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..."