Friday, 1 April 2022

Do I, Like, Love Lena Dunham



Yesterday, while I was making lasagna, I felt this overwhelming gratitude for the fact that I'm a 20 something year old girl living her fun free life. Just before bed I walked past my roommate's room and she was blaring party music and doing her makeup like she was going to a rave or something, and she turned to me and said, "omg I just love doing my makeup alone when I'm drunk." This was following a potluck dinner with a bunch of girls I'd describe as 'fun and hot', with red wine and garlic bread, in this large house we made and call our own.

I've been watching a lot of Girls lately, which Binge describes as '4 girls in their early 20's figuring out life in New York' or something like that. Following the theme of personal essayists, the show is definitely a mirror of Lena Dunham's life as she saw it. I mean, in the first episode the protagonist, Hannah, asks her parents "What if I'm the voice of my generation?" which interprets as both a sardonic and accurate representation of a girl who literally wrote a tv show about her own life. The show received a lot of criticism regarding its lack of diverse representation and the nepotism involved in getting picked up by HBO (they say she came to them with a general idea and half-baked script - so basically 'the worst pitch ever'). However, I do believe the show was created with the utmost earnest intentions, being that Lena, her narcissistic self, wanted to accurately represent her life as a white privileged 20-something year old because she believed it meant something.

And to be honest, she did it well. The show won Golden Globes, the Peabody Award and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series in 2013. Sure, nepotism and privilege can get you a certain distance, but at some point there needs to be some actual work put in, some actual merit. Besides, her parents are painters and sculptors who probably just gave her inspiration growing up in the New York art scene (romanticise that shit). It's not like they owned HBO or had anything to do with television whatsoever. As for the whole lack of diversity issue, like, I don't know about you but I don't want some privileged white Jewish girl writing from an Asian perspective. That would be weird and wrong in so many ways. I do understand that I probably like her work because I am a privileged girl in her 20's who is financially supported by her parents, and therefore very much resonate with shows about self-involved emotional women, but hey, here I am resonating. People need to stop being so goddam PC. Like, isn't the artist's goal at the end of the day to use their voice? Surely someone else can be hired to write about their marginalised experience. Although, that takes us back to the nepotism and privilege thing, and injustice is really not what I'm here to write about. Neither is Lena, clearly.

A lot of people find Lena excessively annoying and problematic, probably because she is. Sometimes I don't enjoy watching Hannah strip in every public place ever or eat a bagel in a bathtub or whatever. I mean, it's cathartic on the same level as watching Phoebe Waller-Bridge masturbate to Obama's speech in FleaBag, but there's only so ratchet a girl can be before you're like CONTROL YOURSELF AND PUT SOME GODDAM CLOTHES ON. Lena Dunham is also known for saying stuff like, "I wish I had an abortion for the experience" or defending a co-worker and friend against rape allegations, but to be honest, I feel this all runs along the same white privileged girl theme of someone who is kind of self-involved and can't see past her own experience. As in, it's wrong, but it's all done in earnest, so I don't hate her for it. 

Perhaps I both like and dislike Lena for her too-open honesty. I remember reading her book Not That Kind of Girl when I was 18, and within the first chapter she described losing her virginity to some guy and lying about being a virgin, and then like, dissociating out of her body. My young innocent self took the whole thing as a universal experience when clearly it's not. At that point I wondered, what was the point of writing that? Did you just feel like sending all these details into the void when nobody asked? It feels kind of graceless and narcissistic. Every single one of Lena Dunham's personal essays seem to revolve around boys and sex and marriage and hysterectomies. As a young woman, I really do eat that shit up because I wish more girls would write as openly and shamelessly as she does, but at the same time I get kind of annoyed that it's literally all she thinks about.

While you'd think that a writer who obsesses over everything that makes up traditional female gender roles would make me spiral into a desperate mess of stressing over male validation, watching Girls has done quite the opposite. I guess this is what happens when a female writer focuses on a bunch of complex female characters. The male characters play supporting roles. They are simply tools for self-discovery, to figure out how to be loved, to love, and whether one needs to be loved at all. When discussing their distrust of their daughter and her seemingly terrible life decisions and coping mechanisms, Hannah's mother quips, "She does what she wants, has her fun, then goes home and writes in her diary and thinks about her fun." 

Girls shifts the focus to the trajectory of these girls' lives - the nitty gritty desire for validation and companionship. I think of Hannah oversharing to the man who's dumpster she wrongly uses to dump trash: "When I was young I decided that I wanted to experience everything, just so I could soak up all the experiences and tell everyone about it. But I'm so exhausted. I just want to be happy." There's scenes with one girl depressed in one room while the other is writing a novel across the hallway, doing well; with one girl crying in the bathtub while the other tells her to stop blowing her snot through the bubbles. It's messy, it's real, and it makes me love my girl friends.

I think about our potluck where we pass pieces of lasagna and salad across the table, as somebody yells, "Who wants margaritas!" Two girls talk about their online dates this Saturday, about sitting in the jacuzzi and raising their body counts. Across the table, girls yell about mental illness, therapy, long-term relationships, boredom and past heartaches. I realise that we are never going to experience this again. We are never going to be this hot or intelligent or have this much room for chaos and unpredictability in our lives. 

The girl across from me tells me that she thinks I only see the good things in people, while the girl next to her tells her I'm the opposite. The girl across from me asks how I never feel disrespected or wronged by boys, and I tell her it's because I'm always in control too. I am their equal, obviously. I'm neither naive nor fragile. For the first time in a while, I remember how powerful I am. In the past few days I've been told that I don't know who I am yet, and that I am young and no decision I make really matters right now. Both sound like ridiculous 20-something year old anecdotal quotes. Both are also beautifully, simplistically true.

Anyway, I gotta go make up an entire life story for a 78yo Italian woman for some assignment I've put off (like, I seriously managed to write what, 1000 words here instead of there? How?). I seriously wonder what this lady has been up to in her 78 years... did she figure it all out? She probably has a massive family and a husband who loves her but was basically forced to because people didn't have this much goddam choice back in the day. She's probably ridiculously satisfied though.

Love,
M

Ps. God, why do I feel like I wrote this in Shoshanna's voice? Sometimes I think I have Shoshanna's voice. F*ck she's so annoying though.

