30-Day Writing Challenge Day 13 : A Memorable Stranger

13. A Memorable Stranger

stranger
/ˈstreɪn(d)ʒə/
noun
  1. a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.

It was many years ago when I first watched Wong Fu Production’s Youtube short, Strangers Again which chronicles the stages of a relationship. From being strangers gradually trying to get to know each other, getting into a relationship, going through a honeymoon phase where everything is sweet and lovey-dovey, misunderstandings, fights and the inability to compromise or reconcile differences, and finally breaking up – becoming strangers, again.

I spent the better part of five years with someone from high school. We had been friends since we were 16, and got together when we were 17.  We even went to the same college for awhile, and I recall fondly times where we’d ride the train to college, sometimes waiting for hours at the mall for the other to finish their classes, just so we could ride home together. Things were sweet for awhile, but as it goes, things played out just like in Strangers, Again. It wasn’t any one person’s fault – it was just that we were young, naive and had idealistic notions about love.

Perhaps the idea is best encapsulated by this nugget of wisdom from Zendaya (young but very talented and mature, unlike many of her contemporaries in Hollywood):

“I’m so anti being in a committed relationship when you’re young and people are learning and growing, because when people are young, they make bad decisions sometimes because they don’t know any better. It doesn’t mean they don’t know the difference between right and wrong—it just means that they’re still in the experimental phase in their life where they haven’t made the right decisions yet…it’s very hard to be in a relationship when the both of you are still figuring out life. You cannot change anybody. You cannot make someone grow up faster than they’re supposed to.”

 

We were both at a phase where we were just discovering the world and the best people and environments to surround ourselves with  – and our ideals and visions for the future were just too different at the time. While we broke up on relatively good terms, it felt awkward. How do you become friends again with someone whom you have been so intimate with and who knows almost every facet of your life, for five years? Friends who knew us were pretty appalled, saying it was a shame and that I wasted five years of my life and youth. That’s just the thing though – did I want to waste another five? I’ve always been of the belief that if things don’t work out even when you’ve already exhausted all avenues, perhaps it’s time to move on.

These days, we’re still ‘friends’ on social media, although I haven’t seen him for the good part of six years, nor have we spoken much other than sporadically. Of course, having spent so much time together in our developmental years, it’s hard not to recall things from the past. All things considered, we had a good run, and our experiences together helped shaped me into the person I am today. Strangers? Yes. Memorable? Definitely.

 

 

What’s On My Playlist? August 2018 Edition

Hey guys!

I’m not in the perkiest of moods lately. Let’s just say that when you do things right, people expect it of you, but you fuck up ONE time and they won’t get off your case for it and suddenly you’re seen as incompetent, careless, lazy, inefficient. ONE time. Well, I guess that’s how life works and I shouldn’t be a whiny bitch about it. Suck it up, foo.

Doesn’t help that my anxiety has returned in full force, I can’t seem to get my mind in the right frame to write (for work) properly, and I’m having trouble falling asleep because of paranoia and/or SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE DISTURBING ME IN MY ROOM GAHDDAMNIT. Call me crazy but I legit told it to fck off this morning. It might just be me talking to an empty room or it might be me addressing my inner demons but what the heck. This post turned dark real fast 

On the bright side, the weekend’s close, and I actually have plans wow. Whether or not I’m going through with the plans is another story.

Enough with the gloom and doom – time for another What’s On My Playlist! Been awhile since the last one; I believe it was in September last year. Hope you guys are having a great week so far. I shall soldier on.

I listen to this channel called Alona Chemerys a lot, and they feature plenty of interesting indie bands. While cycling through the autoplay, I stumbled across Mild Orange, a Kiwi band with seriously chill, dream-pop vibes. Aside from this track called Mysight, I also like their other single called ‘Some Feeling’, taken from their debut album Foreplay.

Every now and then I get an itch to listen to The Scorpions. They just have such a timeless, classic sound that has lasted through the ages (the band was formed in 1964 – and Klaus Meine is still singing at the age of 70!)

