My Little Secret

Since August 2015, (When prelims were happening and I was busy not caring) I’ve kept an instagram account similar to a photo-diary of sorts? My friend Nadhrah asked us to follow her older Sister’s photo diary insta account, and that was when I got the idea. To write whatever I want, whatever bit of honesty I have, put it on the internet without having to deal with any consequence whatsoever. I don’t mention names. I don’t post photos of people. I google some photos and occasionally, I take a few snaps of scenery and post a few random photos people whatsapp to me. 

I first kept a diary when I was 7. But I stopped writing the truth down when my Dad found out and made me write my journals in Chinese. He would ask me about my day and then, like in Chinese spelling and dictation, he would make me write everything down in Chinese and yell at me for not knowing what the Chinese words for Roti Pratah was. It’s  印度煎饼 by the way, guys. Literal translation: Indian Pancake.

Is a secret a secret only when you’re the only person who knows? Nope. What makes a secret secret is the fact that no one around you knows. So it started off being bits of random thoughts and slowly I began writing poems. And when I look through them now it’s really been such a cathartic experience for me. Everytime I felt like I couldn’t do something anymore, everytime I felt someone around me was loading too much information on, or even everytime I cried for a friend, I wrote something.

During my interview for NTU English, Prof Riordan asked me about what I usually write. I said I wish I could write science fiction, but I just can’t find it within myself to just gloss over all the emotional shit and focus on the main conflict, which is what a good science fiction book usually is. (I probably could write a damn Nicholas Sparks-ish novel if I wanted to. It’s just… why would I want to…) And as the conversation went on I told him I wrote poems, and I explained about my photo diary. He switched on his computer wanting to log onto Instagram and I just went “Nope.”. HAHA. But it did feel good to tell someone.

Later on mid- semester, about 4 months since my interview with Prof Riordan, he mentioned in lecture that we all have a certain amount of narcissism within us. And the best evidence of that would be our social media accounts. The fact that we posted something shows an assumption that someone would be interested in “what we ate that morning, what we have to say about our feelings, our OOTDs…” And that’s very true. Social media plays on our growing narcissism to secure its position as a universal hobby. As much as I don’t want my secrets to be known, I have to admit, I wanted a platform for what I was writing. And typing them out in my S4 phone that could have died anytime (PS: It did.) or writing them by hand in a notebook that could potentially land in the hands of my sister or my parents who just would not understand were both such unappealing options. Better to post them somewhere and soak in the comfort of hope that someone out there could understand.

I’m going to post a few less private poems here from now on. I think it’s helped me push me forward enough and it’s time I started doing some heavy lifting myself. I shouldn’t need anyone to understand. Confidence needs to come from me after all, and even if this is shit work, (Which, I probably will come to know if it’s shit with a few months worth of retrospect) I’ll have to stand by it and keep refining it.

So.. here’s a poem I wrote for National Day this year. The first National Day to be in the indoor stadium. Sze Liang was selected as one of the NS volunteers to help the performers on stage and he’d complained to us about the make-up they had to wear. Apparently it was a serious lot until he asked for “The Lightest make-up you have”. That got me thinking about how artificial the entire process was, and how it’s more a procedure everyone expects to happen every year, rather than a true demonstration of patriotism.

MAN-MADE COUNTRY

It’s FANFARE and FIREWORKS
and FANCY COSTUMES
all from September to August and especially the 9th.
Red. White. Red. White. Red.
That’s all I see.
This is a man-made country.
We make the things we weren’t blessed with with our own hands.
Protected from every bit of movement,
we are safe,
from Earthquakes and Tsunamis
and left out from excitement
We make our own waves,
Passing them from hand to hand to
“HANDS UP IN THE AIR!”
Our hot weather breeds acne
like Americans Breed Weed
so we don’t have great skin
we make ourselves look good with Maybelline, Loreal,
with Urban Decay
With Sephora.
Even our green- clad men,
given the duty of helping
the old,
the young,
the disabled to their assigned positions
have white on their faces,
red on their lips.
Like it or not, they are part of a bigger show than their Army Lives.
They are part of the Parade
They are national Television
they are a small pawn in a pretty facade
of what is typically defined as patriotism.
We are a man-made country.
And as much as I love this land
our forefathers shaped
and pulled
and molded like clay in their bare hands
there is a reason why
I am sitting here
indoors,
writing this poem to my country
instead of out there,
Squeezing through the crowd,
craning my neck to get a better view of a tiny spectacle
As many of my fellow countrymen are.
I was born in a man made country.
We’re not much up for the great outdoors
but we try to smile
and find joy in the discomfort.
This year they found a way to bring
the air-conditioner along.
I only wish such innovation,
such patriotism
was performed as customers, as servers,
employees and employers.

13 hour days.
365 days a year.
That’s how the show keeps going.

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Music to my Ears

I had a dream.

It was set somewhere in the late 1800s to early 1900s I guess? Sort of like a mix between Jane Eyre- Sound of music type clothes. In the dream, there was a young woman, rendered deaf by a fever and dying from some illness. Her daughter was a newborn at this point.

The woman (before becoming deaf) loved music, and so as her child turned 4 to 5 years, asked her husband to hire her young daughter a music teacher.

As her daughter grew older, the disabled mother became less involved in her child’s life. Partially due to her inability to hear her little chatterbox daughter, between the two of them, they couldn’t navigate a way to form a proper relationship. Her impatient personality also meant she got through very little in her attempts to learn sign language. Her stubborness and bitterness left her relationship with her husband strained, as she often locked herself in her room. She also had panic attacks where she would start crying and screaming hysterically, wallowing in her own self pity.

