Being Jowee

Being Grateful for 2013: A List

Here are some of the things I want to remember about 2013:

1. Got a full scholarship for my Honour’s year.

Consequently met some of the best people ever, cohorts, supervisors, academic staff and all.

2. Wrote a Thesis and completed my Honour’s year  

I can never thank my supervisor, family and friends enough for this one. Their support was immeasurable.

3. Fractured my finger playing Futsal

How have I lived 23 years without a sport-related injury? Well, try never playing a sport ever. Which leads to…

4. Played Futsal

Now, I have a “team”- loosely formed.

I wanted to try something new. I wanted to do the kind of thing that I wasn’t necessarily good at, but was passionate about. Because how often are we only passionate about the things we’re good at? and afraid to do things because we’re bad at it?

Oh trust me, I’m bad at this.

5. Found 5 puppies thrown away at the side of the road

This was significant because I fulfilled a childhood dream of mine- Save animals. I had always wanted to pick up strays as a child, but no one would let me of course. It wasn’t pretty, nothing about the entire process was. But found them all homes in 2 days, and realized that there are such good people around.

6. Made 8 new, good friends (and all my old friends still love me) 

I love these people.

7. Lost a friend 

Prior to this, I had never broken up with any “friend” before. Sure people fall in and out of touch in our lives, but we’re still “friends”. This is the first time I ever forthrightly told someone I did not want to be their friend.

You see, friendship is one of the most important “ships” in my life, and almost everything  can be solvable and salvageable to me. BUT, this year I learned what was not okay and I am a better, wiser person for it.

8. My baby nephew was born 

I am lost for words at the miracle of life.

9. Went to Singapore for Two Door Cinema Club, Bloc Party, Urbanscapes with Tegan and Sara, Franz Ferdinand, Mew and Explosions in the Sky, 65 Days of Static… 

I am very happy with where the music industry is going. The local scene is booming, and many old/new bands are coming in. I am a very happy music-lover.

10. Had the opportunity of being part of roughly 200 young lives 

It was a privilege I will not take lightly. This was where I learned your heart can open to be X200 times larger than what it is.

11. Had the opportunity to teach 14 teenagers a little something

I had always been afraid of teenagers. This experience opened my eyes. I love these kids.

12. Had a post go viral

I had always been wrought with self-doubt about my chosen field- writing, and I had always wanted a larger audience. So first, this experience gave me some form of confirmation that what I am doing can be called “good”, and secondly I no longer desire “fame”. To have a lack of control was NOT fun.

13. Voted for the first time 

Consequently, it was also one of the more significant elections of our time.

14. Changed my relationship with food

Decided to become a vegetarian for various, and perhaps “all” reasons- health, environmental, ethics- everything. I am not a vegetarian yet, I still succumb to meat some days. It is more accurate to say I am a pescetarian. But more importantly, I eat because I am hungry and have to eat, not because I am bored, or greedy, or just because I want to eat. I am a lot more careful and make more conscious choices and efforts to think about what I am putting in my body, and the kind of effects it would have on the world/earth. Even more significant is how much better my relationship with food is now compared to when I was a teenager. Did you know I used to be afraid to eat? This is a victory if I ever saw one.

In the following days, and the next post I am going to write about my New Year’s resolutions. It is a long, extensive list I have not gotten around to writing yet. But I need to write it down, I need an audience to help me be accountable.

Anyway, I am signing off now. Until next time…

A (poorly documented) 2013

 

I got a stunning reminder the other day of what my life was before turning… a certain age, or rather, before entering a new phase in my life. Back then, I chased inspiration, chased it like the sun, chased it with a club!

Now, my life in 2013, I’ve poured all my energies into earning a living that I’ve missed out on making some good art. I miss that so much, you have no idea. Even if it isn’t “art”, I missed sharing my thoughts and ideas with the world, it keeps me inspired, it keeps me searching. My thoughts this year in this blog has been splotchy and all over the place. There’s no narrative to speak of and I’ve abandoned almost all of my goals this year. But now, late into the year and almost into a new one, I’m going to try to start again, if it’s okay with you my dear readers. Thank you for being so patient with me and still bothering to check up on me once in awhile.

I take a lot of what Socrates talks about in the unexamined life… that it is not worth living, but I also realized how dramatic that statement is. I don’t think examination and introspection is everything, but my “contemplation” muscles have been weakened by pragmatism and all this “work work work work” / “go go go go”. I’m so tired, in fact I’m tired all the time.

