i turned a year older three days ago.

i cannot believe how quickly time is slipping through my fingers. it feels like sand falling softly, quietly between fingers. there is much that happens here and yet, some days, i wonder what i've really accomplished from one day to the next. the one serendipitous thing i've realised about this place is that this is where things keep getting found (instead of lost). and it's a small joy for me to know that i am (finally) here in such a place, now, at this juncture of my life. my (small) hope is that in enough time, i'll come to really, genuinely, find the me i want to be, am meant(?) to be, too.

it's the penultimate day of birthday month. and every time i'm back here, i kick myself for not exercising the discipline to commit to writing. if not once a day then at the very least, once a week(!!!) i really ought to make this a habit now. by hook or by crook. lest my entire year here just whizzes right by!

it's strange when i think about being here— it feels a lot like if i were incarcerated. of course i can't make the direct comparison! i've never actually been in prison. but we run on schedules here. and i suppose, rightfully so.

in the mornings, i wake up, get ready and leave the house (really, a room with two single beds in) before 1000. breakfast is optional. if i eat anything at all, it'd be because i've already planned to skip lunch that day. but sometimes, i do breakfast simply because it's a chance to sit in the restaurant and not have to speak to strangers. lunch and dinner is a contact sport activity. strictly non-compromisable. you get a telling off (and possibly a mark on your record— who knows?) if you're found not to be at a table with strangers. and you need to seek permission if you'd like to not be speaking with strangers at specified meal time/s that day. it's all a bit strange but toto, you already know we definitely not in kansas anymore so let's not get it twisted now.

at 1215, there's a requirement to stand in a line around the swimming pool's perimeter and do choreography to either one song or two. sometimes three if the microphone guy's feeling like he has time to kill, i suppose. it's a bit of a spectacle. especially since nobody ever gets the choreography pat down. people start on whichever side they want and in the event of not really knowing what the devil to do next just wave their arms to the beat and scream "allez!"

departures are quite the sight here, too.

staff gather on the pier to say goodbye, take last minute selfies, exchange contact information then ultimately wave boats off. and the waving doesn't stop until the boat is well out of sight. it's sweet and sad at the same time because every time i'm waving off a boatload (literally) of folks i've grown close enough to, i'm panicking on the inside thinking about having to start the entire process of Eating With Strangers over again.

at 2115 every day, we do a line dance at the bar's dancefloor. at 2130, the evening show commences. at 2215, when the show ends, we lead group dances.

everything runs like clockwork. every day. these pre-scheduled allocated hours of the day are collectively referred to as "key moments." and they're basically the times of day where you're required to be seen. participating. laughing. smiling. and screaming "allez!", mais bien sûr.

but let's backtrack to my birthday.

because that's how this post began, at least.

my 29th was ushered in in a non-eventful way. there was no neighbourhood block party, no surprise cake and song at midnight, no all-night rager at the bar, no embarrassing clap clapping through the restaurant at dinner— nada. and on all counts, i was happy. sure, it felt strange not to have the pomp and circumstance but everybody who really mattered wished me with a hug (and for some, a kiss on each cheek) and it was all enough.

the love that i accept (and recognise as bona fide) is quiet love.

how does 29 feel different from 28 then? for one, my most recent piercings have recently flared up thanks to sharkweek and so, as i write this, my boobs are pretty much literally stinging and on fire(!!!) even with my high pain threshold, i am able to acknowledge extreme pain and this is extremely painful shit!!! i am simply cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and absolutely running out of saline solution (because i still wear contact lenses out here— i broke my spectacles. d'oh!) and trying my best not to wear any clothing when and where i'm able and just praying to God and Mother Mary for the swelling to go down and for this entire (hormonal) ordeal to pass. the proper way to handle the infection (besides cleaning, cleaning, cleaning) is to swap out the barbell to a longer one so there's give to host the swelling but guess who was the genius who decided to leave behind her whole entire collection of studs and barbells?

THIS GUY.

so this, too, shall pass. or... my nipples become so infected, they just die, rot and fall off. whichever. whatever. (i'll report back on status in a week or so.)

and for the record, it's really the right one that's giving me hell. which was also the one that was pierced by not the same lady who pierced me the first time— argh!!! and i was almost certain the bitch pierced me crooked, too. and that's the lesson, kids. BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR PIERCERS. it's not worth being a fuck about things.

ARGH!

there is the option, of course, just to lose the damn thing entirely. but it'll have to be left to heal and then re-pierced and i just think i'd really rather have the infection pass and keep the crooked fucking thing. we're all special and no two potatoes are the same anyway, right?

dear God. is this what happens when i'm left with nothing but narrating my thoughts onto a screen at 1015. there's some items i'm supposed to be submitting but it's also a saturday so, what's the hurry? it'll only be looked at on monday anyway.

that's the beautiful part about working a six day week, i guess. a lot of my work tends to get cleared on this one day: saturday. that's when there isn't singapore to heap on new work and when the next day is a day where i can stay in bed all day if i wanted to. (and this week, i want to.)

my next big order of business is to book my ticket home for ma's birthday. i haven't told anybody that the leave has been approved as my plan is just to simply (and quietly) go home. i didn't think i was up for making the trip back because do i bring the one carry-on? do i check the luggage? do i buy more shit? do i take things to leave at home? (the answer is probably going to be ALL OF THE ABOVE) and it just felt like more trouble than it was worth but suddenly i thought of all the char kuey teow and pan mee and poke i'd eat and getting to spend time with juneau again and thought, okay. why not? suddenly, i was motivated. and since i've made my list of what i'd do once i'm back— the excitement is growing.

funny how love can rekindle.

and it's easy, too, if you just allow yourself to really remember the good that was there.

note to self. (and all that jazz.)

happy motherfuckennn birthday, sugar. it's the last of your 20s.

deep breath. and here we fucking go!