"It feels weird to give this story a name. Calling it a story in the first place makes it sound like it's fiction, like it's not real, like it didn't happen. But this story did happen, and this story does have a name. Because stories are alive like people, and if people have names so that other people can remember who they are and what they did, then why can't stories have names too?"

- The Patchwork Doll, by tsukiiruka


Friday, 18 November 2016

Chapter 9: When the Battle's Lost and Won

The Patchwork Doll is a personal endeavour chronicling my real-life experiences battling eczema.

The Patchwork Doll by tsukiiruka
Chapter 9
When the Battle's Lost and Won

When you're a kid, you're often blissfully unaware of how ugly the world can be. You smile, laugh, and play without a care, until someone comes to rain on your parade. Then you learn, that maybe you're not as comfortable with yourself as you thought. You learn that people don't just judge you based on your actions or your thoughts, but that they judge you based on how you look, as least in terms of first impressions. When you're a cute kid, people want to take photos with you more often. In the digital age, this preference gnaws on your soul a lot more especially as you're growing up.

A popular thing that people like to do for a laugh every once in a while is to revive their friends oft-forgotten unglam and geeky photos tagged on their Facebook wall, from the deep recesses of their teenage years. So every once in a while, as I'm scrolling through my newsfeed, I guffaw at the amazing transformations that many of my friends have had, from the retro spectacles when they were 15 to the carefully chosen hipster spectacles they sport at 20, from the comfort of their favourite truly ratty tees of their school houses to the stylish and perfectly worn-out looking torn jeans they now look great in on their instagram photos. Often, you will get sucked into this social dance as your friends take no prisoners in this merciless campaign. Then they realise that I don't exactly have many photos like that, that fit the bill.

You know how sometimes, someone says something that triggers a train of thought that spans throughout the years that suddenly connect the many dots that trail your lifespan to form a track that leads you to realise something you might not have thought of before?

That's when I realised that I in fact, don't have many photos of myself from when I was 15. Or 14, or 13, or 12, or 16, or 17, 18. And there are many reasons that I can think of. Maybe it's partly because camera phones weren't all that advanced yet, I said. Could also be because there wasn't that culture of  taking selfies back then, I said. Perhaps it's that taking photos was an expensive thing and my family couldn't afford to have a camera and to print photos out, I said.

And you see the cool, cute, geeky, funny, photos of their teenage years that your friends upload, and you think, surely I'd have something.

For a long time, I didn't like taking photos. I'd pose awkwardly, I'd look silly, I'd smile, but that was about it. My arms would be in an uncomfortable position because I couldn't bend my arms properly with my wounds. I couldn't really tiptoe higher or bend my knees to be lower, to suit the number of people in the photo. I'd look out of place in a photo because I'd be wearing a jacket in the sweltering heat while my friends looked comfortably stylish in their shorts and tees, spaghetti strap tops and mini skirts. I'd look dishevelled with my messy hair because I wasn't able to re-tie my hair without being in much more pain than I wanted to be. So I didn't.

And that's kind of one of the reasons why today, I have this habit and enjoy documenting my every outfit, my long hair, my poses that my friend taught me, my bendy elbows, and my
my smile that no longer has to hide the immense pain I'm feeling at that moment.

I used to wear a jacket everywhere I went, from when I was 13 to 19. That was when my eczema was at its worst, that was when my arms and legs were entirely open flesh wounds and it hurt so much even when I was just lying still in bed and trying my hardest not to move. So I wore a jacket, to shield my arms from the stinging breath of the wind, to hide my wounds from the world so that maybe I could pretend they didn't exist. And sometimes, people really didn't notice how bad it was, sometimes, they really treated me like I was just a normal girl with a weird habit of wearing a jacket in the 30 degree Celsius heat.

Now, they treat me like I'm a normal girl with a weird habit of taking photos everywhere I go.

For a long time after I stopped needing to wear a jacket everywhere I went, I still didn't like taking photos. I mean, I liked the idea of taking photos, but I didn't know how to be in a photo. I was perfectly confident in real life (humour and confidence helps in surviving traumatic times), but I wouldn't be very comfortable in photos, though I tried to be.