Pps. This was literally me oversharing my opinion about something I kind of know nothing about, and then making it about me, which is honestly so Lena Dunham I can't.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

My cat is climbing the flyscreen


I made myself a coffee and turned to an amateur online zine for easy brain stimulation, which is something I haven't done in a while. Following the theme of girls-who-enjoy-sharing-their-writing-on-the-internet, I found an article about the allure of diary twitter, and another about being vulnerable to be seen. The first affirms that people love to eavesdrop, like it allows them to gain an inconsequential understanding of another person, which I can attest to. The second affirms that some people enjoy to share for that very reason. They wish to be understood. Perhaps writers are inherently vain, thinking that they have something to share with others, feeling as if they have to immortalise their thoughts on the page. 

There's nothing wrong with wanting to immortalise your thoughts on the page though. I think about the Asian girl in Amsterdam who I obsessed over during lockdown, who quoted that she would often begin to write about personal events before even processing them. Perhaps it was her way of processing them. She would publish a small book on a recent relationship for her entire high school to freely read. She would write hyper-analysed essays about traits she's observed in her friends. Some people are born with this urge. I mean, after 7 years I am still intermittently posting on this blog. I think that means something.

This is all a pre-face for the fact that I'm about to try and immortalise my thoughts regarding a short, unfulfilling casual relationship before I forget about it forever. I'd like to get something out of this experience. If I once wrote about friendship and teen angst as a high schooler - which I do consider quite lame in hindsight - I can continue to do so as a young adult. Jenna from Awkward did it, but not in a cool way. Carrie Bradshaw did it, and Emily Ratajkowski, and Dolly Alterton, and every writer ever. So why do I feel so taboo and uncomfortable trying to turn something into a reflection piece, an anecdotal reminder for later?

****

I say reflection piece, but this may read more as a rant.

****

My cat is climbing the flyscreen and I know that she wants to escape. Sometimes I look into her eyes and wonder if she loves me or if she thinks that I'm her kidnapper. We met a month and a half ago, and on the day she arrived I told the guy in my phone that I couldn't come over because I couldn't leave my kitten alone on her first night. My kitten was meant to be my mental health saviour, a creature to love and care for, to help me feel comfortable with being alone in my room; to feel peaceful studying at my desk where she would climb into my lap, curl up and purr; to help me find some routine in my life, feeding her once in the morning once at night.

I'd met this boy 2 weeks earlier in a state of unfulfilled chaos. My university placement consisted of intermittent days in a prison psych ward, and my Friday and Saturday nights were lacking in plans. I was unexcited and bored, wondering if I was wasting my youth. Throughout the last few years I'd had this underlying uneasiness with being alone - with much of my life centred around instant gratification, and none centred around longterm goals. I needed to be around people continuously, and so one night when my housemates had left me all alone, I lay on the couch in the dark and did what I thought every lonely person in our generation did: I downloaded a dating app. There, in the dark I cynically clicked through matches sending meaningless messages, vowing that this time I would force myself to try, to find something, anything, an experience. After all, if you expect something to happen then it will, right?

There one of the many-faced bots cut right to the chase: Why are you here? to which I should have known, this question carries weight. Well, the apps are full of fun and games and I had no hope in them anyway, so I answered with the casual I'm bored. Not sure. which is entirely true, and we proceeded to hastily organise a date to which I was probably going to cancel. However, as the boredom continued, I thought to myself that getting to know someone new would be beneficial. It would be self-improving. Anything could happen. He could introduce me to a whole new world of something. At the time I naively loved myself but felt at a dissatisfied standstill. 

I think about that amateur YouTuber doing my degree, the one all the go-getter boys I critique obsess over because he blatantly sets goals and tries to achieve them. He categorised his new years' resolutions in a tree graph - work, relationships, fitness, finances - and I thought to myself that he was taking the fun out of life. How can you predict what will happen? What if what you want isn't what you actually want? Wouldn't life be better if you just went with the flow? I'd been trying desperately to go with the flow for my entire post-high school life, perhaps because I thought this was cooler, less vulnerable, more nonchalant; or perhaps because I was scared to set goals in case I couldn't achieve them. Well, if I were to categorise my life goals in a tree graph at the time, under the 'boys' section would have been in capital letters DO SOMETHING PLEASE. YOU'RE LACKING.

So there I was on a mediocre date with a boy I thought was whatever. Of course he's whatever, I thought. You don't know him so how could he be special. He possessed the same good traits as the boy I'd previously liked, being that he could cook, had manners and seemed kind. At the time I was under the impression that boys like him, like them, liked simpler cuter girls, girls who didn't seem too smart or funny, girls who were excessively chill and mysterious, and so I acted as such, making barely any conversation about myself as he ordered bottle after bottle of soju to make it easier for the both of us when he wanted to make out later. I hadn't kissed ;) a boy in like a year. Of course I wanted to. I later described myself on the date to a friend as acting like a door knob. 

The year before I'd spent months getting over the first boy I'd been casually sleeping with, toxically asking myself why he liked the girl he now liked, and why he didn't like me. His opinion became the opinion. Apparently I was too unpredictable, too obviously indecisive, too unstable. This time I subconsciously wanted to do the same thing but differently. There was no end goal. I just wanted to feel that I was alright, that I was making progress in a way that I know I didn't need to... and I was craving intimacy, you know how it is.

So the door knob persona persisted. I un-excitedly went on dates, going to the beach, eating food and having sex while talking about nothing in particular. I un-excitedly texted, questioning why I was able to message my other guy friends frantically for hours and barely able to force 3 words out for this one. I didn't think too much into it. I thought it was almost a healthy power move: I know I won't be devastated if you leave. I know I will never get hurt. I liked the idea of just seeing someone. Despite feeling like a meaningless addition, he filled the hole of dissatisfaction in my life. There was nothing wrong with him. He made me feel comfortable, he texted back, he was upstanding, he had a nice group of close friends.

I remember watching my calendar as my roommate's party approached and the thought of the last guy bringing his new girlfriend didn't bother me, because I was bringing a guy too. I liked the emotionless drama, the fun randomness of having him there. I wanted to see how he would interact with others, because maybe just maybe, if everyone liked him, then I could like him too? 

Following the party, the expectations of others began to get to me. People liked him. They were asking me who he was, how we were going, and I felt it might be time to get to know him better. I became excited to see him despite our dates remaining mediocre. I wanted to talk but nothing was ever being said. I began to care about what he was thinking: did he like me? where was his head at? The uncertainty was killing me. I would stalk him on social media when I was unoccupied. He was beginning to appear much more attractive. He was beginning to make me anxious, and he was pulling away. 

My response to the anxiety was to ignore the push and pull of a relationship and simply push, beating around the bush to get answers to ease the uncertainty. Eventually, after a week and a half of anxious spiralling, I set an in person date where I vowed we would talk - naively and desperately thinking that we didn't know each other well enough, but perhaps this was the point where we should, where we progressed toward the real drama and fun - not really caring whether said drama and fun was casual or going somewhere. That's what taking things slow is, right? Dating for 2 months and then deciding that maybe it's time to put some effort in and see where things go? I know. It sounds stupid as I say it.

