Tuesday, March 31, 2020

WATERBENDING

I just finished reading A Little Life and put it down for good, finally. I've read reviews and many of them felt the same. That it was dark, depressing and heavy. Some had to rush through it so they wouldn't have to prolong the pain whilst others had to take breaks in between sessions of reading, to cope with the burden. I was one of the latter. The protagonist, Jude, was abused horrifically in his childhood all through his adolescence, by multiple perpetrators, and by multiple people whose roles meant they are usually people you can trust. This leads Jude to having extremely self-destructive behaviors despite being successful in his career later in life. He cuts, he believes this is a way to release the filth from his body and to purify himself again, but sometimes he does things like slam himself against walls or throw himself down flights of stairs, because he thinks he deserves it, because when he feels the physical pain, he perhaps stops feeling the depression, because of a myriad of reasons you can never truly understand. I got quite frustrated because he wouldn't go to therapy, but then one of his previous abusers had assumed the role of a doctor, so that was something to let slide. I get a headache when I wonder why people who recognize that they've been through abuse, then further abuse themselves through harmful behavior. Then I think, I used to scratch at the back of my knees really badly, I had a sort of rash and although I would be advised to apply calamine lotion or something soothing, there was something so perversely addictive and pleasurable when you've scratched an itch so much and so often and so intensely, that it begins to sting. Maybe it's the same feeling but on a much larger, much more negative scale. Who knows. In my opinion and in the reviews that I read of the book, the writing is so well-done, it's seamless and natural and so realistically done that you believe and invest yourself in the lives and livelihoods of these characters. I kept reading because she wove and crafted an actual fantastic life together, the pain and pleasures and friendships and mundaneness and trust and permanence and temporality of everything. I wish she hadn't written such a dreadful story because it kept me feeling heavy for so long, but I appreciate the beauty of how she wrote.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

UNCERTAIN TIES

I'm kept awake on my last night staying in our new rented room. I don't quite enjoy living here because it turns out, the landlords (who live in the other rooms) allow only light cooking, which means up to instant noodles. They say everything else leaves an oily floor, which really gets my goat because, what is a kitchen for if not to be dirtied by food? I feel like the underlying cause is a little bit of racism, because the family is Chinese. You should see the reddit thread for renting in Singapore, racism is rampant but you'll never find them admitting it. I don't want to live here any longer because eating out everyday is obviously hella expensive, and second, if I were to allow any adult to control my lifestyle, I'd rather it be my mother who at least has a slight reason for it, than random people who don't know me at all. I am lying awake because I think my body knows it and feels it, somewhere deep beneath my conscious. Lucas doesn't want me to move back, of course, he reminded me that he's never seen me as torn and battered as I was on the night I left home, bawling about my mother calling me useless and someone who makes her unhappy, simply for having pink hair (and probably residual repressed anger at my tattoo, that she's never confronted). I feel tense tonight, I've had small, controlled, limited doses of my mother in the months since moving out, and I know moving back could be a step of regression, of moving back to trauma, of returning to a pattern of monthly dramatic battles and mental instability. But I have fought my fight, and I am not in the financial position to choose to rent, not in the position to choose to eat out everyday. Especially not when I'm trying to save for my education in 6 months (also uncertain, given the COVID situation). I move back only in the hopes that I am mentally stronger and healthier to choose my battles, to conserve my energy, and to try and spend more constructive time with my family members like my sisters and my grandmother, before I leave, for good. For good.

Friday, March 20, 2020

WHOOPSIDAISIES

Last week when we were in Vietnam, we went to a rural village for Lucas' friend's wedding. While making our way to the wedding, we saw cows that were being whipped to walk along a narrow path. I often talk about how people detach themselves from reality so as to justify their own actions. For example, people with privilege do not think about how unfairly the odds have been stacked against most people who are incarcerated, homeowners in Singapore treat their foreign helpers like inferior beings and make excuses for why the latter don't deserve to have their phone etc, and a majority of the Earth's population refuses to sit down with the impending catastrophe of climate change and so continue to participate in mindless consumption of unnecessary... stuff. Anyway, my point was that I saw how that cow was treated and instantly I knew if I saw my family cat Mochi being treated that way, I would be seething with rage. Yet somehow when it's done to cows, or sheep, or chickens, or anything reared as human food, I've managed to convince myself that it's somehow excusable. I'm quite the hypocrite when it comes to this because I really actually love the taste of meat, and as far as I know, Impossible hasn't created a steak-like alternative with their inventions. I love my chicken rice, I love Japanese wagyu beef, love lamb chops. I don't even know where I'm going with this, I know I'm very far removed from where it happens, the rearing of livestock, there is literally no physical space in Singapore for farming activities. Perhaps that's why it's easy for me to condone, because I don't see it and I don't have to taste the guilt when I'm eating a steak. I need to sit with myself and really think about this. I don't believe in God, don't believe in karma, don't believe in astrology (and honestly the number of people who post about the Co-star app just makes me queasy lol, I don't see how the younger generation don't realize that we were conditioned by our parents who believe in God, to find reason and pattern and meaning in our lives, and we just substituted Gods with... stars, and it's not any better, but I digress!!!!) but I believe in what I see and what I feel. I know I cannot continue to consume real actual meat without being burdened by the thought of the physical pain it brings to animals, or even the goddang toll it takes on the environment. On a pretty much different note, I finished my application to a school in Vancouver today. I have very little knowledge about Canada, for example I only learned where Vancouver was on the map as I was applying for school, but the political situation looks slightly more diverse than America's, and the nature opportunities in Vancouver/Canada are very exciting to me! I hope I will get in, I don't see why not, but you never know. The only potential problem I might have is I love the sun, and Canada seems cold. But! You live and you learn and you change and adapt.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

