Wednesday, March 31, 2021

BALLPARK FIGURE

I wonder if I would have made a good TV writer. I think I watch a fair bit of TV but more than that, I internalise it and my brain churns out thoughts in the formula of TV writing. You know, when the woman knocks on the man’s door on Christmas to make a declaration of love, or when the guy arrives at the airport a tad too late and makes a PA announcement to stop the love of his life from boarding the plane to relocate elsewhere in the world. I have made grand gestures, more than once. I write long, elaborate notes. I write them on owl postcards, on the back of packages. I wonder if they still exist in the world, or if they’ve long been incinerated. In TV world, grand gestures almost always work. The recipient changes their mind, and they choose each other. There’s a literal scene in Grey’s Anatomy, where Meredith says “pick me, choose me, love me”, embodying the literal version of the pick-me girl. 

I wish I weren’t such a person, but one of the values that motivate me is most definitely acceptance. It’s highly likely due to the fact that my father left the family (ish) when we were young, and my mother literally doesn’t accept the non-Muslim, tattooed, physically “promiscuous” person I am. She refuses to acknowledge that part of me, which is a big part of me. When I see workplaces professing to be families, I gag because it’s just a way for capitalism to legitimise the gazillion hours you spend slaving away at work. And yet, I always absorb myself into my work teams and treat them as I do my family members, or better than, because they treat me better than my family members treat me. They see me, hear me, acknowledge and validate me, and I cannot help but appreciate them for it. 

I have a colleague whom I really like, her name is Mel. I don’t know why, but I like her a lot. Sometimes we just spend a few minutes chatting at work, and she always gives off the chill vibes I aim to internalise and embody. She reads as much as I do, or perhaps even more, and sometimes she talks to me about books and restaurants. I think she knows a lot of things, but she’s always professional about her work. When she has fun, she really has fun. When we were unboxing new things at a shift, she’s the kind of person who would act like she’s Paris Hilton DJing in Bali, she’s just weird like that. She also recently bought a mini basketball game for the pantry, to hit free shipping on an order. I want to be that kind of person. I want to be the person who knows many things, but also has my shit together. 

Apropos of nothing, I really don’t think, given the global situation we’re all in, happiness is an attainable goal, nor should it be. We’re living in an age of social media and information, it is impossible or at least unlikely that you can stay unaware of global inequality. I just watched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez make a three-minute case on her Instastories, about the migration crisis, which she rightly says is not simply a migration crisis. The crisis was created because imperialist America invades and destabilises other countries and regions, capitalist America thrives off consumerism and contributes a majority of carbon emissions, and the climate and economic crises force the global South to relocate, for lack of a choice. 

Every day that you don’t consider the interconnectedness of everything is a day you choose to be wilfully ignorant of injustice. It is necessary that you don’t numb yourself to the ills of the world, to the Asian hate crimes, to police brutality, to Myanmar’s decades-old and ongoing political instability, to bigotry that the LGBTQ community face everywhere, it is necessary that you don’t literally buy into personal joys and happiness, at least not most of the time, because it is only when you face facts, that you begin to want to effect change. If you don’t see how broken the world is, you’re not paying attention. When was the last time you cried?

Monday, March 29, 2021

HOMESLICE

I did a silly thing. I went to view Lucas’ Instagram and his recent story showed he was dating intimately (a spa/massage or something) with another girl. I don’t know why I did this. I’m sad now, and I also don’t know why I’m sad. Perhaps because I used to be that girl next to him. Last week, my grandma asked again why I wasn’t speaking to him, and again I had to say, it’s not me not speaking to him, he’s not speaking to me. I have sent him a couple of messages, unanswered. He has a whole life, as do I. It’s okay to not remain in each other’s lives. I’m on the way to work, and today I think about all the little things. The way I’m feeling, the wistfulness, the nostalgia, I’m sure in the few millennia of humanity to have existed, I’m not the first person to feel it. It’s okay to feel this way, it’s natural. We all set timelines and quotas of when to look at our exes’ pages, we tell ourselves not to, we say okay let’s give it a year, and then we go ahead and do it at three months. I used to love watching Grey’s Anatomy and identifying with the songs used in the soundtrack, and adding those songs to my Spotify. If you go to Youtube, there are so many comments that say “Grey’s Anatomy brought me here” or — brought me here. It’s the collective human experience. My colleagues and friends think rather highly of me, in terms of my brain power, they think I read much more than I actually do, but I’m more emotionally intelligent than I am intellectually intelligent. When I am sad, like I am now, or when I’m angry, or when I’m tired, I vocalise it and express it, and people like it that I’m so human. It reminds them that it’s okay to be human too. I feel weird when I think about how I throw caution to the wind and let everyone know about every single turbulent thought that goes through my head, on social media, but then I stop and think, how many people have found courage to open up to me first, about family issues, about money issues, about anger management issues, because they’ve seen me with mine? How many people have I helped with mental health because they’ve seen me seek help for mine? I’m vulnerable, and that allows them to be vulnerable with me. I know so many more things about so many more people that I would never have known if not for the humanness I display. All this to say, I viewed an ex’s Instagram today, and on the whole, it didn’t make me feel pleasant, but I’m not about to beat myself up over it. I’m a human being, being human.

