Thursday, 4 February 2016

David Levithan (i.e. the man who makes me question all. and cry)

The Lover's Dictionary made me think and feel a lot of the things all at the same time to the point that it was overwhelming. And that has never happened to me with a piece of text before, or any art for that matter.

211 pages of dictionary-style entries documenting such an intense combination of intimate and commonplace events and thoughts and questions throughout the course of a romantic relationship between our speaker and his partner, whom he addresses the entries to. This book had me underlining and pausing and wincing and I'm immensely surprised by that because things don't usually move me like that. I appreciate the artistry or the creativity or the thought processes promoted but to actually taste the bitterness and feel unsettled and to physically gasp at something so brief and concise.

It made me fear things; things like myself, things like the potential and the weight one puts into the ideas of trust and forever. It made me fear the things I saw myself in within the characters, things one may not view as insecurities, and maybe they aren't, but they are deeply rooted in things that are in a sense still tethering you to something you can shed. It showed just how significantly immense of a thing trust was. It is absolutely ridiculous to put down all your weapons, in fact even without the metaphor, but the willingness and the feeling of safety sleeping next to somebody else. That in itself is ridiculous; one day we were strangers and now I don't think twice about being unconscious a reach away from them. The fear is absolutely stunning and I suppose that's what makes these notions so immense.

It also made me see myself from the outside looking in (and I say made because it felt forceful. A good forceful. A holding up a mirror to your face kind of forceful) and at times, almost justified, or maybe just put into words what I struggle to explain:

“Even when I detach, I care. You can be separate from a thing and still care about it. If I wanted to detach completely, I would move my body away. I would stop the conversation mid-sentence. I would leave the bed. Instead, I hover over it for a second. I glance off in another direction. But I always glance back at you.”
"I want to sequester this one part of me from everyone else. I want the act to be a secret, even if the words can only hold themselves secret for so long."  

It made me think a lot about making decisions; how we make some so fast, "we don't let all the synapses connect before we do the thing we shouldn't do" and we hold on to things. We have this tendency to grip so hard onto things, even when we adamantly deny it, and we know that if we had the power, we would make those things happen. Even if they weren't ready to.

Most of all, I guess it scared me of human nature. To great extents. Or maybe that's enthralment. But we are such inherently possessive creatures. We want to know that if we want something, we would be able to get it and once we do have something, it has to stay. But then again there is a spectrum for feeling all of these things and I think what fuelled me the most with this book is the fact that both characters were stubborn, in their own ways, but both very ebullient in terms of their feelings and perhaps that dynamic felt closest to home for me because I'm basically a human firecracker.

"Just be warned," you said. "Someday you'll ask me to give up something I really love, and then it's going to get ugly."

Everything is incredibly fragile and this book highlighted that in the fact that it used such little words and very small distinctions, a little misinterpretation, a little connective, a variation of a tense can bring up such contrasting thoughts and conversations and emotions.

I think the quest of understanding is essentially the legacy we leave behind because with all our complexities and complications, intricacies and simplicities, everybody is trying to understand everybody in order to be able to communicate and co-exist and everybody is also trying to understand themselves and what they feel and how they feel it and why they feel it. And when we think we understand us we want other people to understand us and we want them to understand us right and oftentimes we want them to like what they're getting.

I think this book just made me surrender a little to the feeling of desperation because a.) it's inevitable and fighting it can make you so bitter and so bottled up and the way that it made me feel so full last night after finishing it to the point that I just did not understand what the fuck was wrong with me is a sign of that. And b.) it's okay to feel and do and think certain things and they could be sharp and harsh and scalding but we move on from that and being able to hold that mirror up to what you did yourself possesses immense strength and vulnerability.

It just helped cement that that particular dissonance is okay, we just learn to live with it and we realize it's not always an oxymoron.

"What did it matter to me? Did I think that by making you rational about one thing, I could make you rational about everything?"

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Recluse Shower Writer Woes I

I think I have officially coined a new term. See, here's the deal. Shower singers get all the recognition for being basically Adele for 15-30 minutes a day, but I think it's about time shower writers got some recognition.

show•er writ•er

an individual who writes all sorts of masterpieces in their head in the shower, extreme cases often murmur their creations to themselves while they absentmindedly leave the water running. tend to act like a recluse who has already had their big break in the book world (when in fact their primary writing publication is their notes app on their iPhone.

So yeah. Look at me going out there. Coining words. Making a name for myself.

