  2. Fact: messy piles of clothes.
    What to appreciate: piles of clothes.
  3. Fact: a very old laptop I got for free from the university.
    What to appreciate: it’s f*cking free.
  4. Fact: I’m …short.
    What to appreciate: I’m …quite healthy.
  5. Fact: I’m kinda broke.
    What to appreciate: Not broke enough. Still be able to play for electricity.
  6. Fact: Work is exhausting.
    What to appreciate: I have a job.
  7. Fact: My room smells like cigarette smoke.
    What to appreciate: …wait, how to do this one. I don’t even smoke.
    Oh. It meant that one particular smoker is patient enough to deal with me and teach me stuff, spending long enough time doing so until the smell sticks.

Well that last one is quite a stretch but hey, at least I tried.

How about you?
What are the things you take for granted?

Look around you.
Observe.
Appreciate.

C10.H14.N2

Prompt from here.
A companion to this post.
Recycling an old post for nostalgic reasons.
Cookie point if you could guess what the title means.
…before you read the post.

.

.

.

When I stepped into the apartment, the smell of the usual sandalwood incense tickled my senses as I chucked my fake leather clutch and heels to the floor. Relieving the burden off my shoulders and feet had always been a highlight of the day whenever I got home from the so-called office parties.

Now, the best part: shower.
It’s essential to get rid of the horrible smell of cigarette smoke sticking to my clothes and hair. It’s been a year, and I hadn’t been able to get used to this… this… socialising part of living. Because socialising means I need to hold my breath and hope I’d come out alive after every single conversation in the party.

I don’t smoke.
I grew up in a house where nobody smokes.
I grew up looking down on smokers, wishing them the worst of luck every time they blew their smoke against my face like I’m a fucking ashtray. I despise it from the bottom of my heart.

Yet there was a weird feeling when I stepped out of the bathroom.
It was loss instead of the usual relieve.
It was when I no longer smelled the reek that was cigarette smoke.

The morning after, I realised why.

‘Don’t you remember? He’s a smoker.’

.

.

.

Now for the cookie point.
C10H14N2 is the formula for Nicotine!
Anyone guessed right?

A Study in Pink

Prompt from here.
Dedicated to the kind stranger,
who showed up that one snowy night in Tokyo.
Bless you, mister.

Didn't take this pic, but it looked something like this.

Didn’t take this pic, but it looked something like this. Source: here.

There was a time when I laughed at people who dragged their massive suitcases along the pavements… but this was not one of those moments.

For once in my life, I wonder how far my own stupidity could stretch about, for:

  1. I was on a trip to a country where I’ll be relying on public transports
  2. The public transport is subway
  3. Not all subway stations have escalators
  4. My suitcase is shocking pink (to make it easier to find in the airport)
  5. It’s also massive
  6. Have I mentioned it’s stupidly massive?
  7. And it’s filled up with random things from booze to Disneyland headgears
  8. Which makes it a lot heavier than it should
  9. I’m one tiny lass
  10. My plane is leaving in 2 hours
  11. I barely speak their language

Add all those facts up and you’ll get a freaking tourist stuck in the subway station with a huge pink suitcase and no strength to lift it up back to ground level.

But miracle does exist sometimes.
An angel in disguise saw that pitiful being that was me (and the bloody pink thing) and offered me help. I didn’t even remember what he looked like or what he was wearing, but I remember he spoke English (mind you, it was a country where everyone’s English vocabulary seemed to be almost zero. Nada).

Before I realised what was happening, he helped me lift the suitcase up all along the loooong stairway and within a minute I was on ground level – traffic lights and all, with my suitcase standing next to me. All I could manage was a flustered “Thank you.” – and poof – off he went somewhere else.

But you know… if you had a friend who was in some station in mid-January 2013 and he told you he helped a stupid tourist with a pink suitcase in the middle of the night… please tell him I send my regards.

Writing Challenge: Flash Fiction #2

Prompt from here.
A very old thing.
Two words: wartime grimness.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


The soldier with jet-black hair stormed into the tent as he heard the echoing gunshot through the rain of bullets, expecting the worst.

He stopped at the sight of his friend curling by the corner.

The slightly younger man was holding a gun against his own head, pale-faced and trembling in terror. He screamed his name at the top of his lungs, then ran and threw a sharp jab on his face, knocking him out. Worked up, he jerked his head at the direction where the unconscious man previously locked his eyes on.

A man was sitting still on his desk with eyes wide open and a hole in his forehead. Orders from the higher-ups, obviously. It wasn’t a strange thing anymore in that kind of situation. Thousands of bodies mangle everywhere in the hellhole and a whole body was quite a fortunate condition to find someone in, so the reason must have been something else.

It hit him as soon as he looked down:

A young woman of twenties was spread on the ground, a bullet hole in her chest.
And what tore him apart wasn’t the horrible sight alone. It was the bulge on her stomach, and the fact that she was still spluttering blood all over her dirty clothes.

It took him one second to freeze on his track.
Two seconds to take out his guns with a shaking hand.
And another three to steady his aim.

One. Two. Three.
Pain-free.