SUMMA CUM LAUDE

My politics research paper is due in two weeks, and I promise I will get it fully completed at least one day before the deadline. I promise. 

These are the topics I have to choose from:

i. Is either Russia or Turkey or Brazil a hybrid regime or an authoritarian regime? Why? Be sure to first define and discuss the characteristics of hybrid and authoritarian regimes and provide some background on Russian/Turkish/Brazilian politics before assessing whether its regime is hybrid or authoritarian.  

ii. Compare and contrast two binding referenda from two different regions or countries. To what extent do referenda enable a majority of citizens to have an effective direct say in decisions of national importance? Why or why not? Be sure to address the relevant historical context as well as the key actors, arguments and consequences.

iii. Young adults aged 18 to 35 are often said to be less politically engaged than older generations. To what extent is this correct? Why? Be sure to use examples from at least three countries.

I just want to say, for transparency's sake, that the reason I'm running around like a headless chicken (or is it cockroach? or do both work??), is I didn't know anyone who earns enough to be a guarantor for a loan to pay for my entire tuition. I therefore took out a loan for half my tuition, or two years' worth. I have enough savings for rent for a while (also two years' worth??), and I can probably scrape some kind of money for maybe a year's worth of tuition while studying, but then hopefully for my last year, I have the money for school before I start paying it all back. 

I'm exhausted! I'm just.... writing here because I'm having a politics class now and if I don't move my fingers or any part of myself I will likely fall asleep. Honestly, I cannot wait for this semester to end in a month. For my last fourish months in Singapore, I'll be working two jobs to earn and save more money, and I can sleep at slightly more sensible times. I have had so much cortisol in my system for the last three months, I really, truly, honestly need it to stop. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

BOOK OF JOB

The Bhagavad Gītā is a text that expounds the three yogas (disciplines), of bhakti yoga, karma yoga, and jñāna yoga. In this paper, I will set out to uphold the claim that practising and engaging in the three yogas will lead to joy and freedom for the practitioner, as well as advocate that fulfilling one’s svadharma (duty) through the three yogas serves as a method for liberation.

Bhakti yoga is the path that encompasses love and devotion to a deity. Devotional worship, singing and dancing, as well as pilgrimages to holy places, are tangible expressions of this spirituality. An internal personal surrender to and love of the chosen god or goddess complements the above religious practices. A recurring theme in the Epic literature of the Bhagavad Gītā is devotionalism, as exemplified in “He who serves Me with the unswerving yoga of devotion, transcending the gunas, gains the fitness to become like unto Brahman.” (Bhagavad Gītā, Chapter XIV: Verse 26, n.d.) 

All through history, people of faith have engaged in forms of worship as well as pilgrimage activities. Recent research has shown participants of different worship practices reporting improved outlooks on life, greater life perspectives and finding existential meaning. Some participants even quit their jobs or change their careers at the end of their pilgrimage journeys (Jørgensen, Eade, Ekeland, & Lorentzen, 2020). 

In a study conducted by Vanderbilt University, subjects’ attendance at worship services was analysed, along with mortality and allostatic load. Allostatic load is a physiological measurement of factors including cardiovascular, nutritional/inflammatory and metabolic measures. The higher the allostatic load, the higher the stress level an individual was interpreted as experiencing. Of more than 5,000 people across different race and gender markers who were surveyed, 64 percent were regular worshipers. Non-worshipers had significantly higher overall allostatic load scores and higher prevalence of high-risk values for three of the 10 markers of allostatic load than did church-goers and other worshipers. People who attend church or other houses of worship reduce their risk for mortality by 55 percent. (Patterson, 2017)

Karma yoga is the path to God through selfless action and service to others. Devotion to God through such works means a practitioner has to practise non-attachment and renounce the consequences of their actions, effectively surrendering oneself to God. One who engages in karma yoga acts in a dispassionate manner, without attachment to the results of their actions, including pleasure or pain, success or failure. 

Interestingly, although karma yoga is to be endeavored with no consideration for its consequences, acting in the spirit of community leads to many benefits for someone who acts in such a manner. For instance, research has repeatedly documented that volunteering leads to boosting general well-being and lowering levels of depression. Even when it comes to money, spending on others correlates to increased happiness compared to spending it on one’s own person. There is now neural evidence from fMRI studies suggesting a link between generosity and happiness in the brain. For example, donating money activates the same (mesolimbic) regions of the brain that respond to monetary rewards or sex. In fact, the mere intent for generosity can stimulate neural change and make people happier. (Pogosyan, 2018) 

In another study, engaging in helpful behavior, along with other types of social interaction, is associated with positive health outcomes, including reduced mortality. The research indicates that helping others predicts reduced mortality specifically because it buffers the association between stress and mortality (Poulin, Brown, Dillard & Smith, 2013). Even though being on the receiving end of these benefits is not the purpose of anyone who engages in karma yoga, they can certainly not deny the physiological effects that a person will experience from it.

