Wednesday, February 28, 2018

BE STILL

“Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

— The Fellowship of The Ring
I am on the way to work so as always, it gives me an hour to ramble whatever I want to ramble about. I posted the photos of Mochi with the shampoo bar on my own Instagram account, and my biological dad, who follows me, commented “but I think Snowy had nicer eyes”, referring to a cat he used to have.

I do not know if it came from a place of narcissism and having to bring everything back to himself and his own life, or whether he thinks everything needs to be a competition. Either way, I’m glad I’ve figured out where I receive certain parts of my personality, and things I need to work on. I can only hope each of my mother’s four kids and my father’s six also realises these things to work on in themselves, and sooner rather than later.

For the past few days (or many more, alright I admit), I’ve been lamenting the fact that my peers are settling down, are high-flying in their careers, are building families and putting down their roots in homes that will last perhaps the next decade. And I wonder why I don’t have any of that. But then I also think, most if not all of them had parents who stayed together, who were not toxic, who understood the importance of financial and family planning, and consequently these friends and family members of mine did not have to grow up way ahead of their time, and were allowed to have their childhoods, and therefore could transition into adulthood much more easily.

I keep having to remind myself that life is not a competition, and that for what I’ve been given, for the cards I’ve been dealt, I’ve played a pretty fair hand, I’ve never tried to cheat my way out of it. I also am a very dissatisfied person, I mean on a daily lifestyle basis I am quite low maintenance, but I have very lofty ambitions. My friends and family are happy with starting families and working where they are.

But me? I want to move to a place that believes in ideals, I want to leave behind a legacy. I don’t even know what legacy I want to leave, but I know I am not contented with living an ordinary life. And it doesn’t take one night to build a legacy, it doesn’t take even the same amount of time as everyone else has taken to get to where they are, it will take much more time. We are all working to what we want, and all our lives are works in progress.

Today I feel a little glad that I got pregnant and miscarried, because even if I had received a university education, I would not have learned everything I’ve learned so far if I hadn’t gotten knocked up or miscarried. If my family, my household, my mother and grandmother never found out about my activities, how much longer would it have taken me to eventually claim ownership of my body and my life? Would I ever even have confronted the issue? Who knows.

You’re doing okay, Sarah, for what you received and your intended destination, you are doing okay.

Edit: two nights ago, I met my best friend Han and we were having a conversation about the men I’ve dated, and I said not all white men are the same and rich and like Joey, and she said “the trust fund kid” I dunno why it popped up in my head I’ve never even said the words trust fund in my life and this has nothing to do with anything but TRUST FUND KID is so funny it hurts — no more trust fund kids for me in life, thx hahahahahahahah “trust fund kid” my best friend is the literal best

ATTEMPTED

Yesterday, Zahidah and her husband dropped by Lush Vivocity, because they were nearby, and Aryan was there of course. He is truly such a happy, happy-making baby. He's so chubby and his smile is so cheeky and he's so gonna get far in life, because it all starts with whether you are a cute baby hahahahah.

Sometimes I wonder why people have babies, then I look at babies like Aryan, and some of my other friends' babies on Instagram, then I think, oh yeah, they're adorable and make people happy. But! Of course, having a kid is not just when they are a baby and making you happy - you must be equipped to care for that child, until you have to let go, because you do not own your child. Repeat after me: you do not own your child.

Monday, February 26, 2018

MONDAY TO SUNDAY

A couple days ago, one of my superiors was giving me feedback and she said she feels like I have a calm and composed energy, like I don’t get flustered, which is a different case from how I would have been just months ago. She says it helps because when I portray myself to have the calm energy, I give off those vibes and other people can mirror the same. I feel like it’s because the year of depression I had really sapped a lot of my energy, so nothing really fazes me anymore. I mean, in daily interactions, I no longer panic and freak out, I honestly just keep calm and carry on, because that’s honestly all we can do in life. I’m going to keep calm and carry on, because I can start by myself, and if there is anyone who needs my energy to mirror, they can do the same. Hold my hand, we can all keep calm and carry on together.

IT’S OKAY

I woke up today and said it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay to myself. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. If you say it enough times, it will be true. It’s okay, Sarah, my darling, it’s okay. It is okay. It is okay. It is okay. It is okay.

I cry occasionally, when I’m sad, like now, but then I think back to when I found out I was pregnant, then had a miscarriage, heard things from my mum that broke my heart, and cried everyday, thinking I could not go on, but I did. It is okay. It’s okay, Sarah. It might take time but it is okay. Every time you feel down, it still feels like the most down you have ever been, but you know that it isn’t true. It is okay.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

ATONEMENT

She whispered his name with the deliberation of a child trying out the distinct sounds. When he replied with her name, it sounded like a new word - the syllables remained the same, the meaning was different. Finally he spoke the three simple words that no amount of bad art or bad faith can ever cheapen. She repeated them, with exactly the same slight emphasis on the second word, as though she were the one to say them first. He had no religious belief, but it was impossible not to think of an invisible presence or witness in the room, and that these words spoken aloud were like signatures on an unseen contract.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

BURY ME AT MAKE OUT CREEK

I am on the way to work, as I so often am, and I was listening to Ariana Grande’s Tattooed Heart (I give you one guess as to who put it on my Spotify) and bopping to it while walking at the interchange of trains. A girl about 9 or 10 years old, turned to look at me and gave me the sweetest conspiratorial smile, I don’t know if she heard the music through my headphones — I hope not ‘cos that would be really loud, or if she saw me tiny-dance, but I smiled at her, and I think, things are alright. We don’t suck and are attractive, we have the woes of not sucking and of being attractive. I can live with that. Have the loveliest weekend, y’all. Note to self: when you get home, take out the marketing post-it you took from Chanel from your denim shorts pocket before you bring them to the laundry and paperfy everything

