Saturday, January 23, 2016


Science is not an established body of knowledge as much as it is an attempt to explain things that we don’t yet know, and to organize what we do know in a systematic way. It is the manual that the world ought to have come with, but was somehow left out of the box.
--Ellen Klages

Monday, January 18, 2016

That fine line

    I rarely have felt, in these times of hopeless thinking, that I wanted to die. It was more that I didn’t want to be alive. I wasn’t lusting for heaven or anything. Wanting to die is not the same as not wanting to live — one is active and the other is passive.
    --Abby Norman, How to be a Ghost

This is perfectly articulated. I struggle to tell people that when I'm in that state of mind, I'm not suicidal although I think about dying. I don't want to kill myself. I just want to not be.
***I'm not in that state of mind at the moment. You shouldn't worry :)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A hairy issue

Reading this really resonated with me (warning: NSFW doodles). I have an uneasy relationship with body hair, too. I had my underarm hair lasered so I wouldn't need to spend mental energy thinking about it or worrying about it. I was getting my upper lip lasered too, but kept breaking appointments with the beauty centre because I couldn't get there in time after work. I only remove my leg hair for special occasions, like when I have to stand in front of a crowd of strangers and lead a workshop.

I have had friends, colleagues, and acquaintances tell me I should do something about my leg hair.

They are invariably female.

We swallow society's ideas of what is or is not beautiful, and then we internalise these ideas to the point that not only is body hair not beautiful, it is unacceptable.

It is unacceptable for a woman to have leg hair. Imagine that.

I am unfortunately blessed with a bit more hair than most, perhaps a side effect of applying steroid creams to control my eczema. When I was in university, and complained to my dad, he went into Doctor Mode and sent a sample of my blood to be tested for hormones that affect hirsutism. Everything came back normal.

For the most part, I forget about my leg hair, but when someone mentions it, I am reminded of it. People say this in such a helpful way. They sound so reasonable. They just want me to make the most of myself. Because leg hair is so damning and has the power to suck all a woman's attractiveness away. Yes.

The last time I waxed my legs I ended up with some kind of reaction -- I always assume it is eczema because I am used to the itch which accompanies eczema flare-ups, but my dad took a look at the photos and said it looked like folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles), which made sense, too. I ended up going to bed with a calf slathered in medication, wrapped in cling-wrap to prevent me from further damaging the skin by scratching it. Seriously, all that to have socially-acceptable legs?

I need to come to terms with my hairy legs, as that author says, and love them, and stop thinking they are ugly. Stop allowing others to influence me into thinking that they're ugly. Of all the things that we could be worried about when it comes to hygiene and grooming, we're focused on hairy legs?!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Everyone has issues. You can't live in this world and not have issues. Christians say it is a "broken world" and it is, in more ways than one. We are all imperfect. As if that did not already guarantee us issues, in our imperfection we then cause other people issues, and in their imperfection, others also cause us issues. It's simple cause-and-effect.

So no one is "okay", but the level of "un-okayness" and the areas it affects differs from person to person. Trying to insist that one is "okay" only leads to more issues for yourself and everyone around you. We can all SEE you're not okay. Your attempts to prove you're okay, in fact, blatantly expose your issues to all and sundry.

Anyway, I have issues too, and I come from a fairly stable, ordinary, typical sort of Chinese-Malaysian family so I've always felt like I don't have a right to my issues. You cannot say you do not feel loved by your parents, for example, when they have worked hard to put you through university. What is that, if not concrete evidence of love? And you cannot say you regret your parents' parenting style, because even if it left you never feeling good enough, you graduated from university with honours and now have a fairly well-paying job, so obviously their methods were efficacious?

The emphasis on filial piety among the Chinese also means I can never stop feeling guilty at questioning my upbringing. Can I be a good daughter and still say I resent my parents for sweeping aside the creative part of me as if she were unimportant? And of course it is also unfilial to blame one's parents for all one's issues.

But it is not a blame game. I have to acknowledge my issues, and trace them to the source in order to deal with them. Unfortunately the source very often does appear to be in my childhood. When else are we most vulnerable and impressionable? And who else but those closest to us would be able to have such an impact as to cause issues which continue to reverberate through our lives thirty or forty years later?

So I have issues, and sometimes I think they are not large ones, but sometimes they appear to me to be as high as mountains. And I am still tackling them, one day at a time. Sometimes I think I have vanquished one, only to see it pop up again later. I have to love myself and feel secure in my identity. I have to fight the fear that revelation of my weaknesses will bring rejection. I have to live in reality instead of the oblivion and comforting embrace of escapism. I have to take responsibility for my own happiness, not expect another person to make me happy. I have to own my past choices and admit I am partly to blame for my own issues -- avoiding a victim mentality. I have to recognise unhealthy patterns of behaviour and thought, and work on turning them around.

