Sunday, August 20, 2017

OUT WITH THE OLD
OUT WITH THE NEW


finally
I'm crossing the threshold
from the ordinary world
to the reveal of my heart
undoubtedly
that will for certain
take the dead out of the sea
and the darkness from the arts

this is my commitment
my modern manifesto
I'm doin' it for all of us
who never got the chance
for... and for... (shut up, shut up)
and all my birds of paradise (shut up, shut up)
who never got to fly at night (shut up, shut up)
'cause they were caught up in the dance

sometimes it feels like I've got a war in my mind
I want to get off, but I keep ridin' the ride
I never really noticed that I had to decide
to play someone's game or live my own life
and now I do
I wanna move
out of the black (out of the black)
into the blue (into the blue)

finally
gone is the burden
of the Crowley way of bein'
that comes from energies combined
like my part was I
was not discernin'
and you, as we found out
were not in your right mind

there's no more chasin' rainbows
and hopin' for an end to them
their arches are illusions
solid at first glance
but then you try to touch them (touch, touch)
there's nothin' to hold on to (hold, hold)
the colors used to lure you in (shut up, shut up)
and put you in a trance (ah, ah, ah, yeah)

sometimes it feels like I've got a war in my mind
I want to get off, but I keep ridin' the ride
I never really noticed that I had to decide
to play someone's game or live my own life
and now I do
I wanna move
out of the black (out of the black)
into the blue (into the blue)

So my current favourite track is Get Free from Lana's record Lust for Life, and I like it so much I can't decide on a favourite lyric. I feel like, finally, at this age, I realise that life isn't about chasing rainbows, because rainbows will always end. There's no such thing as a happy ending, it's just happy rides and sad rides, and good times and bad times.

Also, the next person I watch live will definitely be Lana Del Rey.

It's like, remember the time someone messaged me privately on Facebook to tell my father to stop soliciting for sex from his fiancée (the person who messaged me)? Me? I was 25, like what could I have done about my father's habits, lol. I had to shake it off.

Remember the time Daniel Grayson courted me for about a month and I thought, hey, here's a nice, smart man, and then he literally fucked me over when I found out he was engaged back in the US, and all of a sudden I was the bad person for telling her about it? I had to shake it off.

Remember the time I got pregnant accidentally, and had a miscarriage? Instead of consoling me, my mother said she'd wanted to abort me and that she feels guilty that I was a child out of wedlock, and she made me feel shameful for having premarital sex? I had to shake it off.

So I had a post that was up for just a while, and it was quite raw and vulnerable, and I'm starting a new job in September, so I don't think it was the best idea to leave it up in its original form. Additionally, it was not punctuated properly and I'm very anal about such things so I edited it lololol. Here is a slightly polished version, with a little extension at the end. Perhaps a director's cut.

I had an anxiety attack last Saturday, brought on by thoughts of my miscarriage. I think about my miscarriage quite often, but I suppress my base emotions just to be able to go on with daily life. My defence mechanism is sexual innuendo, and humour layered with sarcasm and snark, layered with bitterness about little things.

The most unexpected of things can set me off. When I was watching Glow on Netflix and a miscarriage was made light of, I felt a sucker punch to my stomach. When I take cabs that smell like the one I took from the polyclinic to the hospital to check whether I was really miscarrying, I get a terrible headache that make me feel like the driver is bringing me to the end of the world.

Last week was one of those weeks where too many details collided, and my panic and dread spilled over into a full-blown attack. I had a nervous breakdown and cried all the way home from work, but when I got home, my parents and sisters were in the living room, so I had to go into my own room and cry to myself, because the miscarriage is a thing that does not get discussed with my mother, not if she can help it, which she can.

This Monday, I went to the doctor to get medication for my attacks and he prescribed me Lexotan. It is a type of bromazepam/benzodiazepine, but of course he also recommended that I eventually see a therapist (I have called AWARE and they will be scheduling a counselling session for me soon).

For three days, the meds worked and I felt like I was in bliss. I didn't have excessive thoughts or feelings, and if you know me, you'd know this is a major rarity in my life. I enjoyed being in a bubble, and not feeling anything.

Then, on Thursday I found out something that I would rather not have found out, and I came down from the meds by a bit. On Friday, despite having taken my medicine, I still felt anxiety and dread and pain in my heart (not sure if it's my literal heart but it was on the left of my chest so I assume it was), and I began crying.

I wondered then, whether it was natural to keep medicating myself from my thoughts and feelings, because essentially those are what make a human human, and secondly, it felt like all the medicine had been doing was bury my feelings and thoughts and kept them in my subconscious or something, because they were and are certainly not gone.

I could tell you that I was crying about my miscarriage, but honestly I was crying about Suff and what I'd learned yesterday. I don't ask to have a lot of feelings. I don't control it. I don't decide to feel something and then turn up or down the dial of intensity. I wish I could, I wish I had no feelings, which is why I enjoyed being medicated from them on those three days. It is fucking silly, I know, to have feelings about the littlest things and people think I'm dramatic but if it were up to me, I'd take this heart heavy with emotions and step on it, crush it, replace it with a non-feeling thing instead.

I'm going to come right out and say it, because it's the truth and I'm not a fan of denying the truth. I love Suffian Hakim. I do. It doesn't matter if you think I'm ridiculous or stupid or gross, because I'm probably all those things, and yet what I feel would still be true. We once had a conversation where he gave me sort of summaries of the things that he felt heaviest about, and immediately, I felt so much for him. They are things that weigh him down, the way there are things that weigh me down. His things are things that, if I'd gone through, I would rather not talk about, because they are just not things you want to think about or talk about, and this is coming from me, the person who talks about everything.

Every time Suff pushes me away or distances himself from me, I tell myself that we are all products of our lived experiences, and I don't even want to imagine the experiences he's lived through, that have made him so guarded against romantic love. I know he wasn't originally that way, people aren't inherently hard and cold until things happen to make them that way, and I understand. I understand that yeah, perhaps if I'd gone through the things that make him heavy, I would also not believe in anything permanent, nor trust in anyone, because nothing has ever lasted, and even someone I trust most could let me down, so why even try?

But I love him, and so by way of loving him, I wish and hope he was a little bit softer, and a little less callous with my feelings. I think of things like "I wish all the people who let him down hadn't done so, so that they wouldn't have made it so hard for him to let me in."

This was one of my favourite nights together:


I was crying and crying and crying on Friday, despite my medicine, that it hurt. I was fighting through the bubblewrap of Lexotan, so that I could and would feel the feelings that were bubbling and frothing over, so that I could and would cry it out.

After a while, I couldn't handle my own feelings anymore, because it was just too painful and overwhelming that I called Han. It is a testament to how serious things felt for me, because I don't usually have phone conversations with anyone, I don't like my voice over the phone, and much prefer texting.

We talked for 45 minutes, and in the last fifteen, my best friend started crying because of how heavy she felt for my sadness. This is my best friend Han, who is yet another onion, and about whom I've said things like "Han cried at such-and-such movie, which means it is really sad, because Han never cries!!!"

She said that she'd also hoped that Suff would have stuck around for me, in a more committed way, I think she could tell how much I liked him (just as everybody can). Over the phone, I kept telling her I wish I didn't have so many/such intense/any feelings, because all they do is hurt me, and I don't want it anymore, I don't want to have to negate my feelings with chemical substances, and I sobbed and sobbed, and Han had to tell me she wishes she had more feelings, and for me not to wish such things.

I cried, because it reminded me of when I was younger and had my longest-standing boyfriend (of about three years), who was the Christian Chinese guy, that we all knew would not last. I cried, because when I was younger, even when I was going through heartbreak, I felt young enough and strong enough to brave through it. I cried, because my mother, despite not really agreeing with my choice of boyfriend, was still one of my best friends back then, and she would listen to me proclaim about how "life is for taking chances and feeling all the feelings, and that I don't regret anything" and she would run her fingers down my hair and tuck me in to sleep and wipe my tears.

I cried because sometimes people say I choose the wrong guys, I choose someone from a different religion, or a transient character in my life I meet while travelling, or white men who don't have a long-term plan to stay in the country, etc etc, basically saying I gravitate towards the star-crossed lover dynamic. But this time, I didn't. I chose a Malay guy whom I'd admired for years, I chose a guy who liked the same things I did and communicated the same way I did. I chose a guy who was a safe bet for me, and still, I was hurt.

I cried because I wish he would trust me enough with his issues, as I trust him with mine. I cried because I love him.

When I got home, I couldn't take it anymore. It was overwhelming me, and it hurt too much, and I didn't want to pop another pill and ruin my routine.

My parents weren't religious when I was young, and I was not brought up to be religious even up to my teens, so I am really tak senonoh (not wholesome?) when it comes to praying. Whenever I pray, it is a real actual effort on my part to do so. I have to confirm with my sister every time, where the qiblat is (direction of Macca), and I always bring the book to the toilet to know how to take wudhu (ablution) etc, etc.

My sister was having her period (menstruating females are not allowed to pray, don't ask me why, the gender politics in religion have always been one of my main contentions with believing in such practices and rituals) so she couldn't lead or guide me. So my grandma came over to my room, in her happy manner, to guide me and lead by example. I prayed with her, as much as I knew how, and then when my grandma had taken off her telekong and left, I suppose I had my own conversation with God (yes no I know I am the biggest sycophant who turns to God only when I need and half the time I completely don't even believe) but I dunno. I think it helped. I don't know how and what it means, but perhaps baring your soul to the universe, helps to alleviate a little something something.

I am very tired and very sad and I hope that God eases all our paths.

Edit: I went quite berserk last night, and I realised, it could be because between today and ten days later, exactly a year ago, was when I conceived the poor little foetus. It was conceived at exactly 33.8768°N / 118.3931°W. They've moved house, so it doesn't matter what you do with those coordinates.

I am looking forward to seeing a therapist, I want to know how much more I can be enlightened about my situation. I know for sure, one of the biggest things that keeps holding me back is my guilt, and the fact that I actually wanted to keep the baby and raise him/her. Yeah, I do want a kid, but I don't necessarily want to give birth.

I feel like I really crashed and burned last night, but the good thing about crashing and burning is that I am a phoenix, like Fawkes, and it is finally time to rise from my ashes again. I will keep being reborn, no matter how many times I burn. One year is long enough. I'm okay with not being okay, so gimme what you got, life. Watch me shake it off.

Friday, August 11, 2017

DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER

I got so much shit to say
but I can't help feeling like I'm camouflaged
fortress around my heart
you were mine just yesterday
now I have no idea who you are
it's like you camouflage

but it's good to see you here again
I don't wanna say goodbye
but it's about half-past ten
and I have to catch my ride



Tonight, Mel and I went to have dinner with the paternal aunt who got married last weekend. They live in Denmark so we only see them once a year, if we're lucky. The wedding was a beautiful, simple one but my aunt had a clause for the guests not to use our individual phones for photography so we'd leave the photography/memory-making to the professionals. I think the photos will be very nice, can't wait to see them!


This is our cousin Ieyas. He still calls us Giant #1 and Giant #2, for the first time he met us in his memory, we were towering over him, and he was still tiny. I used to be Giant #1 and Mel #2, but of course, my sisters have all grown taller than me (at least the ones in my household), so now I'm #2.

We don't often get to catch up, but Ieyas is one of those kids with a brilliant mind, which means of course that we enjoy talking to him. We asked one another about our favourite movies, and TV shows, and songs.

His parents raised him with their own tastes, I suppose, which is adorable, because he likes all the classics. He likes Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, and the Back to the Future franchises. When Mel and I said we'd never watched any of the Back to the Futures, he said he didn't hear anything and walked away from the table! HAHAHA such a dramatic kid.

Ieyas is also a fan of Friends, and was happy to recount to us their visit to the local Central Perks cafe. I think it may be time to take out my DVD boxset and do my annual viewing of the entire series.

He said he has a book of interesting facts, so one of them was that there were four asteroids named after each of the individual Beatles, and so on and so forth. I got him a copy of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, I aim to give one to each of my little cousins and nephews and nieces, so they all have a little inkling of inspirational women, and have a spark of feminism in them.

Ieyas had a solo in his school's Mamma Mia production, and when his mum suggested it was The Winner Takes It All, he cheekily said no, The Wiener Takes It All. So young, and already with the wordplay! This one will do Mel and I proud. ;)

They're flying back to Denmark tomorrow. Mel and I have thought of visiting them in Denmark for ages, but it's never materialised. Perhaps next year will be when it finally happens. I would really love to see all the things Ieyas has told us about.

