Thursday, March 4, 2021

ALETHEIA


the moon is high 
like your friends were the night that we first met 
went home and tried to stalk you on the internet 
now I've read all of the books beside your bed 

the wine is cold 
like the shoulder that I gave you in the street 
cat and mouse for a month or two or three 
now I wake up in the night and watch you breathe 

kiss me once 'cause you know I had a long night (oh!) 
kiss me twice 'cause it's gonna be alright 
three times 'cause I've waited my whole life 
(one, two, one-two-three-four!) 

I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper rings 
uh huh, that's right 
darling, you're the one I want
I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this 
uh huh, that's right
darling, you're the one I want 
in paper rings, in picture frames, in dirty dreams 
oh, you're the one I want 

in the winter, in the icy outdoor pool 
when you jumped in first, I went in too 
I'm with you even if it makes me blue 
which takes me back 
to the color that we painted your brother's wall 
honey, without all the exes, fights, and flaws 
we wouldn't be standing here so tall, so 

kiss you once 'cause I know you had a long night (oh!) 
kiss you twice 'cause it's gonna be alright
three times 'cause you waited your whole life 
(one, two, one-two-three-four!) 

I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper rings 
uh huh, that's right 
darling, you're the one I want
and I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this 
uh huh, that's right 
darling, you're the one I want 
in paper rings, in picture frames, in dirty dreams 
oh, you're the one I want 

I want to drive away with you 
I want your complications too 
I want your dreary Mondays 
wrap your arms around me, baby boy

I think there is a Taylor Swift song for every occasion in my life, or anyone's life, tbh. This is the one I want to dance to at my wedding. Every time I hear it, I bop to it. It plays on the work playlist sometimes, and it cheers me up, every time. I went for a boxing session yesterday, have another two this week, just to use up the credits I get from work. I have a spin session to support my friend's first class, and then we're going for Jaysen's resistance workout at Ground Zero on Sunday. I already know I'm going to be the weakest person in the class, so I hope Jaysen just ignores my existence while I trail behind everyone else. Some days I feel like I'm dying, I am so exhausted, and still somehow my body survives. Life is a game of chess, not checkers. Rome wasn't built in a day, yadda yadda yadda. I finished watching WandaVision. "What is grief, if not love persevering?" I think it's a little frilly and predictable, just about the best summary of Disney+ so far, but an easy and enjoyable enough watch. 

A couple of days ago, we were talking about dating in the work pantry, and Melyssa (her name is actually spelled the same way as my sister's!) asked why I wouldn't get back together with Lucas, because she thought we were quite good together. I told her I have much more fond feelings for him as a friend than anything else, and trying to pretend otherwise would be unfair to both of us. We were together for 500 days or so, and he never watched Hamilton, with me or otherwise. This is the piece of media that changed my life enough that I have a tattoo of it, I wouldn't expect my partner to love it, but I'd think sparing 3 hours to watch it isn't too much to ask for. I also definitely want a partner who's not too self-conscious to dance in public, and Lucas (bless him, he's the sweetest but) was not that. He refused to dance, on account of dancing really badly, but you know, do I look like I can dance? I absolutely cannot, but I wouldn't let anyone's impression of me stop me from doing it, anyway. There were many tiny things that translated to something lacking in our compatibility, and nothing at all to do with either of us as people. We were quite good together, but I know myself better than that and I wouldn't settle for a quite good partnership for life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

PHIL 158

The Tao Te Ching advocates the concept of wu wei, or non-action, while the Analects of Confucius propose ruling through ren (jen) and the enforcement of li. In what follows, I will highlight the contrast between these two ideals in matters of contemporary political disposition, while also putting forth that the Confucian Analects, in its proposition of ren and li, are comparatively more relevant to our modern political world, than the Tao Te Ching is.

According to the Tao Te Ching, the ideal situation is one in which a person strives for nothing, and the ideal person, often referred to as a Sage, is one who simply goes along in time, letting tao take its course. To a Sage, only the present moment exists and to find everything that one needs, one has to look within as it already exists and is flowing. The tao is not an external entity that has to be chased after, but is sought by finding one’s own purpose, by being present in oneself.

A person in the practice of tao would be in the habit of wu wei, refraining from setting things astir, and thereby supposedly maintaining harmony and peace. Without having done anything, one who lives in tao has already done all things as they have no desire to do more. The Tao Te Ching also proposes that governing a society well constitutes gentle advisory from the background instead of an institution or a political leader that’s in the limelight to control every move (Lao Tzu, n.d.). 

While the Tao Te Ching has merit to its teachings and may have been relevant at its point of conception thousands of years ago, the reality is that current modern society has evolved to a point of imbalance. The teachings within the Tao Te Ching do not serve to correct imbalances in a society and its virtues cannot be applied or reflected well in a society that has already been put out of balance and which needs a course back towards a fair and equitable situation for all members of that community. 

At the present moment, in the United States, the wealth divide among upper-income families and middle- and lower-income families is sharp and rising, and “the richest are getting richer faster” (Horowitz, Igielnik & Kochhar, 2020). Globally, the world’s richest 1 percent, those with more than $1 million, own 44 percent of the world’s wealth (Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, 2020).

Juxtaposing an ideal government from the Tao Te Ching into our current society would translate into allowing the prevailing wealth divide to exacerbate. Up to the 1980s, the economies of OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) member countries, including the United States, were generally more regulated than they are today. Governments of these countries have also trended towards taking more passive roles in the labor market. 

In the past, wage increments were sometimes negotiated at a federal level and there was relatively tighter regulation of how and when companies could let workers go. Today, market forces are generally allowed freer rein. These factors have tended to widen the wage gap, pushing down the wages of “low-skill” workers and pushing up the wages of “high-skill” workers. Part-time and temporary workers, in particular, are now covered by weaker employment protection laws than in the past (Keeley, 2015). 

While the above may expound only one manner of governmental intervention, wages are a significant and important factor of caring for society. A person’s wages directly affects the environment that surrounds them, the education and healthcare options available to them, and essentially their entire livelihoods. A governmental leader who is also a practitioner of tao would not deign to intervene in such political matters, as the teaching advocates moderate counseling instead of executing active and dynamic responses. Hence, the Tao Te Ching bears little relevance to the modern political world, which requires swift and sure arbitration, if an equitable society is the aim. 

Alternatively, the Analects of Confucius champion ren, a concept of strengthening relationships between human beings as well as supporting one another, as a means of elevating society and oneself. Ren functions based on the premise that a society is only as strong as its weakest link, and Confucian Analects appeals to its followers to empower one another, so as to uplift society as a unit. 

Excerpts from the Analects that directly demonstrate the concept of ren include “people who are ren are first to shoulder difficulties and last to reap rewards” and “the ren person is one who, wishing himself to be settled in position, sets up others; wishing himself to have access to the powerful, achieves access for others.” (Confucius, n.d.)

Within the past century, working conditions of modern society have largely been the creation of both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, who campaigned for the passage of fair labor laws. Henry Ford took the monumental step of raising the wages of workers to five dollars a day, a huge salary increase for factory workers at that time. Ford’s objective was to improve the conditions of the workers’ lives. Mohandas Gandhi, John Kennedy and Andrew Carnegie are all among the historical giants who rose to leadership heights by empowering people (Mumford, 2006). Almost all distinguished leaders in all walks of life have exercised influence and empowered their people. By empowering people, they were able to succeed in their aspirations for the world. This proves by and large similar to the teachings of Confucius from thousands of years ago. (Dhakhwa & Enriquez, 2008) 

A modern leader practising the philosophy found in the Analects of Confucius would be encouraged to head labor unions or transform legislation, for the cause of achieving fair and just treatment not just for him or herself, but also all the people they serve and work with. Governing in such a manner would have a more desirable impact, with the potential to eventually reduce existing wealth and income disparity. At the very least, taking swift action to uplift one another would be more helpful than having a passive stance whilst the current situation proliferates. In this aspect, the Analects would benefit modern society more and have more relevance than the Tao Te Ching.

The Analects of Confucius did contain limited ideas about women. During the Tang dynasty, two female scholars created a separate text based on his ideas, which became known as the Analects for Women. It cemented the idea that the roles of men and women should be distinct from each other. A study done by the International Monetary Fund in 2012 showed that only 9 percent of corporate management positions in Japan and South Korea were held by women, compared to 43 percent in the United States. (Worrall, 2015) 

This knowledge indicates that Confucius’ teachings may yet be lacking in several ways and would need to be supplemented with other philosophies for proper governance. However, comparing the Tao Te Ching and The Analects, the teachings of the latter would serve more good, to a much wider demographic of society. 


References:

Dhakhwa, S. & Enriquez, S. (2008). The Relevance of Confucian Philosophy to Modern Concepts of Leadership and Followership. http://digitalcommons.unf.edu/ojii_volumes/5

Global Inequality. (2019). Inequality.org. https://inequality.org/facts/global-inequality/

Hinton, D. (1998). The Analects of Confucius. Washington, DC: Counterpoint.

