Saturday, June 27, 2020

AUGIE JEONG

Tina told me about a show called Love Life. It stars Anna Kendrick and is about her going on dates and being in different relationships until she, apparently, meets The One. Also, according to the show, by the time you find The One, you would have been in seven relationships, fallen in love twice and been heartbroken twice. I'm watching it now, courtesy of VPN and Tina's HBO Max login details. In the first episode, it snows in New York and she goes to karaoke and has a meetcute with a guy and as Tina very accurately predicted, I was reminded of my own adventures, and I keep squealing at the episode. As you can well tell, I am very much in love with being in love. 

Over the course of this week, I've also finished watching Lenox Hill. That's a hospital documentary on Netflix, which I would say is the best Netflix show this year. It follows two neurosurgeons, an ER doctor and an OB-GYN through their lives in Lenox Hill, a hospital in Manhattan. It shows how the doctors are skilled beyond measure with their deft hands in surgery, or with coaxing women in labor, but also how human they are. They constantly try to help patients who come in from off the streets, suffering from drug abuse, without proper insurance coverage, etc. Sometimes when their patients suffer or die, you can see how the doctors have to soldier on bravely, looking hopeful for the sake of their myriad other patients, whilst inwardly smarting from the pain of seeing tumors recur, family members devastated and not being able to help. I really enjoyed it because it provided such an insight into hospital life, with very real people issues. The OB-GYN is an African-American lady who has so much on her plate, and she always talks about how she wants to be a part of the representation for young black girls who want a medical career. I loved the series. 

I talked to my therapist about getting on anxiety meds because of my panic attack. She doesn't like the idea because from the work we've done together, she prefers that I get attuned to my feelings, not avoid them. I understand her concern but I also told her that my panic attack was no walk in the park. It gets so exhausting, to coax myself for hours to be okay with literally not breathing properly, to sit with a sadness that sometimes I'm scared I may not even be able to handle or tolerate. I'm so tired and sad at the slightest things that people can so easily not think about. I'm sad at the fact that I only found out about heavy things and feelings at 25ish. Before that, I had a rather comfortable life. I'm sad that kids get much more stressed these days, at younger ages, because of issues like the world literally burning up, then also economic inequalities and racism, and so many toxic things. You want to protect younger generations from the full knowledge of bad stuff, but you also don't want them to be complicit in discrimination and benefiting off their privilege. 

Oh my God, there it goes again. The high-functioning depressed person in me has rambled on about the depressing reality of life. Why does anyone even let me get away with this? Why do I have to face my deep feelings when literally no one else seems to have the same depth of feelings? Who signed off on this? I'm going to end this the same way I always do, which is that I need to sleep it off. 

Oh yeah, I'm probably deferring my studies to the January semester because of COVID and visa issues, in case you needed a reason as to why I am always in this funk, that I cannot seem to get out of. Why does my therapist not want to give me medication? I am not completely okay!!!!!! 

I don't want to be me anymore. Sometimes I think I'm one move away from completely losing it. I want to check into a mental health facility, but what I mean is I want a month-long holiday by myself in an isolated place like Bhutan, when actually what would happen is I would get mistreated by the paltry mental health services in Singapore, and my life will spiral ever out of control until I die of a cliché drug overdose. So, the lesser evil is to carry on with capitalism and earn money and pretend earning money and being "productive" makes life worth it.

I would like to remind you that Lyssa and I have both biological parents who have had mental health issues (and our mother had cancer) and neither parent has ever gone to therapy nor tried to solve their issues in a healthy way. Both Lyssa and I are not in terribly great places in our lives. If you are considering having children or you do have children, please be open to constant checks on your own states of mental health, please and thank you.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

BIRD'S EYE

Dear Adam, the night we broke up for real, you had a panic attack and I was very worried about you. Seeing the political movements in New York City reminds me of you sometimes. I hope you are doing really well with your partner and I really hope you cope in the most stable way possible, even with everything going on around you.

