September 2018.

dawn

September was good to me, and I think you can see it on my glowing moon face.

The past 30 days have been nothing short of amazing: I met friends I never thought I would reconnect with ever since high school. All the times I went out dancing were fun, safe and with people I absolutely adore from the bottom of my heart. I caught up with familiar faces at various events that I attended to just keep myself updated with the happenings in the various scenes. Then I was again blessed with the amazing company of the women at Aware, who always fill me up with hope for change and a sense of empowerment.

There have been so many conversations I have had with people, with works of art and of course, with books, that gave me new perspectives on certain subjects I may not be very well versed in. And somehow, these conversations always happen to come at a good time in my life where I have the space and energy to take them in and really dwell on them to feel them fully.

Is it true that somehow everything will work out and that the universe is listening?

Who knows, but I know I have been lucky in more ways than one. The people I find myself surrounded by are all brilliant in their own ways – in work, in aspirations, in achievements. But more than that, they have big hearts and they are people who live for more than themselves.

It is not always the easiest decision that makes things worthwhile. A reminder I should keep close to me for certain events have been trying but I am okay. Still hanging in there and not letting the doubts overstay their welcome.

I will try to focus on things I can actually do and work towards changes I can actually make happen. It is more productive and useful that way.

Anyway, if you only have the time to read one book this year, I really urge you to pick up This Is What Inequality Looks Like by Teo You Yenn. It will deepen your understanding of Singapore and reaffirm how the power of your words, your behaviours and ultimately, your individual choices can gradually help shift a system to benefit more people.

What are basic needs? And what does it say about us if not everyone has easy access to them?

Yes, I am talking about equality and with that, the repeal of 377A.

I honestly don’t believe that another person getting granted to a basic need and a human right threatens another person from those same privileges. It only threatens a stubborn world view that the world should be how one views it, and that one is always right.

This argument is not about morals, values, procreation or even religion at its core. It has become about pride, ego and how one is right while the other has to be wrong, “different” and an “other”.

Not everything is so unreasonably competitive, and rights shouldn’t be like this. Rights are for everyone, regardless of difference.

What makes us inherently human has to be divorced from our economical value, ability to procreate and the expectation to fit into a system forced upon us – and a system that is not natural, for that matter, but built by humans who are already buried for centuries.

Systems are made to carry society forward and to right the wrongs made acceptable in the past. Systems are made to serve us, and not the other way round.

So if the system no longer works, we should be throwing it out instead of trashing each other for not fitting into old-fashioned categories, binaries and checklists of a “normal” life.

That’s why this year has been so powerful thus far. We are fighting for change, and though gradual, I think I will live to see it all happen.

x

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March 2018.

2017-12-24 18.27.12_preview

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.

 

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.

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