February 2018.

Haven’t written on this space in more than a month now, and I have almost lost all words for myself to speak beyond work.

It’s been crazy though as a fresh graduate, having work to keep oneself busy can be seen as a privilege. So that I am grateful. At the same time, however, I really do think I can cut myself some slack and slow down just a little bit to breathe.

No longer can I have a main list of projects stuck to my wall because not being able to cancel them off after completion makes me feel unfulfilled. I have swapped to “every day to-do lists” to feel more accomplished and less self-defeating. I have also been slightly better at making choices based on what should be my priority, like family, even though those decisions may cause me a setback in the grand scheme of things. I decided to give myself a try and to dive into conversations with people I might not even know.

So I guess I am learning and this tiredness is a small price to pay for all the experiences I have gained.

The tiredness also helps me sleep, which is a complete bonus.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot and here are just some of them that I feel I can somewhat frame them in language:

Calendar

Even though major festivals are seen as major only in their designated fields, it really keeps the audience confined instead of trying to grow them.

So, for example, if you are a film person, you would already to following the social media pages or have access to information necessary to know when SGIFF is going to happen. Similar to the other events that happen, such as SIFA, SDW, etc.

And I was thinking, if we can have a major calendar that consists of all these festivals and festivities for the nation to access, it might spark interest and curiosity. Eventually may even lead to new audience giving it a try.

Just like how there’s a major calendar announcement for long weekends and public holidays, can’t we also have that done for all the major festivals in Singapore?

Worth a try since some people don’t attend certain things not because of disinterest, but because of lacking information.

Coverage

I have been struggling with this a lot. As I am older now, I feel like a lot of my prior understanding to things are greatly influenced by accessibility, by colonisation and by internalised standards.

Currently, I am reading a book about Patti Smith and her collection of work. Her roots and belief in punk culture, her choice to reclaim the “archaic term nigger”. And I was so struck by her accessibility to resources and the privilege to choose this route, be successful and be known to the world. To be free. To build Rock n Roll culture and simply roll with whatever she wanted.

I started wondering about the black people, the asians who are starting all over again after the various wars and the fucked up situations that simply keep happening. Be it from discrimination, human emotions, bullying or plain gaslighting, among other things.

And my thoughts went to why some narratives are repeated more than others? Why are we so struck by white success stories so much more when they made themselves have the upper hand all along? Why do we support that by covering their people more often than our own?

KPIs can only go so far and all it does is encourage you to keep building that skewed perception of excellence and accomplishment, when really resources can be going into building our own people up.

Writing has become a business and people need to survive, sure, I get it. But maybe it can be a matter of balance? And I think some causes are worth the effort to build and to introduce to the world.

What we cover in the media is what we are telling people should matter. And with that power, maybe we have to look past initial analytics to serve a smaller community, keep at it and eventually the numbers will come.

That’s how all communities grow. Just have to give it a chance.

Inherent Unfairness

And since it is Chinese New Year, friendly gambling happens within families. Just for the fun of it and to try your luck sometimes.

Every hand is different, naturally. Some people end up losing way more than others. Others, might simply keep winning.

Though the starting hand is different among every one and the starting point is not the same, we all still abide by the same rules and risk and bet all the same. We recognise and accept the risk, the unfairness and still choose to go for it.

If you don’t like it, you simply choose to not play.

And this is so much like life, at this point. The more I think, the more I feel like I am stuck in a simulation and constantly question myself why I choose to play. What is the point? And surprise, there is no point.

It is just a question of whether you can make this whole life thing work and mean something to you to keep going.

Chance. Risk. Gamble gamble gamble.

So take a gamble. Take risks that you feel may be worth it, and the rewards may come. Otherwise having tried is good enough.

Then try again.

And I think if I view life this way, I might have the motivation to just keep myself alive for a while longer.

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Quick Up-Date: January

It’s only been the first week and a half of January so far. Didn’t leave the country or anything, but my inner life has shifted a little bit. Just enough to have an impact.

– Getting back into reading

Dropping by the library a week ago and picking up borrowed books brought me a lot of joy.

