Sunday, May 31, 2020

MOBI

I'd mentioned that I interviewed to be on the team of a mental health advocacy organization in Singapore. I got it! I'm very grateful. With the exception of SpaceX's launch, this week has been a turmoil of news. As if COVID wasn't enough, police brutality seems to know no bounds. I first heard the concept of ACAB from Ben in New York, and this was Bennett, because there are way too many Bens in the world and as a woman with agency, I can date as many of them as I want. I didn't quite understand what he meant, but in the year and a half since then, I've gotten much more familiar with it.

Anyway, I've also still been reading Learned Optimism and am two-thirds through it. I'm not a huge fan of self-help books because I think the entire genre detracts from the fact that some systemic injustices you cannot change by simply looking inward. However, this is one of the better books I've read, because it explains that while some people may be more predisposed to depression, there are some factors that you can take to minimize the risks of falling into depression. You know the phrase "you can will yourself out of it if you wanted to" that people used to say about mental illness, or sometimes still do? Well there's a certain truth to that.

No, you can't will yourself out of depression, that's fake news, but. There is a mindset that we all inherit from our upbringing, and it is either optimism or helplessness. When you were growing up, you would have learned by emulating, that your actions either changed circumstances and they matter, or you learned the opposite, that regardless what actions you took, you could not change anything about your circumstance, and you would learn to be helpless. That means, among people who don't face depression, some people are more optimistic and believe they have an impact, and some people don't believe they have any impact, but they're Not depressed so they're okay to exist in that non-depressed state without changing anything about their life.

Conversely, among people who are depressed, they either believe that their actions have impacts and thus they take steps to treat their depression no matter how long or how tough it is: taking medication, going for therapy, making drastic changes in their life, or if they'd learned helplessness early in life, they decide that the depression cannot be changed and either live with it, or eventually die from it. I realized I have a learned helplessness because of what I'd witnessed in my childhood. There were some things I could not and cannot change, I could not change who my parents were, I could not change how they were with each other or with my siblings and I, and even up to now, my mother and I have very opposing views, a tension I have never been able to change. So I had a learned helplessness explanatory style. I believed there was something permanently, pervasively and personally wrong with me, so sometimes when I'm depressed, I just accept there is a problem with me and struggle through it.

The good news is, according to the book, you can change your explanatory style. You can be an optimist, even if you are more predisposed toward depression, meaning one, you may delay or minimize your depressions, and two, you could even work through your depressions better because you believe your actions matter and they all have impact. I'm not saying I can change the entire world, I'll solve racism and sexism and poverty, nothing like that. However, I am saying that all other factors being equal, I believe I deserve a fighting chance in this world and I should control for everything else that I can, so that my depression has less of a chance to steer me out of control. If it is within my capacity for change, I will put in the effort, so that when the dark days come (as they invariably do), no one else and not even I can say that I didn't try, because try is all I do.

If you've read all of that, I highly recommend reading the book. It's very interesting and an easy read.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

MY PRESIDENT


If there's one thing I'm grateful for today, it is that I am alive at the same time as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that I have seen her make a speech in the flesh, that I have something to aspire to be close to, in terms of values and actions. When I start school, I want to know about a hundred, a thousand more AOCs, and be among them.

DON'T YOU KNOW YOUR QUEEN





A post shared by BILLIE EILISH (@billieeilish) on

If you are the type who thinks "all lives matter" when someone uses #blacklivesmatter, please do me a favor and don't ever interact with me again.

Today I heard Queen by Perfume Genius used in a Netflix Spanish series, and I recalled hearing it in Mr Robot for the first time. I don't remember whether I watched Mr Robot with Joey in LA, something tells me I did, I'm pretty sure I did but for some reason it's slipped away. The person in the Netflix Spanish series also made me think of him, though that might have just been the close-fitting tee thing.


Actually this person makes me think of Elon Musk now. Something about him looks like Elon Musk, right??? Maybe I need sleep.

Just remember, black lives matter and all cops are bastards and when all else fails, violence may be the only way for positive change, etc etc.

Friday, May 29, 2020

HALF-AWAKE IN A FAKE EMPIRE

I looked at my bank account today, and felt alright. I have a bit of a buffer for when I move to Canada and start studying. By a buffer, I mean money for rent and monthly expenses and bills, because of course I took out an education loan to tide over my tuition fees. It would help if I landed a solid part-time job or side hustle in Nanaimo so I can keep up the buffer and also pay the interest on my student loan.

I'm terrified, though. I think my mother's style of parenthood was such that she has her daughters codependent on her, or at least myself and Lyssa are, from the same dad. My two half-sisters may be less codependent, I think? I'll be on my own for the next four years, and I'll have to figure out my own finances and emotional stability, etc.

