ALTERNATIVE ENDINGS

I don’t know how this all will end.
Maybe in the most grandiose fashion, we meet in the middle, our fingers touch and it tears the universe apart, we see a massive crack all the way from  where I live to Ecuador and a new dimension erects from the dimension of time.
Fuck you, time.

Maybe in the most depressing way, the kind where star-crossed lovers die in each others’ arms and the audience struggles to know how to feel. We don’t want anyone to die, but SOMEONE HAS TO DIE SO WE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT LOVE IS. We hold hands and float into a black hole and I whirl longer and longer, like a spag bo, your favorite. And you too, till our insides explode and we are left with nothing but mixed up guts, just floating in space. And then nothing.
We end in the most violent way, where plates clang on walls, both of us crying and things got broken, we shouted at each other at least we are talking about this, at least we are crying and at least we are feeling something. You make me want to stomp my own head against the curb.
We end in the most perfect way, what are emotional baggage? I have none because I am a fucking psychopath. We bid our goodbyes and say thanks, we meet 5 years later and there is no sexual tension because we are such great fucking friends. Here we are sipping gin and tonic by the deck talking about stealing traffic cones in our youth. We don’t even like gin. Or tonic.

Or maybe it ends with a sense of dread waking up because time is slowly passing, and I can’t do anything but maybe watch like a helpless bystander when a car crash happens, so I lie in bed with you and try to feel what I feel all the time. Feeling whole just by being in the same room with you. We look at each other, fluttering our eyelids, this is the last time we can be as close as this again. I touch your face, and we don’t say anything because we know this is how it ends.

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I was going to write about something, something depressing, something maybe about drugs and the complexities behind numbing of emotions but

I was looking out my window and thinking about how it would feel
like to live by the windowsill, if the whole world is this windowsill.
Waking up at 8am because the sunlight hits your face,
Feeling the crisp cold morning outside the window through the condensation of the glass, because you and I were breathing extra last night.

I entertained myself with the petty lives of birds. Ah! Birds! I exclaimed with some degree of Schadenfreude as I peered out of the crack of the litted window
to the outside world, two seagulls fighting each other over some disposed curry chips.
These birds living their insignificant lives, oblivious, I thought to myself, with this overpowering sense of superiority over petty nature.
Then I looked over to you.

Your blonde almost non existent eyelashes fluttering while you sleep into oblivion,
Do you know you grind your teeth when you sleep, and when you pay attention to something with such deep intent.
You’re so oblivious of these little habits that make me like you more.
You probably don’t understand why I write so little about you, you probably don’t care either because
You are so alarmingly unromantic, I mean, you won’t even watch American Beauty with me, but you’re so loving, that when we embrace I can feel this novel state of tenderness which I’ve never experienced, which erases every poignant reminder of the passing of time when I am with you.
I don’t write about you because I don’t have to live in poems when I’m with you.

Perhaps the reason I could remember your favorite Subway combination is because I love you,
I could even recite it backwards.

You have these long long arms so gangly that your brothers laugh and remarked that when you move, 80’s jingle music plays to the beat of your limbs.
I can’t think straight when you move, you drive me crazy, these arms have me in a headlock of contentment.

This year I began to cry frequently. I’m changing and I feel this darkness enveloping the whole of me.
You don’t understand this, but I could see this look upon your face,
Of confusion and apologies from something that you didn’t create.
Here you are, hugging me from behind making bird noises, trying to make me laugh
Between my cries.
You screech and scream but it’s okay if you don’t understand,
Because you said cheering me up is your favorite thing to do.

This year I am alone often because I have a passionate dread for human interaction. You come upstairs with me and dive into this void of alone-ness with me because you want to.
I want to live in the quiet when we are alone together,
Staying idle together, this thought is so ideal.

That is my window sill.

