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15 Things I would Tell 15 year old me

 

  1. Being impulsive is NOT a character quirk. It just means making bad decisions and disguising it as virtue.
  2. Having dreams and ideas are great, but anyone can have ideas. Now execution – that’s the thing you need to work on, and that takes time and work. Don’t be afraid to put in the work. The sacrifices are worth it.
  3. That whole long, straightened hair, eyeliner,  tank top, tie, cargo pants, Avril Lavigne look does NOT work for you.
  4. You spent too much money on Topshop. You should have spent it investing in your hobbies – like better guitar pedals and camera lenses.
  5. You will waste less time if you remained true to yourself.
  6. For the last time, you are not fat.
  7. You will definitely do and experience a lot, but still, you could have done more and been “more”.
  8. Go to more gigs and concerts you fool.
  9. The only person you need to compete with is yourself.
  10. Spending more time living outwardly and giving to others will make you happy and fill your life with greater purpose and meaning. Do that more.
  11. The risks are always worth it. Take more of them.
  12. Get out of your self-importance. It’s not about you.
  13. Take yourself less seriously. Maybe you could have been a Tina Fey / Amy Poehler in-the-making.
  14. Validation and attention is nice, but it’s not worth it if its not the right person. Spend less time thinking about boys and what they thought of you.
  15. Forgive your mistakes. It’s not the end of the world.

and two more for a bonus:

16. Do not let your laziness define what you thought you can or cannot do. Maybe you could have been great at Math if you gave yourself a chance. You defined yourself way too much. You could have been anything if you stopped drawing your own boundaries.

17. You should have published more when you had the time, energy, and lack-of-shame.

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Unagi Drama-Rama

 

Succulent flesh, glistening in the warm glow of light.

Sesame seeds resting atop a glaze of syrupy-sweet sauce.

Six perfectly-grilled pieces arranged in a row, slightly angled

– like well-disciplined soldiers awaiting their next order.

 

He sat there alone, peering into his iPhone. Those same perfect pieces untouched.

Suddenly, something base and virile raged in me. I heard the voice of demons yell– “ GET IN ME!” I glowered at the man-boy, ” You bespectacled nerd. You fiend! Don’t you know that when perfection calls, you answer? Don’t wait another second. You devour with fervour. Take in every last drip, every mouthful!”

 

I wanted him to share it. With me. If I can’t have all of it, at least lure him with my womanly charms to get some. Accost him to offer it to me as some sort of trade for my attention. He looked like easy prey. I could do it too. I can be charming. I can be whatever unagi called me to be. I furtively glanced back and forth from my empty table to his roll of unagi. How far was I willing to go for unagi? To talk to a stranger? An unattractive stranger? I contemplated the cost. I looked at his face.

 

That bastard.

 

I glanced at my table. I had not noticed seven pink, perfect pieces of fatty salmon on a plate. They wobbled as I gingerly picked it up with my chopsticks. I waited as it melted in my mouth. It was good. So good. But still, unagi silently screamed from across the table.

 

Then, it all happened so quickly. The man-boy sat up straight, thumped his phone down on the table with Hitler’s determination, and proceeded to jab his chopsticks into a piece. It was like the swiftness of ninjas. I could not bear to watch. He violently dunked that same piece into shoyu sauce (YOU’RE RUINING IT! – I heard demons yell), jammed it into his mouth, wolfed it down in seconds, and without even waiting to swallow, speared at the next piece, and the next, and the next. He was Pol Pot incarnate.

 

I looked on in horror, mouth agape.

The torture seemed like eons (forty seconds).

Then, silence.

A call for the cheque. A chug of tea.

Then, they were gone.

We never had a chance.

 

I looked at the empty table where unagi once sat as I slurped at my Cha Soba. I genuinely tried to experience its texture. The emptiness bothered me though. It was cold. Maybe it was because I ordered cold noodles. I thought about how he mixed unagi and pickled ginger all in one mouthful. I shuddered. I chewed on lunch slowly, dissatisfied.

Then, I decided.

I reached for the menu.

I looked at the order, looked at the price, mentally calculated what I had in my savings account, and uttered an inaudible c’est la vie! C’EST LA VIE I SAID!

Time stopped.

No, you’ve  had enough. It was a perfect lunch. You could not have asked for anything more.”