Friday, February 23, 2018

THE MORE YOU KNOW

Did you know that traditionally, Muslims are not supposed to have tattoos? It’s because the ink on a person’s skin prevents their ablution from cleansing that part of them, before they perform their prayers. This is, of course, bearing in mind that they are even steadfast to their prayers. I’m not sure I believe in a God of religion, although I can’t say for sure that there is no higher power, so perhaps I’m an agnostic. I don’t feel it, so I don’t believe it, but if there is something, then things can always change. My mother and grandmother are traditional Muslims, and have not accepted that I am barely a Muslim, let alone a traditional one, they always hope that one day I will see the light but if I get a tattoo, it will be a rather obvious sign that I will not tend towards that path. Many Muslim parents of people I know have broken down because their children got tattoos, and I foresee the same for my own, eventually. It is quite sad, that one would feel disappointed based on what their child did to his or her body. For one, it shows how superficial your relationship with your child is, to depend on their physical appearance instead of the person they truly are. For two, if anyone ever asks you for examples of how religion is used for easy governing and for people to turn into mindless sheep, show them the rules of policing how a person should dress or treat their own skin and body.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a social climber of the strangest kind. I could have gotten pregnant with anyone’s child, but it had to be someone I met in LA, who was one degree away from a name at the forefront of technology at that. Then I think I also really liked Adam, who is pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum, who recently only got his membership card at a socialist club (or whatever it’s called — I’m not scrolling through his Instagram) and he and I said when I was in New York, he would help me when I’m getting pads and tampons and giving them to homeless femmes if they wanted them. Like, only last year I realised I had nothing to complain about during my period, I have a roof over my head and always have, I have access to clean and functional sanitation facilities, I have the money for painkillers, and there are so many less fortunate women in the world, and I want to help as many of them as possible, because you’re only as strong as your weakest link and if there is a woman in destitution, fuck me and my soaking in bathtubs, srsly. Today I saw someone working at an American-based multinational corporation, at the Singapore office, and I think of how Singapore has absolutely no resources to speak of, not even land, and it’s trying so hard to keep all its people, it has to have its people on lockdown in terms of finances and housing and everything within its fathomable control. On the other hand we have places like USA that has problems keeping people out, that even if its own citizens left by the hordes, it wouldn’t try to stop them. I think and I think and I think there must be a flaw in the system, a loophole I can exploit, something I can use as a bargaining chip, but there isn’t. I’m just going against nature, I’m swimming upstream. I am a salmon. And that’s the end of this thought thread.

FIRST OF ALL

My life isn't even worth one coin.


Actually, there is no follow-up to that, I just wanted to say at 27 years old, on Feb 22, 2018, my life and all I own isn't worth one single Bitcoin. I mean, if you don't count my money that is tied up in CPF (ie. our government-mandated 20% "savings" that I'm unable to touch until I retire at 97 billion years old or if I stop being a citizen of Singapore for five years - meaning, once I've migrated and renounce my citizenship, I will have five years to count down until my trip around the world or something).

Bitcoin apparently fluctuates quite wildly, though, so perhaps next month I would be able to own five? Meh, who knows. Who cares. Life will end. Follow your bliss. Also: not that I have any interest in owning Bitcoin. The more things you own, the more things own you. Is it time to rewatch Fight Club? Perhaps, perhaps not. My life is ending one word at a time.

Today, I asked Adam what he's currently reading (answer: Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami) and when I opened my laptop to blog, I realised our old iMessage conversation history had all reloaded itself and I was enjoying my reminiscence until I accidentally clicked close on the tab, GOD FUCKING DAMN.

Will I ever get over this man? Perhaps, perhaps not. But you know, life ends, follow your bliss and all that. If I want to read about us being cute and enjoying each other being cute, I WILL DO SO. Anyhow, I'm sure there is a way for me to retrieve the conversation somewhere in the archives of my iCloud or whatever. Someday I'll do it. Or maybe not. Don't know, don't care. Life will end.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

AND WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE YOUNG FOLKS

One time, Adam had a dream that he played me his music and I didn’t like it, and he felt downhearted for it, even though I have never heard any of his music in reality nor commented on it. I had a strange dream last night, it was not related to Adam, but then when I woke up I still felt feelings, so I suppose, try as we might, sometimes it is the most unreal of things that feel the realest. Why do the opinions of those we love matter so much, that we tend to hurt them, when we don’t hear the opinions that we want? How counterproductive is this, lol.

Last night, I met Pamela and we talked about her existential crisis and how neither of us would want kids. Before we’d met, she told me that Nina Nakamura thinks I’m gorgeous:


Nina works at another Lush store in Singapore and she’s super cool and pretty, so like, yeah. Girls supporting girls, I’m so in for this. Also: Pamela is pretty and everyone is pretty and if no one has told you you are pretty today, here, take it from me (the person who’s so bad at lying I never even try), you are beautiful.

I was listening to the Valley Forge demo on the Hamilton mixtape (whose playlist on my Spotify I have fondly renamed Hamixtape, because I have strange feels about the entire universe of Hamilton the musical), and it’s basically Lin-Manuel Miranda battling against himself as the different characters “do you have no influence at all, you fucking skinflints?!” and you can hear him doing all the vocals on his GarageBand, and it made me think:

Lin-Manuel and Vanessa Nadal and their son, Sebastian, and their second child on the way, are some of my favourite people in the world, and I barely even know them. If I had life shipping goals, it would be between Lin and Vanessa, and Mark and Priscilla and their daughters and dog who is the cutest mop-dog in the world.

Like, if anything bad happens at all, on any given day, whether in my life or in the world at large, all I have to do is look to either couple/family and I feel better. We all need more things to give us hope, and I hope y’all have something like the Mirandas or the Chan-Zuckerbergs for regular words and actions of hope, or otherwise, you should just follow them on Facebook/Twitter/your choice of social media. I’m out!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

THE TRAIL MARKED ON YOUR FATHER’S MAP

This is the sixth post I’ve put on here today. I am on the way to work, on a Sunday, and the third day of the Lunar New Year. This morning I recalled again, why I am so dissatisfied living in Singapore, despite it not having gun issues and natural disasters, etc. It is because nothing much happens here. One of the days that I feel most alive in this tiny island country, is in the middle of the year, at PinkDot, our version of a pride march, that is only allowed to happen with a list of caveats, that grows longer every year, as the government realises its growth. I have never been to a women’s march, nor any march, to be honest, because that is not what happens here. People here have been metaphorically (or otherwise) beaten to submission, nobody dares to step out of line. That’s why I like to travel to places where everything happens, the epicentre of media attention. Maybe that’s why people like to keep their eyes out for me, living vicariously with none of the personal risks, because they know I’m a hurricane who will never be satisfied. I’m not saying it is a good thing, sometimes I wonder why I have to be such a contrarian, why I will never be at ease unless I’m fighting for something, why my life always has to be caught in a whirlwind, when I will find a partner who will anchor me down and be my roots to the ground, somewhere. But it is what it is. I am what I am.