PS When we first met, I was astounded that the Boy had never heard of The Scorpions. Blasphemous. 

I first fell in love with James Morrison‘s voice when I was in my late teens. I don’t understand how he never became a superstar. He sings about love, loss and heartbreak a lot, but emo subject matter aside, there’s a depth to his voice that is both raw and powerful. Have a listen. This is the best medicine for broken hearts.

If you have not played or at least watched the playthrough for Detroit: Become Human – YOU HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. I vote this game of the year for its amazing storytelling, well fleshed out characters, unique gameplay and stunningly beautiful graphics. Drawing heavily from Philip K Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which later became the basis for Blade Runner), the plot is basically about Androids in the future, their awakening into sentient beings, their struggle to be freed from servitude to humans, and the efforts of the evil conglomerate to subdue them. You play as several characters, such as Connor, the conglomerate’s android tasked to hunt down ‘deviants’, as well as resistance leader Markus whose decisions (or YOUR decisions) affect how the game ends.

It also has an awesome soundtrack to boot, especially this one called Now, which involves a heart thumping chase scene worthy of any Hollywood action film.

Okay not a song per se but the song is in the trailer. I couldn’t find the (song) video anywhere although I know the artist is supposedly Vo Williams.

PS I really want to watch this film! I loved the Raiders series, and it has been 12 years since the last one.

 

I Remember the Mice

It was exactly four years ago.

I was stuffed from having a huge bowl of bulgogi at your favourite Korean restaurant. You told me you took all the girls you liked here, and the waiters always mistook them for your girlfriends. That made me a little sad, but I didn’t want to spoil the night.

We walked through the back alleys of Chinatown and the dingy parts of Soho, where bright, neon lights beckoned to patrons, promising pleasures of the flesh at its strip clubs and gay bars. The autumn wind was freezing. We had ice-cream at an Italian gelato shop.

I was fascinated by the clock tower outside MnMs World, when it started playing music and the noises of the city’s hustle and bustle fell away. It was just me and you, and the rotating cows and milkmaids of the Swiss clock tower. I can still hear the chimes in my head when I closed my eyes and your grabbed my hand.

And then we were at the Piccadilly Circus tube station, waiting for the train to go home.

You told me to look over the platform ledge, where you pointed out tiny black fur balls scurrying across the track. Little baby mice, making their way through a world of scraps, of breadcrumbs and dropped chips, steel and dark tunnels. I imagined their beady eyes staring up at us, wondering about the giants gawking down at them from the world of light above.

The station guard yelled at us to step back as the train came. I had a sudden urge to jump on the track: join the rats and revel in the darkness. You must have seen me leaning forward, because you pulled me back by the collar of my hoodie. I felt that whoosh of hot air as the train approached.

I wondered if the rats would be squashed if they got under the wheels.

I hugged you goodbye at Victoria Street. And that was the last time I spoke to you.

It’s been awhile.  It’s getting harder to remember your face, or recall the feelings when I hugged you goodbye.

But I’ll always remember the mice.

How I Spent July – Freelancing, Cooking, Keeping House and Being a Caretaker

Hey guys! Sorry for the lack of updates – I think it’s been a week since I last posted anything. I’ve been quite busy with things… which is ironic, since I’m ‘unemployed’ right now.

I left my old company about a month ago. Believe me, I’d have stayed if I could. I liked the job, it allowed me a lot of flexibility, and I had awesome colleagues. But as with everything else, there’s no perfect 10 – and in this case, I saw no reason to continue if the situation there remained unchanged. I took a big risk by leaving without securing a job first, but I thought of taking a short break to let me relax a little from the stresses of corporate life. Turns out the ‘break’ isn’t so relaxing after all lol 

So far, I’ve been to a couple of interviews, but they either didn’t find my skills to be the right match, or vice versa. And believe me – after five interviews with no matches, you start to question yourself. Like, ‘am I really cut out for this?’ ‘Am I a good writer?’ ‘Do I see myself doing this for the next 20,30 years?’

