March 2018.

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Hello hello.

I haven’t been typing on here for a long while since it has taken a backseat among other priorities. I am now more active on Popspoken, SINdie or my own portfolio site TeoDawn, in case you would like to find me. Or check if I am still alive or not.

(It is pretty unbelievable that I just let this blog go and update it only when I have the time. I used to pressure myself to keep posts going live at a consistent pace because dead space equates to irrelevance. Now, I guess I have grown and am letting go of things – being more reasonable with myself; taking things one step at a time when I can afford to.)

So this post is dedicated to the month of March, like how I had posts for the previous months of this year. I’d like to think that March is my foundation month, in the sense that I am finally starting to find my footing post-graduation. My identity, career-wise, is less in crisis and I am starting to enjoy defining myself as more grey than black/white.

  • 2018 Reading Project

I have read 31 books so far, and am starting on my 32nd one currently. It has been such a joy, to be back reading words instead of churning out my own. The fulfilment of allowing others have space in your mind, with your permission, to introduce you to new opinions, knowledge and aspects of life is such a discovery.

Ranging from sleep paralysis to feminism to authenticity, I dive headfirst into these books to come out renewed and rejuvenated by the fact that I have so much more to learn. It is impossible to know everything, or even learn everything in a single lifetime. But trying will get me somewhere.

And I relish in the knowledge that this means I will get to keep learning and discovering day after day. It will never end, and that makes life a constant excitement if I choose to let it be.

And being super deadline motivated, the library due dates are perfect. I hope I am able to keep this up for the entire year, and constantly keep my mind/heart/spirit open to the possibilities I might not have learnt of yet.

However, I do recognise the fact that by selecting the books to read, I might end up in an echo chamber situation where I keep indulging in topics I am already drawn to, and end up holing myself in too deep. This might make me less knowing, since I neglect all the other kinds of reads that might enrich me in completely different ways.

So an idea shared to me by a friend is to start asking others for recommendations. And I think after I am done with my current loans, I just might do that.

  • SUPERHERO ME Internship

Sort of ended on 24th March 2018, but I am hoping to continue the work somehow.

It’s been such a privilege to experience the whole three months with the new faces I worked with and the children I interacted with. There were many precious moments where I feel and see the work achieving its aim – be it in hand holding, creating work together or just sharing food with each other during break time.

Though fear at the beginning almost stopped me right in my tracks, I am happy to say that I was encouraged to push on – be it through the passion I witnessed or my own stubbornness – and emerged a more enlightened soul.

Some work is just worth it, despite the workload and the possibility of failure, and this internship was one of them.

And kicking off my post-graduation year, this internship is one of the best decisions I made in a long time that actually paid off.

  • Introductory Pottery with Mud Rock Ceramics

This! Finally, after all those years of saying I will do it and never got myself to applying for a course! I am on my last session today – glazing the works I did for the past four sessions.

Somehow pottery makes you learn so much about yourself, and the craft itself is so truthful that it is almost scary. It reveals so much of me that I refuse to admit in person – how insecure I am to take the first step with anything, possibility of failure stresses me out especially when I am in class and others seem to be doing better than me, I am competitive and prideful – needing myself to be good at everything I touch (which is so bloody ridiculous, seriously) and how I am too careful at executing new ideas in case I change my mind.

I discovered all this during my first lesson of pottery. Insane or what? Being so meditative and a quiet process, I could listen to all these insecurities and voices so clearly in my mind. And finally, with that, I could admit to myself all the cracks and flaws I have and head towards moving along.

Pottery makes you truthful to yourself, if you choose to be reflective during the creation process.

Because clay is one of the most malleable materials, it takes the form of whatever you want it to – sensitive to your fingertips, the force of your hands and the idea in your head. And reflecting back exactly what your manipulation is doing, even if you are unaware of what exactly you might be doing at that point in time of shaping it.

A mirror made out of Earth.

  • Employment

And since 26th March, I am employed! Although I am on probation for three months, and apprehensive at first because why did I graduate with a professional diploma in acting to be a writer right? Do I even have the skills and abilities to be good at writing? Good enough to be employed?

I will just have to try and keep myself open to learning. The company culture is open and warm. My fears for my first day was almost completely unfounded.

Everyone’s friendly and welcoming. No questions go unanswered. The music playlists are lovely – people sing and hum along. We laugh along to jokes, and help each other out while still having the space for our own freedom and independence.

The most important thing is I wasn’t made to feel like I need to earn my days to not be “new” anymore. There’s no such thing as a “you just joined the company so listen to us, keep quiet, know your place” hierarchy. The space, the people and the culture are conducive. I think without having any expectations dumped upon me and no labels, I fit right in.

So I am happy, and feeling very lucky to have this opportunity to immerse in a healthy creative culture while finding my way to financial independence.

  • Creative projects

Plenty are still up in the air at the moment, though I am actively working on an illustration project. Trying hard to find the time for it, but I just made deadlines for myself to meet, so that should help me keep on track.

Otherwise, rejection is common. I can drink it in place of mineral water now. Festival proposals and some programmes I applied for didn’t get through. But it’s okay, maybe I am meant to pursue other things for now, which I am doing.

But I am still up for creative collaborations if anybody would like to work together.

Being a beginner, I think the act of creation should be rewarding enough instead of the cash for money. Slowly but surely.

And to wrap up, I must say that I am so happy to have met so many friends – new and old – to catch up, discuss possibilities of working together and about the future. It’s always so nice to come back home to people who have each supported and shaped me in one way or another.

I wish all of you well, and send my love to wherever you go. xx

See you here in a month’s time.