So I’m going to make some new goals for this season of my life, number 1) write even when you don’t want to 2) write something, a little something everyday 3) finish what you start out writing, doesn’t mean you have to post anything, just finish writing something.

Hopefully, that will train my brain again.

TOP TEN: List of Dominant Thoughts in life Thus far

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image via pinterest

1. I hate writing online. Writing online has killed nearly everything good about writing. All these competing ideas, and articles to get more likes and clicks, tends to move what’s really good about words and thoughts away from popular culture. Write for clarity, they say, don’t write things that are too long, don’t introduce new characters without some sort of explanation, make things easier for the reader, you’re competing for attention remember?! Put in lists! top tens! write about relationships! people love relationships. Write with humor and expletives, people love that!  I say, if J.R.R. Tolkien ever applied any of these “rules” Lord of the Rings would never exist.

2. Doing life has been tough so far. Maybe it’s because people like me are just entering the cusp of life, filled with endless self-doubt. ” Am I in the right job?” ” Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?” ” This job’s okay… but…” There’s always this “but”, this big question mark at the back of our minds that unsettles you every time you think “I’m good.” ” I’m happy” or ” I’m okay”. You graduated with a good degree, good education, and you think you’re ready for work but when you enter the workforce, what you’re doing has nothing to do with the skills you learned in your study. There are people that say ” Oh you’re just a baby!” nearly every.single.day, and you are. Nothing seems to really fit, being educated in a largely Western tradition, prepares you for nearly nothing about being part of a Malaysian workforce.

3. The Generation Y syndrome? There’s been so much talk about it these days, and the funny thing is these articles about GEN Y are being circulated by GEN-Y-ers themselves. Is it in agreement to many of these claims? That we are coddled and self-absorbed? I agree. But there are some things that GEN Y’s in Malaysia can’t really help. The part where parents pay for their education and rent. It’s more of economics and how far the ringgit goes, if young Malaysians are able to afford paying for their own education, and paying for their houses and cars, they would. I’ve tried suggesting that I wanted to live on my own, and I nearly got disowned. Which might have been nice.

My point is, if the point of these articles are to highlight the problems, then they did a good job. But so far, no one has been able to highlight a good solution, and that’s whats missing. Want an easy solution? Get Generation Y to do things to help other people. The fastest way to step out of their self-absorption and actually look outwardly.

4. Looking back when I was ten, I’m not the person I hoped I would be when I turn twenty. I thought I’d have it together by now. I was greater at being 16 than I am at being 23. I might have been a great 16 year old, I had way more successes and adventures in my years. I had a reach-for-the-stars attitude in life. Now, I find myself constantly “settling” and just really tired all the time.

5. I wanted to be a writer, but you can only really call yourself a writer when you actually, write something, and I’m at the point in my life where I don’t think “blogging” counts as “writing”. What have I written so far? Some commentary pieces, some online pieces for some magazines people don’t read, and some pieces for a magazine I’m not working at anymore.

6. In many ways thirties are the new twenties, and forties are the new thirties and so on. I’m at the age where I don’t really care about my age, so I’m just going to make a blanket statement- I can’t wait till I’m thirty or forty. One, it’s a universal truth that men in their thirties are far better than men in their twenties, and two, I’m waiting for the point in my life where I just don’t care what people think. So people thirty and over, please tell me that my assumptions about being older are true, mostly that you stop caring about what people think, and that men get better than what’s currently happening.

ALSO THIRD, I am poor, I don’t spend money on anything I like, unless you count the purchases I made last night, which don’t count because I didn’t buy anything for myself for six months. The only other time was during the Chinese New Year sale, and now it’s the Ramadhan sale. Can’t wait till more experience equates to more money.

7. What do you think about Marriage and Kids? 

I think nothing of it. Except marriage seems like a way out from living with the parents ( an issue of economics), saying this, it seems exhaustive that the only way I can finally live on my own, is if i lived with someone else, bound by law, and that idea seems pretty exhaustive to me. And kids, refer to point 6, I have barely enough money to keep myself alive let alone another human being.

8. You know what’s really annoying about indie/musical people? 

The constant policing of what’s “good” and what’s “not”. What?! I thought you guys “loved” music, I didn’t know you hated so much more than you claimed to “love”.