Horowitz, J., Igielnik, R., & Kochhar, R. (2020). Most Americans Say There Is Too Much Economic Inequality In The U.S. But Fewer Than Half Call It A Top Priority. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/01/09/trends-in-income-and-wealth-inequality/

Keeley, B. (2015). “Why is income inequality rising?”, in Income Inequality: The Gap between Rich and Poor. OECD Publishing, Paris.

Mumford, M. D. (2006). Pathways to outstanding leadership: A comparative analysis of charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Worrall, S. (2015). Why Is Confucius Still Relevant Today? His Sound Bites Hold Up. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/150325-confucius-china-asia-philosophy-communist-party-ngbooktalk

Wu, J. C. H. (1961). Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. https://terebess.hu/english/tao/wu.html#Kap01

Thursday, February 18, 2021

BE WATER, MY FRIEND

I'm having a major-ass headache. I don't normally have headaches, so perhaps I'm not the best judge of whether it's even a major-ass headache. It could even be a tiny headache, for all I know. Our neighbour in the apartment upstairs is knocking stuff together, I'm not sure what kinda renovations they're doing, but I cannot concentrate on my lecture recording, and so I have given up. In the grand scheme of things, I'm just having a headache, and headaches will go away. My first 25%-weighted assignment is due on Monday, it's for the Eastern Philosophy mod. The following are the topics I have to choose from:
i. Both the Tao Te Ching and the Analects can be read as political treatises. The former advocates the cultivation of te in the practice of wu wei, while the latter argues that the best way to rule a people is through ren (jen) which is based on the "rectification of names" and the enforcement of li. Write a critical essay comparing and contrasting these two political ideals. Provide an argument defending one political view over the other. Is any (or are both) of these views relevant to our modern political world?

ii. Both Confucianism and Taoism embrace the principle of the Tao, yet are diametrically opposed on points of government, education, virtue, propriety and others. For example, a central teaching of Taoism is that while existence makes things useful, emptiness makes them work. While emptiness, passivity in the practice of wu wei are key to Taoist thought, Confucianism values virtues and the rectification of names. Compare and contrast both philosophies. Provide an argument for or against the claim that as in the principle of yin-yang (as represented in the Taijitu symbol) the opposing forces of Taoism and Confucianism work in co-dependent creative harmony for the health of both individual lives and the collective social community.

iii. According to Confucius ren (jen) is the highest virtue that one can attain. The path to the attainment of ren is found through the practice of li. This relationship of ren and li to jun zi (chun-tsu) or the “gentleman” is key to Confucius' thought. In contrast, according to the Tao Te Ching, the superior person aligns him or herself with the Tao in living in accord with wu wei. In Chapter 8, water is used to illustrate this point. Compare and contrast the Confucian notion of the “gentleman” and the Taoist sage or “superior person”. You will want to show how the two are similar and how they are different. Next, provide an argument for supporting one view over the other, or supporting a combined view of the superior person. Finally, provide an argument as to whether one, neither or both is a better manner of living for our modern world.
I'm really not in the mood to start, I haven't chosen which one to write on, so I'm gonna hold it off till tomorrow. I've gotten pretty decent grades for all three of my mods for last minute submissions, so perhaps I do better when I'm coming in clutch. I'll do the essay tomorrow.

A couple of days ago, I went bouldering with the lululemon bunch. We had mala after the session, and Jaysen taught me more about chess. He played a lousy game just to teach me basic strategies by allowing me to make some moves, and to encourage me. I've also downloaded an app on which I can do mini-puzzles, so I don't have to play full games, and I've been doing the puzzles. 

I met Noran for dinner last night. I love meeting her, we used to have a 'mother-daughter' relationship when we worked at the same place, but now it feels so nice to have proper adult conversations about, I don't know, adult things. It's great to see her moving on in life, to see her really go for what she wants, and be happy on her own terms. 

We went to Kinokuniya, where I was looking for the first book in the Wheel of Time series. I remember people reading it when we were in high school, and for some reason, I think I might have recently seen something about it on Instagram, like a reddit thread or something, and something mentioned in the thread made me want to start reading it, although I really cannot recall what. I saw other books by the same author in his different pen names, but they didn't have any books from the series.

Actually, I might just look for the e-books to download for reading on my phone, it's better for the environment, anyway. I do have to admit I'm one of those people who just prefers reading from paper than off a screen. You can say all you want but it definitely feels different. 



I recently finished watching The Legend of Korra for the first time. I definitely much prefer Avatar: The Last Airbender. Watching Korra only served to highlight how superior ATLA is lol. I went on a spree of downloading contemporary fan art of the characters, and now the two above are my phone's lock screen and home screen, respectively. It is slightly ironic because if you watched the show you'd know that Katara and Zuko do not end up together, but then again writers make mistakes with character pairings all the time, anyway. 

While procrastinating starting on my paper today, I was trying to do a stock take of my life. I think I'm kind of happy, while also being kind of stressed. I think some of the stress actually comes from the fact that I'm not all that happy, despite all that I have in life. I have all the basic necessities I could need. I'm in school, and I'm faring well in school, but it makes me question how much better I could be doing if I were settled into the same timezone as the rest of the school, instead of taking naps halfway and being half-zonked out during some of my classes. 

Putting aside the bank loan I took out for my tuition (I'm very disdainful of the interest I'm paying back, I hate doing anything that profits capitalist institutions but alas, it's more expensive to have been born poor and I cannot change that), I made sure to have some savings that would allow me to pay for rent for about a year or so in Canada, if I needed the buffer time before looking for a part-time job while studying. I tried to be an adult about all the things, and still, the visa circumstance hasn't changed for three months or so. I have shelter over my head, but this is also the same household in which I was depressed for a couple of years, because of the premarital miscarriage I had and the ensuing fallout with my mother. I am 30 and I have not yet learned the full extent of who I am and who I want to be and could be. 

I broke up with a man I loved as a person and as a friend, and it might have taken a little longer than it should have, but it's still a step above what I would have been capable of five years ago. There are men I like in my immediate vicinity of Singapore, but they are not the type of men who would do casual dating (the conversations have been had), and I don't want to hurt yet another person the way I did my most recent ex. The men I know here who would do casual dating, I have no interest in. I have friends from lululemon and beyond, who are constantly taking care of me and looking out for me, monetarily and otherwise. This fills my heart with so much joy and love, knowing that some parts of the void in my heart and soul are truly being filled with community, friendships and platonic relationships more than solely pure romance.

I'm stressed, because I don't know if the person I think I love, will be someone I can get together with again. I don't quite know if I can say I love him, I think I did, but I also didn't know him long enough to be able to say for sure. I know I liked him very much, everything that I know and remember of him, I like. The anecdotes about his parents' names starting with the same letter, and then his and his brother's names as well, the disdain for his former school being like Gossip Girl, the laidback self-assured charm he had (I don't think it was an arrogant charm, it was more like a comfortable-being-by-himself kind of charm), the cooking and baking, the path to being sustainable by growing his own vegetables, his politics and telling me about the police and how they're all bastards. Even physically, I liked holding his hand sometimes, walking next to him, being in bed with him, enjoying his warmth and everything else we did in bed. I love his tattoo and how nerdy it is. I was very fond of him, and to be honest, if I had to say it aloud, I think I'm at the point of my life where if I don't get with him (barring someone else who makes me feel as comfortable as he does), I think I'd rather just be by myself. 

And that's the other thing, I've dated enough in life, I dated people when I was travelling in LA (and fell in love once, there), I dated long-distance between Singapore and New York before I got to New York and realized, meh, Adam's a really good guy but this ain't it, chief. I've been in relationships in Singapore, I was with another really good man here, but I really don't think we were all that compatible, in retrospect. I don't know if it's going to be at all easy to find someone with the level of comfort I once had. It also sounds insane, because this is a man I haven't spoken to for two years. I mean, is he dating? I don't know where he is in life, I think he might have moved back in with his parents during the pandemic, I happened to watch an Instagram story where it looked like that was the case. Does he remember me? Did he feel as comfortable with me as I did with him? Does he remember the 109382 things I said to him or is it all just in my head? 