Jñāna yoga is the path of knowledge or wisdom. Chapter IV, Verse 39 of Bhagavad Gītā states: “He who is full of faith gains Divine Wisdom, seeking after it with supreme devotion and mastery over his senses. Gaining Wisdom, in no long time he enters the state of supreme peace.” As the most arduous and spiritually fulfilling of the yogas, jñāna yoga encompasses attainment of mental tranquility, self-control, dispassion, perseverance, mental resolve or intentness of mind, and a positive longing for wisdom and freedom. Broadly, jñāna yoga entails the study of Vedāntic texts, sustained reflection upon the philosophical principles of Advaita, and constant meditation. Advaita is the concept that Brahman alone is real and that the world we live in is a transient and illusory appearance of Brahman.

Recent evidence suggests that meditation has neuroprotective properties, with implications for enhancing cognition and preventing dementia. A study carried out at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering. The DMN is active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Mind-wandering has typically been associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, and therefore the goal for many people is to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, through its quieting effect on the default mode network, appears to do just this. Even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it. (Walton, 2015)

In relationship aspects, analysis has revealed that mindfulness during conflict helped romantic partners not take things so personally, regulate their emotional reactions more quickly, and empathise with their partner more deeply. Researchers infer that while mindfulness helps people remain more engaged during constructive conflict, it also enables them to disengage more quickly from conflicts that become destructive. (Graham, 2016)

Bhakti yoga, or worship, has been found to give people more meaning and purpose in their lives. Some even quit their jobs, signifying freedom and courage to not simply be a cog in the machine. One could say that a majority of the world population are enslaved by systems such as capitalism and oppression, and for believers of a higher being or purpose to rise above that, is a form of liberation. Positive correlation has also been made between worship and health indicators, with worshipers presenting at lower risk for mortality. With comparatively better health, worshipers may have less to worry about, and thus more freedom to enjoy life. Generosity has been linked to happiness and lowered levels of depression, proven through MRI scans. Practitioners of karma yoga therefore have much joy to gain by working for selfless reasons. Helping others usually leads to increased social interaction, also reducing mortality. 

Joy has been defined as feeling good in the moment, and it is an emotion that is a lot more immediate and accessible than happiness (Lee, 2018). People who practice jñāna yoga may reduce their susceptibility for going through prolonged unhappy periods of time, as well as conversely, increasing their propensity for joy, by staying present in every passing moment instead of dwelling in the past or future. Meditators also de-escalate personal situations more effectively and experience increased empathy. Pertaining specifically to the Bhagavad Gītā, one who has faith in the concept of Advaita would also take things less personally when they view this world as an illusion, and therefore may be more liberated from the occurrences in their daily life.  

Even when practised as three isolated factors, each of the disciplines of bhakti yoga, karma yoga and jñāna yoga yields much physiological benefit. It is therefore viable to argue that when all the disciplines are practised simultaneously, the three yogas would naturally lead to joy and freedom for people who observe and practise them.

References:

Graham, L. (2016). How Mindfulness Can Help Couples Cool Down. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_mindfulness_can_help_couples_cool_down

Jørgensen, N. N., Eade, J., Ekeland, T., & Lorentzen, C. A. N. (2020). "The Processes, Effects and Therapeutics of Pilgrimage Walking the St. Olav Way," International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage: Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 6. https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol8/iss1/6/

Lee, I. F. (2018). Why The Secret To Happiness Might Be Joy. https://aestheticsofjoy.com/2018/05/14/why-the-secret-to-happiness-might-be-joy/

Miller, B. S. (2004). The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War. New York: Bantam Books.

Patterson, J. (2017). Worship is good for your health: Vanderbilt Study. https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2017/05/31/worship-is-good-for-your-health-vanderbilt-study/

Pocosyan, M. (2018). In Helping Others, You Help Yourself. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/between-cultures/201805/in-helping-others-you-help-yourself

Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A. J., & Smith, D. M. (2013). Giving to Others and the Association Between Stress and Mortality
https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300876

Walton, A. G. (2015). 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/?sh=1d3c75cd1465

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

CORRELATION DOES NOT
IMPLY CAUSATION

I submitted my second Eastern Philosophy essay. I submitted it right before my politics class last night so I was in a rush and the conclusion of the paper is the weakest ass conclusion I have ever written in my life. However, this morning, I received news from the Canadian immigration office that my visa has finally been fucking approved. I was so happy, I forgot to be tired. I'm still only flying in August, but at least I can now focus on finding a place to live, securing my finances, getting my Covid vaccination and whatever. Legally, I'm allowed to be in Canada for at least the next four years. I took a screenshot of their approval, sent it to my family's group chat, my lululemon babies, and Tina. 



Tina sent me this. She's in Hawaii visiting her younger sister. Tina's Covid-vaccinated, by virtue of being a healthcare worker.