I really like my current therapist, she's so sweet and she's been so generous with the complimentary therapy sessions in the past two months of isolation. It seems like it may even continue for the next month of isolation in Singapore, she hasn't raised the issue of fees at all. She's always so happy to hear that I'm doing yoga, I'm going for my walks, she writes me fantastic emails and she's so nice, yet I fucked up twice by forgetting about our session two weeks in a row! I don't know why, all I have to do is turn on my webcam at 10am, not some unreasonable timing, and somehow some part of my subconscious hates myself so much I can't even turn up on time to online therapy.

I'm very scared of being all alone in Vancouver. On the one hand, being away from everyone and focusing on me is exactly what I've wanted for so long, but on the other hand, I will be away from everyone and so far away in terms of time and distance which means I will actually be alone, on my own. I used to be part of a wolf pack, but soon I may be a lone wolf. I say that as if I won't make friends, as if I haven't always been some sort of people-magnet all my life. I just hope I start to attract all the right people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

SELLING SUNSET

According to NASA scientists, in the past 650,000 years the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has never exceeded 300 ppm (parts per million). At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon levels were about 280 ppm. Since then, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen, slowly at first, but at an increasing rate as we burned more and more fossil fuels. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the country’s premier atmospheric research facility, the carbon dioxide level crossed the 400 ppm threshold for the first time in 2013 and continues to rise by an average of 2.6 ppm every year. So what does this mean?

Carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” that traps heat from the sun and earth in the atmosphere. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the stronger the greenhouse effect, and the more the atmosphere and the oceans warm. This is hardly a new idea. Nor is it, as some would have you believe, a theory. In fact, scientists started connecting fuel emissions to the climate in the mid-1800s, and in 1917 Alexander Graham Bell used the now-popular term when he reasoned that with air pollution “we would gain some of the earth’s heat which is normally radiated into space.… We would have a sort of greenhouse effect,” turning the atmosphere into “a sort of hot-house.”

And while carbon dioxide accounts for 81 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, it is not the only problem. Methane, which is released during the extraction, transportation, and combustion of natural gas, oil, and coal, accounts for 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. But while it is a smaller slice of the overall greenhouse gas emissions pie, methane traps eighty-four times more heat, pound for pound over twenty years, than carbon dioxide does. Similarly, while nitrous oxide—also a by-product of fossil fuel combustion—accounts for just 6 percent of all greenhouse gas emission, it traps 289 times more heat than carbon dioxide. And certain synthetic fluorinated gases like hydrofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons account for just 3 percent of the pie, but pound for pound, they trap tens of thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide. The results of dumping these heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere year after year are frighteningly clear. We are experiencing the hottest years on record. In 2016, July and August tied as the hottest months ever recorded on the planet. Sixteen of the seventeen hottest years have occurred since 2001.

Extreme heat waves have gripped large swaths of the planet, often with catastrophic results, especially for the elderly, the sick, and the poor. The deadliest heat wave ever recorded killed 72,210 people in Europe in 2003. A 2010 heat wave in Russia killed 55,700 people. In 2015, temperatures in India and Pakistan topped 117.7 degrees Fahrenheit and killed more than 3,477 people. In July 2016, the city of Basra, Iraq, reached 129 degrees—one of the highest temperatures ever recorded on the planet.

As temperatures rise, we’re seeing significant shrinking of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. In Antarctica alone, NASA estimates that 118 billion tonnes of ice is permanently lost each year, which is equivalent to a quarter of all the water in massive Lake Erie. But that is nothing compared with Greenland, which is losing 281 billion tonnes of ice a year. Alaska and Canada are each losing another seventy-five billion tonnes a year from melting glaciers. Where is all the water from that melted ice going?

The oceans have already risen by about eight inches since the beginning of the twentieth century. That might not sound like much, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts they could rise by as much as 6.6 feet by the end of this century. About 150 million Americans live along the coasts, and eleven of the world’s fifteen largest cities are in coastal areas. An August 2016 report by the online real estate database company Zillow said that rising sea levels by 2100 could claim up to 1.9 million homes, worth a total of $882 billion.

Rising oceans are already creating the world’s first “climate refugees.” Residents of the Maldives, a tiny nation made up of more than a thousand islands southeast of India, are abandoning some of the lower-lying islands as the ocean rises. Closer to home, residents of Isle de Jean Charles in southeastern Louisiana, most of whom are Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native Americans, are preparing to leave the only place they have ever called home as their land disappears. In August 2016, the six hundred Inupiat villagers of Shishmaref voted to relocate their four-hundred-year-old Native Alaskan village, one of thirty-one Alaskan villages facing an imminent threat of destruction from erosion and flooding caused by climate change, according to the Arctic Institute.

Meanwhile, the oceans themselves are warming and becoming more acidified as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These changes are disrupting important fisheries, threatening the food supply for about a billion people, and endangering fragile and important ecosystems like coral reefs, which are becoming bleached in the warm, acidic waters.