Then two days before said date he sent an extremely formal text message - the kind that looks like an email you'd send your boss if you were giving 2 weeks notice. "I've cherished our time together but I'd like to end things here before they escalate." or something like that. Did I just get dumped by a guy I don't even care about yet? Over a text?

Thankfully we proceeded to call and we managed to talk about everything we probably should have talked about 2 months earlier, and I managed to clarify that no, I am not in love with you wtf! I felt so many emotions. I felt he had gotten spooked early and assumed things without even asking. What if he'd been less cowardly and waited until we met in person? What would have happened? We'd just had our first real conversation ever and it lasted a whole 1.5 hours! So I could talk to this boy on the phone for 1.5 hours... after 2 months... yes, clearly my standards were a little low. If I think about what would have happened, we would have both mutually agreed that we don't like each other and continued to casually see each other until we were left in a more awkward emotional position. When I was younger I was one to participate in every co-curricular and never quit, even if I hated it. He was like a ballet class that was deteriorating my mental health with every week, but which I wouldn't quit because I thought that it helped to make my life balanced, that it would be beneficial in the long run somehow. He was always going to have to be the one to rip off the bandaid, and no matter how little I actually care, I was still going to be initially shocked and hurt.

The main question that has been eating away at me though, is what is wrong with me? 

This boy tells me that he was never seeing where things would go. There was no chance of this going anywhere from the beginning. If I take this at face value then this ended exactly as it should. And perhaps I should take what he says at face value after everything I've written today. I clearly spent most of my time not thinking this would go anywhere either, and acting accordingly. If you begin a relationship telling each other that things are just casual and acting so damn flippantly casual, then that's the only direction it can really go in, right? 

However, during our call he told me that if there were a girl who he genuinely thought it would work out with, he would make the effort. He said that our schedules don't match and we have nothing in common, to which I responded that none of that matches if I'm not making any effort, which I hadn't been up until this moment. I've noticed that many boys approach online dating as if they have an image of this girl who will fit snugly into their lives, but don't understand that no girl will fit perfectly immediately. That takes time. Although, if you really like someone all of that melts away. To feel real intimacy I like to feel seen, to have somebody who sees my flaws and thinks they're cute, who understands my sense of humour, who I can go to for advice. After 2 months it was clear we were far from compatible like that. Perhaps 2 months was a month too long. I mean, what was the point? Is casual sex really worth it?

At the end of our call he told me his impression of me: incredibly indecisive and unpredictable on occasion. Does that sound familiar? I realise that despite being mediocre on our mediocre dates, we must've gotten to know each other after all. We got to know each other and didn't like each other, and that's okay. I asked for something, anything, an experience, and that's exactly what I got. I wanted to self-improve and I now no longer love myself. When the god complex fades, that's when I know I've reached a turning point. Painful progress has been made.

I've concluded that casual relationships are not worth it. After watching so many movies and television shows in my teenage years: Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached, 2 Night Stand, Grey's Anatomy, and literally every other television drama ever, I became obsessed with the idea that casual sex and uncertainty was fun. It's like the adrenaline that comes with anxiety is what I've been searching for, and when it ends I feel emotionally drained and unfulfilled. Nobody else seems to actively seek for no strings attached arrangements that will literally go nowhere like I have previously, so perhaps it's time I changed my approach to relationships. A friend told me that our generation suffers from increased anxiety due to our constant search for instant gratification and immediate dopamine release, then when that gratification gets taken away, we feel... well... shit. It's time we practiced relying on methods of long-term dopamine release, or perhaps it's time I did anyway. 

My cat has now climbed onto my lap and is purring as I pat her belly, eyes closed as she kneads her paws against my sleeve. While she was not the quick solution to finally feeling okay with being alone in my room, I feel that I am now.

Love,
M



Sunday, 26 December 2021

My Holiday Post: Resolutions, a Feminist Comment About Spiderman? lmao

This is a homage to the annual New Years' blog posts of my teenage self. 

Sitting on a couch in an airbnb, a friend of mine deliberated over whether she should start a blog. She meant so in a 2011 pre-tumblr era way, where people were more interested in long-form media than over-stimulating tiktoks or snappy Instagram captions or whatever. Like, people would literally ramble their weird opinions or pour their heart out in an essay or take really cringey fashion photo-shoot pictures and unsolicitedly tell you details about their family holiday in Hawaii. I miss those days. Honestly, I will read about your really boring week in the 11th grade at school with JOY. I told my friend that yes, I very occasionally do still post on this slightly deranged teenage blog, but it is never planned and almost always involves very shit un-edited writing. Her response was that blogs are meant to be this way. Here's the latest.

For the past few days I've been ridiculously sick, the only housemate remaining in this big white wooden five-bedroom of ours. I've been dawdling from my bedroom with the KFC bag full of tissues and the fan on full force, to the lounge room couch which I never use when my housemates are around, to the kitchen where constant rounds of honey lemon water are being concocted. Yes, I spent the entirety of Christmas day slipping in and out of a feverish sleep - watching wholesome Instagram stories filled with perfectly set tables and not wishing to be there one bit. It could be because I was just so goddam sick, but it could also be that for once I was resting and completely present. Time was non-existent.

My teenage self was such a sucker for making New Years' resolutions. I've always been obsessed with making continuous. progress. and like, reflecting on everything I've learned in a year. I'd ask myself questions like: In what ways have you changed since this time last year? Yuck. While my intentions were good, and very self-help-book-esque if I may say so myself, this year is different. For once I feel as if so much "progress" has been made that it speaks for itself, and what I wish for in 2022 is arbitrary, unknown... It's not like I can plan it anyway. Whatever happens happens (is that what depressed people say?, or just enlightened ones).

***

Anyway, moving on to some commentary regarding Spiderman: theoretically, if I were a legit writer, I would only give my opinions after watching all movies - and I really have watched all movies over like I don't know the last 15 years (minus No Way Home which just came out) but obviously, as with every Marvel movie ever, I remember nothing.