SOCIAL DISTANCING


and the memories
bring back memories
bring back you

A couple of days ago, I thought I saw someone in the train, or someone whose eyes reminded me of someone else. It's not very likely, though, physically, it would have been very unlikely. In the past couple of days, I've been thinking about how I would let things go, if only there were apologies, but the apologies never come, so things will stay this way. I don't know if you are all working from home, but I hope you are all okay. Wherever in the world you are, I hope you're okay. If you're not, please reach out to someone. Reach out.



If you're looking for something to watch during this quarantine, I'm obsessed with Taylor Swift's new video for The Man. I also love Netflix's Love Is Blind, which was right up my alley.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

PROJECTILE

Yesterday, on the way to Noi Bai International Airport from our hotel, Lucas wasn't feeling well, and he vomited at me in the car. I had never seen projectile vomit, nor had I ever been vomited on, so this was a two-in-one deal. -1000000/10, do not recommend, unless you have some sort of sick fetish. I saw (and smelt) veggies, banana and watermelon in his vomit, and I don't think you can have someone else's vomit on your body, and feel its sticky fibrous wetness, without needing to puke, so I threw up when we went to the airport's bathrooms to clean up. I suppose this is what love is. When we got home, I did the laundry and tucked him into bed, fed him fish porridge for dinner. When we were in Hanoi, Lucas' friend from work, Christina, said the two of us were very compatible, because we were defending the film Parasite to the two girls who didn't like it. Lucas and I have very similar worldviews, which is that you should feed the poor, and eat the goddamn rich. On the plane back, though, I was watching an episode of Shark Tank, and not for the first time, I questioned myself, and how much of my values have to do with money. Do I love Shark Tank as entertainment, or do I really love the principle behind it? I had a dream last night, I woke up to the fall season, somewhere that has orange fall leaves in trees, and I wonder if that's where I'll be for school this year. Singapore doesn't have any seasons, except the tax season. Ha ha ha, I'm so funny.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

COVID-19

Today we were having egg coffee in Hanoi with Lucas's colleagues in Singapore Airlines, as well as their offshore counterparts from Vietnam, whom we met at the wedding yesterday. While speaking, we unearthed that the Vietnamese team had done some coding that the Singapore Airlines team then took credit and even now have a patent for. Then, while walking to dinner, we found out that Singaporeans who have arrived back from travel in ASEAN and certain select countries, would have to do a 14-day quarantine. Lucas hadn't technically applied for leave, and he is due to start at his new job in a week, so he's very worried that he'll be found to have travelled when he wasn't supposed to, and that the ministry of manpower will revoke his work visa. Lucas is a very anxious person, so regardless how much logic you try to assuage him with, he will panic and he will visualize the worst possible outcomes of a situation. It takes a lot of energy to deal with uncertainty, and what with the political situation in the US, as well as the global virus scenario, 2020 could be going a whole lot better. I just want to start school.

Friday, March 13, 2020

THREE DOORS DOWN

a hundred days have made me older
since the last time that I saw your pretty face
a thousand lies have made me colder
and I don't think I can look at this the same
all the miles that separate
disappear now when I'm dreamin' of your face

I'm here without you baby
but you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
but you're still with me in my dreams
and tonight girl, it's only you and me

the miles just keep rollin'
as the people leave their way to say hello
I've heard this life is overrated
but I hope that it gets better as we go

I'm here without you baby
but you're still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time
I'm here without you baby
but you're still with me in my dreams
and tonight, it's only you and me

everything I know, and anywhere I go
it gets hard but it won't take away my love
and when the last one falls, when it's all said and done
it gets hard but it won't take away my love

ANN ARBOR

Bernie Sanders lost Michigan so I've been thinking (and actually already in the process) of applying to other colleges in other countries. Joe Biden feels to me like Democratic Trump, he's nearing senility and he's working with and for billionaires. Maybe I'll move to New York when people like AOC are in power, maybe I won't. We'll see. Life has been really good to me in the past weeks, nevertheless. We were in Bali and lived very lavishly, without spending huge amounts, and this weekend we'll be in Vietnam for Lucas's friend's wedding. That's the last time we'll travel for a while 'cos he's moving to his new job at Ogilvy, so in the next few months I'll try to plan for nice dates in sunny ol' Singapore.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

