A Year In, Future Forward

It’s more or a less year since

  • My last outdoor public event (The Joe Hisaishi Ghibli concert at the Sidney Myer Bowl in Melbourne). There, I sat on a picnic blanket, surrounded by hundreds of people, maskless, eating cherry tomatoes and Woolies chicken drummets, when coughing at a concert wasn’t taboo. Also coincidentally shared the same oxygen space as Neil Gaiman. We both enjoyed the concert. How could we not?
  • The first emergency/lockdown escalation in Melbourne, followed by the military-enforced lockdown in Malaysia.The hilarious, incredibly absurd melodrama as Grand Prix week approached, which I witnessed on a front row seat far away from all the actors. I watched as the racecourse was built, as the pre-show concert commenced, as fans from all over the world (especially Italy!) flooded the trams and made their appearances on my streets… only for the whole thing to be cancelled.
  • My return home to Malaysia. The timing could not be better.
    Though I still miss Melbourne and sometimes wish I was experiencing lockdown there instead… on the other hand, the loneliness would drive me bonkers. I’m glad to be with my family and be in my city where most of my friends are.

My entire 2020 was derailed. The only plan that survived was the Rainforest Residency. And my health. I’ve made it this far and I’m going to keep doing it till I get the sweet vaccine jab in my veins. Until then, my sanity is held together by force of will.

I prided myself for my ability to be a hermit, to remain silent for days as I speak to no one, deep in my work, happy in my own company. And I still do, still am. But I’ve been cooped at home for so long. I’m dreaming of days when I can sightsee like an annoying tourist and eat every dessert. I took the outside world for granted in the before times. Now I’m going to appreciate it better.

I think about my last international trip, to England: where I celebrated the launch of The Carpet Merchant at Thoughtbubble, got the second half of my TCM tattoo in Leeds, met my Alexander consultant and visited his enviable house by the churchyard in Exeter, finally saw London in the flesh when before I had always imagined it as an abstract place. Before Brexit, before the small things I experienced became no things. It was nice to have that trip when one circle ended and another began. One day I’d like to return, but I’ll be sad if I can no longer find the 500 ml tub of Spanish yoghurt in the mini mart at Chelsea Station. Or any European sweets for that matter.

I’m starting to reconsider jumping to university so soon after the pandemic ends. Due to the staying at home and my longing to see the world. The entire point of my break from academia since 2018 was to get away from the claustrophobic ivory walls. I certainly don’t want to jump from a confinement of the body to a (possible) confinement of my mind, although my intellectual/spiritual integrity is now stronger. This will push my return closer to my 30s. I don’t know what to think of that. I’m hoping there will be some old(er) fogies who’ll make me feel less awkward in a sea of teens. Unfortunately there’s no help against my inevitable descent towards auntyhood.

I want to go on camino again. I went in summer 2017 with my cousin, fulfilling my earliest and most core longing, and received a series of souvenirs:

  • What I dub the St James curse: nearly every sort of inconvenience to my feet, a minor flu, my period. All of which began within the first two days and disappeared the moment I stepped into Santiago de Compostela. (eyeroll emoji)
  • The boiled Galician octopus, with smoked paprika. That dish haunts my mind. And the garlic prawns. And the giant churros.The random hut we walked into that served hot drinks and as a rest stop for pilgrims. On that day it was rainy and we had a couple of cute dogs as our temporary companions.
  • Lost my cousin midway through the first day (his mistake entirely) and it was only literally by the pity of Jesus’ mother that we found each other. After that we shared a huge cutting board of Galician salted meats, which was a Decision.
  • Lots of trees, very painful walks on concrete, very nice towns to pass through. There’s seriously no other place where you can walk across a state for around 100 km and actually enjoy it – with a lot of people.
  • The five course fancy restaurant where the chef personally picked our menu. The best most fun five course in my life. All of the food was stuff I never ate before. I hope his little casa will still be there.

Next time I want to go with friends, with people who will love the food fully (not to say my cousin didn’t), with somebody who will appreciate the spiritual significance, with folks who can connect to strangers (I am bad at this).

As usual I think about my workaholicism and how it’s kept me at home. I’ve been trying to redirect my working life to something that aligns more with adventure while allowing me the space to do my usual Being a Writer-Artist thing. There are some inklings of an idea… due to the jinx I will not reveal further.

If I ever return to Melbourne I will go to every event I have even a modicum of interest in. If I ever visit London or New York I won’t be too shy (a hard ask).

Just received an Instagram ad for a sweepstakes. Donate to put in X amount of entries for an all-expenses trip on a luxury 4 day train across Scotland. I’ve always wanted to do an all railroad trip. (I’ve ideas about doing a cross-country run from Malaysia to the UK) Usually train fares are expensive upfront…. but maybe… I will think about it.

Hello, hello

    • catato
    • March 13, 2021

    mood on missing the outside world! at the start of the firs lockdown in malaysia it was just ‘eh staying home while working? what a dream come true!’, and then it just… didnt stop, huh

Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.

She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.

Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.

Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur

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