Is everything just happening in my head? Of course it is happening inside my head, but perhaps that doesn't have to mean that it's not real?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

BACK AND FORTH FROM NEW YORK


One of my favorite songs by Taylor is Daylight and in the spoken outro of the studio version, she says some stuff that I really like: 

I wanna be defined by the things that I love 
not the things I hate 
not the things that I'm afraid of 
not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night 
I just think that you are what you love 

So I wrote out all the things I love, because there's so much to love, and I look forward to loving all these things every now and again:

Arranging things in alphabetical order, being able to codeswitch, being and feeling appreciated, being at peace, being at the beach, being away from my phone and not using it, being financially secure, being in love, breathing deeply to ground myself, bright colors, completing a difficult task and doing it well, cooking with someone I love, cuddling with someone I love, doing absolutely nothing on the first day of my period, doing the right thing, doing well at a meaningful job, doing well in my studies, drinks — chocolate milk, egg coffee, horchata, hot chocolate, Long Island iced tea, milk, Milo, Nestum, soy milk, sugar cane juice, water; experimenting with hair and makeup looks, feeling my toned upper arm muscles, feeling secure no matter my weight, flirting with someone I like who is flirting back, foods — all things cinnamon, all things ginger, apples, apple cinnamon muffins, ayam lemak chili padi, bagels with any topping, bagels with lox, bak kut teh, bananas, banana bread, beef jerky, begedil, boiled baby carrots with melted butter, butter chicken, butter sugar toast, caramelized onions, cheese-stuffed jalape├▒o peppers, cherry tomatoes, chicken rice, chili crab, clear tom yum soup, corn soup, dim sum, durian, eggplant, eggs, enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon or beef, fajitas, fall-off-the-bone ribs, fettucine, grapes, green curry, hummus, KBBQ, Kettle honey dijon chips, lasagna, lettuce wraps at KBBQ, lobster bisque, mala, mandarin oranges, mango, mangosteen, McDonald’s in Singapore, medium-rare steak, Muscat grapes, naan, nasi ambeng, onion soup, oysters, panna cotta at Scaled, pears, Peking duck, pumpkin soup, ramen with leftover fridge ingredients, rendang, sashimi, seared scallops, shaksouka, soft and chewy cookies, strawberries, tacos, tahu telur, tauhuay, the tri-tip I had at Lake Tahoe, tomato soup, warm buttered bread with EVOO and balsamic vinegar, warm sweet potato at Ushigoro S. Ginza, wasabi, watermelon, yogurt; games on PlayStation — Harvest Moon, Spyro; getting a good haircut and scalp massage, getting a good full-body massage, getting a manicure, getting a foot massage, getting enough sleep, getting to see a rainbow, going somewhere for the first time, going to therapy and experiencing growth, going to the zoo, having a much-needed cry, having a painless period, having and taking painkillers right when I need them, having clear skin, having freedom, having freshly-cut nails, having healthy hair, having my own physical space, having nothing on my to-do list, having someone comb their fingers through my hair, having time to take care of my mental health, having zero notifications on all apps, holding hands with someone I love, ice cream — Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, black sesame, earl grey, hokey pokey, lavender, matcha, pistachio, the homemade sticky date ice-cream I had at Tahoe, vanilla bean; laughing until I’m crying tears, laughing until I’m out of breath, learning something new, making lists, making puns, masturbating, meditating when I need to, memes that make me laugh, movies — (500) Days of Summer, Before Sunrise, Disney’s Mulan (1998), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Her, La La Land, Moulin Rouge, Pan's Labyrinth, Parasite, Promising Young Woman, Stardust (2007), The Princess Bride, The Truman Show, V for Vendetta, Wall•E; music — Ingrid Michaelson, Jason Mraz, Lorde, Muse, Sara Bareilles, Taylor Swift; musicals — Hamilton, Spring Awakening; my cat Mochi, my sunflower tattoo, numbers — 11, 13, 17 and 28; playing in heavy rain when I have nothing to do, practising good time management, reading, receiving cunnilingus, Roald Dahl’s true short story Genesis and Catastrophe, rubbing peppermint oil on my stomach to relieve bloatedness, running my fingers through a man’s hair, seeing compassion in the world, seeing my friends and family happy and receiving what they desire, sleeping in on a rainy day, sleeping soundly through the night, sleeping without having to set an alarm, smelling good — Chanel No. 5 EDP, Lush Twilight body spray; snow, snuggling under a thick blanket, soaking in a bubble bath, socialism, spending time by myself, spending time with babies, sunflowers, sunshine, sweats — bouldering, boxing, cycling, stretching, swimming; taking a long shower at the end of a long day, taking a pile of warm clothes out of the dryer on a cold day, tea — chamomile, earl grey, English Breakfast, ginger tea, hojicha; the atmosphere and live music at concerts, the color pink, the concept of butterflies starting hurricanes and the song Butterflies and Hurricanes by Muse, the screechy sound my sneakers make against smooth surfaces, trivia, TV series — Avatar: The Last Airbender, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act, Jeopardy, Parks and Rec, The Good Place; watching female-produced porn, watching people I admire — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Hasan Minhaj; watching snails, wearing comfortable shoes, when all my sisters are healthy, winning prizes in contests, witnessing marginalized communities receive compensation and reparations, word games — Codenames, Taboo, Wordsy; writing

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

FUCK BITCHES GET MONEY


I went to Lazarus Island with Nina, Kylee and Tif today. It's a tiny island beach off the coast of Singapore, thirty minutes away by ferry. It was lovely because there were very few people there as it was a weekday, and we didn't have to wear our masks for four hours. (You can't walk around mainland Singapore without wearing a mask or you'll get fined - for good reason.) We enjoyed the breeze, the ambient sound of waves lapping against the shore as a backdrop for our conversation, and life felt good. The water there is clear teal, and there were plants growing out of the sand, and somehow that made me feel like the planet can and will always take care of itself, even though humans don't seem capable of taking care of it and in turn, themselves. 

Nina works at Apple and she was telling us about her colleagues who were flown to Hawaii for a training (pre-Covid). While they were there, on one of their days, someone from Apple told her colleagues to take their time and catch the waves while it was a good day out. They prioritized the surf over work that one day, and it sounded so nice, to live connected to nature, and be able to arrange your life around it. There were two girls who brought their lovely huge furry dog with the most pleasant disposition, he just seemed like the kind of dog who doesn't know how big he is while he towers over you lunging for a hug. We talked about the dog that's gone viral for being able to communicate with sound buttons, and Tif said she's afraid if she uses it for her dog, it would start nagging her to work hard to feed him. We laughed over the imagery of a dog using buttons to sound out "fuck bitches get money." We had homemade onigiri and edamame, courtesy of Nina's Japanese culture. 

We played Wordsy. It was the first time all three of them were playing it, and it was the first time I was playing it in two years. We all enjoyed it, and I can't wait to play it with all my friends who like board games. The last time I had Ben teaching me, and this time I taught them, and it felt nice. Also, we were by the beach, and IIRC, he used to be a lifeguard in his younger days. I think. I've decided, I think I'll reach out to him when I'm in Canada. I did like him a lot, and we bounced off each other pretty well. I held his hand, he asked if he could kiss me, I said yes, I asked if he would be my boyfriend, he said yes. So, if he were still single while we were on the same continent, I could see if we hit it off again. Stranger things have happened, I don't know. Life's short, fuck bitches get money.

Today felt so good. Please always remind me that when life overwhelms me, I need to get reconnected with nature. Take me to the beach, or when I'm in Canada, send me a voice message to get lost in the woods. I love being connected to the earth, and sometimes I get so caught up with the nitty-gritties of life, I forget to really stop and take some time off. I am so grateful for Tif, Kylee and Nina for such a wholesome girls' day out.

Monday, February 8, 2021

MIRTAZAPINE SANDOZ

I can’t write one song that’s not about you
can’t drink without thinking about you
is it too late to tell you that
everything means nothing if I can’t have you?


My sister got restarted on her meds and is kind of sleeping again. She’s got a therapy session tomorrow and she’ll be using my laptop while I’m at work, so that reminds me, I’ve gotta create a guest account on my MacBook when I get home from work later. I bought a set of Wordsy, so I suppose it will tide me over until we meet again. My first open-book exam is in two days, and I haven’t started on my crib sheet because I’ve been working. The good thing is the exam is for my politics module, so I’m more pressed to read up on current affairs than political terms and definitions. Sometimes, when I’m so tired from work, from capitalism, from everything, I feel like I’m an Azula just underneath the surface, and I want to firebend someone to hell, like in an Agni Kai. Unfortunately or otherwise, I am chaotic good and I don’t have it in me to burn people for fun like Azula does.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

LOVE OF MINE

Last night, I had a politics class. My two politics classes this week have been quite riveting, I enjoy the discourse but I don't appreciate the fact that it's between two and three-ish AM in Singapore, by the time it ends, my brain neurons are actively firing and then I slip into some form of restless sleep. I had a supernatural horror nightmare after my class last night/this morning, and woke up with a start, while also screaming. Not fun. 

In my Monday class, one of the boys said he was for the Keystone oil pipeline that was to be built between Canada and the US. The boy is from Alberta in Canada, and he said he knew many people who would lose their jobs with the loss of the project, so he understood it on an economic standpoint. Immediately, the class began pinging with people telling him that the climate is deteriorating at a much faster rate than any economic gains can be made, and also that alternative profits could be pursued if you just switched to sustainable/clean energy projects, because you'd need infrastructure in any case. My professor had a tough time trying to mediate among the almost-thirty students talking over each other.