WHATEVER WEDNESDAY

I was at my grandmother's 77th birthday get-together, and talked to my cousin Diyana. She asked why I chose New York, and we fashioned an answer, together, that some places you instantly vibe with, and New York was mine. I'm sure I've said it before, but even with injustice or inequality, there are protests or demonstrations, and people are allowed to stand up for themselves, or for people who can't stand up for themselves. Singapore is a rich and safe country, from the outside, but it really is close to a dictatorship. How safe are you if you can't express how you really feel? The governmental party in power has been in power since 50 years ago, because every time any semblance of an opposition appears, the government quashes and quells them, suing them, taking them to court, using the state-owned media to scare these opposition voices and views. Coming from a place like this, I'd rather be in a place like New York, where I can be whoever I want to be, and say whatever I wanna say. Speaking of the US, I saw Dan have a I Voted sticker on Instagram so I naturally asked, and he confirmed he voted for Sanders! This is the nice Dan from LA, the sensible, cool, musically-overachieving one with the lovely parents (the kind of parents I covet, not even secretly), not the douchebag who cheated on his wife. If you have yet to vote in the primaries, I hope you realize that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are leading, and voting for the other candidates means that your chosen candidates are then likely to endorse one of those two. Essentially you are wasting a vote, because instead of making your choice, you will now be letting someone else make your choice. I hope everyone else I have met in the US is voting for Bernie, as far as I can recall, I am aware of all of them being on the left (but the Democratic left is a mess, don't get me started on: why are there only Democrats and Republicans in a country that purportedly practises democracy????). All except for one I fell in love with, whose political inclinations I would reckon to be more like political apathy. Well, I'm a little more grown-up now, and if there's one thing that's a turn-off, it's political apathy. Nothing is less attractive than being so privileged or even callous, to not care about what's going on to general society around you. I've been reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, it's a very heavy book (in terms of subject matter, not physically) and it makes me sad, because it's kinda about post-traumatic reactions and how trauma will live inside your body for pretty much ever. It's a thing that I struggle with, a little. When I see a kid being bullied by their parent (the other day Lucas and I saw a man being so mean to his daughter in a restaurant because she didn't know how to complete her homework, and he said very alarming things, and they were supposed to be eating but she wasn't allowed to eat!), I of course think back to when my father made me stand on chairs in restaurants, leaving me humiliated. I think it shows now even while I'm at work, I move very tentatively and am afraid of making any mistakes. Or like, when my father was cheating and I somehow got involved when the third party told me to mind my father's acts, if I'd lived in LA or New York, I would understand that lots of parents split up, lots of people come from blended families. In Singapore, I wasn't exposed to all these issues in a healthy, natural way. My mother shamed me for having sex with a partner I hadn't married, she shamed me for having gotten pregnant, and finally, made me feel guilty for having had a miscarriage. All these are traumas my body has been through, and at the weirdest times, I get triggered by tiny details in circumstances I don't even realize. It's a little sad, because I would say I'm no longer down and out, I've travelled and eaten some good food, had luxurious bubble baths or dips in infinity pools, yet the trauma threatens to break out of my memory when I least expect it to. I'm rambling now, but reading A Little Life is heavy on people with the healthiest of mindsets, so while I read it, I must remember to set breaks for myself, remember it is fiction (although it probably happens more often than you think, in real life), and move forward, always with intention.

Monday, February 17, 2020

ASHE

When I used to go on first dates, from Tinder or otherwise, at times I would be lazy to put in any effort, and I would text my dates I wouldn't look too much like my profile photos as I would have no makeup on and I would be wearing my glasses. This wasn't just bashfulness, I've had colleagues and friends tell me I look wildly different with and without makeup, and I didn't want my dates to mistake me for anyone else. Last week for Valentine's Day, Lucas and I went to The Projector, which is an independent cinema, for an event in which comedians in Singapore would read sexts or romantic poetry. Preetipls was there as the host, and it was incredibly funny and entertaining. I loved it and I might have fallen in love with Pooja Nansi's writing, as well as a local queer icon, Marilyn something. I clearly don't love Marilyn something bc that was the first I'd heard of her and if I truly loved her I would have found out her family name by now. Pooja and another icon, Alfian Sa'at read phrases out of context as a conversation between Preetipls and our Law Minister, whose name I will not mention so as to keep myself out of trouble. Preetipls is in trouble with the Singapore law just for standing up for her own race, so one day if you asked me in real life I will explain the situation to you but until then, this will have to suffice. That night was colloquial yet universal and I find that magical. I went home and for some reason, I cannot fathom how the human brain works but for some reason I stalked Alfian Sa'at's Instagram and I noticed he would post many photos of himself travelling with another Singaporean man, whom I assumed but cannot confirm has been his partner for eight years. I then went to the man's Instagram profile, but there was nothing. I wondered if his partner isn't comfortable with admitting they are together, or perhaps I am wildly wrong and they're not even each other's partners. In any case, it reminded me of when I was twenty and in a three-year relationship with a Christian boy who wouldn't tell any of his family members about me, although I was always gushing about him. The human experience is always so universal. When I come home from work tired out from my retail job, Lucas gives me the most amazing foot massages and he's been doing this for months, and I feel like the foot massages are part act of service, part quality time, part touch, and the best way he could show his love for me, and the time at which I love him infinitely. When I watched To All The Boys I've Loved Before: PS. I Still Love You, which is a silly Netflix chick flick that only works because its protagonists are so cute and young and naive and good-looking, Lara Jean keeps comparing herself to her boyfriend's ex, because for every first she has with him, he's done it all before with his ex. That's such a young thing to feel, to want to be the first or have all the firsts with someone. It's like if someone was the first to tell you about the Spanish lisp and now everything that comes afterwards reminds you of one single person. Of course there is a person like that for me, but I also remember every single person who's told me about every single thing, so I suppose that makes it really good for me, that I have a selectively very good memory. I am happy this morning and I hope you all are too. This is my Valentine to you all. Go out and make someone's history, just by being you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