Then, on a school trip to Indonesia almost 2 years ago, my friends said something to me that I won't ever forget. They told me that I actually look quite nice in photos. And that simple gesture that they probably don't remember, actually gave me the confidence to see myself in a new light. They weren't just saying it because they loved me, they weren't just saying it to be polite, but they were saying it because, they actually saw something that I couldn't see. It felt like I might actually deserve to be in a photo now.

Sometimes, you spend so much time in the shadows that you feel more comfortable there. Sometimes, you spend so much time in the shadows that you don't even notice when the sun has come up behind you. Sometimes, you just need someone to be the light for you that once and you're able to see so many things you couldn't see before.

And that also reminds me of the power of words. As a debater, we learn to put sentences together to cause the greatest damage to our opponents. But we also need to remember that not every battle is a battle that needs to be won against an enemy. Some are battles that need to be fought together with as many allies as possible. Some are battles that you need to win against yourself.

And so it is in chapter 9, that I can finally say:
I look fine.


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Main Tab (& Other Chapters) 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Shoutout to Starting from Scratch



After 10 long years spent trying to survive being a teenager with eczema, my skin finally and gradually healed over the years to become the manageable state it is today.

But now when my eczema has gotten better and I am merely left with scars instead of open wounds, what hurts the most is when there are people who try to “fix” me and change my appearance to look better. That desire from people to erase a part of me because it doesn’t look ‘good’ makes me feel abnormal, and sometimes that hurts more than the open flesh wounds I used to have.

Maybe these battle scars will remain forever, but it feels like I’ve been given a whole new lease on life. In this New Year, I hope that everyone with eczema can find their inner peace, and that the community can learn to be more supportive and accepting of us instead of always trying to “fix” us. 

We may feel broken sometimes, but that doesn’t make us broken people.



tsukiiruka

//

So one of the really cool and amazing things that some final-year Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information (WKWSCI) students from the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore do is to choose a social issue that they feel for and strive to make a real impact in the lives of people via a social campaign.

This year, one of the campaigns that I have a vested interest in is of course, one about eczema:


They've been doing things like going to schools to spread awareness and good information about how to handle having eczema, sharing on talk shows, and just talking about it more (which definitely helps). 

Through all this, I hope they'll be able to change society's view of eczema from one that's met with fear and disgust, to a warm, positive, and accepting one.

I shared a tiny part of my heart in their little shoutouts from eczema warriors on their Facebook page too (same text at the beginning of this post!). 

Do go like their page and show your support for everyone who has to wear their heart on their sleeve! 


And if you're interested in reading about my journey with eczema:

The Patchwork Doll by tsukiiruka

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Original Prose by tsukiiruka: When We First Met



I remember when we first met. I remember how happy that first meeting was. I remember how I'd always head over to the same place to find you every time I could. I remember how you always made me happy. I remember how sad I was when one day you just disappeared. I remember standing there for a moment and wondering why good things didn't last. I remember that feeling of emptiness and loss. I remember trying not to think about you or figure out where you had gone. I remember trying to forget all the times we had that made me smile. Then today, I found you again, and I remembered all that was forgotten. I remember you, Once Upon A Milkshake, and how bloody good your milkshakes are.


///


Note from tsukiiruka:

Every once in a while I send the people who care for me and are active on Facebook or Instagram into a flurry because I write some long prose that makes it seem like I'm thinking about one thing but really I'm talking about something else. I find that it really stretches my linguistic imagination when figuring out how best to craft something that can fit 2 ideas at once, and encourage you to try writing your own verison of #YoureNotThinkingWhatImThinking


Friday, 22 May 2015

Original Prose by tsukiiruka: Sweet Memories




In the blink of an eye, years have passed. You've been there for me in good times and bad. When I was joyous and celebrating, you were there to share in the moment. In times of anguish and despair, you comforted me quietly. I always looked forward to the long journey to you, because of the stable companionship that awaited me. A regular comfort, a steady dose of happiness. Nothing makes me happy quite like you do. You may have changed throughout the years, giving me a different taste of your goodness as time went on, but all was great nonetheless. Every place I had you, was a place that a memory was created. And I hope that these good times will last forever. You make me happy in a way nothing else can, delicious, beautiful, cake. I love cake so much that for my birthday, I got a whole yummy cake to eat by myself (from my darling which this paragraph applies to also). That's how much I love cake. Cake makes me happy. Cake.

