Monday, 21 October 2019

Subtle Racism

A few weeks ago this pretentious small Asian girl posted a video titled 'subtle racism' on her Instagram story.  Of course I watched: racially diverse person after person, providing anecdotes about their experience in this predominantly caucasian country, looking for something, anything, a statement, that would jump out at me with a world-changing relatability -- but it was nothing I hadn't heard before.  Next slide.  "Don't ask me where I'm from," she begins.  Black background, white words.  Next slide. The paragraph continues.

Don't get me wrong, in no way am I trying to illegitimise people's racial experience.  However, all these little stories, honestly, they don't bother me that much.  I find that today's generation is generally accepting of other races.  Gone is my parents' time, when hearing "Go back to where you came from" was not uncommon on the streets.  Neither myself nor the people I have grown up around have ever questioned whether I belong in this country or not.  Of course I do.  I can tell that small, unpolitically correct statements regarding my ethnicity have nothing to do with ignorant or malicious intentions.

When I talk about subtle racism, I'm talking about the experience of this generation.  I'm talking about the way stereotypes have manifested to become another sucky nuance of our ingrained views, resting alongside the likes of gender roles and beauty standards.  Nobody talks honestly and openly about the current experience because they're not the words we've heard and seen over and over again before.  Firstly, a description of racism today requires critical thought and subsequent social commentary; and secondly, I think the book I'm reading, 'Americanah' has an important point: the general caucasian, or otherwise, population here doesn't want to hear the honest experience.  They want us to preach to the converted what they already know.  My honest thoughts could come across as entitled or unreasonably angry.

I wrote all this in my diary a few days ago.  For the last few days I've been writing about spiralling emotions, being stuck in my own head, feeling bitter without knowing why.  And suddenly, after having a chat to her about it, I've come to the conclusion that all my emotions have boiled down to SUBTLE RACISM... Do you know what subtle racism is?

My friends are gorgeous, in the most classic hot girl way imaginable.  They have the super power of being skinny, blonde and tan.  Over dinner drinking games, without speaking a word, they can be voted 'person I would most like to get to know better'.  Step into an elevator, without speaking a word, and the small metal box of people will immediately make an effort to impress them.  Arrive at a party, without speaking a word, and they will be offered invites and opportunities based on the stereotype that as a skinny, blonde and tan girl, surely they must be fun.

I am a small Asian girl.  Over dinner drinking games, if I don't speak a word, I will be quiet and unnoticed.  Step into an elevator, if I don't speak a word, I will either be ignored or given one-word careless small talk.  Arrive at a party, if I don't speak a word, I will again, be quiet and unnoticed.  Subtle racism is the fact that I must work five times harder at having a super interesting personality in order to be considered somebody worthy of getting to know. I used to tell myself to effortlessly let people approach me, but the reality of the situation is that my societal stereotype start line is miles behind, and I need to run to catch up. In case you couldn't tell, I'm bitter.

I have this close friend.  She's small.  She's ethnically ambiguous.  She has dark hair.  We're very different people.  I've been called her name by two different caucasian boys on two different occasions, both of whom I am on a friendly basis with.  Both occurrences were honest mistakes.  Both occurrences were not a big deal.  Both occurrences made me feel like absolute shit.  They made me feel like I am not an individual who matters.  No matter what I say, what defining individual characteristics I put forwards, perhaps my being is being added to some conglomerate of small, dark haired, Asian girls, going right over Caucasian boys' heads.  Is this how society sees me? In case you couldn't tell, I'm bitter.

Perhaps these thoughts, or discoveries, have come from the recent close friendships I have developed with a different crowd of people.  In Sydney there are certain Asian-dominated communities: particular suburbs, particular schools, particular university degrees - to the point where some of my Asian friends have spent their entire lives in this country as part of a majority.  What an interesting social experiment.

As I spend more time around these groups of people, my perceptions of the norm are slowly shifting to somewhere in between; or perhaps somewhere neither.  My beauty standards are different now.  The characteristics that impress me are different now.  While I appreciate that my skinny, blonde and tan friends are pretty in their own way, perhaps it is narcissism that I consider some of my small, dark-haired, Asian friends to be gorgeous.  But again, that's just physical appearances, and it sucks how evident pretty privilege is in this society, but that's another topic altogether.

