Somehow in America, I became meek. At job interviews, I contorted myself to fit my interviewers’ projected ideas of Asian woman excellence: polite, good-natured, a 'team player', which is code for following orders and not making other people uncomfortable. I did it to make my parents proud.
Margate is a thirsty place. Its switchblade tide draws back so far that by the time it turns the shore is parched. Rude epithets, scrawled in chalk, line its coastal paths. Lustful and wayward, this town is wild. With a steady drip of London transplants fleeing the city’s rapacious capitalist appetite, it’s gentrifying fast. Yet Margate’s wildness persists.
She’d felt it all day. She didn’t need Gráinne Heaney – Roach? O’Malley? Whatever she was now – to make the word flesh. The diagnostic of her condition: notions. Tis far from big exhibitions and toyboys she was reared. One part charlatan, one part succubus. She hated to be crying because of Gráinne. That wagon was only happy when everyone else was miserable. But God, she was embarrassed.
Syllables are hard and round in my mouth but my self is a shape without edges. Sentences have speech marks and indentations, so I may know the difference between speaking and thinking. There are full stops and commas, so I may know the right time to draw breath. When I read words on a page, the markers are provided for me. Living in a body is different.
If there is anything millennials will be known for (besides avocados and flat whites,) it will be our unhealthy fixation with The Side Hustle—turning what should be hobbies into income. So, do you stay on the Titanic, because the Titanic has free eye tests and statutory sick pay, or do you risk floating to safety on a door while documenting it on Instagram video?
Bisexuality and promiscuity are often discussed simultaneously, as if one were simply a symptom of the other. It is a worn-out trope, that of the promiscuous bisexual. Being ‘just greedy’ was a joke that I played along with from my teens to my early twenties, because, Yes, I thought, I am a greedy person. I am touch-sensitive, extroverted, impulse driven. But these traits are inherent to me—not my sexuality.
The fatberg could only materialise now. We have co-existed with masses of raw sewage since humans first stacked mud bricks, but the fatberg is uniquely modern, comprising a conglomeration of used condoms and tampons, wet wipes, disposable nappies, and septic sharps suspended in a concretion of cloying fat.
Since being told, at the age of fourteen, that I should expect to grow up to be a manic depressive schizophrenic, I have been hyperaware of the schism that can occur when expectations are placed on a person based on nothing more than preconceptions, stereotypes and assumptions – of how they stay with you for life.
Essex’s marshlands are a damp reminder of a break-up that the British are yet to come to terms with. Around 8,000 years ago, the landmass that connected the UK to the European mainland, was submerged under newly melted waters creating what is now the eighth largest island in the world.
My matchmaker is a man. A man in a crisp, white shirt and trousers. ‘Shouldn’t you be an old lady?’ I ask. He bridles. ‘That’s kind of a cliché.’ I’m two weeks into my first trip to China. As a kid living in pre-Handover Hong Kong, China was a terrifying, monolithic presence. Now, it is a place I long to understand.