There’s a delicious storm outside.
the sky is red
the rain falls in torrents
and the wind comes in gusts against the window panes.
if only storms at this hour meant
you could stay up to watch them
forehead pressed against cool glass
untamed rivulets separated from your fingertips by centimeters
when that becomes temptation too much
perhaps even go outside for the full taste
being in the heart of magnificence
feeling pelting drops of water on your skin and in your hair and eyes
getting soaked and chilled to the bone
and not go to work tomorrow.
Instead, I shut my windows tight
so that nothing gets wet.
close my curtains
so I can’t see the lightning.
The thunder is muffled and far away.
and be thankful, I suppose, I can shut out the storm
turn out the lights
snuggle under the covers
warm, dry and oblivious in my modern cave
and try to go to sleep.
Things that make me happy:
That’s how I feel right now.
I can’t rightly say that I’m still depressed– I feel fine most of the time, I’m functional, I’m not moping, I’m not moody, I’m not sad or upset or emotional. I go about my day as per normal. I know things can get much worse than this, have been much worse than this, but I’m not in that ditch any more and I don’t ever want to go back.
Yet it isn’t clear where I am. Some barren wasteland? A no man’s land between deep ditches?
There is nothing in my life right now that I can think of that makes me truly happy. Nothing in my life right now gets me excited or motivated. Everything is awash with this blanket of… pointlessness. Emptiness.
It’s not even as if I’m languishing– I’m doing my best to keep myself moderately occupied. It’s important to stay in touch with friends, right? To read books, watch shows, play music, draw, keep up with learning a new language, go out, buy new things, exercise, travel… so yeah, I try to do some of everything. Prove to myself that I’m living and not wasting my life away. Enough to facebook-pretend. I’m not the kind who needs lots of activities to be satisfied, anyway. Yet, all that I do– including getting out of bed in the morning– I do because I’m supposed to, and not because I want to. Sure, I don’t have to drag and force myself out of bed, but neither do I look forward to the day.
I may not need five hundred friends and activities everyday, but I do need something. What? Even when I think I know, how do I get it?
Or is that fallacious thinking– to assume that this one thing is going to miraculously solve your whole life? That this one thing is what will give your life meaning and purpose?
That doesn’t sound like meaning– it sounds like a crutch.
I do not know what I have to do, or what I can do, to end this reign of emptiness. How do I find my way out of this wasteland?
I may not be feeling sad at the moment. But to know that there is nothing right now that can make me happy– truly happy– that’s perhaps one of the saddest things there is.
Sometimes happiness is elusive, even when you believe in simple pleasures. I don’t know where I can find it or what it is sometimes.
Reminders are always good, although I suppose there are different levels of happiness.
Happiness is… watch your cat climb around on your table, quietly exploring while glancing at you every once in a while with her gorgeous eyes.
It’s not that I don’t believe you– I do.
I believe that you’re not well, that you genuinely can’t come, that you do wish you could… to an extent.
But it takes its toll, and it makes me feel that I’m lesser in your eyes. I’m not a priority.
It’s not that I don’t think you’re good people, friends I mean.
I think you’re swell, and I think you do enjoy my company as I do yours… but it’s not 50/50, is it?
It takes its toll, the things unsaid and unremembered. It makes me feel lesser, I’m not your priority, that you don’t really have concern for me.
It makes it hard for me to fully trust you the way I would like to. Trust you with my time, effort and affection. It makes me want to build a wall, to keep myself safe, treat you as a arms-length-friend at best.
And you? I just can’t.
I still can’t. Perhaps I forever can’t.
I wish I could surrender, give up, quit you and just never see you again, in any context.
Rather than look at you now
and teether between HATING everything you are and LOVING everything you are
between not caring at all and caring too much.
I don’t want
to hear of the things you do
and not know whether to roll my eyes and ridicule them
or laugh and smile endearingly
or just to be completely ambivalent and unaffected.
When I don’t look directly at you
When I don’t make conversation
When I don’t ask about the things in your life
When I ignore, act flippant and even cold
Do you know? That it’s conscious, deliberate? That it’s not because I don’t know what to say, what to ask? That it’s not because I don’t care?
It’s just because I can’t. Just can’t, still can’t, forever can’t.
I had a thought the other day
that some scars are permanent.
You can lie to the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.
You can dissociate from the world, but you can’t dissociate from yourself.
I wish time would stop– just for a little while. Let me live in this moment– and this moment only– just for a little while, without feeling the grains slipping through my fingers, without thinking about what next, without worrying about significance, without worrying about the future or the big picture.
Just a pause to do nothing but soak in the moment, without it running by and slipping away into oblivion.
The moment I mean– it feels a pretty colour. Light– like honey lemon rays of sunshine, or crystal turquoise streams of water. But lighter, much lighter than either of that. Just a swash of colour and light enough to float you away.
Downstairs someone is shouting, screaming, fighting.
I really hate it when people fight, when people scream, when people shout.
When I hear the anger and venom in their voices, I want nothing more than to shrink and shirk and hide away, away, away…
I feel like shouting back at them (ironic)
take your fight somewhere else
don’t destroy other people’s peace,
other people’s moment
I can hear you from the 40th storey for crying out loud
but while their voices, reflected by the ground, travel up
mine would merely be whipped away by the wind…
whipped away by the wind.