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PLAN A

One day you’ll be so unhappy that you can’t even find the right equalizer setting to make your favorite song sound nice anymore. And everything seems alarmingly dull and uninteresting. Nothing bad has happened, nothing is happening. That’s just about the worst part of the story. You watch cartoons to convince yourself even the impossible is possible, like floating through a door into another dimension where you know how to talk to people in parties without the fear of being bored lingering in the back of your mind. So you immerse yourself in this imaginary world within a black box where everyone in here has mind over matter and worry about what they do instead of how they feel. You want to heighten the chemicals in your brain by being ravenously addicted on cocaine just so you can build artificial butterflies in your stomach, the kind you see in cartoons. You distract yourself with 1 minute 30 seconds bite-sized clips on how to make your life better, perhaps appreciate the little things in life, or having a cup of tea and pretend you’re living the Scandinavian life where the mundane is beautiful and wonderful. You feed yourself this illusion that life can actually be meaningful even though you are bored. This nothingness is a mere bus stop to a grander destination which is happiness. You drown yourself in work perceived as important by your peers and people in the society. The more times you hear how important this work is, the more it becomes the truth. You’re functioning, you have a place in this world, because you’re doing such meaningful meaningful work. You function, therefore you fit in, therefore you’re supposed to be happy, you’re happy you’re happy.

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Well, Now What?

I’ve thought to myself a lot a lot of times what I will be like when I reach the peak of happiness. I’ve never felt it yet but I don’t know if I ever will. But often times when I imagine myself to be at that peak of happiness where I can’t feel happier,

I’m standing on a mountain, overlooking maybe something beautiful like a sunset or a sunrise, or little houses scattered on top of more mountains. I don’t know why that is beautiful, but it always is. And I’m always alone. It’ll be somewhere warm, it has to be so I can achieve the optimum level of temperature and comfort when I am my most happy self. It is hot, I have a tank top. It is pink. I am standing on top of a mountain, overlooking a bunch of beautiful shit. I must’ve been tired. I have both my hands raised up in the air, and I’m still looking at all this beautiful shit.

I’m diving underwater, I lifted my head up, I looked up at the blue sky. I’m tired, I’m alone. the weight of the oxygen tank is firm and it is heavy. I can taste saltwater in my mouth, I am gasping for air but I am laughing, or smiling, or both. I looked up at the sky and a bunch of strangers’ face, and I’m still looking at all this beautiful shit.

But both these scenarios have the same outcome. Because I always end up thinking to myself, tired, alone, lifting my head gasping for air from the saltwater, lifting my hands to try to touch the clouds on the peak of a mountain somewhere, and I think to myself “Well, now what?”

Now what?

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“Core Memories”

My dad, with a pink bandana on his head, running on the treadmill to Nat King Cole every morning before sending us to school.

Putting pillows over me and my sister’s head as we roll off our beds

My mom running into my room, lifted the lid of my radio and broke my Simple Plan CD in half

Standing outside my mom’s door crying and apologizing on behalf of my sister when they had a huge fight

Having a ginger candy laid down on the dashboard every time I go into my bus drivers car after pre-school

Crying on my mom’s lap when my dad went to Laos for work

Trying to fish my house keys with this long metal pole thing through my house gate

Cutting my foot on the mosquito netting of my bedroom door

Eating grapes listening to Lover’s Tears after my first break up

Listening to Lover’s Tears with my mom in the car outside my house  because she told me she listened to that song incessantly when my grandmother died

Standing in front of my favorite Mamak only to find out it’s been shut down and demolished

Drunkenly stumbling by the river on the Lawcompsci night

Watching Schindler’s List and eating Dominos with Pete

Opening the curtains in Genting Highland and exclaimed “Wow this is beautiful” to wake Jiayuin up

 

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An Open Letter to “Why I Think Patriarchy Isn’t That Big of a Deal”

I was minding my own business on a lazy Saturday afternoon when I stumbled upon this blog post, which blew up on Twitter. As a feminist, I have a lot on my mind and can’t help but disagree on a lot of what she has to say. But here goes:

Dear driz,

It’s unfair to put down an entire movement because you had a few disagreements with some feminists on social media. Generalizing feminists as “ladies who are angry, bitter and scary” is a narrow-minded remark and isn’t a constructive criticism on the movement at all. There are many different types of feminists and feminism, to box an entire movement up just shows that you haven’t done any research on the movement and what this movement has done to contribute to society, to you and your rights (From the lobbying of anti domestic violence, to the suffragettes fighting for women’s rights to vote) You were looking at this global and influential movement through a narrow tunnel of when you were “attacked” for your opinion on Twitter.

