black oil

http://twitter.com/herbonestrcture, nyc

[30/3/2020] been thinking a lot about what it means to have porous vs. impassable self-boundaries. sometimes i feel so strong & that my translucency doesn't matter : if i appear to others as obvious/transparent, if someone feels like they can see right through me, i don't mind. in fact that's fine; being seen that way is the exact opposite of what it means to know me other times though :i feel like i have to increase my opacity -- become mute & unreadable by re-defining my boundaries in a way only i can understand. and then i have to concede to myself that translucency is what i'm avoiding laura palmer's diary: “We’re like everyone else, I guess. We promise that something is forever, when it is really only as long as it takes for us to tire of it." but was I lying to myself when i portrayed myself as autonomous and free? + w 1: the ease at which i become a mirror for someone else's pleasure w 2 : bubble-wrapped for so long i don't know how to undo the numbness! w 3: recalling that feeling echoing within me even as a child + i woke up from 2:30am to 5am last night again and ended up calling my mom to chat. we spoke for an hour, i felt very close to her. like i didn't have to be opaque, & that she was there for me in the way i had always wanted but had taught myself not to expect. and it felt ok, acknowledging that i loved her and needed her at the end she asked if i was happy here, if being away made me realise what i appreciated about singapore, whether i could imagine going back when i was older. i said yes, in spite of it all, i'm happy -- no, never, it's only underscored how important it is for me to never go back. she started crying -- "it makes me so sad, to think that you won't be around when i'm old" (and then i found myself retracting my words: "maybe things will be different, maybe i'll have changed by then, maybe i will go back") what makes me cry is the ability to trace a straight line back rn to when i was a child, and thinking about how things could be different it's like that... grieving for the child you were and what you didn't know how to express [29/3/2020] when i think about january & february and how much more sane i felt then, it doesn't feel like it was just bc the outbreak/current circumstances hadn't happened, or from the anxiety of being at home all the time. i think it's bc i was writing in my journal every other day, & keeping a chronology of what i've been up to made me feel safe/secure i remember my sg therapist suggesting that i hand-write my thoughts for months before i finally got round to doing it. i had felt resistant to it at first, felt like it would be introducing another rule to my life, when one of my goals this year was to be as flexible as possible and try & unlearn the feeling like i /had/ to do something all the time it's been harder to feel able to do that while confined at home i guess. the effort to acknowledge every uncomfortable thought and to process my emotions feels at times too much. but once a week is better than nothing, and in january i felt gd when i started writing again; it confirmed to me that i didn't need anyone else's input or understanding to come to a sense of resolution more importantly, since moving here, i've felt like there are days/emotions worth remembering again on friday b and i opened the emergency care package that my parents sent from singapore: surgical masks, n95 masks, disinfectant wipes, tons of flu & fever medication, a thermometer, hainanese chicken rice pre-mix, mediheal sheet masks, lee kum kee sauces. b feels more paranoid than me tbh, idk, maybe rightly so. when i'm out for walks i sometimes don't bother with a mask, but he wears one everywhere. i was talking to a in mumbai, and he was saying that he and his wife immediately wipe down all the bags of rice, canned food etc w/ disinfectant the moment they get home, then place all their outside clothes in a designated area and immediately take a shower maybe i should be more worried. even my other friend b, who is usually pretty level-headed, decided to evacuate/leave nyc for singapore this weekend. we were talking last night and she gave me a whole list of reasons why she thought i should consider leaving too: decreasing access to food, decreasing security (series of arson fire on the subway on friday), decreasing access to hospital treatment given the hospitals are already completely overwhelmed. it was worrisome enough for her to break her lease abruptly, ask for a lease of absence/go without pay for months, give away all her furniture and kitchen equipment. im staying for sure... but every now and then i wonder if it's a decision i'll regret later yesterday we watched twin peaks for hours again; fire walk with me and two episodes of season 3, lay on the bed immobile