I went for a boxing class after my shift today. I really enjoy boxing but I went after this brutal week just to use up my credits. We have a budget from lululemon for sweaty pursuits and as a person on the lowest rung of the lululemon hierarchy, I don't earn as much as I can or should, so I desperately use up my credits just to lessen the ways capitalism can exploit me. 

I sent Ben a message on Instagram, he hasn't read it, I don't know if it's because he doesn't see it as he doesn't follow me, or he doesn't want to open it, anyhow. I will feel slightly embarrassed if it's the latter, but again, I'm a newborn atheist, time is finite and nothing matters, so what the fuck, I will tell everyone exactly how I feel because it's all gonna vanish one day soon anyway.

I will be in Canada in half a year. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A POCKETFUL OF POSIES

In my head, I wonder if I could get 100 people in my life to contribute $100 each to my tuition/rent fund. It would help go a fucking long way, especially for my mental health. I feel like I could, also only if they didn't have rent or debt or anything else to clear. I don't want to burden anyone else, but I also know I know quite a few people who are already well-settled in life, who have their money just sitting and growing for them, that $100 to them doesn't mean the same as it does to me (an entire day of waged work). I don't have enough money to invest and make my money work for me, and also I truly do not know how to feel about the ethics of investing, if I did have the money. 

I am perhaps a third of the way done with my essay. I might have more Red Bull than blood in my body right now, scientifically that is probably not possible nor accurate, but I have so much Red Bull in me that I threw up a bit of it this morning. It is probably a sign that my body is rejecting it, which on the whole, in the long run is probably better for me, seeing as Red Bull is just 100000% sugar and I am speaking only in hyperbole this morning. 

Sometimes my colleagues tell me they don't know how I do it, the taking up of extra shifts when people don't want them, the staying up overnight to attend classes and do my school work, the actual audacity of me scheduling in time to socialise so I can get good vibes, the pretence that five minutes of meditation a day could balance out the impossibility of my situation. I don't know how I do it either, there is no knowing how, if I knew how I was doing it, it would take up too much energy for the awareness, I am simply holding on and doing it, and doing and doing and just doing it. I should be Nike's ambassador. Don't know, just do. 

I am holding on by sheer volume of Red Bull and I need to 

breathe
breathe, Sarah, breathe
breathe
I said breathe, not cry
breathe
it's okay
it will be okay

Friday, March 19, 2021

生き甲斐

So.... My next philosophy essay is due in three days, and I haven't started on it. A couple of minutes ago, I just received feedback for my last essay (I got an 80% mark - which I think was pretty generous, given his remarks), which is making me a little nervous. Apparently my philosophy professor is not one to be smoked nor fluffed through, as can be seen from his feedback. I have work shifts all through the weekend, and also on Monday when my paper is due, so all I can say is, lord be with me, or alternatively, I will subsist on Red Bull or Monster Energy. Melyssa took a photo of me listening to my lecture on the couch in the work pantry after my work shift had ended, and she shared it on the work group chat. It looks like I'm asleep in the photo, but I promise you, I was retaining the information, somewhere in my brain. 
Sarah,
Your paper introduces a number of interesting ideas concerning this topic, but misses the main arguments for the Taoist notion of statecraft, which can be found in Chapters 17, 37 and 57-61. At the minimum you should have discussed the passage in Chapter 60, ruling a country is like cooking a small fish, and Chapter 17 on the qualities of a good ruler. A further point of consideration is the connection between Confucianism and the modern notion of humanism. Does this connection allow us a more accessible understanding of Confucianism and the place of the Jun Tzu in the modern world? If so, does the Jun Tzu meet deeper human needs, or are they better met in Taoism? Your paper makes a good argument for social cohesion, but is the social cost personal authenticity? Finally, given the growing environmental problems we are facing, does a Taoist perspective offer a clearer perspective into altering the course of this crisis?
I wish he had sent me the feedback earlier than today, so I would have had more time to panic and realise the kind of standards he expects of the upcoming essay submissions. Alas, I cannot change what is done and past. As the start of my high school's song goes, "ever onward" it is. I feature many of my assignments on Instagram, whether it's for my indigenous gender mod, or politics, or philosophy. I'm paying hella money for my degree only to receive instructions over the interwebs, so I might as well share all the resources I have access to. If you'd like readings on my courses, let me know and I'll share them with you. 

The world will have you believe in scarcity, but there really isn't scarcity in the ways we've been conditioned to believe. There isn't scarcity in love, nor friendships, nor information and knowledge, and especially not in money. If we all stopped working today, right now, at this very moment, the richest fucks in the world ie. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc, would still have enough money to help out the poorest people of the world, let alone working-class people like you and I. All they'd have to do is realise nobody needs a goddamn hotel in space. Everyday I read something new that rich people are doing and I think, we are truly in the endgame of life. 

