Today Joseph and I performed at a fundraiser open mic night at the campus tearoom, just for fun, and in front of complete strangers. Kind of a first time for both of us. At first it was quite a nerve-wrecking affair and I had to google lyrics on my Blackberry. And then, worse, because we were one of the last on the programme, people started to leave. Understandable, because most people were there just to show support for friends who were performing. But Joseph and I couldn’t help but feel slightly ‘demographically intimidated’. Haha.

But after setting up the stage and introducing us with a bad joke (‘It would have been easier if my name was Mary, but unfortunately it’s Huilin!’ Mary and Joseph – geddit!?) – it was surprisingly…okay. It felt natural. It was nice speaking to the audience. Those who stayed shifted to the front seats to make up for the big hole left from those who left. And they were so friendly and receptive and supportive! Quite a bit of arm-waving, and genuinely attentive people. Predictably, as if on cue, at the mention of the word ‘boobs’ and at the whipping out of the kazoo, the audience burst into chuckles. Loved it, completely. It was exactly what I had set out to do – sing to a bunch of people I didn’t know, share a bit of musical magic, entertain a bit.

I guess what truly fulfils me as a performer is having people react accordingly to the show. In Chorale in JC, our conductor used to refer to music-making as magic. I always agreed, but never actually wondered or articulated to myself why it was truly ‘magic’. But recently after 3 years of UWCC concerts and relatively frequent warbling to a bunch of people over a guitar or a keyboard, I think I finally understand why. (Good) music is magic because it’s so deeply connected with emotion.  Sometimes all it takes is one moment to make me shed a tear, or laugh, or deeply contented, or inspired, or tragically depressed; yet all it really is is just a combination of musical instruments and voice.

But somehow it resonates. Somehow it speaks to me and makes me feel a certain way. Sometimes it retrieves a certain specific memory I have long pushed aside and boxed up in mental storage. For those few minutes I am lost to the rest of the world, and having my neighbour knock on my door to talk to me pierces through that bubble in an almost offensive manner. It’s magic…And as a performer, when you speak to people that same way, and people respond in the way you hope they will, it’s such an amazing feeling.

Sometimes the bigger things make you think you are ready for the real world. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the little things – the chance encounters, the moments of hilarity, the music-making reminds you that hey – maybe I’m not too ready to let go after all. Maybe there are so many other things I want to do, but haven’t. Maybe I’m not ready to give up the little joys of calling a friend to ask if she is ‘libbing it up’ (i.e. heading to the library for a full-day revision sesh), or walking to the campus minimarket to grab a snack costing a pound or less, or making late night trips to people’s houses for pancake, or rejoicing in buying frozen shrimp below 3 pounds. Things like that.

Like just now, after the performance, what occurred what a series of public embarrassments. First I waved ‘back’ at a girl on the bus. Then because we had cravings, and because after embarrassing myself I might as well have gotten off the frickin’ bus anyway, we stopped by at KFC for some crispy munchies. Of course, the restaurant area HAD to be closed. Of course. So we decided to try the drive thru on foot. Joseph went to the intercom thing, and prodded at it for ages, saying ‘hello? hello?’ (mind you there was a car waiting behind us). I said ‘Maybe they can’t hear us ’cause not a car. I think we need to pretend to be one.’ We proceeded to imitate a car by making wheel-steering gestures, amidst fits of laughter, completely forgetting the fact that we were publicly humiliating ourselves. We finally gave up, but thanks to the lady behind us who helpfully asked into the intercom if we could order stuff if we were not in a car, we finally got our KFC. When we thanked the lady, she said ‘Oh no worries. It was so funny. You were pretending to be a car!!’.


It’s week 9 now. Tomorrow is Friday, and after that, it’s just one measly week left of proper university life. Revision weeks don’t count. I can’t imagine. I dread it, this impending end of…what feels like my youth, but I guess that is a slight exaggeration…

It’s all ending. But at least the last few weeks have been amazing – pancake/brownie making, eating and distributing; singing with UWCC and Joseph; presentations of both the good and the crappy variety; eyecandy-sighting in lectures and the Arts Centre; a few drunk and ‘lary’ nights; dinners and baking sessions with people on and off campus; library goss and snacking; KT Tunstall…and best of all, the excitement isn’t even over. On to Week 10: birthdays, teas, lary nights, singing and more!

Yes, the end is indeed near…But at least it’s going to be an amazing one.