On the way to dinner, I saw the guy who used to work on the digital campaigns at Y&R, we rarely saw him 'cos he's Malaysian and based in the Malaysia office. I wanted to say hi but I forgot his name so I walked past him nonchalantly. Working in an advertising office, regardless how short it was, will always be a fond memory. It could be so stressful, but so fun at the same time.

*

I don't know if I'll be dating Suff any longer. I needed to get away, because I don't know what I was becoming. It made me think of my mother, and how stifling I feel she can be. I don't know if you know or can relate (depending on your demographic and the ethnic community you grew up in), but up till today, my mum still texts me about the clothes I wear, like the one I posted on Facebook today.

Every time she does it, I think to myself, I wish she would accept that the values she believes in and the values I believe in are just completely different, and I don't subscribe to what she thinks is right or okay, etc. And yet, there I was, wishing Suff would drop his values for mine. My mother is the person who has raised me for 27 years, who has not managed to make a dent on my value system and Suff and I have known each other for just over a month, yet I was trying to change him.

I had an idea of him that I liked, and I expected him to conform to it, and he just didn't. I know for a fact it's hard to change. I've lived my life being used to having attachments and being expressive with my feelings, that just the mere suggestion of changing the way I am, and letting go, is ludicrous and laughable. But I was trying to get Suff to be more like the person I was, even though it's not something he's used to, not even close.

I also kept saying I knew him, when I don't, not really. I've never seen him with his family, or friends, or anyone he's comfortable with, to see the person he really was. He did ask me to visit him in KL for a few days, and I really wanted to, but my colleague Daion is already on a trip in Bangladesh and we're shorthanded so there was no way I could have gotten away from work.

It just seems like I had him pegged as the person I wanted him to be, and if he fell short of that person, I pinned it on him as a fault. It was just like Tom did with Summer. It was very unfair and so much pressure to deal with.

Last night, he said he felt like he could love me in another world, if we'd met earlier, and I cried (actually I'm crying now, hahaha), wishing I was the Sarah in that particular alternate universe in which we could have worked out. I wonder if I'd talked to him at that party three years ago, whether it would have made any difference.

A while ago, before I knew any part of his story, before I learned that I had to be patient with him and give him space, I learned something on social media and I didn't think it tallied with what he was telling me. It reminded me of the time Daniel Grayson said he was somewhere else, but I saw on Facebook that he was back with his fiancée in the US, and I learned that it was his fiancée, and not whatever cock-and-bull story he was pulling on me.

Instead of asking Suff about it, I disappeared and didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. Frankly, I suppose I started pushing him away before his own issues even kicked in for him. I can be very flighty and given the sour relationship between my mother and father, of course I have my own issues with commitment. This is why I subconsciously tend to find guys who don't want to commit, then I get to blame them instead of myself.

When I found out about this, I actually couldn't sleep and I asked Mel (who, fortunately, is a nocturnal animal of her own accord) to go film something downstairs at 3am. Clearly, I have some real deep-seated issues. But also: no, you don't have the best sisters, my sisters are the best. 😛

It just doesn't help that he has his own baggage, and I have mine. There are things I wish I'd done differently, there are so many things I could have gained his trust with. But it's okay. Perhaps AU!Sarah is doing better with this than I am. Maybe AU!Sarah with fewer issues meets AU!Suff with fewer issues, and they are happy together.

Today, I was being honest with myself. I don't know whether it was a coping mechanism I needed to have in place to survive that period of my life, or it was the hormones making me extra romantic and fond of the time I'd spent with him, or whatever the reason was, but I made Joey sound like he was a lot nicer to me than he actually was.

Don't get me wrong, while I was there, I could observe him in his most familiar and comfortable settings, but we... we had more lust than like for each other, to be very honest.

I couldn't talk to him very much. He was a rocket engineer, and when I read his dissertation, a lot of it flew over my head. In retrospect, what we had was very fun, but fun is something that perhaps sustains you for a summer and not much else. Also, after the storm that happened in my life, he rather ignored the consequences and pretended nothing had happened to change me.

I say all this because, I look back on my time with Suff, and I will really miss the time we talked to each other (not to say that there wasn't any lust, because holy freaking god was there ever hahahah). I enjoyed everything we had. It was just such a nice experience to have someone who would say something I was about to say, even if he beat me to it. It's like a "ergh I wish I'd gotten there first!" simultaneously with a "omg I was thinking the same thing!"

I think our brains were wired similarly, and had similar interests, and even ways of thinking about those interests, and that is quite rare for me to find in someone of the opposite sex.

control yourself
take only what you need from it

Saturday, August 05, 2017

BEAT DEATH IN LIFE

The Laughing Heart - Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

It has been a really good week, I think, all things considered.

This morning (technically it's past midnight now so it was yesterday), I went to the salon to get my hair done, because my aunt is getting married tomorrow and my bangs were ruined from the time I tried to cut them myself.



I love the stylists at this salon, they've always been so nice, since the time I've been going to them at Ion, up till now that they're at Holland Village. I had to do work during my session, because I've been backlogging crap, and my stylist said "you carry on, please don't let me bother you" while he was doing my hair. So sweet!

I might be the most amazing hustler but I cannot wait for September, when I will drop one of my part-time stints so I can get more sleep. Otherwise I'm always cramming my time doing work during other appointments/in transit so that I don't lose either i) income and/or ii) sleep. Both of which are very important to me, at the moment.


He saw that I was getting bored of doing work so he brought me an entire container of lollipops!!!!!!!

I met up with Kellynn at Waa Cow in U-Town, because I saw on Facebook that she was selling some of her books and so of course I bought a few from her.



When I first saw her, I saw that she was wearing a ring on her ring finger so I thought it was her engagement ring, but she said she'd lost it just two weeks ago during a work trip to Chiang Mai, and although it is a sad, annoying thing to have happened to anyone, I couldn't help but laugh. This girl!!!!!!

She did say the silver lining was that she'd taken a few days before telling Mo (her fiancé, of course) about it, and naturally: he said it was just a ring, they could get it replaced, and he was more concerned about her having taken a few days before telling him. He guessed correctly that she was afraid of his reaction, and so he said "you don't ever have to feel like you can't tell me anything."

Gag-reflex, Y U TWO SO SWEET. Kel and Mo are truly my real-life relationship goals, though.

I think it's also to do with the fact that I have heart-eyes for Kel, always have. She's a very English-y (English-y is such a non-Englishy term, I fail myself), wordy person. Ever since we were high school classmates and I knew she went for writing camps and I always saw her with a book or books, she's always had this position in my head as like, a "books mistress/mistress of words".

I know there are many real-life couples I could aspire to, but Kel has such a way with words, it just bowls me over. You know how there are a few people who have told me "you have a way with words", well I feel that way about Kel that I could never achieve, which means, imagine the way she writes. Whenever I read captions of her and Mo on Instagram and/or Facebook, I'm like EH STOP IT AH, your words are giving me FEELS. I only wish I could write like her.

In any case, Kel does research and communications work on migration/migrant workers, such as domestic or construction workers, which I feel is really meaningful. She did say there's the potential of burning out, because while they do educate through seminars, it would be hard to effect actual change to help them (the workers) through policy-making, especially in a government like Singapore's, which is about as transparent as a solid opaque brick wall.

Here are some of her words.



We had salmon bowls at Waa Cow, because they'd run out of their signature beef. The auntie who served us was the sweetest and cutest though. She gave us a bottle of hops, mead and who knows what else to make up for the fact that they'd run out of everything else we'd ordered. The mead was really nice.

After lunch, I got an ice-cream and we sat on the lawn outside Starbucks.


I will always have a fondness for NUS, although I've never been an enrolled student there ("she doesn't even go here!"). I used to go swim/run with Han, or crash her engineering lectures, or meet Khalis at YIH, or watch his hall dance productions, orrrrr I also went to a few of the dorms, because NUS is a landmine of angmohs (angmoh: local colloquial term for white man, fyi), so, you know. One of the men I dated who was from Portland, Oregon and did his masters research on mangroves (I have no clue if he's still here) lived in the U-Town dorms, and uhhhh, well.

I also feel very romantic about NUS as a whole because I really want to study. I don't know if I'm romanticising it, and I know people who have had enough of studying would choose not to, but I really want to read and write about books, or take up gender studies, or something, you know. My ideal life is to study forever, just for the sake of gaining knowledge, and I wish education was more accessible/affordable. But you know, we all have wishes in life.


Me contemplating every ice-cream: if I finish this ice-cream, I will no longer have ice-cream.




Kel told me about Cat, who is her friend and whom was my editor for an article I wrote. Cat is so cute lah, I remember she had to keep editing me for tone because did you know (yes you know): I cannot write objectively, everything I write is clearly coloured with the subjectivity of my feelings. But also hi Cat, I like you very much, because your name alone is amazing.

I had ice-cream, and books, and friendship, and it made my afternoon a brilliant one. Kel went back to work, and I did work at the student centre.

Kel asked about my book, she says she can't wait to read it. Khalis also said he would read my book and I take this as a joke because Khalis doesn't read and he doesn't like books, and Han too said, "you really have to write your book soon! you are so funny!" Okay Han you pay for all my bills, and I will write a book in which you are an astronaut and fulfill both our dreams in one, can?

I'm just gonna put it out there that I aim to have my book complete at the end of 2018, which gives me at least a year. Okay, thanks, no more pressure, please. :P

I had a post published on Facebook, but I'm cross-posting it here for Han, because my best friend is the foil to my character and has absolutely no social media presence, she has no Facebook nor Instagram nor anything that requires her to be sociable, so how we are best friends will always be beyond our comprehension. All Han does is read my blog and ask me to write more so she can read my blog. So demanding, this girl.

I wanted to say, Han, that I was thinking of this, when you asked me for my reason in the conversation we had, that was a continuation of the one when you first started. This stance might be.... relevant?

For the rest of you, that paragraph above is cryptic because it's not talking about me, I'm never cryptic when it comes to my own life, lolol.
Exactly a year ago, I met the man who would change me and the course of my life, for better or for worse, or perhaps for the same, all things considered.

After the Dodgers game, I would take an Uber to his place in Manhattan Beach and meet him for the first time. I can hardly believe it has actually been 365 days since then, I still remember being at the game and semi-worrying about my luggage that I'd left in a random tour group's bus because it wasn't allowed in the stadium.

About three months from the day we met, or nine months ago, I remember telling myself (some people would call the same act of talking to a void: praying to God, so you can call it what you will) that I would not love anyone else, that I did not want to love again.

I had about 23 times more attachment to him than I'd had with any previous man in my life, because of - I dunno, the chromosomes he'd provided, who knows? - and I wanted our bond and my loss to mean something, so I would always love him and no one else.

Then, slightly over 28 days ago, I started feeling it. The tendrils of interest, then care and concern, creeping into my heart. Again. I was starting to feel like perhaps I could give this new man something that he was and is still not ready to provide me in return. It is a small form of sacrifice, regarding his feelings before my own, risking being hurt. Again.

I'd known about this lesson a while before experiencing it, but now I think it's ingrained into my brain. I should not and cannot and must not cheapen love by attaching a sell-by date (or the opposite, whatever it's called) to it. Love does not have to last forever, or for a lifetime, for it to remain love.

You can love the wrong person, someone who does not love you back, someone who is bad for you, someone whose parents disapprove of your relationship, you can try to love just for the length of a summer but have it drag on for half a year later, you can get married and have kids and love your spouse and get divorced, and your love still counts as love. Your love is not only valid if it lasts.

One of Joey's housemates remained good friends with his ex-wife, and one of my ex-bosses still lived in the same apartment with his ex-wife, his children, and his current wife, all of them amicably (while I was working with him, I don't know their current situation).

"Of course, my relatives talk about it," but he says, "they're not the ones paying my bills" and he wants his kids to have a healthy, loving relationship with all their parents. All their parents. What a quaintly pleasant expression, instead of having to choose, constantly divided, between one or the other, your dad or your mum, your loyalties questioned.

I will always love the people I've loved, the great summer love with whom I created a new kind of love, my ex-boyfriends from a decade ago, all of it still lives and I still have the best memories of loving them. And I will still move on to love new people in my life. As my friendship with one of my best friends will always remind me: "hold on when you get love / let go when you give it"

Have a good week, err'one, so much love from Sarah Mei Lyana!
After I did my work at NUS, I met Han for dinner in town. She said that Suff sounds like a smart Mat. The man is so arrogant about his intelligence relative to our Malay population, I'm guessing he would say the term is an oxymoron. I feel like he actually did write it in Harris bin Potter, it seems very familiar.

