Thursday, 25 February 2016

Lazy and Bored

Today we had to evacuate the school, which led to us having to go home early.  I came home with no school bag, no books and homework, no electronics - nothing but time, which is something I haven't had in a long while.  So here I am... typing on the clunky home desktop and doing one of my rare past-times.  I feel like I've neglected simply thinking.

I've noticed that since school started, every time we play one of those ice-breaker games where you say your name and something you like, while everyone else mentions something they do, something they're good at, my answer is always, "I'm M and I really like popcorn."  I do so many different activities in my crumpled, busy life, and yet the one thing I choose is popcorn.

Every morning I wake up and inwardly groan at yet another day of school, and every day the dates I write at the top of each page increase at a surprisingly alarming rate.  My life has become a cycle of school, homework, co-curriculars, work and musical instruments.  I don't even work out anymore.  I'm just too tired and too lazy.  I am continuously looking forward to those Friday nights.  All I want to do is watch TV and eat my popcorn.  That popcorn seems to be what I am living for.  It's the symbol of the happiest moments in my week.

I've been marathoning Modern Family after school lately, and those two episodes a day come before my maths homework, which I end up starting at 8pm when I've already started yawning.  Somehow, due to hours worth of distractions, I still only manage to fall asleep at midnight, despite the lack of effort I put into checking my answers and correcting them if I'm wrong.  In Week 1 I was completely on top of my work, but now the laziness has kicked in, and I'm worried.  There's no way for me to get ahead, let alone stay there, if I'm not trying as hard as everyone else.  What has happened to me?

In Week 1 I was also maintaining a healthy body, along with that healthy mind that seems to have disappeared.  Now I eat cookies, anything I can find in the cupboard, finalised with a round of fruit to make myself feel better.  And the thing is, I'm not even hating myself for it.  It's like I don't care about my body anymore.  I don't care about anything but popcorn anymore.

For the first time, I didn't take down those maths problems for the day.  I didn't do them.  I didn't even know that they had been set.  I was just blissfully ignorant in the fact that I only had a certain amount of homework to do, and that was it... and I didn't even do that.  In class everyone seems so on top of things.  They discuss the homework, write each topic out in tables, yell out answers, don't make the simplest of careless mistakes while figuring out in-class problems.  It's like their smartness is being rubbed in the face of my laziness, and I'm not doing anything about it, because by the end of the day I want nothing but to go on my laptop.

I didn't think that this state of mind would enter this year, but it seems to have.  I guess the only thing to do is snap out of it tomorrow.  I'm better than this.  I can't possibly be bored of daily life after only three weeks.  The little things in each day can be exciting too, right?  It's time to sum up some positive energy, and savour the hours I have left to spend doing nothing today.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Light to Light

3 days, 30 kilometres and yet another hike where I'm forced to embrace mother nature.  Surprisingly though, this time camping wasn't too bad.  In fact, I enjoyed it.  My goal was to be more positive on this trip than the last, and I could say I succeeded because of the company, but to be honest, it was probably just my change in attitude towards everything.  Somehow I got past the idea of how unhygienic the entire experience was, and the nostalgia is settling in now that my last 'school camp' has been completed.

This was the last of those trangia-made dinners, and breakfasts featuring milk powder.  I may never have to pee behind a tree again, or worry about my toilet paper touching the ground.  This was the last of those night-time tent conversations - truths being spilled at this sleepover under the stars.  I don't know if I will ever walk for hours with my house on my back again, playing word-guessing games to pass the time.

I've never really swam in the ocean.  It's always been this ambiguous body of water we look at occasionally from different parts of the world.  Of course I was the only person who didn't pack their swimsuit, so I summed up the bikini courage I don't have and stripped into my underwear to run into the water (my underwear was white so it wasn't the best idea, but it was worth it).  At first jumping over the waves was fun - the water carrying me higher than I could've jumped on my own, bobbing as the water went from deep to shallow to deep again - but then they got rougher.

And then I didn't know what to do and the waves would dunk me, and I was scared because it had never happened to me before.  My mum had told me stories of people on school trips drowning in riptides, and suddenly I could see how easily possible that was.  Once you're under you're pushed under and twirled around until the wave subsides.  Running away is only a moment of panic before the wave catches you and you're dunked under again.  It's ironic how the perfect solution is to dive straight into the wave as it hits.

Paranoia has been one of my favourite truth games lately.  I've brought it up at every get-together, every sleepover - and it's actually crazy how often we seem to want to play these sorts of games.  I don't understand the appeal but I know it's there.  We have this desire to know what people think of us, and then we start doubting ourselves based on what we know.  It's an unhealthy cycle but I love it.