And all across the world, extreme weather disturbances are becoming more common, including hurricanes, torrential rainfalls, and severe flooding. In October 2015, Hurricane Patricia became the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured in the Western Hemisphere, with maximum sustained winds of 215 miles per hour and gusts up to 247 miles per hour. This was just a few years after Hurricane Sandy killed 186 people and caused more than $68 billion in damages and lost economic output. Sandy was such an intense storm that NOAA had to come up with a new term: “superstorm.” And it is clear: warmer air means we can expect more superstorms.

The past five years have been the driest on record in California, forcing many towns to reduce water consumption by more than 30 percent. In 2015, more than half a million acres, or more than 5 percent of the state’s agricultural land, was left uncultivated because of the drought, robbing the state of $1.8 billion in economic activity and more than ten thousand jobs. Historic wildfires scorched 118,000 acres of land last year, more than double the five-year average. Extreme heat has sent dozens of people, mostly in low-income communities without air-conditioning, to an early death. And along their 840-mile coastline, Californians watch cautiously as the ocean rises, threatening communities and businesses.

Meanwhile, there is another aspect to climate change that should concern us all. I believe that climate change is our nation’s greatest national security threat. It is also the opinion of a growing number of leading national security experts, including many in the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Of course, there is no shortage of national security concerns, including international terrorism, ISIS, global poverty, health pandemics, and the belligerent actions of countries like Russia, North Korea, and China. But unlike these other threats, climate change cannot be thwarted with good intelligence work or stopped at a border or negotiated with or contained by economic sanctions. It cannot be beaten on a battlefield or bombed from the air. It has no vaccine or treatment. And yet, unless we act boldly, and within this very short window of opportunity, it will likely wreak havoc and destabilize whole nations and regions, with serious security ramifications for many countries, including the United States.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes more than thirteen hundred scientists from around the world, says that unless we drastically change course in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures will continue to rise by as much as five or ten degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Some scientists believe that number is on the low side.

What will this mean? What this significant temperature increase will mean is more drought, more crop failures, and more famine. Drinking water, already a precious commodity in many areas, will become even scarcer. Millions of people will be displaced by rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and flooding. Tropical diseases like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever will spread into parts of the world where they don’t currently exist. All of this will likely lead to increased human suffering and death, but the situation will be even more dire.

The growing scarcity of basic human needs could well lead to perpetual warfare in regions around the world, as people fight over limited supplies of water, farmland, and other natural resources. A world in which we see mass migrations of people in search of food, water, and other basic needs is not going to be a safe or stable world. That’s not just my opinion—that is the opinion of leading national security experts in our country and throughout the world. Yes, climate change is our nation’s great national security threat.

And the sad truth is that the effects of climate change will fall especially hard upon the most vulnerable people in our country and throughout the world—the people who have the fewest resources to protect themselves and the fewest options when disaster strikes. According to the United Nations’ Institute for Environment and Human Security and the International Organization for Migration, up to 200 million people could be displaced by 2050 as a result of droughts, floods, and sea-level rise brought on by climate change. That is more than three times the total number of refugees in the world in 2016 who have fled for any reason, including dire poverty, war, and famine. Think about it. We have a major refugee crisis today. That crisis could become much, much worse in coming decades as a result of climate change.

I do not mean to paint a hopeless picture of a dystopian future over which we have no control, but Pope Francis was absolutely right when he said that the world is on a suicidal course with regard to climate change. Of course, we must not, we cannot, and we will not allow that to happen. We have to address this global crisis before it’s too late.
The above has again been lifted, wholly, from the climate change chapter of Bernie Sanders' Guide to Political Revolution. I used to ask the people I date, what they would wanna change in the world, or which world issue they thought was most pressing. I would tell them mine was gender inequality, and I do still want to close that gap, yet I also recognize that climate change is the most pressing issue that the entire human population is facing. I read articles written by therapists that they don't have an answer for the younger generations facing existential crises posed by climate change. There is no answer for it. You could solve for poverty, sanitation and even gender inequality yet not assuage any of their mounting anxiety over the catastrophes that will occur because of climate change.

I think that's why I still want to engage in both the feminist and mental health field. For one, if the entire global youth population is gripped by fear of climate change, their mental health will be stricken and that in turn disables them from making any real and important change for the climate. If they barely have a will to live, the will to change what's happening in the world is even less likely.

Second, women reinvest 90% of their income into community, as opposed to men reinvesting 40%. I will not say women are born to be nurturers but in this generation, women have still been conditioned to care and protect, and that is the kind of mindset that we need moving forward with tackling climate change. As a woman, I perhaps care more about the ailing planet than the average man, although who knows. Of course as I work to improve gender equality, I would also want to impart that men can and should reinvest their incomes, their efforts and all their grey matter, into caring for the Earth as much as women do.