Dear Ben Glaser, often when I do things in Singapore, I see little spots of where we did things together. Those moments have always remained and will always remain uniquely ours. I remember how insanely fast we got to saying I love you, and to this day, that remains true. The museum, the takeaway food, when my mother pretended to feed you mango while we had a video call. You are different from anyone else, and I will always remember pigeons in New York with you.

Dear Bennett, when I met you I remember how comfortable things felt. For the first time in a long time I felt how easy it was to connect with someone just by being myself. Nothing I said had to be contrived. The cat, the board games, the food, and the books. I will always remember our first date in Central Park, and how you made me only believe in Hinge for dating apps. I think you are a wonderful person and I hope you know that.

Dear Joey, I didn't know you well enough to have all the feelings for you, and yet I did. Who knows how? Certainly not I. I have always made qualifiers for you, wanting to believe you to be a perfect person that no one is. Oh, maybe he's changed, oh but maybe he does believe in defunding the police, maybe he's also out there protesting, maybe he really was busy, maybe his words from long ago meant something different than what I thought it meant. I don't know if that's love, but that's what my mom does for me, and she says she loves me so, I suppose I've inherited that from her.

Dear Lucas, I love you very much. You have been the source of much of my happiness this past year. I'm afraid of being in a long-distance relationship with you because I did that with my ex from school, and it didn't pan out all too well. You're a brilliant person, and I wish I had all my issues sorted out so you didn't have to constantly be the one stable person in this relationship. I want to give you your raving opinions of Better Call Saul but instead I am only Breaking Bad. I don't know how you have stayed with me through this entire season, but you make me laugh when I least expect to. Thank you.

Dear Tina, I miss you so. I loved your random statements (of fact or opinion) while we walked around, popping into every other shop just to get out of the cold of winter. "People always think that rising divorce cases are a bad statistic, but they don't consider that women used to stay with their cheating or abusive or incompetent husbands because the women had no means of supporting themselves. We've now progressed to where women are independent enough to do better for themselves that they can leave their husbands." At times like tonight, I do wish I could talk to you about the mess that is in my head, and listen to your sage words that might make me cry, but somehow feel wise and better afterwards. I know, however, that you have your own things to process, from being in New York, from all the things happening there, from life. I just hope you know how much I miss you.

I feel a love for people, and learned it's called agape. This means that I don't have to be remotely related to or acquainted with someone for me to care about their safety and well-being in society (inasmuch as they also care for other strangers). I hate it that all the people I loved, I've lost them as friends. 

WAVES

There are several things that have happened this week, most of them good. However, my feet have been consistently numb and I feel dizzy when I move or turn my head to do anything. At the end of last week, I got really worried I was going to die on that night and I could not, did not go to sleep till 4am. When I read them all together, they could be a panic attack but I'm not a doctor so I'm not sure. They could all be isolated. I might need to get on medication. I've taken anti-anxiety meds before (in 2017) but they didn't make me feel very good and so I stopped. I don't even remember which drugs those were. Sometimes I get a little paranoid and worry too much about things, then I talk about the symptoms and it goes away, like some ailments that plague the average human being in life, so I hope this is one of those times. I went for a run and it didn't send away the symptoms, so I doubt it has to do with exercise.

I've had two meetings with the mental health collective. In the first one, we watched Short Term 12, which starred Brie Larson, Rami Malek and Stephanie Beatriz. They work at a sort of halfway house for children and the film was very well done, in my opinion. We then discussed our thoughts about the movie and what moved me during that meeting was there were close to 40 of us watching the movie (over Zoom) and we agreed that we all cared about the same thing and we could make a difference if we all worked together and with each other. It was a nice important moment.

At the second meeting, we discussed our agenda. One of the proposals we wanted to make is to have vending machines in visible locations across Singapore, to dispense important mental health resources to distract anyone who might be suicidal, or even to lift the moods of anyone who might be having a bad day. My task is to do research on previous initiatives that have been taken by any other organizations to see if there have been barriers, etc. Tomorrow is our next meeting. Generally I feel that the more of such resources there are around the island, the easier it is for someone to recall that there are people who care for them when they're down and out, especially for those who don't have strong support systems in their lives. If you have any feedback regarding this situation, please reach out to let me know.