9. Speaking of music… Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts is the kind of band you warm up to because you imagine, they could very possibly be you. A little unfit, muffin tops, slightly geeky, nerdy, and in clothes that look like they just got out of their houses; and when Austin Brown bends over to the manipulate feedback effects, you catch a glimpse of his butt-crack. Comparing them to other post-punk alternatives, they stand out as being slightly more lyrically-driven. Most music lovers don’t pay much attention to lyrics and words in a song, but this band just happens to make you take notice.

10.  One of the funnier thoughts that came from my friend Nat was when he said, 

” A Bro doesn’t hold another bro’s hand…”,

It was in response to when Daryl and I got together. We were ‘bros’ before this, we were really ‘GOOD FRIENDS’, and  I liked it that way. So I really don’t relate to all this talk in sub-culture about “friendzoning”, because, everyone’s my friend. I like friends, I love friendships, in many ways I treasure friendships much more than any type of ship.  SO being a friend isn’t secondplace to relationships.

Finally Learning to Be Better

"Adventures of Dan Board"

“Adventures of Dan Board” via artbyvins.deviantart

” Adulthood” had brought clarity to the things that are meaningful to my life. I used to have these “huge demons” growing up, and I realized that I am still battling them today. I know you must remember how we used to be during our teenage years, it was all about fitting in, “popularity”, whether or not you had enough brains or “talents” or battling body issues. But there’s this other part about growing up, it’s that you finally realized many things you never knew existed.

I found out today that this person I used to be in enmity with had grew up “poor” and struggling, but now she earns enough to support her family. While spending my whole life hating someone for petty reasons, I wish I knew this earlier, it would have helped me give people respect, it would also have taught me compassion. We could also have probably been friends. It finally made me admit to myself, ” You’re better than I am” and ” you win”.

My life needs a lot of humbling. There was always a war within me to constantly strive and push to “be better” at everything. You know how it is, if you’re anything like me, you do this thing where, once you reach that goal, or climbed that mountain that you’ve set for yourself, you immediately make a new one. There was never any time where I truly sat down to celebrate what I’ve achieved and to just be happy. I was never, ever good enough for myself, I had to be the best at everything, my gifts, talents, brains, looks, everything. And this had been the worst part of my life. Not only was it tiring, I never had any fun winning or achieving anything. I had developed this great pride because I have an inability to have anyone else better than I am. I just couldn’t accept it.

It was funny, because I used to call it perfectionism, and I thought it was good. But then perfectionism, I later learned, is the impostor of excellence.

Excellence has the ability to celebrate, while perfectionism nit picks at your imperfections.

Life is a competition, people say, but life is also a lesson, a journey, a lemon…

I am choosing not to live in this competition. I need to celebrate my life. Be it accomplishments or otherwise, instead of sweeping it under the rug and go, ” Oh yeah this was something I did that one time…”

I need to accept that I am blessed.

Here’s something we don’t often think about- as our blessings increase, our gratitude has got to increase with it.

So today I am grateful for my opportunities of education. I am grateful for getting that scholarship. I am grateful that I am able to pursue a life in academia. I am grateful for my supervisor, for being able to intern at BFM, I am grateful that I have an income and two jobs, and that I can support myself. I am grateful that I can play instruments, paint and write, many people don’t get that opportunity. I am grateful for my relationships and family, the two things that are the most precious in my life, and things I would never replace with anything in the world.

I am grateful I’m growing up.

A Day In the life of a Tee Jowee ( the “working” version)

Awhile ago I wrote about what my life looked like in a day, but then was different from now. I was lazing around then, and now I’m a working lady. So life looks quite different and the events that inform my thoughts and ideas continue to change, and I would argue, “get better”. But generally:

My day begins by reaching work at 7.30 a.m., I usually try to get up at 6.30 a.m., but “try” is the operative word. I am usually up at 7.00 am on good days, and on bad days 7.15 am. So I rush to work, thankfully only 5-10 minutes away. Work is the kindergarten, yes I am a kindergarten teacher, call me Lily Aldrin, currently run by my bosses- the sister and mother. Ask me how it is working with family? Well I can’t tell you. I try distancing myself from them at work to avoid complicating my life. I finish work at 1.00 PM – 1.15 PM give or take, and usually am on my way to the university. I take a little break, eat food, and in Daryl’s words, ” Talk cock” with friends and fellow honours students, and begin actual work at 2.30 pm.

