Only as handicapped as the society you’re in


If you had to lose one of your senses, which would you rather lose? Which would you loathe to lose?

That was one of many ‘would you rather / what if’ games we used to play as kids. My answer to that one was always the same: I couldn’t imagine losing my sight. Where would I be if I couldn’t see? All the colours? The skies and the clouds and the seas and the trees… all this beauty? Painting and drawing and art and photography would all be meaningless. To be shrouded in darkness. I didn’t think I could bear it.

A week ago, the school brought all of us to Ngee Ann Poly to take part in Dialogue in the Dark, a short session for you to have a brief experience of what is it like to be blind. In a nutshell, Dialogue in the Dark “is essentially a walking tour of various simulated environments in complete darkness, led by visually-impaired guides.” We took a stroll in a park, a boat ride down the river, walked in the city streets, identified a parked vehicle, crossed a road and even ordered some snacks at a cafe, all in pitch darkness.

It was a good experience. Can you identify a statue by feeling the wordings on the wall? What do you appreciate on a boat ride if you can’t see? What’s the number plate, colour and model of this car? How about grocery shopping without sight (everything feels potato-ish)? Do you think you can figure out how to share ice-cream with a friend when you can’t see the ice-cream, your friend or even your own hands?

As an activity that’s obviously meant to have a larger impact than just testing your listening and touching skills or putting you out of your comfort zone for a short while, I thought there is still room for improvement. I confessed that my mentality while in the darkness instinctively took on a playful, competitive edge rather than a sombre, contemplative one. What I mean is, I saw it as a game, as a challenge– to see how much of my environment I could discern without my sight, to see how confidently and quickly I could move and orientate myself. I had to remind myself that it may possibly be a fun ‘game’ for that half hour to an hour, but how fun is it when this is you life, all the time?

We went in as a group of 9, which meant we were in a line and clinging to each other all the time, the train of people seldom broken. We must have looked hilarious, all huddled together. The guide was also constantly giving us instructions (follow the wall on the left, everyone found the wall? move slowly, slowly, found it? okay good, now just follow and go straight!) so we never really had to navigate on our own. I thought it would be a much more powerful experience if you were left to on your own, deposited in the ‘park’ and told to find the bench with no more help other than to know it exists. How much more vulnerable you would feel, with no one to cling on to, no one to feed you directions? That’s their reality.

I was sweeping my hands all over any and every surface I could find and swinging my cane as far out as it would go, trying to paint as clear as picture in my head of my surroundings. That must have looked hilarious too– no blind person would have the luxury of doing that in real life, at least not in public. You can’t go around molesting everything within reach.

Your sense of touch and hearing can actually feed you a whole wealth of details– but it’s so limiting compared to sight. Like I said, you can’t feel up everything. And while I felt I could get a lot of detail, it took too long. And you can only discern things spatially close to you.

When we got out of the darkness and into the open again, I couldn’t help but notice just HOW MUCH information I was taking in with just a casual sweeping glance. The layout of the metal chairs on the wooden floor (and their shapes, sizes, occupancy, even estimated weight); the number of motorbikes parked further down and their models and colours; the trees and plants in the distance; the light, time of day, weather…. and so much more. From a split second glance that wasn’t deliberate, that I didn’t even give any thought to.

Today as I was at the bus stop waiting for my bus, a white-haired uncle with a cane came inching slowly towards the bus stop. I stared at him worriedly. Did he know where he was, where he was going? Does he need help? Oh no, is he going to crash into the pole–okay, no. Is he going too near the edge of the road? Should I help him?

Slowly, he positioned himself by the pole/barrier at the edge of the pavement at the bus stop. I saw him lift the cover off his watch to look at the time. Excuse me, I mean to feel for the time. Should I help him? I wondered. How should I help him? Does he need my help? How does he know what busses are coming?

As a bus pulled in, I tensed up–should I help him? what should I do?— but I did nothing as I watched him shuffle towards the front of the bus stop — that’s way too slow…— and I realized he intended to ask the bus driver. At the moment, one of the other people at the bus stop passed near to him and he spoke out, asking the guy what bus it was. It wasn’t the uncle’s bus, so he stood back at his spot.

