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quiet thoughts/ 12am rambling

that children these days are really ill-mannered or simply that there is an utter lack of manners. i am people watching and i spot a p4 or p5 boy ordering popiah. he waves and greets the uncle before he gives his order. i find myself smiling because the children i find myself surrounded by, my tutees and their siblings, find it difficult to even say a simple “hello jie jie” to me. i understand even more so now why my mom harped on manners and made us develop the habit of even greeting our neighbors in the lift. i observe the boy longer and it occurs to me that i am looking a little creepy. then i see him walking up to his father and i feel so tempted to walk up to them and tell his father how i think he did a great job raising up his son to be so well-mannered. 

almost immediately as that thought crosses my mind, another kid beside me demands a $1 from his mom and says “I WANT” to his grandmother’s chee chiong fan. it’s such a stark comparison and at such an interesting timing. the differences are so glaring and i cringe internally at the way he demands things from his mom. why do parents nowadays allow and condone such behavior? i don’t intend to be a parent but i’m certain that i would want my children to always comes from a place of kindness and have extremely good manners.

the thought of wanting to go up to the first boy’s father to compliment him reminded me of a lady i saw when my mom and i were on the train in bangkok a month ago.


i thought the way she carried herself with so much poise (note to self: stop slouching please!!!!) and elegance was so beautiful. i couldn’t stop staring and i told my mom “she’s so beautiful” the way she did her hair, the way her skin glowed and my mom and i were on some maxi dress craze at that point of time and her maxi dress just complemented her whole look. it was insane. i thought of how all those primary school fiction books that i used to read used phrases like “couldn’t take my eyes off her” and that was literally how i would describe it. i told my mom that i was tempted to just walk up to her to tell her how beautiful she is. but i let my self-consciousness get in the way. in the end we alighted before she did and all i did was send her major positive vibes. and also took creepy photos of her hahaha

i’m sipping on my teh bing and thinking that the third time such a thought crosses my mind of wanting to compliment a stranger, i’m just going to go ahead and do it.

we are not even between our first tray of shots. i order a bottled beer and i was thinking “this sounds familiar”. then i realize it was the same beer you took photo of with my face in the background. and for the first time, i admitted that a part of me will always love you. i did love you, didn’t i? despite everything, i guess i did. i guess i did.

and then i think “you, again.” it has been a while since i last saw you and i am wondering why we are meeting again. my emotions are the same and they haven’t changed for years; dread, disgust and disdain. but this time you are different and it feels strange to hear your voice. i don’t remember what the first words that left your mouth were because i am not listening. i am indignant and i am disinterested. the words that leave you mean nothing if they aren’t an apology. 

and then i realize that you have strung her along. i think “she looks better in person” but i won’t let myself admit it. i wonder if she knows what you did and i wonder if she would look at you the same way that i do – a coward. i am angry and there is always a bitter aftertaste when you are the subject. i look at her; i see kindness and perhaps even a little naivety that i used to have. what was it that my mother called it? young love.

but i see past the kindness in her eyes and her genuine curiousity at the aggression unfolding on my end. i am indignant but i am at a loss for words. i am fighting a war of my own as i try to think of what to say to you. i have brought up this hypothetical situation over and over in my head but nothing quite cuts it when it happens in reality. but then you break the silence before i can by telling me that she is better than me. and what surprises me is that it hurts. why does it hurt? 

immediately i lash out and point out your most glaring physical flaw. the pits on your face are greater in number and they cover your entire face now. i spit out a “at least i look better than you” and instantly a bad taste forms in my mouth. the words hang heavy with regret on my tongue. why is it that even in dreams, i seek to win? 

i get up. i realize that i have woken up before my alarm. i am shaken because of how alarmingly aware and conscious i felt i was. i still feel anger coursing through my veins and i feel out of control. i think to myself that i am not this bitter resentful person. i am not. but there i was looking and feeling visibly affected and maybe if i convince myself long enough, i can tell you that i am better than this. that i am better than you because i have forgiven you. i am better than this. but i think we both know that i am not.

a lot of quiet moments spent abroad are ruined by excessive phone usage – particularly with the inane need to take photos of literally everything

when is the next time you’ll be looking at the poorly taken photos of random signs? or flowers outside your hotel? or buildings? i’m not saying zero photos – i’m saying “you don’t need to take a photo of every single thing” so, sure, go ahead and take that photo of that something that has piqued your interest. but i hope you also take some time to look at it closely beyond the screen. too many attractions and beauty in this world are ruined by overly enthusiastic tourists struggling to capture that perfect shot. and of course, to each his own, but i would like to think that the beauty of the moment is that you are in it.

if your child ever breaks down and tells you “maybe i’m just stupid” do you choose

(1) to realize the severity of: her losing her belief in herself, self-doubt and feeling useless just because she started failing in her subjects. build her up slowly, encourage and tell her you believe in her? 

or 

(2) mock her. chide her. imitate her pathetic crying voice and repeat “maybe i’m just stupid. maybe i’m just not good at anything”. continuously rub (2) in her face at every possible turn such that it eventually cements a thought in her mind that willingly sharing with you a moment of raw vulnerability was a mistake? 

