As those relevant should know, I turned 21 12 days ago (look at the symmetry! I must have picked this date specially for this post!) [further edit: ok I started this when it was still 12 days ago, but I’m sure everyone follows my way of thinking of days, which is that it isn’t tomorrow until I wake] and beyond all the hoo-ha concerning how I Am An Adult Now, I figured I should dedicate a post to those who have given me mementos to remember this occasion by. Yes, Zhi Xin’s going to be somewhat sombre for once, instead of caterwauling around like a mad hyena.
In chronological order:
1. Fifty Shades Darker, by Pang and Yoggi
Of all people, Pang and Yoggi understand that I am repressed and don’t even have an underperforming pot belly of a husband to vent my sexual frustrations on, so they very considerately gave me a gift of one of three best books in the world, Fifty Shades Darker. Only because, knowing me so well, they realised that I must have devoured the first book already. I really can’t express enough gratitude, for where else can I imagine myself to be a willing Submissive, keen to indulge in all fetishes of my all-powerful Dominant? Where else can I afford to be utterly boring, and yet have someone inexplicably turned on by me for eternity?
Oh wait, I can do the second in Twilight.
I KNOW I said I was going to be sombre, ok ok but I’m sure you understand why I had to go back on my word with the first gift. I’m going to try again.
Of all people, Pang and Yoggi understand that I have a love for all things ridiculous. To illustrate with a most recent example of a product of whose cult I am now a member, Yan Wei recently showed me this Oscar-worthy movie, Birdemic. And we all know only successful movies get sequels, so Birdemic II is COMING OUT THIS FALL OMGBBQ
This is the synopsis listed on its website:
A platoon of eagles and vultures attack Hollywood, California. Why did the eagles and vultures attacked? Who will survive?
Anyhow, knowing that, they’ve given me this book, because bad writing and literary sex can’t go wrong. I’ve taken a photo of it with my leather skirt draped at a corner, because no BDSM is complete without leather.
2. Spacechem, Terraria and Orcs Must Die from Jing Xian
As anyone who has a Steam account can testify, receiving the notification for gifts is a pretty thrilling thing. And when it’s not just one, or two, but three such notifications? (it’s also why I made sure that the Steam letterhead is there on the image because this is an important part of the thrill)
To add on to that, I think one of the best gifts one can get is something that the giver really likes, and from the many times I’ve spied JX’s Steam status saying “In-game: Orcs Must Die”, it’s quite safe to say that this falls into that category.
3. Key pendant necklace by my parents
My parents made a proper fuss about this as early as six weeks before my birthday, and frankly, like most things they made a fuss about, I didn’t care much for it– until they spent a day to take me out to buy it. My parents are big on tradition, see; we celebrate every birthday with a cake, every Chinese New Year Eve setting up the table for the fortune god to come, etc, and I belong to a generation which tries to veer as far away from tradition as possible (ok, except for the cake part, because only monsters don’t like desserts). So, twenty one, they’re handing me a key! To take control of my life! To be responsible for my decisions!
(Actually they’re still fretting as much as ever about my exchange to California, but parents will be parents, key or no key)
I mostly just went along with it as they brought me to trawl every jeweller’s store in Parkway Parade. Most jewellers wrinkled their noses slightly as they showed us their full array of a maximum of three key pendants, and assured us that we could “trade it in for full value for three years”, because “key pendants are quite old fashioned; you can take something prettier after a year!” The sentimental part of me reared its indignant head up. Internally it turned its self righteous nose up at these jewellers and looked down at them with narrowed eyes. “Do you,” it began in a snooty voice, “tell people to change their wedding rings for something prettier? Huh?”
In the end we picked one from the only jeweller who made no obnoxious comments. Well ok we picked it because it was the prettiest of the lot (rose gold!), but it all comes as a package right?
And the significance of what my parents were trying to express finally came through to me; I only thought about all the other things I could have bought in a quarter-hearted rebellious pragmatic teenager way.
But seriously, there’s a lot of heart in this gift. All the articles about why diamond rings are not worth it? I might be quite naive, but I feel like there are people who don’t go “GIMME DIAMOND OR I NO MARRY” and get diamond rings anyway, because it’s not something you’d buy on an ordinary date, and it is precisely the amount of money it demands that tries to express the sincerity of the person who proposes. Of course there are other ways, blah yada, but tradition, society-ingrained expectations, uncertainty about what would express the weight of the occasion enough? Just my own inexperienced idealistic guesses.