Over several watching-sessions interspersed with more feverish sleep today, I got through the first Toby Maguire movie: Spiderman (2002). That's the one where Kirsten Dunst dyes her hair red and dates every boy on the show ever before finally settling on Spiderman and has basically no personality other than being the classic "girl next door". Let's be real though, Kirsten Dunst was the ultimate symbol of the girl next door in the early 2000's. There's something about her dimples and unphased positivity and the fact that she's endearingly ditzy. Take Torrance from Bring it On for example, or Kelly from Get Over It. She literally never has any idea of what's going on and the main guy is always in love with her. One thing I noticed from the Toby Maguire movies is that Kirsten Dunst is always in trouble. She does nothing but play the damsel in distress over and over again. Like, I don't know how many times we can watch Peter Parker save MJ from falling off some building last minute, and why won't she stop screaming for like one second?

Moving on to the Andrew Garfield movies (side note, but why does Tiktok suddenly think I'm super into Andrew Garfield. I have never expressed any interest in this man and do not understand why I am being succumbed to watching thirsty edits of The Social Network, but anyway): I literally do not remember anything about the Andrew Garfield Spiderman movies because they were really shit. They were so shit that Marvel scrapped them before they were even done. However, from what I remember of Emma Stone, which may or may not be based off my opinion of the actress rather than the character Gwen Stacy, the girl is smart and quirky. I also don't necessarily think we should disregard the casting of Emma Stone, because the choice of actress does say a lot about the direction they wanted this character to go in. While Emma Stone has a varied repertoire of movies - literally, she's in The Favourite which is just a weird f*cking movie - even in rom coms such as Easy A or La La Land, she never plays a stereo-type. She is always distinctly Emma Stone.

And finally we have Zendaya as MJ alongside Tom Holland. The first thing I noticed about the Tom Holland Spiderman movies was that the characters in the high school actually looked like teenagers. They were all short and wearing braces and sort of unattractive. I loved it. Anyway, at this point I think we're past describing whether MJ plays a stereo-type or is a damsel in distress. See, look how much movies have changed since 2002. You guys....

The main thing I'd like to take from the most recent Spiderman movies is that Zendaya and Tom Holland are dating IRL... and everyone supports it! even though she's taller than him! I'm gasping. This shows that at the end of the day, people really do prioritise love over appearances. You know what? Maybe this post is actually just a shocking revelation of how vain I can be, or how the vanity is attempting to leave my system? Or just a post to say that at the end of the day, we support short kings <3

Love,
M

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Charli XCX among other things


I was having dinner with a friend from high school who's been staying with her boyfriend and his roommates, and she was like, "I've noticed you've been listening to a lot of Charli XCX. My boyfriend's roommates love Charli XCX and I just don't understand!" Of course, as a result, her boyfriend and his roommates have ascended in my mind from mere people-I-don't-know to people-I-don't-know-but-respect. I spent a portion of time explaining to her the appeal of Charli XCX, although it turns out my reasons for loving her are much less intellectual than her boyfriend's roommates'. They love Charli because her music production is beyond good, because she's the queen of hyper pop... etcetera etcetera... you know, stuff that arty people would say. My explanation for loving Charli is that she is simply a bad bitch, but sad; she makes interesting noises that nobody else does, which was exactly what I needed in the throes of lockdown boredom. She was there for me.

Anyway, as per usual we also discussed starting a podcast, which is something every single one of my incredibly interesting and intelligent girl friends will bring up on any given day, and this time I was like yeah, I literally feel motivated to buy a microphone and recording equipment and start dishing out my opinions right! now! However, why would I do that when I have a perfectly established blog that I never update and nobody reads? I've also been meaning to write in my diary for like days now. The opening of the entry was going to be "Hiii just thought I'd check in" but I haven't had any damn time and honestly can't be assed. Instead I'm here.

*It looks like this is going to be a self-aware stream of writing. My incredibly scientific thesis also seems to have been written as a self-aware stream of consciousness, but I'm not going to lie, it kind of works.*

Now, back to my seemingly throwaway claim that Charli XCX is a bad bitch, but sad: Charli XCX is not one of those celebrities in the media who we can hyper-analyse like Kim Kardashian, nor is she a literal lyricist like Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo or Lorde (Lorde is questionable. We're still unsure if Melodrama was about Jack Antonoff), but I am going to attempt to make conclusions about her character through her music anyway. 

The first thing I think we've all noticed is that Charli is kind of a bad girl. Well, not bad per se, but adventurous, chaotic, inherently restless. Take Break The Rules for example, or No Angel. She literally opens with the lyrics "Always been a little fast and wild / and mama always said I was a problem child." Then there's 5 in the Morning where she basically sings about partying until 5am while some dude tries to keep up (but probably can't lol). In fact, take a look at her music in general. Every album gives us a different sound, not only compared to each other but also compared to like everyone else in the music industry. 

So yeah, she's a creative baddie. We get it. But alas, with every restless girl comes a little bit of self hate.

You know how there's that dumb Instagram trend going around where everyone's posting the urban dictionary definition of their name? Well, my group chat decided to send our definitions there, and of course everybody got favourable definitions - hot, smart, kind, cute, the best friend, so lucky to call them yours etc. Meanwhile, I got "will perpetually try to ruin her own life," which everyone found fitting in a funny way. Normally I'd find something like that funny too.

Honestly, Charli would probably find something like that funny. I mean, she wrote a song called Vroom Vroom, which is literally about driving a fast car so "these sluts no they can't catch me VROOM VROOM"; and Porsche, which is about dreaming about a Porsche; and that song with 100gecs where she's like "my boy's got his own ringtone" for the whole song. Clearly she's a silly girl.

However, this time round I was super triggered. I was like ohhhmygod am I always ruining my own life??? You see, most people in this world, they try their best. By a person who tries their best I mean someone who pats dogs for their mental wellbeing, and someone who genuinely tries to talk to people about the things they like and the things they're studying and the things they're proud of, and someone who receives nice urban dictionary definitions and all their friends are like awwww that fits you so well, and someone who says what they mean, basically. I, unfortunately, have come to the realisation that I have never been this person. I seem to veer towards the tumultuous route, the one that I think is funny and emotionally stimulating, but overall like three thousand times more difficult than if I just, I don't know, tried my best at life.

Charli, I feel, is the same. Not all her songs are silly even though she likes to give us ironic silly skinny hot girl vibes. Even some of the silly ones have a bit of a serious undertone. Take Porsche for example. She definitely says that she's been dreaming of a Porsche to get some guy out of her head. I listen to one of my all time favourites White Mercedes, where she sings "I hate the silence / that's why the music's always loud"; and Gone where she's like lol I hate everyone here and being perceived. I'm leaving; and Track 10 which is the best song to dance to even though the only lyrics are her yelling "I BLAME IT ON YOUR LOVE / EVERY TIME I FUCK IT UP"; and there's that video I once watched where she says that she wishes she wrote i like america and america likes me by the 1975, and the only lyrics I remember from that song are "I'm scared of dying" and "being young in the city" amongst a dreamy electric backtrack.

