heading to taiwan now.
see y’all later.
it’s been one month since i’ve blogged and almost a year of breathing bad air and using bad water.
january 31 was the last time i saw my family, and that 11 months is quickly coming to a close. it’s strange to think that i’m going to visit home and then i’ll come back home. i’ve started differentiating the two by ‘home’ (HK) and ‘where i was raised.’
my cousin steph has been living with me for 2 months and we’ll fly back together next Tuesday the 26.
the last day of school for me is Thursday, and Thursday night – Monday afternoon I’m going to Taiwan with Ric and Airam.
Jeremy and I got stuck on my rooftop (i had never been up there so we investigated) because we were looking at Mongkok from a different angle and realised someone who lives on the rooftop down the 2-step ladder was cooking eggs on an electric hotplate..one at a time. we had been up there too long so that it would be really awkward if we climbed down (‘hi..we’ve been watching you..from the next level up..?’) so we waited very quietly for at least 30 minutes till the guy finally went inside.
i’m the crazy white girl in the building…speaking of which, i’m pretty sure my building is like a small town and everyone knows everyone. it’s an older building and not too big, 13 floors with 4 flats on each floor. and 2 random closet-sized flats (if they’re even considered flats) on the rooftop, apparently.
so speaking of bad water and bad air, don’t think i’m killing myself. this pollution randomly increased exponentially within the last couple of days to the point it has destroyed my ability to breathe easily though, and that combined with showering in unfiltered water (we boil it before we drink it) has destroyed my skin. i’m quite broken out right now and it’s really frustrating, because i clean it very well twice a day and moisturise each time. being in a freezing school with dehydrating air-con all the time PLUS the dryness/dirtiness of outside is making my skin really rough and i’m starting to look like i’m in puberty again, especially on my cheeks and temples.
tonight i wanted to do a face mask after i washed my face but i don’t own any sort of face mask and i have almost nothing in my kitchen, so i used what little i could find to make an exfoliating mask. that sentence was very poor grammatically.
it was really good. i put a TINY bit of honey with a TINY bit of olive oil and a bit more salt and mixed it with a finger and spread it on my face. when i say tiny, i mean TINY, because the honey and the oil end up multiplying by like 4235 times. if you end up trying this, make sure you spread it around evenly so it doesn’t drip off and land on your slipper like it did with me.
so i washed the little measuring cup and took a quick picture of how it looks (pretty cool, like water droplets) then went back to the bathroom. i rubbed it around my face for a minute or so to make sure it exfoliated my skin really well. the olive oil moisturises it and the honey has antibacterial properties and the salt exfoliates (does it dry it out?). i rinsed my face and rubbed my lips with the stuff too. it tasted really bad. and i thought it took forever to get all of it off; i kept thinking my face felt like it did because there was still oil on it, but THERE WAS NO OIL. My skin really was THAT SOFT. and almost ALL the roughness was gone.
then i used my toner and moisturiser and it was amazing.
that’s all. you should try it.
i just don’t want to buy a lot of stuff cause i’m going to Taiwan in 2 days and then I’m leaving less than a day after I get back.
(yeah yeah i know all my eye makeup didn’t come off. this is Raw Syd. get used to it.)
(also, this picture makes my face look nearly flawless. i swear it’s not.)
will post again soon.
i have left hong kong twice since february 1.
once was for about 3 hours to macau so I could re-enter on a student visa.
the other time was for one week to north china to work with the orphanage.
i don’t really know how that ties into what i’m trying to say. perhaps i’m trying too hard.
i miss nature and i’m ready for a vacation back home.
(it’s weird that i need a vacation to go back HOME..then i’ll leave HOME to come back HOME..?)
i’m ready to be surrounded by nature and get all this pollution out of my lungs. i’m ready to put on my boots and warm socks and go traipsing around with mama and make wreaths out of dried vines. and i’m not going to talk about it too much for my sake as well as to avoid confusion among you readers that i don’t want to be in hong kong.
but the thing is, you can ask anyone who has lived here for any period of time and they will tell you this city is wearying.
the belief that one always has to be DOING something, the reluctance to be still, the hesitation to go deeper than facetious with people, the apprehension and anxiety when there is even 5 seconds of silence..
and i am guilty. i am so used to doing things and i realise that i oftentimes am the one scared to really know people because it requires effort and time and energy and i can’t give what i don’t have.
people lately have been noticing that i’m tired and are encouraging me to take a day and leave the city. 75% of hong kong is nature but no one ever visits it.
that’s about to change for me, or i might lose my mind.
i’m not sure how much more i can take at this point. i need to reconnect.
i’ve put some pictures here of both peaceful moments and the city.
will take more soon.
i must admit i have been feeling very uninspired to blog.