ELON TUSK

I had my first ever strength and conditioning session last week. I did Turkish get-ups, inverted rows and kettlebell swings, all for the very first time in my life. The trainer was the owner of the gym, and he's represented Singapore in weightlifting for the Olympics. He said he opened his gym seven years ago, because Singapore is a place that only provides support to athletes when they're already gaining traction and recognition, but there aren't many gyms or places in Singapore that motivate or allocate resources to people who are just starting out to be athletes. I found it to be such an inspiring cause. Yesterday we met Lucas' mom again, she was on the way back to Australia and had another layover in Singapore. She brought back an entire heavy bag of goodies from Poland, for me to try, including a bottle of cherry vodka, which makes me think she maybe really doesn't realize I come from a Muslim family, or she knows and doesn't quite care, which is fair, given I don't quite care, either. She showed us photos from her trip, the architecture was really quite a sight to behold because you can't find such sights in Singapore, but Lucas kept making fun of her boomer ways and was surprised she knew how to connect to the airport wifi. In all honesty, though, you will eventually become obsolete and Lucas himself doesn't know how to fully utilize technology sometimes, despite working in IT. Technology will always outadvance us, so instead of making fun of our parents, I think it's safer to keep tabs on the things that are already outpacing our own knowledge. On a perhaps not relevant nor related note, I have read some things about Elon Musk, and I wonder if he is legitimately losing grip on reality. Huh.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

ABSOLUTION

I learned something that really has been taking up space in my mind last week. It is that people's brains and minds function differently. Although a majority of people have verbal thoughts in their brain, some people actually can't and don't. Like, you know (or you might not!) how there's a voice in your head narrating your thoughts and your life, about 20% of people experience it differently. Some people don't have a voice in their head and conversely, they might also never know that a lot of us think with voices in our heads. They may experience their mind in a more visual manner instead, and therefore there's no audio narration that accompanies their life. For example, when you look into a mirror and have a thought about your reflection, some people have to either mouth it or say it aloud because the voice doesn't exist internally! I thought about it and I thought, well, that changes things! What if, because I do experience things in terms of words and literal translations, I am more affected by some things and it could also actually turn towards my depressive episodes because I keep turning words over and over in my head, because that voice exists in the first place. I wondered whether visual-brained people may be less inclined towards depression, because perhaps when they receive verbal feedback, they are inherently unable to hear those words being repeated by the voice in their heads, and it doesn't weigh them down as much. I wonder if you could train yourself to be more of a visual person instead of someone with a narration in their head, or vice versa!

Anyway, Lucas and I moved into the new place and it's much more spacious and very clean. It makes so much of a difference. Our room now has its own bathroom so we've each got space for our own toiletries and personal effects. We put a little essential oil in the corner for a nice fresh scent. I'm trying to build up my collection of Lush items so I can rotate the products I use in the shower, based on my mood. The location of the apartment is also ideal, it's easy to commute to and from, and there are so many food options around! It's a lovely experience to have a daily lifestyle that revolves around how you smell and what you feel like eating. I could get used to this. Last night I cried though, Lucas said something about money and I couldn't hold it in. My biggest insecurity in life must be about money, if you haven't been able to figure out. I always feel like there's a power imbalance in our relationship because I don't want to feel like I owe Lucas anything, I don't want to feel like my love stems out of gratitude or indebtedness. Money aside, I think I'm a pretty damn amazing person but money being a factor, I feel like I can't contribute as much to the relationship. The stability of our lifestyle is thanks to Lucas' capacity to pay for the rent and take care of me financially sometimes, with the doctor and other things. I wish capitalism was not a thing and you could barter trade or something. I could do so many things for so many people, if only Singapore didn't employ such a hierarchical view of employment and monetary benefits.

Recently I've been trying to be more mindful of unlearning the conditions I grew up to believe. I used to feel with very strong intensity. In my childhood household, bad things that happened were disastrous so conversely, any good incidents in contrast would turn out like a high. I don't feel with such intensity when I'm with Lucas, and it takes an immense amount of repeated and conscious efforts to remind myself that sometimes not feeling in intensities and extremities can be a very good and healthy thing. The longer I live with Lucas, the more I'm exposed to the feeling of safety he gives me and the less I can revert to the dysfunction of my family's individual behaviors. I really like our new room and am going to try to enjoy the next few months of mental health and stability.

