Sunday, October 07, 2018

CLAVICLES

So here are the things Adam and I have planned, whether it's because either one of us hasn't seen it, or it's just something we wanna rewatch together: Chopped, Phantom Thread, The Good Place, The Princess Bride, and La La Land. We're also gonna go record-shopping and I'm supposed to read his copy of White Teeth by Zadie Smith.


This is one of the few SFW photos I have of him, with all his bad-angle-double-chin glory. I've been recently moving a lot of media from him to my phone's secure folder, and if you don't know what that means, stay precious, bbs. (I most definitely have a thing for white men with boyish faces, jesus.)

We have conversations that range from this —
Adam: Brie Larson is only 29
Adam: Thought she was like mid 30s
Adam: I have a chance

Sarah: Ok go!!!!
Sarah: Does she live in NY?

Adam: Thanks!
Adam: I'm pretty sure LA
Adam: cuz she's Hollywood

Sarah: Ok you just gotta move cross country
Sarah: Super doable

Adam: No problemo!
Adam: If you can move across the world I can move across the country
Adam: U inspired me

Sarah: Wowzers

Adam: Thanks!

Sarah: >:(

Adam: Hehehehe

Sarah: Dont you dare move to LA if i move to NY
Sarah: Dont you D A R E

Adam: Hehehehehehehe
Adam: It would be pretty funny tho

Sarah: It would not

Adam: But I won't of course lol
Adam: "Sarah I'm very glad you've come but I am moving to Los Angeles to try to hit on Brie Larson"
to this —
Adam: Basically the Republican half of our country is an intensely cruel governing body that only cares about flaunting their power at the expense of the country

Sarah: I know, i see that

Adam: They don't give a shit about anything except beating the left

Sarah: I'm sorry for it
Sarah: How bad is the decision though? Like does it mean really bad things for the future? I'm sorry, i really don't know what the decision entails and what he's in control of

Adam: Ok
Adam: So
Adam: The Supreme Court of the US is supposed to be a panel of judges which arbitrate on the highest cases in the country

Sarah: Ok i see now
Sarah: The potential

Adam: They are appointed lifetime positions
Adam: It's a miserable system that is being abused
Adam: So Kavanaugh is like fifty
Adam: And a lifetime appt for him means a sexual assaulting far right lunatic on a team of nine for like thirty years

Sarah: Who else is on the panel? Did they also vote him in? Are they similar people or do they get veto votes?

Adam: The judges are nominated by the president and ratified by the senate
Adam: When trump nominated Kavanaugh it sucked but what really sucks is he wasn't even a part of his confirmation process
Adam: After the sexual assault allegations and the temper tantrum Kavanaugh threw in the hearings
Adam: The Senate STILL will confirm him because it's majority Republican right now
Adam: Right now, with Kavanaugh, there are five right leaning judges and four left
Adam: So things like legal abortion in the US are at stake

Sarah: I see
Sarah: It's so strange how America is

Adam: Oh we suck an entire ass

Sarah: The left are such far left, and the right are so far right, like yall are polar opposites and no one has any chill

Adam: Republicans destroyed that during Obama

Sarah: The middle ground?

Adam: Obama tried really hard to be centrist and republicans just kept moving the goalposts further away
Adam: And wouldn't cave on anything to him
Adam: When Obama nominated a judge
Adam: A centrist judge
Adam: They refused to hold a hearing for him

Sarah: Refused?

Adam: Yes

Sarah: Isn't it like the law

Adam: Yr starting to see the issue now

Sarah: Omg

Adam: They claimed it was an election year so it was unfair
Adam: To appoint a judge of a president on the way out
Adam: Which flew in the face of the entire history of the country
Adam: Election year appointees have happened multiple times in American history

Sarah: I would imagine and believe, because their excuse is ridiculous

Adam: So then Hillary lost and trump put in a judge that no one gave a shit about
Adam: And now it's Kavanaugh which has been an entire national disgrace

Sarah: It is, huh
Sarah: I'm sorry
Sarah: For women, people of color, liberal white people etc

Adam: Yeah
Adam: The existential despair this imparts
Adam: Is reeeeeeeally heavy
So I was supposed to see my therapist on Wednesday, but she was on sick leave because the universe just apparently does not want me to stay here because my mental health is at stake. I went to see a sunflower exhibition instead. I guess I love sunflowers so much and they brighten my mood up it might have replaced a therapy session successfully, this once.


This week has also been one of the longest work weeks I've had in my life. We held Singapore's very first Lush showcase which I think, by any standards, was a great success!


I've never used Craigslist because it seems dodgy but I'm looking for apartments and need it to be cheap, and when living in America, do as Americans do, I suppose? I'm gonna go catch up on some sleep, but have a great sunny week ahead, y'alls.