///

Note from tsukiiruka:

Every once in a while I send the people who care for me and are active on Facebook or Instagram into a flurry because I write some long prose that makes it seem like I'm thinking about one thing but really I'm talking about something else. I find that it really stretches my linguistic imagination when figuring out how best to craft something that can fit 2 ideas at once, and encourage you to try writing your own verison of #YoureNotThinkingWhatImThinking


Monday, 26 January 2015

Original Prose by tsukiiruka: Can We Fix This?



People say that you don't treasure what you have until it's gone. Sometimes people are wrong. The day you entered my life is the day that you warmly gripped my heart and I thought you'd never let go. After long days at school, I'd look forward to our time together. Sometimes it'd just be us and I could slowly savour our time together without fearing that I'd be holding our friends up, or having to make small talk instead of just giving you my fullest attention. But the times we had with people around were just as precious to me. Guilt - that you will probably never know or understand how much I cherished our time together, how much you made me happy, when skies were grey. And now, going back to our usual rendezvous point, I walk in to a totally unfamiliar atmosphere that's foreign, cold, frightening. It's scary how things can change so much over the course of a few years. What's even scarier is that I don't even know when all of this changed, why you left. If I knew that things could morph so quickly and calculatingly, I'd have kept my eyes strictly on you forever. But this is all that's left for me as I return, this is the sight that greets me and mocks me - a laughing grill gate as if to prevent me from being able to at least enter and escape back into those happy memories and pretend all of this didn't happen. 


But I'll be fine, eventually. I'll move on, I'll find something new, I'll be strong. Just because my favourite kopitiam in Tiong Bahru Plaza got renovated and my favorite hotplate chicken cutlet with rice is gone doesn't mean I'm unfixable. Right?

///


Note from tsukiiruka:

Every once in a while I send the people who care for me and are active on Facebook or Instagram into a flurry because I write some long prose that makes it seem like I'm thinking about one thing but really I'm talking about something else. I find that it really stretches my linguistic imagination when figuring out how best to craft something that can fit 2 ideas at once, and encourage you to try writing your own verison of #YoureNotThinkingWhatImThinking


Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Original Prose by tsukiiruka: Because of You

As the year draws to a close it's time to reflect on all the events, people, ideas, and learning that have made up this spectacularly challenging, exhausting, and rewarding time.
And for that I thank my first and true love.

It is because of you that I have found a purpose in life. In my darkest of times, whether it was in combating the dark clouds that hung over my head because of my health, or the stresses of university life, or the worries of money, you have never failed to be a powerful uplifting force.

Because of you, I willingly wake up before the sun rises, and work late into the night on many occasions, with a fire and intensity that rages for you.

Because of you, my world has opened up so tremendously - it is like looking into the galaxy and seeing the endless stars burning bright before me. I marvel at the motivation you've given me, and the glimpses into higher places that I would never have dreamed of until you came into my life.

Because of you, I have seen both my greatest challenges and my greatest rewards - and both have nourished my soul like no other.
Because of you, I am truly content. And as I reflect on the many years that you've already filled with joy, I look forward to the many more to come.

Thank you for changing my life for the better, debate. You really are spectacular.


///


Note from tsukiiruka:

Every once in a while I send the people who care for me and are active on Facebook or Instagram into a flurry because I write some long prose that makes it seem like I'm thinking about one thing but really I'm talking about something else. I find that it really stretches my linguistic imagination when figuring out how best to craft something that can fit 2 ideas at once, and encourage you to try writing your own verison of #YoureNotThinkingWhatImThinking


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

This is Why the Internet is Awesome

The Internet is awesome because it Opens Worlds.

The people that are the most significantly affected by internet speeds are the ones who spend lots of time at home (or even at the office) - especially so if it is not of their own desire.

In my growing up years, I was badly afflicted with a terrible case of eczema and was doomed to spend my time caged in my own home. I felt isolated from the world. My friends were busy in school, while I dreamed of the world that was right outside my doorstep, a world that I could only catch a glimpse of from my window.

But the Internet kept my world open.