We had a photoshoot on the beach because along with truth games, taking photos seems to be a huge part of our culture too.  Either you're creating artsy photography, or you're modelling yourself.  You need proof that you've been there.  You need to show that you're having fun.  You need to show the world that you're having the time of your life.  That's what candid laughing shots are for, even if they're completely posed.  The fun thing is though, fake laughs turn into real ones.

Sleepovers huddled in tents aren't so bad, and neither are day-time adventures to beaches and bushes.  Maybe I'll take up the offer the next time someone asks if I want to go camping voluntarily.


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

An Existence Based on Self Indulgence

I want to be special.  I am special.  I will tell myself anything to persuade myself that I'm special.  If I achieve something, I'm special.  If I don't, well there's a reason why because I'm still special.  I'm different.  I'm above.  I am forever thinking about ways in which I am special - superior.

The other day my dad told me that I was a thoughtful child, and I wondered whether that made me special.  And then he continued to say that I've grown up to become half thoughtful and half thinking about myself, and after a bout of denial, I couldn't help wondering if he was right.  Self indulgence isn't about being selfish, disregarding all other people, not caring.  It's actually about how much you care... about yourself.  It's about your appearance and your personality, your reputation, your abilities - it's basically self-absorbed over-thinking.

It's like there's a barrier between my mind and the world outside.  I feel trapped in this bubble of me.  If I'm thinking of someone else, it has to be about what they think of me, how they add to who I am - why can't I just think about them?  It's like hitting a wall because my entire life has just been self indulgence and I realise that I don't do anything because it's right anymore.

I don't know when I started being scared of having conversations.  It used to be an issue of starting them, but nowadays it's the opposite.  Almost as soon as a conversation with someone I'm not used to starts, I begin thinking of ways to escape it.  I just don't want to ruin their previous illusion of me.  I'm scared I will say the wrong thing, or be boring, or that we won't connect.  It's even worse if we somehow managed to connect the last time - because I don't want to ruin that.  If you hadn't figured out already, I'm always making these conversations about me.  They're about how I look, what they think of me, what I say...

On retreat last week we took a mini listening quiz, and for some reason the questions and answers of this insignificant questionnaire have stuck with me.  When someone is talking, I am most likely thinking of what I want to say next.  I tune out a lot if it's not interesting enough for me.  I'm always thinking about my side of the conversation, which is probably why I find it so difficult to connect with people in the first place (besides the fact that I attempt escaping) - I'm never really listening.

I read an article the other day about immersing yourself in someone else's world.  Let them choose what to do.  Let them speak.  Listen to them - and you're guaranteed to learn something, many things, about them.  Don't think about yourself and your presence in these situations.  Think about the complex being that they are, and connect the pieces of their puzzle one by one.  The world is made of 7 billion people who are human beings just as complex as you, so stop over-analysing your identity and start learning from theirs.  Let them shape you subconsciously.  Pick and choose.

Don't do things because they make you appear better to others.  So many people seem to be grabbing aimlessly for attention nowadays.  They act rude or selfish because they like having the reputation of a right winged spoilt brat.  They act super friendly to someone because they like the idea of being their friend.  They act like they eat junk all the time to seem more down to earth.  Even if they were being genuine, I wouldn't be able to tell - maybe I should just assume so?

I know I'm a culprit of these fake actions.  In fact, I feel as if these fake actions are my only actions.  Everything I do is about self indulgence, my identity, my appearance - and none of it has anything to do with simple self love, or not thinking at all.  It's like my entire existence has been about making myself into a more superior being, in other people's eyes as well as my own.  It's like I'm not doing anything I genuinely enjoy without considering what that makes me anymore.  When did everything come back to "who am I"?  Why can't it just be "what do I feel like doing now"?

I can't remember a day when I thought any differently, so I guess all this over-self-analysis has made me who I am today, and that's special in an unhealthy way.


Sunday, 7 February 2016


Chinese New Year begins tomorrow and the first thing that comes to my mind are those red envelopes full of money.  I know they're called ang pow, but I didn't actually know how to spell that until I googled the word literally ten seconds ago.  Every year my sister and I make jokes about how ang pows are given by married relatives to unmarried ones, and every year we get super protective of these red envelopes and blame our mum for trying to steal them to repack as ang pows for our cousins or second cousins or any other Asian unmarried child she may find.  This year I even asked my mum if I could receive my ang pows early, because I came home from Italy to find that I had spent all my money.  She told me I couldn't because that would be bad luck, which made me realise that I actually have no idea what the purpose of these ang pows are.