Upon spending more time around my own minority, particularly the boys, I have the thought, oh. So this is what it's like to be noticed as a regular girl, without all those connotations attached.  This is what my skinny, blonde and tan friends feel when a cute boy eyes them from across the room.  We've all seen Asian girls screenshot their tinder messages, but now imagine these situations in person - less vulgar, more nuanced, and still making you feel like a fetish rather than somebody beautiful in their own right. Try hearing the statements "I would never date an Asian." from your reasonably attractive guy friend, or "I think you'd have to be a weird person to like someone like that" from your other reasonably attractive guy friend, referring to a photo of an LG or an ABG.
I like the way I look, and this saddens me.

I then finished my diary entry with but perhaps I'm just hanging out in the wrong environment.

Society is whack, and in case you couldn't tell, I'm bitter.


Tuesday, 3 September 2019

On Vulnerability

I’ve always understood power to be the most sought out trait.  The word is synonymous with strength, respect and worth as a human being.  However, what I’ve come to realise is that power does not garner love or deep emotional connections.  In fact, power can be lonely and sad.  To be powerful involves appearing with no weaknesses, and as a result, possessing an unmonitored shame towards that which you are hiding.  I recently read an article in an online university magazine, stating:

Brene Brown describes shame as playing two lines in our heads: “Never good enough” and “Who do you think you are?”. They tell us to doubt ourselves. Shame makes us uncertain and it stops us from taking risks… The way out of shame? Vulnerability.

As I lie there questioning my closeness with those around me, I mindfully comment that I have always put up a front.  Throughout high school, the shame of wanting something desperately, whether it be a certain confidence, or a reputation, or to not be anxious to talk to people, would result in a pretence that I already possessed all these traits.  It was a thinly veiled attempt to fool my parents, my friends and myself into thinking that everything about myself was as I thought the status quo to be.  I’ve admired strong characters all my life, and my way of being one was to lie away all the things I am ashamed of.  Strong characters are always put together with no imperfections, right?

Yesterday my sister and my mother were having an argument.  She complained that she did not want to, and would not, ask a girl in her class for a minor favour.  Her fear of social awkwardness was laid clearly on the table in front of her. She had no shame and no reservations. My inherently judgmental personality would of course be harsh towards myself if I were to expose such discomfort, but when my sister nonchalantly revealed her feelings, I really couldn’t have been more indifferent.  It’s as the shame wizard from Big Mouth taunts each kid at the school sleepover. Inside their heads, the shame progresses into a powerful, self-hating force of denial.  Yet, if one kid were to be frank about their feelings, the others would probably feel a sense of relatability.  

The normalisation of these feelings within our heads would lead to an accelerated self-growth I wish I’d had.  In 2011 I watched Glee for the first time and found that the show made me uncomfortable.  The star of the show was annoying and self-obsessed.  The popular cheerleader was pregnant.  This was not your regular Hollywood teen television.  The same thing happened with The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  Why was Emma Watson so sad, and why did she have short hair?  Normal people don’t act like this.  Normal people are shiny and blonde like Kirsten Dunst from Bring it On.  Older now, I am a huge fan of both Glee and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, perhaps because their supposed quirkiness brings forward a truth about the way we feel.  They allow us to feel like any absurd thought we possess is in actuality okay.

This acceptance, both within society and the individual, should enable us to peel back this deceitful protective layer.  In recent years I have pride myself on transparency.  However, it’s like Lorde says, Let’s let things come out of the woodwork / I’ll give you my best side, tell you all my best lies / Yeah, awesome right?.  While I somehow truly believe I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve, in reality those things that bring me shame are still hiding deep within.  I guess addressing that those ‘weird’ thoughts are actually okay is easier said than done.

However, is showing your best side really all that deceitful?  Is being vulnerable all that necessary?  I’ve been grappling at the idea of a public versus private life, of mystery and maintaining a persona.  Over brunch today, my friend described how we are all too concerned about the projection of ourselves on other people.  Perhaps this brand we are demonstrating to the public is more effective and respectable with blocked out weaknesses and vulnerabilities. But where and when does this brand get replaced by the genuine truth in order to form close relationships?