Back in the day, we didn't have 3G technology conveniently available on our mobile phones and we had an SMS limit of 500 messages. There was no whatsapp, no instagram, no twitter.

So instead, I relied on MSN messenger on my computer to get updates from my classmates about what the teacher covered in class, and what new gossip was hot (or the word used now; trending) around school ;) The Internet allowed me to communicate and connect, to bond and behave as if I really was there when my Physics teacher performed yet another hilariously entertaining but mightily educational experiment; or when the Principal rattled off school accolades to rancorous applause; or when our favourite Western stall in the canteen gave extra portions of mashed potato along with our order of grilled fish.

My condition also meant that more often than not I couldn't go watch movies with my friends, gallivant at nearby shopping malls after school, or head to the library to read books with my more studious classmates.

But the Internet highway did its job.

I devoured page after digital page of analysis on Macbeth, laughed heartily at the amateur videos on Youtube, and wrote 'testimonials' on the walls of my friends on what the younger generation wouldn't remember but was wildly popular: 'Friendster'.

Now as technology has advanced and the Internet has flourished, so too has its ability to open worlds to those who cannot venture beyond their country's borders, or their humble doorstep.

We can stream movies and watch them in the comfort of our homes; we can buy digital copies of books that would've taken weeks or even months to locate and import; we can browse digital aisles of the latest fashions or mundane groceries and have our bags of shopping delivered right to us.

We can share the gorgeous majesty of a Moroccan desert sunrise (thanks Matthew!); we can revive the embarrassing photos that our friends once shared on Facebook years ago and forgot about; we can share our lives with others through the years - both the good and the bad.

The Internet is awesome because it hasn't just grown on its own; it's grown with us, and we've grown because of it.





The very first video I made! It's about the wonders of Google (:

 




A video I made about my experience with eczema


Monday, 20 October 2014

Original Prose by tsukiiruka: Cheeseless Tragedies



"Is everything... Alright?" 
"Why wouldn't it be?" 
"You sound different. You... seem different." 
"I'm exactly who I'm supposed to be. What about you?" 
"What do you mean?" 
"You said you wouldn't change. You said you'd never change. But now, I can't even recognize you anymore. You're not the vegetable you were before they brought us to McDonald's." 
"I'm still me, the same vegetable that you love." 
"How can you even say that! When all you look to me is just a vegetable that can't even hold himself together, a vegetable that's in pieces." 
"But I'm still the same on the inside, I swear! Nothing's changed." 
"I can't even stand to be in the same bun with you anymore. It's over." 


This is the only reason possible why the cheese on my filet o fish didn't want to be in its rightful place and left my lunch cheeseless. D: 


///


Note from tsukiiruka:

Every once in a while I send the people who care for me and are active on Facebook or Instagram into a flurry because I write some long prose that makes it seem like I'm thinking about one thing but really I'm talking about something else. I find that it really stretches my linguistic imagination when figuring out how best to craft something that can fit 2 ideas at once, and encourage you to try writing your own verison of #YoureNotThinkingWhatImThinking


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Why You Should Come Watch My Play: WKWSCI presents The Beaux Strategem



For all the long-lost friends I’ve recently contacted and haven’t really had the chance to properly reconnect with, and for those that I haven't had the chance to make awkward conversation with, here's why I'd love for you to come to my play:

Despite many people swearing that I was already a drama-mama back in my younger days, come 3rd and 4th October 2014 I will be taking the stage for the first time in a full-length drama production.

This will be the 13th year that I’ve suffered from eczema and about the 3rd year since my steady recovery into a relatively stable and controllable condition.

For the 10 years since my 10th birthday, eczema had always been not just a condition that was destroying my skin, but also eating away at my heart, and gnawing at my spirit. It was an extremely difficult journey where I was continually wrought with worry of the present and plagued by immense uncertainty of the future. There were many instances where teachers presented to me the real option of taking a sabbatical from school. Even now I remain occasionally darkened by the shadows of the past, perhaps best illustrated as slowly-fading shades of skin that were unceremoniously marked by fiery wounds.