My parents have been supportive, but I can tell they are worried and disappointed that I don’t have a clear direction in life. Some of my friends are earning five figure salaries, buying homes and cars for their parents.. and here I am at 26, jobless and going through a quarter-life crisis. I see myself writing, but I can’t see myself working in a news organisation anymore (too much pressure and no social life.

Not everything is doom and gloom, though. By some strange stroke of luck, I managed to book a good client on a freelancing platform, so I’ve been working on some write-ups for the past month. Sure, it’s not a steady income and it won’t last forever, but for now, it’s enough for me to pay my bills and cover my basic expenses. No more drinks at Starbucks , that’s for sure…

I find that I enjoy freelancing, and working at my own pace. It takes a lot of discipline, because there are no bosses to tell you to do this and that, and you are sort of your own boss. You deal with the client, you understand what they want, and succeed or fail, it’s all on you. It’s a whole different level of pressure, but I find that I can handle that so far.

Another silver lining (?) is that my ‘break’ is coinciding with my mum doing her cataract surgery. She did surgery on her left eye about three weeks ago, and on her right eye two weeks ago. During the healing period, her vision will be blurry so she was told to rest a lot and not do any housework. So guess who gets to do everything? 😀

So aside from working on my freelancing project, I have to keep house and cook. This has always been a point of contention because I’m clumsy af and in the early days, my mum wouldn’t let me anywhere near the kitchen from fear I’d blow it up or slice a finger.. or something. Also, she is kind of OCD and must have things done in a certain way. If I cut vegetables ‘wrongly’, she gets annoyed and tells me I’m doing it wrong, before proceeding to show me the ‘right’ way. Most of the time I take her advice, but sometimes that’s just not how I want things done. I don’t want to hold the knife the way she does because it feels awkward in my hand.. and I always believe that things should feel natural to you, the user, instead of trying to imitate someone else’s technique and end up master of none.

Cooking these past few weeks has actually been a relaxing affair, because she can’t be in the kitchen due to the smoke getting in her eyes, and I’m allowed free reign to experiment with things. Granted the food doesn’t always turn out good but I’m learning and perfecting my dishes. Some of them turn out pretty decent!

It’s also good to be home because I think my mum is suffering from some sort of anxiety/depression. There are some complications with her recovery ie vision is still blurry, so she’s been freaking out about going blind. I’ve been ferrying her to the hospital multiple times (at least five or six over the last few weeks, for the surgeries + checkups) and all the doctor can say is ‘give it time’. My mum is a constant worrier, so that didn’t help much. She already has health problems, so this just exacerbated her worries. She told me it was good that at least I was in the house, because otherwise she might have gone crazy from being alone with nothing to do, since she can’t watch TV or play with her phone. I help her with the medicine application every three hours coz it’s hard for her to do it herself.

We’re already in August, and I’ve kind of stopped going on job sites. I’m still wondering what I can do next. I’m sick of corporate life and the drama that comes with it… but leaving that behind would mean I have to do something on my own in order to survive. And I’m not sure what that’s gonna be. I strongly admire entrepreneurs who have set out on their own to chase their dreams and I wonder if I have the guts and the strength to do that. It’s easy to fall back into a ‘job’, where you never have to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from. I’ve been wondering if this is my only alternative.

I know my parents want me to go back to a corporate job. They are old-school Asian parents who have spent their lives working 9-to-5 jobs, and they want that same security for their kids. Go to work, clock in the hours, go back, get a salary. Live for the weekends.

I toyed with the idea of doing freelancing full-time, and dropped some hints to my mum. She didn’t say anything, but she did ask me ‘How long can you do this for’? and ‘what about your EPF ? (Malaysian version of social security – employers pay a sum into your account each month)’ – which is basically a big fat ‘NOPE’ to the idea.

I don’t want to let them down. It’s the curse of being the eldest child in an Asian family – they look to you so much to carry on the family legacy, and take care of them when they are older. You’re always under pressure to do the right thing according to what they want, and not what you want – held back by a constant fear of disapproval. Of course I want them to be proud of me, but everything I do seems to be wrong.

