Monday, December 30, 2019

END OF AN ERA

Yesterday, Lucas and I built a small wooden house from an arts-and-crafts stencil.



The quality of it wasn't fantastic, it felt like it was 3D-printed material. We broke certain parts, and argued while building because again, our problem-solving methods are not the same. Towards the end, Lucas asked if we should just chuck it out, but I continued putting together the tiny final parts. He then said "you have the most patience" and I joked that I knew and that's why I was with him.

It was a joke, in many areas Lucas is extremely patient with me and in some areas, I am the most persistent person ever.

At work, they asked us to step out of our comfort zones for the new year, and at times I wonder whether my comfort zone is being with Lucas. I have probably never felt this comfortable in my life, but I don't know whether it'll eventually get to a point of stagnation. Comfort is a welcome thing though, I don't remember the last time I woke up from a nightmare in cold sweat, my subconscious now knows that however bad it is, Lucas has my back, literally and figuratively.

For Christmas, Lucas got me a voodoo doll as an inside joke. It's just a basic doll-shaped pillow that came with a few pins as well as a marker. Just the week before that, I was in rage mode at a woman who was holding up the laundry line, in the most inconsiderate manner. I said I wanted a voodoo doll so when Lucas chanced upon one, he got it for me. It is the funniest and somehow best gag gift I've gotten.

He also actually bought me a session at a rage room.


I must make a disclaimer that raging physically is not the solution every time you feel anger, but it is fun and novel, and also helps with alleviating anxiety. If you do have rage issues, you might want to consider a therapist, which I would see if I had all the disposable income in the world, but I don't. Therapy is expensive.

In a couple of hours I will be flying to Vietnam. It will be a nice way to end the decade and start a new one afresh.

The past quarter of the year has been an alright one. I'm still getting accustomed to the birth control pill, hence slowly edging out period pains that used to accost me every month. Thanks to Lululemon, I've been going for yoga and boxing, and I've also been swimming more regularly. I'm gonna say it once, exercise will not and can never make depression magically disappear, but when I'm not in a depressive episode, the exercise and routine really bring much more stability to my life. I'm finally getting muscles in my arms, instead of simply being lean.

It's been a wild ride. I wanna thank everyone who's been there for me, whether or not we're still there for each other at this current moment. What are your twenties for, if not falling for people who might be secretly engaged, or bros who would never take a day off work for you, precisely the ones who remind you of your extremely flawed father, right?? Now fuck off and let me enjoy my thirties in peace.

To be honest, of late I really feel a tension headache and the sort of anxiety that gives you a stomachache, only because of monetary issues. It really presses me that I don't have savings as I should have, at my age, especially comparing myself to my peers.

However, I have been trying to sit with this discomfort and unlearning it. It is precisely a capitalist society that ties personal worth to "productivity" and the measure of financial output someone can bring, that makes me feel this incapable. I am worthy. I face up to the realities of life and accept challenges, I allow myself to acknowledge my flaws and seek help for them, and I have always grown in those ways.

I don't exist in a vacuum, though, so it would be much appreciated if someone could just give me ten thousand dollars. I'll try to invest it and grow it myself, but 10k is nothing to some people!!!!

OKAY this was supposed to be a post to thank the past decade for happening. Peace out, y'all. I'm leaving this decade a much better person than I would have been if not for it. When 2020 and the new decade come along, I invite peace, stability, love, acceptance and wealth into my life, and into yours.