As the bus pulled out and the background traffic noises continued, I suddenly noticed how full of people the bus stop was. Not packed, but a significant number. And all of them silent. Invisible, out of reach. I was back in the dark room, where you couldn’t tell if there was someone right in front of you or not, not unless you reached out, not unless they spoke out. When everyone fell silent, when you kept your hands to yourself, you lose all sense of orientation and scale, you can’t tell… You may know there are people there, somewhere, but you can’t reach out to them because they are invisible to you. The power is in their hands to reach out to you

I thought of a typical scene in an MRT carriage in Singapore. Packed but silent. Each individual in their own bubble and none reaching out.

No one was reaching out at the bus stop. The suffocating darkness further stifled by the silence of our society. It would be so easy for someone to go up to him and offer assistance, to make their presence felt, rather than leave that more than physical gulf of detachment between all those seated and the man with the cane at the edge.

It would be so easy… Go on. Just go tap him on the should and ask him what bus he is waiting for. C’mon. 

I pictured it in my mind, and again, trying to push myself out of my bubble, to overcome the inertia of a Keep Quiet and Mind My Own Business Singaporean.  Why is it that difficult?

Another bus pulled into the bus stop and the uncle started moving again. I quickly stepped forward. Did I touch his shoulder? I should have but I don’t think I did. My Personal Space bubble is even harder to get past. Imagine a voice that suddenly appears by your ear, then vanishes again– how do you know if it’s still there or not? I should have touched his shoulder, or elbow, or something.

“It’s bus 14. Bus 14.”  I say.
“Oh I’m waiting for 961. So the bus is not here yet?”
“What bus? 196?”
“No, 961.”
“Oh, no, not here yet.”

Another bus is behind this one.

“The next bus is 147.” I tell him.
I suddenly realize this is my bus. Feeling a little confused, I head towards the bus then quickly doubled back to the uncle.

“147 is my bus.” I tell him.
He says something like, “Oh okay, then go, go.”

And so I left. Thinking about how much easier life could be for him if people around just acted a little differently, took a little more initiative, cared a little more. If, in our society, it becomes a given that someone will go to his side to be his eyes just for that short while. And if when that person boards a bus, someone else would automatically step up to take their place to help. Such a small thing for us, such a big difference for them.

Why so much inhibition to perform such a simple act that can make someone else’s life so much simpler? Practice makes perfect. I hope I will  help more readily the next time.

Advertisements

Child – Adult Dichotomy


It occurred to me recently that I seem to still be on the ‘wrong’ side of the child-adult  dichotomy.

Just beside my block of flats, there’s this huge, open longkang (drain). As I was walking out from my block one, I was just in time to see a wet soccer ball being rolled pass some children, as a small sized boy climbed over the green railing, coming out from the longkang after having retrieved the ball.

What I imagine a typical (Singaporean) adult would think; oh dear, how dangerous. and go on to imagine a million ways in which the scenario could have gone horribly wrong for the child, and a million ways to ‘rectify’ the problem like covering up the longkang, building more appropriate play/soccer areas, banning playing of balls at inappropriate areas etc.

What I thought, instead, was awww how fun and had fuzzy, nostalgic thoughts about the past, being in tuned with and a part of your environment, and how play should be unrestricted and unscripted. In contrast to the overprotective and sterile play environments of today…

Not to far from that longkang, just across the small street and in front of the supermart ShengSiong, there’s a huge raintree, growing out from a hole in the tiled ground. I love rain trees, I love looking up at its branches from underneath, I love the texture of its bark and the inevitable army of bird’s nest ferns adorning it. And I love that they’ve saved the tree, building around it instead of chopping it down.

More recently however, a circular metal bar has been built around it. A barrier, a separation. This is nature (it’s dangerous, don’t get too close) and this is civilisation. At least, that’s what it seemed to say to me.

I lamented to a friend– just imagine in our parents and grandparents days, kids played by running through fields of grass as tall as them; by climbing trees and any other structures they could climb; by catching spiders and making toy guns and catapults out of whatever they could find lying around.

If they step on a nail while running barefoot through the field, that was their own fault; of course if you’re going to be barefoot you have to watch where you put your feet! If branches or things fell from trees onto them then that was their fault too– well, also the tree’s, I guess, but what’s the use in blaming the tree? branches have to fall sometimes, it’s natural.

Whereas nowadays? People would demand that the management protect them from trees! from insects! from monkeys! It is the management’s fault when these things happen. No wonder the management has to cover their own asses and fence up trees… if a silly person climbs up the tree and gets hurt, it’s their fault. Why take the risk for the sake of caring about ideals and abstractions?