I have taken ownership of the term shower writer because I find myself profusely writing poetry and looking for alternative rhymes and rhythms and making sPEEChes while I put my hair into a shampoo mohawk. So in a way of making myself useful for things other than midterms, I started a saga, if you will, called 'brain vomit' on my phone, the first note being on the 19th of October. And it has been going on since; 19th, 26th, 28th, 14th, 15th, 20th... and quite consistently too, which is very very unusual for me and my writing habits considering I basically wrote a book for NaNoWriMo 2015 and didn't like it enough to allow it to see any light outside my Microsoft Word prison.

The thing with this 'series' is:

  • Now that I've created something on my phone that has sentimental value and confidentiality requirements I'm
    • Irrationally concerned about people around my phone even more than usual
    • Incapable of waiting until I'm out of a social scenario when I need to write something that I have to evacuate (there is a reason it's called brain vomit)
    • More informed in terms of roman numerals because I decided to title each note "brain vomit i/?" because it's a, presumably, never-ending series
  • It's so comforting to have my thoughts documented somewhere that does not garner any feedback or invite any nosy eyes, or genuinely interested ones for that matter. I come back to them and am essentially teleported back to the morning of the 14th or the Thursday afternoon in the gym changing rooms at school. I feel like time is malleable in my mind's grip and that's exciting
  • I am getting far more comfortable with honesty. I'm very good with self-disclosure, don't tend to live in denial or accept my mind telling itself lies, but this has changed how I see communication. Once something is written down and out of my mind, it carries a different kind of worth. Some of it can be shared through chats or art or discussion and some of it is just beautiful in it's little safe rectangular container in its little slot in my millennial device.
  • Some lines I write are so beautifully vague or descriptive that everytime I re-read them I feel inspired and motivated enough to a degree to make art or write a little more and if my mess of a mind can be my own muse sometimes, it's a very beautiful place to be in. 
I suppose despite my inability to commit to a singular writing project at least I am always writing, whether it be in a Notes folder titled with an emoji of nosy eyes or on here every once in a while. I have heaps to look back on one day, and that is a satisfying and gorgeously haunting thought. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

untitled (or ‘a poem about intimacy, beauty and forest fires’ for now)

to me
has always been synonymous with
Somehow I felt
or knew
that when I breathe in the air escaping his rising
and sinking lungs that it would be
nothing short of
that it would
linger in my head for days to come
leaving me with a high
that made me feel
that his fingers will leave me traced
that it would
leave me a masterpiece.

to me
has always been tied to the idea of
That I could never
and would never
be the one left alone with my questions
as though the polar possibilities of a
or a
were all I needed to escape
But I
have made a
profession out of crossing the invisible line
where your eyes meet mine and I find myself wanting to ask for
to look at them.
Because looking at them felt like

Because as he moved his body against mine with
nothing but simplicity on his mind
Moving and reducing and moving and thinking and moving and
that sometimes it is just
It is just simple
and sometimes it is not art
and not magic
and sometimes there is no

As his cold fingers traced the small of my back
I did not have to think twice to know that this
was desire
that this
was craving
and I couldn’t help but find the heat escaping his body
Knowing and scared that this was not
an invitation for the trust that I was so surprised to see myself giving (up)
or maybe, just giving / Knowing
that this fire might only be put down
with the dust
of realisation
that this
may have been a forest fire
and I
did not want to find my flare gun
and maybe
I have gotten so used to being the one lighting fires
that I just did not know how to put them

As we twisted and turned
and crackled
and burned
I sat there admiring the marks of his ravishing aftermath
all over my body
This incessant need to put a name to a feeling has left me with this
addiction that I do not want to recover from
and no
addiction is not beautiful
but I cannot sit here and deny that this does not make my blood rush
that it does not make me feel like I am at the top of a mountain range overlooking
oceans of skin in flames
and empires of wild eyes
and crushing heart rates
and I ask myself how can something so beautiful be rooted in
so much shame

This incessant need to put a name to this feeling has left me with this
brooding sickness
and I cannot for the life of me
and try
to put into words all the reasons why
I am
to let him

But what is harder than claiming the inability to put them into words
is the ability to put them into words

but the inability to accept them.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Everything I Never Told You | An Almost-Review

In kindergarten, he had learned how to make a bruise stop hurting: you pressed it over and over with your thumb. The first time it hurt so much your eyes watered. The second time it hurt a little less. 
The tenth time, it was barely an ache. So he read the note again and again.
It didn't stop hurting. His eyes didn't stop watering. 