Yesterday, we discussed the recent protests for LGBTQ rights in Poland. Apparently the current dominant party in Poland, the right-wing "Law and Justice" Party, discriminates against the LGBT community and regards it as an ideology instead of actual living, breathing groups of people. According to my professor (I haven't fact-checked but the prof is pretty knowledgeable so I'll take her word for it), Poland is part of the EU, and as an EU member, countries are required to be defending human rights, so there's definitely a conflict of interests there. I know Lucas was/is very interested in this issue as he's Polish, I think he'd be intrigued in all the things I've been studying, to be honest. It'd be nice to talk to him about them, but alas, we'll see. 

We also began talking about the growing acceptance of socialism in the United States, especially among millennials and younger. We spoke of how there's been a loss of faith in capitalism, especially after the 2008 mortgage bubble burst and instead of helping the majority of the country, the federal government bailed out big banks (who were the ones at fault!!!!), so people are seeking alternative modes of economy to place their trust in. 

Another, different guy said to abolish capitalism would be to erode the American identity and the "great American Dream". My prof didn't even let people speak even though we were all asking to voice our opinions, so people began flooding the chat. The following were voiced by all different people and have been reproduced verbatim.
I don't think the younger generation believes in the "American dream" anymore. There will be some resistance for sure, but I don't think people are so easily brainwashed by that fantasy. They have different values.
In the U.S, they currently spend the most money on the medical system compared to any countries (medicare).  Going to medicare, would save them money.
To me the problem is that the system is sort of “rigged”. It’s no longer possible for people to traditionally work hard and succeed. For those that are rich, it’s much easier to build their financial empire. Poor people don’t even have liveable wages which is pretty insane. I don’t think anyone should have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Another issue is that I think the wealthy gain their money off the backs of the poor.
It's a long-held notion in American culture that it's great to have as free of a population as possible, with a high value on the individual to do what they want. And while it's not exactly brainwashing so much as tradition, people seem to be finding out that, unfortunately,  "freedom to do what you want" also means "freedom for powerful scumbags to also do what they want"
The growing wealth gap between the mega rich and the working class is making it pretty much impossible for working people to get by, let alone climb the socioeconomic ladder
True, but (to be fair) our generation isn't always the best at explaining WHY a political movement or idea is the best solution to a problem - particularily to potential voters. We often spend more time talking about how great a solution is rather than how it's a great solution.
yes, the rich have way too much power
My first open-book test for politics is next week. I'm doing it at a different time from the rest of the class, because my prof doesn't want me to do it at 2am, so I'll be doing it in the morning in Singapore, evening time in Vancouver. I've been doing as well as can be expected, in my different modules and classes (which is to say, actually, quite well). 

However, of course something's gotta give. My sister has recently been facing another serious bout of depression and we drove to get her home from work two nights ago because she just began crying. Whenever this happens, it usually falls to me to reiterate the situation to my mother and grandmother. It is a very weird situation to happen, for me to try explaining the medical terms of depression in Malay to my Malay-speaking grandmother, because she doesn't speak adequate English. 

Imagine me saying this in Malay, if you can: The analogy I use is, if a person's kidneys fail, we don't blame the patient, we instead send them for dialysis to cope, because their kidneys aren't functioning the way they were intended to, and by hook or by crook, toxic waste still has to be processed and discarded from the body. I try to inform my mom and grandma, that my sister's brain doesn't quite function as intended, and it either doesn't produce enough serotonin, or her neurotransmitter receptors are blocked or not functioning as well as another person's regular brain does, and she needs all the help she can get.

The fact that I have a sister with serious mental health issues is why I vocally disagree with and disapprove of capitalism. It's unfair that someone with a physical handicap, or visible conditions such as some forms of autism etc, would be helped along by their parents and family, whilst many of my family members still expect my sister to go to work, and be some form of "productive", or start considering her a burden. My sister never chose to be in such a state of mental health, and adding more guilt onto her plate is counterproductive at best, and morally bankrupt at worst. When you birth a kid, you should be choosing to accept them and support them, regardless their physical or mental or psychological state, and they're not a burden no matter how they turn out. If anything, if your brain is functioning at optimum human capacity and you choose to treat someone as a burden if they can only function at a lower level than you do, you're the real burden on society. 

Today I started crying when I told my sister I would willingly be the person she chooses to hate if I had to force her to take her own medication, every day. When you have a loved one with such a condition, I think sometimes you have to accept that one of you has to be the bad guy, because they're not capable of taking care of themselves. I'm a little tired of it, I do hope I see her becoming permanently stable and able to cope with her life, before I leave for Canada. My grandmother has talked to me and told me her hopes rest with me, because my other sisters and I understand my sister best, and I am the only full-blood sister she has, and I can get through to her sometimes. I have very little bandwidth for this, I wish neither of us had such issues with our mental health, and when the depression causes my sister to be mean, I wish I could put it aside and know for sure that it's not the real her speaking, but it gets to me. I'm lacking proper rest, and I have my own issues to deal with, I'm constantly weighing the worry about my bank loan for school and paying off its interests, against the eventual payoff when I go out into the workforce. If you have the bandwidth for it, please, I'm really asking for help, because I'm tired, and my sister is tired, and I don't know what else to do.

Monday, February 1, 2021

PIZZAGATE

Last week was yet another long week, as they all seem to be. I posted my first month’s One Second A Day string of videos on Instagram. Tina had turned me on to the app (honestly what do I know of the outside world if not for her??) so I started using it. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, it reminds me that even on my worst and draggiest days, when I had food poisoning, or when I cried over Lucas and whatever, there was at least one second of the day I could experience a highlight or something good. For someone prone to bouts of depression or blues, it helped me break up those days and weeks and in a year, I will have at least 365 seconds I enjoy. I’ve spent the last three days putting the store back together for our store opening on Wednesday. The store is so spanking new, it actually has had a positive effect on me, the lights are bright, white LED, and it’s so much more spacious now, there’s actually enough room for us to comply with the emergency walkway requirements of Singapore, lol we’d always failed the criteria until now. I really like it, there are cushioned panels and lit up mirrors in the fitting rooms, the fixtures and floors are sleek and sophisticated, and we look completely transported. I didn’t realize how old our previous store’s look was until we got the new one. It’s been mad tiring, much more tiring to put things back together than it was to tear it apart, building something from scratch is truly an experience that will likely help you grow. About a month ago, I’d helped out at Ion for the first time, and I’d been so surprised by the amount of space they had in their back of house, you could literally do yoga or dance in the pantry, if you were not right in the head and wanted to do so instead of eating. I remember asking for that much space for our store, and a month later, here we are, having received it. So I suppose that’s how it works right? If you ask for it, it will happen, right? Okay, I’m ready for a hundred thousand USD to drop into my bank account, please. Thanks, pixies. 

Anyhow, I’m very glad to have the group of friends I’ve gotten close to from lululemon. I remember taking the longest time to open up because I felt like an impostor (I still do) because they’re all fitspo models. They train other people and pole-dance/gym/spin/yoga all day every damn day, and I’m fortunate if my brain lets me have enough energy to stretch once a day. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the spoon theory before, but if everyone else has an average of ten spoons to spend in a day, I usually average seven to eight. The fact that I wake up, turn up at work, and eat three meals in a day, means I’ll have maxed out my spoons and anything else means I’d likely be eating into the next day’s spoons. What I mean to say is, last night, after work, I went to Jaysen’s place again, with Xuan, Sarah and Putri and it replenished the energy that had depleted over the course of the week. I cooked butter chicken (it is the easiest recipe and Lucas used to love it) and they all loved it, which is fucking ace, and Jaysen made wet-rub chicken thigh – I forgot the spices he used, and it was so great. It reminded me of the previous time we’d gone to his place, and Xuan said, it felt like a field trip out of the country and we were sharing anecdotes over S’mores around a campfire. We haven’t been allowed to leave this tiny-ass 650 square-kilometre island nation for one entire year, three hundred and sixty-five days, so anything that feels like a trip is a welcome relief. We played Taboo last night, and Taboo is the most fun when you have deepened connections ‘cos you can draw from and make reference to your hundreds of shared experiences that you don’t have to use much vocabulary for, and it might be why it’s one of my favorite games (the other reason is ‘cos it’s a word game and of course, words are one of my few strengths). We laughed so much at Jaysen, I think we drank some special smoky whiskey, I forgot its name ‘cos I don’t care much for spirits, and honestly, Jaysen is the funniest man. He is so full of nonsense and he keeps selling/talking up everyone and everything (“if he can find his way out of a jungle, he can find his way into your heart” — Putri and I have heard this anecdote about his friend more than once, his friend was left behind in the jungle with a scorpion sting, during an army experience, and he made his way out, and we now all have heart eyes for his friend, without having laid eyes on him).