My goals for my research at the university usually look like this:

1) I should be reading 3 academic papers a day, making it 15 a week. Also A book every three days, and writing summaries on all of them to aid my writing that is due to begin in June.

2) I have still yet to figure out my theoretical framework, and write my literature analysis. I also need to plan my fieldwork, get interviewees, and further outline my thesis chapters. Also planning for research supposedly due to begin in May (which starts today).

In general I never meet these goals during the week. So I stress myself out.

Then I usually finish at 6.30-7.00 pm, and make my way home. I usually reach home at 7.30-7.45, eat dinner, rest, and usually Daryl comes over, if he doesn’t, I’m usually online fuming at the news and ranting to/at friends. Then he goes home, and I try to get to bed by ten. It usually looks like 11.30 to 12.00 a.m. Then my day repeats 5 more times till the weekend.

Here’s a picture of crepe cake so my post won’t look so boring

The only different routine in my week are on Tuesdays when honours classes are and when I go to Nobel International to teach Journalism and run the editorial board. This is once a week. So my Mondays are usually reserved for lesson planning and preparing slides, research and other work. So after classes and the bi-weekly meeting with my honours supervisor, I drive to school (school to me has to be continually defined, I’m part of three! ), reach at 3.00 pm, finish at 4.30, wait till 5.00 pm while waiting for Jordan to finish basketball practice, and drive home. I usually reach home at 6.30.

I try separating my workdays into strictly “work” and my play days into strictly “play”. So I try to do NO work on weekends, to prevent a burnout. My weekends are consumed by Birthdays, events, church, Daryl, football and mamak sessions- usually Melissa, Nat and Sam, or brunch and tea with Wei-Lin and co., and others that are free. The other “friends” section of my life have been taken up by Whatsapp chats and Skype chats, because they insist on being away and out of the country.

So when friends and people ask “How are you”, and ” What are you doing now?”. This is it!

Don’t worry, I don’t believe my dreams are being put at the back-burner just because I’m a teacher. The plan is to be a lecturer, and publish papers, articles, and write my Novel before I’m thirty-three.

Also, I’m sorry I lied about, “I will blog something substantial tomorrow“. Gosh has it been a day already?! Time sure flies when you lie.

Why I Like Blogging So Much

Photography by Tang Qi Kit

Hi friends,

I think I remember why I liked blogging so much. I say “remember” because I forgot for awhile, for a long time actually, until I went back to old blogs, and old blog posts and saw the things that occupied my mind for a time. I realized I was always trying to understand something. Things that didn’t make sense to me, like love, and myself, and why I acted a certain way or why I was afraid and embarrassed by certain things. I think I was also driven by the need for other people to understand “me”, because I couldn’t express it well enough in real life that time, so writing it down in words helped.

Then I grew up, became more confident, became more articulate, and became able to socialize like a relatively normal human being and there seemed no more need for the “writing” or ” blogging” part of my life.

But like I said, I realized and redeveloped my reason for blogging again today, or more accurately yesterday. Maybe because I watched ” The Perks of Being A Wallflower”, and like your typical indie movie, there were mixtapes, typewriters, music, a reminder of what it was like to grow up, and what struggles were like when you were trying to make sense of life.

I realized I really started blogging in the beginning because I was fourteen and I was like the protagonist, an adolescent, trying to fit in, trying to grow. I even used words like “despondent” to describe my emotions at one point, which was really embarrassing, because how much does a fourteen year old girl from a middle-income life know about real sadness, other than the imagined. But a little while later, I grew up and all that fodder and material for writing got used up I think. Then I stopped writing this way, and eventually stopped writing because I realized I stopped having the “need” to make sense of the world because it already started making more sense to me.

Then I realized now, just yesterday actually, that that can’t possibly be the case. The world could not have possibly  been “made-sense-ed” of and understood, it can’t possibly be, there are a million other things that have not quite been solved, questions unanswered, and things unexpressed, so I need to think harder about the things that still don’t make sense. It’s really wonderful how a single day, or a single film has so much power to do that to you, to make you think harder.

So I tried to remember again why I used to write. Maybe triggered by my relating to the protagonist of the film, who had all the makings of the writer ( like I said, it was a very “indie” film).

There’s just something about blogging that makes you want to organize your life, and categorize everything. You start wanting to keep a record of things, and thoughts, opinions and anecdotes, and I think these things are important.