HUNGER PANGS

I woke up from a dream then started talking to Irene, who lives in Boston now and who says it’s currently 0 degrees Celsius and she and her husband are recovering from the flu. This flu thing, has it not affected anyone this season? I feel like it has moved to every corner of the Earth. I miss Irene, and I dunno how relevant this is (probably not at all) but I’m likely to meet Freya soon before she leaves to work in Dubai. It’s nice to see my girls overseas, it means that borders sometimes only exist in minds. I saw a photo of A at a bar, and a few days ago he said he was staying away from drinking ‘cos it helps him feel better, and I know from firsthand experience that mixing alcohol with mood regulators is a no-no. My head hurts from wondering if he’s drinking but yknow, I am going to trust that he knows what he’s doing, and I am nobody’s mother, and I am not here to take care of anyone, he is a very competent adult and I need to go back to sleep.

ALWAYS THIS

Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters. — Naomi Shulman

ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS

It’s one of those times, a rarity, where I feel like by the grace of something I am unable to name, I have been placed in a very fortunate spot, that I am me. I am grateful I am me, that I was placed right here, because I would not exchange it to be anybody else. I really would not rather be a myriad of people I can think of, so yes, today, this instant, I am proud to be me. Is this just the ice-cream talking? Perhaps, but perhaps I have been someone I would always be proud of, and I will not take it away from me, not tonight. Good night/good day, everyone, I love you. :)

GOOD DAY

Today was a very good day. I spent it with my family. In Singapore (because I don’t know how it is celebrated in other countries), Chinese families celebrate Lunar New Year by indulging in steamboats/hotpots/BBQs, and married couples give red packets of money to non-married people. I earn my own keep but it’s always nice to have a little extra and feel young and carefree. Today I felt very happy about myself. I like myself for being brave, it has been about a year and I have made some tough and painful moves but I have grown and learned beyond where I was last year. If I could have this fearlessness to keep moving on, all the time, I will be proud of myself. Keep moving, Sarah, keep on moving forward. One can only hope one will never be so blind to the timesuck they are kept in.

CELEBRITY

I wonder what about me warrants such persistent attention, is it the fact that I don’t want to stay in the country I was born and raised in? Are my thoughts extraordinary? Is my 100% honesty refreshing? Is my writing astoundingly amazing? I have very average thoughts, I think. So why the preoccupation? Would you like to be friends with me? Because, to tell you the truth, I love making friends, as long as you are not a man I have been involved with.

Some things, I’ll never understand.

I returned to add more to this post. So like one of my sort-of-favourite things I love-hate to do is seeing a Lush Instagram post that’s more “controversial” like perhaps two men sharing a bath or when they say trans women are also women and deserve equal rights and there’s a photo of a Women’s March crowd, and then.

There will always be comments by people who say Lush is being too “politically correct” and that they just wanted to know about new bath bombs, not get political, and they are reconsidering whether to support Lush, and I’m like, aww honeeeeeey, go ahead and get gone.

People will stop at nothing to spread their hate, and I love that I work at Lush, and Lush will always take the side of love and moral integrity. Political correctness is not just gaining traction because it’s politically correct, it’s just the humanly decent thing to do, and yes, everything has to be politicised, because if it isn’t politicised, it will never change, and ignorance would prevail, so nope, we don’t want that happening. Not today, not anymore, Satan.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

DIASPORA

When you’ve always dreamed of moving from the place that practises capital punishment for drug offenders and doesn’t believe in sex positivity, nor is the most tolerant of the LGBTQ community, to the place that refuses to change its gun laws, written around the same time as its slavery laws hundreds of years ago. One cage to another, one cage to another, but you will never be free, until you are free.

Friday, February 16, 2018

EH

I saw Black Panther and Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and very much enjoyed both. Life is good. Life is very good. Life is very, very good. Sometimes I worry people think I’m happy because I’ve got some lowkey love story blossoming in my life because I’m always talking about men but I have no man in my life, not a single one, nor one in a relationship, nor any kind of wordplay you could think of, there is no loophole, I have no man and my life and I are very happy.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

POURQUOI TU GÂCHES TA VIE?