Yes, you have been criticized, condemned and shamed for your opinion. But essentially, when you have put an opinion out there, by practicing your free speech, you have agreed to let others chime into your intellectual discourse. How do you expect to start a dialogue on an issue if you could barely take criticisms and comments from other readers (Regardless whether feminists or not)?

Also, there’s nothing wrong with bringing up your experiences and anecdotes when you talk about how patriarchy isn’t a big deal. But, you have to remember that many women have suffered the plights of patriarchy. So it may not be a big deal to you, but making a bold and insensitive statement like that sidelines all the hardships faced by women all around the world. Just a few days ago, China has smuggled in many young girls across the border to Vietnam to be child wives and many male rape victims to this day still remain silent and these rapes go unreported. If you have never faced any of these hardships, and have no problem with the patriarchal society, then you have privilege. This is the privilege you have, and by asking you to “check” it means to ask you to step inside someone else’s shoes to understand how incredibly repugnant patriarchy can be. You are probably asking why do these matter? “I’m just talking about doing chores in a domestic context, no need to babble on about global issues or anything else.” That’s probably what you’re thinking about right now. That’s the problem. Patriarchy is just that – a systemic concept which inherently continues to drive women and men apart, perpetuating an unequal stand between both genders.

Patriarchy isn’t just about ironing your husband’s clothes or being a loving wife. If anything, go ahead and be a good wife if you want to be a good wife. Make sure that choice was yours and you weren’t coerced into it. Patriarchy as a whole, is a toxic issue, to both men and women. Patriarchy perpetuates hypermasculinity, which subjects men to unachievable and unrealistic goals to be masculine,  which led to many unreported rapes, unreported domestic violence and suicides due to societal pressure. Patriarchy also does harm to women, where in your case, might not seem like very much of a big deal but patriarchy is capable of making women lead a lifestyle where it caters to men or their husbands. This includes sexual gratification, domestic chores and the objectification of the female body.

If anything, your post isn’t about patriarchy at all. I understand the importance of wifely duties and the role of a caretaker in a domestic context. However, these can be done through compromise and negotiations in a healthy domestic relationship. Patriarchy is when a woman is coerced or having to sacrifice her life, career and goals in order to cater to men and take on an assumed role of the caretaker.

Ironically, in your post, you mentioned about wanting equal pay. The wage gap is actually a myth – but it doesn’t end there. Yes, there is a pay gap and women in America earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, but that gap isn’t because a woman is a woman and a man is a man. (I would also like to acknowledge that despite the wage gap is a myth, glass ceilings in the workplace are not.) The wage gap exists because of this patriarchal household you claim to support so much. Women make certain choices which led them to this wage gap, however these certain choices may not truly be free. For instance, a woman would be more likely to choose family-friendly jobs (such as being a teacher) over a demanding one which pays better but has less flexibility because they have taken on an assumed role as a caretaker.

The more uncomfortable truth that leads to the pay gap is childbirth. This is what the Chartered Management Institute call the “motherhood penalty”. No wage gap exists between the age of 18-25 for most women. But a pay gap begins to widen as a woman gets pregnant, because they would more likely be given less internal promotions or will be given softer roles which pay less. This is due to the employers knowing that these mothers will have less flexibility or would not be able to take on a work role due to their motherly duties that are all assumed and culturally stereotyped. However, it is important to note that there is no pay gap between women who has the same job and qualifications as their male counterparts. However, if those women have had been pregnant before, they have broken the glass ceiling and it has taken them longer to get to where they should be.Yes, this means that if women decided to have a family, they will be earning a lot less than their male counterparts. This is unfair surely, because we can’t help our biological nature because we are the ones pushing the babies out. Why should we compromise our financial income to want to have a happy family? This is systemic patriarchy at work. An easy solution would have been to close the gap for women after maternity leave but oh no, that would be a matriarchal society but we don’t live in a world like that. However, if a happy family is what fulfills and empower a woman, that’s what she should go for. No one should tell anyone what to want to choose in their life.