ONLY YOU CAN MAKE ME

I've let my guard down for you
and in time you will too

and if you don't mind
can you tell me all
your hopes and fears and
everything that you believe in,
would you make a difference
in the world?

Monday, May 25, 2020

AMERICA, EXPLAIN

Our dysfunctional health care system impacts not only patients and medical professionals, but our entire economy. Given that employer-based insurance is the way most Americans get their coverage, small- and medium-sized businesses are forced to spend an enormous amount of time and energy determining how they can get the most cost-effective coverage for their employees. It is not uncommon for employers to spend weeks every year negotiating with insurance companies, and many switch carriers every year or two to get the best deal they can.

When we talk about our current health care system, what is often overlooked is the negative impact it has on our entrepreneurial spirit. Millions of Americans remain in their jobs today not because they want to be there, not because they enjoy their work, but because their current employer provides decent health care benefits for them and their family.

Think about the extraordinary impact it would have on our economy if all Americans had the freedom to follow their dreams and not worry about whether the family had health insurance. Universal health care would provide a major boon to our economy, unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of millions of people.

While health care costs soar and millions of Americans are unable to afford health insurance or prescription drugs, the health care industry reaps huge profits and gives its CEOs outrageously high compensation packages.

The priorities of the current system dictate that there is more than enough money to pay fat executive salaries in the health care industry. We just don’t have enough money to make sure that working people can get the health care they need.

Today I watched the latest episodes of Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act and Rick & Morty, as well as read Guide to Political Revolution, written by Bernie Sanders, that the above paragraphs are lifted from. I am so tired and I would like to be in Canada to begin my undergrad studies. Vancouver Island looks very pretty. This evening I also interviewed to volunteer with an organization in Singapore to advocate for mental health among youths here, and I hope to be able to help in my final few months here. They seemed to like me, and I like what they're doing too, because mental health really needs more advocacy in Singapore.

Last week, we found out an ex-lululemon Singaporean staff member (Lerine) had gone to New Jersey to visit her friends. While she was there, she began feeling pain and discovered she had stage 4 cancer that had spread to her bones and lungs. All this unfolded at the same time the COVID situation did, so she didn't receive the best treatment in the US, and she couldn't even fly back to Singapore to be with her family. She needs constant and critical medical attention even in her journey back, so the only solution was an air ambulance, which costs $300,000. Crowdfunding was held and her condition reached national media so they raised it, and she'll be back next week. It's really nice to see it happen, what she's been through is really tough.

I get such a headache when I see big sums like that, because my studies will cost a third of that amount, and I know it's not as dire and I'm not dying. It just gives me a little nausea thinking of one hundred thousand dollars (technically 70k but I'm including living expenses). Literally, I can feel and taste the bile. Alrighty, time to brush my teeth.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

THE VAT OF ACID EPISODE

I just set a limit for my Instagram use because I found out today that I average four hours of daily use. If I sleep for eight hours, that means I spend a quarter of my daily waking life on Instagram. That ain't it, Sarah, it really ain't it. I actually really enjoy scrolling through memes on Instagram, the Explore page is always curated so well based on my liked and saved posts. My Explore page either has existentialist memes or Taylor Swift. Today I spent an hour having a Zoom call with my extended family for Eid, one of the two big Muslim celebrations. I'd recorded the call so while watching it afterwards, I realized I really dislike my voice on playback. My voice is one of the things I actively dislike about me, I know most people don't like the sound of their own voices but my voice is just bleh, like it's just an in-between kind of voice that doesn't sound deep enough to be inspirational nor high enough to be sweet. It's annoying. Another thing I felt today was when I looked at photos I had taken, and was not pleased at my button nose, I definitely think I could look better with a thinner, sharper nose but then I stopped myself of course and questioned why I had bought into such Eurocentric ideals of beauty. Most people with high, fine noses are not Asian, and I'm clearly Asian. Why have the ideals of beauty not included features that can be found mostly on Asian people? Fuck white people and fuck colonization. Fuck every single white person in the world who has never felt guilt, who don't acknowledge the benefits they reap from hundreds of years of white people acting barbaric and claiming superiority over other people in the world and from systemic racism that still penalizes people of color for the exact same shit that white people engage in. Non-whites can't be "looking suspicious" in public without getting shot down, whilst the whites are protesting for haircuts. Shut the fuck up, white people. Honestly, shut the fucking hell up. I'm not sure how I got here from talking about my nose, but there you go. Today's stream of consciousness, brought to you by a member of an oppressed society.