Then there's her recent release Good Ones, where she basically sings about how she lets every good guy in her life go. This echos back to White Mercedes where the entire premise of the song is about how she's a white Mercedes, uncatchable, running too fast, not deserving of some guy. I didn't mean for this to be an analysis of Charli XCX's relationship with boys, but the girl clearly knows how to love. First of all there's Boys where we all feel the fun excitement of aha boys, but then there's Official where she sings in her hyper pop out of tune voice about all the best parts of being close to someone - the little things like being in the kitchen, or laying in bed late at night; and ILY2 where she's like wow it's so weird saying I love you, never thought about it. Side note but she also totally understands sex, or rather, being desired. Take White Roses, party 4 u and Emotional for example. 

Charli also writes a different kind of break up song. Take So Over You, where she screams "I'M SO OVER YOU / TELL ME BABY ARE YOU OVER ME" which is so effing cathartic; and Cross You Out where there's a heavy bass and she's all like lol when you're not around I cross you out and I'm sooo much better; and a whole lot of songs referencing tears - "century of tears / sadness was my only smile" and the song Tears which is literally about her tears - because understandably there's a lot of crying involved; but then she comes out with songs like Forever where she's like byeeeee let's never talk again but I'll remember you forever.

Anyway, sorry for this poorly written midnight spiel but my conclusion is that Charli XCX is a bad bitch, but sad, because her music is literally so funny and cathartic and different, yet also relatable in a chaotic emo girl way. Does that make sense?

Goodnight.

Love,
M

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Imaginings of Quarantine Letters, or Rather Essays, Monologues?

As I read more of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and 1993 essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and US Fiction, I feel as if I am morphing into a white man. His characters are troubled skinny white boys who smoke copious amounts of marijuana and have existential crises concerning their erudite brilliance. Of course the tennis academy's skinny white drug dealer reads books entitled Cambridge Refractory Indices of the Camera Lens, 4th Edition or something along those lines; and the skinny white author self-insert has an interest in Byzantine erotica; and the not-so-skinny white older brother regards women as inconvenient objects, pieces of furniture to serve his character; and of course they all have issues with fatherly disappointment and social anxiety and glory. White boy problems. 

I, personally, would love to be concerned with my own brilliance if I could bring myself to give an unhealthy shit. At times I do feel discernment, or rather pride, towards my own wit that can translate to dry humour that can translate to the complex funniness of my entire being. I have taken on the priorities of an overthinking white boy who simultaneously watches the Kardashians and 'that girl' videos on YouTube. 

In my admiration of Wallace's writing, I have become inspired to expand my vocabulary. Nobody does the internal monologue better than Wallace - with his essay-like structure backed up by nil evidence and a paragraph finale of a colloquial, jesting sentence that is inappropriately out of place.

A word: 

solipsism (n) - the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist

If this does not scream overthinking white male, I don't know what does. The word also accurately encapsulates the experience that is quarantine, social isolation, solitude. No mind seems to exist outside the entity that is my own anymore. She is whirring of her own accord, desolate, uninfluenced, going rampage.

Another:

dilettante (n) - a person who cultivates an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge

Synonyms include dabbler, dallier, myself in each new phase of quarantine

As I read Wallace's outdated essay regarding the US population's addiction to television, as I read the fact: The average American watches television for 6 hours a day over and over again because he writes the phrase incessantly, I feel guilt toward my own perpetual media consumption here indoors. However, to Wallace I must say, I would love nothing more than to be living my very real exciting life if I were allowed to live it. My dear dead brilliant friend, you could not have predicted this global pandemic. You also could not have predicted the predicament that is social media as it is today - inclusive of all its addiction, anxiety and vanity - though you came close, and your imagining of the way such an invention would affect people was almost spot-on, and you would be frightened if you saw society today; but that is a whole essay in itself.

***

Working on my thesis is so mind-numbingly boring that I must blast music to get through the transferring of references from this side of EndNote to that. In 2021 there has been the release of Kanye's Donda (very thinks-he's-brilliant-esque, but I do love music with a God complex), Halsey's If I Can't Have Love I Want Power (I think the title says it all), Lorde's Solar Power (very disappointing), Drake's Certified Lover Boy (eh, it's just Drake), and the soundtrack of Shang-Chi (so underrated). My personal favourite noises, however, have been the blasting of Charli XCX and Grimes, and my latest playlist consisting of angsty 2000's teenage music. I kind of wish I were a teenager in the 2000's - like Julia Stiles driving her car to Bad Reputation or Cher giving Tai a makeover to I Wanna Be a Supermodel.  I think you can tell what mood I'm in.

One day as I was perusing through Spotify, I noticed three boys I had previously hooked up with all listening to the same song at the very top of the activity bar. Okay, they weren't actually listening to the same song, but this is my analogy for the fact that I came to the realisation that they all have similar music taste. Perhaps I have a type. As I had a quick scope of each of their playlists I came to the conclusion that their tastes seem to chronologically improve.

We begin with the first boy, who listened to an abundance of Tyler The Creator. He was symbolic of the aforementioned skinny white boy - the one who does drugs and ruminates on his white boy problems. The second had neatly organised playlists, more relaxed, more endearingly revealing; only slightly cringe but still respectable, admirable even. And the third had playlists thirty hours long. Who has playlists thirty hours long? They were playlists of a variety of genres, playlists of somebody who clearly loves sound, playlists of somebody who I now recall asking me, "do you ever just empty your mind, and like, think of nothing?" God, his Spotify almost makes me wish I weren't so horrendously depressed when I met him. 

I'd have loved to turn my telling of these boys' Spotifies into a David Foster Wallace-esque commentary on pop culture, but alas, I cannot make fun of them (and myself). It feels too disrespectful. Perhaps there was no interesting story here to begin with either.

***

Spring commenced with bike rides with my father. Canberra truly is the city of lakes, cycling and hiking. I recall a high school friend of mine once describing Canberra as a valley between mountains, with seven peaks from which you can see the whole city. I'm not sure if that number is correct. I recall her driving us up to secluded lookouts with views in the middle of the night overlooking the speckling lit city after a party or post-KrispyKreme runs; or on a scorching languid summer's day, where we would sit and gossip about irrelevant people and things.

There are differences between riding back then and riding now. The hills surrounding the lake used to feel insurmountable, but I can now ride the kilometres without even changing gear. I guess that's what happens when your legs are a little bit longer, when you're a little bit stronger. While I used to ride in front of my sister, I must now ride behind because I cannot help but slam the brakes when encountering a downward slope or remotely sharp turning. I guess that at some point over the years I must have developed fear.