 

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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

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. 

Sitting on a Bench. 

(4th August 2017. I am early for tuition, so taking my time, I walked to my tutee’s place. Still with half an hour to go and not wanting to intrude on his own time, I find an empty bench. In a little corner by the road. Nobody’s here. I sit.) 

A bird is chirping. The same tune over and over again. Not tired of its own voice. Convinced of its purpose, maybe. One day, a response will come. It will. 

Macdonald’s delivery driving through the gantry. I haven’t had dinner but I am not hungry. Food doesn’t tempt me as much as it should, though I am not losing weight either. A pity. 

People walk pass. Some avoiding my gaze and choosing to look at the pavement. Others, staring at my lack of hair blatantly and questioningly. Almost with a judgment. But I don’t feel affected, just curious. 

A boy is walking away from me. Also on the pavement. Just clapping. He’s alone. Clapping softly then louder and louder. But he is too far now. I can’t hear him anymore. He’s disappeared. 

The bird’s still going. Perseverance is key. 

I have twenty minutes to go. 

Text messages and emails are coming in. It feels good that people remember me and swamp me with work, plans. Sometimes. But I wonder what my self-worth is if I get these calls less. Maybe I will just answer them later. 

I listen to the little bird. Nowhere in sight but such a loud voice. Always so cheerful. Happiness is such a questionable thing. 

A lonely national day flag sways in the soft wind. Tilted just slightly towards the ground. What is the flag about, and what does it represent? Do I feel it in any part of my being? If I don’t, does that make me unpatriotic? 

Water runs through the sewers. White tube-shaped pipes snaking about the ceiling of where I am seated. How do they know where to twist and turn, to be right? These mechanics fascinate me, but nobody really talks about them until they dysfunction. 

The bird is quiet now. Flown away, maybe? 

There is a man in a white shirt, standing by the road now. His arms on his hips. He is just watching the children of other families run around and cars passing. Waiting. Just watching. Listening to languages of a different skin. A neutral face. No comments. 

And here I am. Removed and part of this environment at the same time. Sitting on a green bench. By myself. Leaving now. 

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. 

C&P: One. 

Living in the mind 

Living in my mind – the only mind I know of 

Real life is not a body but a thought 

The thought lives and breathes through 

Me – the vessel of philosophy and 

Psychology 

Analyse me and you shall receive 

Unless you miss because I am

Always a step ahead 

Perhaps you would like to try again 

A tango is made for two and this 

Game is played by two 

The words take shape in my arms 

My legs walk through streets 

A blurry mess before my reddened eyes

Seeing nothing but only the necessary 

Thoughts seep through my skin and lead

Never doubt the body’s memory 

Here I go – is it still I? Us? 

Can I be in a body that is not mine? All

The words repeat overlap shout and shapeshift into 

New text each night 

Looking at the Little Neva so

Bloody quiet 

My heart is still beating in mute and my

Lips dried in a fixed smile 

Of confusion and self-loathing

Where are you

Wake up curl in a ball laugh at me 

Come back

Too Familiar. 

This is too familiar a narrative to the point of choked up tears and a sense of shame. Perhaps we are bent on reliving the phrase that we always tend to hurt the ones we love, simply because the phrase has to exist for a reason. Perhaps we are all just cruel. 

Maybe it is how love is really just about choice, that makes everything sharper at the edges and scarier. 

Because we all know that years of relationships mean nothing in the end. The moment you choose to have out and to search for the greener grass on sides you have yet to visit, the love evaporates and ceases to exist. 

(Of course it depends on the intentions of the relationship in the first place, the reasons for leaving, the level of honesty and how the hurt is being discovered. Every relationship is different, and that’s why we may fail in so many ways with no one with a clear answer to share with.)

Suddenly you are free and the other person is free falling. You look at this face of years loved and feel nothing. To go from sparks to nothingness is a darkness in itself; never to realise how you found yourself in this place. The hands you yearned for are now let go off, with your own arms hugging another body, another soul so similarly but different enough for excitement. The crying face that used to break your heart and keep you up for days, now merely stains you with guilt that you can shrug off. Not think about. Not care about. 

After all, that love is no longer your burden to bear. Yes, it has become a burden, a bane and a burnt out flame of used to bes. 

And the entire process starts again. Never-ending. (Marriage is not a destination nor a remedy. Just a hope for stronger commitment and a legal bond that will hopefully strengthen resolve.) 

How do you say you love, only to turn your back on them when someone comes along? When you choose to hurt them deliberately? 

This has always puzzled me, though this narrative is too familiar for comfort. 

At this point in my life, I have found an answer that will keep morphing as I live but I hold on to for comfort now. 

I think this happens, because the choice of love was simply not strong enough for you to resist fulfilling your own desires (that probably weren’t communicated or swept under the carpet). Because your fear of disappointment, your being afraid of the consequences, laziness in not saying that you didn’t want to work on this anymore, was greater than “us”. 

You felt you were more important, than the other person you fawned over and wanted to protect with your life. But really, you wanted to protect yourself first and only when that was fulfilled did you open up your arms for someone else. 

Is that love though? No one knows the answer, but this question is worth thinking over. 

And would the problem be solved, if it was ever that simple, if two people came together only to love the other person more. 

Has that always been what we are all searching for? 

On a separate note, have we all thought about and are aware that love changes the way a person grows and someone being in a relationship, you might have contributed to the change that started to drive you away? 

How do you love a changing person? How does anybody love you? 

How do you love yourself? 

My heart is tired of hurting for other people, and I am tired of all this unanswerable questions.