A couple of hours ago, I ended my first ever chess game with a person that was not Jaysen. I played it on chess.com with a guy from Bristol, whose name is, surprise surprise, Ben (there are too many Bens in the world, but my name is Sarah, so I'm not one to talk). I lost quite terribly, no surprises there, and he asked if he could give me advice. I'm glad he asked, because if he'd just sent me the advice without a preface, I would have been sore and probably said he was mansplaining. So I said yes, and this is what he said:
Ok so the main thing I’d say is that every move needs to have purpose. Sometimes I think you maybe moved a piece because it would go there(?), but it needs to be either an attacking or a defensive move. I liked what you did with your pawns - a strong defensive line is good and that’s what took me a while to get there. I’ve got a great entry level video for you which I’ll find a link to now
Every move needs to have purpose. I think it's solid advice, and if I were the type to apply chess advice to life, I would say to myself, "every move needs to have purpose" but am I the type? Who knows. I'm reading Grit, because my friend Monica recommended it to me. She said she thinks I have grit, and I'm the type who drinks up people's impressions of me like it's horchata (except when obviously it comes from a place of self-dissatisfaction and malice, then idgaf lol). In Grit, the writer says your highest-level goal must be deep-rooted, even if the mid-level goals shift on the way there. That means, if my main passion is feminism and finding justice for marginalised people or whatever, the things I do to get there may be switched out and interchanged, but the grittiest of people don't change their top-level goal. So we'll see. The book also says you can practise and train yourself to be gritty, and I think that's what's important in it.

Two nights ago, I went to Tif's place for dinner. She'd recently just moved in with a friend from school, so it was my first time seeing her room and all. We listened to Taylor Swift on the speaker, because her roommate likes Taylor Swift, and so does Tif's boyfriend. They're not the biggest fans, but both of them went to Taylor's 1989 concert in Singapore. I was meeting both Tif's boyfriend Lester and her roommate Justin for the first time, and both guys had never really hung out before that day. So when we were all seated, Justin asked Lester whether he liked watches, and Lester said, not really... Justin asked Lester whether he liked cars, and Lester said, not really.... The third question he asked Lester was, "do you like seaweed?" and immediately I thought, this Justin guy is a character. Who goes from cars and watches to seaweed??? Justin then proceeds to tell us there's a company making alternatives to plastic from seaweed (I fact-checked, it's true).  

Justin has many nice tattoos running down his arms and legs, so I thought, okay, this guy's pretty cool. He then saw the sunflower tattoo on my back and guessed the tattoo artist correctly (affectionately calling her Maxitos instead of Maxine), and also when I'd gotten it. I still didn't realise it at the time, but when I went home and looked up his Instagram, I found out he used to be a tattoo artist. Obviously. Tif cooked us vegan bolognese made with meat substitutes, and then French toast. It was delicious and I was really enjoying the night, chilling and half-watching an old Jackie Chan movie on the TV. Lester and I were trying to follow the plot of the movie (there really wasn't one), while Justin goofed around and Tif had to make kombucha for her business. While I had been talking to Justin, he said his first love had loved Taylor Swift, and so he listened to Taylor Swift's songs and memorised the lyrics (this is the exact story of literally all men who listen to Taylor Swift, I'm pretty sure), and he sang them in front of me, while the songs were playing on speaker. I was very entertained.

I have been thinking of all the conversations I've had after sex. I love having conversations after sex, which men tend to hate, because they usually just wanna sleep. I have learned so much from those post-coital moments, before you drift off to sleep. I wonder when my next one will be. The last one was months ago. Jeez.

Monday, March 15, 2021

INGENUE


the stranger sang a theme
from someone else's dream
the leaves began to fall
and no one spoke at all
but I can't seem to recall
when you came along
ingenue, ingenue
I just don't know what to do

the tree-lined avenue
begins to fade from view
drowning past regrets
in tea and cigarettes
but I can't seem to forget
when you came along
ingenue, ingenue
I just don't know what to do

Sometimes I feel like I'm pulled in many different directions and I don't know what to do. Before I left LA in 2016, when Joey and I were spending time together, he said he'd done long-distance before, and I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't think he was asking me to do long-distance, mainly because he didn't actually ask the question, and also because I think it was also too sudden for him, and he didn't treat me very well even when I was there. And then, of course we discovered I was pregnant when I was back in Singapore, and who needs that to happen in a is-this-isn't-this long-distance relationship? No one. In the past four years, he would intermittently ask if I would be coming back to the US, and I think, we might, we could have actually been something if not for the distance.

Two years ago, at the start of 2019, I dated Ben in New York City. I really liked him a lot, and he also seemed to like me. I discovered from reading past notes, that it was him who asked me if I wanted to be in a relationship, not the other way around, and I said yes. When I found out I would have to leave for lack of a working visa, he told me he wouldn't disappear on me, and that he would try everything that he could do to help me stay. He suggested that I study in New York, and that was what first implanted the idea. I flew back to Singapore, but then he really disappeared on me, despite saying he wouldn't, so I didn't know, I still don't know whether this is a case of trusting someone's words, or believing their actions.