I called the waiter.

“ You’ve worked so hard at HiiTs. Don’t ruin it with more rice and calories! People with abs don’t over-order!”

I heard myself say “One stamina Roll please.

I could still cancel.

I didn’t.

The plate came within minutes.

 

I picked up a piece.

The journey from chopstick to mouth seemed like The Odyssee.

But just like the prose of epics, I came home.

 

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image via link

 

I was one. 

I was whole.

I was complete. 

I was unagi.

Of unfinished coffee, movies and relationships

I was having my morning coffee today when I realised my heart rate was going up. I had to stop. I was hesitant to leave the unfinished cup because I had that nagging feeling of not wanting to waste food.

Then I remembered, I had already paid for the cup of coffee. Whether or not I finished it should not matter, because the exchange has already been made – money for coffee.  I owed nothing and therefore would gain nothing by forcing heart palpitation on myself for the sake of some sound value meant to teach us gratitude.

It’s like that famed economic example of buying tickets for a movie. As the example goes, you suddenly have a family emergency – either your house caught on fire or your cat Pablo’s giving birth, so you’re forced to forego your movie to attend to the matter and “waste” the ticket. But because you already bought the ticket, the investment was made. You have simply weighed your options and made your decision to attend to the emergency based on what you value – possible life and death versus entertainment at the movies.

Just like love. Many people stay in relationships way past it’s due because they’ve invested. To break up, would be a waste, because one has not gotten their ROI. But remember that you’ve already paid for it – with your time, love, affections, attention… least of all money. The issue of “wasted” isn’t the issue. All you have to do now is to weigh it with what you value and which is the greater matter to attend to – whether you think it’s about leaving because you think there is someone else better for you, or staying because you want your returns, a situation that may take years depending whether or not you’ve made the right investment, and sometimes, it only depreciates.

 

Hope this helps.

 

A Harrowing Reminder to stick to what is important

“You’re still young and healthy. Maybe that’s why you don’t understand what I am saying. Let me give you an example. Once you pass a certain age, life becomes nothing more than a process of continual loss. Things that are important to your life begin to slip out of your grasp, one after another, like a comb losing teeth. And the only things that come to take their place are worthless imitations. Your physical strength, your hopes, your dreams, your ideals, your convictions, all meaning, or, then again, the people you love: one by one, they fade away. Some announce their departure before they leave, while others just disappear all of a sudden without warning one day. And once you lose them you can never get them back. Your search for replacements never goes well. It’s all very painful—as painful as actually being cut with a knife. You will be turning thirty soon, Mr. Kawana, which means that, from now on, you will gradually enter that twilight portion of life—you will be getting older. You are probably beginning to grasp that painful sense that you are losing something, are you not?”

— Haruki Murakami – 1Q84

 

He said it, not I.

2014: A Brand New Year

The other day I made this dramatic, extensive list of goals I had planned for 2014.

I think perhaps a big part of why I make these lists is because it allows me to re-imagine a better, more successful “me”. In desperate attempts to rid myself of the filth and gutter, the bad habits and mistakes I have accumulated in 2013, the projection of a Jowee 4.0 is an exciting thing. Perhaps it is a form of escape. Should I achieve it, perhaps I would really be pleased with myself.

The list is truly epic, spanning five pages, with dot points and outlines, and sub-sections. I grabbed my favorite pen- the inky, flow-y, silky, “make you write inspirational” things pen, and with almost military-like precision, I quickly adopted what seemed to be a fool-proof methodology. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it, complete with suggestions and first steps and supplementary aid to make sure my 2014 is a success, UNLIKE my 2013, which was a total failure as far as life- years go.

MY 2013 was a terrible, sorry state if I have ever had one. My only plans were to “support myself” and “stay alive”. It was vague, I aimed low, I was unhappy, but at least I succeeded. In fact I think that was it, I was the most unhappy, internally, I had ever been this year. I was deeply dissatisfied with where my plans- or lack of plans took me. I was busy all the time, I did nothing meaningful it seemed. I am not exactly bemoaning this as a bad thing. In fact I think it is a very good thing, it makes me want to challenge it and take on life, and change it, right now.

In the following blog posts I am going to be sharing some parts of this “extensive” list. It is extensive because I have meticulously wrote things like, ” Stray away from using contractions in my writing”.