So today, I had a conversation with my grandma for about one and a half hours, or so. She found out about the incident that happened in LA, and she asked whether it happened voluntarily, even insinuating that perhaps Joey had drugged me (HA HA). That is how much my grandmother wants to believe that I am the pure, innocent girl that I apparently should be - that I cannot possibly be wilfully doing whatever it is I am doing out of my own enjoyment. Like my mother, my grandma also sort of requested that I didn't do the same thing again, except she didn't do it outrightly as my mother had. My grandma also asked what my thoughts on religion are, and I tried to navigate this as well as I could, as tactfully as is within my ability to be. She thinks that I never broached the topic of my miscarriage because I think it is a mistake and I would be too embarrassed to talk about it to her or my aunts, but I didn't talk about it because I don't think it's a mistake, it's a perfectly natural, run-of-the-mill, everyday thing that happens, every day on Earth. I slowly implied that I was indeed not as... Muslim or religious as she would like me to be, and I also said my beliefs are that if there is a God, the higher entity that I believe in would not be as.... ummm, inflexible, to judge me based on whatever criteria she believes in. I told her that I know I am a good person, regardless of whether I pray, or believe in certain things, etc etc. We talked about the Quran and the Bible and she asks where I think the universe came about from, so I told her "energy" but she doesn't understand the word energy the way I do, she thinks tenaga is a thing that only exists in humans when you eat food and it is converted to the strength needed to do things. She said, there is some Science in the Quran, and I told her well, yes, but there is also a lot of science that happens without and beyond the Quran, that the holy books were written back when there was much, much less science happening, that the only reasons why people believed in the supernatural and the.... spiritual ways of why rain falls and why crops grow and all that jazz, was because there weren't any laboratories or experiments, that people didn't have science to believe in, and therefore they believed in stories. I told her that a lot of science didn't happen or wasn't allowed to happen because the religious always persecuted the scientific, that for thousands of years, and even now as we live and breathe, whenever Science doesn't agree with what the holy books say, then the religious would always be scared, that the religious would then say "how can that be, we have never believed that so it can't be true" when the answer to "how can that be?" is that it just is, you can conduct experiments over and over again and certain things will always be true, and you just have to change your beliefs. My grandmother thinks I have been led astray, but I told her I haven't been led astray from anything, I have read everything and I made my own judgment as to what I believe, and I am not a bad person. I told her when I read the Quran or the Bible, the writing is too fear-mongering and I used my own intellectual faculties to decide that the style in which it is written is not something I think a higher entity needs to employ. If you need to scare someone into believing something because the alternative is hell, then they will not be organically good people, they are simply avoiding punishment. I said all this to my grandma, but what I did not say, was that a good 90% of people should not be having kids, if they think the way she does. I think people have kids when they think that their kids will grow up to be people whom they would accept, but chances are, you don't know what your kid will be. You could have grown up a good and obedient Muslim as you were raised, or you could have been rebellious until you got married after which you decided to change, you and your husband or wife could have dated the conventional Halal way, and you could think that your child can naturally and instinctively follow your guidance, but that is just as likely not to be the case. For as long as you think you will not accept your child if they were not Muslim, if they don't wear what you think is appropriate, if they are homosexual, if they turn out to have opposite political views - whether conservative or liberal, if you don't believe in tattoos, if you think a person who doesn't live with or takes care of their parents is irresponsible, if you want them to be a doctor or an engineer or a homemaker, for as long as you don't think you can accept your child for turning out as different a person from you regardless of the effort and how much love you put into your child, if you cannot accept your child the way they are - barring criminal intent - then don't. Don't have children.

I'm gonna watch Black Panther as well as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I'm out, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NO, BUT ELIJAH WOOD

send me your location



hadapilah ini

kisah kita takkan abadi

selamat tidur kekasih gelapku
semoga cepat kau lupakan aku

kekasih sejati ku takkan pernah sanggup untuk melupakanmu

selamat tinggal kasih tak terungkap
semoga kau lupakan aku cepat

kekasih sejati ku takkan pernah sanggup untuk meninggalkanmu

Ever since I heard this song more than a decade ago, I'd always wanted to name one of my daughters Sephia, if I had a daughter. This is one of my favourite Malay songs. It is not likely that I will have my own kid, but even if I adopt, I would like to name her Sephia. Today I thought about languages a lot. I thought about Jared, who was from Portland but who spoke (probably still speaks) fluent Indonesian because he works on mangroves and did his thesis research in the Sumatran islands, I think. I also thought about my best friend in France, who used to speak to me in French much more often, until I stopped, and now I barely recall any of my vocabulary, from both my school classes and the external institutions. I think about Adam, who understands conversational Japanese, because his ex-girlfriend of three years was Japanese. I think about how I keep going for white men whose girlfriends seem to always be Asian, and I wonder, what is going on? Should I be glad? Is this the end of racism? Is this playing into racial stereotypes? In my dating history, I have had exactly one person who spoke the same languages with the exact fluency, that is to say, grammatically anal with English, fluent in spoken and written Malay, and conversational in Mandarin. He also loved Sephia, and the song used to reflect us. I haven't thought of this song for ages, but then I saw him on my Instagram today, and then I think about him being engaged, and then I think about. How everything will eventually lose meaning when you don't employ it enough, like a language, and nothing really matters. My first love will soon be married, and it doesn't really matter to me, and the world is four and a half billion years old, and nothing really matters. What a strange thought.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

28 MADRAS STREET

I posted something on Instagram today, and I was really feeling it. I really did and do believe it. But now it is three hours to Valentine’s Day, and I know it is a commercialised date for capitalism, and I know some say the date is arbitrary, but tomorrow, tomorrow is the eighth time I will be spending it alone, which means it is eight full years I have been alone, and now, I have to have one of my best friends tell me that I haven’t been alone these past years, I had plenty of adventures, but to have them telling me this, I wonder, to what end have I had all those adventures? To what end, indeed? Ah, bugger.

Edit: my app just reminded me my period is in four days so perhaps the additional gloom is due to PMS — I am going to walk over to Mustafa Centre and buy myself chocolate :)

Monday, February 12, 2018

THE FALL-OUT, OH BOY

So my sister asked about twenty minutes ago, whether I had posted anything online because apparently our mother is/was crying, so perhaps she has just read all my recent blogposts, and the inevitable fallout is impending. Sciencespeed, Sarah. Imma need all the positive vibes and energy I can get if what I suspect happens to be the actual case unfolding. I knew February was starting out too well. Was it the calm before a storm? Watch this space. Hahahahahah. It’s time to brace myself.

Edit: yep it me oh no

Sunday, February 11, 2018

TIRED / WIRED

I met Zack today, he remembers the details from my blog with surprising accuracy. Things like my manager being a Filipino, or the parka from my mum, or Adam, or generally anything he reads here, he remembers. We only recently followed each other on Instagram and he said “that photo with your pigtails, you looked nice in it”, so I said “you know what would have signalled to me that you like it? You pressing like on the photo” and he said “did I not like that one?” lel okay. Today after we did all the things, he said he wanted to be friends, because he’s still not over his ex, and that he’s still fucked up from her cheating but of course, it was after all the things. I don’t know if I can blame him because I said I was passing time until I leave, although in my defence I also said I thought he was a nice guy and if I wasn’t leaving, I could and would envision something with him for sure. But then we did talk about my being hung up about other men, most especially Joey and Adam, so I suppose I can’t ask for much. I do think it is a dick move to only decide on friendship after finally having done all the things. I mean, another man, another joke on me. But you know: everything that is on my plate is there because I said yes to it. I am not a victim of my decisions and I accept the consequences of every action I take, etc etc. We’re all hurt and fucked up and all we can ever do is pass it on, right?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

MOCKINGBIRD

I received a text from Adam close to an hour ago, it was a long apology for how he had hurt me. The funny thing is I didn’t have either Adam’s nor Joey’s number stored in my phone so for all of three minutes, I thought it was an apology from Joey, finally. Then I saw the area code and some of the things in the text and realised, hey it’s Adam, the man I still love and from whom I don’t even expect an apology.