I’m also a better person when I blog, I think better. I work harder and longer. I do more research and I’m more critical. I think I will, no I must continue blogging, even after all that it is is falling further out of fashion.

Blogging also became the mouthpiece for what my heart is saying, and what my brain obsesses about. I remember it as giving me a stronger voice, and more well-thought out opinions.

I also took more pictures and made more art that time, and I always enjoyed that part of life.

So, I think I will …. and must continue this.

Thank you for listening

A Day in the Life of a Tee Jowee – a non-working version

Wake up at ten, look at the clock, Oh man it’s ten! Should have woken up at nine so I don’t waste my day away! AHLAH! Then proceeds with wasting the day away. Turn on laptop for ten minutes to browse through Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, in that order, or if you like, in no order. Goes downstairs, makes some eggs. Boils water, lowers two eggs (cradled in a sieve) into the water so the splash of hot water does not splash on hands.

Jumps around the kitchen in vain attempts to get rid of excess fat, while waiting for eggs. Eggs took four minutes. Before taking eggs out, I decide to chop onions. Had a good cry. Tore the lid off tuna can. Grabbed mayonnaise from the fridge. Puts a heaping dollop of mayonnaise on tuna and onions. MIX WITH GLEE because we all know mixing is the funnest part. Crack soft boiled eggs. AH HOT HOT ! Mix in pepper and soya sauce. Tear bread to put it soft boiled eggs.

Eat breakfast with newspaper underneath. Browsed through the news. More corruption and more annoying government. Vows deep in my bones to do something about it. Checked out the new electric drum set in our living room, did some rewiring because the wires were all in a mess. Spent a good amount of time trying to get the faulty model to work, didn’t work, had to send it back to Subang.

Went upstairs for four episodes of 2 Broke Girls. Spent some time bemoaning my life and questioning my abilities, the ability to reason, to work hard, to write, to stir myself into motivation. Got annoyed with self. Stopped feeling sorry for self. Went downstairs to drink bucket-loads of water. Felt sick. Stomach bloated. Felt hungry after because found brother making instant noodles. Stole a spoonful of instant noodles.

Whatsapped friends. Tried calling some friends. Whatsapped more, while online. Checked out pitchfork, some blogs, some news articles, some Facebook news. Bemoaned my life again. Had to remind myself that MY LIFE IS FINE, I HAVE PLANS, it’s just not the time for them YET.

Got annoyed at 9gag, got annoyed at Reddit, got annoyed at youtube. People on the internet are so stupid. Just because you have an opinion does NOT mean you should go around saying everything that comes to mind. I don’t believe that we all have a right to our opinions, we do however, have a right to an INFORMED opinion. Continued scrolling through comment sections of people screaming at each other. OOH, Capslock, yeah we’re scared of that. The rainclouds rolled in, gathered all the clothes on the clothesline. Tried blogging about how people are so stupid, failed miserably because I found out I am “people” too.

Watched videos of dogs and babies. I will forever love you Labrador and Golden Retrievers!

Dreamed of finding a box full of puppies! If I find them in a litter of four, I shall name them George, Paul, John and Ringo. If there’s a fifth I will name it Yoko. I don’t care about the sex of the pups. They shall be named George Paul John and Ringo. Thought about what I might name a future child, if a boy, he shall be Luke, so his father can say ” Luke! I am your father!” (9gag gagged this) If a girl, I shall name her Argentina… So every time she cries I’ll be all like , ” DON’T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINAAAAA….”

I have a slight penchant for calling a girl Pepper Ann too. So I can sing the theme song based on that name.

Tried getting myself out of bed. Felt horrible. Hot and cold and hot and cold, I think I’m falling sick. Stomach ache, must be something I ate. Felt super tired. Lay in bed. Got into a bad mood after that because DARN IT I FEEL HORRIBLE. I think its hormonal. Had to cook dinner. Didn’t in the end because sister came back and took over (God bless her!)

Drank Zinger Tea and had a sachet of bifidus. Tried eating dinner. Ate Kettle Chips, ate a Viennese chocolate sandwich.

Grabbed laptop, tried rewriting that thing on why people are stupid, then decided to write this because I’m incapable of anything else at all today.

 

So for those that ask, SO JOWEE, what have you been up to?

It’s all this in many different variations. *bows *

A bit more Realistic?