We rode past that red slide that used to seem so gigantic, but now appears rather quaint. We rode past the bench at the top of the hill where I used to always complain of thirst, but now instead look over the lake at the tower while taking an appreciative breath of fresh air, Eat Pray Love style. Being Spring, it is swooping season, and there is a single stretch of road in the suburb called Ainslie guarded by one menacing magpie. Head down, unthreatening, fearful but quick, you must cycle through the dangerous stretch. I feel bad for refusing every cycling trip with my dad throughout my teenage years. 

Love,
M

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Paris Hilton and David Foster Wallace


My book club is reading Infinite Jest at the moment, where-in-which at our last meeting I characteristically had not read the allocated pages and sat nodding dumbly as I stared at my reflection in the Facetime camera (I looked cute that day). A girl commented that the book made her wish she could write, to which I thought to myself, perhaps I should actually read said book instead of mindlessly skimming pages of Wallace's psychobabble. To be honest, it is psychobabble. Infinite Jest reads like the monologue of a ridiculously intelligent, spiralling man who took the time to sit down and write the most epic, inner-voice-replicating autobiography slash character study slash society study that he could. He wrote the world as he knew it into a book, with fun footnotes and all. His voice is satirical and ironic, yet somehow you know he means every word he's written - in all its absurdity. It all probably really happened to him. He seems narcissistic enough that he'd write specifics as they happened to him. Real life is absurd like that, after all.

I cannot think of any way to describe the book besides... reflective of the modern condition, as cliche as that sounds. The author has a cyclone mind. He makes me think of that character from Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends - another one of her silly elitist female Irish characters who is probably pale and drinks tea while staring at the ocean - or are the ocean-watchers Scottish? Anyway, her name is Frances, and she narrates, "I fantasised that I was smarter than all the teachers, smarter than any other student who had been in the school before... I'm going to be so smart that nobody understands me." Wallace's cyclone brain is whirring within his skull as his expression remains placid. I doubt his words came out in real life as they do on the page. I mean, he introduces the novel with silent words and a seizure in the middle of a college-admissions interview. As a friend messaged me, in anxiety-inducing social situations she is like :|. A realisation I've been coming to recently is that respect must be earned, and minds cannot be read. 

Last night I painted my toenails, with little pink toe separators and all, while watching Paris Hilton open her glittering notebook filled with recipes written in colourful texta. "This is so you," Kim Kardashian-West chuckles. "I swear travelling with Paris is just... do you remember? You'd bring all these stickers and we'd sit on the plane and all we'd do is collage for the entire trip." As absurd as the specifics of Wallace's characters (or should I say, Wallace himself) are, the specifics of Paris are both endearing and filled with personality - from her stiletto shaped spatulas to her pet pig, Princess Pigalette. Paris has never tried too hard to demand respect from the public. Instead she's always milked the blonde bimbo persona. She built an empire out of not caring and being dumb.

Paris has a barbie voice on Cooking With Paris, with her on-brand quotes lighting the screen: "Couture in the kitchen means dry cleaning bills." You get the gist. Yet occasionally her guest of honour will share a serious detail about themselves, and her voice will slip into normalcy - not just normalcy, but the deep intelligent voice of an introspective girl friend and the founder of an empire. On The Simple Life (2003-2007), Paris is relatively conservative compared to her more brazen co-star, Nicole; and on her podcast This is Paris, her opinions are almost entirely neutral. Her only nuggets of wisdom are given as bedazzled anecdotes: "Be like that Chanel bag that nobody can touch. Don't be the fake on Canal Rd. that everybody can put their hands on." Paris doesn't offer us anything. The world floats around her: a seemingly simple-minded star who may or may not have a cyclone circling within. I mean, she doesn't strike me as easy-going (I have yet to watch her documentary).

To have a mind like Wallace but instead write it like Paris. That is how I'll conclude this Thursday night brain fart.

Disclaimer: We'll never really know about Paris. As @kardashian_kolloquium's theory goes, oversharing can be a form of defence. Make so much noise that the world doesn't know what's really going on.

Love,
M

Monday, 14 June 2021

God Complex

The boredom used to creep in ever so slowly. I'd strategically empty drying racks and take down washing lines in intervals, breaking up the never-ending idle hours. I'd decide that I would paint as if by numbers, or cook the most tedious dish, just to kill time. When did I become somebody who needed to kill time?

I now sit on the floor at 11pm with a charging cable too short to reach the desk, which is sprawled with unstudied mandarin characters anyway. The cable is too short because I bought an iPad, for sleek new notes and databases. I also cut my bangs, renewed my idolisation of Christina Yang, and decided I want to become an orthopaedic surgeon, for now.

I felt such detachment from this person I used to be. There was once a version of myself who had something to prove. Her identity was pure ambition, goals and independence, and she was known for it. Oh, to be rough around the edges, and bossy, and perceived as capable. Oh, to want to play the game, to be vindictive, to have glory. When did I stop wanting glory?

Competition is ugly, I said. To be competitive is to be desperate and ruthless. It's like a cat scratching its way up the side of a well, snarling and scraggly as it reaches over the top, accomplished against all odds.

In the car, I sat quietly in the back as a group of girls spoke about feeling imposter syndrome. The next morning, I whispered to a friend, "Do people actually feel that way?" Despite no sound evidence of my intelligence, and no approval from my seniors, and no effort on my behalf, I somehow have always assumed that I am impossibly capable of anything. It's called a God Complex.

Also, I listened to Lorde's new song and she sings I'm kinda like a prettier Jesus. I love her. She is like a prettier Jesus. The song has grown on me.

Love,
M

Thursday, 20 May 2021

The Tornado Calms for a Second


Or rather is calm in general. Or rather does not calm at all.

I attended an art exhibition yesterday; not one of those modern ones about the human condition and whatnot, which is usually my thing, but one of those with biblical depictions, European portraiture and Van Gogh's weirdly bright sunflowers. By weirdly bright, I mean positively glowing.

There were a few paintings that caught my eye: 

A depiction of Genesis 24: A servant stands by the central well, tasked by Abraham to find a wife for his son, Isaac. He devises a test, awaiting a woman with the kindness to draw water for himself and his ten camels. That woman is Rebecca. 

A blurred golden rendition from Homer's The Odyssey; the scene in which Ulysses escapes the island of the one-eyed monster. If I recall correctly from my bedtime stories, Ulysses introduces himself to the cyclops as Nobody, only to injure the cyclops' one eye. The cyclops then stumbles about, crying "Nobody hurt me. Nobody hurt me." This story used to make me laugh and laugh at the sheer simple ingenuity.