We FaceTimed for a while, I showed him Mochi with her little bandaged leg. Arina was holding Mochi up, so she asked me who I was FaceTiming so I said “Adam” — she asked “you’re still together?” and despite every iota of me wanting to say yes we were, I said “no, we’re not.”

We ended the call within half an hour because I think he needs sleep before he spirals even further, but if we had talked for any longer I would have probably said “I love you”: which, given the both of us, doesn’t need to be said, because we both know it’s true, anyway.

I didn’t tell him about Hang the DJ or The Shape of Water, or all the things that had been building up in my head, I just watched him rub his eyes and ruffle his hair and make his cute sounds while covering half his face like he used to do, and I thought, this one’s mine.

OH NO

I woke up feeling a little dehydrated, a little virusy, a little on the... unwell side. But I am not falling sick. Next week I have five days off, and there will be reunion dinner and Lunar New Year goodies and snacks, and I am supposed to enjoy myself and taste food and. I am not falling sick. Body, you hear me? One more week. Just hold on one more week. Please do this for me. We can do this. I will sleep more for now if you want me to. I will eat fruits and vegetables! Antibiotics! All the things!

Oh no.

EVEN MY FEELINGS HAVE FEELINGS

I got home tonight and found that my mum had gotten me the cutest hooded pink parka from esprit, and it was placed in its paper bag on my bed. It is so adorable and I love it and I’m gonna wear it for years. I wore it to my sister’s/grandma’s room and my grandma said in Malay that now I wouldn’t need an umbrella, which was exactly what I thought, too. Apparently it was my youngest sister who thought it was nice, but my mother got it for me instead. (Inb4 you feel too bad for Arina: remember she Did get her desired Fall Out Boy concert tickets.) I cried when I saw the jacket, hahahah, I know it makes me sound like a basketcase but I dunno, it’s tough to navigate things like this with my mum because I mean I know she loves me in her own way, but then I want to do things that she doesn’t approve of, that she thinks is an affront to herself as a person, and then I don’t feel loved again, and erghhhh. It just feels really nice when people do nice things for me unexpectedly.

NICK CAVE & THE SEEDLESS GRAPES

This song is the accompaniment to one of my favourite scenes in a film, when Harry takes Hermione, removes the Horcrux from her, and they dance together in the tent, all with the awareness of Harry’s impending face-off with Voldemort. I also like the song itself for its own imagery. It strikes me as a very happysad song. It’s almost happy, but it’s not, and so close to being sad, yet isn’t quite. There is a tinge of hope, just like when Hermione set down the Horcrux. Or like, even if there is sadness, the oblivion to the sadness is... I dunno, it’s enviable. If you don’t feel sad at a situation that is rightfully sad, then is the situation actually a sad one? Or is it happy because you have no cognizance of it being sad? Am I tired and rambling? The answer to that last question is most definitely a resounding yes.

hey little train, we’re jumping on
the train that goes to the kingdom
we’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
and the train ain’t even left the station

hey little train, wait for me
I once was blind, but now I see
have you left a seat for me?
is that such a stretch of the imagination?

hey little train, wait for me
was held in chains, but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
in this process of elimination

This has nothing to do with anything but I just sneezed unexpectedly, a little violently, and spat some spittle onto my phone. My phone is disgusting. In fact, everything I own is quite germy. Hehehehe. How I have a best friend who is a hygiene freak, is beyond me. We are star-crossed best friends.

This has nothing to do with anything, part 2. Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth started playing on Spotify and I just realised it is the sound of putting in a coin and the dialing of an old-school phone? I dunno if I never heard it because my earphones didn’t sound like these headphones, or I just never noticed. Huh.

Friday, February 09, 2018

AEO

I just got a pair of jeans from American Eagle Outfitters ‘cos they were on sale and I dunno where my jeans are (kidding, they are most likely with my sister - Melyssa Novianna Azalea, when I move away you’d best believe I will enjoy full ownership of my clothes).

First of all the counter guy is super cute, which is a pity ‘cos they’re only two stores away but they’re closing down. Secondly, the jeans I just got, they are US size 0. I mean, is it not the most inane thing you’ve ever heard? What do smaller people wear, negative sizes? -2? -6?? This industry is such bullshit, though.

FEBREEZE

I am on my way back to work, in the train. Next week I am working only two days out of seven, because it is Lunar New Year and I took time off to spend with my family and for just resting by myself. I’m three days away from the new week. Three days. At the moment, tired as I am, I am glad that I have Lin-Manuel Miranda’s voice talking on podcasts for me to listen to, that February has been and will continue to be a breeze, that my life is the most fantastic and beautiful mess. I love it. I’m telling you, the truth shall set you free, and in some ways, I am much more free than many people, I think. I say all my truths and I am not held back by conventional barriers.

ALL TOGETHER NOW

I came home last night, or early this morning technically ‘cos we were doing set-up at work, to find that Mochi’s leg was no longer bandaged and everyone else was asleep so I had to wake them up to send her to the vet because her broken leg was limp and dangly and red and infected. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.

There are certain things I tell myself not to mention, despite having possibly the most flexible and weakest filter known to most of humankind, because I know some things don’t have to be said. This, however, directly clashes with my honesty and owning up to what I feel, because I don’t like to hide anything. Last night, I was reminded of course, of the first time I’d stayed overnight for Christmas set-up, during which time Adam was at Comic-Con and he was nervous about it. In the morning, when I was cabbing home, he sang me a song. I loved him at that point, as I possibly still do now. I miss Adam.

When all is said and done, I will always say and do all the things. Have a great weekend y’all.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

FILLERS

One time, back when Khalis was teaching me to drum, he said that although drums are supposed to set the beat for songs, there are just as many tracks in contemporary music that have the songs written and drums added on to complete the sound of it. I first noticed this in OneRepublic’s Good Life and ever since, I’ve never been able to unhear it — the jarring juxtaposition of the completely off-sounding drums that are filling up spaces instead of setting the beat. I don’t know how I can explain this.