Sometimes I envy American kids. I’d rather my parents threw me out so I could fund my own college by working, rather than spending their life savings to fund me and then expecting me to do great things. I fear failure. I fear rejection and disappointment. But I want to do what’s right. And it always tears me apart.

Sorry, this has turned into some ranty shit. I feel better after putting this down though.

The next post will be a happier one, I promise.

Cheers,

Eris

If Time had been Kind

IMG_20160418_211753-tile
like do i look photogenic in this pic or what lol.

 

If time had been kind
Would I be the one you watched
stars with late at night?
If words had been said
would you be the one I woke
up to each morning?
There are so many
Maybes hidden in between
Lines that we practiced
and now what are we
but two strangers lost in
a strange little world

 

*First try at haiku okay pls dont laugh kthxbai 

 

I was thinking about a guy I used to like when I wrote this. There’s nothing sexier than a man with a brilliant mind, and he had one that blew mine away. It didn’t hurt that he was also very cute. Sadly, the time wasn’t right – I was with someone else, and he knew it too. So that was that.

Sometimes I wonder about what would’ve happened if we had met under different circumstances.

Would he have rocked my world? And vice versa ?

Looking back, maybe not. He was truly a free spirit, a poet and a dreamer – something I wanted to be, but wasn’t. And could probably never be.

Come to think of it, maybe he never felt the same way about me. Hey, we hadn’t even met yet.

All we had was that one, unforgettable night of conversation.

 

 

If you’re reading this, yes, it’s about you.

 

 

Friend ?

As a (self-professed) INTJ, I’m very picky when it comes to friends (which is why I don’t have many!) But I’d like to think that the handful of close pals I have are those whom I can trust and share things with.

I’m not a person who’ll go out of the way to do things for you, unless you’re family or a very close friend. Sounds douchey, but that’s just the way it is. My buddies will tell you this though – once you have my friendship, you have it for life. If you have an emergency at 3am, I’ll be the first one there for you even if I have to drive at 120km/h in pouring rain. (Not that that’s been tested yet, but yeah.) 

Usually, it takes me a long time to open up to others, but sometimes I meet people whom I hit it off with right off the bat. In this case, it was with this girl called L. I haven’t known her for long, but since we share a lot in common, I felt that we could be good friends. It started off that way, but lately, L has been piling more and more of her responsibilities onto me while doing nothing herself. The worst part is, another friend pointed out that she should probably be helping me (helping! haha! when it was her job in the first place) and she ignored it. IG.NORED. IT.

That’s when I knew this woman was just taking advantage of my kindness and my willingness to help her as a friend.

The thing about INTJs and trust is that we are less trustful than all the other personality types, due to our penchant for ‘observing’ people before drawing logical conclusions on them. If this trust is given, you best believe that you should treasure it. In this case, I guess I judged wrongly.

Well, guess what? The next time she asks for my help, she can talk to the hand, because I’m not letting her play me for stupid again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice..

I realized this was affecting me more than it should when I couldn’t sleep last night (as if I was still some high school kid! tsk.), so I decided to write it down to get it off my chest.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll look back on this petty episode and laugh it off. In the meantime, I’m just going to have a Merry Christmas with my fam and friends. Ones who don’t take advantage of me lol.

A very Merry Christmas to you too, dear reader.

 

 

There’s Always a Reason

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a video  called ‘The Suicide Experiment’.

I cried after watching it, because it touched me on so many levels.

Suicide has always been a topic close to my heart. Since I was a teen, I’ve suffered from bouts of depression, struggled with low self esteem, anxiety and feelings of alienation.  I think that experiences in our early life shape us, and sometimes these memories never really die. You can try to put them away, but they’re always there under the surface.

There are days when I go back to being a 13-year-old being bullied by my schoolmates and a teacher for being ‘different’.

There are days when I’m 15 again, and had my heart completely broken by my first ‘love’ who was a cheater and a liar.

There are days when I’m 18, struggling to come to terms with growing up and to communicate with my loved ones, who were not offering me the support system I needed because they didn’t know how to talk to me. Not having many friends to begin with because of self-confidence issues, it broke me down further.