Friday, December 13, 2019

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TAYLOR SWIFT


One time, I wished someone a happy new year, and he said “we're all just hurtling thousands of miles around the sun.” I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean, perhaps that yearly human affairs of counting seasons mean nothing in the grand existence of the universe. He was right, I guess. I, however, am relieved for an end to my own personal previous decade. It was a decade in which: my mother found out she had cancer and the family battled it for a couple of years, my father's continued cheating tendencies were revealed to me although I didn't seek this information, I got involved with a soon-to-be-married man without my knowledge and I actually quite liked him before I knew, I fell in love with a man who impregnated me, then miscarried and started facing severe depression over the perceived morality of it all, I ended many close friendships because I have become more political than I realized, without much company. Of course none of this matters to the universe, it has always gone on and will always go on regardless of all the tiny nitty-gritties in any one singular human being's life, but boy, am I glad the entire chapter is pretty much over. I have made several choices that might count as mistakes, but above all, I still think many of my decisions validate me as being very human. I'm glad to have lived this life, of having taken every risk I could have taken, after having weighed the pros and cons that I could have seen and known at each point in time. I'm ready to say peace out to this decade and can try to move through 2020 and the next decade with 20/20 vision. This is metaphorically speaking, because in terms of my physical eyes, I have 20/800 vision and yes that's possible, and yes, it also means I'm almost legally blind, if you look at me wearing glasses you will see how much light is refracted through the lenses and how much distortion then happens. 🙃🙃🙃

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

MARRIAGE STORY

I watched Marriage Story on Netflix. It's about a couple played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, who have a young child (six, maybe?) and are getting a divorce, each trying to get custody of their son, between LA and New York, where they both work in theater/TV. There is a running joke about the space in LA (hilarious gag!!!!!!! A++++ execution) and there is a scene somewhere in the middle where they are just realizing how much shit has been thrown at themselves by the other's lawyers, including allegations of alcoholism and adultery, some true and others not. The scene is about four minutes long where they start by wanting to talk things out, but it increases in intensity and they're screaming at each other about all the things they've resented about each other through the years that you must keep bottled up if you treasure any relationship. They're red in the face and physically exploding, not literally, and saying the most hurtful things about each other, and I felt it was really believable, and very, very sad and human. I teared near the end, but by that time, they had resolved certain things and accepted the circumstances while growing apart, and settling into their new lives, because you knew they would always love each other, in certain ways. The lawyers were also really well-acted, super well done, and for a Netflix original, I think this is the sort of family movie you should watch instead of Love, Actually for the holidays this year. Or perhaps you can watch this first, before putting on Love, Actually to end on a more maudlin note.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

I'M THE HERO OF THE STORY
DON'T NEED TO BE SAVED


I don't know if I identify more with Summer or with Tom now. I used to be Tom, because I would break my own heart, I guess you could say. I used to think Summer was a right, real bitch, but now is she, really? Lucas says his mom will be flying to Singapore in January and she asked whether she could bring anything for me, and my fight-or-flight instincts kicked in. I haven't met any of my exes' family members since more than ten years ago, and even back then, I only met one ex-boyfriend's family. A character like myself, I think I'm gonna need much more therapy than I've currently received. On the one hand, I don't like to be tied down, and I'm so contrary. If the government and my family want me to settle down, I don't want to do so precisely because they want me to. On the other hand, I also.... don't like to be alone, I don't think? Or do I? It's so strange now when I think about myself whinging when I was single, I don't quite understand why I do that, I enjoy doing many, many things by myself that are apparently not enjoyed without company. I like watching movies by myself, I read by myself, I love eating by myself, especially in public when I can wax lyrical in my own head about other people's lives. Today I thought about the song I would want at my wedding (if I ever get married), Toploader's Dancing in the Moonlight, I thought about whenever the song comes on, I dance by myself in public, and I wondered whether Lucas would dance freely with me. We've never danced and I've never seen him dance, I know he says he can't dance and so he doesn't do it, but I can't dance either, though I don't let that stop me. I'm going to hyperventilate and also I wonder if I will ever get a stress ulcer because money issues are worrying me to death and I can't change these issues. My insurance agent asked to meet up next week, and I wonder why, she's either gonna ask me to up my premiums or she'll give me money, right? I don't know, why do insurance agents ever want to meet you? If she wants more money, I swear I'm gonna develop a stress ulcer right there and then. I feel like Chidi. Also it just dawned on me that I've only broken up once in my life and every other time, I've been broken up with. Not that it's a scoreboard. Is my life just one giant, continuous session of cuffing season? Is that everyone's life? I'm not having an anxiety attack.