This is probably not for anybody who cares for spoilers for Celeste Ng's "Everything I Never Told You" because I have no idea how to de-spoil my stream of consciousness so bear with me!

I just finished this book after reading a couple hundred pages non-stop for the past few hours and despite having started it absolutely forever ago and having it absolutely consume me with its progression, I dropped it for a little while and I suppose it's for the best that I didn't finish it in little chunks because it wouldn't have felt as overwhelming as it does now, all at once.

The book revolves around the Lee's - a family made up of a father of Chinese descent, James, an American mother, Marilyn and their three children, Nathan, Lydia and Hannah. Lydia Lee goes missing and after several days her body is found in the town lake. This basic plot summary eludes to a novel about death, pain and ultimately, healing and I suppose, in a sense, that is exactly what happens, but it is the first novel that I have encountered that reveals this healing process for what it truly is. An absolute mess. Especially amongst a family who struggled to communicate before any traumatic event. It highlighted just how much damage was being caused on a day to day basis without the need of a death to lead to the dysfunction. It's very common in cases of a child passing away that the parents end up separating and those cases are always seen as the death drove them apart, but what Celeste has so meticulously crafted here was the multifaceted nature of relationships and all the dimensions in which damage seeds were being planted long before the "event".

Of course, the death was what forced them to take a look at their lives and with that halt in everything, the breaking down of every safety barricade people put up, there are realizations and there is resurfacing of past turbulence that has always been just beneath the surface like a low, barely noticeable fire. And once again, bringing it wholly to reality we do not end up with every doubt consoled and every question answered and every missing puzzle piece found. In fact so many things are still lost in translation, so much is not spoken and this makes me think of two things. One, that communication does not always occur in the conventional verbal manner as sometimes words do not suffice and people's mannerisms slowly bend and mould as their feelings change and their thoughts process. And sometimes that is enough. But sometimes it isnt. And that is the second thing, the fact that so many of us do not know how to use our words just yet. We're often shackled to the probable consequences of these words slipping out of our throats that we don't quite realize the inevitable consequences of the words not spoken. And I think I find solace in the idea that if you speak your honest self to those who matter at times that matter then you have done your part. You have less to regret and you will not be caught in the consequences of doing nothing. And to me, that's reassuring.

This book discusses a greater issue of belonging that I noticed resonated with me a lot less than it would with other people. And I acknowledge the privilege of the absence of persistent worry about where you come from and your differences and whether you belong but I also acknowledge the fact that I have not always 'belonged' but it has not been to the extent that it has led to me feeling like an outsider. So assessing my situation, I came to the understanding that perhaps I can empathize but I cannot talk very much about this aspect of the book without having the necessary experienc-ial (it's a word, I'm trying to keep up with my brain) prerequisites. However, I will say this. As I was reading, there was a point in the book where Marilyn says this when discussing finding out who she thinks did that to her daughter:

"I would think you'd want to know, too. But listen to you. Of course officer. Thank you, officer. We can't ask for more, officer" ... "I know how to think for myself you know. Unlike some people, I don't just kowtow to the police"
In a blur of fury, Marilyn doesn't think twice about what she's said. To James, though, the word rifles from his wife's mouth and lodges deep in his chest. From those two syllables - kow-tow - explode bent-backed coolies in cone hats, pigtailed Chinamen with sandwiched palms. Squinty and servile. Bowing and belittled. He had long suspected that everyone sees him this way. But he had not thought that everyone included Marilyn.
This moment hit like the utmost betrayal because it is very difficult to come to terms with the fact that someone you thought saw you differently to the rest of the world could see you from the same lens. And has mindlessly, most times passively, taken those perspectives in and regurgitated them without even the intention to hurt, in some cases. An experience of the sort can lead to things neither James nor Marilyn could be aware of. Little things break down and other things change within people after conversations and after incidences that even they do not acknowledge and that is just another thing that I find extremely exhilarating yet petrifying about human interaction. 

Something that this book touched on that I am eternally grateful for is showing the acts of sacrifice made my children. This is a newly formed thought in my head that I'll attempt to walk the both of us through. It is very easy to notice, if you pay close attention, the rate at which children soak up everything around them. They can sense situations and empathize and understand what must be done in order to elicit or prevent a particular behavior or response. And I think that is something so disappointingly dismissed. Once their mother disappears, the children do not nag their father for the meals they used to have, Lydia understands why the cooking book was such a menace for her mother and hides it beneath all of the books of science her mom relentlessly gifted her, Nathan does not speak of the uncanny preference shown towards Lydia because it keeps everything going and Hannah, hugging her knees, watches everything from the sideline; understanding Jack, Nathan, Lydia, Marilyn and James, understanding everybody and paying attention to everybody while nobody spared her a couple of seconds. It is ridiculous how much people refuse to acknowledge that children could make sacrifices and could give up such immense luxuries of childhood in order to maintain normalcy and to keep those around them happy and sometimes that pressure accumulates to extents that even the child itself no longer understands what is making all of this the way it is.