Monday, October 01, 2018

STAY ALIVE

Last week was an immensely long week for me, as is the one ahead of us. On Wednesday, after having gone for laser tag, I came home at midnight, and my mother and I had a meltdown with each other. She basically cornered me into saying that I was okay with "sleeping around" and somehow loaded each sentence to make it seem like being this liberal non-believing adult was the wrong thing to do, and I also cornered her to admit that I would never be a good daughter to her unless I was the Muslim daughter that she wants. We did this and cried and raised our voices, till 3am, while I was naked, because she'd entered my room while I was washing up after laser tag with my friends from the store. Friday morning, my mother and I had breakfast together, we went to CBTL and it was the first time I was having a meal alone with her since 2016. We talked about work, our colleagues and friends, the rest of my sisters and family members. She agreed to go for at least one session of therapy with me, although again, it all started with her being skeptical about it, and why I couldn't seek peace with God instead. My JCU psych has been calling me regularly, to find out how stable I've been. I was supposed to be on the waitlist, but she was so worried about me, she had a cancellation this week and my first session with her is on Wednesday! I cannot wait! We can have a wager on whether I cry. I met Han for steak on Saturday evening, and I formally told her about Adam. She said the white guys I've liked have all looked very different, so I was like ???? I don't know which photos she's seen of Adam, but again I have to consider that people who exist in my life all keep tabs on me just in case I do something reckless (or they just like being entertained), and that's how everyone seems to know everyone else. If you see a writing prompt anywhere that you think I would be interested in, please pass it on to me. I want to practise my writing. My colleagues have a task for me to come up with a "very strong story" for a photo essay to be posted over Christmas, and I'm like, whoa, no pressure there. Adam says (verbatim), he thinks my story would do very well with American audiences, like just from a marketing standpoint, the story of a woman from a formerly colonized part of Asia with intense life experiences longing for a better life outside of the sheltered upbringing with difficult parents, has a lot of potential. My best friend Han also says I should just write a book. No pressure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who wants to pay for my time off work?????? :D

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A LUSH LIFE




all the shine of a thousand spotlights all the stars we steal from the night sky Like every family, this one has siblings that don't always get along, parents that may not know everything but are always trying and learning, good days and bad days and days where everything is completely off (although mostly, off days are gr8). Unlike some families, though, this one is progressive, and they accept you through changes and mental health issues, and see you not just for what you portray yourself to be, but for what you can become. At the heart of our family, we all want to do better for the people we know, the animals we care for and the planet we live on, at the heart of this family is a lot of heart, and I love them. We usually smell good too. (Also: I would like to thank the Academy and all my friends who voted me Best Dressed — I know it doesn't show on a daily basis but besides books and words, I do love fashion and clothes and I wish the industry were much more sustainable but in any case, y'all made a girl's dreams cum true!!!!!) #Lush #LushSG #LushVivocity #family #love
A post shared by Sarah Mei Lyana (@sarahmeilyana) on

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

WILDCARD

I've been wanting to express the things I like about Adam, after he said he liked my "challenging and curious and combative and sweet with a big heart" attitude towards things. I can't really quite describe it though, you know, feelings are strange and you can never explain them. I saw a photo with the caption "my heart has chosen you, and I follow my heart" and I guess that's what it is, as cheesy and maudlin as it may be. It's like when I make the weirdest decisions that are not the healthiest and I tell him, and he doesn't judge me, and I feel safe. Or it's when I say white people are the worst, all he does is agree, instead of calling it "reverse racism". Or it's when he's doing well for himself and I feel really happy for him, or conversely when he isn't, and I feel heavy about it as well. I love that he's honest with his feelings. I really like that he goes to therapy because I know as people, we're all inert and resistant to change, especially within ourselves, but I love how he's willing to work on his issues, etc. He said he's keeping his emotional distance from me because it hurts that he loves a person he can't be with due to the physical distance between us, and when I read it, my heart simultaneously felt like it was beaming and expanding but also squeezed and tight. I don't know what's going to happen with us, if we will ever get together, but I do love Adam, and there are a thousand reasons why I do, and probably a thousand reasons why I shouldn't. As they say, you like because of, and you love in spite of. In spite of the distance, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that I love him. Ugh.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

RIDE OR DIE

Sarah: Adam ernest downer i swear i will punch you

Adam: You'd have to come visit to do so :)

Sarah: Yes and then we will be kissing and i will punch you out of nowhere and you'll be angry at me
Sarah: And then i will feel the matter resolved

Adam: And then I'll throw u down

Sarah: You cant, i will do this at the airport

Adam: You know
Adam: Fair

Sarah: Always
Sarah: I love you
Sarah: Stupid

Adam: I love u too kid
Adam: And I am stupid

Sarah: Yeah prolly why i fell so deeply for you
Sarah: *eyeroll*

Adam: Lol

Sarah: The woes of attraction

Adam: I like ur attitude towards things
Adam: Rly

Sarah: What attitude

Adam: Challenging and curious and combative and sweet with a big heart

Sarah: I love you
Sarah: You're silly and make me smile and i dont have the words for you yet cos im busy smiling

Adam: Hehehe
Adam: I was thinking about it today
Adam: Like what qualities I like in u
Adam: And I can't find in other ppl
Adam: U got spunk kid

Thursday, September 20, 2018

BY PROVIDENCE

So, a lot has happened since my last post, and I will try to place them in linear chronological order so you might be able to follow my thought process in the past, I dunno what, five days?

The day after it was posted, Luca (who happens to be British), the last guy I dated, said to me in a text: "just to offer a non-Singaporean perspective, a doctor here told me that they very rarely prescribe SSRIs to locals and also seemed to think that medication could be a hindrance to therapy. I think that Singapore is lagging behind in this respect."

Of course I'd already known that, but he was sweet though, and I appreciate it. I know pills aren't a surefire method, but the people here are still very resistant to the idea of medicating for mental health. It's like, if you thought sex was taboo here, I think they shudder at taking pills for mental health.

I think it's even worse in religious communities, where of course, anything you think or feel is usually pinned on you, for not being "close to God", because to them, God is the solution to anything and everything. I just feel like it's a double jeopardy situation, where my mental health is closely linked to my familial bonds, but even when I know I'm doing poorly and want to seek help, I can't find the moral support to treat it, medically.

I don't know if my manager Aileen read my post, but she could see on Instagram that I hadn't had a stable week, so she texted me too.
Aileen: Hi Sarah
Aileen: I hope you're feeling better
Aileen: With whatever you're dealing with
Aileen: I'm here if you need me to listen
Aileen: Even after three months
Aileen: But I just wanted to say thank you. You have a good heart. You're a good person, thank you for supporting our team. Your presence makes me calm and happy.
Aileen: Thank you Sarah. Thank you for being part of the best team I can ever ask for
We have a joke between us because the last time she had a personal story to tell me, we somehow never got to sitting down and talking until three months after I first asked her about it. I love Aileen, she is the best manager you could ask for, she's usually calm and composed and encouraging and so very accepting.