And a painting of Saint Margaret. Her expression is formidable. She knows her worth, her importance, her significance. She is dressed in traditional Spanish robes. Where she would traditionally be wearing a tiara, she is wearing a straw cowboy hat, a Spanish equivalent. And melding into the darkness of the background, at her feet, is Satan disguised as a menacing creature. He is snarling, and she is un-phased.

There is something eternally graceful about history. In these stories, the world seems bigger, time seems longer, and the present seems completely insignificant. I almost want to throw a splattering orange at the modern art in the middle of the foyer, or spill juice on the book I am reading. Adults: an obsession with Instagram, modern relationships and today's hustle culture. I read an article about the lonely pandemic. By this I don't mean the coronavirus pandemic that sent us into isolation (which was/is awful), but the pandemic that started in the last century, where-in-which we all seem to be paying for individuality, privacy and studio-apartments to live all alone. Modern culture is the bane of my existence. It is graceless, Facebook is stupid, and Tinder sucks. I feel as if I've done a 180 on my persona, or want to, anyway.

***

If we are to return to the whirling tornado, we are referring to uncontrollability. As my stupid, stupid book about the modern human condition writes, we need the courage to control what can be controlled, and a therapist to work through what can't. Perhaps this is how normalcy works: Complications will occur either way, but the harder you try to be normal, the closer to plan things will go. But I have never tried to be normal. In fact, I have always actively played in the other direction. I never realised that life would make that happen all on its own.

I listened to a podcast by a couple of acquaintances this morning, and they spoke about being irreplaceable. I love that idea: to be irreplaceable based on your experiences, your uniqueness, your hard work. I haven't felt that motivated in a while.

The tornado is exciting, if you let it be.

Love,
M

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Things I Want To Be

I read an article about personal branding this morning. The gist of the article followed the idea that capitalism is the worst! and we shouldn't try to monetise our personalities. That's irrelevant though. I took  this whole personal branding concept as a challenge for self-improvement. I'd like to think that how I am perceived is irrelevant, but at the same time, often people can be see-through. Well, often I can be see-through; and when you're see-through, how you are perceived rings some truth regarding who you are. Hence, working on perception is adjuvant to working on myself, etcetera etcetera. 

I'm at home at the moment and it's freezing and I don't like myself. I'm seated in the same spot where I would pore over Margaret Zhang's blog throughout high school. On a side note, she has now become the editor in chief of Vogue China - the youngest editor in chief of Vogue ever (of course she has). Her blog entries always rang personal yet private; emotional yet classy. Amongst an impossibly aesthetic collage of images, she could somehow write truthfully, and deeply, about her career and the social issues she cared about. Yet, she never revealed a piece of her personality. To have something to share yet be private is something I have always envied. How does one draw the line between being passionate and being too personal?

Everything is relatively empty though. With an idle year staring me in the face, there is not much food for thought beyond the personal. Two days ago I sat on the bus with a boy who had an impossible amount of hobbies. He described hiking, and fishing, and fixing his motorbike - which all seemed like incredibly boyish things to do - yet he seemed grounded just by keeping busy. Speaking to a boy my age with different priorities to myself and those around me felt like a breath of fresh air. He asked me if I had any hobbies, to which I asked for suggestions. 

A high school friend patted me on the shoulder and asked me what happened. I used to be the queen of hobbies and personal projects, she said. She's right.

My immediate thought when thinking about new ways to fill my time was of a colleague of mine who has been posting videos of herself figure skating. She spins, and she falls, then spins, and falls. It's all such a pretty work in progress. Rather than finding bouts of inspiration, I instead envisioned myself in the act of working on something - glasses on, using my brain like I haven't in years; or physically exerting myself with glowing skin; or playing a sweet-sounding instrument with the discipline of a small Asian girl. Visualising the aesthetics of a project rather than actually doing it is rather shallow, but at least it's a start. As I said, working on perception is adjuvant to working on myself, etcetera etcetera.

The one personal project I do come back to time and time again is writing things down. While diary-keeping has been a constant - the teary non-sensical entries don't quite make for anything productive. I want to sound pretty like Margaret Zhang. However, at a party three days ago, I recall speaking to a girl who writes impersonal pieces for Vogue. Completely tipsy, I blurted out the name Tavi Gevinson. I remember the way her eyes lit up either due to nostalgia or some deep emotional connection with Tavi's work. The personal essays of Rookie Magazine meant something to us. They weren't necessarily pretty or deep. They were conversational, relatable and rife with emotion. 

By the end of this party, the girl looked me in the face to see that my eyes were puffy from crying in public. I think I have always wanted to be seen as someone hard and untouchable, so the shame from showing so much emotion eats away inside of me. However, have I not been showing too much emotion this whole time, my whole life? I am a see-through person, after all. I am beginning to wonder whether I could deal with my emotions on the inside without disclosing how I feel too quickly and too soon. My mother always told me that I don't owe anybody an explanation. Yet, friends also tell me to not change the way I am. Perhaps showing emotion displays vulnerability and brings people closer together.

My mother brought back the same thing she's told me time and time again: that I am never content, continuously reaching for the next thing. I think of the final page of Jessie Tu's A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing. Her mother describes her personality as hungry. It's not something that can be changed, but perhaps something that can be worked on. A personal essay-ist wrote about how she has started to stray away from personal essays and write about other things. There are so many ideas and events outside those in our small tiny minds, but being caught up in my own has always been a terrible habit. Being self-focussed is difficult, more so for some than others. 

But I am home now, and here to practice empathy and living slow. I hope to be softer, kinder and less confused. I hope to be there for others the way they have been there for me. And I hope to feel settled, for once.

Love,
M

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Homage to this blog's beginnings: A Muddled State

I've been trying not to journal lately. I decided that writing down my thoughts was my bad habit - too self definitive, too limiting. Yet on the phone to a friend last night she described her steps to self improvement: You should journal she said. It helps with emotional awareness. To which I thought, what about manifesting to the moon or God or the universe, and believing that fate has your back? I've tried to make that my mantra lately, with eyes squeezed shut, telling myself to stop planning and writing and vocalising my thoughts.

Yet I came home, reversed into the bush behind my house while listening to Lorde, sat in a cafe with my high school friends, and watched television from my childhood bedroom (I can't seem to sit still for long enough to watch television anywhere else). I wrote in my diary again, in a planned essay-like manner rather than the sporadic erratic entries my notebook has been receiving for the last few months. While my essay entry ultimately ended up ~inconclusive~, the whole ordeal made me feel grounded.

