Tuesday, July 30, 2013


You can read a book. You can read the stars. How do you read a person?

There is so much more than just reading a face or a palm or an expression. I believe that every soul is a story; a living, breathing narrative of existence, a walking autobiography. They are the things that are said and the things that are unsaid, the meaning of the dialogue and the paragraph of their body language punctuated by gestures and gesticulations or the silent pulse of inaction and stationery. But people are not open books; they are complex, interwoven papyri of human experience, laced with symbolism and laden with subtext. They are so much more and if and only if you care to read between the lines you'll find the most realistic characterization that can ever be written; that in the legend of their life you might find forgotten mysteries and subtle subplots, dramatic tragedy and divine comedy. Maybe this sheet was intentionally left blank; maybe a death was not a word but a sentence; maybe it was just a phrase they were going through; maybe every catastrophe was just an apostrophe in the latest chapter of their life; maybe they had their appendix removed; maybe they like referring to themselves in third person; maybe they rode a railroad plot until it flew off a cliffhanger; maybe you'll find out what titles send shivers down their spines; maybe they have a couple of tricks up their jacket sleeves; and maybe you'll discover what is hidden and what is not behind the flaps. And like all books, there will be those which you just want to Fahrenheit 451; there will be those which come and go, browsing on borrowed time, passed around and never yours; but there will be the one which you find in a secondhand bookstore and fall in love with and want nothing more than to share a quiet evening together curled up in front of a fireplace forever and ever until your pages are dog-eared and tattered and yellowed around the edges.

And when the story ends, do you believe in an epilogue?
The Edna Man

Monday, July 22, 2013

New York, New York

I can't eat small apples anymore.

I just spent two glorious days in the city so nice, they named it twice. I have kind of fallen in love with the city, from its wide spacious sidewalks to the insane variety of random people you see on the streets, in the subways, and everywhere else. There's always so many things to see and so many things to do, it'd take a lifetime to know the city and its people.

Times Square is so much more than I expected it to be. It's filled with all the bright billboards and overwhelming lights and crass commercialism that is so famous, but when I was walking around at night I realised that it's not as loud as I imagined it to be. It's overwhelming if you don't like the lights and the advertisements, but it's actually a pretty quiet city. There weren't cacophonies of car horns or stampeding horses, and the buzz of a million people actually disperses up into the acoustics of the skyscrapers, so I never felt claustrophobic sound-wise.

I can happily cross another thing off my bucket list: Watch a musical on Broadway. Thanks to some extraordinary luck on the part of the Yale-NUS Random Number Generator, I scored free tickets to the showing of Wicked: A New Musical on. Freaking. BROADWAY. AND IT WAS AMAZING. I HAVE NO WORDS AS TO HOW AWESOME IT WAS. EXCEPT THESE WORDS RIGHT HERE. I've heard the songs before, but without the story, so I've had to piece together that plot and who exactly was singing what. So seeing it on stage, with the actors and the singers and costumes and the amazing props, backdrops and scenery, was FANTABULASTIC. I totally get all the songs now, and I loved listening to my favourites being played live. I had shivers at the climax of For Good, the part where both of them harmonized a high note in the third chorus. If I had anything to complain about, I'd say I walked out of the theatre with my mind blown. I was sitting next to Aleithia, who had not watched a musical before, and she was quite stunned as she walked out as well.

I got to talk a lot with Molly, one of the Dean's Fellows, as we roamed the streets of New Haven before going to the musical. She's a lot older and more mature than she first appears. I think living by yourself for four years grows you up a lot. She's really nice, and I like her. (Hi Nessa, if you're reading this, don't worry, I like you too!)

Dinner was organized by food expert Austin Shiner, and Austin Shiner never disappoints when it comes to food. We trained out to Harlem to try authentic African-American soul food, which was a whole set of delicious good food for the soul. Fried chicken and barbeque ribs and spiced rice, oh my. And delicious banana pudding with ice cream as well. I loved the food, and being surrounded by international students swearing in Hokkien as an excuse to learn Singlish really added to the atmosphere.