I purchase books every now and then, especially local literature. But running tighter on cash nowadays, getting back into the routine of regular library visits don’t sound too bad.

Have read 4.48 Psychosis and The Clockwork Orange so far. Getting into Ovidia Yu’s works soon (currently reading Dr K K Seet’s foreword) as well as a book about Illuminating the images of suffering for theatre.

I have also been reading my entire backlog of saved articles piled up through the years. Been learning and been thoughtful through this whole process, feeding my mind.

If you have more articles you think I should read, bonus if it challenges my way of thinking, send them my way!

– Superhero Me Internship

After attending the welcome lunch last weekend, I am pretty excited to be spending my time until end of March on this.

I’d love to gain more knowledge and experience working with different groups of people as well as empowerment. So this will be quite a learning journey for me I believe.

– Piercings

Current count, I have my standard ear lobes, septum, nostril, daith and helix. Some being quite troublesome at the moment, but no pain so they’ll be alright with more healing time. Fingers crossed.

Wanted piercings (and more ink) for the longest time, so I am happy to have finally went ahead to go for them. Super happy to have found a friendly and trustworthy piercer as well!

– @TeoDawnInks

Side project but grateful to engage in crafting with my heart and hands again.

Working on two murals and one journal at the moment, and I have handed over the eight diaries I had the privilege to work on so far to their humans.

Hopefully as the year keeps going, I will be able to consistently work on more projects throughout the 12 months.

teodawn.blog

Been contemplating for a while, but yes, I have a simple website now that I am still in the process of moving my theatre reviews over, and then the writes I have done over the past couple of years.

This space remains my casual blog of text vomit and random thoughts. That’s more for proper reviews and all that.

Look it up if you are interested! It’s the closest of a child I will be having in my life.

– Sleep cycle

My sleep cycle is still pretty screwed up but I have been letting myself go. And slowly move my body clock to take rest slightly earlier each time.

But if I have no early days, I indulge in more quiet time when the entire household is asleep to read and write and sort out things in my mind. I like this.

– Keeping the engines running

Been putting in the time to declutter every now and then when I need some time off, sending out emails and crossing my fingers a lot.

But I have been making plans and starting moves to engage in the parts of me that I didn’t manage to really explore past couple of years.

So, I guess I am doing pretty good if I may say so myself.

I have also been a lot quieter on social media, and I like it this way. So you might see less of me on this page and every other account I may have.

But I think that’s okay.

Still looking for people to have coffee, tea and drinks for the rest of the year. So stranger or not, I am waving at you

x

2017 to 2018.

Shot by Darren.

Time is simply arbitrary, and now the change in years no longer mean much. Counting down for the six minutes of fireworks and a momentary pause before starting everything all over again. And waiting for the following year to end.

2017 was turbulent and full of conflict. In the world, around me and within myself. A lot of the times, leaving seemed the better option. Sometimes those hands that only reach out to you when you are just about to take your last breath just isn’t enough. It’s about accumulation, breaking points and if whether I can still justify all my efforts and love or not.

If I can no longer justify all the hurt, the worth and the days, then what for?

This, is still something I will need time to struggle and make peace with going into 2018.

My parents are still in this liminal space of timelessness and so much grey. Each revolving around a different sun. The changes strange, with a lot of blank spaces in between to fill.

My dog passed away, after leaving me this permanent presence of bite scars on my right hand. It still hurts when I overuse my hand. Almost like how grief never leaves you, but stays until the end of time. It’s about getting used to and learning to use different muscles to cope.

My days and months plagued with stresses that shut down my uterus for months, along with anxious crying for continuous mornings and a sense of defeat. School taught me many things I never expected to learn within an educational environment, and made me question myself more than what exactly I am learning.

There was good in certain memories and many more still undiscovered, or needing the gloss of nostalgia and hindsight.

I am glad that’s over. And I can now take the time I need to consolidate, reenergise and look ahead.

Dreaming has become tells of the future, reflections of fear and a place that exists minimally in the day. I continue to scare myself with thoughts of incompetence and not being fast enough. It’s almost ridiculous how I fear losing this rat race of a life when I fucking hate running.