Then again, do I really disagree with that? Safety first, after all. If someone is killed by a falling branch, you wouldn’t dare to say to his family, ‘Branches fall, it’s natural! It’s no one’s fault, get over it.’

It’s hard to pin point exactly where necessary precaution transforms into suffocating over-protection. I thought our culture and education has been trying its best to move away from rigidity and sterility towards creativity and vibrancy…

True creativity and vibrancy can’t be categorized and classified– this is the time to be creative, when I say so during certain lessons, and these are all the other times you have to obey my rules exactly. Really? Think about it!

There’s this small playground in my school where each station is accompanied by a write ups with a science/physic slant. It’s usually filled with kids each recess, but of course, the kids ignore these write ups and ignore the ‘proper’ ways of playing.

The seesaw, meant for just two, is usually piled with kids–two groups challenging each other to see who can force the other group into the air. Otherwise, they will try to get off the seesaw as quickly and suddenly as possible to cause the friend(s) on the other end to come crashing down with a bang.

A ‘clown’s nose’– a red hemisphere surrounded by a ring on which you can sit– is meant for maximum four. You’re to lean your weight a certain way, and you can spin yourself. Instead, kids pile up again, with one or two trying to spin their friends as fast as possible, seeing who can last the longest without giving up or falling off.

Maybe something more serious happened one day than the usual harmless falls to the padded ground. Or maybe their children’s debatably rough play just came to the attention of the wrong (or right) person. Either way, one day a briefing was given to the entire school about the proper use of the stations in the play ground.

ONLY two on the seesaw, and DON’T bang your friend down. ONLY four on the clown’s nose and NO ONE should be pushing. THIS is the EXACT way and ONLY way you should be playing with these, and nothing else. Oh, one last thing, you are ONLY allowed there during recess WHEN THERE IS A TEACHER WATCHING AT ALL TIMES.

The next time I walked by the playground, it was practically empty and the few kids that were there looked pretty bored. I guess they’re ‘safe’ but that empty playground look for the world to be the saddest, least creative and least vibrant thing.

Can you blame the management, though? If something were to happen to the kid in school, how much noise (and blame) would the parents make…

Full Accountablility


Close an eye or
Turn one blind
Filter out and summarize
Normal natural inevitable
Like the way vision and attention works
Like the way neurons refresh and
Some information gets left behind.

Conveniently forget.
Let it go.

In the big scheme of things
It’s easier to say, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter.’
‘Don’t sweat the small stuff.’
‘No one will know.’
‘No one will remember by tomorrow.’
And just breeze by
Imaginary blinders on
Carelessly skipping, knocking, stepping
While carefully avoiding eye contact.

Live in the moment, in the present, what’s past is past.
There’s that twinge of guilt, which you crush, and say
I can’t be devoting all my timemoneyeffort to that
Even if I think it’s a good cause or is the right thing to do
It’s a small thing
It doesn’t make a difference
I have other commitments.

Besides
Everyone else does what I’m doing
This is socially acceptable.
I’m doing fine.
It’s not me
Not my job
Not my problem
Not my responsibility
I’ll mind my own business
Do my own thing.

“If you know it’s wrong, why do you still do it?”
I demand of those in my charge.
“If you know this is what you should do,
and you know why you should do it,
why don’t you do it?”
Easy questions, not so easy answers.
Easy to say, easy to think, less easy to do.

But why?
Perhaps it’s just a habit, living carelessly.
Carelessly, thoughtlessly, lazily.
Just a habit.
Perhaps we can break that habit.

It’s kind of true that in the larger scheme of things
A lot of it doesn’t seem to matter
People forget, don’t notice
No one really knows or cares or remembers
You can get by with doing the minimum.
Work smart, ignore the inconsequential.
Relax; y so serious?

Yet every action has its reaction
And every reaction a subsequent reaction
Chain reactions
And every word you say and thing you do
Has the potential
To uplift or cut someone else down
To help make the world a better place
Or not.

Your lack of action seems inconsequential
Only because you neglect
To compare it with
what it could be.

Religion’s got the right idea;
You’re always, all the time
Everywhere and everywhen
Fully accountable to god.
Fully. Accountable.
To someone who will notice and will and can call you out on it.

Let’s be fully accountable to ourselves.
Break that habit.

Let’s go.

Nope, still addicted


Let me put this idea to you:

All that anyone in the whole world throughout all of history ever does… is chase emotions.