National Day is today so I had no classes. I had a week off – but only from actually going to campus. Ha. I still had the work to do.
So that’s what I have been doing all day. Welcome to my art studio in Hong Kong, friends. This is half of my room. I spread everything out on my bed and get work done while my laptop plays who-knows-what kind of music.
Fun facts about my room:
I put my drinking water in a recycled glass jar from some tea I drank a long time ago.
I keep my books, notebooks, vitamins, reminders, &c propped up on the windowsill (along with my mirror).
My roommate got me those amazing socks.
Most of the day I have been in my room.
Our ceilings are very high which makes it feel more spacious and I really love it.
I’m wearing a dress today because it’s less effort.
i was walking down the street the other day, on my way back from taking towels to the laundry lady, and i looked up.
there were no earphones blaring music, shielding me from the outside world. i was only carrying my keys and wallet. no distractions.
and i looked up, and i saw through new eyes the buildings, the ladies’ market, all those booths selling a plethora of material, so many people from all over the world speaking hundreds of different languages browsing around or examining maps to try to get places…
and it was one of those moments where it hit me hard - this is my neighbourhood.
i live here.
i live in hong kong.
this is so weird.
not a bad weird, but a mind-blowing weird. i can’t believe this is real, especially now that i’ve lived here just over a year. every now and then i have these flashes of reality that make my brain explode a little. it’s just really odd to live so far from home in a foreign city and feel completely like you belong. but that’s how it is for me.
i believe it’s safe to say that most people who live here don’t know their neighbours – meaning the people on their floor or anyone else in their building, maybe save for a few people who they catch in the elevator on the way to work in the morning or if you have kids you might know other families with kids, &c. especially being a single foreigner who speaks very little cantonese, getting to know my neighbours is not an ordinary thing.
but i grew up knowing nearly all my neighbours in our area of town, and just because i’m 8500 miles away and live in an apartment building now, that’s not going to stop me.
so i met a family who lives on the 13th floor, 2 floors above me. i don’t know the parents’ names but they have a little baby whose English name is Isabella. they speak a little english and are always so nice to me when I see them. Isabella is beautiful.
the flat just across from ours was being renovated and I smiled and said hello to the workers a few times. once i told them the flat was looking good so far and I liked the blue colour of the walls. whenever my roommate and I forget to close our gate, they close it for us.
on the other side of us there are 2 more flats, both housing really old ladies. one of them i have only seen once; she is a paper-thin woman who smiles only a little. the other woman, however, is the one i have talked to most. her English name is Maria and she is over 80 years old but still going strong. She lives in the 3 bedroom flat with her 2 daughters who are middle aged and speak a little english – Maria speaks NO English – even less than I speak Canto.
The first time I met her was when we were both waiting for the elevator. it skipped us for some reason and we laughed about it and she made a comment about it not stopping for us. i held the door for her downstairs, and i admit I thought that was probably one of the only times i would see her. Nope.
The next time we met, I was walking into my building to drop something off at home in the afternoon. Maria was sitting on a little stool just inside, talking to our doorman. I smiled at her and she yelled (when Cantonese [HK] people get excited they get really loud, which is why most people think they always sound angry) at me, ‘YOU’RE THE GIRL WHO LIVES ON THE 11th FLOOR!’
‘Yes, I live on the 11th floor!’ I yelled back. We grabbed each others’ hands and smiled and laughed, but as I was in a hurry, I had to catch the elevator. We said goodbye and my day was much more cheerful.
Once my friend Jackie was at my house and I stuck my head out the door to say bye to another friend who was leaving. Maria heard me and shouted something at me. She was using Cantonese words I couldn’t recognise but I knew she was saying something about coming over, but I thought she meant later. I closed the door and Jackie said, ‘You know she asked you to come over now?’
‘NO I DIDN’T KNOW THAT!’ I yelled like a Cantonese person. ‘I can’t understand her very well, come with me!’
Jackie reluctantly got up and followed me over to Maria’s flat. We awkwardly walked inside and she started yelling at us and grabbed my hand, pulling me all around the flat (which is actually pretty big for HK standards) to show me where she lived. Jackie translated as I could only catch a few words here and there, but it turns out that Maria used to live down the road. That building had no elevator and one day she fell on the steps, hurting her hips, so she had to move into this building. I think Maria is Catholic. She goes every day at 4:00 for dim sum with some friends. She wants me to come knock on her door and visit whenever I am home. One of her daughters turned to me and, almost rolling her eyes, said ‘Maybe you can teach her some English. She’s so stubborn.’
That will be great for me, since I’ve been wanting to learn Canto. I understand much more than I speak. It’s a really, really thrilling feeling when I can speak to a local here – especially one like Maria. I love visiting neighbours. I grew up doing that.