The team has been nothing short of amazing. I don't know if I gravitated towards Lush because it's a campaigning company, and we are one of the very few companies in Singapore that are openly accepting towards hiring the LGBTQIA+ community, etc.

Sometime on Saturday, I was like, this is it, I can't stay in Singapore, this is not the place for me, so I tried to open a Chase savings account so that less money I earn would be contributed to this goddamn stupid dictatorial Singapore economy. I obviously needed a social security number, but I don't have one unless and until I get my working visa, yadda yadda yadda.

I think if I apply for Lush in the US, I might wanna try to do manufacturing. We don't have a manu team in Singapore, 'cos we don't have a Lush factory here. I think it might be fun to make the products, instead of selling them in retail, I dunno. I think retail staff really do God's work, facing people all the time.

Viv then told me about a friend of hers who'd also received similar treatment (or lack thereof) at the Institute of Mental Health, who'd received much better treatment from JCU's psych office, and whose case would be expedited even with a waitlist, based on the same details she'd provided. I emailed JCU psych, and they called back within two days.

I told her my story over the phone, my tendencies for suicidal ideation, that I veer very easily between being okay, and my depressive moods, and the fact that sometimes I'm okay makes it very hard to catch me suddenly drop in moods for no reason. She was very worried, and she says she would also try to expedite my appointment, even though there definitely is a waitlist.

(I infer from the fact that there is a high demand/long waitlist at JCU's psych, that either the psychiatrists/therapists available in Singapore are not providing satisfactory services, too expensive, or there aren't enough psych resources, and also there must be more people who have mental health issues than you'd think there are.)

Between the last post and this one, one of the aunts I'm closer to, also checked in on me and told me I could talk to her if I ever needed or wanted to, as well as my real dad. My dad asked if I was still seeing a therapist, and whether I paid for it myself.

On Monday night, around midnight, my mother texted me that she loved me, so I texted her back that I loved her too. And then, I'm not sure how or why it transpired, I don't know if someone else had clued her in to my dispositions, or she just felt like it, but at 1.14am, she said "please forgive me if i haven't been a good mother" and I started bawling insanely, just by myself in my own room.

It reminded me of some pages I'd read in Educated: A Memoir (because of course I am one of the biggest perusers of books I know of in person).
There was a pause, then more words appeared—words I hadn't known I needed to hear, but once I saw them, I realized I'd been searching my whole life for them.

You were my child. I should have protected you.

I lived a lifetime in the moment I read those lines, a life that was not the one I had actually lived. I became a different person, who remembered a different childhood. I didn't understand the magic of those words then, and I don't understand it now. I know only this: that when my mother told me that she had not been the mother to me that she wished she'd been, she became that mother for the first time.
The thing is, I haven't actually had the time nor chance to see nor talk to my mom since that text, so I don't know what the text meant for the both of us. From the anecdote above, I also know that sometimes words are spoken but nothing changes, so I honestly don't know what it will entail. I want to believe it's a major breakthrough, and I hope it is, I hope perhaps that she and I could even go to some therapy sessions together.

That night, while sobbing, I told Adam what my mom had said, and also that there was a major blackout that affected a few neighbourhoods in Singapore. It was a strange night, because power outages rarely ever happen, and it was the night my mother apologised to me. I felt very out of sorts, and this was the conversation that followed (after he had given me some proper advice on how to navigate the situation with my mom).
Sarah: Omg help how does one stop crying i have forgotten

Adam: Imagine a big penis
Adam: That's my advice for most situations

Sarah: What if the situation is to forget big penises?

Adam: Imagine a big vagina
Adam: Like comically large

Sarah: Ew

Adam: You could walk inside and warm up

Sarah: Hahahahhaahhahah ew

Adam: Is this helping

Sarah: Yes i guess ergh
Sarah: Thank you for being a friend

Adam: Travel down the road and back again
Adam: Yr heart is true
Adam: Yr a pal and a confidant

Sarah: I'm sorry i don't think i know the reference

Adam: Golden girls
Adam: Theme song

Sarah: Ah damn i wish we'd had that, the gifs are always so good
Sarah: I will now know you as an old, sexy grandma

Adam: This is accurate

Sarah: I'm amazed
Sarah: I was under the impression you had a -how did you put it- big penis
Sarah: I scrolled up to see if you said big or large lol

Adam: I didn't say imagine my penis
Adam: Though i have a nice penis
Adam: Anyway I have sexy grandma energy
Adam: Plus the penis

Sarah: Perhaps the penis helped contribute to SGE

Adam: The golden girls definitely have big dick energy

Sarah: I think one of the things i read did place all of them as having it so
Sarah: Did you write that

Adam: No

Sarah: Strangely enough by some measure of Providence the entire street of blocks of apartments have lost power and i can hear the rest of my family discussing it in the living room while im trying to breathe normally in my room
Sarah: I mean, this never happens but then tonight my mother apologises and voila

Adam: What my big dick
Adam: Oh
Adam: Damn it's late

Sarah: What the heck was "what my big dick" even in response to

Adam: You said they were "discussing it"
Adam: And we were talking about penises and BDE and SGE
Adam: Just a little goof

Sarah: I said they were discussing the outage, i distinctly referred to it in the clause directly before
Sarah: I know you know
Sarah: Why do i even bother
Sarah: You just troll me anyway

Adam: Because I'm so fun

Sarah: You're not fun, not as i know you anyway, but you have deffo been a good friend

Adam: I'm not fun?!?!?