We may do it in countless different ways, we may do it with the help of rationalizing and intellect, but at the end of the day, are we not all struggling to find out exactly what will bring us that sense of… happiness? of contentment? of satisfaction? of meaning? of peace?

Chasing emotions.

In secondary school, we studied 12th night for literature and our teacher told us that Orisino was more in love with love than with anyone. He’d put his object of affection up on a pedestal and worshiped it from there. That image and idea struck me and stuck with me, and often I would see myself in a similar light; at that age, I loved getting into crushes. It didn’t matter how improbable my crushes were, how little I actually knew about them or how little interaction I had with them. I enjoyed admiring them from afar and I immensely enjoyed the emotional highs (and lows) that took place only in my own head and heart.

In love with love. To be even more specific– in love with the emotional highs associated with love? Love is a drug, an addiction.

When fans go crazy over their idols, when fandom obsesses over characters and pairings… If you’re not a part of it, it may look crazy to you. But it’s the same for everyone– you have your own method of chasing that emotional high, I’m sure you do. Be it through a sport, a art, your career, shopping, clubbing, alcohol… Intellectually, you may think your method is superior– more meaningful?– but emotionally its similar, is it not?

When I say I’m addicted to escapism, part of it comes from needing that high, and not finding it in real life, and so you run elsewhere in search of it.

When I had my first super-serious crush, my first infatuation, my first ‘love’, when I moved beyond being happy with fangirl-ing people from afar to genuinely wanting more, I think that upped the ante of emotional high enough to end all frivolous crushes.

When I had my first relationship… well. That emotional high, that fulfillment, felt like all I would ever need. As much as the intellectual side of me cringes and rolls its eyes at this naivety and superficiality… being in love made my world realer than real, it gave my days meaning and added colour everywhere.

To me, being able to share my life with someone else and share their world in turn compound the joy of everything beauty in life and made every pain bearable.

To me, a relationship is something I can pour my heart and soul into, make a deep emotional investment and get back exponentially high returns.

I got home today badly craving another shot of escapism.

What I really want is to have something really mesmerizing, something really captivating. A really good story (or something, anything) that will pull me in, and consume my world, at least for a while. Something touching, something moving, something that will tug on all your heartstrings and make you go awwww!!!<333 ;_; something that makes the world feel more real, more saturated, have more kick.

I search for that high in stories because there is nothing in real life right now, nothing that I can go awwww<333 over.

But stories, in whatever form they take, can no longer deliver the high I crave…
They just can’t. I just can’t. I can’t get emotionally invested enough. Stories don’t cut it anymore. How could they? You need a higher and higher dosage each time…

Even so, I still can’t stop chasing the little highs, just for a taste, a drop…

It’s been almost two years. I stare at the date and realize with a start that our anniversary date, which was yesterday, has faded in my mind and replaced with our break-up date, which I had been unconsciously counting down towards.

It’s truly amazing how time passes; I can’t believe it’s been this long. I still think of her just about everyday. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I think of a time, of a feeling, of an emotional high.

Everyday I miss it, and most days I seem to chase after it in all the wrong places for lack of knowing what else to do…

Emotional


Irrational emotions, be gone! I wish to be rid of thee. 

How I wish I could cut off emotions sometimes. Except of course I know I don’t. As much as I despair at how I can get emotionally down for seemingly no reason at all, and how I hate feeling so mopey and depressed when I know I have no reason to feel this way…

I know I fear the void and emptiness even more than irrational, inescapable sadness. A life without emotion wouldn’t be worth living– or wouldn’t be human, anyway. Sometimes I deliberately think thoughts that I know will make me cry, as though if I made the pain more acute, that would make it more bearable. And maybe then it would go away…

I started an entry only to select all and back space yesterday. I did it several times. That feeling of wanting desperately to say something, yet having nothing to say.

While I was lying in bed and trying to sleep, finally a line came to me that would not go away, that seemed to express exactly what I felt:

I think of you because I don’t know what else to do. 

I don’t know what else to think about when I’m feeling this way. I don’t know what else I can do in relation to you besides merely thinking about you. I don’t think this makes anything better, but I don’t know what else to do…

How much a part of ourselves do our emotions constitute, is what I always wonder. If I’m feeling upset only because of a ‘mood swing’, some internal temporary hormonal imbalance, am I to discount these emotions? But these thoughts I think when I feel these things, surely they are as a part of me as any other thought I might have…?