I watched a video entitled Why you will marry the wrong person in which the psychologist states that when we say, ‘I love you’ what we are really saying is ‘I need you’.  We are putting ourselves in a vulnerable position.  He goes on to describe how your typical type A personality would respond to this scary feeling by almost saying and acting the opposite.  When we begin to feel vulnerable, we become avoidant, we begin to nag, and we act as if we don’t need them when we wish we could say the contrary.  This results in them questioning the relationship, leading to a cycle of low trust. If you are unable to acknowledge and understand all your own vulnerable thoughts and feelings, then how can you expect to have someone truly love you for who you are?

Additionally, honesty is attractive, and shame is not.  When asked about something I am insecure about, I find myself avoiding answering the question.  Sometimes I want the projection of myself to be something else so badly that I mimic the ‘strong’ self I wish I was.  After these incidences, I can’t help but see how two dimensional and flimsy each small dishonesty was.  Years later in hindsight, I see that if I had demonstrated the genuine self I was ashamed to be, that would have been stronger and surer.  That would have drawn the correct people.  That would have allowed people to understand my emotions, and potentially acknowledge the likeness of their own.  Ultimately, laying my vulnerable self on the table would have, and will always, lead to the most meaningful encounters.   

While we may subconsciously grow up daydreaming about the validation of receiving that trophy with the respect of all those standing below us, as we get older, we begin to realise this isn’t enough.  All the self-help books and the fairy-tale movies tell us we want love, family and ultimately to be understood.  However, bad habits of hidden insecurities are difficult to break.  In my opinion, if we acknowledge what we are ashamed of and unabashedly bear ourselves, all hidden grievances will become non-existent. Our burdens will be shared and understood by others.  Ultimately, the truth will set you free, so why not lay every single truth out there and just… be.   


Sunday, 1 September 2019

How Sally Rooney's 'Normal People' makes me feel

It makes me want someone in my life who makes me feel nervous, who I am so desperate to impress.

The book has given my mind a kind of genuine portrayal of love I could never have fathomed before.  And I know the feelings are so emotionally realistic because while I may not have ever experienced this kind of adoration first hand, it's the kind of thing I've been imagining a lot lately - how a single touch can make you feel special, beautiful, fragile but safe; the way he looks at you, you feel seen, feminine, adored, like you and only you have the power to make him feel sheer happiness; you know he would do anything for you, anything to make you happy, and you feel submissive to him in the same way; the kind of mutual respect for each other's opinions, and the way you could watch the cogs turn in his head all day, and you know he feels the same; when thinking about him makes you feel exquisitely happy, or sad, or something.

It's how the book begins with a conversation full of palpable tension - so hyperaware of every little movement and noise, thoughts are zoning in on the paper being rolled between your fingers.  It's something for them to do.  Heart pounding, awkward, and when it's over you go back to your room, look in the mirror and re-enact the way you must've looked, the way he must've seen you, wishing you could've done something or said something differently.  It makes you feel a heavy wave of hopelessness and sadness.  That is how much you want to impress him.  That is how intrigued you are by him.  At every waking moment, the thought of when you might see him again is in the background.  As you sort your thoughts out in the shower, you imagine telling him things, telling him honest opinions and anecdotes, and portraying yourself as your best self, but still yourself, and he is becoming a little more intrigued with your mind with every word.

This obsessive emotional connection is one I feel a stark relation to, a feeling I criticise as pointless.  Romance is supposed to be easy, isn't it?  It's supposed to feel right from the beginning, like you have a mutual emotional understanding.  There's no awkwardness; just a back-and-forth ease, full of laughter and fun, something that will progress so naturally that it requires no effort, easy vulnerability, and no sense of shame.  That's how you know he's the one, right?  I've never thought that feeling of awkwardness, genuine intrigue and nervousness could ever be a sign of potential, could ever lead to some kind of deep future connection.  If you're not easily open on first encounter, then how could you ever be easily open?  Yet, somehow, in this story, a nervous dreaded intrigued encounter grows progressively and beautifully, allowing two people to change each other for the better, like two thorns entwined during their most malleable years as they make their way towards the sky.

Upon buying the book, I was under the impression that the title, Normal People, was referring to how two normal people in our society behave, like an ode to all of us readers allowing us to feel less alone.  However, while lying in the dark in a vulnerable moment, Marianne asks why she can't be like normal people, like him, in a seemingly healthy relationship, with a seemingly healthy group of friends.  Whether this really is an ode to the general population, with our potentially shared grievances about belonging; or whether this is an ode to her character, and those alike, seemingly cold, unlovable, strong and alone.  There's something in a derisive, wild female personality that always makes her less of the ideal girlfriend who reads books quietly on the train like Rory from Gilmore Girls.  There's something about the unorthodox girl who feels stuck under a bell jar of being unlikeable, yet stubbornly defies socially liked characteristics anyway, if only to make excuses for the shame that stems from a lack of belonging.  Or does every girl feel this way sometimes?