A few days ago, I received an email. I'd sent an email to a person I'd seen in a Netflix documentary, and she replied! She sent me well-wishes and a small donation towards my studies. It made me elated because these small things really make me feel that other people care and motivate me to go on this path, as tough as it is. I've written her a thank-you email. I feel very strange asking people for donations to my study fund, especially because I know there are so many things to worry about. Do you worry about Yemen, or Uyghur Muslims, or Black lives, or climate change, or Indigenous lives, or any of the thousands of things you could be worried about? It's okay if you do, and if you choose even one cause to champion for, that's enough.

I'm extremely worried that the panic attacks, if that's what they are, will get more frequent and debilitating, as the date draws nearer, and the financial responsibilities loom larger, and all the things happen. That's why I'm trying to acknowledge and verbalize them all so hopefully that means I negate some of the fear, and some of the paralysis. Therapy seems to be helping, though. I may need to ask whether people see their therapists more than once a week. 

We'll be okay. We will be okay.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

UMLAUT

Over the past week, the Malay population has been in uproar because three Malay men have been saying misogynistic, sexist, rude things on their podcast OkLetsGo. When pressed to apologize, they kept making insincere, half-hearted non-apologies, then reposting their supporters' posts about how they only said things in the vein of "done in jest" and "if you don't like, you shouldn't listen" as if, as if the problem is when you say bigoted things, it is about the audience's ability to receive such bigoted comments, and not on your own bigotry. Tweets were, well, Tweeted by Malay women in Singapore, along the lines of
I dislike OLG because they remind me of the Malay men in my life and environment who casually dehumanise and sexualise women and brush it off as jokes. Having that normalised and aired to the Malay masses does enable/shape the current and next generation of Malay men.
in the hundreds, if not thousands. It got so bad, the President of Singapore herself, who usually is a token figure and does absolutely nothing (the person calling the political shots is our Prime Minister) posted a lengthy Facebook post, rebuking the three men and calling on them to make a real apology. 

I've been saying it for years that we have an entrenched patriarchal, misogynist problem.... I don't want to say I told you so, but dang, I told you so. Did I not. Tell. You. So.

Ooooooft. I wouldn't be surprised if the internalized misogyny is so strong you start accusing the President of racism. If we're at that point, I would very much like to remove myself from the narrative.

Friday, June 12, 2020

LETTER TO THE FREE

If you haven't already done so, I strongly recommend that you watch Ava DuVernay's documentary, 13th. It's on Netflix in Singapore, I don't know if it's on the US Netflix. It was released in 2016 but is still as relevant today. 

It's important to watch, and especially important for white people to watch, or for your Asian family members or friends who may not understand the American prison industrial complex. If you have racists among your parents, cousins, aunties, uncles, et cetera, ask them to spend two hours with you and show it to them. 

I've been to America three times. On my first trip, I didn't like parts of San Francisco because it smelled like weed, and for a Singaporean, that was the first time in my 25 years of life I was smelling weed. I didn't know about gentrification or people of color being priced out of their own neighborhoods. I didn't know what being priced out meant. On that trip, I went out on Marina Del Rey in a boat and I thought that was what the average LA transplant experiences.

My second trip I spent almost exclusively in LA, discounting when I crossed the state line to Nevada. I met many white people and families. I met a white lawyer and I followed him to the state court, when he had to file some work before we drove to Lake Tahoe. We drove across deserts for hours and we listened to Spanish music and he taught me about folklore. I met another white Jewish man who makes music, he told me a little about his family and the Jewish community in East LA. 