One day she discovers that her husband was having an affair with the young music teacher. During her child’s piano lesson, she observes the easy relationship her daughter shares with the music teacher and wrecks her room in a fit of anger.

She then picks up a broken fountain pen and a small knife. Behind her ear, she begins to carve the notes of the song she saw her daughter play (She recognized the name and knew the notes by heart).

She emerges from her room with her ears, cheeks and neck stained in blood, staining her cream shirt behind the brown and burgundy layering. As she watches her daughter interact with the music teacher, she becomes less and less rational. She finds a metal club (God knows where from) and starts bashing up the piano. Then, she grabs the sheets of music and leaves the house.

Looking like a madwoman, she stumbles her way through the town until she finds a huge river, and in the romantic backdrop of the city, she throws all the music sheets into the water and collapsing on the bridge above the water, she watches all the noises she couldn’t hear. She starts mumbling a bunch of words with basically, hating on the music teacher as context. And as she seems to walk back to her house slowly,she swears revenge on the 

My dream ends here. And I know this description is very disorganized but my dream wasn’t exactly structured for me to write thinys down in detail. I’m just recalling what I remember, whatever I saw, the moment I remember it. The chinese say “日有所思, 夜有所梦”. What you think about in the day, appears in your dreams at night.

Well, I certainly did not think of that, thank you very much.

Finals Stress…

I was considering doing my Classical Lit essay on Hamilton, because I do have contextual knowledge for Greek Myths, thanks to my Percy Jackson phase. But they’re all so familiar to me now that Hamilton just feels like a bunch of facts. I mean, it feels like I’m arguing against water evaporating when heated to boiling point.

I’ll finish my essay by tonight, definitely. Like I said, I will never allow myself to work on an essay on the actual day of submission, unless it’s the works cited page, cutting word count, or maybe conclusion, if I get dropped off early by my Mum. But a whole essay? No. Just no.
So unless I change my mind, I think Im supposed to form criticisms about greek Gods and the ways that they function? Which should be easy enough, if I can break this rigid mindset of mine that recognizes the legitimacy of Hamilton’s adaptation (Which is basically a copy-paste) of the myths.

Hamilton, why can’t you just be wrong?

I’m cabbing to NTU for the 1st time and Uncle says it’s gonna $17-18. The meter is at $14.68 so far and I am feeling the pain in my wallet now. This happened because I forgot my wallet, tissue (Running nose) and laptop on 3 separate occassions (I’m not clear headed at all today. Flu.) and I’m so done. I have an accountancy test today which I haven’t studied for, and finals coming up next week and all the phlegm from my stomach virus have chosen this few days to leave my body.

I would be coping fine, I swear, without the flu.

Presenting isn’t so bad after all…

It’s FRIDAY, FRIDAY 🎵🎶

Not sure if anyone remembers that song and the big hooha it made back when I was in secondary school. But if anything, it really does illustrate the imminent joy that comes with weekends approaching.

Accounting presentation was generally quite smooth, though content wise, I’m still really iffy and insecure and very disorganized and unconsolidated. I didn’t really like my team members, apart from my group leader who (I feel so bad for him) really tanked most of the work. And while it wasn’t exactly a team effort, it was many combined individual efforts to an extent. And after collecting my money back, I don’t ever have to see them again:)

Critical Writing presentation was something I really didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did. 8 Slides really taught me to shrink down everything, and reduce them to practical interactions with the audience, as well as images. Many many images. I really kept to having minimal words as you can see from the photos of my slides. My favourite is the Broccoli versus the Cookie haha I thought that was really fun. And important.

It really helped that we have Mr Steven Adam as our TA. I look at all my friends head to their Critical writing classes in formal shirts and long pants and I thank God for letting me be comfortable in my daily uniform- T shirt and A Line Skirt. It was all over so fast, and the parts I thought were going to be awkward, weren’t awkward at all, because I had such a supportive class. I just sort of stepped on and off remembering nothing but the audience’s laughter.

I don’t like presenting. But that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of doing it well. I got positive feedback, and this experience has definitely boosted my confidence moving forward. I’m from English after all. And Drama. It’s ridiculous to shy away from the spotlight as much as I do.

Having control, though, is definitely something I have cause to work on because it affects professionalism. And I think I’m just beginning to realize that giving a presentation that is both fun and professional isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. If I look and feel like Im in control, that is. Which I don’t think I’ve ever felt while presenting anything.😓 Oh well, there’ll always be a first time😅

Sick = No Social Life

I’ve given up on so many chances to socialize since falling sick. And I feel my youth wasting away because dude, I’m 19 years old and I’m always tired ALL the time.

The day I donated blood, I fainted on the train and went home straight after, so I missed Pei Yi’s BBQ Volunteer Event. From then on my stomach and temperature have taken turns to screw up. I either throw up my food or I have headaches. Last Friday, 2/3 of the Hardworking Sloths (4/5 of the Friendly Creatures) watched Doctor Strange together. I LIKED IT. And then afterwards I had cramps and felt giddy and I told Vera I couldn’t make it for her DIY Waffle Halloween Party anymore 😦

In the mundanity that is Uni Life (When you don’t pepper yourself with activities here and there and everywhere and drown yourself in stuff to do) , it really is quite an individual experience. Not lonely. But it’s like we’re all doing the same thing separately. I don’t have problems with that, but it takes gettimg used to. And I can’t help feeling like if I keep pushing away chances to hold onto older friendships, my social life will be harder to maintain after a while.