I think about this blog's beginnings; the way I categorised my posts into 'books' and 'travel' and 'ramblings'. Almost all my posts ended up under ramblings. From the glass table in the dining room, to failed attempts to write on the dusty windy outdoor table, to the empty study room below the science building at school, I would type my uncensored thoughts and sort life out systematically like the mini mathematician I was. 

And I sit here with things I should be writing instead: meaningless articles I've committed to, notes I've been intending to write for weeks - but the only thing I want to write about is myself. I used to love writing about myself as if I were a special journal girl with special thoughts, as if everything in my life had a higher meaning. I get nostalgic driving past places I used to despise, thinking there's some divine symbolism in every aspect of my uneventful life. 

But writing about myself is so unsexy. I feel lame, confined and un-mysterious. Lucy, the protagonist of the book I am reading, describes the single women at her love-addiction therapy group as diseased. My high school friends with their serious boyfriends describe choosing a day curled up at home over a loud meal with friends. They seem so settled, so grounded.

Coming home to buildings of wide-spaced interiors with earthy tones, surrounded by green grass, red leaves, wattle trees and pink spiky flowers, I can feel my mind soften. I can feel the contrast to in the city where I visualise my psyche as a tangled conglomerate of wire - hard and muddled. But perhaps to be unsettled is what I've always wanted - with big dreams of a forever spontaneous, ambitious life. Perhaps to be unsettled for longer is in my nature. But I wish for something different now. I wrote that I want to get 大 (big) tattooed behind my ear in an almost masochistic way - because I wish to be seen as small but feel anything but.

Even after writing, I still do not feel content or clarity. I believe I have been subconsciously vocalising less because I am more unsure of what exactly I want to explain now more than ever before. As a consequence I have been listening more, though. I've always wanted to be able to listen more. Perhaps for now I can give and give and give for a change, rather than receive and receive and receive as I always selfishly have.

As per usual, I feel I must level up. This cannot be it. Yet for once I am not sure what the next level is, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Love,
M

Monday, 27 July 2020

The Chinese Cab Driver


He began with: "From the ages one to ten they follow their parents, then from ten to eighteen they begin to gain independence, and then once they're eighteen they're gone." and we all laughed. Then he continued, "But that's only white people. Asian people, we're different. But now, here we are, in this country, and our children are over eighteen and they hate their father." and the mood instantly dropped. "We raise them for eighteen years, and now are left with nothing."

Prior to this my father had overtly expressed his concerns about my sister and I living in a different city, and that we were unhappy to see our parents visit for the second time in three weeks. Due to his tendency to speak in black and white terms, he said "my daughters hate me," which set our immigrant cab driver off into his preaching spiral... a spiral that hit a little too close to home.

Of course our circumstances are different. Our world views are different. My sister and I believed in leaving home and forging our own paths, and our parents were forced into being okay with that. To us, this was reasonable. The Chinese cab driver's university-aged children were living at home with him, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Our parents are thinking of moving to a different city altogether. The Chinese cab driver was a strong advocate for remaining in the same city, even if it meant my parents should upturn their lives to follow us here, for fear of abandonment. To this, my sister responded in her bratty eighteen-year-old manner, "We didn't leave to make new friends. We left because we wanted to get away from you. You coming here would defeat that purpose."

I can say we have a different worldview all I want. I can say that we no longer live in the era of the three-generation household - of children never leaving home, of the same neighbourhood for generations, of no aeroplanes and immigration. The Chinese cab driver was yearning for something that I tragically cannot see being possible given our circumstances, and in a way that makes him right. My sister and I are too far flung, too focused on our own trajectories, and according to Asian values, that makes us selfish. We have no consideration for our parents in our lives. They are always welcome, but they are not considered. The welcome into our homes, the promise that we will support them if they come to us, is the Asian compromise. But the sacrifice I see in the prior generation of uncles and aunties, who designate a child to remain home and deny a life in the developed world, to fulfil the responsibility to take care of their parents, that's gone.

Last night I began reading Min Jin Lee's Free Food for Millionaires. The novel opens with a Korean family sitting around a dinner table in Queens, New York City. There is a fight between the father, Joseph, and his westernised eldest daughter, Casey. The Chinese cab driver was less assimilated than my father; Joseph was less assimilated than my father; and the pain they seemed to feel watching their children - their misunderstanding of Western values, their sadness at the loss of their own values - makes me feel both guilty and angry.

The Chinese cab driver advocated for the simple life. He wished for a world living pay cheque by pay cheque. He wished for a world of always thinking ahead - find a house before it's too late, find a job before it's too late. He understood a world where you must work to get by, and that is all. He will forever live on the third level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Who cares about finding a job filled with passion? who cares about success and prestige? who cares about enjoyment? Who cares about finding the meaning of life? when the most important thing is family.

Casey in Free Food for Millionaires heads to the roof to smoke after Joseph tells her she must leave the house by morning. She contemplates where she will go - will she follow her rich, white friend to Italy and find a job there for a while; or will she bunk in with her white boyfriend? She thinks of the first time she saw the stars outside of New York and the awe she felt. She looks into windows of the buildings around her and studies the lives of others. She explains to her sister what sex feels like, and her sister studies Casey's impulsive, headstrong, raging personality - one that opposes the safety of Asian values in all their conservative and disciplinary glory.

In the last week I have seemingly exited my quarantine reverie. Suddenly I feel the need to do the chaotic and unexpected. I want to meet new people. I want to go on adventures. I want to try new things. I want drama and excitement and stupidity. Over lunch with a friend I felt suddenly invigorated, and left with a head full of plans. I felt like I was in a new and improved world - like I was a college girl once more, except this time with autonomy.

And then I got in that cab and I could feel my mood crash and burn. My face mask felt too hot and heavy, and my eyes were slowly closing, resolved after attempting to defend my generation to an immigrant man who would never understand. As the first-generation immigrant girl I feel as if it is my right to live the Western life our parents always dreamed of. That's why they moved here, right? They wanted us to assimilate, right? 

And before Joseph slaps Casey at the end of their fight, she thinks "As her father, he deserved respect and obedience - This Confucian crap was bred into her bones." Because it is. These values will forever be a part of me, and it's all so conflicting. I believe it is my right to live my life to the fullest - being one full of the individual, one that implements the selfishness of both the socialist and capitalist views of the West, of looking out for oneself. Meanwhile, the Eastern values of living, which do not fit into this Western way, are sitting in the background. 
And there they may collect my residual guilt.

Love,
M