Category: Listen,


I can’t write any articles on loss and grief because I am not old enough yet. There are teenagers who post on their Facebook walls sadness in a status and teenagers who decorate their Instagram feeds with black and white, vignette, varying hues of gray and darkness and teenagers who slit their throats in 140 characters; the short sentences are extremely sharp and hurt their readers as well, prompting a Retweet. I can’t complain that I am sad and tired and that I feel, wondrously, miraculously, that I have given up, because what right do I have, I am only a teen and I am not an adult who has lost her sheen which the harsh adult world took from her like a blanket stolen off a baby in a cradle. I watch as my friends meet half an hour earlier in front of the school gates, to talk about things that they’ll be told off for talking about at home. I watch as my friends get asked why their pocket money is depleting so quickly, why there’s messages telling them not to die in a ditch, things’ll be better soon dear fifteen year old pal, it’ll be alright – the money was spent on tissues; a tissue transaction to soak up the many tears cascading down a soft cheek, skin that’s pimpled and pigmented and undergoing puberty; so young. The cheek of youth stained by tears. I can’t talk about my sorrows because it just shows how much of a teenager I am, someone who likes to complain and shriek and sob at the dinner table, cigarette hanging from my lips, tobacco nicking the piercing glistening on the skin of my lips, sins spilling from my lips. I can’t talk about the fact that I am also a vessel of regret, of sadness, of depressing things to talk about, like my mother, her mother, her husband, his wife, the grown-up cousin at a wedding, my distant relative whose son is the CEO of a tissue paper company that may or may not make money from sad kids who soak misery into the three-ply, four-ply, five-ply tissue paper like how teenagers – the girls, that is – use pads on their periods. I can’t pass discourse over the women who buy pads in excess and the fact that teenagers need them more than they do, nowadays, because I am too young and I should not have gotten my period, and I ought to keep my mouth shut. I can’t let the words tired, sad, really frustrated, want to fling myself off the building you work at slip out of my mouth, because the world has given me the privilege of owning thread and a needle to sew my young, ripe mouth up.

Just A Lot of Freedom

It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last time that I fell in love with freedom.

I like freedom. I like the taste of freedom as it sits in a cold ball, frozen and perched on an ice-cream cone. It teeters off the edge of the wafer, but I manage to get in five surreptitious licks before mom catches me for buying ice-cream in the first place, and worst off, dripping it all over the floor.

Sometimes I feel freedom whip through my hair like sea-salt. It musses up strands with nimble fingers and teases out tangles after. My hair is usually flat, but when freedom cards through it, my hair expands, puffing up to its true volume. I wish it could stay like that forever, even though it’s not very neat and I don’t look presentable after freedom leaves its mark on my head, in the form of a tornado-ing, flapping curtain of hair streaming behind me.

Freedom is a creature that slips as stealthily as a shadow in the night; it cannot be seen against black satin sky and creeps into my bedroom when it wants to, without my knowledge. The next morning, freedom is always there, tickling my shoulders with mocking laughter and informing me of the latest secrets I’d spilt while sleep-talking – I meant to tell freedom to fuck off, but what came out was a Freudian slip: I said fuck me, all the while staring at freedom’s happy face and grinning eyes and loving the way it slid into my room in the deepest corners of the night, watching over me as I slept.

I love freedom. I love freedom as it sings me to me Siren songs of mermaids at sea, of little black boys swinging lunch-pails to school, of girls like me who are blessed, blessed with money and boobs that fill a bra and blonde hair that freedom likes to play with.

I love freedom and that is why my hair isn’t the only thing I let freedom play with; I let freedom play with myself. My being. Every fiber of my body. Me. I become freedom’s plaything, and as I run to the park – without screams of ‘watch out, don’t come back too late’ like the other kids’ moms warn – and hoist myself up on the swings and shriek a happy tune like freedom taught me and bare myself to the world, like freedom taught me, with my skirt hiked up and blouse undone and hair untied, I feel like the happiest girl in the world.

Don’t they say to live life with the person who makes you happiest? This is my attempt at personifying an exhilarating, wondrous thing called freedom.