And then there's the description about how the opinions of the people around us, the shame we have towards our honest feelings, can lead us to do illogical, regrettable, cruel things.  There's a kind of realness in the way she portrays the desperation to be liked by everybody, and how those with weaker personalities would 'betray any confidence, any kindness, for the promise of social acceptance'; or the way Helen criticises Marianne's choice to discuss ethics and politics over lighter conversations as self-obsessive.  I would probably give the same criticisms if put in the same situation.  But then, there's the way Marianne describes the social ladder in school, how she sees herself at the bottom, but sometimes sees herself as completely off the ladder altogether, unphased by the hierarchal social constructs put in place.  Whether this is self defensive or forward-thinking, I'm not sure.  But we have all thought that way some time, even if just to feel superior, and the book portrays this so incredibly well set in a university full of prestige, elitists and intellectuals.

All I feel is sadness now that I have finished.  This book has added an intensity and thoughtfulness to my life that I hope lingers for a while.  Two people experience the kind of love we have all experienced a part of, and I know that all love is different, and there is no one definition of love, but I truly hope that everybody experiences a level of closeness to another person that is something like this one day.


Monday, 5 August 2019

Vanity and Self Obsession - the modern day girl

We had a ball on Friday night.  Think of girls spending 4 hours getting ready for golden hour, standing in the spotlight of the sunlight taking 450 photos of themselves.  I love Instagram culture.  I truly do.  It's not about the likes or the influencer culture or any of that.  I think I just love sharing my life with people.  Is that the appeal for everyone?  Of course we all love getting that one perfect shot, but sometimes it's fun to post any old picture with a thoughtless caption and give your life absolute transparency.  I love that idea of absolute transparency.  Perhaps I just want someone, everyone, to truly know me.

Last month I read an article about how 'finstas' are toxic.  The author talked about how her account was a cry for help, a way of letting people know what was going on in her mind and in her life without actually burdening them.  If she was going through something, she'd post some dark image with a caption about how sad and edgy she was - you know what I mean.  I mean, just last night this girl I think is beautiful posted a caption "self care is eating frozen peas on the kitchen floor", and suddenly she dropped a few notches in my respect scale.  Margaret Zhang gave a talk about your private vs public life, and I think we all need a little privacy, not that I follow that rule.

As I said, I like complete transparency.  The propensity to lay your life on the table in front of somebody is a personality trait in itself, but the key word in that is somebody not everybody.  A year and a half ago my friend told me she used to lie in bed every night and every morning and manifest for a perfect boyfriend.  She told me she'd pray to the moon that he would appear in her life, and one month later there he was.  They're still dating.

In some ways I guess a finsta is like a boyfriend replacement.  It's somewhere to belt out random thoughts when you have nobody who is obliged to listen to them.  Although, even if I had a significant other, I don't think I'd stop relying on public opinion.  Is this attention seeking?  Immaturity? A bad habit? Simply my personality?

And what exactly is it that we want from boys? Perhaps it's for that feeling Monique described on the Bachelor.  Monique is this blonde girl, a lingerie model, who walks in, shrugs her shoulders and says, "I just want somebody to adore me."

The other day my friend and I were discussing being one of those girls who just exudes intrigue.  A muse.  We couldn't think of anybody we knew in real life, so I gave the example of Lana Del Rey, to which she replied, "But M, Lana Del Rey is a persona.  She isn't like that in real life.  Nobody can be."  I guess we're all just regular people who can only be loved like that from a distance.  That adoration is not real love.  But if that's not real love, then do I really want real love?

Again, I say transparency, but perhaps the self I lay on the table on social media is my persona.  It's not graceful or intriguing, but a reel of supposed genuinity and fun, as if every mundane moment in my life has an interesting, funny twinkle.  I think I'd rather be graceful and intriguing, but that might be a little late now.