Someone should write a modern-day love story, where the protagonist has about six different love interests, and likes each of them for different things and dislikes them for different things as well, and how complicated modern-dating can get, what with social media, and exes returning and reappearing. I want to say this is a modern issue, but then I think of Pride and Prejudice and I think again, perhaps not. Are you going to be my Darcy? Will you get over your hurt pride as I let go of my prejudice? Who am I even addressing? I don’t know, it could be any one of my six love interests. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Jesus. I am both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, I’m complicated enough without a man trying to win my affections.

THE COFFEE ACADEMICS

I met Andrea and Vivienne at The Coffee Academics for dinner tonight. The food and coffee were great. You can view more on my Instastories if you're so inclined - otherwise, you may or may not take my word for it. We had pancakes for dessert and they were really good, with cream and berry ice-cream. I had coffee with manuka honey from New Zealand and I enjoyed it. I might be growing up, I'm liking more and more kinds of coffee. Oh jeez no please don't, I want to be a kid forever.



Since I last met her, Viv has gotten exponentially more tattoos. She has a swallow on her right arm, and a mountain on her left, which are her parents' names, Yan and Shan, respectively. I love the two, as I love all her tattoos. Viv has an infinity symbol on her collarbone, and we used to love giving each other things with infinity on them, 'cos we're #soultwins, I had an infinity on my room wall once upon a time. #basic

Andrea also talked about her tatt, down her side, which is slightly more relevant to me. They both go to the same tattoo artist, and apparently they trust him, so... I can take their word for it.

I have two doubts, first about the fallout that will eventually inevitably happen, because you know, my body apparently will never belong to me, but I'm mentally prepared for the fallout. I mean, I had a life inside of me, and got rebuked for that, and still survived, so, in the words of Miley Cyrus, there's always gonna be another mountain, right?

Secondly, the question is always: do I want this or do I want to be in New York City? I've been thinking on this and I figure this is an investment that I've wanted for literal ages, and if I get it, I might as well get it now, instead of spending my precious USD currency in future, right? Yes.

So. Let's go. Skin, ink and bones.

I also had the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my bag, 'cos that's my new read (although it is a relatively old book), and I'd always associated the book/movie with Andrea, and of course, she told us, she's wanted to get another, of a dragon clawing its way out of her back. Andrea and Viv talked about Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, and I listened on passively, because I have much less appreciation of female actresses than I definitely should possess.

For some reason, I told Viv that although I used to be staunchly on the camp of people who say gif as jif, I started being okay with both camps, with either a g or j sound, after Joey. Joey said "it's not peanut butter, it's not jif" so I began saying it as give, like he did. We then proceeded to agree that Joey might be a rocket scientist, but given that he still knocked me up, he can't be all that smart, after all.

Viv said it's a deal breaker, whether I say gif or jif, and then I tried to dissimilate the pronunciation thing from actual deal breakers, like racism or bigotry, but she was having none of it.

We also talked about how Elon Musk is a genius, selling Boring Company caps and flamethrowers for funding, etc. Viv is reading Musk's biography, etc, and says she would so get a Tesla car, but as much as I most definitely admire Elon Musk, I also can't help but think, I dated a man who admired the hell out of Musk, but who wasn't the greatest of men, and Musk himself is not known for being the best husband or relationshippy-person. So: you could be brilliant and still be so lacking. You choose what you want, I suppose.

After dinner, we sat al fresco (chey sit outside Far East Plaza call it al fresco isit tak sedar diri isit yes?) and talked about Black Mirror and all the TV things, and I think I'd had too much sugar, because I was laughing uncontrollably at morbid things like deaths and funerals. May I just say that, I am the type of person who will be set in giggling fits at funerals, and please don't invite me to yours unless yours is the kind that is a celebration of what your life had been, and I am allowed to laugh and giggle until I cry. :')

I have ascertained that Hang The DJ is my favourite Black Mirror episode, and it is a great non-depressing episode, and Adam, if you're reading this, please watch it. You don't have to even talk to me, you can just watch it and feel whatever you feel about it, I think you'd enjoy it! If you're not reading this, whatever, lol, I'm very used to talking to myself.

Hang the DJ reminds me of one of my favourite films, that has a rather eccentric sort of actor as its protagonist. I love that film, although Hang the DJ is undoubtedly more feel-good, and more relevant to these times.

I love meeting up with Andrea and Viv, I hadn't done so for so long, but they are the type of friends that are, how would I put it, low-maintenance, and with immensely high payoff. I don't have to try hard to be anything I'm not, I'm the dirty-minded, exactly in between wild and experienced and timid and clueless girl that I am, admiring them, and enjoying their company and talking about things easily without trying to find anything to talk about. It just flows, and it's funny and entertaining and warm, and I like it.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

THEY BEATING US LIKE 808'S AND HI-HATS

One day, this song will be about me. One day. Just you wait. Today's question is: do I prefer the original Hamilton soundtrack or the Hamilton mixtape made after the soundtrack? God only knows.


Today I watched The Shape of Water, which I liked, but not as much as I liked Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo del Toro does his thing again, and I think it is magical, but just, I dunno, Pan's was better to me.

I remember talking with Adam about our favourite movies, and Pan's is one of his top five (it's also one of my favourite films but not in my top five, I don't think), and he also has top five favourite books, so I asked him whether he had a list of five favourites for everything. A lot about The Shape of Water reminded me of Adam. I don't know if I'll be spoiling it for y'all if I mention any of them, so I shan't, but he should probably watch it. Maybe one of these days I will text him to watch it, maybe I won't.

He posted an Instagram photo of himself being sick, but he's still such a goddamn qtpie, and I bet he knows it, because legitimately, would you post a photo of yourself being sick if you didn't think you looked good? No, you wouldn't. Ergh this man.

I felt good today. I finished The Road Less Travelled, finally, and I think it's now become one of my books to read at least once every year, just to revisit the lessons I've learned from it. Will you all do me a favour and read it, please? If you are readers, that is. But given that you're here on my blog, this goddamn whiny, repetitive thing, I'm sure you're somewhat of a reader. Go give it a read.

