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 4, 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.