A cup of tea
would be nice.
tea with honey? mm.
and you write.
to what purpose?
we went up, and we went down
we went fast, we went slow
we expanded energy, then we ate
we started at a point, and ended up at another, not too far away.
to what purpose?
to what purpose, any of it?
who has the task
of injecting meaning
is it god? ourselves?
or something in between?
It’s an open secret to most (at least, most of the cynical and critical online crowd) that the news in The Straits Times, the main English-language newspaper in Singapore, can’t really be trusted 100%. Over the years you hear stories here and there from others as well as your own experiences and these little (and not so little) anecdotes add up to an overall impression which is hard to shake, even if I couldn’t list and detail all my reasons for you as evidence.
However, here’s a recent piece of evidence that seems really, really low to me: ST misrepresenting part-time models.
The Straits Times article paints the girls in a terribly trashy light, like slutty attention whores. That’s completely different from what the girls were expecting– they were explicitly told the article would be about “the dangers of doing free-lance shoots and tips on how to protect yourself” and definitely not about how they like to “show off their sexy side”, which was the title of the article. How ironic, then, as the article has brought them loads of negative attention and online flak. So much for protection. (Screencaps of the conversation between the reporter and the girls and their photographer in the article linked above.)
Recently, there’s been a petition to shut down STOMP, a branch of The Straits Times which features ‘citizen journalism’. More accurately, it’s usually used as a platform where people post videos and pictures of others doing what they deem to be bad behaviour, kind of like a public shaming platform. “Eh better don’t lah, later kenna STOMP” (Better not do it, in case you get posted on STOMP) is a common, half-joking refrain.
There are many things that could potentially bug you about STOMP; the voyeuristic quality of filming others and watching such videos; the petty complaints that get posted as ‘news’ just because this is ‘citizen journalism’; the infringement of privacy with the sometimes secret act of filming or snapping a shot and posting it online; the judging from the sidelines mentality it encourages, where you publicly shame others while remaining anonymous yourself; the mentality of whipping out your camera instead of confronting the individual directly or stepping forward to help.
If all that is not enough to phase you, there’s still the occasional fabricated story and the xenophobia, negativity and cyber bullying it encourages, reasons mentioned by the petition starter. Although the petition has garnered almost 23, 000 signatures to date, MDA (Media Development Authority) gave only a dismissive reply:
“Should you believe that Stomp, together with other class-licensed and individually licensed sites merit stronger regulation, we invite you to propose how the standards should be tightened. Let’s build a healthy online environment together.”
We should propose how the standards should be tightened? You mean, do your job for you? Funny how this is in sharp contrast to how quickly alternative online news sources or political blogs or other independent individuals are taken to task. We certainly weren’t asked for our opinion on how strict the monitoring should be then.
In 2013, Singapore fell 14 places to a record 149th position in terms of press freedom, according to an annual report by non-governmental, international organisation Reporters Without Borders (RWB), placing us between Russia and Iraq. In the Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House, Singapore’s press was rated as ‘Not Free’, tied at the 153rd place with Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar. This is what our Prime Minister has to say:
“I have given up that (Reporters Without Borders’ ranking)… I do not take them seriously.”
He pointed out that information flows freely on the Internet and newspapers report the news freely, but also responsibly.
Well done, great example set; when someone gives you feedback you don’t like, simply dismiss and ignore it (that is, if it’s beyond your power to shut it down). Sticking your head in the sand is something certain people seem to be very good at.
Many Christians I’ve talked to are worried about what happens after homosexuality is decriminalized and gay marriage is sanctioned. This is a very real motivation for them to strike preemptively and keep homosexuality criminalized.
A lot of church leaders focus on narratives where a cake shop owner or pastor or Mozilla’s CEO are sued or fired for being anti-gay. From their point of view, people should be allowed to choose whether or not to serve a customer based on the sexual orientation of the customer. A lot of my friends are outraged by the idea that laws could be passed to “protect religious freedoms” by legalizing discrimination. Almost happened in Arizona.
I actually think these shops and services should be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals on the condition that they must hang a yellow star in their shop windows and websites. That way the rest of us will be able…
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My friend started a blog focussing on LGBT issues especially in the context of Singapore. Cross-posting this there and here.
From a letter to the Straits Times :
It is also a country known for its safety and conservative Asian values, which make it a good place to raise children to be upright and responsible citizens.
In our bid to be a top global city, we must be careful not to emulate wholesale the values and cultures of other global cities like London or New York. They have very different cultural and historical make-ups and societal identities.
It took our founding fathers years to craft our modern Asian identity, and this should not be lost.
Our traditional values of filial piety, humility and a focus on the family should be promoted, instead of Western values like absolute freedom of speech, sexual permissiveness or gender ambiguity.
For once, the comments are faith-restoring rather than faith-dashing.
The (implied) argument that traditional values = good values, or Asian values = good values, or conservative values = good values is a pretty poor one. As the comments have pointed out, do you even know what you’re actually saying when you say ‘traditional values’ or ‘asian values’? Probably not. People just like to throw catch phrases about.
Traditional just means its the way it’s always been done, no implications on whether it’s something that’s always been done and should be continued, or should be changed. Asian just means… well, from huge and varied Asian and I’m sure you don’t need to think far to know some Asian values or traditions really should (and/or have) been done away with. And conservative… that’s just a comparative term, is it not? What is considered conservative today is different from what was conservative in the past, and the future.
And while it’s true that different countries and regions have different social cultures and histories, I’d like to hope that respect and good-will towards all people, without discrimination, should be universal values that everyone everywhere is striving towards.