Two weeks ago, I went on my first date since my breakup with Lucas three months ago. His name was Owen, and we had matched on Bumble. I know he'd read my blog, because during the date, he mentioned something that was inevitably pointedly from my blog, without actually saying it. I don't know what it was that night, it could have been Melyssa having said that Lucas and I were good together, it could have been the fact that Ben was on my mind and Owen knew about it, it could have been PMS, it could have been me being drained from my school and work week, it could have been a culmination of all of those things, but I was a true asshole and I pushed him away.

I said repeatedly that we were not compatible and we had nothing in common. After the date, I realised I actually did like this Owen guy, he works in finance and he was telling me of how he'd been experiencing cognitive dissonance in his job and how he was trying to pivot to a more ethical industry. He was funny and tactful and he brought up feelings that I hadn't felt nor recognised in ages. I tried to make it up to him, but I think I hurt him, and I probably am not ready to date again, so I have deleted my Bumble account.

When I meet Jaysen along with the rest of the lululemon bunch, I think everybody feels a palpable tension, knowing that I am fond of him. It feels a little strange, because I think Jaysen may be worried about leading me on, so he hasn't acted the same way around me since he left lululemon as a workplace. Sometimes I wish there wasn't that barrier, sometimes I wish I hadn't explicitly told him, so we could continue flirting harmlessly, but I cannot change what's done and past.

There is another guy at work, his name is MJ. He's been at the store for about a month or so. He's got bad past experiences with his ex-girlfriends, and he's also got a reputation for picking up more shifts than he should (which I used to do for the money), just because he's now the resident nice guy. Anyway, we've been texting each other, I've been giving him advice about workplace and relationship boundaries, and as I've mentioned before, lululemon is known for hiring attractive people, so we flirt sometimes. I have been starved of physical touch so when he massages my shoulders or holds my hand, I simultaneously die and live a little more inside. According to someone else at the store, he has written me "an essay", because he wrote some really nice things about me in texts, and you know how much I value words. He also says he's someone who takes things to heart and remembers things way, way past their time, and I keep thinking, is he me??

In summary, I really do not know what the fuck I'm doing with my life. I want to leave and be in Canada, and text Ben, but the immigration forces that be, refuse to allow me to move on. I decided to date in Singapore, given that I'm likely to be staying here and only flying to Canada in September for the semester then (if my visa is ready by then, if it is not, I might honestly just kill myself then). My brain is sometimes in Vancouver, my body in Singapore, my heart in New York, and sometimes, I am everywhere and nowhere, and I am ready for this entire year to be goddamn fucking done. I HAVE HAD IT UP TO HERE.

A 2AM edit: They sprang forward in Canada and no one told me so I stayed up till 2am for a class that was ending. Jesus mf Christ kill me now. Which revolutionary is going to fuck daylight savings and take it away once and for all. Now my 630am classes will be at 530am if there is a God he doesn’t exist THERE IS NO GOD

Friday, March 12, 2021

WEST POINT

I have had such a good week. I actually had a couple of nights ridden with anxiety earlier in the week, but my friends have proven to be amazing confidants and supporters through my tough times, and I felt safe, and I feel safe. I went for two back-to-back boxing sessions yesterday, both instructors were super fun and the sessions were great and I felt again, pumped with serotonin or dopamine or endorphin, or some combination of the three. Both instructors had ass-lifting exercises or some variation of the squat incorporated into the core sections of their sessions and I’d just been lamenting my lack of an ass last week. I wonder if they somehow knew, my boss at lululemon is also an instructor at CruCycle, the sister studio of CruBox. Maybe word went through the grapevine. Maybe not, I mean it’s common enough for everyone to want to have some semblance of a booty. I also spent some time with myself and my vibrator, so that was a lovely combination for the day and I slept well through the night. I don’t know if you know, but my mental health affects my sexual health, I would guess on average that a person’s mental health affects their sexual health too? Last night was a very nice and fulfilling session for me, though. :)

Tonight I met my lululemon bunch. I call them the lululemon bunch, but only two of eight of us are actually still working at lululemon, and I am one of the two. We had pizza at Chooby Pizza. The pizzas are made with naturally leavened dough, or some such thing, it was Jaysen’s recommendation and the pizzas were really quite yumz. While waiting for the rest to arrive from their spin class, Jaysen and I played a chess match on his phone, and I think but I can’t be sure, that I’m actually getting better at it? I don’t know, Jaysen’s the only person I know who plays chess, so I only play chess every two weeks lolz. We then squeezed in Jaysen’s car and then all drove over to town for dessert and tea, if you know what I mean. 