There are days when I’m 19. When a friend betrayed my trust.  I won’t talk about that here because I don’t want to open that can of worms. It’ll only cause grief and hurt beyond repair for certain parties.

But yeah. There are days when I go back to being that girl.

I wanted to be needed by somebody, anybody – so much so that I chose to throw myself at whoever wanted me. I have had many failed relationships because I’d always fall for the wrong ones, and when the good ones came I screwed them over because I felt that douche bags were all I deserved.

I contemplated suicide. I know, that sounds very ungrateful because I have so much more than a lot of other people. I live a relatively comfortable life; I’m not prostituting myself on the streets or begging for money and food. I should be grateful.

But deep down inside, I still felt empty and hollow. I thought about how meaningless life was when I have all these material comforts but I couldn’t be happy because I had no one to talk to, nobody to love me and to love.

Some days I buried myself under the blankets and cried. I cut myself with switchblades. I thought of suicide often. I was once showering in the bathroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and just started laughing hysterically for half an hour. Other days, I just felt.. nothing. I went through my motions, smiled at friends, did work, etc.

When it got too much, I tried talking to my family. But they didn’t understand. I didn’t expect them to. Because living with someone who is constantly in a negative state of anxiety and depression is so hard, some people find it easier to just think that the other person is being emo and has an attitude problem.

 

When you’re so broken, can you be whole again?

I had…. still have, so much rage and anger and disappointment in me.

But even on my worst days, when the hurt and pain was too much to bear and just ending it all seemed like a legit way out… I didn’t do it. Part of it is because I was scared of hurting the few people close to me, because no matter how misunderstood I was to them, they were still my family and they would blame themselves. The other part is that deep down inside, I still believe that tomorrow will be a better day.

I used to be a happy child before life fucked it all up. And I think that there’s always a part of me that keeps that happy child in my heart, even if the brooding teen and negative adult rear their ugly heads quite often.

At my lowest point, it was kind words and understanding which led me out from the darkness.

I’m still struggling with issues. New ones pop up all the time and I’ll get emo but I don’t think I’ll ever contemplate ending my life again. That is way past.

The point is, never underestimate what understanding and kind words/deeds can do for someone, even a stranger.

And to those thinking suicidal thoughts, believe me when I say I understand. I hope you get through it. And remember, there’s always a reason to live. You just need to stick around long enough to see it.

Why Traditional Asian Parenting Sucks

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Growing up in a traditional Asian household, I’ve always lived my life according to what my parents want; partly out of love and respect, but also from fear of being called un-filial. There is scant little that scares an East Asian kid more than being called a shame to the family. We come from societies where our parents come first before everything, even at the expense of our personal happiness. It’s a very different notion from the Western style of parenting, where kids are allowed to make their own choices and leave the nest ASAP to make a life of their own.

To break it down: 

  • Western parents see kids as their responsibility until they grow up;
  • East Asian parents see their kids as, to put it bluntly, ‘property’.  You ‘belong’ to them because they brought you into this world and it is a debt you can never repay.

At least, it feels that way in my house. I feel like a piece of meat because I am rarely allowed to make my own decisions or have my own thoughts without being rejected or criticized for it.

Don’t get me wrong. I know where they’re coming from, and I’m not saying East Asian parents love their children any less for it. It’s just that they are indoctrined with a certain way of thinking, and it is making generations of Asian kids miserable. Because this was the way it has always been with their own parents, and the community around them.

The expectations are usually similar throughout Asian households. Excel in school, get into good college /uni with scholarship, good results, good stable job (along the lines of lawyer, accountant, doctor, engineer) and settle down with a man/woman of similar match. Probably have a couple of grandchildren for them to play with. Then they’ll retire in comfort in their old age. Job done.

But what if the kid grows up and decides that this isn’t the life he/ she wants?

Most East Asian parents’ inability to allow their children to be hurt by being overprotective and overbearing is not doing them or their children any favors. By not allowing them to fall down, the children have never learned to pick themselves up. This is the situation I am faced with now.