And get this - here I am, sitting on my bed in front of the mirror in the sun.  I don't look graceful, perhaps intriguing at most.  I like my hair and my skin and my oversized jacket, and my eyes look big, a little fierce, a little thoughtful.  But I don't look loveable.  I never look loveable.  I always look best alone.

It's my friend's birthday today though.  If I'd bought her flowers and chocolate, instead of bursting into her room at midnight for a quick effortless hug, that's the kind of girl I'd like to be.  I'm not, and being unselfish is never on my mind, but perhaps all this grace and intrigue and capacity to be adored doesn't matter when you're too distracted with your concern for others to be concerned about yourself.


Sunday, 9 June 2019

Girly Things - things I've learned and observed

There's this girl on Instagram who writes about her experiences in the loveliest manner.  She writes about being loved though, about feeling beautiful for a moment, which I've never experienced.  I watched a movie last night about this 15 year old boy who starts a band to get the girl.  She stands outside the girls' home across from his school smoking a cigarette every afternoon.  She looks like a young version of Lana Del Rey, somehow still pretty after jumping into the river even though she can't swim.  She stands out amongst the other 16 year old girls who awkwardly dance in the high school gym.  I wonder what it would be like to be a muse.

On Friday night I came home with angel wings and sat on the floor, out of place, watching some niche video people probably only understand while they're high on some boy's laptop.  The women in this video: one was being thrown into the air on a parachute at a bonfire, another had the most intense fringe and said "love me." when the man stumbled into the house.  Is that what they want?

So I got up and walked back to my room and sat in front of the mirror admiring my angel wings for a while.

In the movie, the first song he writes is about how it's better when you don't know anything about someone, because they can be whatever you want them to be.  Once you know them, they're limited.  But the problem is, you'd have to be exceedingly beautiful to make a boy think about you all the time without knowing anything about you.  You'd have to be exceedingly genuinely beautiful.  You'd have to have that air.

We are all too showy for that.

People love to impress each other.  That's what I've found.  They'll be ingenuine just to impress each other.  Or to be liked.  Or to be loved.  But it's not real.
I wrote in my diary the other day that I don't trust her, my friend who seems so dearly close to the eyes of the world around me.  "I don't know why, but I don't trust her."  That's the feeling you get when it's all not real.

We've been learning about personality lately.  Personality is the unique organisation of fairly permanent characteristics that sets the individual apart from other individuals, and at the same time, determines how others respond to her or him.  And then there's temperament, which is biological.  Temperament is consistent over time.  We cannot change it.  So, no matter the sociocultural influences, we can never all truly be the same.
This is what's real.  Personality comes in five dimensions, four of which are independent of each other.  We should all, theoretically, have multifaceted personalities; multifaceted, different personalities.  So why do I sometimes feel like I must fit this cookie cutter mould - for simplicity - so he'll truly know me.  And then I add a personality trait, layer by layer, each one becoming more showy than the last --> and now he thinks I'm complicated and multifaceted.. but I'm still in my cookie cutter mould.

And as we grow older the things that make us change.  The pile grows bigger and bigger.  At this point, will anyone ever truly know you?

But the television screen and the niche video boys watch when they're high turn the girl into a one dimensional character again.  No wonder so many girls try to fit the cookie cutter mould for simplicity.  And sadder so, many girls seem to have lost their multifaceted personalities, whilst the boys have gotten to keep their's all along.

Additionally, and off topic, I did a research assignment about the East in the West and why we might be feeling ugly a few weeks ago:

Pressure for Thinness

As with those of Caucasian background, Asians are also susceptible to sociocultural theory and are largely influenced by the media’s beauty standards.  However, Kimber et al. (2015) found that first generation immigrant females were more likely to experience body distortion than 3rd generation-or-later adolescents.  This could be due to “acculturative” stress, where foreign-born adolescents are forced to interact with media and social circumstances that resemble the behaviours and values of Western culture.  Through these interactions, foreign-born adolescents may internalise the perceived difference between their own appearance and the beauty standards of their host country.  Marques et al. (2011) found that Asians commonly reported concerns about straight hair and dark skin, features associated with stereotypes and distinguishing them from the Caucasian majority.  Furthermore, the most common forms of plastic surgery among Asian American women include procedures that minimise their distinctive facial features, such as eyelid procedures (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2006).