I find it very difficult to write these days because it feels like I’m unable to offer anything new to the world by doing so. This isn’t coming from a place of self-loathing or insecurity, it’s more the realism when faced with an entire world of writers and bloggers who have their own voices and identities, who have made their mark by being known for writing about certain things, and it seems like there isn’t a space left to squeeze myself into. Why does the world need another self-professed “writer” trying to “make it” by talking about her feelings and thoughts to her close-knit group of writer friends and close friends?

Perhaps it’s a little self-disgust. I used to have these grand ideas that my words could heal, save, inspire, challenge, change, influence, but I’ve since became very practical about this world. I have come to realize, writing is not the be all et. all of my life, though still retaining the embers of what was once fiery passion ( see the overly descriptive words?). Maybe someone will be touched by something I said, maybe someone’s life would be more impressed by a thought I wrote, but there are also a lot of people that don’t read, and I need a way to engage with them too.

There are days where I still believe that, for myself at least, writing is the best thing that I could offer to a world. It comes from the thought that you are best able to make the most contributions to the world when you live by your talents. And writing, had been what I was told my talent was.

But in the years since I’ve discovered writing, I’ve also come to discover that we don’t just have one talent, and we shouldn’t have just one. I’ve discovered I also have a great capacity in my being to be passionate about many other things, animals, God, education, my country, support against racism, sexism, helping people, public health, sustainability, the environment… I can develop the ability to speak well to crowds of people, or be very funny, or be intelligent, and that sometimes the skill comes before the passion. We often don’t explore something because we think we’re awful at it, but I had been challenged to do differently, to purposefully do the things that I’m bad at, but have always wanted to do.

and all this involves me being more than a “writer” and for me to offer more than words. Advocacy and activism comes with being an entire “being”, an individual that is more than the sum of its parts. Personally I dislike loaded words like “activist”, ” vegetarian” or “Christian”, because these things have come to denote and connote some very negative things, but I am these things (the vegetarian bit is for another story), and I’m going to take all that comes with it.

All this comes with having a completely new belief that I should only write the things that would be of use to someone else. Perhaps its because I’ve developed a kind of disgust with the things I think about and concern myself with, or the idealism I used to have in believing that anything I put out in word could come to change anything. Because the truth is, I am not yet, “somebody”, and the moment I strive for significance is when I lose all significance.

I think I’m growing, or rather I NEED to become someone that is going to do more active, engaged, type of help, one of action to supplement the words.

People that believed in me had encouraged me that my voice does matter, simply because it is mine, unique and irreplaceable, and I do believe that, but I also believe there is tremendous power in being ordinary, or pushing character before anything else.

Daydreaming About This Guy and Paradoxes

Maybe you should listen to this song to set the tone for the rest of this piece.

-A Prelude-

I never wanted to be like those girls who dream of marriage and children because a long time ago I had decided that this wasn’t “me” and it possibly wasn’t going to be me. But a little bit of living later, I started to question this, “Actually, what’s so wrong about being that girl that wants marriage and children?”.

The world keeps on telling us that now, to be a strong, independent woman of the twenty-first century, you have to “chase after your dreams” and want a career, and we’re supposed to not want to be a housewife, because it is beneath you and demeaning to be a wife that serves a man. But these days, increasingly I’ve seen strong, independent “rule the world” type women who have these dreams. These are women who are intelligent, women who would thrive in a corporate environment, the type that are tough, or I never would imagine them wanting to be a housewife, and they have these dreams of marriage and children. Its a paradox, and its so interesting to me. No one ever asked society, that what if those “dreams” were exactly to be a housewife? We’re always defining and redefining empowerment, but when you ask the women what they want, what if they do find empowerment in being a wife and a mother? Its a dream like any other, and who am I to police “dreams”?

But I do need to be clear, I still do not want marriage and children, but I no longer oppose it. Which is why I don’t know why my brain keeps on cooking up this story of me and “dreamboy”. Let’s call him “Mike”.

Part 1

I keep having this recurring daydream about this guy I encountered while I was in Melbourne.