Monday, January 27, 2020

STATIC DYNAMIC

I'm posting here to prevent myself from falling asleep and missing my stop on the way to work. Over the weekend, I watched The Circle on Netflix with one of our housemates Sonia. I feel like there was quite a bit of character development for one of the players, that you might grow from being annoyed by them to actually being fond of them. The Circle is a game of social media and is reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode Nosedive, and I grew to love Shubham and Sammie, Shubham is a pure wholesome cinnamon roll too good for this world. Speaking of character development, I got to thinking about the first Ben I dated, before Ben Glaser and Ben Kolber, two years ago. When I dated the first Ben, I think he knew I wanted to be in a relationship more for the fear of being alone than anything else, and at the time I wasn't able to detach myself from the situation to discern the signs of each, but I think I do now? I spent time with Sonia because Lucas is away for a solo trip to South Africa. He's only been gone for two days and already my sleep cycle is fucked. Lucas never sleeps late so I'm usually pressured to sleep at the same time he does, by midnight. In the last three months that I've lived with him, we have never slept later than 1am, even on weekends. I suppose that's the sort of stability he brings me. Last night I stayed up till 3am making a Finsta account for myself. If you're not so inclined, a finsta is a fake Instagram where you post more candid and personal photos than on your main account, but I do think it's a misnomer 'cos only closer friends or family are accepted on finstas and they probably see more of the real you than the curated photos on a main account. This weekend, when Lucas is back, we're moving into another apartment. It's bittersweet because the apartment we're in now, it's an enclave of pretty chill roommates. Sonia is going for her breast cancer surgery this weekend, and Reetz is a super cool person (who started a mental health initiative in Singapore called YourHeadLah) and I'm gonna miss seeing them and talking to them. Also that reminds me, Reetz is also away and I gotta water and talk to her plants the way she does. I think talking to plants is cool, I'm used to talking at people with no feedback anyway, so same diff??? The new room we're moving into is bigger and newer and also nearer to both Lucas' and my workplaces, so that will be great. We'll see how that goes. January has been a mixed bag but with the new place, February could turn out better.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

NASTILY EXHAUSTING
WIZARDING TESTS

Whenever I am on Bernie Sander's Instagram page and I read the comments, there are always so many Republican/Trump-supporting trolls. They must be living in echo chambers, because they don't seem to ever engage with any sort of logical discourse. More than that, because all things are connected in one way or another, I've been thinking about whether I should postpone my studies by another year, to fall of 2021. I don't think I could live and study in New York if Trump wins again and stays for the next four years, just the thought of it makes me feel almost physically sick. If the opposite happens and Bernie Sanders wins, then I'd be in college for at least three years to witness his long-overdue presidency. I could not, I could not go away from Singapore only to end up in a Trump-supporting America for four whole years. I'm gagging.

Friday, January 24, 2020

DE JURE & DE FACTO

Chidi:


This man has a very soothing and calming voice while he tells us about the inherent flaws and contradictions of capitalism. I almost feel like no one else could talk about it in such a charming and endearing manner as he could. I've been reading Bernie Sanders updates and the like. For example, the fact that government and corporations don't want free tuition for colleges and higher education because a person struggling with loans is exactly the kind of person that's easy to recruit for a lifetime of toiling in the office, or even to enrol in the military. It keeps the military going when people run out of options and think that going to war is a good and safe choice for them.

Eleanor:


Today, Tina posted that Chidi and Eleanor are my parents because I'm an equal mix of both. I feel like that's one of the best things anyone has ever said about me. I'm loud-mouthed and brash but I also think so hard about the impact of every action I take it gives me aches and anxiety. If I were the child of any fictional couple I would want so hard for them to be two people that are individually flawed but better together.

Even though The Good Place is coming to an end in two weeks and it's one of my favorite TV shows, Lucas has never watched it. He's also never seen the bootleg version of Hamilton that I have. We've really been together 8 months, huh? Last night, we watched the first episode of Star Trek: Picard because he's a big Trekkie.

Apparently I have a vocabulary of at least 800 Spanish words now. When we were in Vietnam, there was a Spanish couple who were on the same boat as us in Ha Long Bay. They spoke very little English and when I spoke to the lady in Spanish, Lucas said her face lit up and she was very happy to interact with me for the rest of our boat trip.

I don't think I've ever listened to a fully Spanish song, but I've heard little bits of Spanish rap in English pop songs here and there, and D Smoke (who won Rhythm & Flow on Netflix) also raps in Spanish. I feel like the easiest way to absorb a language is by engaging with its media, so it would be great if anyone could recommend me Spanish songs or films.

I aim to be as proficient in Spanish as I am in Malay and Mandarin, meaning to say I can watch a movie without needing subtitles, or understand the meanings of songs, and also sing along to catchier ones. Not that I sing well, you feel me, even though I know the lyrics of Malay and Mandarin songs, listening to me sing is a whole nother story.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