I think, during that trip, the people I stayed with were already trying to open my eyes to the strange, painful, uneven lifestyles that they were all a part of. I was having fun and I was in love, so I had the most rose-tinted glasses on and refused to see it. The person I liked asked about bank protection in Singapore like the American ones that were too big to fail, and somehow I was an idiot and my brain didn't work. I played into a movie trope, as I always seem to do. 

My third venture was to New York. I was a tiny little bit more mature. I knew about racial and gender injustices, I knew the people on Wall Street were greedy and selfish but I was still willing to live in a city where the same pricing-out was happening to the same communities of color. I didn't know about police brutality, and I was introduced to just the term ACAB. He knew my mother was a cop so he brought it up, but I fell asleep, and I forgot about it, because I was in love again. It was my first time in New York, so I spoke to homeless people of color and I thought that would help somehow, that I as a solitary singular person was talking to a homeless black man about Trump, commiserating, as if I could change anything. About his life or about the system.

I cannot. Not by myself. I can attend all the women's marches and black lives matter protests in the world but I am one person. It took me twenty-eight years to learn about bank foreclosure, twenty-nine for gentrification, thirty to understand police brutality. I watched 13th, and it details how America has transitioned from slavery to mass incarceration. Every aspect of it is covered, like how the biggest corporations involved in political lobbying have vested interests in keeping more people in prison, and for longer. It puts up pillars, of how you might think a black man could defend and help themselves, then knocks them back down again with terribly unfair laws enacted by government. 

Sometimes people are concerned that I worry about things I cannot change, but I like to keep myself aware because I think change can only come with awareness. I was not worried about all the social issues before I was made aware of them. I didn't know what was happening and so I could not care about them, and I was just one more person complicit in allowing an injustice, many injustices to continue. 

I want to believe that if you shared all the facts there are, most people would not act the same way as they did when they were blissfully unaware. Money is not and has never been the driving factor for most people, not the ones I know about. If you knew where your money came from, where it was going towards, if it was perpetuating a slavery that you can see and be accountable for, if it was going towards an endless vicious cycle of policing and ensuring future generations of wronged prisoners, you would want to sever that connection. 

I want to believe that the reason capitalism still continues is that there are a few people who have staggering amounts of money and power and who lack conscience, but that the greater community don't agree with nor support them. And we can work to overturn that, because there is power in numbers. There always has been. If we all just acknowledge that the value of human life is in the love and compassion and connection we all share, more than the monetary wealth we can each attain for ourselves, we can change this.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

TWILIGHT

I haven't swum for three months because that's how long it's been since swimming pools were closed for COVID-19 and we're no longer allowed to go to the beach, either. The good thing is, I checked on Google and there's an indoor swimming complex a short walk away from my school in Vancouver. The sad thing is, I start school in September and I don't know if I'll get to swim till then. However, at least I have something to look forward to! I find myself to be quite a water baby, I love being in and also surrounded by water so I'm very excited to explore trails that have rivers or waterfalls, etc. 

I finished reading Learned Optimism and I really do like it, I liked the ideas and principles from start to finish. I think it was an important book for myself particularly, and I'll try and apply it to myself and my life. 

My hair is growing back out and I'm trying to grow it long this time. I had it chopped short almost a year ago, and now I miss my curls. There's something about how wild and unkempt my long hair usually is, and how reflective it is of me, that I miss to bits, and I wanna have it back. 

Back in 1905, the German sociologist Max Weber warned of an “unprecedented inner loneliness of the single individual” that accompanied the “spirit” of modern capitalism. In a capitalist society founded on competition, privatisation and small family units, collective joy—as opposed to individual happiness—signals both personal resilience and political rebellion. The very act of relishing in a shared connection is a triumph in a society that seeks to divide us.

