Saturday, December 31, 2016


It's the final day of 2016, and while I'm really old enough to know that nothing is gonna magically change the vibes from one year to the next and that the only main difference will be one singular digit that we write on dates and in calendars, it still feels nice to be able to have a bookend to the mess (beautiful as it was) that was my 2016, and begin another mess in approximately twelve hours.

I don't actually have a point or any linearity to this post, it's going to be a stream of consciousness, the last time I'll be able to indulge in one this year and the last time you're able to indulge me this year, provided i) you want to, and ii) you read this before the new year.

Yesterday, I watched La La Land for the second time, this time with Shahida. Because I'd already watched it before and I knew how it would end, this time, the entire movie was tinged with sadness and I began crying even earlier than I did at my first viewing.

After the movie, Shahida and I discussed our thoughts about the film. She thought it was bittersweet, not a sad wreck like I felt it was. This is because both protagonists pretty much achieve their professional dreams, and they both succeed, in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, their opportunity cost (or mostly his) are the lives they could have had with each other.

It killed me, more than it did for Shahida, because at no surprise to anyone, I live for love. Don't get me wrong, I deeply respect and admire career-driven people.

When I was in LA, I met both types: people who worked themselves to the ground in whatever industry they're in, but then would sound wistful when they say: "I don't really have time to date, it's a little sad and I wish I had more time to balance both" or people, both men and women, who literally could give no less of a fuck about love, or dating or relationships: they live to focus on work and their passions and dreams. Love is not even something to aspire to, it's almost like they view feelings as a waste.

Sometimes, I wish I was like either group, because I'm an avid dreamer (both the abstract kind and the I-can't-sleep-'cos-these-dreams-are-too-vivid kind) and I do have dreams of writing and publishing a great book, I want to be an accomplished writer. And of course you can and should try to achieve both, if you want to, but, like the movie, if presented with a choice between professional success and a lasting happiness in love, I would sacrifice my work in a heartbeat. I just cannot fathom a lifetime of success with no one to share it with.

I think La La Land is my favourite film of 2016. It's most definitely personal, because I am the filmmaker's dream audience, I immerse myself in a movie and inject and project all my own experiences into it and leave with a wholly different experience than anyone else. But I would say, even for anyone who doesn't have any ~history~ with Los Angeles, cinema capital of the world, it would probably still be very enjoyable as well.

Sometime in the past week, one of the last seven days of 2016, I recalled reading somewhere, multiple times in multiple articles, that more intelligent people were more faithful and much less likely to cheat. They apparently are able to calculate risks and envision the potential fallouts of their actions, so they don't cheat as a way to maintain their happiness, or whatever.

I don't remember what I was doing when I had this recollection or why I thought it, it just happened. I remember when I first read it, I felt more assured and happy.

I don't know whether everybody has a natural assumption that they are an intelligent individual, but I certainly believed it about myself. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak, that I believed intelligent people don't cheat, and as a self-professed intelligent person, I wouldn't cheat. I also became aware I tend to date only smarter men.

I have no clue whether I was also trying to find someone whom I thought wouldn't cheat on me, but the fact goes I had a preference for only people who were either well-educated or open enough to thinking and talking about things instead of accepting them at face value. Enlightened as some people seem to think I am, I actually obviously have very obvious biases and preferences. I'm very human.

Then, this time, the time in the last week of 2016, I just realised that my father was quite well-educated, he is one of the most intellectual people I know, and although he's inconsistent at a lot of things, one thing he's been consistent about in his character, ever since I was a young kid up to last year, is his cheating in romantic relationships. And that's only of the times I've been made aware of.

Once my father was established to not be such a reliable person, I suppose as a kid, I had to take someone else as an exemplary male role model, So I took the next man I admired most, I think most of my family members would agree that he's one of if not the smartest person in my maternal-grandparents-descended family. He was the first person in our family to get a degree and he would always help in our math or science assignments up to our respective undergraduate education.

Then within the past five years, I learned that he also cheated. By that time, I was already not too close with him, so it didn't really bother me and I didn't think about it, because I'd already formed the impression that he was also, again, only human, so there was no reason why he should be emulated beyond my own father.

And then, I met and dated a man whom I must say was possibly the smartest man I'd known so far. I spent a lot of time talking with him and learned so much about him and his life. He was politically and socially enlightened, he spoke of geopolitical situations, he knew what went on in Congress, he was a character worthy enough to have had his own reddit ask-me-anything sessions, because he travels and recruits students for a rather prestigious American university, so students are always admiring him and seeking advice.

What he conveniently forgot to tell me was that he was engaged. He also conveniently forgot to tell his fiancée about me, so I told her, of course. Everything he said to and did with me. Because I think honesty is a virtue. In any and every situation.

As I thought about these three men, I realised that despite being the most intelligent/smartest/well-educated/however you want to put it, they were still cheats. And then I wondered whether the articles/studies had an agenda. The people who conducted the studies, while not necessarily possessing malicious intent, might have had a self-serving bias, if they were themselves intelligent. I mean, everything written, said, published, expressed, has to be sieved through the mindset and background of the writer. Maybe they wanted to find the results that they found, making it skewed and less accurate.

On the converse note, there is another maybe more well-known study, whose results are that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be unhappy. Whilst the previous study I mentioned has been rather incongruous with my own real-life experiences, this one, sadly, has been quite applicable.

I must say there are many things that make me happy. Movies make me happy, books make me happy, ice-cream makes me happy, sushi makes me happy, colouring makes me happy, wearing fancy clothes makes me happy, etc etc. I know how to make myself happy.

But there are also many things that keep me dissatisfied, like sexism and racism and classism, etc. I don't understand how some people can take things as they are and ignore everything else in the world, because "that's just how it is". People who exploit their positions in society, because they can.

When people make tautological arguments like "it was written in the Book, and the Book was written by God's prophet" without wanting to verify facts, the history of it, the mythology of it, without wanting to verify the perspectives of who actually wrote down what words, and the vested interests and selfish political agenda each of them might have had. People who want to apply blanket rules and principles across history without considering ever-changing contexts and sociopolitical landscapes.

I'm not saying there are no smart people who consider all these and can still be happy. There probably are, but it's not easy for me. Every time anyone cracks a racist or sexist joke or makes a microaggressive remark about me because I'm female/Malay/Muslim/whatever, I have a deep-rooted uneasiness that makes me want to change the way the world runs.

I'm stuck in a country that doesn't exactly promote personal liberties and freedom of thought, I was raised in a family that went from somewhat liberal to quite religious, so I'm halfway here and there, and I'm trying to figure my own values out.

I was watching a few episodes of Gilmore Girls with my sister Lyssa, and I was telling her when I'm a mother, I would probably be like Lorelai and allow my daughter to do anything she wants, make her own mistakes. Then I said my daughter would probably turn out to be Rory, and be a meek, decent, rule-abiding daughter, who doesn't even need a mother like me who allows her to be independent, and Lyssa says given how life goes, that might be likely.

I don't know where I'm going with this anymore. I'm tired. It's half a day to a new year. In 2017, I have plans to i) not fuck my life up, which can be taken quite literally, I'm gonna commit to myself until I'm financially self-sufficient and steady career-wise, ii) go to a place I've dreamed about for a long time, iii) love as if my life depends on it, which sometimes I feel it does.

Have a good one, always and forever. Wishing you all the best in everything you do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're mel, i really look up to you. thank you for being a kind soul. God bless you :")