Tears blur Marilyn's sight, It had not been science that Lydia had loved.

There is a moment in the book where this dawns on Marilyn, how Lydia was bearing with the science in order to show her mother how much she loved her, and how much she wanted to ensure she would always be around because she saw a direct correlation in the behavioral patterns of her mother that reinforced her adding up obsessively throughout breakfast and her brilliant grades that she shed complete light on without acknowledging that there was more to her daughter than that. The humiliation of pinning a failed test paper right opposite the kitchen table. The way Nath and his dreams were wholly dismissed. The way Hannah's entirety was wholly dismissed. It's a difficult dynamic to live within yet I feel this particular family is a symbol of children making far more sacrifices and being far far more selfless than any adult in that story was despite the fact that they too, were just as pained and confused and trying so desperately to heal. 

This book was about everything from the difficulty of belonging and the struggle to accept identity and difference to the unending and jagged process of mourning, accepting and healing and it was definitely a whole lot more than I ever expected. 

In bed, they touch each other gently, as if it's the first time they've ever been together. In the dark they are careful of each other, as if they know they are fragile, as if they know they can break

Friday, 1 January 2016

How To Keep New Year's Resolutions For A Change

It's that time of year again and everybody wants to actually commit to some goals this time. So here is a m a s t e r l i s t of videos and reference points that will help you build up the necessary skills that will allow you to commit to this year's resolutions because instead of saying "Lose 20 pounds" or "Quit smoking" you'll be looking at what the effects of the current situation are on your brain, body and mind, the effects of improving the current situation on your brain, body and mind and the power tools necessary to get you from Point A to Point B.

I came across a YouTube channel called FightMediocrity that had a couple of animations reviewing or inspired by a few self-help books and thought I'd pick out the ones to include the ones relevant to most people's resolution making:

1. Building Self-Esteem
2. Building Willpower
3. Read More + Efficiently
4. Staying Motivated
5. Figure Out What You Want > Master It
6. How To Be Productive

* * *

1. Building Self-Esteem

Self-Esteem is i n c r e d i b l y important in terms of setting goals and sticking to them because if you don't feel like you can do anything to begin with, there is going to be hardly any progress and your depleted sense of self worth will plummet even further. Don't tie your self-worth in with your productivity because some days productivity just isn't your friend, so do not stress it. Be present, accept what you cant change but be proactive and change what you are capable of changing. In theory, we always hear these things, but action is always far more difficult and that's what makes the rewards worth it!

2. Building Willpower

This is the biggest thing, in my opinion, in terms of committing to NY Resolutions because the majority of people are trying to quit a bad habit. And quitting bad habits is going against the grain. It is very difficult to run against a current if you are so easily swayed to just turn around and let the current guide you to somewhere you dont want to be. Also you'll be lost. So no, dont do that. Willpower is extreeeeeeemely essential and to nobody's surprise, it all begins with a little more time in bed ;)

3. Read More + Efficiently

I have yet to try this strategy because this is the first time I hear of it but I did look it up and many many folk speak in favor. It is most effective with the sort of books that fall under self-help or life improvement or character building because that way you are taking in as much positive information as possible as quickly as possible, soaking it in and applying it to your daily life in order to start seeing results!

4. Staying Motivated

Motivation is essential in terms of doing anything and to be honest, despite it being one of the m a i n things it does fall under the self-esteem, self-worth and will power factors because if you think that you are capable of doing something, you are present and conscious enough to do it; assessing your strengths and improving your limitations and you believe you are more than worthy of gaining the benefits of a particular action, that will act as incentive enough to motivate you immediately. But this video promotes this understanding and acceptance that improvement does not peak continuously day after day and comparing day-to-day data, no matter what you're trying to achieve, will surely steal all your little motivation points from you. So just stick to it, and monitor progress over a larger timeline.