IN YOUR AREA

Yesterday, I posted on Instagram that I wanted to try eating only vegetarian meals for a week, to do my part for the environment. Today, I am in the Dhoby Ghaut area where the first Five Guys branch just opened in Singapore, and already I have eaten a hamburger for lunch. The burger was not even that nice, I mean I know it's just fast food and I didn't expect a Michelin-worthy meal but I stand by my opinion that Shake Shack has better burgers than the average. Tomorrow I have a hot yoga session, which is free thanks to Lululemon, so I'm feeling pretty stoked. If there is anything I have learned in a capitalist world, it is that you should never pay when you can have something for "free". Lululemon is part of fast fashion, which definitely contributes to climate change, but then its employee welfare is also fucking awesome, so there's that. I think a lot of society is too lethargic to be active in their... activism, and it's easy to be like this, because there's such a big disconnect between our actions and the consequences of those actions. For example, while I work in Lululemon, I get free sweat sessions, so all I see are my strengthening muscles and toned body. I do not see the fact that somewhere across the world (although tbh they could be closer to me than to you, because I am in Asia where all the sweatshops are) somebody is living below the poverty line to make the clothes I sell. I wonder how many people in this very Starbucks that I'm at, are affected by compassion fatigue. Some days I want to just say fuck it, quit my job, and lay down in front of Raffles Place MRT, disrupt all the corporate office workers, and start a protest. I want to gather all the people my age and ask them, do you also think like me, that you don't need another eyeshadow palette, another pair of tights for spin class, another bespoke bracelet, another reformulated body lotion. I fantasize about all the millennials in Singapore protesting like Hong Kong did and are still doing. I daydream that one day, we're going to wake up and realize that we never see any of the money we're working for, and we need to stop producing and consuming, and give this goddamn planet a break so it can cool down. The rat race has gone too far you can even feel it in the weather, and still we're going around like the robots we've been programmed to be. And then I think, I had one choice to make today, and I still chose a hamburger because it was convenient to me and I had a fear of missing out, so. Also, if I start a protest in the middle of the CBD (in which I mean central business district and not cannabidiol), I will be arrested for fucking real, I can bet you $100,000 on that. On two unrelated notes, last week during dinner with his mother, I found out Lucas thinks that an apartment in Singapore costs $50,000. I don't know why he had such an impression, he's been working here for close to two years, he works in IT and has some semblance of common sense, Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to live in, in the world, and still, he thought an apartment costs fifty thousand bucks. I obviously told him a halfway-decent apartment starts at $300k, and if it were fifty grand, I wouldn't be such a gripey bitch about my government and would start saving towards an apartment. Lucas thought I was just bitching because the government won't let you buy an apartment if you're single unless you reach 35 years old???? I don't understand! If apartments in Singapore were 50Ks they would be sold out in like, ten minutes, because they'd be bought out by property developers and Chinese investors or whatever. Chinese buyers buy out apartments everywhere in the world!!!!!!! Sometimes the way Lucas does his computing.... does not compute to me. On the second note, yesterday my sixteen-year-old sister Aqilah went back to her secondary school to collect her 'O'-level results, and the school didn't allow her in because she'd recently dyed her hair red, even though she'd sprayed it back to black for yesterday. Our other sister Lyssa then griped: "honestly singapore is a shitty country / or schools and uniforms in general just / I HATE THIS!!!!! ITS MY BODY!!!" and it is testament to how jaded I've become, because honestly, Singapore recognizes no such thing as civil rights and this hair-dyeing incident is not a surprise. My sister has already graduated from the school, for fuck's sake. She just needed to step in to collect her results. In any case, in true rebellious familial fashion, she was top of her cohort for the English exam, so that's a fuck-you to governmental bureaucracy.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

SINCERITY IS SCARY


I'm sure that you're not just another girl
I'm sure that you're gonna say that that was sexist
I feel like you're running out of all the things I liked you for

why can't we be friends when we are lovers?
'cause it always ends with us hating each other
instead of calling me out, 
you should be pulling me in
I've just got one more thing to say

The saxophone in this track always makes me feel like it would be nice to groove to at a wedding, but the lyrics are quite cynical, but then again they do encapsulate a real relationship.

Last night, I met Lucas' mother for the first time. She was flying to Frankfurt from Singapore this afternoon, using one of Lucas' dependent tickets and so she had a night of layover in our tiny city.

It's the last time Lucas can use his dependent ticket 'cos he's leaving Singapore Airlines and doing more of his IT work in another multinational corporation. It will be a new industry for him so we're hoping he will enjoy it more than he did working in SQ. Singapore Airlines is full of old corporate boomers so he didn't enjoy the working culture there.

We met his mother for dinner last night and brought her for a walk through the nicer areas of the city, and at a park this morning after breakfast. She seems to really like me, as is the case when you are meeting your child's significant other for the first time, I would reckon.

I was very amused during breakfast because she was praising me for being able to understand Lucas and accept him. Lucas is a very quiet and shy introvert when he doesn't know you, and so his mom must think it would take a special kind of person to be with him. To be honest, his mother and mine are pretty similar from his stories, she is a conservative Catholic whereas mine is a Muslim, and Lucas just doesn't open up to her because he knows he cannot change her, and that to be candid with her would just mean arguing.

She was nice and friendly to me, though, of course, because she doesn't yet know that I come from a Muslim family despite not having any beliefs, myself. She kept taking photos of me, saying she would show them to Lucas' babcia (his grandma) in Poland, whom she is visiting on her trip. She also began singing Lucas' praises, how Lucas has been independent ever since he started working and how he knows to save and manage his finances, especially with his Bitcoin and other investments.

It was like I was an interviewer, and Lucas was the applicant, with his mom being the recruiter/headhunter, talking up all his good points, so she could get a commission. I loved being in the position, because tbh I am actually the mafia lololol.