Han also asked whether I was dating anyone else apart from Suff. I told her I had a Tinder guy ask me to the Singapore Coffee Festival, and my first instinct was "even Suff knows I don't drink coffee", so I declined because clearly, my mind would just be on Suff. I don't know why I'm so loyal, before he left for KL on Wednesday, he told me he was going to hook up with Malaysian Minahs.....

*massages temples* this one Suffian Hakim testing my patience level: Melyssa Novianna Azalea

My sister sort of enjoys watching me react to Suff: on certain nights I will be ranting to myself, and she's like "yesssssssss" she seems to think she can now take a backseat and, I dunno, pass the baton to him? I think even Han is amused, it's like they are now the trifecta of a testament to my patience, what have I even done to deserve this???

There are things I consciously allow myself to feel, like knowing his favourite songs to sing to, and then there are things I unconsciously feel through no volition of mine, things like missing ruffling his hair with my fingers, or feeling a sickening pit in my stomach when I think of him with someone else.

I was having a conversation with my colleague, and I wonder if there is an impression that I'm some sort of invincible? Just because I'm brave or unfiltered with my feelings doesn't mean I don't feel the same insecurities that I would think cripple everyone else. I have been used and cast aside by men, time and again, no matter what I say to them, and no matter how I try to protect myself. Every time I say "I love you" I'm really scared they will say "I know" back. I'm scared that one day, they'll drop me and move on to the next pretty, young thing. All I want is also to just be enough for someone who is enough for me. I just, I don't have a habit of hiding my feelings to avoid a loss, because it's such a tremendous waste of the human experience.

Iiiiiiiiiin any case, because it's been almost a year, this popped up on my memories.


I wish I could have everyone experience everything I did in LA/California. I hit the beach for surfing, climbed a mountain, raced through canyons, went to so many people's workplaces that they loved being at, went to scientific and art museums, fell in love again and again and again. I know it wouldn't be the same for any other person but myself, because I open myself up to anyone and everyone, and when people see me being vulnerable, they tend to also bring out the most humane sides of themselves. I wish you all knew why I love the place so much. I wish I could design a technology that would allow you to immerse yourself in someone else's experiences, be in their shoes, I think it would help with creating empathy in people. It would be like Phoebe's power in Charmed, or Rogue's from X-Men.

I miss Cali so, so much, I think I'll go in late 2018.

Suffian is in KL to write his next book which is launching soon enough. Every time I want to text him something, I don't because I know how it feels to be distracted when I need to meet deadlines, and I get very anxious for my own work, so I'd rather not have secondhand anxiety for him. I'm gonna take this time to watch Star Wars and read as much as I can.

I had ice-cream three times this week: with Suff, with Kel and even again with Han. I have been settling some monetary issues for now and for the future. I have been procuring books to indulge in. But all of that notwithstanding, I know y'all know the main reason why I'm feeling so light and happy, is because I'm falling for someone, and there is a reason why "all you need is love" was on my bedroom wall for many years, before we moved to this house.

Mel and I are apparently the flower girls at my aunt's wedding later. I'm not sure what that entails but my baju has flowers on it. That's sort of a joke but honestly my outfit does have a flower print.... Imma be flowergirling with my sister, then come home and crash, finish up my work for the weekend and then actually repay a bit of my sleep debt. My hairstylist said it was obvious that I'm lacking sleep. :(

PS: There are things I'm considering that unfortunately I cannot be too public about, for my own well-being, so my social media settings have become quite strategic. If you know, you know. ;)

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE

Remember when I said Suff was a Star Wars geek? No? Well, whatever, I did say it, sometime. I, on the other hand, had never seen a Star Wars film in my life. It wasn't something I was brought up to do, or that someone introduced to me to spark my interest (as opposed to my father getting me my copy of Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone or Huda letting me watch Hamilton at her house, &c &c, you get my drift).

So yesterday, I decided to start and see what the whole hype is about, right, because: FOMO culture and whatnot. I told Suff that I was starting to watch Star Wars IV: A New Hope and here's what he said to me: "okay but I want you to watch as you, not because you like me" and "I wanna know what Sarah thinks of it" which instantaneously gave me a sensation/sentiment I'd never felt in my life, and not in a good way.

I had an expression of utmost incredulity on my face (I know, I felt my features move that way --- almost as bizarre as something you could see on Calvin's face - as in Calvin and Hobbes).

Suff either does not know me at all AT ALL, or he knows me so well and he did it on purpose to set me off, which would have been an ingenious move to turn me off/push me away because it worked, but I don't think he meant it that way. He doesn't have THAT much foresight.

My first thought was: excuse me, what? Me? Sarah Mei Lyana. I have a mind of my own, and my mother thinks I don't think of anyone but myself and my feelings (can't deny it, it's true). I'm my own individual and I hate being influenced.

I mean, omg yes I'm a huge geek for geeks and whatever, but you know, it's like when Joey brought me to SpaceX, he didn't have to say "oh, I want you to tour SpaceX and tell me what you think, not because I work here" or when Khalis takes me around Singapore he doesn't have to say "oh I hope you don't think these buildings are cool because I work on them, this has to be an organic thing, okay?"

MOFO the thought of it gives me so much rage. I am not a dog pandering to your likes. Space and rockets and architecture were cool before guys were working on them, and Star Wars was cool before Suffian was a geek for it. Millions of people like Star Wars. Don't flatter yourself, Suff. I am my own sentient, autonomous entity with my own brain and my own thoughts and feelings.

No but honestly, I've watched Hamilton with so many guys, and every time I watch it I've never told them "watch it for you, okay? don't let me colour your impression" OF COURSE YOU ARE WATCHING IT FOR YOU, I DON'T HAVE A GUN TO YOUR HEAD DO I.

Y u c k lol when guys think they're everything *rolling my freaking eyes* nobody controls me except me, and if you have the impression that it's otherwise, it's because I'm in charge of the impression you have. Fuck you, Suff. (Not literally.) (But also: literally.)

I set up a Twitter account just for live-Tweeting my thoughts of the Star Wars film franchise. You can head on over to @sarahmeilyana on Twitter to read them if you're a Star Wars geek and you're interested. I'll probably delete the account once I'm done. Bye!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A LESSON IN FRIVOLITY

The Louvre - Lorde

our thing progresses, I call and you come through
blow all my friendships to sit in hell with you

but we're the greatest, they'll hang us in the Louvre

(down the back - but who cares? still the Louvre)



a rush at the beginning
I get caught up, just for a minute
but lover, you're the one to blame, 
all that you're doing

If you ever thought I had no filter whilst I'm at my most sober, not-under-any-influence, sane self, you now have a chance to view me without a filter whilst sleep-deprived, delirious and on a serious sugar high.

I met Khalis on Thursday.

The last time I'd met him was with Huda at the end of 2015, just before my first trip to LA. He was treating us to a meal because we'd helped him a tiny bit on building his thesis model. That day, Khalis gave Huda and I the condensed version of his thesis on the Kampong Glam area. I think I'd been through it before but I made him do it for Huda's sake.


He brought us to a place that gave us this magnificent vantage point and for the ninety-millionth time, I was in awe and adoration of him being an architect. I thought it was so thrilling. I still do. I think I'd blogged about that day, but it got deleted (by me, yes I take full responsibility) so this is a short recap.

Anyway, before I met him this Thursday, as in a few days ago, he suggested meeting at Circular Road and I said "be there or be square" and I could just feel him rolling his eyes at me, even though he didn't say it in text. It is a wonder how he has tolerated me all these years, but perhaps it helps that I have tolerated him too, as well as had the longest-standing crush in the history of crushes, on him (who even still has crushes? clearly: hello, it's me).

The thing about walking around with Khalis is that he does with buildings and places what I'd like to think I do with people. He gives each place, every intersection, the 7-11 store, a story and history. I love knowing why this Sultan built this bridge, or why they cut across this area, or how it affected communities.

He still makes me laugh, effortlessly. He still uses Kistna, the perfume that I liked so much I sprayed it on a stuffed toy I had hanging off my phone, the name of which Huda still remembers. My best friend remembers the name of the cologne that my crush uses: if that is not the epitome of creepy, I don't know what is.

I love smelling whiffs of it, walking one step behind him, carefully and purposefully so that my hands would not bump into his while we saunter and banter back and forth. It brings me back to when I was crushing hard on him, when he would bring me to jamming studios to drum, it makes me feel like I'm 21 again, a great age to be.

After having met him and thoroughly enjoyed his company, I recalled something another close friend used to think --- that I was crazily attached to Khalis because they (close friend) thought Khalis and I had messed with each other, physically, but I think it was the exact opposite that happened. He knew how easily I get attached, so he never had any physical contact with me if he could help it, he would be hesitant to even give me hugs, because he knew I liked him, and he didn't want to lead me on.

Good Guy Khalis. I respect him so much. I mean, don't get me wrong, like every one of us, I'm sure he has his flaws and I may not know them all, but he's a friend to me, so I respect him.

*

Last night, I met Suff. I don't know what I'm doing with him, but first, you've got to ask, have I ever known what I'm doing? (No. And therefore, nothing new here.) And secondly, do I like what I'm doing now and am I ready to wing it as I always do? (Yes.)

You've got to wait for the excuse I used to meet him though --- get this --- I went to pass him chocolates. You'd think Singapore is facing some sort of scarcity of chocolates, that I had to go and personally give him the last ones I could find. But no. I went because he likes chocolates, and I wanted to give them to him, and I wanted to see him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I got a quarter of his life story last night.

The man is an onion with protective layers like none I've ever met. The amount of emotional labour I've got to put in to get the least bit of response from him is preposterous. One day he infuriates me to the point of venting, at myself, about how THIS MAN DOES NOT WANT ME AROUND, how he's an incorrigible asshole who will not let anyone in, and who will drive me to insanity.

The next day, I tell myself "you need to be patient, Sarah, perhaps he's testing you to see if you'll stick around, maybe he doesn't trust people as easily as you do, most people with a brain wouldn't (be as trusting as I am)" and while I pondered this over, I realised that this hit much closer to home than I'd previously.... realised.

Dyou wanna wager guesses on people who have always had the tendency to be emotionally distant and detached? Han and Mel. Two of my favourite people in the world. My best friend of fifteen years and I have extremely deep roots of loyalty to each other, but she's truly my foil when it comes to expressing our emotions.

Every year, I will be rambling on and on for our birthday or whatever, and she goes like "you know I don't really like mushy things" and me: "oh my god is that all she can muster for me" and her: "my god will sarah never shut up" ngl, there are parts of us that hate each other's guts.

And my sister. There is no denying the fact that she is my favouritest person in the world, she is my #1 and I would drop anything for her, and the sooner everyone recognises that, the sooner you will get into both her good books and mine, HAHAHAH. This is how and why she likes G, the best friend I have in France (for the past three years) that I have never met. He thinks of her before he thinks of me!


As much as I love her, though, she can be a difficult person to love, and she knows it, and I think she sets out to be, sometimes, because she thinks that is just what she is. Her boyfriend had to jump through hoops, and possibly still always does, because she's always pushing him away, over and over and over. It's not even just him (though I feel you, Dan), the entire family has to navigate through her moods and whims and fancies.

Like, if Melyssa says no, then she means no. The only way to cope with her mood swings (which I suppose I excuse because there're medical/scientific motivations behind her behaviour) is to have a certain detachment and acceptance like, oh, okay: she's having one of those times, if she wants me to be around, I'll be around, but if she doesn't, then I will do something else with my time, that does not involve me feeling unwanted.

This is why I think it's very difficult for people like my grandma or mum to navigate, they tend to take it personally against them as people, when Mel isn't selective about whom she chooses to love or not. If she's in a mood to love, it's everyone, if she's not, then she closes herself off to everyone just the same.

Han isn't so tough, but she does have a general solid wall, and her boyfriend also had to jump through hoops for freaking ever, before she let him in. Han is extremely selective about whom she places her trust in, and even as her best friend of half our three decades of lives, she finds it hard to confide in me.

So yeah, you know, I'm not saying I know for sure Suff has the same issues, who the fuck knows what his whole deal is, but in the case that he does need me to prove that I'm here for the long run, then hey, I've had practice with my sister and best friend pretty much my entire life.

If we're going by simple mathematics, it took me five dates to get to a quarter of his life story, it will take me fifteen more dates to get the entire story. It could go either way, though, it could get longer the further he gets in --- I mean, he does tend to do that to me --- he shares something, then he thinks he's gotten too close to me and backpedals and pushes me back out, and it's very, very tiring.