Jaysen had taught 17 classes this week (he’s the master trainer at Ground Zero so he’s also training the new instructors) so he was losing his voice, and he had a very deep, raspy voice tonight. Xuan kept joking that she was getting turned on by his voice and tbh I completely concur. The man was wearing a T-shirt and jeans and I had to keep telling myself — don’t look at his forearms, don’t look at his forearms. We chatted as a group about our celebrity pass. You know the Friends episode where, if you’re in a relationship, you’re allowed to choose the celebrities you can sleep with should you somehow miraculously happen to bump into them. Jaysen also joked about starting a Tinder profile with a photo of an actual catfish and punning in his bio about being a catfish, and so Sarah Yap started Googling catfish photos. We were all entertained by Jaysen’s silly ideas, and his warped, twisted mind, and I realised today, that actually we all love Jaysen in some form, given how big of a catch he actually is (not as a catfish, as a real human person). He’s a lovely person, and he makes us all laugh so much. I know I have slightly more feels because I know he reads provocative books and does weird brainy things like play chess and as Angelica Schuyler raps, “so this is what it feels like to match wits with someone at your level” and it’s very fun to play on words with him. I also know that we wouldn’t actually be too compatible, though, there are fundamental differences between us, I think he might actually be religious, or at least he’s definitely not irreverent like I am. I am much more open to pushing conventional boundaries whereas he’s very pleasant and sticks to the status quo. As you can see, I have clearly given this some thought, because I give most things some thought. 

In any case, today, through hours of banter, of teasing each other about this and that, I realise that this bunch of people have really carved some space in their hearts for me, to know useless things like I don’t like bandung, and I know things about them, like they never check their Whatsapp messages. I feel part of a whole, especially when they always make me feel whole, even through my whackjob nights and when I’m completely ungrounded and unsettled. I love my lululemon babies and I am grateful they are all part of my life.

Monday, March 8, 2021

RINGO STARR

I just got my period, so now I know why my entire last week crashed and burned. I deeply regret the entirety of last week, I don't remember the last time I had such a continuous bad week, nothing was turning out right. I was a douchebag on Friday, and I feel terrible about it. I'm not a douchebag, I don't think? But if I allow myself to be a douchebag on my bad days but then don't measure myself as one, what does that even make me? Clearly, I am in some ways a douchebag, argh. This frustrates me to no end, I would like to rewind by a whole week and get a do-over. ARGHWJEKDJSKDSKDK. However, I am in a constant state of learning and growth, and if I am not soft and gentle on myself on my worst days, who is to be soft and gentle with me? Thus, be soft and gentle with myself, I shall. It's okay, I'm human, I get to be a piece of shit sometimes. I will forgive myself for it.

I am also not here to talk about myself being a piece of shit. I am here because I had a magical night, and despite the dumpster fire that last week was for me, I have a renewed bubble of hope within me from tonight. I have a friend from work called Adelene, we've been friends for a few months, thanks to lululemon. She's a dancer, and for the past couple of months, she'd been posting on Instagram about her journey with eating disorders. She's also been collaborating with a lingerie brand in Singapore called Perk by Kate, and so tonight, for International Women's Day, she organized an "Intimate Session In Our Intimates" just for women. Ten of us, mostly strangers to one another, got together and stripped down to our intimates, sharing our intimate stories of body image, self-esteem and self-acceptance issues. Adelene also incorporated a little bit of movement and play in the session. 

As we shared, we cried with and for each other. It's easy to read on your phone or computer screen that everybody has self-esteem issues, and therefore you shouldn't let it affect you. It's a different thing when you're all almost stark naked, looking at yourselves in a mirror in a dance studio, actually saying out loud all the things people have commented about you, that have hurt you. The things people say about rolls, and cellulite, and your age, and arm fats, and your hair, and a million other things. You pretend to let it roll off you, but sometimes they come from people who matter, and they echo in your own head, and you see it and feel it still, when you see your own reflection. I talked about my own journey when I practised disordered eating without even realising it, and the excessive running and skipping, that all have translated into painful joints and hunched shoulders now (I started hunching because I used to have very little body fat and I would feel very cold, so I would fold into myself to warm my body up). 

We talked about how we've all been made to feel less than. I thought but didn't talk about how, when I had my miscarriage, I felt truly not enough for my mother, and therefore not enough for the world. How I had wanted to have a child because my mother had kept me when she had me out of wedlock, but then how my mother said the miscarriage was good because I wouldn't be reminded of my so-called sin, and how she couldn't have terminated me because it was too late in the term. These things are things that no longer affect me now, because I have extricated myself from my mother's value system and the world of sin, but once upon a time they did, and I was depressed about it for a long, long time. 

Our other friend from work, Aishah, also cried a lot, because she's in a body that's not portrayed to be accepted or beautiful in mainstream society, especially in Singapore. Watching her cry when she talked about the comments made by her friends or peers, and seeing all the other women and girls almost yell good things about her, to her, ooof, it was crying season. Aishah is such a lovely person, when I go to work, I always look forward to her energy and her jokes and her dancing, one time I laughed so hard at her rapping and dancing, I literally got depleted of energy and fell to the floor (I tell you, depression takes up a lot of energy). I wish more people really believed their worth to be in much, much more than just their bodies. 

I really like so many of my lululemon friends, so much. I know I mention Jaysen's name a lot because damn if I didn't have romantic feelings for him (unreciprocated but it's okay, I'm a cool person someone! will! love! me??????), but I actually really do appreciate my team very much. When they crowdfunded that sum of money for my studies, I really wanted to write a long-ass thank-you note to every person who contributed to it, I haven't yet, seeing as I haven't left, but I think a lot of my team is truly very special. There are many, many words I could write about so many of them, but I'll write the words to them when I leave, someday, eventually, before I die of burnout. 