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you shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable and you shouldn’t discount anybody’s vulnerability or make anybody feel any lesser than they already do. no bitterness. just a sudden sadness.

as i was sitting on the bus, i recalled how i read that people of our generation just can’t seem to put our phones away. we are unable to sit still without using our phones, scrolling through our various social media pages and we don’t allow ourselves time to get lost in our thoughts or get bored. i then put my phone away and it felt really refreshing. the 20 minutes bus ride felt like an hour of self-discovery. i thought of so many things i wanted to write about and i also realised that by having an urge to write, it was a big step (and sign) that i am moving forward and closer to finding myself again.

before i had put my phone away, i was rereading my old blog posts all the way until my pre-university days. it was strange and it was (and still is actually) rather disconcerting that i didn’t remember writing some posts. i read a few posts in 2014 and i realised that i used to be mistaken about being in a rut. there were so many things that i wanted to achieve and i wrote about this over the years and i finally realised that i have actually achieved a few small milestones that i set out for myself.

i wanted to learn how to sew and this year, i sewed two sets of clothing for a dance competition i entered. i won’t claim a 10/10 for my sewing skills, but at least i’m no longer a complete idiot. on the same note, since i was 12, i had always admired dancers and felt embarrassed about how wooden i was when i tried to dance. i remember feeling a tinge of jealousy and even bitterness when i was one of the few in council who was not selected to be in any other dance item for our council teacher day’s item. i wanted to improve and not feel that entirely useless. last year, i joined my hall for a short dance performance during the cultural night and this year, i joined HOCC – something that i’ve always wanted to try earlier but i allowed my fears of not being good enough to get in the way.

i also said in november 2014 that i wanted to learn 3 languages and as of now, i’ve still only learnt thai. i dabbled a bit in german but i gave up halfway. i plan to pick it up again one day. i also learnt to master one language at a time. last year, i completed thai level 2 at ease possibly because of my 2.5 months in bangkok and next year, i’m excited to take thai level 3. i plan to also self-learn because i can’t just sit around and wait for the next level. after thai, i plan to learn malay because my family members know the language so at least i get to practice the language with them. it was actually a plan over the summer break to learn malay by myself and relearn finance basics because i had it with feeling dejected about my weakness…… but i spent 11 weeks slothing around. if i could write a CV regarding my past 11 weeks since exams ended it would be this:

summer break experiences:
(1) big bang theory seasons 5 – 9
(2) orange is the new black season 4
(3) rewatching the hunger games movie 1 & 2
(4) finding nemo
(5) finding dory
(6) the last ship season 1

…. and there is definitely at least 10 other bullet points of shows or movies that i have watched but i can’t seem to recall right now. i don’t know what happened to my ambitious summer plans and i don’t know if i should actually feel guilty. question: is it really that wrong to be a sloth? after reading all my old posts, it got even more apparent that i am always fighting an inner war of keeping myself busy and feeling bad if i allowed myself to rest.

anyway i guess it also relates to the title of this post. i don’t know if sometimes i’m just being overly hard on myself or not. but certainly i don’t celebrate the small wins that i’ve managed to achieve nearly as enough.
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i also wrote about how i stopped reading and drawing but i picked up the latter a few weeks ago. i also took time off yesterday to do up a card for my aunt because i wanted to show her how appreciative i am of her love and support to me. not sure if it counts as a subset of drawing but i shall take it that it is. i haven’t really picked up reading again but i started on a few pages of a book that i started on new years eve while waiting for watch night service to start last year and i plan to complete it before internship starts.

i don’t think my enthusiasm shows in this post but it feels like a fresh start. it’s been less than 6 hours since my previous post, but i feel like a new person. perhaps it’s because i finally came to terms with all the emotional baggage i’ve been carrying. i’ve had way too many negative and heavy posts in this wordpress. there are so many other things that i thought of writing and i typed them down in my notes app. for the first time ever (or at least for the first time in a really really long time), i feel excited about all the time i still have to continue to work on myself.

i am thinking of off-colored maroon tiles. doing shot guns or at least attempting to. i remember the quiet hum of alcohol working its way up my arms. my neck. and my ears. i remember feeling free. and happy. i vaguely recall what it’s like to say i love you. what it’s like to shout it out loud and to see your smile. these are memories that are resurfacing for now and these are the good ones.

but what i also remember is

sitting quietly on a plastic chair. recognising faces that my photographic memory has stored from your social media account. feeling a little sick and wanting to find an excuse to use the restroom. but honestly how many times can you go inside to repeatedly wash your hands. i remember watching you lead your best friend and your childhood friend to the room behind. and it felt like hours before you returned. i remember walking to the room and looking at you from afar; laughing and having a seemingly interesting conversation that i could not hear. i remember feeling like a complete outsider that night and feeling like it was quite a through-the-looking-glass experience. how do i stop feeling this way; looking at somebody who i love and who says he loves me but sometimes it feels like he is a stranger. 

i can’t find the right words. these memories feel stolen but i know that they are mine. i am distant, detached and at my most unfeeling again. so why am i remembering you?