He’s this guy that led worship in one of those mega churches, he looked like a superstar. He had a great voice, which is why I remembered him. Well, I half-lie. I remembered him because I thought he was cool. He dressed effortlessly in the style I liked seeing on men and had tattoos on his forearm. I imagined him to be a possibly reformed “bad boy” who found Jesus, which would explain the tattoos and the serving on stage. Either that or he was just the “artsy soul” who wanted to defy conventions and platitudes of Biblical verses on tattoos. Either way, I liked the contrast of church boy with tattoos. I’ve always liked opposites. I found contrasts interesting- Like quiet souls with loud fashion, or plumbers who have degrees on aeronautical engineering, and bakers of pink, flowery cupcakes in the body of a bald muscle-man over-stretching his death metal tee-shirt, that sort of thing. Its a profound curiosity in all these complexities of life, that we are all living, breathing, walking paradoxes, and that we are not defined by what we do and what we look like, and the two almost never has to correlate.

So I never met him, and he never knew my name, but in the daydream he wanted to marry me.

We were on the bed, in my room. I couldn’t decide if I wanted my house to look different, or if we should have it be a daybed, but I knew that the day was sticky because it was our motherland. A hot breeze manage to creep its way in through the langsir.

It was one of those boring, painfully normal days, which involved doing nothing, going to the shopping mall, buying nothing, eating something, then coming back. Then it was just like that, on the bed, both of us lying there, when he suddenly just rolled around to his front, looked at me and said, “Hey marry me.”

Just like that.

WIthout pause or change of inflection in his tone. Just a solid, sure, suggestion. Not even a question or a plea. Just a … “Hey marry me.”

My cheeks burned pink immediately. My insides shouted. I was hyperventilating metaphorically. I wanted to slap him. “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU YOU CRAZY!” Every feeling in my gut wanted to make a sure flight out the door and into the streets. It was as if we were in nature- “fight or flight?” I was quite sure I was a “flight”. As in, run away fast.

Instead I gave a long pause as I looked at him, and pretended to be thinking about it to spare his feelings. He is, after all, the man I love.  “But how…” I said. It was a faux wail of concern to cover the nerves. ” We don’t even have any money…” I said pathetically. Money was never a ‘thing’ with me, so you could see how incredulous this claim was.

“Nowadays need a lot of money wan you know? No house. No nothing.”

He sort of laughed yet you could tell the nerves seeping from his normally cool exterior. He knew I would say something like that. He knew I was dying inside and wanted to run away. He knew it all, but didn’t let me go with a “just kidding” or a statement to alleviate the tension. He was really saying it. He wanted to marry me, he was giving me a  “Nope. I’m not letting you get away that easy.” battle of the silences.

“I know” he shrugged finally.

“Here.” He pulled out a silver band. “Its NOT your wedding ring. Its RM 24.95, but its just a little something to show you that I’m serious about this.” I was already shaking my head. ” I’ll replace it with the real one later, when I get the money.”

.” I don’t need a diamond ring!” I was furious. How dare he suggest that I was materialistic, though we both knew that he didn’t think so. I was just being difficult on purpose.  “I don’t need anything!”

” Who said anything about diamond?!” He joked and I laughed.

At this point, I don’t even know why this daydream crept in my day. I am not this person. I am not this girl. I do not daydream about marriage. Boys, boyfriends and making out yes, but not marriage.  As the daydream shows, my disposition still reflects this paranoia, even after finding someone that was the proverbial “it”.

He was “it”. We both knew we were “it”.

How did I know?

Someone famous once said, ” I think the moment you look at this person and know that it can’t get any better than “this”, and you’ve stopped looking, this is pretty much ‘it’.” But still, in my daydream, I had wanted to run away. I even had the perfect deterrent, I told him “But what if I don’t want children?”

“You don’t want children?” This time he was genuinely concerned.

“ah HA.” I had him this time. He was stuck now.

“Well, I don’t know.” A long silence.

I was being truly honest. I really didn’t know.

” I might change my mind.” I might.

“…Like ten years later. But you shouldn’t be waiting around for me to know. What if you marry me, we spend years down the road, and I still don’t want children? You’d be bitter and hate me forever.”

He gave me a face, something that said “No Way that’s NOT going to happen.” Yet his silence showed he was thinking.

” I honestly don’t think that would happen.” he said finally.

“How you know?” I challenged.

” I don’t know.” pause.

“But I know that I just want to marry you.”

” hmm… yeah s’okay lah, we can have accidental babies, then like, ah no choice.”

We both laughed again.

“Mike” was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, this much I was sure. I knew it, and he knew it. But I couldn’t say “yes”. I had a need for control. To control my own life, and define marriage and even boyfriendhood according to my own terms. To give myself to a man, is a lack of that control and I had a problem with that.