February is turning out really well.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

AND WE BOTH KNOW
ALL THE TRUTH I COULD TELL

I found the letter I'd written for my therapist. I read in The Road Less Travelled that mental illness or imbalance is caused by the unconscious and conscious not being aligned. I guess I must say I am much more resentful of Joey than I want to admit. I resent that our mistake was made by two people but only one person had to face the consequences. I hate that I lost a year of my life, fell out with several of my loved ones, felt suicidal at times, let other men confuse me even further.




This is what the letter says:
Joey

Sep 7, 2016 was the last time I saw you, at SpaceX, before I boarded the flight back to Singapore. One year later, I have anxiety and I almost hurled my breakfast. My therapist said that it might help to write letters, even if they are never sent, so here goes. I find it hard, almost impossible, to associate bad traits with you, because you got me pregnant, and I wanted to believe you were as good as it gets, when it comes to having made mistakes. Also, I loved you during my time in the US and my fondness for you lingered so that I still regarded you with rose-tinted glasses, for months, pretty much a year after. However, unless I face the facts and deal with all my suppressed resentment, I will never be able to fully heal. When I told you the news, you said that if I wanted to keep and raise the baby, I had ownership of my body and you trusted me to be a parent to our kid. That was the last nice thing I can remember you saying to me. For the next week or so until my miscarriage, you found it hard to come to terms with my decision, because if you became a father, you'd have to tell your family and friends. #noshitsherlock

When I had the miscarriage, you said you felt sorry for me but you were very relieved. That was the last that you acknowledged my pregnancy/miscarriage. I asked you to foot half my clinic/hospital bills. You said you would but you never did. I told you my parents found out and I was in deep shit, to no response. A week later, on a Friday night and you wanted company, you began sexting me. I don't have any problems with the general concept of sexting, but I'd just gone through the miscarriage of our baby. I was incredulous. You and your friends were planning a trip to Japan for early this year, and I was always supposed to go along with y'all. You said you'd ordered a batch of Plan B's, or the morning-after pill, for me to consume, "just in case". Perhaps avoidance is your way of dealing with things, but in following your lead, I buried a lot of the aftermath of my post-traumatic emotions. Not anymore, though. I am finally on my road to recovery. I loved you for a summer and it lives on forever in my memories, but I don't love you anymore. Goodbye.

Your Sarah for a Summer
Joseph Alexander Hallock, when you do apologise, I want you to think through what you did to me, because you know I still have it all, more than just your words. I want you to believe honestly that I did not deserve everything bad that happened to me last year, and that you are sorry for it and sorry to me, and that what we did was as much your fault as mine. I don't want you to say sorry just because you know unless and until you do, you will never be at peace in your life. I want you to apologise to me, and for me, but unless that happens, don't.

Monday, February 05, 2018

MANSPLAINER OF THE YEAR

So I was at work, and a man saw me working, at my workplace, and he asked me what I was doing, because I was demonstrating a bubble bar, at the place that I work at, and so I explained, and then he said, “do you know that this brand is from the UK? It’s actually a very old brand” and he walked away, so my thoughts were, in this exact ramble: no shit Sherlock I did not know the store I work at originated in the UK, nor the length of its history, please do tell me more, pray tell #chinoncuppedpalm #leanin #unenlightenedasian

Fuck my life, what do you think I am doing at the store if I don’t know about it?!

Also: there are customers who come in with skin concerns and are looking for, say, masks that address those concerns, like maybe they wanna hydrate, right, so you recommend them masks that have all sorts of ingredients that are for hydration, and you go through a few options, but they keep declining, because they don’t “like the smell”, and they decide to get one that smells nicest to them, but doesn’t address their issue at all. When that happens, it takes all my energy not to say “that’s why your skin sucks and mine doesn’t” lol I mean srsly, I was trained for this but no, if you wanna choose something fragrant for your face, why don’t you try.... perfume???!! All views are obviously reflective of my own thoughts and are not indicative of Lush’s stance on anything.

FAUSTIAN PACT

Me, reading up on schools and fees and lodging expenses: why is studying so expensive I just want to improve myself and be a better and more useful person and my parents have never been of any help to me because they believe in “God will provide” jesus christ God if you exist, will you please credit my bank account with the exact amount I need to study please? They said, ask and you shall receive, well you best believe I’m asking

Also me: Sarah you need to stop whining and shut down your laptop and get ready for work God is dead there is no God

Sunday, February 04, 2018

ESCAPE THE ORDINARY

Today I was in a changing room and the strap of my camisole had gotten caught on my helix stud (bc: of course) and I wasn’t aware so I just pulled it off and the stud came off and my helix piercing started bleeding again, so I exclaimed “what the fuck are you doing there, get the fuck out dumbass OWWW!!!” which I realised on hindsight might have sounded dubious to anyone else who was none the wiser and heard me. Now I don’t have a stud in and it is crusty and I am going to have to grin and bear the pain if I want it back in, which again sounds like innuendo but is honestly just my shite luck with piercings, goddamn it. I also met one of my good friends for lunch because it was her birthday recently. February has been a breeze: should I brace myself? :/

Anyhow, one of my favourite things to do at work now is posting an InstaStory on the @lushvivocity Instagram account. Nothing makes me happier than knowing my cringeworthy puns are getting more exposure than to just the people in my social circles. If you see a cringeworthy pun, it is highly likely it is me. Also, when will Lush realise I am the perfect person to write copy for product packaging, I was born for the job! Lush UK/North America, I’m looking at you!!!!!!! Also I spotted several typos and misprints, who is doing proofreading for them, srsly! What is this nonsense. My manager used to say I have OCD because I like to arrange things alphabetically but I most definitely do not have OCD, I just like things to make sense and follow a system.

FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF

It is 3.52am and for the second night running, I am still awake and for the second night running, I just had a bowl of spicy chilli-cheese cup noodles and am panting my life’s worth. I was going to shower, then cycle to the laundromat for my week’s load of laundry, but I don’t think my hair will dry in time for me to sleep, not even with the cycling. I don’t use a hair dryer, anyway, which is the reason my hair is actually quite healthy. Ergo, laundry when I wake up later on the Sunday that is my off day. I’ve been awake since 10.30am on Saturday for work so I’ve been awake for about 18 hours and perhaps running on adrenaline and delirium. Being best friends with my sister again is a really comforting feeling. Also, Mochi is lying with me in my bed, she is fast asleep and I wish Adam could see it but regardless, the feeling is a lovely one and it will help me to sleep.