As I progressed through my educational journey, I had to give up many things because of my condition. Mostly because it took too much time and effort to make it happen; my heart was willing but my flesh could not summon similar strength to pursue the endeavour. I missed out on PE lessons that were spent sitting in the cool shade away from all the action and displays of camaraderie in pushing physical and mental boundaries, because the unbearable heat only served to colour my skin crimson. I missed out on acting in plays because I could not afford the simple mobility and energetic commitment required of acting. I missed out on class outings to the beach, watching my school’s basketball team in the grand finals of the national championship, and being in class photographs.

But now, things are different.

Now, for the first real time in my life, I will be acting in a play.

For the first real time in my life, when my director Adeeb tells me to bend my arms a certain way or to run like a normal human being, I can. Or at least I can try to. Hopefully I can live up to the expectations of a director who's been gaining momentum in the drama circuit as an active part of Yellow Chair Productions. Sorry that I still don’t look like a normal human being sometimes, Adeeb.

For the first real time in my life, I can rehearse in air-conditioned places without feeling the searing pain of drying wounds, or in extremely humid places that merely induce great discomfort without fear of any sort of pain. I won’t have to suddenly run out of a rehearsal (like I once did for an econs lecture in junior college) to tend to my bleeding wounds, aching heart, and muffled tears.

For the first real time in my life, I can attend rehearsals freely, till late, because I can get sufficient rest the night before. The hardest part of my day will no longer be convincing myself to fall asleep and being disappointed when I wake up – because my arms and legs will remain as they were, mobile and useful.

Instead, the hardest part now would be trying not to sing along when Amanda (as Dorinda) or Holly (as Mrs Sullen) fill the hall with their lively and amazing voices as they belt out renditions of much-loved songs.

So for all the friends who supported me throughout my life, for all the classmates who I spent my years with but never knowing, for all the acquaintances who saw me sitting far away from everyone else who were seated on the jagged granite floor during morning assembly and somehow wrongly thought ‘eh why is that girl late for school every morning’ – come join me in enjoying a few hours immersed in a different world, a world that I am now able to exist in and enjoy.

But I am not alone in this world.

For the first real time in my life, I no longer feel like I am a burden to the people that I’ve grown closer to, shared a journey with, and learnt more about.

Like Charmian, who plays Bonniface, who has such a lovely voice and magnetic personality that she was 1st runner-up in the recent 987FM Radio Star competition.

Or Mark, one of our producers, who enjoys tickling the ivories and playing other instruments, who recently showed some of his skills at a mini jazz music jam at the Esplanade library.

And Ruth, as Aimwell, who is the only female other than myself who will be playing a male character. She is hilarious both onstage and off, making long rehearsals and the stage come alive with her boundless energy.

I look forward to rehearsals because we have a very talented, diverse, and dedicated group of people making the play happen.

So come and watch the play to see for yourself the people that have made a difference in my life and will hopefully make a small difference in yours too.

For those who are traveling the world or on their own journeys and won’t be able to make it to the play, I hope that life has been as good to you as it has been to me. And I hope that we’ll have the chance to reconnect again someday, at a different point in our lives.

For those who would like to join me, whether we've said one word to each other or one thousand, let me know. I want to say hi, I want to know how you're doing, and I want to thank you.

The Beaux Strategem
3rd October Friday 730pm
4th October Saturday 3pm, 730pm
Venue: Alliance Fran├žaise
$18/ticket

Hope to see you there; Where in a strange and ironic twist of fate, I feel like on that stage I'm going be more of 'me' than I've ever been.





Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Premium Movie-Watching Experiences in Singapore



It's the first day of Sophomore Year! And while I really love school, I love the holidays more.

So here's reminiscing all the fun I had by sharing about our premium movie-watching experiences in Singapore!

Sometimes you just feel like pampering yourself a little by watching the latest movie without having to jostle with a random movie-goer for the limited armrest real estate. There are 3 cinemas that offer a premium movie-watching experience for a limited selection of the latest movies if your wallet can afford the extra dollars.

Golden Village has Gold Class, Cathay has Platinum Movie Suites and Shaw Theatres has Premiere.

Darling and I watched Les Miserables and World War Z a few years ago at Vivocity Gold Class, but quite recently caught How to Train Your Dragon 2 The Cathay Platinum Movie Suites and Transformers: Age of Extinction at the Cathay Cineleisure Platinum Movie Suites.