And I know this probably only accounts for a portion, but I’ve established passing-by relationships with many people here in Mongkok – perhaps due to my blonde hair. Those times when I felt like I didn’t belong are faded now. I love the local culture and I’m ready to meet my neighbours and establish active relationships with them.
We’ll see where this goes. I’ll get a picture of Maria next time I visit her. I want to paint her a picture.
just some stills showing you what’s been happening around HK.
This is graffiti I liked.
A bunch of my friends and I got together and made a cake and put an icing world map on it and flagged our best friends.
Then we ate the cake.
I taught art recently. We got kind of messy. Q-tip pointillism. Lots of fun.
One of my best friends back home, Rach, got married recently. I couldn’t be there so I was Skyped in at 8am my time and introduced as honorary bridesmaid. I was sobbing like a newborn baby through the short ceremony and through watching them take pictures and through her dad signing my name in the guestbook. Rach and I managed to catch each other for about 2 minutes before i got off and all we did was cry at each other. We hardly even said anything except figure out who was going to hang up.
She hung up. I couldn’t do it.
Then I was an emotional wreck so I called my mama and cried to her.
But that ended up being a pretty good day.
It just stinks that I have already missed 2 of my best friends’ weddings because I was here in HK.
I have a really hard time being away from people at important times like this.
On another note..
Got beautiful coral and shells.
So that’s what has been happening lately.
I’m on a creative high. I can’t stop brainstorming and doing stuff.
Will post again soon.
I’m not sure if I mentioned before now, but about a month ago, our fridge broke. It was only to be expected as we got it for free off Asia Expat. It’s a minifridge without even a proper freezer and we both hated it. I found out after it broke (which was after Soda and I cleaned it) that Katie was on her knees to get something out (like I said, MINIfridge) and said, ‘God, I really hate this fridge. I wish we had another one.’
So for a month we haven’t had a fridge, but it’s only been a minor inconvenience as we have both been so busy and aren’t home much anyway. Plus there’s a wet market just downstairs and on days we were home, we would just buy some veggies and cook them with some rice or noodles up here at the house.
This morning we walked about 10 minutes to Yau Ma Tei near where we lived before this house to a used fridge shoppe and found the PERFECT one that we didn’t think existed. If at ALL possible, we wanted to keep the fridge in our small kitchen but because there isn’t much space we never realistically expected to find a normal-height, skinny-enough fridge. Until today. It will fit perfectly. We even took the tape measure. And it’s really cold and it’s perfect and it’s not expensive and they’re delivering it tomorrow morning for FREE.
Please God, let this one work.
It’s going to need to be cleaned but we’ll get it up and running ASAP. I’m sticking around home most of the day tomorrow so there will be plenty of time to do so. And we plan on doing THIS to make it interesting and pretty. Boom. Done.
ALSO – I have decided that the (spoken word) storytelling bug has bitten me hard. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write for a while but just wasn’t feeling anything I was getting down, and today it hit me while I was walking and I was so anxious to get on the bus so I could write that I was doing a sort of potty-dance, and all the locals were looking at the weird white girl looking very uncomfortable as she muttered to herself and nervously wrung her hands. The bus took 30 minutes to come and I nearly ran into the road to flag it down, ran to the top, and whipped out my notepad.
That was actually an exaggeration. The words did hit me like a ton of bricks as I was walking to the bus stop and I was anxious to sit down so I could write, but I stood there very still, staring in the distance at bushes and not noticing anything around me, till the bus arrived in about 5 or 6 minutes. And I did run upstairs and sit down and whip out my notepad.
Yes, I keep a notepad in my bag. Gonna laugh at me? I don’t care.
In 20 minutes I had the story written. The words spilled out and I didn’t realise what I was writing until it was finished. That hasn’t happened in a very long time and it was a beautiful feeling, one that I have been longing to experience again since before the summer began.
It’s been a very creatively difficult summer. The arrival of 2 new friends, current interns at Watermark Ric and Airam, has been so good for me. Airam is an artist, a ‘master of none, a jack of all trades’ he calls himself, and has so much motivation to actually get stuff DONE. I hope his confidence and willingness to try (and fail) rubs off on me a LOT. My problem is I want to try all these things or draw this or paint that or whatever it may be, but I’m so scared of failing, or either I lose motivation, or I’m scared people won’t like it, or I’m scared that I myself won’t like it and I’ll just end up disappointed either way that I don’t try at all. But if I’m surrounded by people who truly love what they do and have a powerful passion, so much that they get lost in their art form…that is what makes me want to create. It’s still very difficult for me to let loose and CREATE unreservedly.
So that’s the question I want to leave you – what makes you motivated to create? how do you stay creative?
Help me! Tell me your secrets! Teach me your ways!
I’ll be posting about this a lot probably.