Monday, February 22, 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. 


Dhakhwa, S. & Enriquez, S. (2008). The Relevance of Confucian Philosophy to Modern Concepts of Leadership and Followership.

Global Inequality. (2019).

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.

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.

Wu, J. C. H. (1961). Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.

Thursday, February 18, 2021


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?

Friday, February 12, 2021


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 jalapeƱo 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, Atonement, Before Sunrise, Disney’s Mulan (1998), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Get Out, Her, La La Land, Little Miss Sunshine, 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 — Hadestown, 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, Ted Lasso, 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

Monday, February 8, 2021


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


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


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!