5. Figure Out What You WANT > Master It

This is frankly the one thing that always got to me in terms of making the best of my time. I always feel like I am 100x more productive when my energy is going into what I want to master. And it gets quite strenuous knowing that the majority of my energy on the way to mastering something needs to go into other obligations that might eventually facilitate my mastering of the goal in mind. However, it is important to k n o w what you want to master. There is no point delving into everything and giving 10 things 10% when you can give one thing 100%, or more realistically at least 85%, allocating the rest to the necessary obligations everyone's gotta do.

6. How To Be Productive -- 80/20 Principle

If time allocation is a total hassle for you then this is definitely something to utilize because procrastination tends to that to begin with, so we dont want to be investing time into things that we believe are beneficial and are worth the time we are giving up when in fact investing that into elsewhere will reap far more benefits.

Remember, your time is the most valuable thing you possess, do not throw it away.

ALSO, educate yourself on the effect of things such as stress and lack of sleep and a poor diet have on your body. As I mentioned before, knowing the cons (or pros! depending on whether you're more of a positively or negatively reinforced person) can help with committing to a plan that will allow you to get where you need to be.

Therefore - let's learn a little:

* * *

How to Break Bad Habits


How Stress Affects Your Brain & Body

How Sugar Affects Your Brain

Effects of Sleep Deprivation + Perks of Good Night's Sleep + How to Sleep Better

How To Stop Procrastinating

Thursday, 31 December 2015

☺ Twenty Fifteen ☺

I have been absolutely awful with time management this year. I can admit to that for sure.

However, it has been crazy busy, which is totally my fault! The past year feels a little packed and blurry because of school years ending in June and starting in September so everything before summer feels like 2014??? But wow! It has been a ride. The whole purpose of this little place on the internet has always been to document where I am at different points in my life and in an attempt to sum up 2015 I went through my iPhoto and picked a few little bits of 'key events'.

This year I took part in my last MUN conference, attended my first concert (Ed Sheeran! Still buzzin about that tbh), did the color run (!), had a super healthy + fit summer in Morocco, aced my psych AS, resat my Bio AS, started my driving lessons, had a rad little surprise 18th birthday party at school (squad are the, took on being head of the charities committee, had a whole lot of chinese food (!!), been swim coaching little humans for a while, won battle of the bands w/the boys (and ended up on the paper), got a new baby (phone!!!!), drove around (and celebrated 18hood w/class) with my homegirl abigail lots and lots, toured doha (and also celebrated 18hood) with the homeskillet robert, applied to university and heard back, still waiting on my top choice but fingers are so crossed they may fall of, oH AND I CUT MY HAIR. A lot of it. A lot lot of it. And dyed it red. Again. (probably in the top 5 most satisfying things this year)

O v e r a l l,
This year has really been a lot of highs and lows and its end has been the start of my last year of high school ever. Which is rather exciting. This year has been a lot of university preparation, trying to get the grades while attempting to make the most of senior year. I havent been too good at balance since around September because the school week drains me to the point that I would rather just recharge over the weekend rather than do much but I have been trying and have done heaps but it all should be easier after Christmas break.

Procrastination has been the bane of my existence this Christmas break in terms of writing and making art and everything really. But I do feel like I deserved the break, especially after the most stressful term yet, in every aspect. 

I'm going out tonight to spend NYE with a bunch of friends which should be refreshing because usually I just hang around at home with the fam. Which is lovely. But you know, "make the best of senior year" mentality kicking in and why not.

I am beyond ridiculously excited for 2016 especially because I start it off, in February, with a trip to Los Angeles/San Fransisco for Psychology. Which is just the epitome of perfect timing. I'm hoping to truly accomplish everything I'd like to this year especially as I'm going to be moving somewhere c o m p l e t e l y new come July. Which still feels too unreal to think about. But all in its time. It's strange to think that I have 6 months left of the life that I've been living for almost 11 years now. It's very very exhilarating and I am more than ready to cherish change because over time everything naturally grows stagnant and stable, and this time in my life, that is rushing past to be frank, is just characterized by change and out with the old, in with the new and mistakes and learning and losing and gaining and moving, moving, moving. So to each time it's perks (and dips)

I will most definitely be writing more especially that university planning is basically out of the way. I've been thinking about getting back on the video platform as well because sometimes I want to get something across by chatting to a camera or with a little film and something music. So that's a solid plan of mine for this upcoming year.

Oh well, wow I'm proud of myself for getting around to writing this. Even though it's the 31st and it's been a draft since the 18th hahah

x x x

f e b r u a r y - m u n + r u n

m a r c h - e d  s h e e r a n

s u m m e r (+ my hair. i had to)

n o v e m b e r - e i g h t e e n

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