But with 2017, with almost seeing the end but staying in my place still, I have learnt.

That my voice should never aspire to be overwhelming, but to be loud enough for myself. That the questions in my head is just how I am, how I express myself and a part of this ritual of living. That my body can only take so much and it can be greater than what it literally seems to stand for. That my hands might not be able to hold onto much, but I can choose what to grasp and what else to let go. That my feet might tire of taking me places, but I will always have my heart and my imagination to carry me even further.

Beyond these vague concepts of discovering strength and personal resilience, I have also learnt how my perceptions of things can change and that does not necessarily make me a hypocrite or a liar. As long as I admit to them and am made aware of these shifts in myself.

So I have taken steps back to strip myself of my unnecessary pride when I am wrong or mistaken, and apologise. To take these opportunities to grow instead of bubble myself up only to age.

To reach my hand out.

To raise my arm in doubt.

To extend my arms to hold another person.

So on this note, I have a list of thank yous:

– My mother, for being strong

– My (extended) family, for open arms and unconditional support

– Darren, for trying and being

– SaveDawn supporters, for giving me an education and letting me rediscover art

– Friends, from then and now, for the breaths of fresh air

– Everyone that I have had the privilege to write to, spend time with, meet and connect

2017 has been tiring but I am so thankful that you all are still not tired of me.

A lot of love to all of you, and may 2018 be kinder to us all.

I am going to take this a step at a time. And if anyone wants to look for me, for anything at all, my heart is always open and my ears ready to listen xx

Money/Capitalisation/Living.

Passion doesn’t feed.

It feeds your soul and your spirit but also burns you out. I think growing up has made me realise that, and unfortunately my father might have been right to say: Pursuing interests is only for the rich.

I remember crying and feeling discouraged when I first heard that. How unfair, my first thoughts were. But now I feel and know where that thought comes from.

But of course it is relative. It is about how much or little you are willing to live with. A standard of living is defined by oneself and that is the ultimate benchmark that stresses money woes or not. Who cares about materialism as long as you are not seduced by the hot wheels and the empty condominium pool?

It gets difficult when social media just keeps boasting all these expensive overseas trips and restaurant selfies and “live” videos of someone living the typical rewarded life.

Sometimes I question myself if I am alright with missing out on luxuries. I wonder how that must feel like. It will be nice to be on a trip, or take a degree in a foreign land, or or or or or.

But they are luxuries. I don’t actually need them to survive. I just want them. And it is so easy to mistake wants for needs these days. It is so easy to develop this fear of missing out when I am already missing out on millions and billions of things every day, yet I fool myself into having a mental checklist of all these luxuries I should embark on in the future to play fruitless catch up.

How silly. How naive. How caught up in fantasies and ideals and stupid greed.

I can save for a house. I can save up for occasional rewards. And with that, I am blessed. Why do I not see that as a sort of gift but more of a below average sort of ability to do so?

I need to stop killing myself each time my bank account depletes little by little. I need to stop panicking. I need to stop thinking about money all the time and wondering if I should just take a minimum wage administration job just for the digits to grow.

I don’t want to buy into the concept. I don’t want to define myself by the amount of money I have or the assets I own.

I need to learn to keep things in perspective and earn wherever I can to be comfortable and to fulfil my duties as a daughter/friend/person.

And if I want something, I will focus on saving and getting there at my own pace. There’s no right time, so nothing will be too late.

I have to remember to not play the numbers game and may I never forget. For if I walk down that path, not only will I still be poor, but I will also have no soul.

Because I know that I cannot live without art. And what is a dead person to do buried in money?

@teodawninks

(Taken from my Parkview Museum visit)

I still have many things to do but I am pretty happy that I finally started an Instagram for my art.

Some of my art.

Because I wanted a way to archive and to show the work I am doing, even if it is less for others and more for myself.

So far, the process has been great. I probably just enjoy exercising my creativity and working my hands on something. It’s always great when I hand the projects to their rightful owners and they appreciate it so much.

