on finding comfort in others

Thinking about things

I am a firm believer in the concept that we are in full control of our emotional responses to external stimuli – nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent, and etc. – so whenever I am feeling down in the dumps I try to get over it by telling myself to get over it. Because you can’t really change the circumstances that have already happened, nor can you change other people’s behaviour, so why not take the easy way out which is to change your own mentality?

Well, fuck that for today, because I got really pissed at someone. My abject levels of annoyance might have been irrational and oversensitive, but I would like to retain some shreds of credibility with my own emotions and try to reconcile what I felt with why I felt it.

Said someone had mentioned something offensive to me, in an attempt at what I can only assume was humour. The actual word used was “disgusting”. I did not find it the least bit funny, and it stung for a bit, because maybe deep (okay maybe not so deep) down, I felt I was disgusting too. Having someone else tell me just dug it to the surface and possibly cemented it. But how could I blame that person? It’s not like that person knew about how I felt about myself, nor did that person have a stellar track record in being the nicest person to me and I had more often than not brushed off all past ill-feelings with “oh, she’s just like that”. But there’s a limit to each and every tolerance, and here, one stupid remark was the tipping point.

So I did the next best thing, which was to turn to another friend for comfort.

Friend: maybe just don’t be too close to her already?

Me: what a rumble to my pathetically small circle of friends

It was comfort I am so glad I found, because there is nothing sweeter than understanding and commiseration from a fellow human. It was wonderful and it numbed all my earlier aggrieved sensations. I asked that friend whether she would have found it offensive (she did) and whether she thought I was overreacting (she didn’t). Ultimately, I was still human and I craved approval. It was everything I needed to recover, and I will eventually.

I don’t want to sound like a melodramatic baby, but the original comment still prickled like a bad insect sting, and I may not be able to have a proper conversation with that person again. But I suppose it was a nice change to push the blame on someone else other than my own lack of emotional finesse.

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tragedy of the commons

Inane

Thank heavens for small favours, because I managed to secure a spot for the last remaining non-law module I am forced to have to take, with a ridiculous bid amount of e$123.45. I know it’s virtual currency with zero real world consequences, but it did sadden me that I had to give up such a gargantuan sum for a module I harbour so much pre-existing bitterness towards. It wasn’t even a module I strongly wanted to take nor was it a highly raved professor; I literally settled for the one class that fit in my timetable that had a space left.

But I should be grateful, because now my timetable is more or less the way I want it, with classes only on the first three days of the work week. I get what is essentially a four day weekend (and to quote Val, a perfect opportunity to go on weekend getaways) (but with what money though?) which has never happened in the past three years. And with today being Wednesday, I’ve officially finished my first week of my last year in law school, which is quite a scary thought.

My modules are an eclectic mix this semester; a combination of (i) what I have been forced to take, (ii) what I felt I should take, (iii) what I heard would be easy, and (iv) what that had no finals.

Classes have been brutal, because of professors who want to cling relentlessly onto the one point raised by student X even though it didn’t seem remotely relevant to the original question, or professors who do not know how to time their mid-class breaks (clue: it should be mid-class). I’m taking this funny little module called “Creative Thinking”, but the professor did not seem to appreciate it when someone offered an answer that differed from what he had in mind.

I also spent more money on coffee than actual food in the past three days combined, which is a little worrying. I need to control my urges to give in to Capitalism (which is a concept that actually came up in all three of my law classes this week – what an interesting trend).

Hold me in this wild, wild world

Things I did, Thinking about things

It’s the last Friday night of summer; school starts this coming Monday. I’m sitting here at the dining table, listening to Queen (Greatest Hits II) and half-trying to do some readings (Corporate Crime, which is really just a bamboozle of big words like “Fraud”…. “Stock manipulation”… “Falsification of accounts” et al), half-reading inane articles on Facebook.

So yes, I am very happening. I also ate another packet of Oreo minis.

I’m also severely distracted because I have not been coping well with post concert depression after Bastille’s gig that happened 4 days ago. I thought I’d be over it by now, because I am a Mature Adult™ who can attend one concert, enjoy herself during the 90 minute set, buy some merch, then go home and move on with life. Well I didn’t buy any merch because they didn’t have the specific item I wanted, and because it was $50 for a t-shirt, $25 for a tote bag. Yeah…. no.

I also have zero ability in grasping the concept of moving on, because I keep getting drawn back into their songs, videos and other generally unproductive things (i.e. the Bastille tag on Tumblr). I have a newfound appreciation for every single track off Wild World, I find new meanings in each lyric… it’s heartwarming, but at the same time extremely unhelpful for someone starting school in 3 days.

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This was my second time hearing the lads live; 2015 seem like a distant memory, though I do remember odd specifics of their first show in Singapore. Dan wore a t-shirt I didn’t really like and his hair was a little messed up because he had been wearing a cap on and off. He introduced These Streets as his favourite song off Bad Blood; Eunice and I flailed because that was my favourite song too (childish, I know, but we were young and very much in love with their music, forgive us). We weren’t familiar with the band, and I didn’t know all the songs. But I’ve been to other shows before, and I had a sensing Dan felt awkward performing live. He didn’t keep his eye on the same spot for long, he moved around a lot, his dancing was adorably bad (and I say this as a big fan of his), and his little snippets of words between songs were just one notch above mumbling. But when he sang, it was surreal. A genuine sincerity bleeds through his sounds only matched by his vocal abilities. He howled where he had to, he went high for the extra oomph. Together with the pulsing drums and guitars and keys, it was a revelation.

We came out of the Coliseum overwhelmed, partially by the heat but more by the fact that we heard some of our absolute favourite songs, these same songs that accompanied us when we studied, when we were on the commute, being performed by our favourite band right in front of our eyes. It’s like, they sang these songs. They are real.