How would you know what’s normal or abnormal when there are no standards for comparison…

 

Hi, my name is ____ and I am an escapeholic.


Okay, I admit it: I have a problem. It’s gotten pretty bad, and I don’t know how to solve it.

I know acknowledging the problem is always touted as the all-important first step– hey, you recognize you have a problem, that’s great! Now you can do something about it!

Yes, but what? I’ve always known I’ve had this problem– what’s step two, please?!

I’m getting ahead of myself.

For all appearances, you would be excused from thinking that my problem is that…I have an addiction to my computer, my phone or more generally, the internet. It’s the first thing I turn to when I wake up, it’s the last thing I look at before I fall asleep. As long as I’m not officially occupied at work, I will be seated infront of my computer. I surf the net when I’m eating, when I’m commuting. My hand reaches for my phone every couple of minutes regardless of what I’m doing, regardless of whether there are any new messages or calls. I spend hours every single day in front of the computer. My smart phone (and accompanying addiction) is relatively new, but internet surfing is not.

However, if you look beneath the surface, the computer, phone and internet are just the mediums, I believe, for my addiction to escapism and procrastination.

When I reach for my phone only to discover no new messages, I don’t just put it down again. Sometimes I stare at the screen blankly, swipe from page to page, back and forth. I click to facebook (nothing new in the last 2 mintes), click to twitter, click to the one or two games I play regularly. Scroll through my whatassp chats. Up and down, back and forth, open the apps, close the apps. I just want something to read, something to occupy myself, distract myself.

When I open up my laptop, I always go through my ritual before I can even think of doing anything else; check facebook and read everything in the newsfeed, opening any interesting links in new tabs. Check my blogs, check my emails, check my friends blog, check the handful of webcomics I follow. When I have nothing left to check, nothing left to read, I can easily spend the next couple of hours trying (desperately) to find more things to check, more things to read.

However, it’s not the internet that I’m yearning for, chasing for when I pick up my phone or open up facebook or a friend’s blog for the umpteen time. It’s two other things: distraction and connection.

It’s gotten so bad that it’s become extremely difficult for me to get work done; even if I manage to physically get myself away from my computer and phone, I can’t concentrate at all. I want to think about my work but my brain is just constantly throwing a tantrum, saying ‘not now, not now…’ and wants to be distracted, doesn’t want to think.

That part of the brain thinks of this (vegging out in front of the computer reading stuff) as enjoyment, as relaxation. The rest of me feels trapped. This breeds extreme frustration and stress, and zero satisfaction to know I’ve just wasted more hours of my life doing nothing.

I don’t know if this comes from the break up, but I think the break up (or my methods of coping with the break up) definitely worsened it. That how I got past my depression: distraction. The addiction and hunger of escapism and distraction may in itself be bourn of a deeper problem that comes as a direct result of the break up: Loneliness and a general discontentment with my life. I miss having that deep connection with another person so much, and the happiness that I derive from it, that I desperately try to find something to replace it, but nothing does, leaving me watching funny youtube video after youtube video, chasing that high and contentment that never comes.

I’ve been trying to talk to people more, start more chats with people, connect with friends more, make more new friends, but that just leaves me staring at the dead whatsapp chat or stalking their blogs or facebook page, wishing for a much deeper connection and not getting it.

This isn’t very well written because I’m just writing it quickly at one shot, without thinking or editing. I know blogging has also become just another means of procrastination and distraction to me, and I really want to get away from this screen as soon as possible.

Any suggestions on how to get my brain and focus back in order would be nice.
I have the attention space of a goldfish right now.

:(

A Bubble Floating Through Emptiness


To reality hop.
Can I hop through different realities, please?
I really don’t want to be here.

Be in an anime, or a movie, a fantasy world. To come and go and leave and as you please.
Put me under, into the dream world, go down the rabbit hole, escape.

When I think about you, the world flips inside out and nothing makes sense. I want to run away.
In to psychedelic colours, grunge textures and linkin park songs. I lose touch with reality– this can’t be real, what is real? This is not my reality, I reject it. I don’t want to be here.

There must be somewhere else I can go. How can this be all there is? How can this be my life? It’s not mine, I reject it. I want to go back to there– that felt real, that’s where I want to be. No, that’s where I am. Who closed the door, the door to narnia, to nivarna, to bliss, to home? Why am I stuck in this place, in this shell, in this meaninglessness, in this emptiness?