Being happy is resistance against capitalism and so I try. I try to be happy. Tonight feels happy so I will allow myself to feel it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

REUBEN SANDWICH

I took a week off work to give myself a break. I'm not sure what I needed a break for, I wasn't physically going to work but my mind was still being overwhelmed. I thought about New York: the delis, bodegas, the museums and the parks. New York was a gorgeous city, no matter how you looked at it. I hope everyone across the US has the ability and remembers to take breaks and give themselves permission to rest. Protests are not a week-long rage, movements like in the time of Rosa Parks are long and drawn out before you achieve any real change. No one would be able to be switched on for entire weeks and months, especially if fueled by anger and disappointment. As much as what goes on in the US is unsettling, black communities have been mistreated for decades and centuries and it's high time they received justice, if not recompense. 

In the past two weeks, Lucas and I had our own squabbles. He's updated on worldly affairs, and he tends to send me news articles of injustices happening around the world. It's very tiring to me when this happens. In Singapore, I come from a community that is marginalized and has been disenfranchised, and I see it from how my cousins and brown friends are treated. I would say it takes a longer while before people treat me the same way as they treat other Malays instead of right off the bat because my name isn't a typical Malay name, in fact because of the Mei in my name people tend to treat me as either Chinese or of mixed ethnicity, neither of which I am. I don't need Lucas, a white man, to tell me what I can experience in my own lived reality. Lucas also works in Ogilvy, a very successful multinational advertising corporation, that has so far not made any financial contributions to BLM, as far as we know. In contrast, lululemon, that I work for, even with all its white-centric yogis, donated $100,000 to protestor bail funds. Sometimes I've felt like Lucas gets off on outrage porn, or some other kind of complex where he acknowledges an injustice, distances himself from the perpetrators of such injustice, but then doesn't actually do anything proactive about the situation anyway. 

2020 is the year of all kinds of reckonings. 

Monday, June 08, 2020

AQUALUNG

If you would like to contribute to my tuition or living expenses, this is my PayPal. I cannot sleep tonight. I tried to stay away from bad news, from any news at all actually. Something in the left of my chest feels tight and constricted, it could be a panic attack, I don't know. Is it my lung? Is it my heart? Is it my immune system shutting down from the tiredness? I don't know. Who knows? I hope you are all doing better than I am. These are extremely trying, tiring times.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

DIVIDE & CONQUER


Singapore is developing a wearable dongle for contact tracing in hopes of "controlling the spread of COVID-19" ummmm. I'm telling you, we are living in a dystopia and it feels like just before we all lose our agency in a Handmaid's Tale-esque world. The good thing is all the comments are highlighting the similarities to 1984, the bad thing is Singapore's government has never seemed to listen to its citizens. The strange thing is I've heard stories of dormitory managers being told by the Ministry of Health to no longer give swab tests to the foreign and transient workers in Singapore. 

So the context is in Singapore, construction workers who hail from Bangladesh usually, contracted to build our incessant new buildings, they're all being housed in cramped dormitories in the ghost towns of this island and those are the current hotspots of COVID-19 transmissions. Dormitory managers have been given explicit orders for covering up the scenario, and the regular media doesn't report on this because the government is the media. 

Instead of putting in money to take care of the transient workers who are left stranded in Singapore, they've been pouring money into surveillance technologies instead, technology that citizens don't even seem to welcome. My headache grows forever stronger. 

Friday, June 05, 2020

CO-SIGN


There are very few things I disagree with Hasan Minhaj about and this is not one of them. I don't think you know how important it is for Hasan to be always saying it like it is, like this. Yes, at one glance, it should be obvious, but the Asian community is usually non-confrontational, and if you're an immigrant, the heavier the burden is for you to fall in and stay between the lines, because otherwise, you're at risk of being outcast or called an ingrate, right? I think it's high time we recognize and acknowledge that while you may be part of a community that is marginalized, it's also very possible for you to be complicit in discriminating against someone else. We hate being called slurs but in our private conversations, there's always a fall guy who's being slurred against. It's got to end. No lives matter until black lives matter.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

LYMPH NODES

I spent the morning going through Instagram posts of cast members that were on Terrace House at the same time that Hana was. Hana was quite the character, she had pink hair and was a pro-wrestler and was completely batshit awkward with guys she liked, because she felt she didn't fit into the effeminate mold expected by traditional Japanese society. She was only twenty-two when she commited suicide. She was on Terrace House, an extremely popular international franchise following six strangers who live in one house and eventually become a family. 