bc i got a kink in my neck... until the ibuprofen kicked in... another saturday that i want to remember woke up this morning with this song in my head https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3m4KV9RbDo I don't know what part of me you see But whatever it is, it makes me feel Like I could survive through anything today we walked went for a walk at 2:45pm. even though it was raining it felt like we could have walked for hours. strange to feel like everything is right in the world rn but i feel that way when everything is right with you other things keeping me sane: - walking for two hours everyday, listening to music at the same time, appreciating the flowers & the changing sky.. it's nice when my body feels exhausted from physical exercise vs. emotional strain - taking a bath everyday.. i fill the bathtub with hot water, bath oil, and 2 cups of dead sea salt, turn off the lights, and sink into the water until i'm completely submerged, save my nose for breathing. i like how that feels, like i could just drown if i wanted to - cleaning & organising the kitchen/bedroom over and over again - looking and learning abt plants that would survive indoors - trying new recipes - soothing myself by buying more things for the house & that i need! - reminding myself that the only person i need to be accountable to is myself *** worldwide: 721,902 cases, 33,965 deaths USA: 141,096 cases, 2,469 deaths new york: 59,568 cases, 965 deaths new york city: 33,474 cases, 776 deaths [27/3/2020] "... I’m in a phonebooth at the corner of Bank and Greenwich; not a booth, exactly, but two sheets of glass to shiver between. This is called being street-smart: dialing a number that you know won’t be answered, but the message you leave leaves proof that you tried. And this, my two dearly beloveds, is this called hedging your bets? I fish out my other coin, turn it over in my fingers, press it into the slot. Hold it there. Let it drop." -jan heller levi + "... I told myself that I would starve before I took food from his hands but I did not starve. One night he killed a deer with a young one in her and gave me to eat of the fawn. It was so tender, the bones like the stems of flowers, that I followed where he took me. The night was thick. He cut the cord that bound me to the tree. . . . Rescued, I see no truth in things. My husband drives a thick wedge through the earth, still it shuts to him year after year. My child is fed of the first wheat. I lay myself to sleep on a Holland-laced pillowbeer. I lay to sleep. And in the dark I see myself as I was outside their circle. They knelt on deerskins, some with sticks, and he led his company in the noise until I could no longer bear the thought of how I was. I stripped a branch and struck the earth, in time, begging it to open to admit me as he was and feed me honey from the rock." https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43080/captivity (and in the dark i see myself as i was outside their circle) [26/3/2020] She will never want for money. Her uncle invented the room. On our first date, I told the one about the dead astronaut. How was I supposed to know? To prepare the air for her image, I put on soft music. I use gum to get gum out of my hair. Like every exfoliated smear, we must either be stained or invisible. Maybe we should see other people? Impossible. The new trains don’t touch their tracks. The new razors don’t touch the cheek. If I want to want you, isn’t that enough? No. Way too much. —ben lerner been making full rotations around the depression/anxiety axis.. some days i feel charged w kinetic energy like i need to run for hours till i pass out, other days i feel like i can barely move or function 2 easy to feel isolated when in reality my friends & family hv been checking in on me all the time. in reality it's me who hasn't been replying. guess i'm trying to remind myself that im not as lonely as it often feels; or at least i hv to remember that p much everyone is feeling this way right now i was looking back at older messages and you said, i'm curious how long it will take for you to feel nyc-specific depression. at that time i earnestly thought it wouldn't hit me for months, but that was before life changed pretty much completely (life had already changed completely for me) it's getting warmer at least. birds socializing in the backyard nyt put out an article abt working from home which quoted a fengshui expert as saying that working in bed creates lazy chi.. lazy chi explains why i feel disgusting all the time very briefly considered going back to singapore earlier this week, given other friends evacuating from new york/london. i looked up one-way flights, started thinking about eating char siu fan from serangoon road, bak chor mee, the smell of tropical rain, seeing fig/my parents/mama/evie. but