Wednesday, 28 October 2015

On Creating

Every personality test I have ever taken has told me that I'm more logical than creative.  According to them I'm more inclined to live a life of logic than one of vibrant art and ridiculously exaggerated meaningfulness.  But then, maybe that's because I always give answers that I know will lead me to that outcome.  My entire life has revolved around the basis of maths and science, and it probably will continue to, but I think I'm going through a phase where I'm so sick and tired of it all.

While writing that previous paragraph I moved to five different locations, looking for a place where I could write in silence.  Downstairs there was this clock which just. kept. ticking; outside there was this immensely irritating fly; and from everywhere in the house I can hear the subtle noise of a drill coming from some form of construction a while away.  It's strange how you don't hear these noises under normal circumstances, but when all you want is silence, every little sound becomes irritating.  I need the silence because I feel like creating accurate streams of words relies on concentration.  I guess in that sense I really am more logical than creative, because I can't spurt streams of meaningful, artistic words on a whim without thinking.

Lately the cliche idea of being artistic has been strangely appealing.  There's those excessively tumblr, aesthetic, minimalistic themed looks like Brooklyn Beckham's instagram account; there's the girls in hoodies and doc martens with their hipster glasses; there's the deep and meaningful people who write oh-so-deep-and-meaningful works of art; there's the indie people listening to their indie music; there's the seemingly intellectual people who pretentiously 'love' the classics - but when I think of this all I think is fake.  Even if it's not fake, all I see is a try-hard mechanism because each of these supposed self-expressions seem like such a cliche.

This morning I took a science test before coming home to watch Stuck In Love, which is a creation about creators.  Even though I don't know what they mean, those last lines of the movie are absolutely beautiful.
I could hear my heart beating.  I could hear everyone's heart.  I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.
I just think it was the perfect way to end the movie.  And when the screen went dark, I didn't move for a while, because I was thinking about the 'not one of us moving' bit.  I mean, how genius is that?  Something about the noun 'human noise' also sounds so honest.

Now, if anyone were to be the perfect example of creators, I'd say it's the fictional characters in that movie.  I love the idea of living on a beautiful beach, being able to write outdoors or inside the topmost wooden bedroom with a lovely view.  The only problem, I guess, is that to be a writer you actually need to be good at writing.

The other day my mum brought home a copy of the latest Vogue Australia because Taylor Swift is on the cover.  I love the profiles Vogue writers do on influential celebrities and models, because they're always so perfectly written.  That's the thing when it comes to writing: you need to be able to convey your message wholly and eloquently.

In my case, I can't help but think that my words aren't smooth enough.  I'm not telling you what I mean.  I don't know if you understand because it's so difficult to put ideas and complicated concepts into words.  It's even harder to convey feelings.  Maybe that's why people write poetry - because it's a way to show feelings without having to be specific.  They list words to create an overall mood, and the rest is up to the reader to interpret.  But I don't think I'll ever become a poet, because there's a fine line between feeling real and feeling stupid.

Flipping through the rest of the Vogue issue all I saw was fashion, and more fashion.  I love the glossy look of the magazine, and I love the words they use, but I can't say I understand much.  I can see myself being someone who could love fashion, but I don't.

I did find this article on Kate Winslet and her new movie The Dressmaker though.  She says something about always being driven by the creative, about having the desire to act in works of art, incredible projects.  I feel like eventually all actors get to this stage - according to a lot of their personal interviews anyway - because once they get over the idea of being what they are, they begin to see what they can make of their chosen career, how much deeper they can go.  The same goes for the rest of us and everything we do.  We begin to get attached.

Kate also talks about needing experience to be able to invent the characters she plays.  I guess in some ways acting would involve a whole lot of experiences in itself, because sometimes playing make believe can become real if you're doing it right.  Bill, the father from Stuck In Love, says something similar: "Flannery O'connor said nothing needed to happen in a writer's life after they were 20.  By then they'd experienced more than enough to last their creative life." he said, "A writer is the sum of his experiences."

That's what I think creating is.  Creating is just what people do to show their experiences, the feelings they've felt, the things that mattered to them.  We notice so many different aspects to people and culture, and I feel like we all deserve to use what we observe to create a message, 'a window to our soul', which is another line from Stuck in Love.