Sarah: No lol

Adam: Wtf

Sarah: You're like.... "dont do coke i just did it and i wanna cry oh wait i did cry dont ever do it"

Adam: Yes that's true
Adam: Coke is not fun lol

Sarah: Not what everyone says

Adam: Were I doing coke then I would be not fun
Adam: You don't even know
Adam: Ugh

Sarah: Well if you were fun you'd let me try it to know for myself, but you act like my mom, deciding for me

Adam: I'm offering my advice
Adam: I'm not stopping you lol

Sarah: I did say you're a good friend

Adam: SMALL CONSOLATION

Sarah: I ONLY CALL PEOPLE I LOVE MY GOOD FRIENDS

Adam: Aw
Adam: Kiki
Adam: Do u love me
Adam: Would you poopee

Sarah: I heard that was a diss track
Sarah: ???

Adam: Would u peepee
Adam: Idk
Adam: Idc
Adam: Drake sucks ass

Sarah: Whose tho
Sarah: Is the question

Adam: Some 18 year olds

Sarah: Ok

Adam: That isn't a lie
Adam: He's dating a child

Sarah: Never said it was

Adam: He stinks

Sarah: Why? Like his music you mean? Okay don't listen to him and don't quote his songs anymore
Sarah: Solved

Adam: Culture insists I have an opinion on him

Sarah: You have culture? The white man who insists on calling girls "my dude"?
Sarah: S c o f f

Adam: I'm saying the culture at large
Adam: Insists I have an opinion on Drake by shoving him in my face and earholes all the time

Sarah: Your earholes that you have your headphones on and choose what they get to listen to

Adam: Not if I'm like
Adam: Just outside
Adam: And a car passes by
Adam: Or I'm in a pharmacy
Adam: And I have to hear KIKI
Adam: DO U LOVE ME
Adam: WILL U SUCK ME
Adam: or whatever

Sarah: I guess
Sarah: I'll let you win this one
Sarah: Because you're a white boy not accustomed to losing

Adam: Boooooo

Sarah: I literally just let you win?????

Adam: And were like "but yr White so hmph"
Adam: So now I feel bad
Adam: For being right

Sarah: Oh I'm sorry, master coloniser superior to all other races, what would you have me say instead?

Adam: Not bring it up in a conversation where it's completely irrelevant lol
Adam: You can call me master tho
Adam: ;)

Sarah: Oh damn are you... touchy about my white jokes? Also.... you always bring up humor where its completely irrelevant but of course when the irrelevant topic is your white race, it's touchy and cant be done
Sarah: Womp womp
Sarah: I lose at this

Adam: I tease
Adam: U can give it to me all u want I can take it
Adam: You know what sucks

Sarah: What now, did someone blast Drake

Adam: I really enjoy talking to you whenever we do and then I remember there's a good chance we'll never meet irl

Sarah: What sucks about that?

Adam: Is it... not obvious?

Sarah: I'm really? Not sure??

Adam: Wot u thick m8
Adam: Touched in the head innit?

Sarah: What even, see, suddenly you're bringing in british humor and i'm like, where did that come from

Adam: Lol
Adam: I wanna hang irl!!!!

Sarah: Whatever for! Istg im not this cool (ahahahahahahHhahaha im not even cool in text) irl

Adam: Cuz I like talking to you you idiot

Sarah: Well good because we're friends!

Adam: Yeah and friends hang out like
Adam: Sometimes

Sarah: Iirc you don't even live close to your best friends irl

Adam: I don't and that sucks too

Sarah: *pats your hair
Sarah: There, there
Sarah: Life sucks and then you die

Adam: Lmao
Adam: Idk I appreciate our convos is all I'm saying

Sarah: I also said i love you lol so i guess that also means tt i appreciate our convos thx m8

Adam: And it makes me sad we can't be together sometimes

Sarah: Same

Adam: So don't be thick with me m8
Adam: U get it too

Sarah: Whenever i think i'm sad then i think you said we wouldn't even be a good couple irl
Sarah: Then i'm like fine, he's right
Sarah: He's white, must be right ;)

Adam: Lmao
Adam: I think I said that cuz we were both sobbing constantly about each other at the time

Sarah: No wait my hand to a Bible (idk why, i neither believe in God nor care about a Bible) i'm sure when you said it, like a couple of months afterwards you really had some arguments there lol
Sarah: Like you were not crying

Adam: Well
Adam: Whatever
Adam: Idk I like what we have now as an online friendship
Adam: Cuz before things were gettin way too heavy and frustrating
Adam: But it does make me sad sometimes that we get along real good and can't hang

Sarah: Samesies

Adam: So there

Sarah: Here?

Adam: I value and appreciate u, don't die

Sarah: Omg
Sarah: That had better not be an elaborate ploy to get me to stay alive

Adam: Christ lol

Sarah: Tbh i have mental health issues i tend to have weird suspicions
Sarah: Don't Christ lol me

Adam: I'll christ lol u all night long gurl

Sarah: It's so weird
Sarah: It's been a year and i haven't found anyone i like as much as you
Sarah: Mental, this

Adam: Proper shite

Sarah: Bollocks

Adam: Bloody 'ell harry

Sarah: Yer a wizard!
Sarah: Also if it's 'ell, it's 'arry! Bloody hell adam

Adam: Sorry I'm not as familiar with the English as u

Sarah: Oh yeah i'm sorry i forgot you're more familiar with the Japanese
A summary: A year ago, it was the Lush staff party, and I told Adam I loved him for the first time, and he said it back, and tonight was the staff party again, and lo and behold, I somehow still love him. I like him very much as a person and friend, and the chemistry between us is so easy, it's stupid. I like that he's attuned to his feelings for a white man his age (one year younger than I am, a fact he's stupidly fond of, for some reason).