then i thought abt it more - everything feels precarious rn, work-wise, visa-wise. i would have to work 9pm to 7am singapore time; there's already a global hiring freeze. and i can imagine getting stuck in singapore w a whole new anxiety, of waiting n not knowing when or if i could come back. anyway it feels good to have decided to stay on. zip myself up into something waterproof / a sense of self-sufficiency.. i'm ok, it's fine, i can protect and rely on myself telling myself 3-5x each day: "suck it up bitch!!! this is what you wanted" *** worldwide: 509,400 cases, 23,000 deaths USA: 80,020 cases, 1,081 deaths new york: 37,250 cases, 385 deaths new york city: 21,000 cases, 280 deaths [23/3/2020] The only thing to come now is the sea. From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me, Slapping its phantom laundry in my face. These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt. I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths Beating and beating at an intractable metal. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49004/blackberrying [22/3/2020] feels a lil insane to say "i had a good weekend" amidst all this but i did on saturday morning i tried a slice of banana bread again and it tasted better after cooling down. yogurt + vegetable oil instead of butter + milk helped it to stay moist i think. next time i would probably add more sugar and an extra banana https://www.justataste.com/greek-yogurt-banana-bread-recipe/ in the afternoon we watched twin peaks season 2 for a couple hours, did a zoom hangout with stace, ange, ana, crispin and willis for close to two hours, then i watched 'grass' by hong sang soo on friday night i had watched 'on the beach at night alone', also by hong sang soo. i liked that a lot more. parts that felt moving: when kim min hee stops to kneel/press her head to the ground in a bow before crossing a bridge in prayer, when her old friend asks her "are the rumours true? that you had an affair with a married man?", when she squats on the beach after drawing a picture of the guy she was still in love w/ with a stick in the sand, hugs her knees, says "i miss him so much". her lying on the beach alone, facing the water rly wish i could go to the beach rn thinking of that time when rachel, mat, maybe joe, ben and i drove out to the beach in norway in the summer of 2015. it felt cold enough for us to wear light jackets, i remember watching the sunset on sunday i slept badly again. i basically sleep badly every night since the outbreak escalated/when i started working from home, which is fine... bc i don't have to get up extra early to travel to work went into manhattan/my office to pick up my medication that i left behind in my desk; i had to get approval from the executive leadership team in order to do so. it's strange to see the whole floor dark, and imagine that that was my life just two weeks ago, trudging back and forth between my desk and the pantry to make tea felt ill with anxiety for most of the morning... felt my frequency being scrambled every time i got a push notification from a media outlet while scrolling thru nyt on my phone & seeing articles on how to manage mental health during this time where everyone is confined alone indoors i thought, cool now all my emotionally well-adjusted, non-internet friends finally know what it's like to feel unending anxiety at least it seems like there are leaves & little white flowers starting to bloom on trees we watched twin peaks s2 for nearly six hours. i realised i forgot so much of it: [***spoilers] i thought major garland disappeared for good after the UFO took him.. thought cooper & annie didn't get to spend any time together even tho he fell in love w her.. forgot that leland and josie both died... forgot that the japanese man was actually catherine in disguise... forgot entirely they actually made it to the owl cave & i forgot that that was what precipitated the opening of the black lodge i guess that made it fun to rewatch bc i had no idea what would happen next also forgot how tender/sweet the characters could be..even tho it's earnest it didn't feel like cringe "how wonderful. when i talk to you i get a tingling sensation in my toes and in my stomach. i don't think it has anything to do with coffee" "i’m not afraid of anything you make me feel or want" big same other notable things - sent evie 30 min long voice note - walked 9.2km - tried russian dumpings for the first time - got a tour of a's animal crossing island - accidentally mistook a finger-shaped potato as a ginger wish i bought palm sugar while i was in chinatown so i could make mung bean soup. but i don't know where i would find pandan leaves, the stores i had checked along grand street didn't have them eve made a special fish too, welcome http://special.fish/evehly <3 *** worldwide: 338,700 cases, 14,600 deaths USA: 34,700 cases, 452 deaths new york: 16,900 cases, 150 deaths new york city: 10,700 cases, 99 deaths number of diagnosed cases in new york has doubled from the last time i wrote [21/3/2020] 1am (friday night)-- i just heard the ambulance's siren going down my street again. the frequency of the sirens has been intensifying over the last few days, and every time i hear it i can feel rising anxiety. it's been hard to sleep lately, partly bc of the stress of work, partly bc of the uncertainty re: how bad things are going to get. i think for the last week i've slept from 12am-1am, 3am-8am. wake up feeling disgusting, groggy and exhausted today i took friday afternoon off since i figured there's no way i'll be using my leave any time soon. after logging out of work laptop i went for a long walk (90 min) and stopped to get flour, carrots, and asparagus. then i spent the rest of the afternoon roasting vegetables, stir-frying carrots, chicken and potatoes to make a burrito filling. and then i tried a new recipe for banana bread with yogurt, coconut oil & the overripe bananas i had left in the fridge. i watched eyes wide shut while cleaning my room, did another long walk again in the evening, spoke with max over the phone + been watching 'on the beach alone at night' by hong sang soo somehow, accounting for everything i've done in list / language-form makes me feel safer, like i've used my time productively. also clocking 10km a day feels good & makes me feel less insane for being cooped up at home also, it's been so nice to have max in the same timezone.. we check in w each other everyday and he always asks if he can call. i'm glad we have the same amount of emotional availability for each other *** worldwide: 272,000 cases, 11,310 deaths USA: 18,763 cases, 258 deaths new york: 8,377 cases, 53 deaths new york city: 5,600 cases, 43 deaths and i just saw that singapore reported its first two deaths :( at least it's the weekend now, i hope i manage to sleep in [18/3/2020] an alert from cnbc came in saying that worldwide cases of cv has topped 200,000 in the US right now, there are 5,800 cases & 107 deaths; 1,500 in nyc i didn’t mean for this to become a coronavirus diary but the increasing stats track my anxiety so closely (actually, i had been tracking number of cases in my journal since mid-january, i flipped back and saw that just three weeks ago, i wrote “oh, & there’s 1 case in nyc/manhattan today”) these last few days have been so much, emotionally colleagues keep saying “bet u didn’t expect this when u moved here” something abt having always felt a sense of loose anxiety that sth bad is going to happen, a feeling i’ve learnt to suppress over the years by telling myself that rationally there isn’t anything to worry abt but for what feels like the first time, the world (online & irl). being reflected seems to confirm that 4 once that anxiety is justified (“i was right all along”, a desperate feeling) was happy to work from home at first, but that was w the belief that i could go out sometimes, get gd coffee/work at a cafe being confined to the bedroom/living space is slowly driving me insane though, i get that the situation is catastrophic and calls for it .. went into chinatown yesterday to pick up groceries & my phone received the city-wide emergency text alert abt coronavirus, accompanied with a siren wail. in my headphones.. it terrified me for a second, i didn’t know what was happening chinatown seemed relatively busy, but mostly locals / other chinese people minding their own business, doing grocery shopping with masks on found a vietnamese shop & got more fish sauce, nam pla, fish paste for b we're going to cook vietnamese tofu & eggs tomorrow night :3 for myself - black sesame 汤圆, rice noodles, kimchi, ginger tea, pickled ginger, frozen dumplings, lao gan ma chili crisps lap cheong, black vinegar, mirin, five spice powder, shaoxing wine.. basically every sauce and seasoning u need for a chinese/asian kitchen on the subway home everyone was consciously sitting far away from each other, the trains were 80% empty mostly i felt so guilty for having left the house, even tho it was to get meds + groceries but looking at the sky & the way the light changes helps me to feel grounded thinking about how perfect january and february was too feels like im tearing inside and yet i wld still rather be here than anywhere else [15/3/2019] saturday stayed indoors mostly watched seirei no moribito watched twin peaks season two ordered chinese food v-chatted my grandma on her new ipad sunday did the 20 min walk between j. st & home x4 talked to m abt his satellite launch watched the dem debate a put my fav ecco2k track on felt glowy all day [12/3/2020] ‪take my face. I don’t need it‬ ‪take my voice ‬ ‪I have others ‬ [10/3/2020] 1004 cases in the US 173 cases, 0 deaths new york (as of 10:55pm) finally wfh starting tmr [9/3/2020] had another nice weekend friday was m’s bday dinner walked around cobble hill for the first time got to dinner an hour late bc kept messing up the trains i was meant to get on had black rice risotto, lamb shank (too salty), mandarin & parma slices with some kind of curd, fish, potatoes ended dinner w a olive oil cake & matt blew off the lit candle in a glass came home, watched episode 1 of season 2 of twin peaks( even tho i knew what was gna happen next it still terrifies me idk how i forgot entirely abt the gag where sheryl lee acts as laura’s cousin maddie & no one says anything abt it - also interesting to see the echoes of season 3 had shitty nightmares all night that felt like i was watching back-to-back episodes of a horror series: wake up, remember what i dreamt, feel disgusting, fall back asleep in fits on saturday morning my sister called to say she got engaged :) congratulations idiots i think they are going to do a wedding in london, singapore & india so there goes all my leave for 2021 tbh it wld make me very happy if i never had to attend a wedding again ill just send my friends angpaos and say miss u love u take my money mid-saturday took a bus to meet p at j’s cafe, an hour late again.. it was way colder than it looked j gave us coffee & cookies and we sat in the park for while talking abt 2012 and tinychat in the afternoon, met m & s around williamsburg bc they wanted to do shopping, m n i sat in everlane talking abt his new team + seattle + coronavirus.. then we took a cab into fidi for me to pick up something from my office/they went back to hotel now that i live here i’m hardly ever in a car crossing the bridges towards/away from manhattan, let alone at sunset.. the city is so beautiful. being here makes me feel alive. everyone says that i guess, but what i mean is that i feel a heightened sense of awe, wonder, walking around, being somewhere i don’t know anyone and won’t ever bump into people i know. & the sense that everything is already changing. whereas in sg it always felt like things would go on in the same insignificant, predictable way. my life getting smaller inside my shell. when i turned 26 my bday goal was to get out of singapore in three years (ie by the time i turned 29 bc if i could hv it my way there was no way i planned on turning 30 in a city that makes me feel dead inside) and i did it in two years.. this is the only thing i can say i’m proud of myself for achieving + not having to rely on anyone for a green card had fried pork chop rice bowls for dinner, b and i split oyster pancake, chilli dumplings gd but depressing bc i wish i could eat that all the time sunday woke up late had a chai latte met up w a to read in a cafe max called to tell me how his birthday party went & insisted that my pic of the moon rly did look like a ufo.. walked around chinatown bought charsiu buns viet food w/ a & j watched “made in hk” at metrograph did groceries (im always like.. maybe today is the day i shd stock up on non-perishables.. then when im actually in the supermarket i’m like nah) had a cute & chill time monday: stocks crashed oil prices crashed markets worst day since dec 2008 italy extended its quarantine to the entire country 105 cases of coronavirus in nyc if this turns into a credit crisis we’re all fked i guess i think it was warm today? 20 degrees celsius ? but i didn’t see the sun at all.. didn’t eat till 9.30pm when i got home the ‘culture shock’ of working in nyc as a singaporean is that no one seems to take real lunch breaks.. feels too stressful to me to even leave my desk to buy food so on days i forget to pack sth i just power thru till i get home from work meanwhile, giving more of my $ to amazon: hair brush hair dryer kettle hdmi cable rice cooker? still need rice bowls i can smell sth burning (like smoke from melting plastic) & it makes me nostalgic for ghost month in singapore the end [7/3/2020] ‘how did i find you— —oh yeah, i was sending smoke signals’ . . 如蛆附骨 like worms to decomposing flesh maggots crawling over rotten honey can feel myself hardening again . . ‪i feel [ XXXXXXXXXX ], so i say ur [ XXXXXXXXXX ] [6/3/2020] got to work late bc couldn’t find my metro card, kept throwing things round my room mom and dad called while they were driving home (friday night their time) from 阿公阿妈’s house & i was walking to the j spoke abt extending my trip to london in april over two weekends so i could maybe go to scotland w them feels a little insane that i will be seeing them in six weeks time, i didn’t think i would see them for a whole year tbh but im just as excited abt seeing all my friends + ange timed her visit from seattle to coincide w mine & i think laura is gonna try to come that weekend