Friday, May 22, 2020

CHERRY

don't you call her "baby"
we're not talking lately
don't you call her what you used to call me

I, I confess
I can tell that you are at your best
I'm selfish so I'm hating it

I notice that
there's a piece of you in how I dress
take it as a compliment

I'm listening to a podcast that's talking about the quarantine and how it's made everyone all over the world, very reminiscey (well aware that's a made-up word). Apparently everyone has been haunted by the ghosts of their pasts and thinking of the should have, would have, could have beens. Should you text your ex? I do not know, but perhaps it will assure you to know we are all in this together, literally the entire world. These are fun, exhilarating, no-man's-land times. Oooo-weeee. I finished my rewatch of Rick and Morty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

ARBONNE

Sometimes when I'm not sleepy at night, I read r/antimlm on reddit because, IDK, schadenfreude? I don't understand it, but I'd want to sit down with the fervent ones and watch Betting On Zero with them. Maybe watching an hour-long documentary about Herbalife and all their previously scammed participants will open their eyes to the reality, more than any sarcastic comment would. In today's reddit journey, someone posted about a girl who is involved in an MLM (they call them Hun bots), who apparently said she went from pre-med to Monat. The reddit commenter then says "well I was pre-astronaut then" and I burst out laughing. It is simultaneously sad but so entertaining to see this happening. It's almost like a less infuriating flat-Earther community, except that at least flat-Earthers don't spend their money and waste it at all trying to "earn an income"? Sigh sigh sigh. The world is a mess. Also Jeff Bezos has been reported to be the first potential trillionaire whilst workers at Amazon suffer from disgusting conditions like peeing in bottles, etc. Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior (I say this as a joke: I know my family members who read this may have heart attacks — I don't believe in ANY GOD!) please how is this world to be salvaged. I rewatched Rick and Morty today and was reminded that Rick's catchphrase Wubba Lubba Dub Dub means I am in great pain, please help me (did you know if you Google wubba lubba dub dub that's actually what Google suggests – did you mean: I am in great pain, please help me). The world is a frightening place and the people who see any of it taking place may just be numbing themselves because they can't seem to help, and this is sad sad sad sad sad. Rick is the worst person to be and I don't wanna numb myself and I don't want to be around numb people and oh jfc I went from r/antiMLM to this, maybe I am a Morty instead of a Rick. Wait a second, is Rick the worst person to be or is it Jerry? Nope, definitely Jerry, but Rick is a most extremely close second. If I knew I were a Jerry, I would off myself. I veer between Rick and Morty, though, and I haven't offed myself. Yet. Is it worse to be callous and selfish like Rick or unbelievably dim-witted like Jerry? I'm sure there are people who would say Rick, so I would now rate myself as more callous and selfish than I am dim-witted, because my worst nightmare would be to be dim-witted. I know I am not, anyway. I cannot say the same about being callous and selfish, sometimes I display those traits.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

STILL


what I want from this is learn to let go
no, not of you, of all that's been told
but killers reinvent and believe
and this leans on me just like a rootless

fuck you
and all we've been through
I said leave it
it's nothing to you
and if you hate me
then hate me so good 
that you can let me out, let me out, let me out
of this hell when you're around

let me out, let me out, let me out, let me out
and fuck you, fuck you, I love you
and all we've been through

This rendition is so much better than the album version and it's such a bad quality video, sigh. I feel like Lisa Hannigan's soft accompaniment is heartwrenching. I have never heard "fuck you" said or sung a sadder way. It is so painful. One of the things that absolutely tears into me is when I'm settled in my life and my (biological) father appears, saying something that I really don't need or want to hear. It drains so much energy from me, because I think it gives me a weird sense of hope, and I cannot do the cordial thing until he eventually does something out-of-whack again, and leaves again. I think that's why when I leave someone's life, anyone's life, I try my best not to reappear, because I really don't want to be the person that causes anyone else to feel exhausted. Every time I want to do something, I think: would either of my parents do such a thing, and how would it make me feel? Then I usually do the opposite.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

PEA SOUP

The first time I watched Rick and Morty was my second time in LA. The second, back in Singapore, with a guy who liked it, and I thought one of the episodes had a very good soundtrack and I recalled it being much more maudlin in my memory. The third time, I was in New York with yet another man, and we both said our favorite episode was the same one, because it was one of the best, but we remembered it differently. So we watched it together and realized that neither of us was right???? The plot I'd remembered and the plot he'd remembered did not happen in that episode. I also did not feel as much as I had the first time I watched the episode. That was the first time I thought, Rick and Morty really time-travel in the multiverse and your realities won't stay the same. Then I thought, no I have to re-watch the entire series because I have grown older and I look at everything through a different lens and so perceive things differently now. I have yet to do a rewatch though. The Supreme Court lady's name is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in case you didn't know! I'm bored out of my mind in the house, and I have no money to spend on capitalism, thanks to this damn virus. Which is to say, I'm gonna rewatch the entire series now because, why not. I met this guy once, his ex has the same name as my own (not my first name though), and he shared the same name as one of my exes. Sometimes we just pop up on each other's feeds, and I know because we like and follow very similar people and things, and recently he liked a photo I was in for a national campaign, and I saw his name and I was like, oh hey he's still alive! We've never been in the same place at the same time, but still alive! Alive is good. I don't know why this is relevant, but whenever I watch Rick and Morty I think nothing matters anyway, I can do and say whatever I want.