That was in January 2015; we were in our first year of uni. Fast forward 2 years, and I’m now in my final year; Eunice is off on exchange. When I now hear the opening lines of Pompeii, it almost feels like a passive aggressive jab at me and some of my badly made life choices. It’s trite law that things, including myself, change over time, so I found solace in some things that didn’t:

  • Dan’s dancing (still adorably bad, but getting less bad, and actually pretty funky),
  • My ability to remember lyrics to songs I hadn’t heard in a while, even if I can’t remember a case name I read some 20 minutes ago, and
  • How good it feels to lose yourself to the reverie of music.

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The stage seemed bigger this time around, or maybe this was because I was closer. Dan seemed steadier, more sure of himself, he even took song requests (played the wrong version though……… still waiting for WOL part 1). The people around me seemed nicer. There was this rabid girl in front of us who made signs for what seems like every single Bastille song, she was hysterical, her hair was flying everywhere. It was pretty sweet.

I still didn’t know all the songs, but the songs I knew, they were perfection. Warmth is my favourite off Wild World – the first verse is just depressing, but the chorus is redeeming. It’s as though you are being enveloped in a nice, long hug for those few lines, and you can sense the calm amongst an urgent storm.

And when I heard it live, the warmth settled in my stomach and for a second there all my problems dissipated.

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I never really gave this much thought until now, but the act of listening to music is actually a pretty intimate affair. Especially when everyone is plugged into their earphones, it is a stranger’s voice being fed into your ears with no barriers in between. With my levels of anxiety, I would feel so self-conscious if I was a musician. But I’m so glad Bastille decided to be, because their songs are some of the best things to reverberate in my ears, drowning out so many other terrible things.

You guys will never see this, but thank you so much for your music. It really soothes.

(Well. This turned out way longer than expected.)

Apaki on toast

Scattered thoughts

Sometimes you do some things you regret. Yesterday, I made a cup of hot chocolate right about dinnertime (planned on having that as dinner), but before I had a chance to drink it, I received a phone call and engaged in a phone conversation that got me feeling guilty about making the hot chocolate.

I poured the hot chocolate down the toilet and washed the cup.

Today, I was in midst of having my dinner at a Greek deli — Apaki on toast, was grossly overpriced and had way too much vinaigrette added to its salad — when I received a message from a friend about a piece of news I had not been mentally prepared to deal with. Nothing to do with said friend, but more of my own stunted emotional maturity in dealing with my own feelings.

It got me upset and I couldn’t even deal with the remainder of the Apaki nonsense, except I couldn’t dump this down the toilet (it was $15++) so I shoved the rest of the meat into my mouth while trying to repress those horrible thoughts that always haunt me.

Home is where I belong with you

Thinking about things

It’s been 4 days since I’ve been back from my 3 week (self-proclaimed) sabbatical in Myanmar. 3 weeks seem like a short time on hindsight, and even more so when compared to how long it’s been since the last time I went back — 3 years — but during the 19 days there, time passed so slowly my skin crawled.

Since the last time I went back (2014), a few things have changed. Yangon now has an international airport terminal. Several of my cousins have babies, thus I am now an auntie, and yes, I do not approve of being called that. I’ve grown; from a clueless 19 year old waiting to start uni with an unfortunate-looking haircut to a still-clueless-but-faking-it 22 year old equipped with longer hair, 3 years’ worth of law school BS skills and a penchant for matte lipsticks.

Going back is always a traumatic experience because I am inept at speaking both Burmese and general social mumbo-jumbo, so I could never quite retaliate in time if a relative says something ignorant/rude/passive-aggressive/stupid. I would like to think the BS skills I’ve cultivated in law school has alleviated a bit of this problem, and there is truly no greater satisfaction than when you get to correct your aunt’s misconception towards your future career (context: if you tell people in Myanmar that you study Law you are better off telling them you are Satan’s spawn).

My mantra was essentially: breathe, SH, it’s your life, not theirs. Then I smile at them and continue eating my lunch.

I’ve also brought back, as a souvenir for myself, enough mosquito bites to feed the mosquito equivalent of a small African village. My legs, frankly, look disgusting. The term I have settled on is a skinned pineapple — and despite what a certain someone said about it being fresh and juicy (and if you are reading this, yes, it was smooth), my current leg situation is really not a sight for sore eyes.

So you can only imagine my relief and exhilaration when I landed back on Singapore soil, and saw my mom sitting in Changi Airport McDonald’s waiting for me. I’ve never been more glad to be able to order food in English, to be able to drive on safe roads where the red light is not regarded as a mere suggestion to stop, and to be able to feel comfortable. I was never, and probably will never, be comfortable in Myanmar.

Trekking/Tripping up Mt Batur

Things I did, Travelogue

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It takes a 2 hour trek to get to the top of Mt Batur, past loose rocks and slippery black lava sand. I fell on my ass a couple of times. It wasn’t exactly easy, but it wasn’t impossible either. What kept me going was sheer determination to get to the top and to prove that I was able to.

And one perk of trekking in the wee hours of the morning is the sky full of stars. Urgh, it was gorgeous.

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Ibid, after the sun came up. The climb was tough, but the view from the top was worth it.

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Aforementioned loose rocks and slippery black lava sand.

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The climb down was exponentially easier, but that was because we took a longer, gentler route.

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Trekked through a forest as well, which made a nice change of scenery.

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Made it back down!

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Hella amazing experience, I’m so glad I did this. Bonus was that my ego was boosted by our trekking guide who asked if I trekked before — “nope, this is my first time” — because I was strong and doing quite well. My treadmill tortures have paid off!!

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Mt Batur and Lake Batur from another vantage point (this was a pretty steep climb too, but done in the comfort of our rental car, so it wasn’t so bad).