4. Munchkin by Rita and Zhi Hua
Three months ago we had Amazon deliver Citadels to Rita, and we created a monster. A board games monster. And what do we do in Munchkin? KILL THE MONSTERS
Anyway we all love board games because it’s lame to LAN when we go to each other’s houses, given that we already do that every night. And monster-killing is something we do by day, by night, by all waking and sleeping and drooling hours because THE WORLD MUST BE SAVED AND WHO ELSE CAN SAVE THE WORLD BUT US
5. Notebook by my brother
SENTIMENTAL CHILDHOOD PART:
When I was a wee innocent disgusting thing, we used to go to East Point almost every Saturday, and we would visit the Popular bookstore there without fail. And I would just spend four-fifths of the time there browsing. Through. Every. Notebook. Looking at the design in their pages, pinching the paper to feel its quality, appraising the size of the book, space between and around the lines if it had any, strength of the binding. Wishing I could HAVE MOST OF THEM
I was not very discriminating as a kid. I was also an avid collector of stationary to whom quantity was more important than quality, so I had four albums of stickers, one of which says “I want the new paper on Sunday”.
Anyway, I still love notebooks. If you ever run out of ideas on what to give me, just give me a notebook. I’m quite particular about the pages inside– the paper mustn’t be too thin, shouldn’t have lines, preferably slightly off-white.
And in case you were thinking, aw what a sweet younger bro, he pestered me about his gift the whole night, and his birthday is in December. At one point he wanted me to bring real bowling pins back from America.
But ok, he’s still sweet.
6. A Lover’s Discourse by Guan Hui
I really really really really really really really really really really really love this one. When Guan Hui gave it to me wrapped in Kinokuniya wrapping paper, he said, “Open it now, I want to see your reaction.” I looked skeptically at him. “Is this a joke gift?” “Just open it.” I gingerly took the wrapper apart, expecting another Fifty Shades. The side that was first exposed was the back cover, with the synopsis: “The language we use when we are in love is not a language we speak, for it is addressed to ourselves and to our imaginary beloved. It is, for that very reason, a language of solitude.” I think what it was was slowly dawning on me as I turned it over, and started making a lot of noise along the lines of “OH MY GOOOOOOD” “I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS FOR AGES” “HOLY SHIT” “AHHHH”. I even felt like hugging him, but I’m not a huggy person so the impulse didn’t materialise into anything.
Seriously, in every bookstore I’ve gone to, I’ve kept a lookout for it in their shelves– Books Actually, Littered with Books, even Kinokuniya as well, but I just never saw it. So Guan Hui obviously has more fate with this book than me, but I guess I am still fated with it since he gave it to me. Can’t thank him enough.
I’ve photographed it with the scrapbook I use to keep many mementos of outings, cause they all form the image repertoire of my own discourse of love. And, yknow, Titanic. It doesn’t show the many anxieties of a lover, but it does show the very self-contained aspect of it, the whole Let-us-possess-one-world mindset. ONE OF THOSE FIGURES OF LOVE BARTHES DESCRIBES.
7. My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead by Soon Hui and Mabel
My mistress’s sparrow is dead is actually from a Latin poem: “passer pipiabat”, which Eugenides’ Latin teacher used to demonstrate how sound echoes sense– “how the plosive rhythm resembled a bird singing”. This poem’s written by Catullus who is, Eugenides tells us, the first poet in the ancient world to build whole poems around it instead of merely dropping references to “flushed cheeks or alabaster limbs”. What’s so special about the sparrow? When it was alive, it took up his mistress’s love, sparing little for Catullus; now that it has died, his mistress is too depressed to give all her love to him. There’s no getting it all.
I love this collection of stories. When they handed it to me, Mabel said, “I’ll stand far far away as you open it, because your reaction will be explosive”. But, yknow, I’m a subdued composed person, so I merely let my heart leap in joy and expressed my gratitude with a smile and thank you.
So that’s it, the presents I’ve gotten, at least so far:
They’re all rectangular-shaped because rectangles are the coolest shape. And if you think those creases on Fifty Shades Darker are because I’ve been poring over it, I assure you they were born out of the dramatic readings my friends tried to do at my house when I made them save the world.