Or, it could work exponentially, maybe it will take a few more dates before he accepts that I'm relentless when I've decided on something and I won't budge, and he gives in and trusts me enough to tell me the entire thing. Who knows? I certainly don't. All I know is, I've done this before, over and over again, and if I have to do it again, I'm on. I don't scare easily. Not unless you're talking in the supernatural sense. Then fuck you if you scare me.

So I met Suff late last night while waiting for him to do work, and while I generally treasure the little amount of sleep I get to have, I didn't mind because I fit in some reading and writing and swinging on a swing, and all three are my favourite things (I did them all at separate times, not simultaneously, in case you needed clarification).

We both fell asleep last night, and by the time I got home and showered and was ready to sleep, it was close to the time I normally have to wake up, and I did wake up and went to work. Today at work, I was so tired, I forgot why I was tired. My colleague asked why I was sleepy, and I couldn't recall that I'd stayed out and gone to bed at 5am, and I wondered why I was tired indeed.

She asked me if I needed to take a nap, bless the dear, she's 20 this year, so she probably thinks I'm her grandma's age at 27 years old. I've been wanting to stay awake longer to read and write more, while I'm not hustling to earn money, and I thought of those drugs that overachieving kids take in America to juggle their education and party lives and generally fit in more hours into their time.

Sometimes I think I'm a bit on the wild side, but then I know I'm actually quite lame and tame and not nearly experimental enough. I'm actually really vanilla, but then most of my close friends haven't done half the things I have, so I think, if I'm vanilla, what are they, sugar-free vanilla from Starbucks???

I needed to stay awake this evening so I had earl grey milk tea and now the sugar is still coursing through my body and I'm really knackered. It's like my body is tired af but my heart and brain still feel the energy from the sugar, so it's very confused and all I really need to do is crash. I need to catch some zzzzz's but I already know if I sleep now, I will have nightmares (sugar does weird things to my already-weird sleep issues). My neurons are in overdrive so it's just yapping on and on and on in my mind now with no punctuation so to be honest I dunno if any of the things I typed in this entire post makes any sense.

I'm only on my laptop because I needed to transfer some of my writing into soft copy because I'm super old-school and I cannot write by typing. My ideas just do not flow if it's not pen to paper. I'm a dinosaur. I would really like to read some more but I think I'm gonna crash.

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Monday, July 24, 2017

SLASH / STROKE

you've got to change the world
and use this chance to be heard

your time is now

One of my biggest regrets is that I never got to see Muse perform Butterflies and Hurricanes live.


It is my favourite by Muse, but I don't know anyone else who thinks the same. I love everything about this song. I don't think most people even know about it, 'cos it's one of their lengthier tracks that would never get airplay. When I was in the mosh pit at their most recent concert in Singapore, I was close enough to them that I shouted for it to be played, but I was ignored, because it's one of their older songs and really not popular enough to be performed at their concerts nowadays. :'(

In any case, I think Butterflies and Hurricanes is very apt for the situation that was my entire year from July 2016 to July 2017. What started out with a seemingly minute act as beautiful (cheychey) as a butterfly flapping its wings, turned into a full-fledged hurricane in my life, tearing it apart.

It has been quite a weekend, and I mean that in the best possible way.

I bumped into an ex-boss, actually she's my ex-boss's wife, but she was also my sort-of boss, and she expressed concern 'cos they hadn't seen me since way before I left for LA the first time. They knew about what happened in my life last year through social media, and she told me that I should chill out, because "I'm still young."

This is not the first time someone has said this to me, that I need to take a chill pill. I hope it is one of the last times, though.

Sometime last night or this morning, I felt a relief I haven't felt in ages. It was like something ---- God? I don't know what? every time I mention God I feel like I need to make a disclaimer about the God I believe in and then I'm like stfu Sarah your relationship with God is between you and God and if you don't believe in God, you can justify it solely to the God you don't believe in: and oh my that was a tangent I did not see coming, sry ---- but as I was saying, something eased the weight that had been burdening me since... 2015?

I feel like the last true light year I had was 2012 (by which I mean the last year I felt free, not as in Buzz or Woody nor the astronomical distance).

I can't quite explain why, for the past few years, I've been such an old soul, and so, so heavy. I didn't used to be like this. I used to be so sunshiney and positive and carefree it would get annoying. I used to be so frivolous and I would blog about the most frivolous things, the everyday situations that I would still have extraordinary feelings about.

Then I started to date more frequently and more seriously, and I realised that the lifelong absent father syndrome/abandonment issues from my childhood were actually, truly leading me towards emotionally unavailable men. Men who would lie, who cheat, were commitment-phobic, who would do everything but not have a label on our relationship, and as much of a trope as it is, I would crave their concern, and the tiniest bit of affection would leave me feeling so happy and high.

Today I decided the same way I want to be a financially responsible parent and leave all the struggling-to-keep-afloat issues behind when raising my child(ren) if I have any, I realised all these parental-complexes end with me. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. C'mon Sarah, you can recognise when it happens, you can avoid them.

And then last year happened, and with it came a loss I never expected. Together with the loss of my cousin, then finding out about my little one and trying to come to terms with it, and then finding out that it was gone, then facing the consequences at home, all of it happening out of my control, felt like four sucker punches in the span of two months.

That loss that I had no power over, it killed a part of me forever, I think. I also think that's why I deleted my decade worth of blogposts. I know it disappointed and upset some of my very best friends and family members (and possibly still does, under the surface) but I was in incredible pain and I told myself, if I can face this terrible loss, they can face a stupid loss of typed-up memories. So I deleted the archives, and the personalised blog labels, the hashtags, the travel anecdotes, the in-depth biopic of every character I was close to in my life, everything. I was petty and I wanted to inflict some form of loss onto someone else. Of course it was a ridiculous move to make, and I regret it a little now.

Yesterday night/today, though, for some reason (again, perhaps it is God in whatever form), I feel like I've accepted that we all have our ghosts to live with, I cannot and must not carry all of it with me wherever I go and whomever I meet.

This morning, Huda came over to have McD's breakfast at my place. She brought my belated birthday gifts, which happened to be really apt for my mood.


It's a book of poems by Warsan Shire, because: if you give me words, I will feel your love, and I will feel more love for you in return.


She also brought my souvenir from Cambodia, a sketch poster of (500) Days of Summer, which was once upon a time my all-time favourite movie, until it got replaced by La La Land, because: relevance.


Suff said my room is "very girly" and I couldn't call him out on "girly" because I was distracted by other things.


Huda's words will always have a calming, soothing effect on me. Case in point:
"I think that when one has experienced a loss the way that you did, one has a tendency of picking up everything that still remains, and holding on to them closely, tightly. But here's the thing: not everything can/should be held on to. Not everything is a battle to be fought for. Life is not a war."


She got me a rose gold bangle with the words Live Lightly engraved on the outside, and que sera sarah on the inside (because punning is our language of choice).

After what I went through with Suff (story to be unfolded later), it was apt that she gave me a bangle that says to live lightly, but what is curious is that she got it for me way before he appeared, because I'd generally been heavy, in my soul, for a long while in life. What is even more curious is that I could have gotten it from her anytime earlier, but it was only now that I received it. I don't think I will be living lightly because of the bangle, but I think perhaps I finally received it because I'm actually ready to live lightly, and it will now be my companion, true to its inscription.

Huda's status on Whatsapp for the longest time has been "hold on when you get love / let go when you give it" and I've always liked it whenever I see it. I'm going to keep bearing that in mind.

So once upon a time, I chanced upon a blog belonging to a Suffian Hakim. He had written a Singaporean parody of Harry Potter and so it became a viral thing on social media and appeared on my feed. He was a Malay guy whom I considered very intelligent, witty and funny, and I also found him attractive.

Throwback to a couple of years, maybe three years ago, I saw him at a party or a media launch or something or another (you know how I always somehow end up at launch events and I don't know how or why??) that I think the agency he worked at had planned. So like, I already knew who he was, right, but I had to pretend I didn't, so I tried to catch his attention. This guy clean ignored me, and thus I felt uncool af, although I think af had not come about into existence circa 2015.

Fast-forward to June 2017, a month ago. I saw that he had Super-Liked me on Tinder, and I literally, historically-factually rolled on my bed in excitement, because this was the Suffian Hakim whose Instagram account and blog I had been creeping on intermittently, for years. If he had not Super-Liked me, I would have Super-Liked him first. #YouHadMeAtSuperLike

When we met, he felt familiar. And I don't mean in that I knew a few facts about him from stalking him online. I mean it was easy to talk about the similar things we enjoyed, or disliked, or were interested in. I'd never met a Malay man as fascinated by the origin of words. He can't speak Malay, he really sounds god-awful speaking it, I sound better speaking Malay and that's saying something. It was comfortable and I had my guard down all the time. He made me laugh, deep, hearty laughs. I watched him play football once, whilst also reading the new book he's working on, because he writes. When I read his words, I swell with this thing that might be close to pride although I can't quite place why. It amuses me when he sings along to songs he doesn't even like, because he has a brain that remembers lyrics. I loved learning that he was in fact a multidimensional person *fake shock* unlike the words and ideas that I'd read on his blog. There are things that I will remember, like when he started rambling about freedom, autonomy and independence and I simply nodded my head yes but actually feeling bewildered at where he'd started the tangent from, before he continued the game of Pepsi-Cola on my fingers, pinning my thumb down after having lulled me into a false sense of security. I don't know if that was the general vibe of our entire dating experience.

I got him a tauntaun sleeping bag for his birthday because he is a Star Wars geek, and I'm such a huge geek for geeks (new title of my autobiography: geek for geeks). I have the video footage of it, and it's adorable, it still makes me smile, watching him get all excited about it and exclaiming "best fucking gift ever!!!!" in the dorkiest of manners.

Of course, for all my deep, intense like for him, sometimes there are just some things you can't quite gloss over. We disagreed about feminism sometimes, but I have a feeling it's the medium of communication that really breeds mistrust, because when you text, you're not able to convey your nuances in voice, or you can't tell how the other person is feeling and work off that, or try to clarify your point of view. I mean, I know he would be familiar with the concepts of feminism I advocate, but how do you talk about abuse apart from face-to-face? Or like, when he asked about the book that he has out, and I didn't want to talk about it in text, because I have all the respect for him and the book, but I doubt he felt it, and it's just challenging overall, sometimes I wish I could have met him just to talk.

But mostly: I think the issues that he has and that I have were tough to compromise. He doesn't like being tied down or accounting to anyone, and I'm as possessive and transparent as it gets. I have trust issues with people keeping me in the dark, because it was more the norm than an exception that guys generally lie to me for the kick of it, just because they can. So, you know. We're compatible, yet the ghosts of our parents or past relationships or lived experiences that we each carry and our flaws are not.

This could be a very weird way to sort of end this post but I would like to say, Joey doesn't give a shit about me, and I generally don't give a shit about this. This is for your benefit, whoever you are, I don't know who you are or what you do, but you should know who you are. He doesn't care for me. He housed me because he knew it was temporary, he never saw it as anything more than a fun summer fling. What I hold dear and close to my heart are my memories of him and of what we did together for that one short summer month. Because it was a respite from the craziness of my own life. I appreciated him, and the little joey that was not to be. This is because I get attached easily, but Joey never reciprocated it. He missed me because generally, once you've spent 28 days in someone's company, you will be inclined to catch feelings for them, but he missed my company and that's all there is to it. I have very much admiration for Joey and love him for the person he is, I mean he's a stellar man, but we weren't the most complementary of people, except in certain aspects *clears throat* no but whatever, yeah.

So... I dunno, I'm trying to go back to bite-sized pieces of stuff that I think my friends have missed. I know y'all used to read it on and off for entertainment, and lately my life and I had been too depressing to be at all entertaining. I think, I hope, today is the change that stays. I really miss the person that I used to be, which is a ridiculous thing to say, because I get to decide the person that I am, and I want to be that person again.

'cos all of the stars are fading away 
just try not to worry, you'll see them someday
take what you need and be on your way
stop crying your heart out

Sunday, May 14, 2017

WHEREVER YOU GO,
GO WITH ALL YOUR HEART

I feel like this post should be in the form of a video log, because I'm gonna ramble on about several different things, and I kinda wanna have more of... a conversation where you can jump from one train of thought to another, then go back to the previous thing, without having a linearity you usually have to have when you're writing.