After dinner, we went to this awesome improv comedy show found by Chris Tee. It's at the National Comedy Theatre on 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenue. I have never watched improv performed live before, and I was completely floored by how incredibly brilliant the performers were. I was laughing my head off almost every minute, at almost every line that they said. I can't imagine how far I still have to go to even get near that level. It was also really nice to see female performers, because there are so many stereotypes about women in comedy and how it's like their driving. But our host, Jen I think her name was, was really energetic and a really good host, and I would like to see her actually perform instead. We tried to chat with them a bit after the show, but I think they were more keen to clean up and clear out, so we didn't get the chance.

Wandering around Wall Street and the Financial District was not as interesting, but we got to see much of the city and the architecture that you wouldn't normally see, I guess. We saw the huge bull, and I was very amused how anatomically-correct they cast it. Also, the subway system is way too complex and convoluted for my liking, but at least you can read the station names, unlike in Japan.

I also visited the Museum of Natural History, and though it was big I didn't get a chance to explore it all. But I do urge anyone who is visiting to PAY FOR THE PLANETARIUM AND GO IN, DAMMIT. You see things on television and movies, but nothing throws you into the vast nothingness of space than a huge dome with special visual effects that make you feel like you can just reach up and pluck a planet from the sky. The show hurtles you through the wonderful beauty of space, and just amazes you with its astonishing majesty, through starfields and sun flares, past satellites and solar systems, all simply spectacular. I think I spent the whole thirty minutes watching it with my jaw open. Literally.

And that was my trip to New York. I'll be back next week, and hopefully it'll top this week, but I don't expect it to.

Empire Building State of Mind,
The Edna Man

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Lecture Hall

It's after breakfast. Here I sit, in a comfortable seat, with my jacket pulled tight around me. It's cold. I was a delicious breakfast.

A flash of lighting. The janitor comes in to turn on the lamps.

People stream in, sit down. The rumble of conversation grows louder, rolling over the tables and chairs like a wandering percussion band. Laptops pop open like umbrellas, each student sheltering under its wide screen canopy and huddled in the warmth from its heat ports.

The slides flash. There is a downpour of typing, a rainfall of fingers on keyboards like droplets onto the ground. The slides flash. A storm of frantic hammering and the pursuit to catch the information in cupped hands before it all drains away.

The sound washes over me. It's too comfortable. It was a big breakfast. The professor is a radio, her music becoming ambient background in the cafe I find myself in, eyes slowly drooping, with the patter of raindrops and the atmosphere of almost calm serenity, I realise with a jolt that there's no hot chocolate on my table.

I jerk awake.

Things come back into focus. There's a graphic on the slide now, and the rain has slowed to a drizzle. I can't fall asleep here. I can't. But who needs hot chocolate anyway...

The shower surges again as I drift back into the cafe.

Maybe I'm the chance of rain,
The Edna Man

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Wow, I haven't written anything for a long time.

I'm sitting here in my room in Berkeley College in Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It's pretty surreal, since I've been anticipating this day for slightly more than a year now. Maybe I'm too tired to fully appreciate the fact that I'm here, in the United States, with 150 of my classmates, all of whom are about to embark on a grand adventure to the frontiers of the unknown, that it hasn't hit me yet.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited about the last ten days, moving into my residential college and meeting and reuniting with a whole bunch of people. And I guess that's what I wanted to write about today.

Unlike how it was in my last educational institution, I know a lot of people here at Yale-NUS. Like, a lot. I can name probably everyone of my classmates in my First Class,  all the Dean's Fellows and practically all the members of the faculty. I'm like a walking Pokedex.

But here's the thing: I know a lot of people, but I don't know them. I don't know what their favourite colour is; I don't know what might make them cry on a bright summer's day; I don't know what they are interested in, or how they would go about making a quiche, or anything about their hopes and dreams and faults and fears. I can identify people, but I don't know them.

And that's the big problem: it seems like everyone knows me, but I know nothing of them. It doesn't help that my conversation skills still leave a lot to be desired, and it has become very apparent in these past few days. I suppose I can blame the fact that my brain is exhausted from lack of sleep, but it's also obvious that's not the only reason. I'm running out time; once people settle into their cliques it'll be very difficult to do talk to anyone. It'll be the "belong everywhere, and thus belong nowhere" thing again. Why do I keep walking into these things?

It also seems like I've got so many different personalities to interact with different people, and I don't know who I am anymore. I'm also very scared, scared of interacting with the people I like the most, the people I'm most interested in, for fear of driving them away. I hate myself for it, but I can't bring myself to the alternative.

Why do I want to be liked by everyone?
The Edna Man