However, Marques et al. (2011) found that Caucasians are more likely to be concerned about their stomach, hips, waist and buttocks.  An explanation could be that Asian women’s actual and self-perceived body sizes tend to be closer to the thin ideal, limiting the discrepancies for comparison (Grabe & Jackson, 2009).

Asian women are also found to be less susceptible to objectification theory than Caucasian women (Grabe & Jackson, 2009).  Research has demonstrated that Asian American and Caucasian American women’s bodies are portrayed differently and with different prominence in the media (Kim & Chung, 2005).  Additionally, Jackson et al. (2016) found that Chinese women who reported that their favourite mass media came from Asian countries were more likely to judge themselves as overweight, supporting social comparison theory.  Social comparison theory and this mainstream view of a thin, idealised white woman’s body leave Caucasian women more vulnerable to self-objectification and the influence of Western media in general (Grabe & Jackson, 2009).

Ethnic Identity

Concepts of self, and consequently concepts of human differences, vary between Western and Asian cultures (Crystal et al., 1998).  The independent self, commonly found in Western cultures, seeks to distinguish the self from others, making more distinctions in competitive domains such as physical attractiveness.  Alternatively, the interdependent self, commonly found in East Asian cultures, emphasises interpersonal harmony, minimises social differences and is more likely to discriminate on behaviour than physical attractiveness.  Hence, it is commonly hypothesised that a strong ethnic identity may protect Asian women from being influenced by Western beauty standards (Croll et al., 2002; Kempa & Thomas, 2000).

However, Phan and Tylka (2006) found that ethnic identity intensified the relationship between pressure for thinness and body preoccupation (Figure 3).  This could be explained by interdependence, as family and friends are often the source of pressure for thinness, and those of strong ethnic identity may feel that their weight reflects badly on their loved ones.  Another explanation is that Asian women with strong ethnic identity may compare themselves to an Asian reference group rather than a Caucasian reference group, and may subsequently feel larger as many of their Asian peers may be petite.  
Until next time.


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Ambience, a vibe, whatever you want to call it

I guess the reason I haven't posted in a while is because I'm often inspired to write when I'm feeling somewhat... beautiful... emotional... 'edgy' if you want to be ironic about it.  My head must be a jumble of existentialism, superiority and sadness.  I'll feel like that girl wearing a satin white slip dress by the pool, who writes poetry and somehow always looks soft and perfect.  Or I could be that girl in a grey cardigan sitting in her childhood home, at the cluttered glass table with a mug of coffee and sun streaming through the blinds.  Instead I've got a headache in a dirty college room under surgical lighting, wearing an oversized t-shirt and adidas track pants, with bare feet.

And this is what I mean.

This is how my life is while I'm here in this version of home - if you can even call it that. 'home'

I've come to realise that this room has been treated like my summer camp cabin, a stopping place for me to come in and out of.  Sure, there's photos and a clutter of books, tissues and soap on the shelves, but it's not mine.  My neighbours have fairy lights, decorative pillows, scents, plants, characteristic couches -- all distinctly them, all creating a certain ambience, a vibe, whatever you want to call it.

(In the last week, with most people gone, I've been spending more time in this room.  It's given me a sense of routine, a sense of how my life was before this whole experience -- a sense of being in my own space.)

And with all my own time, I've come to realise that my person is much like my room.  My self has no ambience.  I do not smell of rose oil, or moisturise my face lavishly, or wear cute skirts while writing in my diary.  I am like a summer camp cabin who has been thrown together for the moment -- a transitional, thoughtless, self-limiting phase.

(ugh.  I feel like my vibe is the sound my poor-energy-rating fridge intermittently constantly makes in my room -- dirty and unnecessary with a lack of aesthetic)

My friend who is currently obsessed with documentaries about Roman Emperors and Michael Angelo, who wore a pearl headband to class yesterday, who somehow wears makeup without looking like she's wearing makeup, she said she's been obsessed with Lana Del Rey since she was 13.  I guess that's almost life-long cultivation of a vibe.  I feel like that takes a large amount of self-assurance from a young age.
And yet, she captioned a video "and no, I don't have a personality"

Either, or... Self love is actually having a self, and not just being influenced in all different directions. Creating ambience must be being cultured, by your own version of art or pop culture in your own way.  These things can only be discovered alone and on the internet, or through real real feelings.  Self love is looking and feeling like Kylie Jenner in her KylieSkin ads -- clean.  It's perhaps covering your pimples and not wearing pyjamas in public.  It's perhaps buying perfume and wearing it every day.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's emulating Dorian Grey's 'life is art'.