So when it comes to creating and cliches, I reckon what's real is when people mean it and understand it.  Creations are made when people put their full excitement and knowledge and logic behind a work of art.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Failure, Social Anxiety and First Generation Migrants

Over the past two weeks I've gone from completely uninspired to bursting at the rim with trains of thought.  Every day I would have a new topic to ramble on and on about, but I never had time to sit and write.  My diary entries have become mere paragraphs every few days, and my stress over every little thing has soared through the roof.  I just want to relax.

The social anxiety began as soon as school opened up again - specifically when I realised that I would have to return to band rehearsals.  It's not that the people make me nervous, but it's that they always used to.  Band was the dreaded hour of every week for two years, and I can't seem to shake that perception.  Now I spend the night before worrying about it, so much so that sometimes band even sneaks into my dreams - and they say what you dream of is a sign of what you're dwelling on.

I got moved into the highest band this term, and I feel like such a failure because I feel like I don't deserve to be there.  I hate being bad at something, even though I haven't really practiced.  I hate being humiliated when I can't follow the rhythm or I get all the notes wrong.

In the same way, I hate that my grades are slipping, and I hate that I may not win one of those end of year awards.  They say that it always comes down to how hard you work, so I should just work harder, right?  That's what I've always done, what I've always been taught to do - so why have I stopped caring as much when it comes to putting in the effort?  Suddenly my grades are sub par and I've been denying it.  I can't accept being somewhat mediocre.  I want to be successful again.

My mum has been extremely difficult lately.  I pity my sister.  As the younger, supposedly lazier one, she's been forced to study science for weeks by a dictator who doesn't understand how the curriculum works, who doesn't acknowledge that other assessments may be more of a priority at this point in time.  I say I want to relax, but my sister hasn't been able to relax for two years now.  I took a two week holiday of doing nothing, and she's been forced to do worksheets every single day.

My mum is a tiger mum.  She's an unpersuadable, unreasonable tiger mum who doesn't understand that being a student isn't a full-time job.  This may have been how she grew up, and she may have studied ahead of her class in a corrupted country, but it's completely different here.  We're not cramming to pass exams four years ahead of us in order to leave the country.  She already did that for us, so that we could have the life we have now.  She needs to let us live it.  Yes, we've inherited the knowledge of the importance of school, but similarly we've also been exposed to the knowledge of a work-life balance.

My dad can't comprehend our school lifestyle either, because while he may understand how our final percentages are calculated, he has no idea what learning these subjects is like, what our teachers are like, what our friends are like.  My dad is a competitor.  He looks at the girls in my year as competition, identified by where they stand in terms of grades.  He looks through my school photos and identifies all the Asians, and remembers them, and asks about them - and sometimes I don't know whether it's curiosity or if he's just putting faces to names on the ranking inside his head.

They live in a purely school-oriented lifestyle, where we're simply reenacting their childhoods in a different country.  Maybe that's why my dad is also so enthusiastic about whatever sport we play - because he used to play sport with his friends every afternoon, just a different kind of sport.  Their parents were controlling, they had limited freedoms, and that's how my mum thinks of us.  Earlier today she told me she has complete control over everything I do until I'm 18.

They don't understand how I can have a job and study at the same time.  They don't understand every time I try to explain my relationship with my friends.  They don't understand why we wear makeup at this age.  They don't understand school dances and carnivals and houses.  They don't understand a lot of things, but at the same time I admit they're getting better.

As a second generation migrant I have it easier, but even then I'm still different.  I'm separated from their culture, as well as somewhat separated from my own, in terms of appearance at the very least.

It's like I'm always stressing about something, and it's never the thing I should be stressing over.  I have conversations with myself every day, and they become so real that I begin to mouth the words as I walk through the house or stare out of the window in the car.  I imagine what I might say to someone at work, or what I might say to someone unexpected in class, or even what I'm going to say to a friend I'm about to see.