A year ago, we were both still coming to terms with ourselves, I think I was still in denial about the gravity of the shite I'd gotten myself into, and he was still reeling from his break-up with his hafu Japanese ex of three years (can you hear my saltiness? ahahahahaha I dunno why, I'm sure she's lovely, I don't even know her --- oh wait she broke up with him close to his birthday, who does that? also she's reallllly pretty, good on her lololol may I just remind myself that dating is not a competition).

I have half a mind to spend my last vacation weeks of the year in New York City and like, suss out the city that I think I want to live in, and finally meet Adam properly, not just by video call or whatever, but like, what if we both really fall in love with each other? And then what?

Friday, September 14, 2018

THE HUMAN CONDITION

On a very bad night, after I am done crying, I write letters. I tell my grandma I no longer believe in a god, or heaven or hell, so she does not have to worry, I will not be in pain or suffering nor face any punishment. All I will be is gone. I tell my sister she can have my meagre worldly possessions, and I hope she appreciates the number of inside jokes I have included. I hope she remembers me by my jokes and all the things I did to make them laugh, even though I know she would be very angry at the onset. I write letters to tell everyone that nobody is to blame. My mother is not to blame. My father is not to blame. None of the men I have ever dated is to blame. Nobody is at fault. My brain is not wired the same way, that is all. It is so strange that for the only things in the universe that can try to make any sense of the universe, sometimes brains themselves just make very little sense. I have tried, and I can make not much sense of why my brain does this. Logically and factually, I know that I have nothing to be depressed about. I am an attractive person, people are always telling me to be a model or a flight attendant or one of those things. I also have brains, I use them most of the time, I have the capacity to change my life, day by day. I am also the person who throws her head back and laughs fully, I let things slide at work, I am witty and naughty and I tease and am able to play. But sometimes, it doesn't want to. Sometimes, when it's at its lowest, all it feels is that regardless how many people are next to me, or holding me, they will never be able to alleviate the dread I feel, the pointlessness of it all. I am scared of becoming Sylvia Plath or Virginia Woolf, writing often of their depression and simply dragging it on until one day they gather enough courage to end. I write and write and I hope that this pain doesn't spill over, I hope everyone who's directly related to me in my life doesn't think, oh it was something I missed, we should have done something more --- there was nothing to be caught. We all know I have depression, and nobody could have done anything more. I hope my best friends and all my loved ones forgive me, and forgive themselves, for everything. If there is one thing my words could do, I hope it is to convince everyone that I have always loved them, but sometimes I honestly can't say any of this is worth it. This is what I feel on my worst nights.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

YELLOW FLICKER BEAT

I'll say it again, I don't date white guys only because they're white, but because they tend to be the lesser of two evils, in my opinion. They're not Singaporean/Asian, the kind of men who think they own women. I see the ones whom my family members and friends are dating, the men who don't quite like their girlfriends wearing this outfit, or going to that club at night, the ones who think they have a say in a woman's life under the pretext of caring for the ladies. Of course, this happens because the women themselves allow it to happen, because our parents have all taught us that women must defer to men, and it is natural to defer to a man's opinion, and to cater to his happiness. So no, I will not date Asian men, especially Asian men who are so insecure they have to make snide remarks about Asian girls dating white men. I am not here to please you, nobody owns me, my mother does not own my body, and I will not allow you to own me.

A couple weeks ago, or whenever it was before Jon left for the States, he asked "why do you like me?" and this was because we both knew we didn't want the same things, and he could be very mean to me, so what he left unsaid was, "why do you like me despite my making myself dislikeable to you?" I asked him, "why don't you like me?" and what was left unsaid was, "why don't you like me, despite my being incredibly witty, funny, sweet, and making myself likeable to you?" I hadn't thought of it at the time, but it wasn't the first time I was asking such a question. I'd asked many other men before him, the same thing, in different ways and forms, and I realise those weren't even the first times, they were all echoes of my trying to win my parents' approval, which I never earned, despite my sincerest, deepest efforts to. I cannot find love from anyone else, if I cannot love myself the way I am.


After I'd been meeting with Professor Steinberg for a month, I wrote an essay comparing Edmund Burke with Publius, the persona under which James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay had written The Federalist Papers. I barely slept for two weeks: every moment my eyes were open, I was either reading or thinking about those texts.

From my father I had learned that books were to be either adored or exiled. Books that were of God — books written by the Mormon prophets or the Founding Fathers — were not to be studied so much as cherished, like a thing perfect in itself. I had been taught to read the words of men like Madison as a cast into which I ought to pour the plaster of my own mind, to be reshaped according to the contours of their faultless model. I read them to learn what to think, not how to think for myself. Books that were not of God were banished; they were a danger, powerful and irresistible in their cunning.

To write my essay I had to read books differently, without giving myself over to either fear or adoration. Because Burke had defended the British monarchy, Dad would have said he was an agent of tyranny. He wouldn't have wanted the book in the house. There was a thrill in trusting myself to read the words. I felt a similar thrill in reading Madison, Hamilton and Jay, especially on those occasions when I discarded their conclusions in favor of Burke's, or when it seemed to me that their ideas were not really different in substance, only in form. There were wonderful suppositions embedded in this method of reading: that books are not tricks, and that I was not feeble.

I finished the essay and sent it to Professor Steinberg. Two days later, when I arrived for our next meeting, he was subdued. He peered at me from across the table. I waited for him to say the essay was a disaster, the product of an ignorant mind, that it had overreached, drawn too many conclusions from too little material.

"I have been teaching in Cambridge for thirty years," he said. "And this is one of the best essays I've read."