Monday, May 11, 2020

PLETHORA

This post may make no sense to anyone who isn't me but it's okay because this post is for me. Isn't it weird and even strangely, bizarrely beautiful that you can be hurt most by the people you love most, and you will most hurt the people who love you most. Up till my early twenties, I made friends pretty easily. In school, when I travelled, at work, etc. It was only in the past three years when I started fighting regularly with my mother over bodily autonomy, over religion, over any and every thing, that I realized I'd grown up conditioned to please both her and my dad, and I had poor boundaries with everyone else because I hadn't learned to set boundaries with my parents. In the past couple of years, I think I've subconsciously been trying to set stronger boundaries with everyone, including but not limited to my parents. Unfortunately, because I hadn't had much experience and practice, I veered too far into being harsh and overstepping boundaries instead of negotiating new ones. I miss my previous best friends, nostalgia is a very strong thing for someone who ruminates obsessively like me. I have hurt some people, people I've dated (I can name three in the state of New York), people I've been friends with, and most if not all of them have loved me. I don't want to be angry, but I also recognize that some breaks are better made clean. I did love you, and I hurt you, and I'm sorry that I hurt you. When you feel the need to break up but you don't acknowledge it or talk about it, it will sooner or later surface as toxic behaviors in the relationship. I talked to Viv about writing a letter or letters to people whom I feel I miss, but I realized it is okay if they don't read it. I was feeling unsettled because I was carrying a lot of dissatisfaction within myself, but that is an emotion that I am feeling, and I alone am responsible for what happens to it. I felt wronged and misunderstood from what was said and what was done, and it manifested as anger and upset, and again, those feelings are mine to settle and put away. The quote that pops up tonight is "find what you love and let it kill you" to which I say, no thanks. Today I've learned healthy ways of coping, and I'm applying them, and I can love without letting it kill me.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

X Æ A-12

Today I am thirty years old. I just got off a call for the practice of enrolment. It's a practice in which you share the things you care about, and try to enrol someone else in why it matters to them. It's a leadership skill that lululemon practises. I'd written my situation down, about my cause of trying to reach out to potential partial sponsors for my education. Then we were separated into breakout rooms, which is Zoom's sort of way for you to go into your own little groups to have further discussions. Out of the group of the Singapore lululemon team of 80 participants, I was in a group with one other person, and that person happened to be my regional manager. She listened to me make my pitch, helped me fine-tune my approach, and also shared her experience with fundraising for her own book. Then she said she'd seen my Instagram and thinks I'm an artist, which I could use to offer as an exchange of services for my potential sponsors. I am highly embarrassed, but this is not at all a bad way to have started my birthday, I suppose. Now I can check off the list for most nervewrecking Zoom call on a birthday one could ever have.

Friday, May 8, 2020

F-HOLES & F-STOPS

Today, my therapist brought up an analogy of a photograph of space. She said at one point of time, when cameras weren't all that advanced and while photographing outerspace, there was a black patch and it was thought there was nothing there. Eventually, with more advanced technology, they discovered that the supposed dark patch was actually filled with balls/sparks(?) of light. We'd been talking about my practices with mindfulness and how, during such sessions, I usually don't notice myself feeling very much, and it feels like nothing is happening. I realized that I'm really used to feeling in extremes, I know extreme joy and thrill from, say, being in a speeding car, or skydiving. I also know extreme grief and despair from my miscarriage and sometimes from certain interactions with my parents. My therapist is trying to get me used to sitting with myself and noticing the smaller details, the non-extreme. Noticing my heart beating, the breath of air entering and leaving my lungs. I just need a different, more fine-tuned sort of aperture to equip my body with the technology it needs to notice all the things that don't live in hyperbole. I really liked and appreciated the analogy. I wish I knew what photograph of space she was referring to, but she didn't remember and couldn't place it. In one of our previous sessions, when asked to describe how I feel at a happy memory, I experienced it as a pulsating, glowing ember of orangey-yellow. I was so happy recalling it that it was practically bursting out of me and my therapist saw me smiling. If I could name an animal that embodies my happiness, it would have been a phoenix. I like that, even though I do think phoenixes are pretty intense, in that they shrivel up in fire and are reborn. But isn't that what life really is about?

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

DAMNED IF I DON'T


shake it out, shake it out
and it's hard to dance with the devil on your back
so shake him out

I'm done with my graceless heart
so tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
'cos I like to keep my issues drawn
it's always darkest before the dawn

I doubt this is the first time I'm sharing this, though I don't remember the last time I did. I wonder how old these kids are now, and what they're doing with their lives. It's been one of my favorite renditions of a favorite song for the past five years, and! It's not a Taylor Swift song, although the title is pretty similar to her song that I also love, hehe.