Anyway, anyhow. If you're here, please read this entire post before forming any conclusion about anything - if you are the sort to have conclusions. I'm not sure if there are any conclusions to be formed, because I have none myself, but I'm just trying to avoid any judgment from anyone, about anyone (myself included), as far as possible.

/ being human:

I turned 27 three days ago, on May 11. At this moment in time, as I'm writing this, I feel like I'm in an alright headspace, and I'm glad to be alive right now, glad to have been alive for the past 27 years.

Late last year and earlier this year, for a rather long while (when I was going through it, it felt like a long while but in the grand scheme of things, life always does manage to go on and nothing really seems to be a long while in your memory, once you've gone past the stage of living through it), I didn't feel very well in terms of my mental health.

I had thoughts that I didn't enjoy having and I'm not proud to have had, and as much as I tried to steer away from them, as much as I tried to surround myself with #positivevibes (how bullshit that sounds now), there was a major hormonal imbalance in my body and until I acknowledged it, I wasn't able to cope with it.

I blamed myself, because of course I had to hold myself accountable for it. I told myself if I hadn't been so carefree and careless, none of it would or could have happened. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel any resentment towards Joey. He was one-half of the equation, of course I 'blamed' him as much as I 'blamed' myself.

To be honest, I think each of us might still think it was more of the other's fault for not taking our own steps for it not to happen. Perhaps that is what usually happened in our previous individual experiences and we took for granted that it is what would happen. He could have done his part in taking precautions, I could have done mine, yet neither of us did. There was no excuse, we were both young and careless. (I wanted to add "wild" but the truth is, neither of us is too wild, we are relatively tame, safe people, except for an aberration of that one summer with all the consequences..... ;P)

After the incident, I didn't realise how badly I would be affected. When I heard a random stranger in public talk about blood, I couldn't breathe and my mind blacked out, and it was only after some time to myself that I realised I'd been triggered to thinking of when I'd bled out. (Yeah, I know right, triggered, what a ~millennial~ sort of word to use.)

I spent a long time going round and round feeling bad about myself, for having made such a big mistake, for not even being financially capable of handling it by myself, I felt ashamed because it's not culturally appropriate or even acceptable, the way I was raised. Basically, everything that I'd done in my life felt like a bad decision and wrong and I'd fucked it all up. It was the hormones making me feel this way, but usually when you're in such a position, you're too far gone to be rational about hormones.

A line of questions that I kept harping on was, "why did this happen to me? why me? am I a bad person?" It was pointless and destructive and I never got anywhere but finally, when I got right down to it, I accepted that it happened just because I was and am fundamentally human.

It's easy to forget that people are flawed, and for some of us - terribly flawed: because most of us like to think only about shiny, happy moments, and try to make life about only the shiny, happy moments. But it isn't. Being human and living a human life means exactly that there will be times when everything feels like it's going to complete and utter shite.

You might have to go through a divorce, break up an engagement, lose your loved one, get diagnosed with serious medical conditions, experience failures in studies and in businesses, cheat or get cheated on, be bullied for your sexual orientation, have kids before getting married and be shamed for it, be assaulted or raped, be disowned by your family, have a miscarriage, and the list, sadly, is non-exhaustive. You will inevitably hurt yourself or someone else, or someone will hurt you.

The only way to avoid any of it is to stay indoors like Spongebob did in an episode, and not have any interaction with the outside world (I recognise that Spongebob is not a human being, but he is a personified sponge).

And so.... I just want to say that if you are going through something that you think is incredibly negative, or you feel like you've fucked up and nothing will ever go right again for you, welcome to the ranks of humanhood.

In the entire history of mankind, millions upon millions and perhaps billions of our fellow human beings have gone through some version of it before. The ones who are alive, who are around you, have either already gone through their own struggles, are going through it and may not be showing it, or may not have met with their personal ordeals at this point, but may do so in future.

And it's human to do so. It's human to have the very worst things happen to you. You could be feeling pain like you feel should not be humanly possible, you could want to lie flat on the toilet floor and never move or do anything again (Izzie Stevens ref, anyone?) for the rest of your life, like your heart is curling up so much you'd rather die, or that you're already dead inside. You might want the hurt to show on the outside, like a battle wound or scar, so that you can explain why you don't feel like going to work or go on with the rest of your life, because hey, look? I feel like I've been stabbed/shot/whatever, even though I'm physically intact. And you won't even have that as an easy out, because what happens in your heart, people say is just all in your head, even though you are consumed by your pain and sorrow and grief, you think you can't possibly feel anything good again. It happens because as a human being, you are capable of feeling hurt, even if nothing physical has apparently happened to you. And this happens to all of us.

I'm reading a book called note to self by Connor Franta at the moment. I haven't gotten through a substantial portion to decide whether it's good or bad or if I like it yet, but even in the first few chapters, there is this paragraph that resonated with me---
My struggle, my pain, my grief, my despair, my tears—they're not uncommon. They're shared. And once something is shared, it loses its isolating potential. That's something I've come to realize—once I understood that I'm experiencing something that millions of others have endured before, and are enduring at the same time, it somehow makes it feel less frightening, less heavy, less individual.
I guess I can say at this point, now that it's sort of behind me, that I, for one, am glad I felt all the negativity that I've felt, all through my life. It means I risked something. I risked many things. I invested myself in situations, in people. I have stories to tell. I'm in non-mint condition, I'm all banged and scratched up, in my head, my womb, my heart, my skin, all of it. I explored the spectrum of human emotion and have wasted none of it. My hope for you is, if and when you are experiencing the bad, dark, tumultuous, uncertain, stormy parts of life, that you remember that we as a species are equipped with the heart to feel it, and the brains to think through it, and that making mistakes or having mistakes or anything sad/bad/mad happen to you, is part of being human. We'll feel it and we'll go through it together. Because we're the only ones evolved enough to be able to. And because the best stories are the ones lived out.

(Plus: what happened to me/us was basic science, and for dating a rocket scientist, we really were selfishly careless, to assume that 1+1 would always remain as two. Hello??? It's not even rocket science to know that's not true when people are involved. I learned my lesson the tough way. Humanhood, right?)

depression:

In the past seven months or so, I tried to externalise whatever I was feeling, with the exception of in front of my mum and extended family. I think the fact that I was not allowed to feel it in its fullest with the people I live, prolonged the amount of time I needed to get through it, because talking/communicating outwardly is how I sort of get through and over things. I'm saddened to say that my values are not my mum's values, and her deep shame at whatever she has experienced in her life and that has happened in mine, made me feel much more negative about myself and the incident, than I objectively would have, and even do right now.

But that's besides the point. First I want to say, most, almost all of the people who were by my side through the past year, have been the greatest help, and I'm immensely grateful that they stepped up, spoke some words to me, showed that I wasn't alone, even if I felt I was. I made boundaries, saying what I thought would be okay for them to say or ask, and what I thought would upset me, and beyond just sticking to those lines, they said some really comforting things: don't feel like you need to set a deadline to feel better, take all the space and time you need, let the days pass, and don't count down or up to anything. Every day is just another separate day, every step is another step. A couple of people said things that weren't very helpful, but I'm going to assume they haven't had any prior experience in coping with depression, so that's fine. They tried, and I think that's what matters.

I am by nature an expressive person, and that's possibly why I'm articulate (at least on a screen even if not in person). I say things to people, loved ones, or the public. Anyone. I might be fortunate that I knew to set my initial boundaries of people wanting to express concern, and that people who were in the know generally were amazing at taking care of me. However, I still felt that during the time I expressed my darkest thoughts, certain members of the audience were uncomfortable with it, and they made me feel like i) I had no business expressing negativity, and ii) I should snap out of it, as if it was as simply done as said. I think that it's a nasty, pathetic side of social media that you feel pressured to only share the good things, so that you don't "affect anyone else". It's problematic, because as life goes, it's not always shiny, happy people, doing shiny, happy things. This is probably why people forget that life is quite often full of shite things happening to good people.

If any one of you reading this feels what I'm talking about, I hope you know that you shouldn't have to hide your sadness. You can talk about feeling down and out, despite trying otherwise. I hope that the people in your social circles are as kind and soft and generous as the ones who have been for me, and that you understand that people being people, there are those who will go through the worst of it with you, even though others put you through that worst. I hope that your loved ones step up for you the way they did for me. Otherwise, if you're ever overwhelmed, whoever you are, and wherever you're from, you can talk to me, because hey look! I am a fellow human being who is way too familiar with messing up. This offer stands, months and years from now, as long as I'm alive.

kids, adoption & perhaps the general state of the world:

In a semi-ironic turn of events, I have a feeling I will not be giving birth in my life. When the choice was presented to me, my heart and hormones overruled my head, and I felt I needed to have it. This was amplified because I generally hate and avoid making major decisions and am pretty much crippled from saying "no", so when I found out the news, I was leaning towards "okay, well that's it then, this is happening" but in a much more frantic, chaotic manner. I didn't think about it all that rationally, because I'm telling you, wait till you go through it (meaning: guys, you're exempt from this, as you always happen to be) and your hormones are a mess, the very word 'rationale' will no longer exist in your vocabulary.

However, since that choice was removed by chance (it happens to 80% of women, I learned a new fact!), I've had the time to properly think about it, about bringing a life into this world. Between my last birthday and this one, among the myriad of injustices are: Trump became POTUS, Syria happened and is still happening, multiple more "religious-backed" terrorist attacks took place and will inevitably continue to. The closest description to how I feel about the state of the world is... helpless. In this era of technology, there are people still living in poverty, or diseased, or lacking access to food and water, or all of the aforementioned, born with nary a chance of education or climbing out of their plight. Kids are brainwashed and recruited to join "religious" extremist groups, lest harsh consequences are carried out to themselves or their families.

All we do, all we can do, is close our eyes and numb ourselves. We raise our kids wherever the heck we are, try to give our kids the best advantage they can have, without acknowledging that one more kid we have is one less chance an impoverished child could have at making it anywhere in this world. Human life on this planet is a zero-sum game. The resources I take up, disadvantages someone else. We are overcrowded, overpopulated, and yet we care more about portraying our shiny, happy lives in saturated squares.

I don't know why I had this existential crisis but I think I might like LA because it's full of people trying to escape reality. Pick your poison: dance, date, drink, drug. Try to find your life purpose, buy into the lie and feel sorry for yourself, when to be honest, life itself has no meaning. We don't feel empathy for people we're not "related" to. The default human condition has to be sedated or we face the stark truth of life, unfair and full of suffering, too crippling for the average person to deal with.

The world is in a very sombre and sordid state of affairs, and I honestly think if ever I were properly ready to raise a child, I would adopt an orphan. I will not be bringing another life into existence and have to put on rose-colored glasses for them, pretend everything is happy and shiny. I think I would like to help someone who might be in a dire situation otherwise, and hopefully be for them the person I needed when I was younger, or even be the person that I still need now.

I hope I don't come across as.... perceiving that this is the only right thing to do. I'm well aware that not everybody has gone through the same things I have. Every individual story is their own. I'm happy for people who have found someone to share the rest of their lives together, and also really happy if and when they do have their own offspring. Perhaps they've got their lives well put together enough that they would raise their child to do good for the world, or perhaps they're a celebrity who can raise their own child and still manage to offset their carbon footprint, or fund another disadvantaged child's existence. Who knows? I'm not here to judge, and I'm not judging anybody.

Also: I'm barely twenty-seven, and I don't claim to know everything. Of course nothing is set in stone. Nothing ever is. Maybe when Trump is no longer POTUS nor instigating casual bigotry, the world will be a fairer place. Maybe people will be more compassionate towards immigrants and realise they're all just seeking brighter futures. Maybe racism will actually be acknowledged as a problem and cops don't shoot black kids just because they're perceived "threats". Maybe one day, terrorism will be tackled and the illogical problem-solution misfit of having too much food wastage in the world and yet millions of people not having access to any food will be solved. Maybe one day I could be motivated to give birth to my own kid, but looking at the world as it is now, maybe not in my lifespan.

....Especially since my father had six kids and my mother had four (overlapping two), and I feel like that's enough to make up for my portion of the birth rate/population control. Sorry, I tried not to go there, but I still did. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

/ love, dating, relationships & Joey

As well as being a hopeless romantic, I tend to be pragmatic, and those two concepts don't necessarily gel very well. So... I don't yet know where this is going to go, until it's typed and then we shall see, together. This could possibly be like five different tangents crossing over and tangling with each other, and I could be going back and forth about stuff.