I was prepared for insults but I was not prepared for this.

Professor Steinberg must have said something more about the essay but I heard nothing. My mind was consumed with a wrenching need to get out of that room. In that moment I was no longer in a clock tower in Cambridge. I was seventeen, in a red jeep, and a boy I loved had just touched my hand. I bolted.

I could tolerate any form of cruelty better than kindness. Praise was a poison to me; I choked on it. I wanted the professor to shout at me, wanted it so deeply I felt dizzy from the deprivation. The ugliness of me had to be given expression. If it was not expressed in his voice, I would need to express it in mine.

I don't remember leaving the clock tower, or how I passed the afternoon. That evening there was a black-tie dinner. The hall was lit by candlelight, which was beautiful, but it cheered me for another reason: I wasn't wearing formal clothing, just a black shirt and black pants, and I thought people might not notice in the dim lighting. My friend Laura arrived late. She explained that her parents had visited and taken her to France. She had only just returned. She was wearing a dress of rich purple with crisp pleats in the skirt. The hemline bounced several inches above her knee, and for a moment I thought the dress was whorish, until she said her father had bought it for her in Paris. A gift from one's father could not be whorish. A gift from one's father seemed to me the definitive signal that a woman was not a whore. I struggled with this dissonance — a whorish dress, gifted to a loved daughter — until the meal had been finished and the plates cleared away.
I've been reading Educated: A Memoir for the past few days. It's a factual memoir written by a lady who was raised in Midwest North America, in a Mormon family, by a father who had bipolar disorder.

The writer and her siblings were not allowed to go to school, for her father's fear that it was brainwashing from the Government. They also never went to the hospital, and never took pills, because "if you believe in doctors, you believe in the devil and not God's work", etc.

Although my family is not such an extreme case, I do recall the resistance that my mother would have towards medicine and painkillers, with the explanation being that it would take years to flush out of our bodies, making me inherently suspicious of painkillers, until only very recently, because of course a parent's suspicions tend to also become their children's.

I know not many people are born wealthy, but I'm guessing everybody sometimes wishes they could be really well-off. Or is it just me? Sometimes I really wish I were a legacy kid. That I could have had a clear and encouraged path to academia, in Harvard or Oxford or wherever my parents went to. That I didn't have to worry about money or health or living in the same room as my parents and siblings during my childhood, that I could have pursued whatever I wanted to. I wish that I were in an alternate universe, where nobody judges me for wanting to study when I clearly can't afford to, or wanting to study for the sake of studying, which I know is frivolous and impractical. I wish I were so rich that nobody thinks I'm a sellout for enjoying the act of studying, of reading and writing essays, and using my brain's capacity for synapses in learning to code, or being an activist on gender and race studies, or I dunno, just doing creative writing the formal-conventional-university way, instead of struggling with my physical tiredness in an industry I do not enjoy. Sometimes I hate saying such things here, because I know it sounds like I'm whiny, but this is my space, and I'm allowed to feel and say what I want. I'm not asking anyone to sponsor me, I just wish things were different, a lot of the time. I wish that I were challenging my brain to make a difference in an avenue I could be useful to, instead of remembering the thousands of details I know about men I've met. I mean, my memory could be so useful, my best friend depends on me to remember tiny details from our shared past, or to navigate in foreign situations that we've only been in once, and all I use it for, is men. Men, who appear, and leave. I wish Rick and Morty were real, so I could travel to an alternate universe.




For the next couple of days, my workplace @lushvivocity is holding a contest in which you choose your favorite perfume from Lush and write or draw how it makes you feel. You stand to win a bottle of it! We contributed our submissions (although nope, I can't win - but if you have the time, I totes recommend that you pop by our store and enter!) and because I am not the most artistically-inclined of people, I wrote about 1000 Kisses Deep: "this reminds me of my favorite memory in my life so far, my happiest and the prettiest picture I can paint in my mind. I am watching the sun set in a pink sky, over calm waters on RAT Beach in California. even though the place and its people eventually brought me to depression, there is a love I will always have for Cali, that lies deep beneath the turmoil, and I think it is the kind of love that is a thousand kisses deep and cannot be shaken." #lush #lushsg #gorillaperfume #1000kissesdeep #love #rightaftertorrance
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On a lighter note, I was in Bangkok with my family for four days, and my mom still apparently does not know about my tattoo. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

MANTRA

There is a lot that I have to unlearn in order to learn new behaviors and patterns, and I try. The good thing is I do try, and I will try.

Not a single ounce of my value depends on how I attract others. I am not a thing made for other people's consumption. My worth isn't dependent on how many dates I get. Choosing to stay single rather than intentionally pursuing partners who are toxic, emotionally unavailable or just straight up wrong for me is a good thing. Know my worth. Take my time until it feels right. Savor getting to know myself and fall in love with That person.

Read. Rinse. Repeat. Read. Rinse. Repeat.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