I'm having a slight bummer of a week. I wrote to my therapist about it.

The last time I saw a group of my previous best friends was my birthday last year, after which we fell out. I've gone through this before, I know that when it's coming up to dates that have been tumultuous in previous years, my body will act like an alarm clock and remind me to feel all sorts again.

I know I have nothing to worry about, spending my 30th birthday at home. I have a man who loves me dearly, possibly looking for a bakery that's still open, to order my favorite kind of cake. I have friends and colleagues who are always looking out for me, I'm glad that my two previous workplaces have had people who have gone out of their way to feel like a family. I will always have people who love me, somehow, by virtue of what I do on social media and the interwebs, telling me that what I do for them is important, that I am important, and I am eternally grateful.

Working from home is not all fun and games. Yeah, sure there's no commute and you can wake up five minutes before your scheduled call and still be on time. It doesn't feel good, though. My friends and I are starting to feel a bigger burnout from WFH calls than if we were at our real workplaces. Home used to be a safe space, where you felt safe and protected from work responsibilities, and there used to be boundaries. Those boundaries exist in smaller, blurrer forms now.

Lucas has been urging me to start my studies in September of this year in Vancouver, because he worries that Singapore isn't the best environment for my mental health, not to mention living with my family.

Yet, due to the pandemic, my friends who were studying abroad in New York and in Australia, are back in Singapore, doing online classes at god-awful times in Singapore, due to timezone differences. I'm worried it will be the same when I eventually start school in Canada. My student visa may not be enough to let me stay, or even when I'm there, I may be cooped up inside. Also, of course the pandemic and quarantine are affecting my finances, and it doesn't feel like the right time to take on a financial burden.

I don't know what to do.

Monday, May 4, 2020

INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM

When you're part of two marginalized communities, your identity is said to be an intersection of those two communities. When you're trying to speak for one, you might offend the other. For example, I am a woman and I am also a Malay, Asian person. Each group can be said to be marginalized, but at the intersection, you may receive more marginalization, once for being female, and once for being Malay/Asian. As a Malay woman, I can say things that happen to me, that would not happen to Malay or Asian men in general. When I went to LA for the first time in 2015, my photos and experiences were on Facebook (I used to use it before I got bored of all the scrutiny). My grandmother's sister and her family then put pressure on my grandma, they asked why I was couchsurfing and seemed to be sleeping in the same room as i) a man (that time it was Nick Savaj in winter), and ii) a dog. Nick had a new dog Lucy and she was the yappiest and I loved her, and I remember Nick saying Lucy was calmer when I was around or when I walked her, which I think was true. When I slept with Lucy around, it was therapeutic for both Lucy and myself. Asian and/or Malay parents can be said to be more naggy or hovering helicopters, but they especially pay more attention to policing their girls' behaviors. If a man did what I did, the community would not feel as entitled to comment, never mind the fact that men could also sleep with men and this would also be an affront to the aunties. Alternatively, if an Asian man did engage in such a behavior, he would then refrain from talking about it so he wouldn't receive the scrutiny. Either way, their behavior is being policed, and most of the policing source would be from their identity of being Malay or Asian-raised. Intersectional feminism is an approach to consider the oppression any person might face due to their gender or race, or any other identity markers. As opposed to white feminism, which you might have heard applied to Taylor Swift, if you've heard of it at all. White feminism is when white women only consider the emancipation of women from the experience of being white, without taking into account how black women, Latinx women, Asian women, and so on experience their lives and their feminisms. It is far more complicated when you have to deal with misogyny along with the added pressure of tiptoeing along the fault lines of race and/or religion. When you bring up the fact that daughters don't inherit the same amount as sons at the death of a parent, the reason given is that men were supposed to take care of women. You are not to question why men were given this so-called responsibility, infantilizing women and given the care and burden of taking care of them, despite the fact that women are clearly just as capable of caring for themselves. The bottomline is, that was the law of the book, and you followed it based on the justifications given by the book. A similar rationale is given about women who are not allowed to perform the Haj without a male relative escorting them. At this point, there may be Malay/Muslims who are reading this just wanting to bust in with the fact that women may now perform the Haj unchaperoned by a guardian, in 2020, wow, finally. This may also be happening to detract from other human rights abuses going on in Saudi Arabia, including ironically, the killing of women's right activists. When you speak to Asian or Muslim aunties about this, the idea is to deflect, deflect and that's right, deflect. If I ask, when I wear a short dress, why does an Asian man feel entitled to police my behavior, the reaction is: Islam is a feminist religion and has always promoted education for their women, the Prophet's wife was a successful entrepreneur who had her pick in choice of husband, etc etc. The idea that there may be two contradictory stances espoused by a single religion is laughable to them. When I want to bring attention to the fact that a Malay or Asian man feels more entitled to police my behavior because that's how we've been raised, the aunties do not contend with the incident of my dressing, or the fact that what I choose to do and whom I choose to sleep with on my own personal vacations is always up for their scrutiny, although it shouldn't be. They will again bring it back to Khadija, although how that solves my problem, I don't know (hint: it doesn't). I live in Singapore, one of the biggest nanny states in the world. It is like a North Korea, with a Disneyland exterior. The juxtaposition makes it even eerier. The government does not like dissent and does not facilitate the act of questioning its policies, even going so far as to punish such behavior. When you intersect religion with a nanny state like Singapore, it's a great breeding ground for parents who want to inculcate obedient behaviors in their children. Listen, if you don't do what I say, the police are going to come and catch you. If you don't do as written, you will end up in Hell. I don't know what it's like in other communities or religions, there will be people who want to strawman me and assume that I'm bashing on Islam. I am highlighting some patriarchal examples within Islam, but that's the community I have direct experience with, I don't have any better of an impression of Christianity, or Judaism or any religion, to be honest. I think they are all problematic, especially given the similar Abrahamic roots. In South Korea and in India, there have been similar cases of sexist chat rooms, the nth room and the Boys' locker room, respectively. They draw from the fact that neither country has the biggest sex-positive attitude. You can see through their popular visual media, of Kpop and Bollywood. Sex is a taboo and men are usually the ones courting, because God forbid that women should be sexual beings and in charge of their own sexual desires. I'm not saying Hollywood and white people don't have a fair share of sexism and misogyny, as someone who's read about Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes, of course I agree there is disgusting sexism that happens there, on a power-play level. Their misogyny is one that depends on victims keeping mum, and women in those regions have learnt that it's better to speak up and to come forward with their stories. The misogyny that Asia faces is one step, one decade behind. To even get to the stage of empowering women to own their voices, there is one more thing that needs to happen, we collectively need to recognize that we draw on Asian cultures to perpetuate certain patriarchal practices that have no place in a just and equal society. I recently read a comment in a thread about how migrant workers are treated in Singapore. The commenter said that his grandfather was a very responsible man who owns a construction company, and he has always ensured the migrant workers he employs are treated decently. The idea was not about individual employers, no one is attacking any singular person for being bad, because the problem is in the system. For every person who sidetracks the conversation to "I know someone who's not like that" it makes the process longer for migrant and transient workers in Singapore to receive the equal and fair treatment they deserve. Similarly, no one is calling out individual Asian people y'all are involved with (ugh people are so touchy about their partners and spouses it makes me wanna roll my eyes, like, this problem doesn't revolve around you unless you think it does), but the system has to change.