My mother and I occasionally don't get along because we have differing ideas on gender performance and conformity. I subscribe to the notion that life would be much simpler if human adults were allowed to act on their natural instincts, but she subscribes to the idea that life is a test, and we don't live for this life. It creates some tension in our house and in our relationship, and I understand that she doesn't see my point of view, but she seems to think that my moral value is linked to the clothes I wear, or what I do with my body. As much as I respect our right to practise different lifestyles, I wish she would understand that just because I don't like all the things she likes, or I don't believe all the things she does, does not in any way mean I disrespect her or love her less. Love is love is love. I love her, but I also don't think you have to agree on everything with the people you love, or change them to be like you. I say this in this part of the blogpost because I have massive amounts of love for my family, but certain things strain our relationship, and I find it unnecessary.

I like to do things based on trust, and freedom. I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Practically speaking, you cannot change a person's belief just because you believe in something. Not unless it's a scientific fact that cannot be disproved like, the earth is round. That's not how God and religion are, though, and even if God exists, I'm sure that "there is no compulsion in religion" would be a basic and true tenet. That my path in life is my own, and I should not be living according to how another believer wants me to live my life. That's not how it works. If the intention is not organically my own, and I'm only doing it because someone else is preaching to me to do those things, am I a true believer? I feel like as kind and sincere as a person's intentions might be, to be "religious" and spread the word, sometimes it backfires and pushes others away. We were not all intended to live the same way, we were all made different. I think this is why I'm so dissatisfied with living in Singapore, this place has no trust for its citizens, the sale of chewing/bubble gum is prohibited because we are not trusted to dispose of gum properly. I mean, how can a relationship be a happy one when it has no trust, no freedom and so much restriction? We also still have the death penalty, which goes to show human rights isn't the most forwarded of causes here.

This is also why I think travelling is crucial to personal development. People my age and younger are more open and accepting, regardless of the faiths they subscribe to. We've seen that there is so much to this, so much more to living on Earth. The world has seven billion people, of whom 1.8 billion profess to be Muslim. These billions of Muslims believe different things, live their lives differently. There are 1.8 billion ways of being a Muslim, and just because you believe in one specific, certain way does not allow you to override how I want to live as a Muslim. I think people who haven't seen the world are afraid of seeing that other forms of Islam, or even of Christianity, of atheism, and various alternative lifestyles exist, and that these people are good, and happy, and morally-upright people. It's a threat to their own beliefs, that you need to be or do things in a certain way, before you are considered to be living your life right. I feel bad for the generations before me, of course, because they've always been slogging too hard, too much of the time, to travel the way our generation does, and they tend to stick to what they know instead of expanding their horizons.

I understand that my mum's protectiveness comes from a place of concern, and I appreciate it, but I really want to say, what I need is please let me be my own person and live my own life. I would like to tell my mum that she's done a fine enough job of raising me, but I'm an adult and it is my turn to make my decisions, and trust that no matter what I do, it is fully informed and I will never regret the choices I make. One of my best friends said something that added to my perspective a couple of nights ago. She said, "if your mum believes that life is a test from God, then she should see it as a test for herself, that you were created differently from her, that you question and do things differently, but still try to accept you the way God would accept you."

The thing about it being tough for me is that apart from my sexuality and openness to the world, unlike certain people who have chronic issues with their relatives and loved ones, my family and I actually really love each other and get along well. That's why it's not as easy for me to just say, oh I'll pursue my freedom and do more of what makes me happy, because my mum would take it as a sign that I don't care for her, which is not true at all. It's like I'm stuck between a feather pillow and a really soft place, but either way, I will be smothered to death.

Right, so, anyway.

I love Joey, or I like him very, very much. I suppose there is no way I can deny this. I try to be conscious of why I do what I do, or why I feel how I feel, so I ask myself, why do you love Joey? I know sometimes people wonder whether race/skin colour/culture plays a part, because I've been dating mostly Westerners in the past couple of years. I can't say it isn't true. I've dated my fair share of Asian guys, and given my worldviews, I really find it easier for myself to relate to liberal Western men. Most men here were raised by women who, directly or indirectly, gave in to their boys' demands, much more easily than to their daughters. When men like these meet me, they expect me to also fold and cave, defer to them, the way their mothers did to their fathers.

I cannot speak for all of Asia, but in Singapore, and from the pool of Asians I dated, local men are misogynistic, and it's so internalised they haven't even begun to acknowledge or unpack it. It's in all the cultures here, even if we have the majority Chinese, and minority Malay/Indians. Our society, when it comes down to a basic family nucleus, will prioritise males over females. We still allow our boys to be lazy at home, but never girls. We believe in antiquated ideas like, guys can have sex with many partners, but not girls, or you will lose your "value". In fact, the very patriarchal concept of virginity still exists here. If you could just see me rolling my eyes now.... I don't even mean this to occur only in generations before my own, it's so ingrained that some of my best friends still subscribe to it. Until quite recently, so did I. In my own religious/cultural background, men are still the "leaders" of the household, and my female voice/viewpoint is dismissed so much more easily when I am speaking to a Malay man, than if I were to speak to a Western man.

I just had a conversation with my grandmother last night, and she's the sweetest, but she believes in things that make me outright scoff (I don't think I know how to scoff: Gabe ref, anyone?). She advised me to change my image --she literally used the word "image" which is a pretty big deal, considering she doesn't feel comfortable speaking English-- so that I can attract a decent man, to marry me. Because Lord forbid that "good, decent" men love "non-wholesome" women such as myself. Upside-down smiley parade!!!! Omg breaking news, I just found out you can use emojis on Blogger. 🙃🙃🙃🙃🙃

I'm a feminist, and an overwhelmingly outspoken one at that, so I know that I will not get along with any man who was raised in a patriarchal/sexist way. Of course I know there are Western men who are just as sexist as any Asian man, and Asian men who are properly feminist, but the latter are few and far between. Generally, if you're an Asian man who benefits from the privilege you have over Asian women, I doubt you'd be too bothered to try to change the status quo. Also: if you're a feminist woman who's dating or in a relationship with an actual feminist man (and not the kind who profess themselves feminist just to get laid by liberal feminist women, because yes of course such sleazeball men exist), congratulations, you've snagged yourself a rare Pokémon, and I am very happy for you.

Then there's the issue of money. I don't have to say it, but someone else has probably already thought it. I could have fallen for Joey because I'm attracted to money. I mean, of all the hosts I stayed with, Joey was the most well-to-do. He and I had a joke about his family being superprivileged because their house has three living rooms, for goodness' sake. Plus, he was also the one who drove the sports car, bringing me racing in the Malibu canyons. I must say, though, I've always loved adrenaline rushes, it's been one of my favourite things to take thrill rides with Han to celebrate our birthdays or overseas trips, so obviously, I would fall for the guy who drives racecars, right? I could unwittingly become the poster-girl for Good Charlotte lyrics "girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money." And it's such a tired trope, of Asian women being with white guys for their money. When I was in LA, there were Uber drivers who told me to find a man with a navy-blue passport (ie. the US passport, to the uninitiated) to marry, and I giggled, but also I was dismayed, because it really still happens, and I'm just like what?!?!?!?!

So yeah, it would be tough for me to disprove that I like Joey for the fact that he's a rich white guy. Because he's white and rich. But then I know that's not the person I am. I'm a romantic, I've never needed money to enjoy the best relationships I've had, plus apart from letting me live under his roof, Joey didn't pay for anything for me. One time, I think I was looking for cash for some takeout we'd ordered, and he was telling me I didn't have to pay for it, but he was hesitant and tentative about doing it. I dunno if it's 'cos he knows I'm a feminist and he thought I wouldn't be okay with him offering to pick up the tab, or if he didn't wanna insult me by insinuating that I wasn't able to support myself (although tbh I was indeed running low on funds). Or perhaps he just thought I was out to use him for his money. Who knows? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If Joey was a regular working-class guy, I'd date him and probably feel more comfortable about it. If I wanna date a white guy, Joey or otherwise, I'd have to be financially stable myself, and work for my own livelihood, but because he's financially very comfortable, I have to work even harder to show that it's not his money that I like. It would be so much easier if he was broke like I am, lololol. Also: I have dated filthy rich guys and dirt-broke guys, and those other affluent men gave me no feelings and some guys with no cash were my favourites, so. Bottomline is, I shouldn't have had to prove it to anyone but money really isn't what matters to me.

The previous few paragraphs were: "not reasons why I like Joey", and the next few are "reasons why I do like Joey". Also, just as a heads up, sometimes I think being around me is like constantly having to remember the fifth amendment, because everything you say and do, can and probably will be used about you. It's not even only for men, I do the same thing with everyone. If you say/do something and I witness it, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll store it in the compartment of my brain that recognises who everyone is. It's my journalistic tendencies playing out in all my life aspects.

Anyway, anyhow.

He's empathetic, although he doesn't show it unless prodded. In the last few days of my trip to LA, one of my ex-bosses in Singapore passed away, so Joey and I had a conversation about prayers. I was being cynical, but then Joey said "well, people do what they need to feel better, and sometimes praying helps people feel better." When we ordered pizza, Joey gave the pizza guy more cash for tips, which had slipped my mind, because in Singapore "tips" are incorporated in the bill and we don't have a tipping culture. He said "we gotta tip him, he's on minimum wage and I'm a decent human being!" The first night I met him, I word-vomitted my life story up to that moment, and he said "I would wanna run away if that happened to me, too."

He is incredibly patient, he gave me my first-ever practical driving lesson in his Honda stick-shift, at a Kaiser Permanente parking lot. Do you know how many times I stalled the engine, and had to restart it again? More times than I can remember. In one afternoon. His poor, beat-up car. I feel bad for it. I also feel bad for him, because he had to explain how to rest my hands and how to move them to turn the steering wheel, so that they wouldn't cross over each other. He repeated this eleventeen hundred times and I still didn't get it, because I am a dumbass. (Also: shouldn't my level of hand-eye coordination be the same for driving and for drumming, but, how???) The whole time I was just amazed at how patient he was, and I wanted to kiss him. Maybe I wanted to see his patience for teaching me and how long it would have taken to push him over the edge, because I'm crazy.

One of the weekends, after we'd got back from racing his Mazda in the canyons, I left his car immediately because I wanted to get to his air-conditioned room. In case you don't know me, I suffer from hyperhidrosis, so I'm almost constantly perspiring. It used to be palmar hyperhidrosis (and I'd always spoil gadgets from holding on to them), but then I went for a procedure called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, which cut the nerves to my palms so I would never perspire there again, and now I just sweat equally excessively from everywhere else. That day was a hot summer day in LA, and Joey's Mazda doesn't have A/C (he removed it so it would be a light body kit ideal for racing), so his car is essentially a sauna in the sun. I wasn't really thinking about my car seat probably covered in all my sweat when I left the car (and I know how much it would have pooled because even in air-conditioned public transport I can see my beads of sweat left on the seats). I didn't mean to leave him behind, I just needed to get into the cool indoors. After the fact, though, I realised I should have stayed and helped him, because omg, it's my sweat, but the thing is, he never mentioned it, nor did he ever show anything to signify that it bothered him in the slightest.

You know? It's all these things that I find gross about myself, that certain people would just brush off and say "nah, it's human" that make me feel like, aww, that's really nice and understanding. As an aside, the fact that I have hyperhidrosis is possibly one of the reasons why I may never put on weight. It's not exactly a great trade-off. I mean, you should see the number of clothes I can soak in a day, from doing nothing but sitting down. Eurgh.

The night we were at Hermosa, I needed to pee, so I insisted on taking an Uber or lyft back, although he told me we were near enough to walk home. It took forever, because it was a Saturday night and everybody was waiting to get an Uber/lyft, but Joey and I sat at a bus stop (I don't actually know what the structure was, tbh), and I remember going on and on about needing to pee, but never considering walking home. When we got back, I realised that the ride was really short, and we could have walked for sure. It's moments like those, that I really appreciate him always giving in, and letting me have my way. For someone whose favourite word is adamant and who considers himself adamant, he's actually really sweet and.... pliable. Perhaps I can just be more adamant than he is.

Then there are all the little things, because it's always the little things, innit? The time I was FaceTiming with my grandma, Joey popped his head to say "hi, grandma!" but I said "Joey, duck! my grandma's not supposed to know I'm in your bed." The man was housing me for three weeks of the summer and yet I wouldn't let him be in my FaceTime frame with my grandma. Or when he brought me to meet his friends at parties, or for meals. When he was scratching Love Story by Taylor Swift, for me, and Russ came into the room unexpectedly, throwing both Joey and I off. That he's an engineer who works on the design of rockets for SpaceX, and I felt small, but then he said "you know lots of things I don't! you speak three languages!" and my head went: oh my God you are an attractive, intelligent, lovely, musically-trained man, please don't add humility to the mix, stahp making me fall for you even more, stahp, staaaaahp my heart is melting already.

