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.