We played a game of chess, because I’d wanted to try playing an actual game, and of course I lost, but I learned from Jaysen, several important guidelines for chess. You want to move as few of your pawns forward, so that your more important pieces aren’t left open and vulnerable to attack, and you want to dominate the center of the chess board. With your knight in the center of the board, it has room to move in many more combinations for attack, as opposed to if the knight is on the side and has fewer squares to move and navigate to. Jaysen is super knowledgeable in about a hundred different things, and I like just leeching off him. I think I’m a leech, but one that also shares everything I know. Take from the wealthy, and redistribute it to the lacking. Robins are very pretty birds. We are reopening the store in two days, and I’m looking forward to it, and also to the end of this week, when perhaps life will become more of a regular routine and my back is not breaking from literal back-breaking work. Politics class tonight, nap time now!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

THE LONG GAME /
THE BIG SHORT


to all your friends, you're delirious
so consumed in all your doom
trying hard to fill the emptiness
the piece is gone, let the puzzle undone

There's an anecdote about drinking pee, at the start of this performance, and the way he tells the story always makes me laugh. Also, this rendition of Beautiful always gets me through the low episodes much better than Christina Aguilera does. Might have something to do with the rock'n'roll sound. 

I've been going through a bit of a funk, if you can't tell. However, I've still been laughing quite a bit, with all the company I'm fortunate to still keep in my life. It helps, it really helps in keeping on keeping on. I went out with two close friends recently, and we had the funniest honest conversation about sex. Sometimes I don't know who wants what put on here, so I just mention things in the abstract, but sometimes it's really funnier when you can put names to faces. So this one friend and I were commiserating about how it used to be when we wanted to have sex when we were younger, and how it is now that we're thirty. I said when I was younger, I would be wet the moment I was raring to go, but now (or in recent times), if you wanted to have sex, you'd have to look for the lube, and the sex toy, and the everything, and sometimes you really wonder, alive, but at what cost? We're adults now, and take my word for it, adulthood is a drag, guys.

Last weekend, we visited one of our lululemon friends Monica, who has the most adorable baby Ohlin. We played with him and the cat Misty, and we took a long bus ride to her place, and on retrospect, it was a really nice thing four of us had that long bus ride to just talk about everything and nothing. It was such a good way to spend the weekend and have therapy with a baby and a cat, and to catch up with one another and talk things unrelated to work. 

Yesterday I was out with my family. We had KBBQ for dinner and realized how fucking silly we can all be, for a family that I consider quite smart most of the time. My sister Lyssa said her Malay dance teacher used to say undo the Malay way, which is like "oon-dough", and she thought it so funny, but then my mom said she might've been saying undur, which is Malay for reverse/go backwards, which makes much more sense considering she's a Malay teacher, so we all laughed at my sister.

Then I told them that a scrub nurse in the operating theatre is called boki, because that's what it's called on Grey's Anatomy. I was so adamant on it until I searched it up and realized the nurse on Grey's is South Korean and her name is Bokhee, and I had been making up a word for a professional position for a good part of ten years!

I don't know if it translates well into typed text, but I've been thinking about these moments I laughed till I cried. I love them. It's been okay. Keep on keeping on, y'all. Just keep on keeping on, and I'll see you on the other side. I love you, and we can do this. I have a solo four-page 15%-weighted assignment due in 18 hours, and the timezone discrepancies are really not helping me keep tabs on deadlines. Jesus H Christ, please take me to Canada, please. 

Also, the stock market is a farce, and y'all should get in on GameStop if you can. The whole thing, the stock market, money, Wall Street, all of it is a sham, regardless.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

RHABDOMYOLYSIS

I had been following Lucas and a couple of his friends on Instagram, although I’d muted his stories. Today I clicked into his profile, and saw that he might be dating someone new, because they were cooking together. I decided it was still too sad, I was still too sad, so I unfollowed him and his friends, and removed them from my profile. It’s weird, I know I said I want him to be happy, and I do want him to be happy, but of course I’m human and I’m wistful for something I no longer have, the companionship of a lovely person. Two months ago exactly, I broke up with him. Taylor Swift then dropped evermore, and I listened to happiness about forty times. Tonight I’m listening to it again, and I’m crying again. Perhaps it’s just time for my monthly dose of crying. I’m just going to sit with it. The lyrics are “there’ll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you, both of these things can be true — leave it all behind, and there is happiness” and although I can believe it about Lucas, somehow I’m still going back to Ben instead of leaving it all behind. In the past three nights, I have dreamed about Ben three times. I have been thinking about him and looking at his Instagram, but he’s going through his life not thinking about me at all. I know I said I like to take my shot, but I also want to respect boundaries, and he has never shown that I’m on his mind, at all. How am I supposed to say, hey Ben, I looked up student visas of Canada, and spouses are allowed to live and work in the country? Will you marry me? A woman you met two years ago. Will you cook and bake and grow your vegetables there while I study? Will you play board games with me and watch Netflix with me and talk about politics with me and read in bed with me? What the fuck is someone supposed to reply to that? My body aches because I have been feeling too many feelings I haven’t actually allowed myself to feel. I really, really love happiness by Taylor Swift. It is really, well and truly, her pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance. I read about QAnon and Caleb Cain and how conspiracy theorists fall into the rabbit hole and I read many interesting things today, and perhaps one day I will link it here or simply reproduce here and link the author, but today I’m just going to allow myself to feel. The last time Ben and I got together, it was after I’d broken up with Adam. I was not looking to fall for Ben at all, but you don’t choose who you love, nor where and when. Sigh.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

PETRICHOR

I’m exhausted. Even though the store I work at is closed for renovations, I worked four shifts this week at Ion, the busiest lululemon store in Singapore. Lululemon Singapore was having their friends and family sale this week, and because my store (the second busiest) was closed, Ion was even busier. On two of the shifts I worked, they earned record-breaking sales. Each of the days I worked on, we earned the entirety of my four-year university tuition, close to a hundred thou. In one day. That means I worked for two days and saw two times of my tuition fees being transacted in the store, while I as a meagre employee earned enough to pay for one fifth of a month’s rent. I juggled this with my classes. Vancouver’s timezone is sixteen hours later than Singapore’s. A regular person’s day lasts for sixteen hours, before they go to sleep for eight hours. That means I pretty much start class at about the time I’m supposed to sleep in Singapore. I’ve been trying to break up my sleep into naps, all the time. My body doesn’t understand it because my classes are at different times on different days, so the day after I have stayed up till 4 in the morning, when I’m able to sleep early, my body doesn’t feel like it, and then the next day it’s back to staying up again. My back and spirit are breaking, and I’m so, so, goddamn tired of it. I’m tired of consumerism and capitalism. I’m not just complaining on my own behalf. I live in Singapore, I have a roof over my head, I had a good enough secondary education, I have the brains and somehow the personality and congeniality to scrape my way through every damn time. There are hundreds of thousands of other people who will never have my good fortune, and it sucks that the world is this way. If it’s not me in this position, it will be someone else. Even now that I am in this position, there are still countless others, working three odd jobs, hustling all day every day to make bank, to keep their apartments, to keep their families afloat. The system is broken, and it doesn’t have to be this way. We have to stop exploiting the least fortunate of us, for the most fortunate to live extravagant, lavish lives. It’s the worst form of ableism and worst, it pretends not to be. There are people who were born with privileges they will never acknowledge, who assume that everyone who does not make it never tried. There are too many people born with physical handicaps, with invisible mental illnesses, with neurodivergent conditions, and we exploit them further. When people from low-income backgrounds who are prone to addiction get hooked on drugs like marijuana and petty pills, we put them in jail instead of getting them help to cope with their livelihoods. When bankers and celebrities take coke, it’s cool and no one brings in the law. What kind of world is this when we don’t have compassion for the people who need it most? I’m sick of it, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m gonna do something about it. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

ILLUMINATE THE 'NO'S ON THEIR VACANCY SIGNS

I wrote this very close to two years ago. 

When it's good, it's easy. Sometimes you try so hard and you blame men for not trying hard enough, but I think I've just now learned that the fact they don't try means they don't think you're right for them, and that's okay. When it's good, you don't have to stay up wondering why they're not holding onto you while you sleep, you don't have to struggle wondering why you're still awake while they sleep, you don't have to make up conversation by yourself while they're driving, you don't have to provide justifications and qualifications for love, you don't have to wonder why they don't seem to say they like you very often, you don't have to grip onto topics of common interest and pretend you understand their lingo, because they won't do it for you. Sometimes it's good, and you can talk about anything, and they will feel warm and comfortable, and you will like their dorky video-game-three-lives-heart tattoo as much as they like the tattoo on your spine, sometimes they will tell you you are beautiful and you believe it, sometimes you think they are just as beautiful and try your best to make them believe it, sometimes they are wonderful and feel just right, and sometimes you play games and it's easy to connect because you like the same things and dislike the same things and sometimes, it's easy because it's good.