Mike was not real. But he was the face to the personality of the person I imagined I would want to marry. I thought about the kind of guy he could be, I imagined him to be in love with photography but is actually an accountant working nine to five for something corporate and something he hates. Years later he would leave his job to pursue something great. Not photography, that’s his hobby. But something truly great, of “save the world” proportions.

The details of this man are still cloudy, but he did have one thing, JUST one thing that made the difference from my “OH MY GOSH RUN AWAY HE WANTS TO MARRY ME NO!” into a “YES”.  Metaphorical Mike was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with because he had the one thing I didn’t find in anyone else on earth, and it was “Compassion”. He had compassion.This was my surety.

Part 2

It was just one word. The one thing that was missing in society and man. One word to replace what years of searching, thinking and refining my ideas about the kind of man I want was. Where previously I had wanted things like intelligence, passion and a love for people. Compassion is something innate that is more than the sum of these things. Its the driving force that moves ordinary people into action, where previously it would have been just static words and feel good sentiments.

Its the thing that drives people to far off destinations, building schools, alleviating poverty and hunger, doing all the unglamorous things to make sure someone else has their decency.Its a deep respect for humanity.

Even if it wasn’t done in a third world setting, compassion can be seen in the first world. It can be in the workplace, and Mike had that. He has a history of forgiving someone even when it feels so good to hold a grudge. Its the unglamorous thing that no one sees and the thing that comes at a cost to you, because its making sure a person had his decency, even after he had stepped on you to get ahead. Yes compassion is THAT unglamorous.

If he is to be a person that I would live out the rest of my days with, he had to be my partner in crime. Or rather, in a very cheesy way, my partner in “love”, my partner in loving people and compassion for people. He will be the person that makes me better, and I for him, and we will be the people that urges each other on when we grow tired of the impossible task of loving.

I no longer see compassion. But I have hope that it exists.

So who is this Mike?

I don’t see him, but I have hope that he exists.

Which is why I always said, the moment I see a man like this, that’s the moment I know he’s “it”, if I were already “it” for him too.

Panic. A Writer that Doesn’t Want to Write Anymore

Calm down. Don’t panic. Breathe. Write.

I’ll start by being honest.

These months have been the most anxious times of my life.

Its nearing graduation. I’m going to be unemployed. And I realized, I no longer have my dreams. I’m not sure what this is. I hope its “just a phase”. But is it a phase if I think I no longer want to write?

I have not been having a very productive writing week lately. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it a week. Its been the longest time since I felt at peace with anything I’ve been writing. In fact, I’m downright panicking. I’m scrapping everything I so much as scribble on a page. I’m deleting everything. I’m “cleaning house”. I hate the words. Dare I say it mother? I hate the words?! No! NAY! these words shall not be uttered! It is sacrilege!

People say its impossible for a writer to not be a writer, and a few years ago, I would have been one of those people who said that, but now … I’m not so sure anymore.

Back to unemployment, I have been writing my whole life. I’ve been studying my whole life. I do not know what its like to NOT study.

I’ve also been learning my whole life, and spending the time to explore all the things I haven’t seen, and suddenly, its as if I don’t have this luxury anymore. Sure we know that we never stop learning, and spend our whole lives searching, but now, its as if, we don’t even have the time to think, and we have to just start producing.

And it makes sense, I mean I know knowledge is wasted if it wasn’t used. Because what’s the point of gaining so much in your head if you don’t put it to use? We do not simply store up reserves.

You’ve now got to act. You must act, and do something with it.

It is depressing. I know what I have to do, but I hate that I have to do it.

I was quite taken by what I read from Benoit Raphael today. He said, the reason why he went into journalism back in the day, was because he couldn’t speak. He was nervous, an spoke with a stutter. It gave me a reaffirmation that maybe, through my shortcomings of speech, in my anxieties before speaking to people, maybe I could just do this too, and pave the way for other introverts of the world, that hey, you could be this person even though you are not the cookie cutter journalist.

Then I read about Lee Strobel, the noted Christian writer, and how he used to be a journalist that wrote for the Chicago Tribune. You could be a journalist and a Christian too. I mean one doesn’t really put the two and two together you know. Journalist and Christian? Doesn’t really fit the mold. So, there’s a further reaffirmation.

All in all, I feel this great weight on my shoulders.

Maybe I’ll just go and be a dog breeder.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Stop writing. Save it for another day.

 

p.s. you all know that I’m half serious right?