Uber Ride Uncle #1.

I boarded the Uber car home. It was a pool ride and we had to drop two others before it was my turn. Usually that happens. I am always travelling from the city area all the way East. I am always the last.

When the rest of the riders are gone, the driver started to talk to me.

Usually this happens too. Conversations happen when there’s only one rider. Otherwise, the ride will be done in silence with poor radio content providing some background music.

– Girl, studying?

– Yah.

– Where?

– Lasalle.

Okay. Usually I lie because I cannot be bothered to explain where and what and how I am in an obscure school where only 5% of the population knows.

– Oh the art art school near Rochor there. Study what?

– Uh…

Should I say theatre? I have said that before and the judgements are damn harsh. Well…

– Design is it?

– Uh, yah. Design. Graduating soon.

– Oh good lah. So after graduate how? Want to do what?

– Not sure lah. Still have time to think a bit.

– Yah, but must have dreams mah. Must aspire to something. If not how?

– Hahaha. Yah, I know lah. Maybe I will start my own company or what. Do my own thing.

– Yah. That’s good. Cannot always work under people one. Go nowhere. I retired already, was working sea imports/exports. Now just drive Uber.

– Oh okay. Cool.

– I tell you what. But you are a girl, so very good. Work, see see the world out there for three to five years. Then hopefully you meet a man and get married. Have your own family.

– Uh…

My brain kind of kept blinking a red emergency light, and I was in the front passenger seat. So I was really bracing myself for a typical boy more important than girl gender roles conversation.

– You just listen can already. No need to take what I say. Just think about it. I have a daughter, only one. I am coming 60 and my missus 61. She’s close to her cousins but when we are gone, who will accompany her and be with her? She second year uni now, and I am worried.

I notice how he sighs and drives slightly slower.

– Yah. You can work work work achieve a lot of things but when people family reunion, you go home to nothing. Family is family. Extended family is still not the same as your own family. Her cousins will go on to have their own family also. Then how?

Then he goes on about how I don’t have to share the same view as him. Apparently he’s talked about this a couple of times and people my age find his view severely unpopular.

The ride ends, I thank him and he gets out for a smoke.

– Okay. That’s my last job today. Girl, get home safe okay. If anything happen, shout. Uncle is here.

And I was surprised by the experience. Maybe those words are not meant for me, but more so for his daughter. Who is a similar age to me.

Also, family. What is that value? Now? Today?

It is nice and deeply touching to meet someone who really believes in something with such sincerity, and carries it openly.

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26th September. 

It’s been a while now, working and studying at the same time. Most nights I stay up to work on something – art commissions, tuition or transcription. Even though I never saw me doing these things ever, I enjoy working actually. 

It’s never been mundane, perhaps the variety and the difference everyday helps. It is also helpful that I focus well and do my work fast. I am also learning random bits of knowledge and gaining inspiration in unexpected places. 

And of course, working means I am a step closer to gaining financial independence and I am not going to fall flat on my face once school’s out. 

But last night, while transcribing a video, perhaps 10 minutes in, I started having the impulse to cry. My eyes were filling up and my throat was drying up. 

I wasn’t sure what came over me then. But now, half a day after with a sleepless night behind me, I know clearly. 

How is it possible I feel more fulfilled working and doing jobs outside of my ideal field, rather than school? Pursuing an education I worked hard for hasn’t given me any sort of fulfillment recently, or any sense of worth. I have been miserable. Things don’t add up – what’s said and what’s given, and here I am not sure what I am doing anymore. 

Can I really hang on for another three months? 

It’s short literally. If you count the days and live hour by hour. But when emotions overwhelm you and this overpowering sense of dread swallows your entire heart, your mind numbing itself and eyes seeing but trying hard not to let everything define who I am in this phase of my life, it is close to impossible.

Maybe I have always been wrong. And nothing is worth this. 

3.38am.

I am probably the worst sort of person there is on this planet. 

I cannot switch my brain off. Overanalyse, never bite my tongue and always thinking a tad too much. Never falling asleep, I am wide awake at the most ungodly of hours and dead at dawn. Somehow, I always seem to lack rest with nothing on my hands or do too many things at once that keep me awake. Never in between. Always running from one end to the other. Not stopping. 

The only difference is when I am running in an organised chaos – piling deadlines but able to have them all clear in my head, completing them one at a time and crushing up to-do lists as I go by. Or, I am running in circles, in a complete state of confusion and spend more time contemplating jumping off my room’s window than typing that extra paragraph of text for passion commitments that do not pay yet. 

So here I am, finding myself awake after doing up work until past 3 in the morning on a school night. No motivation, contemplating quitting school because I am horrible at basic student expectations and i am just so sick is struggling financially. 

Why didn’t I develop habits of saving money and aspirations of being a 7-11 cashier girl? 

It is just difficult trying to pursue an education that barely wants you, and that you cannot afford at all. 

