Singapore, my new home

I am the new international writer-in-residence at the Singapore Creative Writing Residency, a partnership between NUS-University Scholars Program and the Singapore Arts House. This residency goes until the end of January 2016.

My first feature will be in the Singapore Arts House on September 16th, at 7:30PM, with the poet Cyril Wong, who blew me away with his reading last week. Those of you who happen to reside in Singapore, please drop by.

Three weeks ago, I arrived at the Changi airport, drowsy from thirty hours of travel, woozy and ecstatic to start my six months. I remember the butterfly gardens from three years ago; I remember going to Chinatown and seeing the Marina Bay Sands from the other shore. When I first came to Singapore for two days in 2012, I was a tourist at the tail end of a long journey. I didn't see much. This time, there were some noticeable differences--in 2012, the U-town campus that I now reside in didn't exist or it had just been built, brand new. This last month, it was Singapore's 50th anniversary and the signs of SG50 in the red dot are ubiquitous -- on the buses, the taxis, projected onto the buildings, all the billboards, the signs. I hear songs declaring that this place is home. To many of the students, Singapore is unquestionably home. I admire and envy this -- to have a fixed place to always return to, to have home so embodied in this concrete reality, not this nebulous, hazy vision.

Just over a year ago, when I had multiple jobs in New York, I couldn't have imagined being here, or arriving at these shores. I had watched a romantic comedy starring Zhang Ziyi and Wong Leehom, called My Lucky Star. Ziyi plays lovelorn Sophie, a comic book artist with a day job, who finds herself winning a vacation package to Singapore. When she arrives at the Marina Bay Sands, she meets a secret agent with a mission and then she goes on an Ultimate Adventure, wide-eyed and in disbelief the whole time. It received really bad reviews, but for the most part, I was charmed. I felt like I knew that feeling -- of discovering adventure and finding comfort in the unknown, the unpredictable, of surrendering yourself to wonder. In a sense, the movie was about leaving home and how ultimately those are the times you are most transformed, and the meaning of home changes -- you return home with more courage, or more recklessness.

My workshop's theme is going to be: What does home look like to you? Is your home a dream, or a place you can touch, or somewhere in between?

For now, my home appears to be here, in my little dining table with the view of the tropical plants and the sky, where I could read and write, or gain the courage to. For now, I find home in things like being able to eat noodles every day, constant noodles, endless delicious noodles. Sluurrrrrrrrpppppp.

IMG_7782.jpg