His mom was probing whether I would be interested in living in Australia or Poland, because Lucas can obviously live and work in Australia, and he could also have an apartment in Poland eventually, as his grandmother is there, but Lucas flat-out said no to her ideas, much to her grief, hehehe.

She also thanked me because Lucas has called his babcia twice while we've been together, which he hadn't done for years. She said his grandmother cried when he called, which I actually already knew because I was by his side, and listened in on the call, although I didn't understand a thing, because they spoke in Polish, and it's not a language I have any insight on at all.

It was a wonderful experience, but I would suppose it is a common enough occurrence whenever you meet your significant other's family members. I felt so many feelings. It was nice to see how fond Lucas' mother is of him, as mothers tend to be, and how we all actually instantly turn into kids when our parents are around, because they start telling stories of us and our siblings from our childhood.

It was a little disconcerting to, again, be questioned on our future plans together. Lucas is going to be starting his new job in a couple of months, and I want to go back to studying in the fall of this year (meaning to say fall of the northern hemisphere), and I always yearn for adventure. I don't know if Lucas is necessarily all that fond of adventures, I think he loves me and by extension, he likes to be adventurous when I'm involved.

In the past few days, before meeting Lucas' mom and sending her off today, I was actually in a bit of an argument with my own mom, via text. It started with her sending a video to our family group chat, of someone called Zakir Naik giving "intellectual answers" to an atheist at a forum, right. I watched it, and then I did some research about the man.

He believes that thieves deserve to have their arms chopped off, and that it is permissible for a man to beat his wife "lightly." He recommends the death penalty for homosexuals, and he also says that the theory of evolution is an unproven conjecture at best.

My mom said that as I was already watching videos on Youtube, she also recommended Nouman Ali and Mufti Menk. I then did a quick Google on them, and told my family that Menk thinks the LGBT society are worse than animals and has been banned in Singapore, and that Nouman Ali Khan actually used his religion to prey on women, basically engaging in spiritual abuse.

I told my mother that if she wanted to recommend people she should find out about them first so I would take them seriously, or they were all bigots to me. My mother then said "one mistake done by a person doesn't mean the whole cause by him is wrong."

Yesterday, my mother sent me an image of a quote, apparently a verse from the Quran (Al-Isra: verse 36), it says "don't pursue that of which you have no knowledge." To fight on her level, I Googled another quote from the Quran (Surah Taha, 20:114), in exactly the same format, with text in front of an image of a sunset, it says "My Lord, increase me in knowledge."

I told her that anyone could Google Abrahamic verses on the internet and it neither proved nor disproved whether they were good people. I said, the two verses we'd each provided had literally the opposite meanings, because one was to discourage people from seeking knowledge where they didn't possess any, and another was literally a prayer for seeking knowledge. I asked her what it meant, that it had contradicting verses, clearly that it was to confuse its readers into not doing anything, which is precisely a great message to lead people without being bombarded with logical questions.

It culminated when my mother said "a person who only has scientific reasons to live will never believe of mukjizats and miracles" to which I responded "if we only believed in miracles and not science some of us would actually be dead by now..." when the conversation ended.

I finally realized, there and then, that my mother has an extremely complicated form of survivor's guilt. She beat cancer not solely on her God's terms. She went through chemotherapy and surgeries, obviously, and that was science, that was not miraculous.

One day, I will set out to read the texts of all three Abrahamic faiths and underscore just how many contradictions there are, that cannot possibly exist if they are supposedly perfect. I'm going to take one for the team so that future children of religious parents have an anti-thesis to look to for responses to their parents.

My mother survived her cancer, and she believes it was because God loved her enough to let her live, and her prayers worked, along with the science (if the science was at all necessary to cure her, lol). My aunt, who is my mother's sister, also had cancer. She also prayed, and the entire family also prayed for her, but my aunt died. When she died, everyone said she moved on to a better place, and that God loved her more. So if God loved my aunt more, does that also mean he doesn't love my mom as much then? Either ways, that's a whole lot of survivor's guilt to deal with.

And then there are verses that say "God will never test you beyond what you are capable of." When someone has a mental illness and commits suicide, it is a sin, and somehow the idea of God only testing within your capacities is erased, and no one talks about it. What does it mean then, that you are only tested within your means, in what realm is it valid???

Also, nobody ever talks about the abuse of power within religions. This is not exclusive to Islam, but nobody ever wants to talk about how verses are always written to protect the interests of the people who were and who are in power, and to keep anything from changing. How come the person to whom the Books were apparently "revealed" are all men, and all the verses are always about men being leaders of the house, and that men have the right to discipline their wives?

What if I decided to start a religion right now, and I said, oh a divine power has told me that women are the more powerful sex, and therefore women should control all the money in a relationship, what would a person's natural instinct be --- would it not be to say: this woman clearly just wants to protect her self-interests, and she has unfairly written the law to be on her side????? Why don't people question these very same things then?????

Lucas just received a text from his mom and sent me a screenshot, it says "please look after Sarah. She is a good girl."