I don't know what else to say. I got a 90% on my first Eastern philosophy quiz, and the one question I missed was about detachment. Apparently I don't know how to apply detachment in life nor can I answer it as a concept, geez. I just watched a video for my indigenous gender class, it highlights the mistreatment of the First Nations people in Canada. Class is in five hours, and I'm still here, wondering "what if?" A couple of days ago, one of my sisters asked why I had to make everything about romance, we were watching a film on Netflix and I asked whether the two male (initially rival) protagonists were going to end up with each other. I thought her question to me was an interesting one, and I think she's right, in that I do romanticize many things. I don't know, I guess love is what makes life worth living, for me personally. When I'm in love, I feel most alive. I do care about the environment, I admire Bernie Sanders and I'm political and want to fight for justice, I wish we could tackle human depression and the meaninglessness of existence, I'm so happy when I learn something new, but the thing that makes it worth it, the thing I feel would make my own personal life worth living, the thing I most look forward to for me, is to love and be loved. I miss Ben. I hope to whatever higher existence above (that doesn't exist) he's not romantically preoccupied or I swear I'm going to walk right into a wall. I don't see it on his public Instagram, so I can assume it doesn't exist. That's how Schr├Âdinger's theory works, right? I kid. Ugh, it’s such a different dynamic. With Joey, I could bring myself to text him once a year for four years, because in a way, he was more light-hearted and sometimes he would also just appear in my life so I knew things would never be too serious. With Ben, he didn’t text me once it was over and he’s so much more mature and I don’t want to be that idiot who drunk-texts or booty-call-texts (although of course it is neither) and it feels so high-stakes. Fear is the heart of love?!?!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

PATAGONIA

The US is on a decline, move to Canada with me.
Let’s have a second first date at the diner.
The world feels like it’s ending and you make me feel safe.
There is no answer but Eleanor is the answer. 
Talk to me and let me talk to you until I begin spouting nonsense while I drift off to sleep. 
The greatest loves of all time are over now.
When you know, you know. You know?
I love you and I like you.
And if my wishes came true, it would have been you.
Eleanor — find Chidi.
Take the Subway, cross the road, walk past the liquor store, and head for Prospect Park. 
You prefer it to Central Park anyway.
When I first met you, I thought you were a fascist hardass.
Which of these are quotes from TV shows and films, and which are off the top of my head? 
Taylor Swift sings some of them.
The first movie we were supposed to watch together was Into The Spiderverse, but then there was a technical glitch.
We never got a do-over, and I would like if we did.
Call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

ANTIBODIES

During politics class last night, I realized my classmate’s voice reminds me of Joey’s. It’s got a little bit of a nasal quality to it, especially when he laughs. The way he speaks also sounds similar, maybe because he has a similar voice. I don’t know. If this boy weren’t jailbait, I’d probably like him next or something. I’m not into landing myself in jail, so no thanks. Okay I won’t actually go to jail but the age difference is too big and he’s still a boy by all important factors. I watched another episode of Netflix’s Explained, I think it really is a pretty solid documentary series, in twenty minutes you can learn so many new things. I watched the episode on music, and because my brain’s synapses are strong and varied (or at least I think they are relatively so), it made me think of many different people. The episode is narrated by Carly Rae Jepsen, whom Adam really likes. Then they interview Tokimonsta, a DJ, that reminds me of Joey, who also was a DJ, and who told me the biggest loss he’d be sad about was if he could never make music again. Anyway, the reason they interviewed Tokimonsta is she had a brain condition referred to as moyamoya, and it caused her to no longer understand nor recognize music. This was very fascinating, because apparently humans are one of the few species that recognize all of the qualities that come together to become music, such as pitch, timbre, octave, and so on. It also made me think of LA Dan (because there’s also NOLA Dan). Dan makes music for films and Netflix shows, and sometimes I go through his Instagram just amazed at all the instruments he plays, a good three-quarters of which I don’t even know the names of. I was in the presence of a genius. Yesterday I recalled he has a The Little Prince tattoo on his arm, I don’t know why I recalled it, but I did. One of the things they said was humans might have evolved to understand and create music to charm the people they’re attracted to, and I contemplated how true it was for me. I wish I could play a musical instrument to charm the socks right off a man. I wasn’t raised in a privileged household so at the moment all we have is my sister’s guitar (that she doesn’t play), but what I’d really like is to drum. Did you know, last month, I spent a while flirting with Joey, it started off pretty cutely actually, I think, we were just talking about Trump and the elections and how slowly the states were counting the votes etc. Then he told me about a woman in his life, so I stopped talking to him, because I didn’t think I could bear to see him with someone else (even now! four years after the fact!). At the same time, physically in Singapore, I was also getting comfortable with Jaysen, it began to really sink in, now that I was single, all my interactions I’d had with him during the year of 2020, and how nice it was to have had that connection, without even really recognizing or fostering it. He said the same, but he was also interested in someone else whose identity I don’t know (so don’t ask me!), so I stopped flirting. I did this because I like Jaysen enough to see him be in a relationship with a person he likes, and it doesn’t matter to me, he was just a person I was comfortable with and I wasn’t going to pursue him. I sometimes look at Ben(nett)’s Instagram, and I think — should I? shouldn’t I? I don’t know what I would say, and what the end goal would be. I don’t see the presence of a significant other, but then again you never know, I flirted with two men and both of them had love interests on the horizon. We haven’t spoken for two entire years, since I left New York, and it’s not like I will even be in New York. I think I will die if I talk to him and he doesn’t reciprocate. It’s strange, of all the people in the world, the only two who make my stomach knot up if I see them with other people, are still Joey and Ben. I don’t know what that means (or I do, but I don’t want to say it). I suppose that means I’m a long way away from polyamory. I had a dream after my politics class last night, it was not about politics. I dreamed that I was getting the jab for the Covid-19 vaccine, bro I never knew I wanted the antibodies so much that I’d dream about it.

Monday, January 18, 2021

ANTHROPOCENE

Sometimes I wish the world of Inception were real, or at least select parts of it. In life I never stop wondering what love is and how it happens, but I know how it makes me feel. It makes me feel alive and my heart beats with belonging and happiness and the memory goes on and on without any effort on my part. On nights I wake up from a nightmare, I think of the architectural pillars of where I am when I’m in love, and all other aspects fall in place, and my heart is slowed to a regular pace. I am at Big Wok, a Mongolian BBQ place near Manhattan Beach, I smell the smoke wafting through the air in my brain, the placemat is a disposable paper one with the signs of the horoscope. One of the men I have loved is being sarcastic about the horoscope, and I laugh, because I have the same views about them. We are driving around The Snake, the sun is scorching and I am actually, literally dripping wet in sweat but it’s negated by the speeds of the car, a red Mazda I see him working on, day and night. My heart races, the car is racing, everything is a race against time. The scene is Venice Beach, and it’s my first time drinking horchata. It is not mine, it is his but I’m stealing a lot of it. Horchata becomes my favorite drink. His friend is skating, and it is fun and amusing and lovely. We are on the roof of the bachelor bungalow, and I look up and think, how lucky I am to be alive.

Cut to the opposite coast, two years and four months later. We are walking amongst giants of buildings, my body is feeling like the coldest it’s felt in a long time, having come from Singapore, but my heart has not felt this safe since I was in the West Coast of this country. He tells me about Westworld, and all the sci-fi stuff he geeks out about. At this point, I have not yet mustered up the courage to hold his hand, so I smile and admire the grids of New York City. There are Citibikes to be rented, like the ones he used to cycle to work. We are in a triangular square near a Sephora and Barnes & Noble, where people are doing their stuff on skateboards, and we are talking about the rich. This is the first time I’m hearing such views, but when I get back to Singapore, I will have become a different person and read up all I can about it. The setting is his apartment, and we play with the cat, Tuxedo, named for his coat of fur, of course. Grand Central Station, where he tells me about his mom working at Visa (or Mastercard, I may forget, but I’m pretty sure it’s the former) while he brings me to a spot I can stand and watch and drink and breathe it in, the energy of every single person who’s walked through the space that day, and every day before it. We walk, and walk, and in that moment, I realize how grateful I am that I have always loved walking, and that this man has taken me walking through the loveliest date of my life, and we walk to Central Park. I ramble on until he asks if he can kiss me, and somehow I knew I was again falling in love, and it is night time and the pond is frozen, and I look up and think, how lucky I am to be alive.

Friday, January 15, 2021

GIRL, PUT IN WORK

I have had a nap that lasted pretty much all of today. I really need to map out a nap schedule that incorporates class time, study time, work shifts and exercise, to hold on to some form of sanity. I'm getting a sore throat because I haven't had enough proper rest. I had this short conversation with Tina, we are now legally married, the wedding will come after all this Covid nonsense. 



Of the American numbers I have known, I remember one. The area code happens to be the same as the Singapore country code, and it ends with a 69, so that already makes it twice as interesting. The two digits before 69 are Singapore's age when I met the owner of the number, and I think that's why I don't test too shabbily, because meaningless patterns like that stick in my brain.

Anyways, I got to watch a preview screening of Promising Young Woman, it stars Carey Mulligan. I'm going to talk about the film and reveal pretty much everything about it, so if you don't like spoilers, please get off while you can. I don't mean that in a dirty way. 