Tonight was something special, and it takes a special someone like Adelene to open up about her own painful journey, on something as public as social media, to gather a group of like-minded people. It was almost a support group therapy session, and I am so grateful to have been part of it, to have witnessed ten people's relentless journeys through life. I have politics class in ten minutes, so the excitement and magic from the intimate session is slowly dissipating into a tiny bit of dread and sleepiness. It's okay, though, I'll process it properly this time, and we'll keep on keeping on.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA

It is a brand new week, time to reset all the counters. We went for Kristal’s debut class at Revolution on Saturday, it was super fun. She’s very verbally expressive, at least as an instructor, so it felt interactive and you could see her having lots of fun, making us have lots of fun. I think this is a great path for her to be on. Yesterday, we went for Jaysen’s Blitz class at Ground Zero. It’s almost like circuit training with six pods. I didn’t know what half the exercises meant. Jaysen was demonstrating a toe-to-bar move, which I think requires pure brute strength, and which barring any miracles that remove my depressive episodes that take up half my energy, I say with confidence I will never be able to do in my life. The alternative were knee tucks. Putri was my partner for the session, and I’m so glad my friends from lululemon are the fittest yet most encouraging people you could find. She had to do her sets for more reps while waiting for me to go through mine, and she still had the energy to cheer me on. Jaysen also modified most of the pods so I could do them. For example, he left a 5kg plate on the sled for Putri but removed it for me hahahahahaha. There was an assault cycle station, which hurt my left elbow, I think my left elbow is slightly more hyperextended than the right? I also think that’s why I don’t enjoy spin classes as much as other people do, spin almost always requires you to cycle while standing and bearing your weight down on the handlebars with your hands, through entire tracks, and my left elbow inevitably hurts at every spin class, so I just carry my weight on only my right arm instead while leaving my left arm hanging. Whenever spin instructors ask if anyone has injuries, I don’t know whether to tell them about my elbow. Is it an injury or just a condition I was born with and have to cope with? Who knows?? Xuan and I were saying, after yesterday’s Blitz, that Jaysen has a persona while teaching. He usually has a little bit of it even when he was on floor at lululemon (he doesn’t work at lululemon anymore), he’s very personable, but as an instructor, he adopts even more elaborate flair and finesse, and it’s very pleasant to watch. You can see he enjoys his work, as Kristal enjoys being a spin instructor, and I love it. I have mad, mad admiration and love for my lululemon friends. I started meditating again three days ago, and I’m determined to meditate once a day for the next thirty days. Meditating always makes me feel more grounded, and yet I never do it until I’m completely unsettled in life. I get busy with school and work and family and bills and I think meditation is not a priority, which is obviously counterproductive because the more things I have going in my life, the more I would need a moment a day to pause and breathe and root myself in my body. It’s been an alright Monday morning, I hope you have a much, much better week ahead than you did last week. If you already had a good week last week, then all the better! I’m rooting for you!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

TRANSPLANT

This morning, while walking to the train station, I saw a couple walking with their toddler. The girl was taking the tiniest steps and being fascinated by the tiniest things on the sidewalk and on her shoes and I heard her father sigh through his mask, but then he turned to her and said "good pace, good job!" and suddenly I felt better about the morning. The family eventually got to the same traffic light I was at, and I was going to jaywalk before the light turned green because there was no vehicular traffic, but then the little girl was there. I stopped myself and waited for the light, just in case she was looking at me and would emulate whatever she saw. 

I just got done with a boxing session, it was a really good one. I was able to do the correct moves at the correct pace, and I broke into quite a sweat. Tonight I'm going for Kristal's debut spin class, so that's another sweat I look forward to. I'm currently sitting in the basement of Guoco Tower waiting for the spin class, taking a break between doing my readings. This week has been a tough week, I keep thinking it might get better but it really isn't, every week feels tougher than the last. I've fucked up everywhere this week, at home, at work, in my personal life. My fuck-up at work actually cost quite a bit of money that could have been avoided if not for me messing it up.

At this moment in time, I've just read the timeline of indigenous history in Canada, and it feels heavy. My Indigenous lectures take place at 6.30am Friday, Singapore time, and my politics classes are 2.30am on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I attend them and then I go back to sleep for a few more hours. I don't think I'd ever acknowledged the extent of this, but every week, I read or watch an injustice via either my indigenous gender class or my politics class. Every day, there is something terrible happening in the world, and I learn about these things in the middle of the night, in between my sleep cycles, and I absorb and internalise them, and it weighs so heavy on me, and then I project it on everyone else.

As I type this, I can feel my tears building up, and I don't know what to do. I allow myself to cry, I've never been the type to stop myself from crying, but I really don't know how to do this longer than the absolute shortest period of time I have to. I don't think I can cope with the dual timezones for another semester, so I'll defer it if my visa doesn't get approved by then.

Wednesday, March 3, 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.