I love my parents, but I find that over the years, our relationship has soured. We’ve talked, we’ve screamed at each other over things, but the thorn remains. I feel sad, because we used to be close and it seems like we’ve drifted apart because we can’t understand each other anymore.

When I was younger, I was a very docile child who did everything my parents told me to. Learn piano, sure. Do math homework? Sure. I’ll even give you an A+.

But somewhere along the way, experiences made me change.

And the problem with that is my parents way of interacting with me did not change to match that. They are still stuck in 10-year-old mode, and this is how they deal with me even when I’m a grown-ass woman of 25.

Just recently, I made a big decision for myself to change jobs, because I was unhappy with my current one and I don’t see my prospects here improving. I found a company I liked, did the interview and aced it.

So there I was, all excited and pumped up to tell my parents that I did it – and guess what? The first thing they bombarded me with was disapproval. Cold, hard disapproval. Instead of a “Good job, well done! When are you starting work?” They go – “They’re paying you less?””Why are you leaving this job when you have a good income?””Did you ask for this, that, etc.”

I felt like they didn’t trust that I have a brain to make my own decisions. If these decisions are bad decisions, so be it and I’ll learn my lesson from them. But no, the consummate Asian parent has to butt in ‘for your own good’.

They call it ‘advice’. But the way they convey it isn’t how you deal with things in a mature manner. They are acting like dictators, where their word is law and everything else is wrong.

I feel like I grew up in a household that judges me all the time for who I am. It’s unbearable, and I’ve contemplated many, many times if I should leave  home and strike out on my own. I never got down to it because that would basically be an all-out declaration of un-filialness lol. It gets to a point where I just dgaf anymore. I am done with trying to change their opinions. I’ve talked to them, pleaded with them, screamed at them, over the span of many years, all to no avail. Old habits die hard, they say.

I understand that they are worried about me. When I graduated from high school, everything went ‘downhill’. I did not end up in teaching or accountancy like they wanted me to – instead, I picked Journalism, after having a huge row with them over it. I graduated with first class honors, and landed a job as a writer. Sure, I’m not an accountant like my other high-achieving cousin who migrated to Australia, and my income isn’t stable, and the hours are long and the work is hard and underpaid….but I guess they resigned themselves to the fact that I was going to be a writer, whether they liked it or not.

It wasn’t just my job. They had to butt into my love life too. I had failed relationships – just like everyone else – before I found the right one. And because they didn’t like the one I chose, they disapproved. They  actually told me to break up with my current boyfriend before ‘it gets serious’ because he was ‘too far away’ and he didn’t have prospects. Also it would mean I would be away from the family, and we can’t have that happening, can we?

I know. They’re worried I’ll get hurt. They want to protect me from all the bad and the hurt in the world. But this is not the way, meddling in my life. They’ll always be my parents, but I have to live my own life. I can’t live it for them.

I’ve been craving for understanding and recognition since I was a teenager. I just want my parents to acknowledge that I am my own individual and respect my opinions, as I would theirs if they’d just convey it in a proper manner. I am a very straightforward person and I know who I am – but do they know who I am? 

Since I hit my twenties, I pretty much couldn’t give two shits about being popular or well-liked anymore. I’ve cut out most of the negative people in my life because they’re not helping me grow into a better person. But it seems that the most toxic components that are dragging me down are my own parents. How do you deal with that? I know those people raised in the West will tell me to just cut them out, that my personal happiness is more important’, but I can’t do that. They are still my parents, and I know that deep down inside, I am still a kid raised with Asian values, and I cannot simply turn my back on people who have raised me and cared for me and put me through university.

I am thinking of not having kids. I am just so phobic of ending up like my parents if I ever have children of my own. I love my parents, but I never ever want to be like them.

I just wish my parents could understand. Call me selfish, but I can’t stand being who they want me to be, no matter how good they think it is.  I’d rather just be.. me. 

Anyway, I’m taking on a new job with new responsibilities, and I’ll probably be busy and unable to blog so often.

Til then.