All I've got is a headache and a straight-laced analytic mind.  She says the same thing every day.

My friend was one minute in Sydney, the next in Mexico in a cop car, tequila tasting in tequila, covered in foam.  It's not what I need, but I thought I'd mention it.  I'll want that vibe later.

Cartia Mallan was beach hopping during sunset in an oversized band t-shirt, with her tanned boyfriend, with blankets and pillows in the boot.

Bubbles sits in the corner, watery blue eyes and blonde pigtails, saying "I am not a chubby crybaby".  I love that for some reason.  I'm not a sad girl though.  That's not self love.

My current dream is in a hotel room, with white crisp sheets, a view, and a complementary buffet breakfast on silver platters in the morning.


Thursday, 3 January 2019


Yes, I stole the word from that TV show starring Debby Ryan.  The show's a good play on words.

Impossible to satisfy

If you knew me personally, you'd know that I'm renowned for always eating food, taking photos of food, and posting said photos of food.  This trait is two-dimensional, being both a representation of my greed, and a representation of the importance I must put on what people think of me.  The thing is, this habit has gone on for so long that I simply cannot stop.  It's a ritual.  It's sickeningly satisfying.

Unhealthy habits are born on the basis of repetition.

Anyway, if there were to be a blurb under the heading of this post, it would be: "what I am learning from Malaysia".  Having not been back in two years, there are so many things I had forgotten, aside from the fact that my insatiable personality cannot stop eating food and is paying health-wise, as it has the other 18 times I've spent the summer here.

On the first night, an hour after we had landed, I sat through a dinner in which my uncle discussed my future with me (of course he did).  The conversation had an under-theme of success, money, showing off, and acting International (because god forbid we are Malaysian).  This is not rare with Asian relatives, and that night I wrote, "Perhaps it was these Asian characteristics that I was running from in the first place."  Similarly, at a Chinese dinner on New Year's Day, with all the distant relatives on my grandmother's side wearing Ralph Lauren polo shirts with absurdly large logos, a man interrogated me about whether I was doing medicine for the money, always assuming we are greedy.  My grandfather then proceeded to tell me that this man owned a company that was doing very well, but he was very quiet about it, and how noble was that! - his words

We spent New Year's Eve in a condominium with a view of the Twin Towers, with guests who all spoke English, but in different accents: Spanish, Australian, British, American, and the classic international mix you cannot quite place.  The wives and mothers were in their 50s, dressed like they were 20, saying, "Are you drunk or am I drunk?"  The men were wealthy professionals: doctors, bankers, and spoke of such.  There was a mixed boy with a British accent who looked like Nick Young, speaking of KL bars and clubs and friends who know managers, too smooth to be true.  A girl in a white jumpsuit said she would rather chat over cocktails, saying she was given a tour by the owner of the Crazy Rich Asians house, and was taking her friends Batik painting if you'd like to join.  I felt like I was in the true success story of Asia, like Peik Lin and her family would drop their cutlery and say, "Ayah! Why didn't you tell me you knew them!"  With them I felt pretty, classy, and superficial, and like I could never... switch off *in the same up tight manner my New Year's resolutions are trying to escape. (Is it in my culture's nature to never let loose?)* This is the epitome of what people in my culture seem to want, and I don't think I want it.

However, I am currently sitting beside a mini golf course and a swimming pool... in a backyard.  I have spent the last three hours sunbathing and swimming laps with a red Ferrari and a green Porsche around the corner.  I have spent the last three days using the home cinema to watch Brooklyn 99, and waking up to the sun streaming in through crisp white curtains to a balcony overlooking the pool.  I cannot say I hate it.  I cannot say that I don't have big dreams to one day have a swimming pool and a balcony and a view.

While sunbathing, I have been reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The book has the recurring theme we have all heard before, that true joy does not come from materialistic things, but rather from true relationships and compassion, among other more meaningful pillars of joy.
Sometimes I wonder whether pretending that materialistic things will bring you contentment is easier, because forming true relationships and feeling true compassion is a difficult task that takes work.  I mean, evidently it takes the Dalai Lama 5 hours of prayer every morning.  Perhaps our laziness or insecurity is what makes me, and others, insatiable.