Carey Mulligan plays a character called Cassie whose best friend kills herself after she was sexually assaulted in college and all the boys get away scot-free. Cassie then spirals into a weekly pattern of looking for men to take her home while she's seemingly drunk in clubs and seeing how many of them would take advantage of her, before setting them straight. She does this until a chance encounter with an ex-schoolmate from college, who is a paediatric surgeon, and they fall for each other, and it's sweet and adorable. I found myself rooting for them, although you can tell exactly what is going to happen, because it's barely the halfway mark of the movie. The paediatric surgeon, via a little-known-about video taken the night of the assault, was yet another bystander of the assault. If you're a man, chances are likely that you've had drunken college or even work nights, and done regrettable things, or been witness to them. Times are always changing and evolving, what may have seemed acceptable a decade ago would not be acceptable now, so if you're privy to information or have done dubious things to/with women, the best thing to do would be to acknowledge them and apologize before your day/s of reckoning catch up with you, by way of lone female vigilantes seeking revenge for all of womanhood. I would say it's a really good movie, it's done really well. I really liked it and I feel like it's the most impressive one I've seen since Parasite, although I can't say for sure whether that's because I saw fewer movies last year due to Covid.

I recently watched the 2017 Jeopardy Tournament of Champions season, which had Buzzy Cohen, Austin Rogers, and Alan Lin on the finals. The three of them are distinctly amazing hilarious personalities, you can see them animatedly moving their hands about or doing their mathematical calculations (for their wagers) out loud, and it's so, completely cute. Austin is definitely my favorite champion I've seen, for each day of his appearance, he did a little mime/skit at the start of every episode while he's being introduced, and I never saw Jeopardy as such a variety show until he was on. On the first day of the 2-day final of the Champions tournament, all three of them did a robot dance passing from one to the other, and even Alex Trebek picked it up and moved like a robot when he walked onto the set. On the second day, they acted like the three monkeys who see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil. Alex himself said he had the most fun during the tournament. It was so heartwarming to see, I'd always wanted to meet Alex in real life (it's strange, I think I might have fangirled Alex Trebek as much as I do Taylor Swift) but it was nice to know the three finalists (and all the contestants) were such fun and made such a family for him. I love Jeopardy and it's so sad to know Alex won't be around anymore. Who is going to replace him???? :((( Also, I'm pretty sure 20% of all the wordplay and puns in my head, I got from Jeopardy. My dream job would be as a clue writer on Jeopardy, but then I'd have to battle Alan Lin for it, although I need the money more than he does. Actually the truth is, as a socialist, in my ideal scenario, I simply do not dream of labor.

Today, I watched the Netflix series Explained, the episode on monogamy and why humans feel compelled to subscribe to it. I feel much more assured seeing all the people interviewed on the episode, and feeling like I'm not so much a deviant. It's only 18 minutes long, which is roughly the same as a Jeopardy episode, so I think y'all should watch it, especially if you're the type to think I'm a deviant for considering non-monogamy. There's some mention of human history in the time of the hunter-gatherers, and it made me think of Ishmael, a book I read on my second time in LA. I don't even remember whose book it was. Was it Dustin? Or Bill's? Jesse? Who knows. I really liked the book though, and it's still one of my favorites. To be honest, I think those are the reasons I feel so at ease in LA or New York. Nothing I consider would even be considered deviant or strange at all. Anything I want, someone else would have already done it and I wouldn't have to explain myself. Today is one of those days my head really hurts thinking of financial workings of the world, and I wonder, if I weren't so straight-laced, would I marry someone from Vancouver so I could get in-state tuition for school? Would I? I don't know, I perpetually joke about such things, but I'm actually quite law-abiding, lol. I am so tired of thinking about money, why does Jeopardy not exist in Singapore?

REQUIEM FOR A TOWER

I have just submitted my first assignment. It was a quiz for my Eastern philosophy mod. We’re going through the Tao Te Ching, basically a Taoist text. The philosophy prof is adorable, he’s old and makes funny jokes and is earnest. He still uses chalk on a blackboard to illustrate concepts and drew a yin/yang symbol. He’s not an artist but oh, so cute. I’ve had two politics classes this week, I like my politics prof too, she’s got a cat and everyone who has a cat is a great person in my book. We got separated into breakout groups for poli, and three of my classmates and I got to know each other better. They were all in awe that I specifically napped and woke up at 2am for our class, they said they wouldn’t have done the same. I also showed them I was still in my blanket during class, and oooof, I think I’m making friends??? We talked about the Black Lives Matter movement and the Capitol raid, etc and they’re all so young so it really fills me with some kind of hope. There are class clowns in my poli class, they were talking about Klondikes, which I’ve never had so I’ll try to have them when I arrive in Canada. My other friends in America say Klondikes are overrated, so I’ll try them and decide. I like classes, I like what I’m learning, but I have a Indigenous Gender class at 630am (in about four hours) because it’s at 230pm in Vancouver, and I’m still not asleep because my class was till 3am last night, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wake up if I sleep now. 

I’m getting a little anxious about my daily schedule, I have to go back to work soon and I honestly don’t know how to work my overnight classes, daily work shifts and some kind of sleep into my life??? If you have experience or have any tips for me, I would be very grateful because the anxiety is mounting and I don’t deal well with anxiety. All I’m doing is drinking chamomile every time I start to feel overwhelmed, but I don’t think the chamomile is a long-term (three month) solve. The visa office also still hasn’t moved forward with my application, the last they contacted me was two whole months ago, they’re supposed to request for my passport so we can move it all along, but they haven’t. I don’t know if it’s due to the new strain of Covid, or they were closed for the holidays. I don’t know anything, but I’d like the visa to be approved and settled so I can move everything else along. 

If I asked Ben to move to Vancouver with me, what are the odds that he would? Lol I’m being weird again but fuck that, all these men knew I was weird the moment we got involved, I bet. I know Ben doesn’t mind the cold because I think his base body temperature is a degree lower than average (I know this because I complained of the New York cold when I was there in winter), so he could keep me warm. I mean, not that I would be using him just for that, I clearly have many feelings for him. Also, the US is a bigger hellfire than Canada is anyway, so it’s win-win, is it not? I’m jumping around locations on Feeld, and the men always lead with the fact that they have long hair now because of the lockdown, and you have no idea (or you do) how much I appreciate this fact. Men with long hair and prominent arm veins are my favorite kind of men!!!! All men should have long hair!!! And work out their forearms!!!! Am I objectifying men??? YES. Do I feel bad about it? No!!!! Do I need to sleep!!!! Yes. I am delirious.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

GONE FOR GOOD AGAIN

here’s to the nights we felt alive
here’s to the tears you knew you’d cry
here’s to goodbye
tomorrow’s gonna come too soon

Yesterday I got reminded of a word game that I’ve played only once in my life. It was in my basement room in Queens. Two men brought board games to my room when I lived there, at separate times. For some silly reason, both were Bens, although one was a Benjamin and the other Bennett. I was involved with both but I had more chemistry with Bennett. I don’t know why. I can’t explain my feelings, and any attempt to do so would probably just display the extent of my blithering idiocy. Ben worked at a games caf├ę, so he brought his games over and we played the word game. I don’t remember the name, nor do I remember the exact gameplay, nor the props that come with the game. So basically I have nothing to go by. I’ve tried to look for it based on everything I remember of it, but there are so many word games and I haven’t found it. It goes like this, I think there is a base that you’re looking at, and the players have to build as many words or the longest words you can, but the base of it looks nothing like Boggle. I remember being so, completely smitten with this man, who studied linguistics and who told me about the books he read, and his relatively new Kindle, who took me to Grand Central Station and to Central Park, who didn’t quite like his white-boy, prep-school privileged background but-what-can-you-do. He told me about ACAB. On that night, the night he came over to play games, we got distracted and I was being very noisy and loud and expressive when he was uhhhh, working on me (hah!) and then after, I told him my neighbor was home, so Ben got so completely bashful and boy, I could have, I would pay all my money just to drink up that moment again. I could ask him now, what the game was, but I haven’t spoken to him since I left New York and came back to Singapore. The love I have for Bennett, it is a love that I conflate with my love for New York. It is a love of discovery, of a noisy, bustling city of immigrants, of my joy in learning, of fighting for civil rights, of everything and nothing in one. It is the same strain of love I feel for Joey. All my hopes and passions and romance for Los Angeles, the mountains and the observatory, the stars and the racecars, I place them all into one man only, in Joey, and that’s why I could never, will never get over Joey and Ben, nor LA and New York. All this to say, if you have any inkling of what this word game could be, I would be most obliged.

Friday, January 8, 2021

CHAMPAGNE PROBLEMS

I think, if I recall correctly, four years ago, when I was in LA, I matched with a red-headed man on Tinder. He had a red-headed young daughter who was very cute and I think he might have told me he was married to his wife. At that point, I was still very much a greenhorn (and again I still am one now) so I was taken aback and I think I told him I didn’t want to speak with him again. I know it is him again now on Feeld, because I remember the very same photos he used back then. It has been such a turn of time that he has moved from LA up north to Canada. I also saw someone who looks strangely like an ex of mine. It’s either him, or a complete doppelganger of his. I was with him in both Singapore and New York, so I’m well aware of my ex’s face. I don’t think it’s him, because as far as I know, he’s still on the American side of the border and I don’t think he had the kinks I read on this man’s profile, unless he picked them up sometime during quarantine, which would be absolutely fair play. 