too o max is gna visit me in the second week of april too, then natalee is gonna be in the US the week after — then i’ll b in london — then eve & ken will be flying up for a week :) april will b full of friends at work today, arranged & sat in phone interviews w/ cnbc, houston chronicle and reuters mostly around impact of coronavirus wrote & published my first press release around on our sector outlook change for the global passenger airlines industry & the impact of coronavirus + the analysts approved my first draft w/o further edits ^_^ i never got to write at my role in singapore picking up laundry in a second & then heading out for dinner w ben, matt & sara for matt’s bday having this space to myself (like my old blog) makes me happy .. just text, no images, & no one has to read this unless they want to + shit i’ve bought from amazon recently: sponge holder paper towel holder memory foam pillow fabric bins air purifier lil square night lights 2x ben lerner poetry books [5/3/2020] Porcine Armour Thyroid by Rachael Allen I am a gland, the smooth opal gland of a pig, who is bubbly with glands and the glands torn open in this pig's shorn neck look like droplets of sperm on the ends of your glans. I eat the glands of pigs for breakfast, and I take a few in pills each night, slipping down my throat a smooth oblong, like oysters or snot. I rub the loose oil glands in my hands to moisturise, pale mermaid's purses salted like eyeballs, like lychees, and then I bathe in some glands, slipping round each other, the miscreant lump under skin a gland enlarged with the promise of sickness grey and portentous, a gland cut open and placed within another gland creates a geode of glands, the colour of bad livers the smell of bad lungs, full of poor white blood cells, or good white blood cells or the blood work of a pig, whatever's farthest, most holy, to the ground + my willingness to re-watch twin peaks - ie. 3-4 years hv passed w/o me thinking abt it such that the plot is hazy again - always seems to coincide w/ the loopiest parts of my life . . when someone cooks for u, kiss & say thank u [4/3/2020] woke up to 20 mins of voice messages from eve & a picture of her next to a small goat-shaped art piece that her dad brought home. i thought it was a locust at first. the goat looks like it was patched together with clay or mud, then left to dry. fsr - maybe its strange proportions and how low its belly is to the ground - it gives me the impression of emptiness/a receptacle to be inhabited, as tho it'll come to life in the dark. and that feels familiar for some reason, but i can't place the image or sensation most of the time walking around new york, i don't think abt what it was like to live in singapore, or the fact that it was barely two months ago. already it seems like another life/lifetime, one in which i can't relate to. how did i survive there, feeling like i was false in every interaction. i felt unknowable in a different way; here i feel myself again, even if that means i only make sense to myself all of january and february combined felt like six months of emotions.but i am the happiest i've been in a long time, which is the point this year instead of feeling dumb abt the way my attempt to untie any knots (in/of understanding) only pulls it tighter, i will learn to leave it unresolved. im learning how to walk away :) [3/3/2020] 'What was it About you and me that made whatever Happen to us. In New York Everything fell apart. What I dreaded And expected. But still. Tonight It is dark and the weather is cooler Than it’s been. It has taken A while for Fall to break; the global Warming kept me in summer Love with you like I was under a Fermata. Now that the times Are changing, I feel Even more for you; or I feel nothing. I can’t tell; it’s kind Of scary.' -ariana reines twelve degrees celcius this morning made it thru winter, now spring

  • [trying to see the proportional relation] by ariana reines https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/55571/trying-to-see-the-proportional-relation
  • amor fati by ong szu yoong https://preludemag.com/posts/amor-fati/
  • bunny by sophie collins https://muse.jhu.edu/article/580102
  • elena ferrante interview https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/08/elena-ferrante-interview-the-story-of-the-lost-child

now reading

  • https://monoskop.org/images/f/f7/Roland_Barthes_Roland_a_lover_s_discourse_1978.pdf
  • the lichtenberg figures by ben lerner

writing

  • https://readwildness.com/1/chin-opacity
  • http://mascarareview.com/low-hanging-fruit-he-says-by-natalie-chin/
  • http://www.litfmag.com/issue-3/moon-bound/
  • http://gemstonereadings.net/garden/natalie/
  • http://cod6tt6.com/

online

  • herbonestructure@gmail.com
  • https://letterboxd.com/herbonestrcture/

natalie is a fan of