I wrote this on a whim (definitely, as seen from the quality of this…), and it’s unedited (who am I kidding, most of the content on this blog is raw as hell), but I’m not going to be self-conscious about it. 🙂

Wonder where I got this cool opening-line from? I got it here, and therefore this is my response to the Weekly Challenge! Hope you enjoyed it.

Future You

Listen, there are a lot of other things I could be doing right now. Things like bettering my skills in first-person writing or working on getting rid of the flab around my waist (or whatever you call it—it’s a waste of words; naming your chub-chubs).

But here I am, writing to you in second-person, using slang and tone I would never use in real life(‘cause I’m too fucking scared), but I’ve already started writing, so we’re going to…keep on going.

After all, if it’s you I’m spending time writing to, then it’s worth it. Honestly.

I am telling you, honey, to stop puttering about and waiting for text messages from boys who don’t really matter. I’m also encouraging—no, scratch that: STRONG RECCOMMENDING you figure out which team you bat for, or open yourself to both, because you know it and Future You (hi, hello, that’s me) also knows it: You tend to lead on both genders, or get too tangled up in the affairs of not only your boy- but girl- friends as well.

Or, you could consider cruising down Exit 101 and ditching everyone in your life who doesn’t really give a fuck about you; go for ‘em prickled-species: cacti make good friends and coffee-sippers. Just go with it. When life throws you a curve ball, you grab it and shove it down your throat and as the white, splotched canvas slips down the tubes of your body, remember that you were too fat to ever play baseball in Grade 3 anyway, the awkward Chinese girl who had her hair done up in pigtails and who ate too many Starbursts while sitting out on the bench during games.

Go figure. This brings me to another point; actually:

Don’t ever think for one second that you’re better than anyone else. Don’t think that you’re cooler than everyone just because you’re Chinese-American, don’t think that your reflexes are quicker than most because of that one and a half years you dedicated to playing baseball—you were the shittiest player, honey—and most of all, don’t think that just because you got an eighty for Maths, like, once in your lifetime of failures that you can lapse into self-content in the subject.

No. No. The main point of this lengthy rant/unnecessarily filthed-up letter to you, honey, is to get it in your head that you can never be complacent. You have to keep practising and drilling if you want to keep on achieving. You can’t fly without paying for an aeroplane ticket and if you can’t pay for an aeroplane ticket right now but still want to fly, don’t lapse into the tempting, soothing serenades that satisfaction brings. Just keep moving on like a fucking steam-roller(I mean you’re probably built like one, anyway) and keep plodding on ‘til your jeans snap and your shoelaces break and the skin on your cheeks sags and your lips are chapped and shredded to dust.

Don’t you rest ‘til you’re in your coffin, pale arms and pale legs dangling by your body, brain shrinking and life-blood draining—

Please. Or else we’ll both end up in a greater tragedy than the ones Shakespeare wrote about—or else you’ll really end up to be Future You currently, the one who drinks all day and wallows in her broken-hearted dreams of being a writer at sixteen, with nothing better to do.

Listen, #1


there are many things you can do to make your life better.

You just have to take the first step, like I did. And as someone who took the first step to salvage a life littered with broken dreams and bloodied question marks, I will tell you that it is hard. It was hard to take the first step, because it will feel like stepping on glass fragments, wearing thin-soled shoes. The bottom of your feet will spring apart in curling skin and red streaks; the First Step will leave harsh scars on the pads of your feet and remind you that it was painful to  keep walking.

But that’s the thing–you did. You continued to walk. You had taken the first step, and there was no where else to go: Not backwards, not to the left, not veering off to the right–the only path traced out in the dirt was forward. 

So you picked up the pace, and started trekking.



[LISTEN,] A new series that will be cross-posted on Paperguts, a new online journal that aims to cultivate appreciation for the arts (in all of its forms) within the youth community–and hopefully instill passion, inspire hopes and enable dreams.

If you’d like to contribute to Paperguts, please email your submission (photograph, music, art-work, poetry, prose, flash-fiction, letter) to