I'm always socially anxious about the next event.  Time has flown and the boys' formal is in exactly a week.  The closeness of the event has finally hit me, and as the week goes by I will get more and more anxious until finally the three hours of formal will be over, and I'll be wondering what all that worrying was for.  In preparation I'll be having more imaginary conversations, and I'll be trying to mentally calm myself down, telling myself that if all those other girls aren't worrying, I shouldn't be either.

I've begun to care less about who I'm seen with, and more about the quality of our encounter.  I'm learning that there's no point trying to make other people think your life is great when you don't believe it yourself.  I think this has been a big step in my self improvement, but I still have a long way to go.

There's this graffiti tag you can find all over our city if you look hard enough, saying "IRUN".  They're usually found on the side of tunnels, or roads, or fences, but the other day my sister and I spotted one on the brick wall of a house and for some reason we thought it was the funniest thing.  Are they allowed to do that?

Everyone seems to think that they're so deep, and I'm sure they are, but what we all need to realise is that we're just as deep as each other.  We all have complicated thoughts because we're complicated beings.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

An Infinitely Uninspired Mood

I feel like my iPhone4 camera quality keeps getting worse

It's the holidays so theoretically I should be posting a lot more than I have been, right?  I should be updating you on adventures, or contemplating life with all the free time I have, and I really have been trying.  After scrolling through my blog I realised that my latest posts weren't the usual ramblings.  I don't know about you, but those are definitely my favourite kind of posts - so I tried to make some more, but I just wasn't feeling it.  Writing here felt so forced, and I never thought that would happen.  I never thought I would view blogging as anything remotely similar to a chore, or an assignment, or a musical instrument to practice.  I tried to fit it into my day as I would with any of the tasks listed above.  Blogging used to be spontaneous.

I think it's because I'm not thinking anymore.  I'm not trying.  I used to force myself to be friendly, but now I find myself waltzing in and telling myself not to care.  I'll be pleasant enough, but I don't force myself to start conversations because I'd rather work in peaceful silence unless they want to make the effort.  I don't even think about what I'm doing anymore.  I don't contemplate whether this is the best way to go about things as I used to.  I don't calculate and analyse moments.  And because I'm no longer observing, no longer always thinking, I have nothing to write about.

Today I lay on the bed for an entire hour, from noon to one, staring up at the ceiling.  I never thought I'd be the kind of person who could literally do nothing.  I let my music switch from Kelly Clarkson, to Katy Perry, to Lana Del Rey, and after a while they all sounded exactly the same.  Under normal circumstances I'd skip to a song of a completely different genre, but at that moment I was perfectly content to listen to the classic sounds of female pop music.

I've been cutting up pieces of teen magazines I've been meaning to throw away to stick on the empty white wall by my bed.  I'm making a collage.  In the process I've managed to dig up all sorts of old creations, such as the family newspaper issues made in 2012, or the brochures and tickets from France I collected in 2012, or the letters to and from my grandparents written in 2012.  It seems like I was extremely inspired in 2012.

The other day we were sitting on a bench by the lake, daring each other to cause havoc among the fellow perfect strangers nearby.  One friend asked a little boy if she could play soccer with him, but he said he was too busy chasing away the birds.  Another friend asked a girl if they could be friends, and she found that the girl is my sister's age and goes to a school almost like ours.  I went up to a man and his girlfriend picnicking, and told him he had a very nice man bun.  I don't think I get the same kick out of talking to strangers as I used to.  I used to be so interested in people in general, but now I feel too uninspired to take notice.

I was craving oreos yesterday, so I ate them.  And then I had a caramel TimTam for the first time in ages as well.  I'm scared of feeling bloated, but it seems that as long as I suck my tummy in it'll never happen.  Maybe those workouts with my friend-neighbour have actually paid off.  Two years ago I actually prayed to God, asking Him to give me a friend who lives within walking distance.  Now I have two.

After lying on the bed for an hour I went downstairs to play the piano.  I picked the first piece of sheet music off the top, and it was Skinny Love by Birdy.  The piece was fairly easy, considering it sounded right the first time I played it.  Under normal circumstances I would have forced myself to learn it fluently.  An easy, beautiful piece like that should've been mastered by now, but I'm so tired.  I played to the end before placing it back on top of the piano.  My sister is playing it right now.  She seems to love playing the instrument, and I know I can too, but I feel so uninspired.