Or when we started discussing limousines 'cos we saw one. He told me he and his housemates owned a limo for a period of time, so I asked whether it had any pull effect on girls, and he said "I dunno, I had a girlfriend while we had the limousine", which signaled very loud and clearly to me, that this was a man who would not cheat. He was offhand about it, he didn't know me well enough yet to know that my mind is a database of conversations, but I knew, as much of a party guy as he is, he doesn't see a reason to cheat, which is basically all that I look for, isn't it? It saddens me to say it, but I'm attracted to people who don't remind me of my father, and Joey fits the bill completely. He's faithful, honest and responsible. I can tell by his dynamics with his housemates and neighbours that he's usually the reliable one, financially or otherwise.

And then earlier this year, while I was back in Singapore, after having read my posts, he told me upfront that he was starting to see someone else. He stopped being in contact with me, but then he was no longer dating that person, so we started talking again. I was assured 'cos he understands that I just require complete honesty, after having been strung along, so many times. I was grateful that he told me, although he didn't need to be at all accountable to me, because we were never in a relationship and he's not obligated to, and also because I was also already dating back here (to get over the incident, I think it helped somewhat).

I could try to rationalise it till the cows come home, but that's all probably after the fact. I love Joey, and there is no explanation for it. It's in how he texts me at some random time, I could be anywhere doing anything, and I light up at his text. It doesn't even matter what he texts me, I'm happy to know that he's alive and well. That I'm on his mind is secondary, just knowing he's okay is what makes me glad. If I could just know intermittently in life that he's okay, it feels right for me. It feels like everything is going to be okay.

So, you know, sometimes people ask whether Joey likes me, and I've also been wondering the same even since I was still in LA. Bill, this other really sweet host of mine, asked whether Joey liked me, because it was obvious that I liked him. My answer is always... I suppose? I suppose he liked me a reasonable amount, and Bill agreed, because yknow, he was patient with me and let me drive his car, I was the first person who rode pillion on his new bike, he thought of me while he was out with his friends, and Ti'aan, one of his housemates, said I was always on Joey's mind, etc etc. I suppose he liked me enough while I was in LA, for us to date while I was there, because it was convenient. But Joey is an ambitious man, and his work is important, world-changing work, so he's too busy to keep up with anything that takes too much effort.

And I get it. He grew up in California, and more than that, he grew up very comfortably in California. As a 27-year-old man, he has the prerogative to be carefree and have fun. It could be all that he has known, so I understand that. I don't know how attractive he is when placed against other white men, or how attractive he is to white people, or in the grand scheme of attractiveness, but to me, I think he's super cute. I feel very strongly attracted to him, and I used to think it's because I really like cuteypie boyish types (which Joey was) who have clean-shaven faces, but then a couple of weeks ago, he sent me a photo of him with a full-grown beard and mustache, and my brain instantly went "dayummm, this man is fine" so I thought this must be love hahahahaha. ;P

This next tangent may sound a little crass or crude, but if it does, you shouldn't be surprised 'cos I've always been crass/crude *fake gasp*. I understand that Joey wants to have fun and be free because frankly, I do too. He's an understanding, intelligent, rich, attractive, talented man, he should have no dearth of suitors. In a matter of heightened self-awareness, nor do I. Sometimes I get amused when the men I date say they were intrigued by me because they think I'm strong for having gone through so much, or they're fascinated by the way I think. I want to roll my eyes because if I looked less attractive, it wouldn't have mattered how "valuable" my life experiences are, they would have swiped left. I'm gonna be honest with you, if the men I date can be superficial and decide on me because I know how to wear bronzer to give myself cheekbones, or that I'm tall and slim and dress myself well, there is no reason why I can't afford myself the same luxury of being picky about how my man looks. Especially because I know beyond the makeup and clothes, I actually do have some substance in the form of my brains and heart.

When I got rejected by the men I fancied, which has happened several times in my life, they would tell me "Sarah, look at you, a girl like you will definitely find someone" and it could be just some standard template answer people give to the ones they don't fancy, and I never believed it was true, until now. Now, I truly believe there is nothing wrong with me. I have gone through enough life to know that there are guys who would go the extra mile for me, I am an intelligent, loyal, affectionate, independent, inquisitive, witty, sociable woman who can stand up for myself and hold my ground. I also am really busy with my own life. I barely have enough time to sleep: I'm always hustling to earn money, I have good friends to meet, movies and TV shows to watch and books to read to learn something new about the world every day. I have my own book to keep writing. I mean, look, there are people half my age, and some twice my age, who are reading this, from as far as thousands of miles away. For some reason, my words matter in some form or manner, to people I don't even know. I don't quite have time to date either, if I actually really sorted out my priorities by matter of importance. I think traditional men want women to perpetually be besotted with the idea of romance and love so we're too distracted to take over the world and run it ourselves.

This is me living out what I learned from the research in Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance. Our grandparents, and their grandparents, and everyone before that used to marry the first person they dated, and often within the same block, if not the same apartment building. But now, we live in the age of a multitude of options. Given our current lifespans, let's take the average decline of virility at 60, that means if I get married at 30, and assuming we want our marriage to work out, my life partner and I would have to be physically faithful to each other for thirty years*. I say this because I'm not the kind of person who would forgive my partner if they cheated on me. I especially cannot stand it when cheats go back to their spouse and say "it didn't mean anything". You did a wrong by cheating on me, you don't get to define what that wrong means to me. We made a promise to stick with each other through everything, so if you cheat on me, that means to me, the victim of your wrongdoing, that you consciously chose to forget about me and the promise you made to me, and that promise now means nothing. Sayonara, sucker.

*thirty years though, dyou know how long that is? That's longer than I have lived so far, and my 27 years already feels like an eternity.... The FOMO could be quite real.

That's why I think, pragmatically speaking, I do believe there is some good in exploring the options I have. This is possibly a bad analogy to use, and hopefully my husband is not the kind to think of women as food/objects, but here goes: when I say sushi is my favourite food, I am comparing it to every type of food I've had, or it would mean nothing. If I've only had sushi in my life, then my conclusion isn't even very objective or significant. So when I choose my life partner, I want to know that I've dated a range of men, and my favourite person that I want to settle down with is actually my favourite based on all previous experiences I've had, and not some "divine" intervention or a media-backed idea of "the one". While I'm doing this, I also hope my future life partner (if I have one) is doing the same, so that when we do commit to each other, he's well aware of the entire "sea of fish" that he's forgoing for a life with me, that he knows what I'm worth and, through at least thirty years, not think of what-ifs and could-have-beens. Also: the good thing about my not wanting to give birth is, now my biological clock can keep ticking, and I could still date. :)

I don't know if the idea isn't romantic, but divorce rates are high, and judging by some failing marriages, it should be even higher than it actually is. It's why I believe cohabitation is thoroughly important before a couple decides to spend the rest of their lives together. I guess that's how I actually developed some levels of connection with Joey. We knew each other's pet peeves, or when to do our own thing and stay out of each other's way, even when I was living in his house. Close to a decade ago, I forget whether it was before, during or after B and I were doing long-distance while he studied in Melbourne, Shahida asked "how often do you feel the need to meet your boyfriend?" and I said "maybe once every three weeks" so she literally, hyperbolically said, "wow he could be living on Mars." It's 'cos my favourite things to do are solitary activities, I don't need company for the things I enjoy doing. I like to read, write, watch TV/movies, and none of those things requires having someone else with me. In fact, I quite like doing them alone. I like being in my own head, and zoning out by myself.

One of my hosts, from much earlier in my trip, was sweet, but also very chatty, and I complained about it to Joey and my best friends. Joey doesn't really like to talk much, which was brilliant for me, because as you can all attest from the ramble of words above, when I'm in the mood, I can talk nineteen to the dozen. Like the time Big Wok would not accept my $1 coins from the Metro top-up machine and I ranted: "I'm gonna take this up with the government, I'm in the US now and I have rights!!!! I should be able to use coins that are valid US currency!!" He just rolled his eyes and laughed, I'm pretty sure he thought "this crazy Singapore girl."

So.... Yup. I no longer know whether I lean closer to romantic or practical, because I think, practically speaking, you have to try with a few potential candidates before you find the best fit, for a considerably long period of time.

/ Netflix and no chill:

TV used to be a form of distraction to keep the masses occupied. I suppose it still is, but personally I really love Netflix's great content. Considering I had to keep myself distracted while keeping my depression at bay, Netflix was such an amazing preoccupation, the things they've recently been churning out are entertaining, relevant, and I'd say could boost your brain cell activity, rather than killing them.

There are 8 shows on Netflix that I'd have to say I would recommend to anyone and everyone, and I would get Netflix accounts for all of you just so you could watch those eight. (Or at the very least: Black Mirror. Get on it, y'all.)

I really enjoy Chef's Table, it's a documentary about chefs/restaurants/food. It's my favourite documentary series ever. On the one hand, I don't watch many documentaries so you might not want to take my word for it, because what do I know about the topic, right? On the other hand, perhaps because I tend not to watch documentaries but have overwhelming love for Chef's Table, you might be convinced that it's a really interesting series to watch. 😍

Each episode is about a chef with a fascinating story, like Grant Achatz who had tongue cancer, and had to create recipes without the use of his taste, but entirely from memory. I mean, c'mon, what? It's very diverse, too, there are Asians and South Americans, an Australian and as far out as Slovenia. Who even thinks of Slovenia as a place? Where are they? Who cares? Me, 'cos I wanna go to Ana Ros' restaurant, which is also literally her home, in one bungalow-building-thing.

The videography is visually stunning, and wherever it's filmed, you really get the sense of the place as a story, and why it played a part in the creation of the restaurant, or the inspirations behind the respective chefs' styles. Also: it always leaves me hungry. Even though some of it looks like art. It's like an ~experience~ just watching Chef's Table. I have a new aim in life that is to try and visit as many of the Chef's Table restaurants, or to meet the chefs and try their cooking (not all of them run restaurants, one is actually a monk in Korea). I know there were two episodes about restaurants in L.A. and another in San Francisco. I think I'll try hit them up the next time I'm in Cali.

I started watching Chewing Gum with two of my sisters, and we got hooked because it pretty much depicts myself and Melyssa. (Also: we're all trying to switch from calling her Lyssa to Mel, so when I say Mel, please get on board.) It's about these British black sisters who live with their excessively strict religious Christian mum, and how they end up being sneakily rebellious 'cos they're always thirsty and trying to get some.

If that sounds familiar...... ;)

It's set up in a British ghettoish community, and with the wry wit and dry humour, the things she and her sister get up to are unbelievable but hilarious. She had a cocaine trip without even knowing it. It was mostly a fun show to watch, and very short and few episodes, so if you wanna kill time laughing at nonsense, Chewing Gum is a great option.

(At this moment in time, because this post was written over a few days, of course - I don't have the luxury of spending too much time writing in one sitting - but anyway, at this point of time, my colleague just reminded me of glasses that were invented to help correct colour-blindness, she brought it up in conversation because her brother is colour-blind. Then I thought, hey those would make a good gift for Joey, who is also colour-blind.

Also, I just got a new laptop and I'm trying to get myself a sleeve so I don't destroy this one like I did my previous laptop. I'm on Amazon and I see so many things I like, but none of them ships to Singapore. Why, Singapore, Y DO U HATE ME? Imma have to ship it to my U.S. P.O. box --thank fuck for entrepreneurial initiatives-- then forward it to Singapore, meaning double the shipping time and prices. Ugh. #firstworldproblems

Yeah, that's all, goodbye. Go on with the rest of the post.)

Imma let you finish but Black Mirror is the best TV show of all time. Of. All. Time. It's a series set in either an alternative-reality or the near-future with even more advanced technology, such as the ability to store your memories in memory-card-like "grains", set a part of yourself as a "cookie" so that the rest of your brain can be used optimally for more important functions, etc. etc.

The best part about Black Mirror is that, while surreal, all the technology implemented seems like it could be real and happen very soon, and the moral issues that come about from the use of such gadgets were portrayed very realistically. I loved the White Bear, Fifteen Million Merits and San Junipero episodes, or the twist ending in Men With Fire. To be honest, out of thirteen episodes in the series so far, I think I could have eleven favourites.