WUT

My family is at the airport now. My parents, sisters and I are waiting to board our flight to Bangkok while the younger sisters are having a week-long holiday from school. The last time I was here at the airport, it was quite a trip. I don't talk much about weird messy situations bc like, wtf, but my life has many of such moments, of puzzle pieces that don't fit, of the strange and the out-of-ordinary. So the night I'd gotten my tattoo, I went over to Jon's place to help him pack, 'cos he's moving to a new apartment and he was leaving the next morning for his trip to Boston. The next morning, I realised I had time before work so I got into the car he'd booked, and told him I'd spend some time at the airport with him. He then said he wasn't comfortable with me sending him off, 'cos he had work to finish, he gets anxious before travelling, etc, but I knew he was clearly hiding something. Eventually he admitted another girl would be sending him off at the airport, so then we both got flustered. We weren't dating exclusively, but I'd just spent the night packing his goddamn apartment with him and he wouldn't even tell me the truth. Throughout the ride we realised the depth of his non-commital issues, and then because I am me, I asked our driver whether he had ever heard of anything more absurd happening in his car, and the driver said no. When we got to the airport, Jon thought I left him at the curb but I'd just gotten my tattoo, and I realised fuck this shit, time to start a fire, so when he was checking in at the counter and the girl was waiting off at the side, I had bags of plastic from his place that I'd intended to recycle, I dropped them off in front of him at the counter and made the most dramatic exit I could, storming off. After he had checked himself in, Jon laughed gleefully in text, and said "that was way shady" and up till now, I'm so drawn to him even though he's not looking for someone to date exclusively, probably because thanks to my daddy issues, I only fall for emotionally unavailable men. Last night, I chatted with him again and we realised besides his issues of not wanting to commit and actively not seeking therapy, he also didn't like that I'm so intense, which made me think, maybe this intensity of mine that I'm so comfortable with, is a defence mechanism that drives people away and keeps them at bay. In any case, last week I had a date with Luca, who is the sweetest, but clearly I have very bad issues about needing unhealthy drama that I attract all of it. Somehow we happened to sit in the restaurant, at a table right next to Julien, a French guy I used to date (if you searched for it I think you could find a post of him showing me stars), and I was sitting facing Luca, who was seated adjacent to Julien, so I was looking at both of them. I said hi to Julien, and then proceeded to have a riveting conversation with Luca about how reverse racism Does Not Exist, because I inherently needed to prove that I was a better conversationalist than Julien's date. Luca and I laughed and enjoyed ourselves but truly, my life is a mess because I am a mess because I subconsciously feel like I don't deserve happiness and TOO LONG; DIDN'T READ --- I NEED THERAPY

Friday, August 31, 2018

STRAIGHT-LACED

I got a Kindle while I was in Beijing, and I've been reading much more than I did, prior to getting it. I finished reading The Hate U Give, which is set to be released as a motion picture, I'm very excited for! It is a sad story, based on very real events, about a black girl who sees her black friend being shot by a white police officer, and all the politics that happen after it. You know you see it in the news so often, but as a non-black person, usually like it affects you momentarily and then you forget about it and you're able to shut it out. Reading it as a novel, though, you really sort of immerse yourself into the feelings of a person who is living the experience, who can't escape the life they have been born into, and it's so sad, I teared every couple of chapters -- although, might not be the most accurate of benchmarks, I am very easily moved to tears. It's also written well, that despite the heaviness of the themes, I learned a lot about her specific black culture in her black neighbourhood, the pop-cultural references they make, her having to navigate being one of the only black students in a posh white school, especially given that she lives in a "ghetto". I honestly empathised with the black people she knew who fell into crime and drug-dealing, who did it because they had to, to save someone else they loved, etc. I would write an actual review, but I have no time at the moment. I currently just downloaded Educated: A Memoir and it starts off with a quote.
The past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, & thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past. 
— Virginia Woolf
I don't quite know what the book is about yet, but I think I'll enjoy it. It's been a very good week, I've been quite busy at work, but also doing things for myself. My colleagues have nothing but praise for my tattoo, so yay. My mother does not know of it yet, so things are still civil at home. This weekend is the first anniversary of Lush Vivocity, so it's been a year of monthly overnight stock shipments and inventories, of training sessions at 8am on Sunday mornings, of learning to care more about people and animals and the environment, of me writing captions for @lushvivocity on Instagram (I always make a disclaimer that I don't write them all the time -- depending on my shifts, so if you see a pun, it may be mine, but it may also not be). We're having a pretty special weekend ahead, with compounding sessions for bath bombs and bubble bars. I think I will have a busier year-end period ahead, 'cos of the Lush Singapore staff party, and then I'm also involved in the Christmas showcase, and Christmas at Lush is a huge deal. I really actually like Lush a lot, and given that you can find Lush in many different parts of the world, I'm hoping it's my way out of here. So far, I've been looking at North America, but we'll see where things take me.

I think it has been a long time coming, but I finally see where I am, where I can be, and am happy with it. I learned a lot of my triggers for anxiety and depression in the past two years. First it used to be my periods, because blood would make me think of the miscarriage. Then it would be delayed periods, because obviously one time, when I didn't get my period, it was because I was pregnant. Then it was falling sick, because when I met the man who got me pregnant, it was when I had just gotten better from being really ill. Then it was sex, because clearly you can only get pregnant if you're having sex (here is a life lesson for all you kiddos: pulling out is not protection! if you're a girl and you don't want to get pregnant, please be smart enough to either be on birth control, and if you're not because you grew up in a weird sex-taboo environment like I did, be sure that your partner is wearing a condom! good luck!) and I kept learning and learning, that a lot of situations had the potential to spin me out of control. But now it's been almost two years to the day I left LA (we're seven days away from it), and I think I have learned and know enough. Enough to realise that some things are triggers, and I have the ability to either be triggered by it, or compartmentalise it as a thing that happened once because I wasn't aware, but then put it aside.