And when work projects are dull, unreasonable and well, inconsiderate, I just feel like throwing my hands up in the air and surrender to imaginary police men that will take me away and teleport me to the finish line of life. Where I can end this subscription of an after life and more life. 

Yes, I am probably privileged in some ways but really, not in ways that I am expected to be. Like race or money or gender or looks or even my educational qualifications. 

Please don’t get me started. 

Anyway, this cycle is never-ending but at least talking to this endless void helped a bit. Though I am still wide awake and it is only 3.48am. 

It is still a school night. 

I am still a horrible person. 

What’s new? Nothing. 

Sigh. 

Maybe I will close my eyes and not wake up. Who knows. Bye.

430 days. 

I kept counting. 

My fingers flicking open in order and hands always switching. Bent, crooked and flexed. New lines have formed on my palms. My fingers are no exception. I am slowly ageing without careful observation. My hands are still soft. 

My hands have always been one of the parts of my body I love. Very dainty, with clear lines and structure. Soft in texture but tough enough to fight. 

Anyway, I kept counting. 

I would deduct the dates and add the hours. Announcing it to him before smiling to myself. Encouragement is essential, and it would show him that I appreciate his effort. I really do. 

Going clean is just so difficult when it is a habit lasting for years. 

Any habit is hard to break. Even a person’s will might be weaker than the reliance on habit. 

430 days. 

The last number counted to, on 25th August 2016. And somehow I just stopped. The number still lying somewhere among the rest of my disorganised notes. Funny how I stopped then. 

I remember planning something. When it hits a bigger number. Maybe 500? But when is someone ever truly clean though? 

So naïve, I am. So misunderstood about cructhes, vices and addiction. 

Now I know that too much faith can break you. Especially when it is outside of your control. Especially when your own hands cannot tell the future that is someone else. 

But I knew. I remember asking questions every time I saw a cigarette in photographs, moments digitally recorded or a pack lying on the table. 

Perhaps my gut knew, and I chose to turn my observations to something else. Like the new scars on my right hand, from the dog bites. 

430 days of being in a grey area unknowingly. Neither here nor there. A space of unknowing and false comfort. 

How strange to look back at this now. Am I really out of this space now, even in my head? Or do I never really get to leave? 

Relative blindness. 

Numerals. 

Numbers that never go beyond 

A certain amount 

Unpredictable fluctuations 

But predictable depletions 

Never rising yet 

Always have enough to keep on falling 

I am starting to develop a fear of checking my account balance, just like how I instinctively avoid the mirror as well as weighing scale. 

Random thought: if a disaster happened, money wouldn’t matter because it will all burn away and no longer becomes a status, but a consequence. 

So why am I so hard up about it now? 

Dollars and cents shouldn’t define us. 

But it shapes my lifestyle. 

That’s fact. 

Observation June 8th. 

It is surprising how guilty I feel when I choose to stay in bed for an hour more, or two, on rare occasions. 

I stay in bed because I am tired, my dog just passed on and I just need a break. So I bury myself under my comforter, hug my safety blanket and lay my head on the only pillow I have. Stay still. Eyes shut and breath quiet. I slept at 5am the night before, or rather, this morning. My body feels heavy and my flesh weak. 

Maybe I can afford to just take this day off. Not do anything or engage in work. Just go through my emotions and rest. Let the mind quieten before all the errands I have later in the day. 

Always sounds like a good idea. Rest. 

I can always go back to the grind tomorrow. Taking a break happens so seldom that surely I deserve this? I earned it somehow. Must I even earn my right to rest? Can’t I just choose to rest? Shouldn’t my choice be enough, especially when I do balance it out with work on other days? 

But guilt seeps in and plagues me. It is funny, really. 

I choose to rest but I also choose to let this guilt eat away at my mind, and torment me. 

Lazy. Pig. Irresponsible. Failure. Passive. Not hardworking. A drifter. All achievements go down the drain. Think of your deadlines. Work isn’t that bad. Why can’t you do it? Move on. Who are you if you don’t work? What are you doing? Doing nothing and resting is a pleasure, a luxury. Hello? Get up get up get up!

And yes, I am not well off. My family only has enough or less. No one knows who I am, or even cares, especially in the bigger picture. 

So who am I if I don’t work? Work hard enough for people to know me and notice? Who am I without this? 

16th April. 

Once again, feel like abandoning this space. 

My words have left me, or perhaps I let them free. In a protest for my mind to be quiet. 

But I know it is all wishful thinking. 

– 

Been trying to write more but in my sadness, I get so introspective and shield myself from inspiration. So I get stuck, subconsciously voluntarily, and then the cycle repeats. 

I always have my imagination though. And in this little headspace of mine, I am free. Always free. 

Being alone through a process is tiring. But vulnerability is what I want, for this. And I can only hope it will pay off in the end. x