And what irks me about your blog post is that you’re doing just that. Imposing your values as to what a wife’s duty should be and guilt-tripping women into these choices that could lead women to be at the losing end in terms of funding themselves financially. You may say “These are choices women have made because they want to take care of their family. It’s a free choice!” Good on them, that is their choice. But for you to post something about how patriarchy is “not a big deal” ,  and that women should submit to their wifely duties and be a good wife, you’re forgetting the women who want to excel and succeed for themselves competitively in the workplace, women who want to pursue something more other than a family life. So, now do you realize how this “fair chance and opportunity” you speak of for women can be impeded by cultural stereotypes? Stereotypes that you and the patriarchal society seem to be pushing on. You probably do not realize that you have been imposing your values and perpetuating this stereotype, but when you stated that “Women (especially working moms) are not perfect beings. We may scowl, wear a frown at times, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we need to do.”, that’s the problem. We don’t need to do all those duties. We have a choice, you imposing your values onto what a woman’s duties are is what lead to pay gaps like these. If everyone has the same mentality as you, there will be no woman who does what fulfills her as a human being. All feminists are asking for is free choice. You can be this and you can be that, you don’t need to hold yourself responsible for any role because that role is not only limited to us.

I would also like to note that disrespecting your husbands is not a feminist culture. Essentially, feminists fight the patriarchy, not men. They fight for vulnerable women and men’s rights, not at the expense of men. They speak up against misogyny because who else would speak up for them? Especially since now more and more women seem to be intimidated of the movement itself.

So I say, let’s be strong women and be aware of the choices made by women are what would make themselves happy and fulfilled, not what society wants them to be. And most importantly, never perpetuate the patriarchal system it or fight the movement that is fighting for you and not with you. Because in the end, you’re just biting the hand that feeds you.

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Everyday is a Good Day

A few weeks back, I was waiting on my friend in the hospital to get his wrists stitched up. He’s had an episode and slashed his wrists with a kitchen knife after crying to my boyfriend how he will miss his parents and have his parents to use his student loans. OMI’s Cheerleader, still playing in the background.

Still bleeding, he panicked and left to the hospital alone with his coat and a book about Russell Brand’s life and political views. We were trying to reason with him as he stood in the middle of the road, hailing a cab. “Don’t go, please let us come with you.” “It’s not safe to be alone!” “Where are you going?” He shut the door behind us and drove off.

We sat in the kitchen where it had happened, waiting on a taxi to follow him. I drowned in the sound of the clanking  knives when Tom was trying to hide the knives and the sound of the kettle boiling. There we were, making tea in the middle of a chaotic night.

We waited since 2am, the dull moments of staring at the vending machine and looking at the different nakd bars that a machine could offer. Thinking about how mundane life still is, and how my friend couldn’t have seen how dull it is if his cuts were any deeper. There were talks about how I would open up a blog to write about food reviews from the food in the hospital vending machine if we stayed here any longer. The moldy taste from the prawn and mayonnaise sandwich, the lack of chicken in a chicken sandwich and the taste of satan’s asshole from a nakd bar.

Tom and Rachael were talking about beaches. An old man turned around, a man of  sun and waves, started talking about grass and sand and sea in a Welsh beach. He has cancer and decided to stop over at the hospital before going on his journey to Newport when the sun rise. Newport is a town 3 to 4 hours away by foot. I could tell he drifted around and has done things like this before, and to him this is just another ordinary day -talking to a bunch of university students who had just witnessed a suicide attempt. He said he used to be a cop, and we talked about gun laws and the cases he has worked on. Guns, that shoot 44 bullets per second and murder cases where the defendants found a gray area of the law to comfortably sleep in before nestling himself in freedom. We ended up in an uneasy crossroads of the conversation on American politics. “Bernie Sanders is a socialist, America is not ready for him.” He reckoned Hillary Clinton was going to win, narrowing down all the states that would vote for her. ” And she’s also Bill Clinton’s wife.” I wanted to say something but I didn’t.

Despite his hatred for the complexities in American politics, his eyes lit up talking about America.

“Where was the most beautiful place you have ever been?”

“The Grand Canyon, there’s nothing quite like it.”

“Yeah, I heard it’s on some people’s bucketlist to see that place.”

He told me about the french quarters and jazz in New Orleans, how he used to drift in and out from beaches to woods, from cities to suburbs. From Portland to Wyoming. Now there he was, in a Welsh hospital, waiting on the sunrise to go to Newport. He has so much world in him.

It was 6am, the sun began to rise. He slung his backpack on a shoulder, and said “I should get going now.” He walked side by side and did a little dance before he waved.

He said,”When you’re as young like you are, everyday is a good day!”

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