I think I can make it into four blog posts.

ONWARD FRIENDS! TO A BETTER ME! A BETTER YOU! TO A BETTER YEAR!

HIP HIP!

 

Do you read Murakami?

One of the questions I’ve been wanting to ask you is, if you read Murakami?

I’ve only read Norwegian Wood, and skimmed through some others, but one of the things I like most about his work, is how unabashed and unashamed he is about loneliness. He doesn’t shy away from the unbearable questions of our solitude or the fact that most of his characters are in fact, completely alone, and lonely, and searching.  I like how he echoes the thought and introspection inherent in humankind ( or himself) and doesn’t offer any of the answers to the complexities. Its such an existentialist philosophy. I find a great affinity with his characters that try to work their way in this life that makes no sense, and the whole ” the journey” is the meaning idea. Existential to the core.

A lot of people feel sad and nearly suicidal after reading his works, I did for awhile, I hated that book for awhile. It took me a good year and a little more thinking to finally see what I’m supposed to do with it. I believe the fact that everyone feels alone, even the most loved and popular, gives me some courage. Its just the equal ground I need to reach out to everybody, to connect, and to say what I mean. It pushes me to talk to those that I really want to, because life’s too short and beautiful to deny yourself the best of it. I want to talk to everybody. Perhaps that’s not a deep enough take-away, but it works for me.

I used to have a massive crush on this person, but somewhere during the week, we talked. Then the crush disappeared, and the person emerged. It was a comforting experience that sent me on a roll, to throw away all inhibitions and just allow myself the risks of feeling and looking foolish. What if all my predispositions about people are just … that- predispositions. I’m not always right you know? I would never know what this person is thinking or what that person is feeling. So, I should ask. I now begin to deny myself the privilege of snobbery, and to just talk to people. Something my supervisor said that time too when I was contemplating what to say to someone, or if I should even say it at all, ” You never know what people are thinking what… just ask…”

I’m not sure this makes sense to you, but for too long I’ve been in a position of pride mixed with fear, and shyness, and just pure awkwardness. For the people I don’t like I mostly think they are egotistical and arrogant, and I’m convinced I’m right. But I have been wrong before.This is foolish if you really want to live, and I really want to live.

A Panic Attack

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a panic attack. I think I’ve had something close like it. I felt my heart beat out of my chest, I couldn’t swallow air, my oral cavities were stuck and I had the involuntary urge to vomit whatever I ate earlier. My fingers were cold and there was a desperation in my chest I couldn’t let go of.

What I usually do whenever these feelings come is to turn on something by The National, and listen to Matt Berninger sing something melancholic. It’s extremely sobering, and it felt like I was transported to New York, or wherever I believed his ” Fake Empire” was or whatever “Graceless” state we must be living in.

It always seems to bring to mind a few comforting things to remember when you forget that you are happy:

1) That happiness is a recent invention, and science has proved again and again that a) As long as you have the following: Food, Clothing and shelter, you are actually, in fact, undeniably happy, and that b) all happiness is relative.

2) It would be more fruitful to not be obsessed with being happy, because everything will pass and that our existence isn’t about being “happy” despite the conventional wisdom put on memes and pictures on Facebook.

And then I breathe… and I try to breathe in slow, and I think I feel the panic go away.

 

who loves who “more”?

image via link

Here are some thoughts to think about:

Somebody once said this to me at the end of a phone conversation, ” I love you as much as you love me.”

This sounds like something funny to say, definitely if you are outsiders to this relationship; but to explain a little bit of the context here, the two of us had been together for awhile and we were at this point of comfort in the relationship where we can deviate from the classic ” I love you” and ” I love you too” responses. Sometimes we found ourselves overusing those words, so a little creativity doesn’t hurt. So he said it, and without any control ( it was after 12, my brain stops working after 10) I prematurely exclaimed, ” Nooooo!!!”. He laughed hard, while calling me out on this “revelation” that I probably didn’t love him as much as he loved me.Well, what this situation later revealed, was a whole lot more about the subject.

The first question that came to my head was, ” Was it true? Did I really not love him as much?” We both didn’t think it was the case, rather this situation revealed just what I thought about my state of love towards him.  This revealed that, I believed I personally had a greater capacity for love, and that I wasn’t using up my “love” resources enough. So why was I only using it halfway?