I think previous cast members have dealt with the sudden catapult into fame, sometimes after having witnessed their own bad behaviours they would receive lots of mean threats and would have to close off their Instagram comments, etc. The panelists (who are the funniest part of the show) would sometimes help by softening the blow and reminding viewers that these people are just fallible human beings, after all. I hope that moving forward, if Terrace House resumes filming again after the COVID quarantine, they have better mental health resources to help the younger or more vulnerable ones cope. 

It doesn't work in a linear manner, when celebrities come into the limelight and fame, they usually have some financial success so they're able to negate some of the scrutiny by engaging PR services or therapists to share some of their burdens with. The cast members on Terrace House are sometimes only just starting out their careers, people like Ruka who got called pathetic by viewers the whole world over, they haven't come into any money yet, and may not know how to deal at all. 

When you were nineteen or twenty-two, you would have been a dumb piece of shit who did not know anything about anything. Hell, when I was twenty-six, I was still making mistakes like getting pregnant and not knowing what to do about it. When these young 'uns apply to be a part of the show, they're likely to see the fun and adventure of living with strangers and potentially finding love, but being in the world spotlight is something most celebrities have a love-hate relationship with.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

FIOR DI LATTE

I had a therapy session today. It was overwhelming and intense, as I offloaded all my thoughts and feelings that had accumulated with the world news and situations. We were both worried, I was confused by my mess of feelings and she was unsure between whether to validate my feelings of anger and frustration, and to calm me down so I could move forward with some hope, benefiting both myself and my life. I have three more complimentary sessions before she may start charging me at the end of the quarantine. I'm not sure yet. 

I went for a 5km run with my lululemon colleagues, separately but connected virtually. We did it to each pay a meal forward to the healthcare workers on the frontline in Singapore. While running, I realized my arm muscles don't feel like they've gotten any more defined since isolation began two months ago. I just have to remind myself that life is chess, not checkers. 

This morning, I wondered if there is an app on which you buy meals from black-owned businesses, and pay it forward to black families, whom I would imagine must be exhausted by the past week, and years, even if they haven't been out protesting. If you know an app developer who could help me with this, please point me to them. Again, I would make a disclaimer that you can and should do this with any underprivileged community, anywhere you are, if you can. I'm just saying, on top of what you can do for those people, I think black people everywhere may need some more help this week, and meals are a good way to sustain them and their hope, just one day at a time. In the meantime, if you know any black individuals or families in need, I'm trying to find black-owned businesses that do gift cards, so I can buy them online gift cards for meals.

Monday, June 01, 2020

MONSTERA

Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd, has been charged with murder. Anonymous has released the details of the Minneapolis Police Department. It really feels like a dystopia. I had a thought that the US is only 4% of the world's population, so perhaps things are distorted and the media is just covering the American riots because the US always puts itself center stage. Then I see posts of Australians calling each other out for the same thing, police brutality against their indigenous peoples, and that the spotlight has never been shone on them because they're just not America, and don't have a monopoly on media. So that doesn't make things better.

I share a room with my sister Aqilah, she's my third sister and is thirteen years younger than I am. She's 17 this year. While we were in bed last night, we talked after midnight just about things in general. She told me the extent of how her ex-boyfriend had abused her. Before yesterday, I knew I had a general disdain for him, but now, hearing how incredibly disturbing he is and the physical things he did to my sister, I can't help but feel if I ever saw him, I would let loose and be violent against his person. It's inconceivable to me that a teenage boy could be so twisted to do such things to a teenage girl, and yet it happens. Every time I think we've reached the worst of humanity, whomp, it hits me, there is no limit to the worst in humanity.

I don't know what to say, men are trash? White people are racist? Rich people are selfish? What else is there to say? What can I say that hasn't been said? What do you want me to say? I would like an Adderall, please.