Friday, December 06, 2019

THE SUN IS A STAR


bagai bintang di syurga
dan seluruh warna
dan kasih yang setia
dan cahaya nyata

oh bintang di syurga 
berikan cerita
dan kasih yang setia
dan cahaya nyata

This is one of my favorite Malay songs. It feels like.... the Malay version of The Scientist or Yellow by Coldplay. To me, it's a classic. I was telling Lucas all about the singer, who got caught in a sex tape scandal. This performance also reminds me of Adam, for some reason. It's something I wonder if Adam would listen to and say "this slaps!" Adam and I follow each other on his band's Instagram profile, and I think he has a girlfriend. So I think life is going quite nicely for each of us. What a difference a year makes.





The past three days have been good to me. I've spent some time cooking, swimming, and reading. My current read is Budi Kritik: a collection of essays by and about the Malay community, pertaining to topics such as language, religion and gender, among a selection of others. I have greatly enjoyed the read so far, I think it's important for Malays to read it but also for just about anyone as its principles can translate for any other language or community. Sometimes I do things that are peak-White-Girl, I travel with no regard for my safety and I eat avocado toast for brunch. I will always love my Malay culture though, despite criticizing the insidious patriarchal nature of the decade past, I also love Malay songs at karaoke, and I would feed every stranger in the world my nyai's sambal telur and ayam lemak cili padi. I love codeswitching between Malay and English humor, saying things like “sukati kau la nak.” The pictures are not related except to tell you that my odds are stacked, I'll go back to black. The following is an excerpt from Budi Kritik. Yet, there is something to be said about the uniqueness of a language that makes its loss all the more devastating. The Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein expressed it best when he said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Untranslatable words are the very epitome of this erudite line. Let us consider the Malay word ‘sayang’, once a theme of the Singapore Writers Festival in 2016. The term has no one-for-one English equivalent. It infers intimations of love, yet it can also conjure regret, even loathing. Such were the chatter on the ground as the festival unfolds, but it is also notable that the first to get at its multifarious meanings is not an ethnic Malay (sorry not sorry, ultras) but a Singaporean writer of Indian descent, Gopal Baratham. As so eloquently put by his protagonist Joseph Samy in Baratham's novel Sayang (1991), the word “describes a love bound to sadness, a tenderness trembling on the edge of tears, a passion from which pity could not be detached.”
A post shared by Sarah Mei Lyana (@sarahmeilyana) on

I created a trip itinerary on TripAdvisor to try and win business class tickets. I made an itinerary for Old Souls in New York based on my experience. This was what I wrote:
Washington Square Park: You might have seen this park in movie scenes, or your favorite poem could have been written here. Soak up the atmosphere permeated by artsy folk, who have been haunting this joint for centuries, to sing, write and dance in summer. Even in winter, you can feel a buzz of people ringing in the new and inviting fresh memories into their futures.

New York Transit Museum: The entrance to this museum looks like just another entrance to the subway, so be sure not to walk past it! Inside is a collection of all the different MTA train car designs through the decades, for you to take photos and appreciate posters from campaigns past. Don't just do it for the 'gram though, definitely take the subway when in New York to see and interact with the heart of the city: its people.

Brooklyn Bridge: Did you even go to New York if you don't walk across this bridge? No one would believe you did. When I was here, I witnessed a man proposing to his girlfriend, and the entire crowd burst into awwws. There might have been onions around me too. Whatever your expectations are, this city will surprise you in delightful ways. At the very least, crossing the bridge while admiring the skyline of New York City should inspire a little awe, if not a lot of warmth and fuzziness inside you.

The Strand Bookstore: The Strand is a great place to meet other old souls. If you don't like them in human form, then you might want to let yourself get lost in the stories of thousands of books. The book that's been on your wishlist, it's definitely here. That book you've been meaning to write? Could maybe already be found here too. ;)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Millennials know The Met from Gossip Girl. Besides its iconic steps, it holds some of the greatest pieces of art within its towering rooms. You don't have to be someone who's "artistic" or a regular museum visitor to appreciate this place: there's something for everyone and when you've found yours, you might stand mesmerized for hours.

Grand Central Terminal: The first time I was here, I was on a first date. I'd like to think I fell in love on that night, yet I will never know why. Perhaps there's something about a crossroads location where thousands of people commute each day, leaving tiny parts of themselves behind, to intermingle with the souls of yesteryears. Time runs thin here, everyone is catching a connecting train to somewhere but if you have a moment, stand from afar as you guess the lives of all who pass through here.