To everyone that has been a part of getting diaries or received something from me through art: thank you.

And I hope you love it as much as I loved placing my heart into it.

Starting this as SaveDawn to pay off my school fees, I am glad I went with my instincts. Because it did save me in more ways than just monetary.

It reawakened my forgotten joy of drawing and just creating with my hands. And it became almost therapy for me. Calming me and giving me a soft high.

I am happy x

Alone.

I am a rental flat. Where people come home to only when tired and has no other place to go. They don’t even call me home. I am just a place to spend the night, to soak the tiredness away from that body and to abandon by day.

I am a sun. That’s all I am. I give life that is taken for granted and blamed when the rebellious rain strikes. Too hot or too distant.

I am alone. And maybe that’s just how everyone is, too.

Used and useless.

When your feelings, your experiences and you become a minority. Honestly, nobody else cares.

And everyone thinks it is just your problem alone instead of asking how they can help or do better for you.

Because in the end, nobody cares about another person.

Always on the outside looking in.

The wrong gender. The wrong institution. The wrong crowd. The wrong behaviour. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Uber Ride Uncle #2.

In the same week (as the previous Uncle #1), I got a ride with another uncle. Possibly the same age as my very own parents, so around his early 50s. He seems strict and with deep wrinkles sitting on his weathered face.

We started talking, since he initiated a conversation and I sat in the front passenger seat.

– Girl, how old are you ah?

– 23 this year.

– Wah, so young. Good lah. Uncle old already. So you in university?

– Yeah, I am.

(At this point, as I have mentioned, I always just assume a role and don’t feel the need to be strictly specific about what I actually do.)

– Uncle also thinking of studying. Got accepted already. For a Masters in Project Management. Don’t know want to take a not.

– Oh, that’s nice. Why you want to take Masters?

– You see that building? I inspect one. I am a building safety officer. So some projects are given to me, and I check the building standard.

He then goes on to wave his hands animatedly as he points out all these buildings we are passing. All the details. What companies, from which countries, who’s the bigger company and why so many condominiums are growing on our land. He spoke with so much passion and I could feel his spirit.

But then he quietens down for a while.

– But now, sometimes, no projects. The last six months, nothing given from the association. I ask them why, they just tell me. No budget. Have contract also no use. No jobs. Then his little centre compartment of his aged Honda clicks open. A little lanyard is lying in there, slightly faded. – That’s my Tour Guide license. I do that on the side, but also nothing. No use. All overseas one and big companies do now.He clicks the compartment together a couple of times to make sure it remains closed for the rest of the ride.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just stayed silent and nodded whenever he is saying something.

– So, girl, I ask you. What field good to study now?

– Hmm. A lot of people going to do Business degree. Most transferable. Opens more options I guess?

– I have two children. One law, one doctor. But now law also very difficult. Too many lawyers so little jobs. How? Like me also. My diploma project management, go take masters in project management at least 50k gone. After take already, also don’t know got job or not.

Traffic light: red. I turned to look at him. He stared off at the roads ahead, mind no longer here. His eyes grew redder, as if reflecting the light. He wiped them and looked down at his lap.

– Nevermind. Uncle just work lah. Drive Uber now, since got car. Just work. Work until I cannot work anymore. I also don’t know how.

My heart broke when I heard his voice on the verge of breaking yet succumbing to resignation. The sense of helplessness with a lack of fight, but driven by perseverance and family.

He went on to pick up two other passengers, who shower no interest in his talk about their respective condominiums and eventually the ride was driven in silence. Even my responses weren’t enough to spur him to speak again.

I was the first rider to get off. I was actually hoping to be the last, just to get a chance to say something back. Not let the conversation we had end so abruptly and with heaviness.

But as I stepped out of the car, with the two ladies busily fumbling with their phones, the uncle looked at me.

And said:

– Okay, thank you girl. Good luck with your future. Keep trying.

I smiled and nodded.

– You too!

And the little old Honda drove away to Mandarin Orchard.

I really wanted to cry but I guess that’s just life. I wish him well, and I hope he knows that he is not alone.