OWEN GRAY

I went to the bank today to apply for my student loan. Looking at the interest accrual gave me some slight anxiety, which I slept off in the afternoon. In four months, I will be in Canada for at least the next four years. The only thing that makes me nervous is the climate. I don't quite like the cold, and yet, in humid, hot Singapore, there is never a time that I'm not perspiring, so perhaps I will adapt quite well to the cold. I don't know if it's been brought on by the pandemic and/or quarantine, but in the past two months, I have had several requests seeking advice on therapy and a therapist for the first time. Most of the people who approached me seem to be settling in quite well with their therapist. I have also been speaking about therapy burnout or hangovers, which is when you are overwhelmed by being too in touch with your feelings after a long while of disconnection. I told them that I've definitely made excuses and flaked instead of following up on some therapy sessions when I refused to deal with my sexuality, etc. I think I'm bisexual at the very least, but I'll shelve the thought until I'm in Canada. My mother would definitely invalidate my sexuality, given she had a fit at my pink hair. In Singapore, it's still a taboo to mention therapy, much more than it is in the places I engage most in social media, like LA or NY. I don't think it's necessary to go to therapy, but it can expedite a lot of solutions to internal conflicts. We've been asked to write weekly reflection journals for work at Lululemon. I'm always torn between writing real reflections, that contain my straight-outta-whack thoughts that come out of therapy or during work calls, and writing to please, because it is after all a work endeavour. Mental health and professionalism are things I try to keep separate, which I think is quite a pity. I turn 30 in exactly a week, and I'm still waiting for the day my mom says I'm a princess or something, and I've passed all my tests, and she bestows me with $10 000, no strings attached, just for me to study. You know what I hate most? I hate LinkedIn's slogan, which keeps being shown with every email to me. It says: it's not what you know, it's who you know. That's like, the most morally repulsive slogan??? There are people who know a gazillion things who may never get anywhere if they don't make the right connections, and then there are people who keep climbing and climbing, because they know the right people, who have the right kind of money. Do you know how many emails I have sent out, how much time I've put in trying to find CEOs' and writers' emails on RocketReach, trying to make connections, so I get into some kind of money???? You ain't got no clue!!!!