I have been reading about relationship anarchy. It is a concept, or a lifestyle, or I don’t know, a way of doing things that doesn’t subscribe to traditional relationship criteria or demands. One of the aspects of relationship anarchy is that you don’t belong to your partner or anyone, and therefore the relationship you would have is an open one. Relationship anarchy also tries to undo the hierarchies among romantic or intimate relationships, as well as familial and platonic friendships and relationships. This means your friends are as important as the partner(s) you choose to sleep with, and/or share different parts of your life with. I don’t know if all this is a thing I could do or want to do, it’s just the first time I’m reading about it in depth.

Sometimes I worry that I don’t want to subscribe to a traditional closed marriage because of my childhood, but realistically I also think it makes sense, especially to a person like me. The same ex I mentioned above, he broke up with me because I mentioned Adam a lot in my posts, while I was with him. In fact, you can see I actually still do, sometimes. I don’t think I have any sexual feelings for him (no, I definitely do not) and he has a romantic partner, and I’m not intimately interested in him. However, I enjoy banter with Adam. I also feel like when I talk about a so-called ideal partner, I don’t want to restrict myself. I like so many different people for so many different things. I love so many different people for so many different things. I want them all to be in my life for such different reasons. 

When I was with Lucas, we got together into a traditional relationship and back then, I wasn’t thinking about this. I don’t know if I could be with one person for longer than two years without thinking of other options. In my head, there are two equally viable scenarios. There are people who are happily married and committed to each other, never entertaining any thoughts of cheating. There are also people who are in an open marriage and primarily committed to each other, who have other partners, who then don’t cheat, because technically cheating is no longer an option. I don’t know which one I am. It’s so hard to say I want to explore, because in my family, I still have anti-vaxxers and I always have to be the one who’s pushing boundaries (I hate it), wondering which step will be my last before they actually excommunicate me.

Four years ago, I met a man who presented me with an option that terrified and almost disgusted me. Here I am now, wondering about those same options. How I have grown? Hmm. I was about to place an order on Amazon, I tend not to do so, because: Jeff Bezos is a terrible man. It had been so long since my last Amazon order, that my default shipping address was still the basement I lived in, on Madison St, in the Queens borough of New York. This brought back so many feelings in my core. This means my last Amazon order was legitimately two whole years ago. 

A few of my colleagues now say that if I approve of them purchasing something, it’s basically God’s word (okay I’m paraphrasing I don’t think God was mentioned per se) and it is only then they’re encouraged to then carry on with their purchase. Capitalism and consumerism feed into an underlying depression and void that we all try to fill. I know this and understand this. I have bought many, many, countless items in countless packages, clothes and hair accessories and shoes. When I’ve confirmed the purchase, I know the little bit of excitement I feel. I think I’ve finally got the thing to complete the outfit and I can rest easy. But it never ends. The system is five steps ahead of me, and there’s always going to be a cuter shoe, a prettier jacket, a better color, and none of it has ever made me happy. It took ten years of mindless ordering and waiting and receiving and repeating through the entire cycle before I realized it was not making me happy. I’m much more mindful now and I think my colleagues see it with the material things I buy (or don’t buy). I like that, if I leave them with one tiny legacy, it’s the legacy of only buying what you truly need. The void that capitalism pretends is in you, is only there because it needs the void to be there for the system to function. The less you feed into it, the less the system of capitalism and consumerism can or will perpetuate.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

MASK IT OR CASKET

Tina told me to download Feeld so I did. Everyone and their wife in Canada is non-monogamous and in an open relationship. Is that what I’m looking for?? Is it???? I was wondering why every profile was poly looking for a third, then I looked up Feeld and found out it’s an app mostly for kinks, I suppose. Today I learned the meanings of hotwife and bull, and I’m pretty sure there’s still more I’ve yet to learn. Someone’s bio was “the advantage to this slow-burn-apocalypse is there’s more time for end-of-the-world sex” and wow, you know I gave that profile a like. I’m still extremely groggy from yesterday and I can’t eat nor keep anything down. Being single while sick is the worst, why did I break up with a dependable, trustworthy, softboi, non-polyamorous man!!!! Tbh if anyone were to explore polyamory, I wouldn’t cross myself off. I don’t like the whole unicorn thing though, I’m not a unicorn and I prefer MMF fantasies if I had to choose. Obviously I’m the kind of woman who wants to be the only woman in any kind of play???? I am feeling so sick ughhhhhh. 

Just yesterday I was seriously thinking about perhaps transferring to the college that I got into in New York after two years, because I’ve been to New York and loved it, and also, I might have mentioned somewhere before, Canada is cold and the cold and I don’t get along very well. It just makes me sad. I don’t like to be sad. However, I woke up to news that white ameriKKKa is at it again! Also, there was no police brutality toward the white supremacists who stormed the Capitol, and y’all know why. It’s ‘cos the police are the KKK, they just traded their white hoods for blue uniform. This is not hyperbole. There is literally no way the racist white trash could have infiltrated the rooms without help from their racist pig brothers. America, please. Y’all have massive systemic issues and you need to solve them. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

LIQUID GOLD

Yesterday, I ate cockles with a dip of cut chili in soy sauce. I shared this with my sister Aqilah. I also had mala fries and spaghetti for dinner. Throughout the night and this morning, I think I’ve been suffering from a case of food poisoning, although no one else in the family is affected. I’ve had the runs multiple times, and I’ve thrown up once. There are two types of vomiting, one is when you’ve eaten too much oily food and have to relieve your bloatedness by vomiting, and one is the food poisoning kind. I don’t mind the former because it provides a little relief after, but I am very much in disdain of the latter, which I’ve been doing today. The vomiting caused by food poisoning is a spasming, heaving kind of movement that hurts my core, and it happens intensely, even when there is pretty much nothing left to be vomited out. Every time I heave and hurl, and feel nothing coming up my throat, I wonder if it’s worth it to just die instead. It’s painful and extremely tiring. My grandma has made me a cup of very concentrated tea, it’s one of her old-wives’ home remedies that she believes helps with the runs. I don’t have the energy to risk eating anything, and I like tea anyway, so I have consumed it. 

I actually started writing this post not to describe the ins and outs of food poisoning and diarrhoea, but to wax lyrical about eating disorders. While I was on the toilet, emptying my guts out, there was a part of my brain that said “well at least I can lose some weight this way” and this was when I was in absolute physical pain, doubled over and clenching, and clutching at my stomach. I have fought this voice many times, but it occasionally appears to make itself heard. When I was thirteen to sixteen, I had an eating disorder. I barely ate anything, and I would walk home from school when I could. This was from Anderson Secondary School in Ang Mo Kio back to where we lived back then, in Edgefield Plains, in Punggol. It would take about two hours, and I would walk, following my bus route, either bus 159 or 136. I also skipped rope and ran a lot, and would run up the stairs to our apartment on the 17th storey, every day, which is why my knees now are pretty much fucked to hell. 

I’m currently employed by lululemon, and as you would expect, there are definitely traces of diet culture and eating disorders in a few of my colleagues here. It manifests in many different ways. Sometimes they only eat a certain type of food, and adamantly avoid others. Some consume a limited number of meals per day. Some don’t eat after a certain time of day. Some only allow themselves to eat after they’ve expended the same amount of calories during a workout. Once, I shared my past of having had an eating disorder with a person I used to work with. This person would not wear a cardigan or any more items of clothing even if they were feeling very cold at work. They said the cold burns more energy, helping them to maintain their weight. When I told them I’d left that part of my life behind, they seemed almost appalled. They said “would you really wanna waste all those years that you’ve run and walked and starved yourself for?” 

I’ve since recognized how toxic it is to have an eating disorder. I barely remember what happened during those years of my life, I was always lethargic and sleepy because I wasn’t eating enough, and all I remember of it is the time I spent running, or skipping rope, or walking home. Ever since I’ve come out of that stage, I realize what a grand waste of my life it is, to be so consumed by a number, and the frame of my body. I read more political articles written by anti-diet-culture causes, especially (but not limited to) feminist ones. Every single thing you do in your life has a political value to it. When you’re obsessed with your weight and looks, you won’t have the energy to question the system at large. If each individual is preoccupied with the number on their weighing scale, they are too distracted from wondering why their governments are going to war, why capitalism is still the economic mode at play, why the law serves the powerful but never the people who need help most. If I’d spent the two hours per day reading something, I could have contributed so much more to society, than I can now. The diet industry is one of the biggest in the world, and it’s also one of the most unhealthy and predatory. Your worth is much more than the number on the scale, and you shouldn’t allow a self-serving, exploitative industry to tell you otherwise. Alright, it’s time for me to try to get some sleep. I hope the worst of it has passed.