That's right, mofos!!!!! I'm the bestest girl, and you best not forget it.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

PANIC! AT THE
STATE OF THE WORLD

I am reading 1984 in the plane back from Hanoi to Singapore. It is my first flight in 2020, and I am seated in 28A. This is a fact that anyone who watches my Instagram stories would know, because 28 is my favorite number and I felt lucky to have been assigned the seat. Hanoi was a strange and curious destination, we ended the last decade and began the current one there. We stayed in our hotel room while the decade turned, watching people across the world celebrate it on Instagram and hearing the Vietnamese people honk in traffic in acknowledgement, hearing fireworks but not seeing it from where we were. We went to Ha Long Bay, where we kayaked and I swam, in cold waters which reminded me of when I was alone at Manhattan Beach, swimming by myself in an ocean made cold by the Pacific currents. Are they actually the Pacific currents, I don't know, I don't have Internet on this flight to help me check facts. Lucas asked whether reading would help one write better, and I said yes. I don't know why he asked this, but I also told him writing helps one to write better. This I know, because I have been writing for twenty years, and as Winston Smith discovers in 1984, the more you write, the more you will discover and hone your ability to write. This holds true for most activities, of course, as universally known. I know how to weave together words in a pleasant or even unpleasant manner, to evoke some sort of emotion in some sort of person or another. Sometimes I see my family members or even my friends, and I know the people who have lost their loved ones (in death) are the ones who most hold on to the idea that there is a life, or at least a something that happens, after death. It helps them to make sense of life and the world. It helps them soften the blow of the loss, so that the loss is not permanent, and that indeed they will one day be rejoined by the person whose presence they have greatly missed. I understand this raw and desperate need, I once felt it when I went through my miscarriage. I also understand the need for things to make sense, just for me to craft a narrative. God took my loved one away because He loved them more. It is a human need, that perhaps connects us all, to have things make sense. In this flight, for any number of reasons, I am thinking of all the persons and things I have loved and all the stories I have crafted about them. There is Joey, whom I believed and still believe would be a good feminist, because once when I said I wanted to be a designer, replied that I could do anything I wanted, which at once lent itself to the fact that I had the agency even as a woman to have desire and to act upon it, while also betraying his great Americanism in believing that you could in fact do anything you wanted, regardless your person or status. It is in stark contrast to what my family believes. My extended family members and I, with the exception of a very few, have a push-pull, love-hate relationship with each other. The more often I use my voice, whether online or in person, to elucidate that I have a mind of my own, that I own my body, that I am in very palpable undeniable fact living with a person I am not married to, the less they communicate with me. It is not so that they dislike me, we have mostly gotten along since I was young, my cousins and aunts and uncles are very funny people and I love joking with them, but they do not so much approve of nor agree with my lofty ideals. A woman is to know her place, and her place is in getting married, not in educating herself and questioning God or religion or in knowing that it is in fact more accurate to measure distance in terms of time, given that space and time are irrevocably linked. There was Ben, who was soft and tender in the most admirable of ways. He saw me at one of my many broken periods and tried to put me back together, in the tangible way of actually paying for therapy for me. There are losses he had suffered, that eventually turned into his appreciation for Hamilton the way I had so wanted someone else to, when we watched the bootleg recording together. When I listen to Sincerity Is Scary by The 1975, it brings me back to when it was played as the theme on Terrace House, which of course takes me to the first time I laid eyes on Adam in person. I was so tired from my flight to New York via London, and I was ready to collapse. I hadn't seen him in the crowd at first, but when I did, he had spotted me first and he was getting ready to envelope me in a great big hug to welcome me into the bitter winter cold of New York. There is of course Bennett, who set the standard so high for a first date I doubt it will ever be broken. If you could outdo bringing someone to Central Park for their first time there and asking them if you could kiss them, please tell me how 'cos I want to know! All these men, they are quite possibly, very probably, regular men with ordinary lives, but as is my inclination, I weave them into narratives that make them sound like great characters. Not that it takes away from the people they are, I would not replace any of them with any other person in the world. While in Hanoi, Lucas and I had egg coffee, which is now one of my favorite drinks, along with horchata. I finished my egg with chocolate so fast, I ordered an egg with cinnamon, and I also really liked that one. If you have the chance, please go to the original Café Giang, the creator of the first egg coffee, because I also tried a competitor's version, and only the original was amazing. Lucas knew I liked the drink so much, we went to the same café again yesterday, before we left Vietnam, and I had an egg matcha, which I also greatly enjoyed! If you'd like food and activity recommendations for Hanoi, feel free to let me know. Lucas and I were also shown around by his Vietnamese colleague who also happened to be back in Vietnam, and we ate at some delicious back-alley stalls that we'd never have found without a local's know-how. In my previous post, I said Lucas feels like my comfort zone, and Tina told me it's amazing that I have a comfort zone, because when you have mental health issues and you don't quite feel like you belong, sometimes there are parts of you that may only feel safe enough to show up around a select few people and I realized she was right. Through the past eight months of unearthed, recurring, repetitive trauma that I faced with my religious family, or with capitalism, Lucas saw me when I was at my lowest, when I was (and still am) taking the birth control pill to manage my period pains, when I struggled with money and when I raged, when I went to therapy to figure out my sexuality, when I was being irreverent, when I was completely bitchy, when I was politically engaged, when I was basic and boring. I was and am all versions of myself with him, and that's not a thing that happens very often.