Of our limited premium movie-watching experience, we most enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon 2 at The Cathay Platinum Movie Suites because they have the most comfortable leather seats with fabulous reclining positions and a blanket that keeps your warm and toasty throughout your movie! Although we tried out the Platinum Movies Suites at Cineleisure as well, our experience paled in comparison as the seats didn't seem to be able to recline to the same positions and the blanket was different too. One more difference I noticed was that the table light at The Cathay allowed you to adjust the brightness whereas you could only turn on/off the one at Cineleisure. The light was great for secretly poring over the menu to decide what to indulge in without disturbing the person next to you!

Another reason why I would pick The Cathay Platinum Movie Suites over Vivocity's Gold Class although I do remember it being pretty good is because we had quite a bad experience the first time we tried out Gold Class. We were celebrating Christmas with the Christmas dining experience with Les Miserables. Unfortunately, when we were seated we realized that Darling's seat wasn't functioning and couldn't recline at all. When we alerted the staff, THEN we were told that the seat was spoiled (which they were apparently already aware of) and they could only offer us one glass of wine in compensation. I was pretty upset seeing as how it was our first premium movie-watching experience AND we were celebrating Christmas. So after enduring the 3-hour long movie I went to speak to the manager about it. We were then offered a pair of Gold Class movie tickets in compensation which we used to watch World War Z.

Perhaps it's just me - but I am quite the stickler for decent service especially when I am paying a premium for your goods or services. After that incident I was quite turned off to trying any of the other theatres, and only got to trying out the Platinum Movie Suites this year. Glad we got to as well! The service at The Cathay was prompt and the staff were polite and professional though I felt the counter staff could have been a little bit friendlier.

The differences between Cathay Platinum Movie Suites and Vivocity Golden Village's Gold Class (can't speak for the other locations cos I haven't tried them out!) are:

1) Cathay's seats are leather while Golden Village has plush seats. (I prefer the leather feel!)
2) Cathay - Each 'section' of 2 seats has a privacy divider around them, while GV Vivocity Gold Class doesn't. (I like the privacy divider - really feels like you're in your own little luxurious world.)
3) Reclining - the positions are a little bit different and I think might fit each person differently depending on your individual build and stuff. I personally prefer The Cathay's over GV Vivocity Gold Class and Cathay Cineleisure's even.

So if you are interested in pampering yourself for a bit, here are the prices for you to compare!

Prices:

GV Gold Class:
$29 Mon-Thurs,
$39 Fri-Sun (Probably applies to Eve of PH & PH too)

Shaw Premiere:
2D Movies
$20 Mon-Thurs + not Opening Title/Sneak,
$25 Mon-Thurs + Opening Title/Sneak OR Fri-Sun/Eve of PH/PH

3D Movies
$25 Mon-Thurs + not Opening Title/Sneak,
$30 Mon-Thurs + Opening Title/Sneak OR Fri-Sun/Eve of PH/PH

Cathay Platinum Movie Suites:
$28 Mon-Thurs,
$38 Fri-Sun (Probably applies to Eve of PH & PH too)

One more great reason why I'd choose Cathay's Platinum Movie Suites:

They have the best promotions for students!

And unlike certain establishments - this promotion is valid for University students too :D

This deal is fantastic for date-days (hehe) if your schedule allows for it.

You're likely to have the theatre all to yourselves and you're paying half the price! This promo is only valid for the first two rows though, but they are the best seats in my opinion anyway haha.



or if you'd like to take your grandparents:


//

So as Day 1 of Year 2 draws to a close, I'm already dreaming of my schedule magically freeing up so I can enjoy a lazy afternoon with awesome student promotions that sadly always end at 5pm/6pm. I haven't tried out the Shaw Premiere yet and the prices look pretty good - so when I do get the chance I'll update with a comparison!

Here are the links again if you want to hop over for a quick look and what's showing:


Have fun!

If you wanna grab some grub before catching your movie at The Cathay, do also check out my post about my favourite Maki-San and Createaf Waffles!




Or if you wanna chow down on delicious plate after plate of Japanese fare, why not try Nihon Mura at $1.60 per plate?