I subscribed to the New York Times crossword, but a lot of it is American-contextualised, so I'm not very efficient at doing it yet, though I do think I'll get better. We all get better from somewhere.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

NEVER ENOUGH

(tattoo by: @maxinengps) There is a sunflower on my spine, whose stalk is a quote from my favorite musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda's @hamiltonmusical, in the song That Would Be Enough. Sunflowers are the only flowers I really like, I'm not much of a flower person. I like sunflowers because they grow tall and towards the sun, drawn to warmth and brightness. I'd like to think I relate to that a lot. The quote is "the fact that you're alive is a miracle", because as was the case for A. Ham, there were certain points in life that pushed me down, kicked me into the ground, and I would feel it easier to give up and end my life, but instead, I just kept on keeping on. The decision to have a tattoo is not an easy one for me, my family is religiously and culturally Muslim and disapprove of tattoos, to put it very mildly. To them, tattoos mean that a person's skin is perpetually stained, unable to be "cleaned" by ablution and that person is thus unable to perform their five daily prayers. I don't understand instructions with little basis I can identify with. I am a very honest person, I never cheat nor steal, I don't sexually harass anyone, I accompany my grandma to the market for grocery-shopping, I care for animals and the environment, and if a god exists and that god judges me for my skin instead of the intentions within my heart, I don't think I'd want to respect such a figure, anyway, let alone pray to one. I can be good without god, and I am. I also love that this tattoo is as permanent as my body, and as temporary as my life. This life is mine, and so is this body. More words on sarahnadetheworld.com. #tattoo #ink #spine #sunflower #love #life #hamilton
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all the shine of a thousand spotlights

all the stars we steal from the night sky
will never be enough
never be enough

towers of gold are still too little
these hands could hold the world
but it will never be enough
never be enough


Jenny Lind, who was born in 1820, was an illegitimate child, and she was semi-fictionalised for The Greatest Showman, but she was someone who actually lived, and historically, she really was born out of wedlock. Two hundred years ago, it was something shamed upon and two hundred years later, it still is something shameful in my community, and two hundred years from now, it will still be the same, unless something changes in between. I have lived 28 years, and in 28 years, my mother still lives with the guilt, and she has not forgiven herself, which is something I have carried within me ever since I learned it was something contextually bad, at maybe six, or seven or eight, whenever it was that I found out. In the Muslim community, women are encouraged to veil themselves, and the partial basis of this is actually a positive thing. When you are veiled, it takes away the realm of superficiality, and incentivises people to look beyond your clothes, that everyone is similar when you're not just looking skin deep, and it forces you to judge people based on their characters and personalities, not just how they look. People being people, this got bastardised, and the Muslim community are just about as superficial and judgmental as everyone else. Suddenly, the veil and having tattoo-free skin were the only obvious marks of being good people. Muslim women are not allowed to paint their nails, as it prevents ablution and prayer, so if you see tutorials by Muslim women, if they happen to show a bit of hair, or are wearing nail polish, you can bet your bottom dollar, there will be comment feuds about these things. Zayn Malik, who has tattoos on his skin, has similar comments on his Instagram, which highlights only one thing, instead of the non-Muslim community being judgmental towards Muslims, it has just become about Muslims being judgmental within themselves. It doesn't matter that Zayn is a philanthropist and could donate millions of dollars of his earnings, the one thing people will be fighting about are his tattoos. I have a major problem with traditional Muslims and other religious people believing in such rigid codes supposedly set by their divine being/s. If you believe the god you have complete faith in will judge someone based on whether they have tattoos, or whether they were born to a set of married parents, whether you are conscious of it, you will tend to have double, triple, quadruple standards in dealing with people. I watched a local Malay drama recently, in which this lady was evaluating whether a Malay man would be deemed suitable of receiving funds from community aid or something like that, she thought he had tattoos and was apprehensive of him, until they found out it was temporary henna and his sister had just been practising on him, after which the social worker instantly softened towards him. I was so irked by that, as if if he'd had real tattoos, it instantly meant that he wasn't a good, honest and hardworking person. These are still the values being perpetuated in Malay drama serials, these are the things that my family members still think. When I talk to my friends and colleagues, I know in Singaporean society, a majority of the older generation are still not accepting of tattoos. I tell them about how long I've been thinking of getting a tattoo, and I tell them that my family will look upon me differently, and my peers who already have tattoos always seem a fraction colder towards me. I know they know that I don't judge them differently based on what they want to do to their own skin. Yet, every time I talk about how difficult it is for me, I know it seems like I am just like my family with their old values, that I would still judge someone based on the superficial, instead of the facts that they are the most motivated people at work, the bravest with their businesses, the kindest and most accepting with their hearts. I know there will be conservative people who will look at me with my tattoo after this, and think my mother has failed in raising me, and if you are one of them, I would like to assure you, my mother has done no such thing. She is now a staunch Muslim, she is very hard on us when we are not, and she has done nothing to let me know that she would accept me with a tattoo. However, based on the fact that I am the illegitimate child, I will never be enough for my mother. I have been pretty much depressed on and off for the past two years, because of my miscarriage, and despite living in the same apartment, under the same roof, my mother has not acknowledged my condition, no matter how many nights I spend crying myself to sleep. I live in a family and community that would rather impart their own beliefs and worldviews to their children, instead of validating their children's individual mindsets. This is why I think a lot of people shouldn't have kids, if you think that the kid will always remain a kid and not become a person of their own, and if you will disregard your kid if they believe different things. This is also why I want to move out of Singapore. Singapore is not the most liberal of societies, that's true, but a lot of people in my generation have come to terms with it, because they have individual freedoms within their family units, and I don't. I don't have the freedom to wear what I want, to do what I want with my body, to stay out whenever I want with my own time, so I conflate the lack of freedom in Singapore, and the lack of freedom from my mother, and I think, I need to be at the first place I grew up learning was a place of freedom: the US. I am not happy here. This is also why I look for love from man after man after man, because I have never felt enough here, I don't feel like I belong and I have never felt enough for myself. I want to be somewhere else, where I can feel enough just as the person I am. I'm not saying my mother doesn't love me, but if she had the choice to only have conceived me after marriage, she would choose it every time. My mother is disappointed in herself, so I know the choices I make with my body will always disappoint my mother, but I would like to accept myself for my choices in life, I want to know that I own my body and I can do what I feel is right for me, and I am enough for me.