NON FICTION: I Don’t Know What I’m Running Away From

Man running down sand

Photo: Remi Jacquaint

I’d like to think I have a universal face. That’s probably the reason why people tend to speak to me in their mother tongue at first meet. I’ve been mistaken for a Filipino, Thai, even Vietnamese, but I seldom get people speaking to me in Chinese, which actually makes up half of what I am.

As a result, what’s supposed to be just a transactional conversation often turns into a tactical decision. Should I continue speaking to them in Malay, or do I reply in Chinese and risk a follow-up conversation that I don’t have the energy for?

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NON FICTION: For The People Who Aren’t Depressed Enough

Man sitting on couch frustrated

Photo: Nik Shuliahin

“You’re fine,” she said.

“Really?”

“Yeah. You did some work this week right? So I’d say you’re not clinical.” She put her clipboard away, the one that she’d scribbled intently on as I spoke. I wondered if she missed out the part when I said I only wrote two sentences this week.

What about Anthony Bourdain? I thought. He worked his ass off. So did Hemingway. Since when did work have to do with feelings? Then I felt guilty for even having the thought to compare myself to the greats.

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POETRY: A Waggy Tail

Sometimes I tell my dog,
‘I love you, understand?’
I know she really doesn’t
But I take her waggy tail
as a reply.

And then they’re days I feel
that something much, much bigger
is giving me what’s best
And all I know is to
curse up towards the heavens
My very little version
of a waggy tail

NON FICTION: Why I Won’t Just Work For Money Anymore

Man holding cash

Photo: Lucas Favre

“So I’ll need you to do a travel assignment for like a coupla weeks,” an ex-friend said.

“Well you came to the right guy.”

“I’ll need sixty articles total.”

“That’s, a lot.”

“You’ll need to write two articles a day, about five hundred words each…”

“I guess I can manage.”

“… while on the road, for like eight hours a day.”

“Okay…”

“Expenses aren’t covered.”

“Oh.”

“Food’s pretty cheap in Myanmar,” Jess said. “So what’s your price?”

I did a quick calculation and quoted the average market rate for 30,000 words.

“We can’t pay you that much.”

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NON FICTION: What I Think About God

God is love sign

Photo: Hassan Saleh

It’s six in the morning and I barely got a wink’s worth of sleep. Insomnia’s a close friend by now, but tonight, my ol’ chum was getting a little too close for comfort.

This is despite the many precautions I’ve laid out the night before—chamomile tea, no screens two hours before bedtime, a light stretch, a cold room.

Well all that’s out the window now, and to make things worse, I have a long day ahead of me, the very reason I’d made all that preparations in the first place.

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NON FICTION: Why Everyone (Especially Creatives) Should Embrace Imperfection

Coffee stain art

Photo: Sandhi Soemarto

I’m a fountain-pen enthusiast, and my ultimate pursuit in this hobby involves finding my grail pen. It’s the perfect one that just glides across the page, is ornamented in a way that makes my heart skip, and can take enough of a beating to last multiple lifetimes.

But alas, as any other hobbyist knows, a grail is just an illusion, a placeholder until they find their next one, because there’ll always be something better, or failing that, there’ll always be something wrong.

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NON FICTION: For When The Night Terrors Strike

Night Terrors Bed Silhouette - Ben Blennerhassett

Photo: Ben Blennerhassett

It’s 4 a.m. and I’m sweating bullets. I woke up ten minutes ago with the surety that I was going to die. I leap out of bed, run downstairs, almost pass out from the effort, then crash on the couch.

Am I having a heart attack? Is there an underlying disease here? Am I going to die?

I’d had similar episodes like this before, but not this bad. Those with hypoglycaemia would understand—the way strength drains out your body, the cold that creeps into your bones, your heart almost beating its way out your chest…

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