I enjoyed everything about Black Mirror, from the universe it was set in, to the dialogue, to the brilliant acting. It was such good writing, it just made me feel like, this is the stuff I want to be writing!!! You might know that the novel I'm writing.... When anyone asks what genre it is, I tend to answer "sci-fi", although I try to avoid putting it into a specific genre, because it's not really, really sci-fi, and sci-fi makes people think of very futuristic, sciencey stuff like Star Wars or Star Trek. It sort of would fit into an episode of Black Mirror, or the film Her.

Sometimes I pretend that I watch Netflix for research purposes for my writing, but I think Black Mirror actually fulfilled that precise intention. In any case, I do try to watch and read things that I think might be similar premises to my novel, so I know what's been written and done before, and how novel my idea actually is. So far, so good, but you never know...

While we're on the topic of alternative realities, there is also the Brazilian dystopian thriller, 3%. When I first started watching it, it was automatically set on the English dubbing, which looked so incongruous with their lips, that I initially thought it was part of the technology available in their reality. Like when the President was making his speech in Portuguese, the audience could hear it in English because it was translated into their language of choice in the transmitters in their respective ears. Turns out it was just my Netflix settings....

I think the twist that happens in the eighth and final episode of the series, of the... caveat for joining the Offshore, was really interesting 'cos it adds a new dimension for it to be a requirement. I thought it might have made more sense to reveal it earlier to create an intrigue with the audience, but then I suppose it also works that we found out at the same time as the participants, because they didn't know what was at stake, either. It's almost like we shared the same sense of betrayal and internal conflict that the participants would have felt at the blindside.

Also, once you find out, the little clues that they let slip up to the finale become sort of Easter eggs that fit together with the reveal. If you do watch it, please watch it in its original Portuguese language because the English probably loses some impact (who watches stuff that is dubbed in a different language, srsly? :/).

Love is one of my favourite things in life, if not my ultimate favourite. It is also one of my favourite Netflix original series. It's set in Los Angeles, and that alone wins hands down. They go around Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Silver Lake, DTLA, Topanga, on the Metro, farmers' markets all over, and the landscape is so familiar yet so distant, that I love seeing it all over again.

It's a love/relationship story formed between two rather dysfunctional adults, and so basically it's really relateable for everyone who watches. I love Love, it's funny, sweet, and features all the feelings that you get when you're just starting to get to know someone new, and all the kinks and hi-jinks and friction that occur even though you're both trying so hard....

It reminds me of a dialogue from (500) Days of Summer that goes like this:
"What happened, why didn't they work out?"
"What always happens --- life."
In season 2 of Love, they sort of do work out, don't work out, work out again, but life always happens, and that's love, too.

The three final and most important shows available on Netflix are Dear White People, Trevor Noah's stand-up show, Afraid of the Dark and Hasan Minhaj's stand-up show, Homecoming King.

Dear White People exists in two formats on Netflix, one its original film, and then the television series. One of the first few lines in the movie is “Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man, Tyrone, does not count.”

I think the TV series is much better, possibly 'cos it's better expanded and elaborated, but the film is a great crash course if you don't have eight hours to spare for the TV series (but you definitely need to try). It's about a mixed half-black, half-white girl who has a radio show, called Dear White People, to deal with the issues of racism present in her college.

If you are the type of person who believes that racism was long gone from the very moment slavery was abolished (or that racism doesn't exist in Singapore), then I'm sorry, this is exactly the show for you.

There is one precise scene in which the college kids are partying, and everything goes innocently (or at least as much as a college party can be), they're playing drinking games and it's all fun up till the cops are called. When the cops arrive, of course they decide the cause of the commotion is the black student, and when the black guy (Reggie) decides that it was unfair for the cop to have asked only him for his ID, he gets a gun pointed right in his face for "not cooperating". This college kid, who's one of the smartest kids in the room, who didn't ask for trouble, gets ID'd and put at gunpoint. That scene was done to perfection, and it sums up pretty much the state of racial relations in the US.

I love the sarcasm that Sam White (radio show host of Dear White People) uses, and I love how every single black character was not a token black character, but a person by themselves, because truly, black people don't exist to serve as your "I'm-not-racist" token friend, they are people. I feel like I understand to a little extent how they feel, because in Singapore, Malays and Indians make up the minority whereas the Chinese majority here are sort of our parallel for white people.

I mean, I don't have people asking whether they can touch my hair (I swear to God if I were a black person with black hair getting asked this, I would punch someone's face) but one time, someone Chinese (a friend's parent, who thought it was... well-meaning? IDK?) said "oh, Sarah, you're quite pretty for a Malay girl", and I'm like, hold up, was that a microaggressive comment to end all microaggressive comments? Did you just think you were complimenting me by putting down my entire race??

Also, you can see that most beauty bloggers or influencers or celebrities here are Chinese, and obviously their beauty standards are not mine, because we don't look the same, we have different skin tones and different features, and it SUCKS that because they are the majority, everything is catered to them.

Wait I didn't mean to hijack the Dear White People section. Where was I? Um. If you want some top-notch crucial edutainment, please watch Dear White People, Afraid of the Dark and Homecoming King. They handle race issues with gracious wit and humour, so hopefully if you're a white person, you would no longer feel offended by the fact that you aren't allowed to "blackface" (gist of it is: being black is not a costume, you don't get to "wear their skin" for one night and soak up the laughs or the glamour of being Nicki Minaj, then not live with the hardships she had to go through because she worked harder to get where she is, on account of being black).

Also: I guess all three are light-hearted enough for the audience to just feel enough empathy for victims of racism, through relating to their experiences, without being too preachy about it. It definitely provides more humour and amusement than I can explain here.

Man I could go on forever. Another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed both DWP and Afraid of the Dark is because the protagonist of DWP is female, and Trevor Noah is woke enough that he has some feminist issues he jokes about. I would tap Trevor Noah again and again and again. Blogger doesn't have the 100 100 100 emoji, Blogger why can't you keep up with the times tho. (Also: Trevor Noah has a sort-of cute good-boy face, does he not? Is it just me?)

Afraid of the Dark and Homecoming King are my favourite stand-up comedy shows so far, along with Ali Wong's Baby Cobra. If you're in need of some laughing therapy, I highly suggest any or all of the three. People of colour, y'all are what's up!!!!!!

/ twenty-seven:

I turned 27 three days ago, and Han joins me in being 27 tomorrow. We've spent 15 years celebrating our birthdays together, which means I have spent more birthdays with her than without. Today, I have twenty-seven years (and three days) of experience to guide me to become the person I was meant to be. I am fortunate enough to have been born in Singapore, one of the most developed cities in the world. The cognitive dissonance that follows is that we have an overly paternalistic government that doesn't trust its citizens, not even to chew gum. It's like we're North Korea pretending to be USA.

I have a slight light-skinned privilege, although not enough. When I was younger, maybe in kindergarten, I realised that most of the kids were Chinese, and spoke Chinese. I learned from young that I'd fit in easier and better if I spoke Mandarin, so I did. I thought it was cool, and other Chinese kids thought it was cool. The positive reinforcement worked, so I began to pick up and speak something that I wasn't being taught to speak at home or school, but now I'm twenty-seven I wonder if it was worth it not paying attention to my own beautiful Malay language. I live in a country where the "elite schools" are majority, if not fully Chinese-enrolled. There is a lot to unpack and navigate for me, in terms of race, gender and identity politics. But I am, as the young kids would say in these times, woke. I don't have to struggle with basic necessities, so I struggle with a "higher" order of needs. Most of my problems are honestly first world problems.

I think about things that privilege prevents many from thinking about, because they don't go through such things in life and don't have to think about it, and they are not curious or motivated enough to want to put themselves in anyone else's shoes to think about them. I understand that racists can have friends of different races and token friends are a sure sign of racism. Playing the "but my best friend is black/Malay/Indian!" card does not in any way exempt you from being racist. Many sexist, chauvinistic men have wives and girlfriends, so yeah, they could be capable of loving or showing love to one woman in particular (if at all), but still not want to liberate women as a whole. Similarly, you can have a best friend from a disadvantaged cultural background but never lift a finger to forward the causes of their race/identity.

If you look at the sidebar of this blog, I have listed a few of my favourite things. I like adrenaline rushes, and I got driven through the canyons by a racing demon, I went to Six Flags in Santa Clarita with Han and we took all the extreme rides there, I've done the reverse bungy locally with her several times, I skydived with my favourite cousin Hazwani in New Zealand, and I did a proper jump-off-a-board bungy in Malaysia with my family. I also love the high of concerts/music in crowds, and I've been to watch some of my favourite acts live. Being in the mosh pit by myself for Muse was an orgasmic experience, Jason Mraz is always so chill and positive (the second time was a treat by another of my favourite people, Sha), I watched Ed Sheeran thanks to the generosity and selflessness of Shereen, who gave up her ticket when we were right outside the theatre 'cos I couldn't find anywhere else to even buy any at the last-minute. I went for Taylor Swift's 1989 with three of my best friends in life. Recently, Coldplay proved phenomenal, in terms of music and light display.

Love and friendship are my favourites, and I am blessed, extremely fortunate to have love in my family, and friendship in people who are pretty much like family. I have had strangers from opposite ends of the world take care of me, while barely even knowing me. People in my life and social circles who have stuck with me through the worst, and also allowed me to see the best that the world has to offer. I don't have to name them, they are mostly mentioned in the previous post, or featured on my Instagram, etc. I love to read and write, and I have been granted the ability to write such that people actually enjoy reading it about as much as I enjoy writing, and for that, I am humbled and eternally grateful. I love to travel, and made (hopefully) lifelong connections all over the world. I've seen how people live in India, China, LA, New Zealand, Australia, etc. My best friend and I got to watch the sunset from a yacht at Marina Del Rey, such a film-worthy setting, rather like many of my experiences in life.

Finally, a form of love and relationship I always have space in my head and heart for is my affinity for words, and therefore it makes sense that every time my birthday comes around, my favourite thing is to read long, lovely wishes. As I've said, Huda is one of my kindred spirits in terms of love and our shared love for words, and so as a matter of course, she included a book excerpt in her wish for me this year. Did I not tell you that (I'm not like that: Avril ref, anyone?) she and I have exchanged thousands upon thousands of words via email exchange, in real life, in text?
Life hasn't been the kindest to you, and I wish I could have done more throughout-- I know I could have-- I wish that life would have treated you better, gentler-- but I also know that everything that has happened has changed you and made you the person that you are, the Sarah Mei Lyana that I know and love today--.

I've been reading a book called The Course Of Love which I think you will enjoy. Here is an excerpt that reminded me of this mad friendship:

"There are other ways to look at love. In their philosophy, the ancient Greeks offered a usefully unfashionable perspective on the relationship between love and teaching. In their eyes, love was first and foremost a feeling of admiration for the better sides of another human being. Love was the excitement of coming face to face with virtuous characteristics.

It followed that the deepening of love would always involve the desire to teach and in turn be taught ways to become more virtuous: how to be less angry or less unforgiving, more curious or braver."

I think we learn from each other in ways that many shallow friendships do not, that crazy as our lives are we take from it what lessons we can, and try to teach each other in the best way we know how.

There are so many things you have taught me: how to be unapologetically me, to pick myself up after every fall, to love and to love and to love against all odds, relentlessly and unfailingly, to be loyal and to stay true. To yourself, and to the people around you. You have taught me to stand up for myself more, to recognise my worth, to know when I deserve better-- and I will always be grateful.
I think Huda's birthday wish to me is my favourite so far in all my 27 years, just like the cake that my colleagues got me on the eve of my birthday a few days ago, has my favourite message I've ever had on a cake. Whenever my colleagues ask what I want to eat, I say "dick", because I have a dirty mind at most times, sexual innuendos are some of my favourite things. I think and hope this will never change. The cake they got me had the message "Eat a D" and I! Love! It!!!! Photos on Facebook.

I am different from anyone else that I know, so it makes sense if I want different things in life. I have to keep bearing that in mind, anytime I start to think that I don't have what other people have in their lives.

Today I am going to go all out in enjoying myself with my best friends. This morning, Han and I had a birthday pool party, by ourselves. Tonight we'll be watching Captain Fantastic by the beach (it's called Sunset Cinema, all of us lounge around on deck chairs, pretend to be worry-free and watch a movie projected on a screen, listening through wireless headphones, get on it) and have a sleepover together with Atiqah and Shahida.

And then tomorrow it's back to the daily grind. I have a lot of hustling to do. I'll check back in with y'all sometime in the second half of the year. In the meantime, stay safe, so much love, always, Sarah Mei Lyana. xxx