It is hard work. It is exhausting. Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes I am impatient and frustrated with myself. But that is also one of my issues: wanting to be perfect. I have to give myself permission to be imperfect.

In the end, I think my issues are quite common ones. Many of us are insecure and fearful. Many of us struggle to accept our true selves and have perfected various methods of running away from the pain inside. This is the human condition. I am human, and so are you. We live in a broken world. We all need healing. We need to be whole.

Why I hate small talk

When people ask me what I do on weekends, I never know what to say. Doesn't everybody -- or all the singles, at least -- do the same thing over the weekend? Which, in case you don't know, is "not much". Hey, weekends are meant for relaxation and recuperating from the rigorous demands of the work week, man.

But since "not much" isn't a socially acceptable statement, we usually blather things like, "hang out with friends, do house chores, watch a movie, go shopping, catch up on sleep, watch tv..." (or, when it comes to me, "read"). Some of which are truer on certain weekends than others.

I'm pretty sure these are most people's standard answers. But when I rattle off this litany, I feel like the most boring person on the face of the earth. I need to get creative with my answers. "Oh, weekends? The usual, you know... abseiling and sky-diving..."

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Creative conundrum

When people tell me I'm creative, I never know what to say, because I don't think I'm particularly creative. The other day, when someone said to me, "I didn't know you could play the piano so well," I had a sort of revelation: To someone who cannot do what you do, or does not know how to do what you do, the very fact that you can do it is amazing. But you, because you are trained, or have some knowledge of the art -- you know you are far from amazing, because you have seen or heard others do even more amazing things, things which you are painfully aware are beyond your meagre skills.

But I realised I should own my creativity, I should own my abilities and talents. And it is wonderful that I can play the piano. It is wonderful that I can read musical scores, and it is wonderful that I can improvise somewhat if I have guitar chords instead of the full score. Okay, so I cannot play by ear, and feel terribly limited because of that. And I am not fantastic at improvising and I can't play in many different styles -- jazz, for example, is still foreign to me. But I feel I should be thankful for what I can do.

Although I don't consider myself a perfectionist, in some ways when it comes to creative endeavours, I am one. Which is a bit of an oxymoron, since creativity by its very definition doesn't lend itself to perfection. It has to be fluid and free. You can't box it in, or demand it follow certain rules.

But I am the child who always coloured inside the lines and was careful to ensure the space was coloured perfectly, with not a single minute white gap remaining to be seen. I am the child who believed that if you follow the rules, you will be safe. I am the child who thought mistakes were ugly and flawlessness equalled beauty. I am the child who decided that since A + B = C, there is always a process to be followed in order to obtain optimum results.

I am now the adult who struggles to create.

People who know me would not believe that statement. To the outside eye, I suppose I have a respectable output. But they don't notice that I produce the same doodles over and over again in office meetings. If the doodles look good, it is only because I have honed them to perfection after more than two decades of doodling the same thing. You can ask my high school classmates -- some of them would remember the doodles I left in the margins of my textbooks. I also play the piano in much the same style as I always have... which frustrates me, yet is safe.

So yes... within creativity I feel there are certain rules, like if one is colouring, one ought to colour within the lines. A circle should be a perfect circle, perfectly round. If I am making jewellery, every part of the piece should align perfectly. I struggle because it is good to have standards, yet stifling to be so rules-bound. It's difficult for me to let go and explore, not knowing what will happen or where something will take me. In that sense, my creativity is limited. I don't try crazy new things; I want to be safe, to know it will work -- not just work, that it will work the way I want it to work -- before I try it. Because I hate failing; I hate making something I'm not happy with. It causes me to feel upset with myself for doing something wrong, turning out something flawed.

My rational mind knows that whatever minor flaws or imperfections become part of the object's charm, causing it to possess a beauty all its own. But my heart can't accept anything less than perfection. So I get my logical mind to analyse the possibilities and then I meticulously create according to plan. Creating is very rewarding for me and something I enjoy, but is also something I approach rather timidly. This fear, this hatred of imperfection, is killing my creativity.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The workings of a woman's mind

This is how a woman thinks:

I like flowers. (For example)

I want him to buy me flowers because he remembered what I like, and he thought of me and wants to buy them to please me.

I cannot ask him to buy me flowers, because if I ask, that means he's doing it because I asked, not because he really wants to. It means the push came from me, not from him.

WHY HE NEVER BUY ME FLOWERS ONE?! Fucker doesn't care that I like flowers! He didn't pay attention and doesn't care about what I like or don't like. Therefore, he doesn't care about me! 😭😭😭😭😭