Central Park: All across Central Park are benches with personalized plaques on them. These plaques contain personal quotes, or descriptions of people who have passed, contributed by family members, friends, and anyone whose life has been changed by the subject. One day, I aim to spend an entire day reading every single plaque there is, but until then, perhaps you will find your favorite before I do.
I am such a hopeless romantic. I really done fell in love with the city. Also its people. I love New York City. The magic is in its thousands of people organizing against the police to protect homeless and poor people of color from being criminalized for not paying MTA fare. The magic is in thousands of people like me, going there to change the world, for a change in their own lives, to create things of their own, all of it spilling into one another's bubbles. I miss New York. I miss the way I felt happy to be alive when I was there.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

FACTS AND FIGURES

I had the luxury of having spare time yesterday so I picked up a copy of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World - And Why Things Are Better Than You Think. I bought it because I wanted to have some hope about the world and our future, and I thought perhaps exposing myself to certain facts would help. I read about a third of the book and I have decided not to continue. Anyone who wants it is welcome to get it from me, I have a physical copy and I don't know what to do with it. The book was published sometime in 2017 and outlines that as humans, we are outrageously bad at knowing the conditions of the world and predicting trends that are expected to happen. There are many good and nice things reported in the book, and indeed most of them are true and factual. In the past two hundred years, the world has indeed progressed at astonishing rates like never before, and the writer predicts that this trend will continue. Something the book sorely lacks is a grounded view of climate change, they do not acknowledge that climate change has happened as a result of our progress and industrialization and therefore the fact that should our financial conditions improve, the climate will also steadily become worse. There are dozens of locations in the world that have been burning non-stop this year. He also brings up only facts that serve his case, meaning economic wealth and overall lifespans may have increased, yet at the very same time, mental health has been on the decline. While we're at it, the fact that mental health has only recently gotten the attention it needs means that there are barely enough resources to equip future generations with dealing with it, so ya. The book didn't make me feel better, it feels like an ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid looking at hard facts. There are already more critiques of the book readily available online. I read them and they are chock full of more relevant facts than the book is. I really didn't think it would be like this, I read it because I wanted to be hopeful about the future of the world but the way to be hopeful is not in denying reality. I really want to study gender and women's studies, then become a therapist for women, and also write a book while I'm at it. If the world is going to end, I might as well try to go out with a bang, right????

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

DEXTER'S LAB

I was talking to a friend from work, she moved here from the States 'cos her husband got transferred for work. I asked who she would vote for next year, she said she hasn't done her research yet so I tried to sway her to Bernie's camp lolol. I was very transparent about the fact that I like Bernie because he's passionate and he would make college tuition-free. I'm hoping that I would have to only pay for my first two years of tuition (which I enrolled for at a community college so it would be way cheaper) and when I'm converting my associate's degree to a bachelor's the two years after, college would be free in New York! I thought I would take a bank loan and have certain family members as guarantors (who are not my parents because my parents are always struggling with cash, read: four children per parent) but said family members tried to dissuade me from studying once they found out I was an atheist so basically, SNAFU. What else, what else. I still have $28,000 held by the government. I really don't want to spend $28,000 CPF back on the government on a goddamn flat, but that's the only thing I can do. Not that I can even use it to buy an apartment for income unless I get married, so..... Again, whatever. This government hates someone of my demographic and I hate them equally mutually. Will the patron saint of Sarah Mei Lyana please step up and PayPal money into my account?! I said PLEASE!!!! Y'all think I'm a comedy queen but I really ain't playing. I'm going to be broke all my life. Speaking of which, actually not at all speaking of which, y'all need to watch the latest episode of Patriot Act, about why billionaires won't save us, and why billionaires should not exist. Even Bill Gates, or anyone as well-intentioned, should not exist as a billionaire. I would write more on it but tbh Hasan Minhaj and his team has already done all the research and made it humorous enough on his show, so if there's one thing you do for me this year (besides Venmoing me cash) please go and watch it.