I wrote in my diary that I feel like a time bomb, because I got mad at my dad this morning in the middle of the mall for supposedly no reason.  There was this cute boy looking at me, and I looked at him, before transforming into my temperamental bitchy self and grumbling to my dad again.  I embarrassed myself in front of a cute boy, and I feel like that's set the mood for the whole day.

I should be writing an obituary on Iago or translating a passage of Latin right now, but maybe I'll leave that for tomorrow.  I just feel so unmotivated.  School starts tomorrow so maybe I deserve to spend a day doing whatever I feel like before being forced to think again.

I guess when you're uninspired there's nothing more to write about than whatever decides to come to the front of your drowsy, dead mind.  My Religion and Philosophy teacher is always saying that you can let the birds fly over your head, but you don't need to let them build a nest in your hair.  Maybe by putting these thoughts into words I'm letting them build their nest.


Sunday, 4 October 2015


In some ways I admire my dad.  He's the kind of person who will talk to anyone and everyone he encounters.  When I was younger I always thought he was embarrassing, weird, and I just wanted to leave; but now I wish I were as brave as him.  I wish I could make conversation with waiters at restaurants, or talk rugby with the uni boys kicking balls in the park, or simply find out more about people because they're fascinating.  I wish I were able to sit in a bar and talk for twenty minutes with a stranger, with no clue of who he is until he reveals that the concert he was at was in fact his own, and that he happens to be a singer your wife is a fan of - true story.

What I've realised lately is that people have problems with talking to strangers.  It's so unusual and this generations tends to relate strangers to kidnappers and rapists.  We can't accept that sometimes people talk for the sake of having a conversation.  You don't need to want something or be friends, or colleagues, or even have a mutual friend.  Not too long ago a conversation simply depended who was at the same place at the same time (from what I've seen on TV anyway).  So what happened?  Why are we all so rigid and awkward?

My koong koong (grandfather on mum's side) came to visit us from Malaysia just a few days ago, and I found that my dad isn't the only one.  Leave Koong Koong alone for a few minutes and he'll already be asking some family where they're from.  And the funny thing is, the families are always super friendly.  As soon as a country is mentioned he rattles off knowledge of the place, crafting the conversation around their culture, in the same way my dad does with every single waiter who's ever served us.  I don't understand how they became so worldly, but I know I want to be like that too.

I've decided I'm going to try.  I'll never be able to go up to any sort of stranger and spark a conversation, but there's always the people you want to say something to but don't, because they're a stranger.  For example, the girl in the bookshop who's looking straight at your favourite books, wondering what to buy.  You know you could give her the perfect recommendations and plot sypnoses, but you're too scared.

It's like Vincent, the non-Asian/Asian stranger from last summer.  We had a long running inside joke about what shouldn't have been that big a deal.  Even he made it seem like a big deal when he sat next to us.  What shouldn't have been weird at all was perceived as extremely weird because that's this generation's mentality.  We only talk to our family, friends at school, people at co-curriculars, and people we work with.  Nobody makes a friend by going up to them in the middle of the mall, and that's fine, but we shouldn't be scared to talk to each other.  I think I want to be a Vincent, no matter how strange it may seem.

The last conversation I had with a stranger was my hairdresser.  This was unusual because normally I awkwardly sit while whoever's cutting my hair goes about their job in silence.  But you learn something from everyone, and she taught me the logistics of getting a tattoo, which is information I may need in the future.  In the same way, I learn a little from every new person I meet at work.  I learn what life is like under their circumstances, new things to enjoy doing, and all these people are still within my demographic.  I wonder what life's like for those so different to me.  Maybe this is how my dad and Koong Koong became so worldly.

With what I learn at school being predictable as hell, and the amount of new experiences available to me limited, I guess talking to people is the best way to gain knowledge.  I'm aware that my true self is pretty socially awkward around new people unless I make a conscious effort, and reading articles and blogs could suffice, but I reckon we should all make an effort to talk to more people.  We all want to expand our minds.