This then introduced a whole other string of thoughts. Namely, first, that I was measuring love in terms of “feelings”, which can’t be measured. How can I ever experience what other people feel inside, to compare with my own? I can’t. One person’s “5” on a scale of one to ten, might be another person’s “ten”. For all I know, Janine’s “love” scale is set at “10”, but is a smaller scale compared to Jack’s whose is set at “5”, but it is a more powerful scale, making the number 5 overpower the number 10, even though the number is a 10. See, in this situation, we set our own scales, without any knowledge of a baseline average. Hence, my perception of how much I believed I loved him, based on a scale that is set to my standards of love, that might not be what other people’s standards are.

 

Second, if love is NOT a “feeling”, then maybe it is an “action”.  This also has complications. What if someone really, really, really professes his love to someone else, but yet, does nothing about this love? He doesn’t tell her, he doesn’t offer her kind words, or a shoulder to cry on, doesn’t buy her lunches etc., let’s pretend he’s afraid, or whatever his reason for not doing anything is; compared to a person who says he likes someone, not love, like, yet he opens her doors, sends her flowers, buys her chocolate, does a whole lot more*, who loves the other more? One identifies with loving the other, the other identifies with just “liking”. So is love defined as an “action”?

Third, if love is sacrifice, and sacrifice is in itself is subjective; for example I think it is a big sacrifice to always be the one driving, braving the traffic jam and getting past two tolls, but Daryl doesn’t view it as a “sacrifice”; to him, this is just part of things, or what life is like in KL. It is “the norm” of his everyday life. Yet Daryl might find it a big sacrifice to cook a meal, wash cabbages, cut carrots, heat pan, pour oil, fry.. .etc, but I, in turn, don’t find that a sacrifice. So who does “more”? Who does the “greater” sacrifice? We can take this up to many other situations in relationships. Cooking is a “lot of work”, but would I rather cook or drive? I would rather cook. It’s more enjoyable to me.

It’s been said that forming the crux of most arguments, we tend to judge others by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intentions. So there are two things at work here, one of them is our perceptions, of our own love, of how other people love each other, of how my partner loves me, and the other is our actions and behaviors to what goes on inside that doesn’t necessarily correlate.

 

* these are just examples of course. There are other factors at work of course, socioeconomic factors, opportunities, etc. as to why people do not “act” on situations, but all this is besides the point of this piece.

Never being able to just say “Thank You”

This week hasn’t been great, in fact so has last week. I think I’ve been slugging along in life, feeling demotivated. I haven’t been challenged. I think I’ve loss a little bit of my color, or stagnated, or loss a great big chunk of determination to get back to where I was before, which was, the person that was constantly striving, reaching, doing something…

Maybe I haven’t been counting my blessings enough, or had not been aware of the goodness around me. Maybe I haven’t been praying enough…

I had this conversation once with someone that relates to this “goodness” thing, we were asking each other,

“What’s the one thing about the other person that you wished you had…”

I told him I wish I had his musical abilities, which was honest, but then his answer next was an unexpected one, or rather, something I hadn’t thought that I had before. He said, he wished he had my ability to see the good in everyone and everything. The initial reaction I had, was an intense dislike at the statement. I didn’t take this as a compliment, because it sounded like I was naive, and I spent too much of my life never wanting to be that.

Then a bit of thinking later, I realize just how that statement was not true. In fact it was the total opposite of what I am. I am judgmental and critical, and overly-sensitive to the failures and weaknesses of others. I am the furthest from always “seeing the good” in people, but I think what had happened was I’ve overcompensated. I triple the desire “to see good”, so that it cancels out all the negatives that I do see.

I think that’s also why I’m also constantly writing about hope and believing, probably willing myself to be happy in a world and the current state it’s in, knowing for a fact that it’s so incredibly hard. Because the world isn’t great, this country and this society is not great, the people you expect to love you most fail sometimes, and you fail to be comforted, sometimes.

That statement also made me self-conscious. I was uncomfortable with being seen as something “good”, for the very fact that, I’m not. If people believed this about me, it would be a tremendous let down when they find out that I was the furthest from it, and people do need more hope in their lives.