Yesterday a fellow Asian asked me if my family had big celebrations for Chinese New Year, and I replied with the fact that we have pineapple tarts all over the house, which is a bit of an exaggeration already.  Then I started thinking of other Chinese New Year foods, and the next most famous one I could think of was moon cake - but it turns out moon cake is actually brought out for the mid autumn festival which is in August some time, so that shows how little I know about my culture, and I feel somewhat appalled.

I mean, subconsciously I've absorbed some of my culture through our visits to Malaysia and the food we eat, but throughout my life I've also fought hard against it in order to feel more normal in the country I live in.  Chinese people are more competitive, they can't talk as well, they're too modest - those are the thoughts I've been unknowingly bitter about while growing up, thinking that the way I've been raised is a shortcoming of my persona, basically blaming it for everything I feel insecure about.  However, in the holidays I watched this video by the Fung Brothers and at the end they discuss the angle the person who wrote the article they were reading was taking, and I guess it made me feel as if I'm not the only second generation Asian immigrant to feel this way.  In fact, I'm probably just one in this huge demographic of people who can relate on so many different levels.

The Fung Brothers also talk about embracing Asian culture in a lot of their videos.  They persuaded me that we actually have the best of both worlds because while we culturally assimilate and have amazing opportunities living in a white country, we also know what the best, weirdest Asian food tastes like and we have extra holidays to celebrate.  We basically get to pick and choose the best bits out of white and Asian culture and mush them together to create something even better.  And while this picking and choosing and mushing may be difficult, and our identities may seem non-existant not fully belonging to either culture, as we grow up we become comfortable with this bicultural person we've created.  There's no escaping your culture because no matter what it'll always be a part of your identity, and I'm thankful of mine.

After rediscovering the Fung Brothers, I also began to watch more of mychonny's videos and I'm not sure whether I truly relate with them or if I just think I do because he's an Asian-Australian.  You see, there are just so few Asians in mainstream media to relate to, but discussing that would require a whole other post.  One thing I noticed about mychonny and the Fung Brothers though, is that they both buy into Asian stereotypes as a form of humour, which is also probably one of the main reasons I like their videos - I find it funny.  Joking about how Asians play the piano or the violin or both, Asians have strict parents, Asians are bad at driving, Asians have the 'Asian flush' is something I do often, and after I realised I had been fighting my culture and gained a newfound appreciation, I questioned whether stereotyping was a form of racism, and whether it's wrong to use it as something to make people laugh, degrading myself.  But the thing is, I'm not really because as the Fung Brothers say, all stereotypes must come from somewhere, so there has to be some truth in them.  Not all Asian stereotypes are negative either, like 'Asians are smart' for example.  What I don't agree with is when people assume these stereotypes apply to every Asian, but that also goes for all the other stereotypes that exist in this world.

After this year's trip to Malaysia I began to feel defensive of my race for probably the first time.  On the first day after we landed in Sydney we were walking from the train station when this tradie yelled 'Ni hao' at me, and while this might sound like a harmless act to you, I felt like yelling about how ignorant he was, coming up with all sorts of comebacks in my head, but I knew picking a fight would be a bad decision.  My dad simply ignored him too and it just sucks that this is the right thing to do.

In Italy this girl on the trip started talking about how Asians should go back to their countries and stop migrating to Australia because they're destroying our resources, and I don't think I realised what was happening for a while.  I reasoned with her, I tried to tell her why everything she was saying was wrong on so many levels, but she just wasn't getting it.  I mean, Europeans were the ones who invaded this country ILLEGALLY in our modern-day books, and they're the ones who started destroying resources.  Now Asians are coming under skilled migration and family migration with visas - it's not like they're just letting anyone into the country willy-nilly - so we have just as much right to be here as they do.  And afterwards, when I was ranting about this horribly ignorant discussion with some friends, I still defended her in some ways.  My friend had to make me feel mad, because I wasn't before.  I condoned freedom of speech, I felt bad for 'bitching' about her, and I'm worried about how compliant I was about these comments.  I should feel angry at this girl and completely dislike her, and the fact that I don't makes me feel like a traitor towards my race.

What also concerns me is the fact that nowadays a lot of Malaysian girls strive to be more white, because apparently that's what's in right now.  They're neglecting their nasi lemak for second-class cafe food to seem more hipster, going to Melbourne is reason enough to delete their entire Instagram feed to restart with just 'Melbourne photos', my cousins are always yelling about how much they would rather eat pizza and pasta, and I just feel like they're all striving to become either more like the people they see on American TV or super hipster like the girls you see photos of on tumblr.  So maybe it's not only second generation immigrants who are questioning their Asian culture, maybe it's our generation in general?

What is wrong with us?