Today for some reason I thought of one of my friends whom I admire greatly and always have. If you have read my blog long enough, it is easy to tell whom it is. He beat up a girl once that she had to be hospitalised and I think he always felt ashamed of it. That happened a long time before I was properly friends with him and despite knowing the story, I never connected it with him because that was no longer the person he was and I never saw that in him, and he definitely learned his lesson. I think he might have carried it around because one time, I was out with him and we saw friends of the girl’s, and he told me they were definitely talking about him and the incident. He is not the only guy I know with such a story, men have the capacity to physically hurt women so much worse than they think they do. But there are always two paths. Some men do it over and over, and they tell the girl(s) that it will never happen again, yet it does, and they never seem to feel guilty about themselves. The latter group does it once, perhaps not so severe, but they are so shocked by what they’ve done, that they carry it around with them, and feel guilty all the time. I have seen both kinds in the course of my life, and I just want to say, if you belong to the latter group, put it down. Talk it out. Don’t shut it out and carry the weight of the world upon your shoulders. Shit happens in life. If you don’t forgive yourself enough to talk about it, nobody will be able to help you. As long as you know for a fact that you’ll never make the same mistake, you’re forgiven. This post is not directed towards anyone in particular, or at least the person I’m talking about is too far removed from me to ever chance upon this. If this hits home with any one of you, rest assured it really is not about you and this thing is far too common to be unique.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

SATURYAY

I just got back from Singapore’s only 24-hr shopping mall, Mustafa Centre. It’s one of my favourite places in this country because it is so one-of-a-kind and truly locally-flavoured, unlike the other characterless malls. I was there with my grandma, my mum and sister Mel. I have no clue how it is already 4am but I am again feeling good. February is the best. It is laundry day. I have to sleep. I’m incoherent. The last time I was awake this late/early, I don’t even really remember when. Perhaps I will be more sensible and less delirious when I wake up in the morning. Imma sleep now. :)

Friday, February 02, 2018

DANCE, DANCE

It is very rare that I want to dance, because I can’t dance and I generally don’t do what I cannot do, but occasionally, when I am contented, when I am happy, when I am at peace with the world, I want to twirl around. I honestly cannot dance tho. Maybe someday that will change, but someday is not a day of this week.

I SHOULD BE SLEEPING

Me: how often is okay for me to text A
Me: once a month?
Me: once a year?
Me: never?
Me: what do I even talk to him about
Me: Terrace House
Me: people against MSG having racist undertones
Me: Taylor Swift
Me: his face that I am still solidly attracted to
Me: sex
Me: ho damn
Me: gotta blast

Thursday, February 01, 2018

DOUBLE WHAMMY

I am so happy and proud of myself. Today I was so hungry, for dinner I ate the food (rice with beef soup) that my grandma had cooked and packed for me, and I was still hungry so I bought and ate chicken rice, and finished it all. Maybe I will finally put on weight this year, and it will mean that I’m happy. Or maybe I will be happy and still be skinny, who knows. Lel.

YOUR EX-LOVER REMAINS DEAD

try as he might, he’s unable to speak
he grabs her by the hair, he strokes her on the cheek
the bed is unmade, like everything is
dark little heaven at the top of the stairs

take me like that, ruin it all
then build it again by the light in the hall
he drops to his knees, says
“please, my love, please —
I’ll kill who you hate, take off that dress,
you won’t freeze”

one more night
that was a good one
one more night
the end should be a good one

he starts with her back ‘cos that’s what he sees
when she’s breaking his heart,
she still fucks like a tease

release to the sky
look him straight in the eye
and tell him that, now,
that you wish he would die

you’ll never touch him again
so get what you can
bleeding him empty just because he’s a man

so good when it ends
they’ll never be friends
one more night
that’s all they can spend there

I was walking at the train station, and had my headphones on, and someone was trying to get my attention, to sell either insurance or souvenirs or who-even-knows-what, but I had no time nor interest for it, and was walking away, but he held my arm, and I wanted to scream, I wanted to yell don’t touch me, because you shouldn’t touch anyone unless they say they are okay with it, but I didn’t, I smiled apologetically, shrugged him off and walked away.

I was reading a little on the lawsuit between Kesha and her sexual abuser, Dr Luke (about whom other female artistes have even said they don’t trust and that he’s shady, so). In the New York lawsuit, the judge (who is sadly a female, and women who are not allies to other women are scum, srsly #yesallmen #andsomewomen) threw out Kesha’s appeal. One of the reasons cited were that the sexual assault incidents “alleged” by Kesha only happened twice of the many years they had been working together.

I mean, the law is such bullshit. Anyone with money can corrupt it. As if sexual abuse/assault only affects you during the time it happens, instead of changing the person you are, taking away a person’s agency over their own body, messing up their trust in people and the world. As if you can count, oh it only happened 2/365 times out of the three years you’ve known this person, so the other (365x3)-2 days this person is okay and you can trust them. As if it’s an aberration. The fuck, seriously, why is the world like this.

28 DAYS LATER

shake it once, that’s fine
shake it twice, that’s okay
shake it three times
you’re playing with yourself

It is February, the month with 28 days! If I had a second favourite month after May, it would be February fo sho. I think this Feb is going to be super great, I’m really looking forward to it.

On a not related note, because our house wifi router is the furthest from my room and therefore my wifi sucks when I’m in bed, I just purchased 20GB for $20 from Circles, my mobile provider, on top of my base plan, so now I have about 27GB per month, or roughly 1GB per day.

What on Earth am I going to do with one gig of data per day? Watch more porn, perhaps. Although: there’s no point in me watching porn ‘cos I don’t do anything with myself. You see, when it feels really wrong for someone else to touch you, it continues to feel wrong to touch yourself too. I should go for sex therapy.

Sarah Mei Lyana: pushing boundaries on what to share on social platforms, all day err day. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