I feel no attachment to this world, this realm, this reality– it’s not reality. No attachment, no bond, no relation, no investment. It’s not so much that I don’t want to be here as how much I want to be somewhere else– I’m lost. There’s a taste of reality, a taste of home– no, Home– a taste of heaven, I remember. I’ve been there before. Why did it go, where did it go? Who stole my keys and shut me out, threw me out?

How do I get back to reality?
How do I get back home?

Must I stay here, in this prison without walls, bidding my time, and waiting, hoping hopelessly that one day I will escape, one day I will be home again, and reality will be real?

Which is the reality? Is the reality I crave but a dream, a drug, an escapist’s delusion? Am I binded and intoxicated by a dreamy haze? How can things be so contrary– why does my definition of reality differ from yours, is reality relative?

Seeing you, meeting you turns my world (what world?) topsy turvey.

I don’t understand that, but I don’t understand anything.

I am a bubble, floating through emptiness, waiting desperately to

pop.

When the discriminated discriminate


I just read this piece from Thought Catalogue, “The Queer Community has to Stop Being Transphobic” and I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of the author.

I used to be a transphobic gay man.
….
“I know I’m supposed to get it because I’m gay,” I said, “but I just don’t understand the whole trans* thing at all. It makes me feel so weird.”

That’s exactly how I felt. You would think that being gay would make it easier to understand what being trans is like, but on the contrary, I think it made it harder.

I would think to myself, yeah, I can totally understand not wanting to follow these stupid gender norms that society sticks by. I can understand being a girl and preferring to do guy things, preferring to wear guys clothes. I can even relate to the feeling of wanting to be a guy, or be more guy-like in appearance. Yet it’s because I could identify with all that so closely, I couldn’t understand why they needed to go one more step to actually become the other gender.

I mean, I would ideally prefer it too, if I were taller, more muscular, more masculine… but I can accept that this is how I was born, this is my body. I can learn to accept my body for its good points and ‘bad’ points, why can’t they? Don’t they realize that being a girl doesn’t mean you need to follow society’s stupid rules for girls? You can still wear pants, you can still do whatever you want to do. Why should the physical body matter so much? 

Why should it matter so much indeed.
To throw the question back at myself: why should clothes matter so much? Surely clothes matter even less than your body. Surely a colour would matter less. Surely… all these little stereotypically girl activities and accessories… what’s the big deal? Why can’t you just accept them? They are just things.

And yet I would feel so uncomfortable and out of place in a dress. Like a fish out of water. I wouldn’t feel like myself. Probably as uncomfortable as an average guy would be, if he were forced to wear a dress. Okay, admittedly slightly less since I’ve inevitably been ‘forced’ to wear dresses in my life time.

The other day I watched ‘These Ears Have Walls 2‘. It follows three separate story lines about lesbian couples, in different time periods, all set in the same house.

The first story was thoroughly depressing and the last story was positively uplifting and happifying (helllo Ellen Degeneres and Sharon Stone!). It’s really heartening to see just how far we’ve come and how different things are (in some places), from 1961 to 2001. But it was the second story, set in 1972, that was the most intriguing and thought provoking to me.

(spoilers!)

The story focusses on Linda, a young student who shares the house with a few friends, all lesbians. They are also part of a feminist group, but are being kicked out as the group doesn’t want to be associated with or thought of by others as a ‘lesbian group’ and want to be taken seriously as feminist.

The interesting tension comes when the friends go to a dyke bar and are disappointed and disapproving of how the lesbians in the bar fulfill traditional butch and femme roles. Linda, however, is charmed by and falls for Amy, a butch in a shirt and tie who rides a motorbike. Despite Linda’s efforts to get her friends to be accepting and open, they continually make fun of Amy.

It feels so ironic to me when people turn into exactly what they are fighting against. Like anti-gay religious people claiming that they are all about love, acceptance, forgiveness. This case is worse than that though; you’re clearly part of the same outcasted group, and yet you still discriminated against each other?

It reminds of that that scene from the L Word when the main L Word characters make fun of Moria for being ‘butch’ and for categorizing lesbians into those traditional roles. As though that’s something backward and old fashioned, something to be laughed at. Shouldn’t being part of the same out-casted group be enough to make you realize that how you are treating them is exactly the way you don’t want others treating you?

Yet I can still see both sides of the story. The girls dislike Amy because they see her, and  butch lesbians, as part of the problem. Here they are fighting for equal rights for women, for girl power and the empowerment of all things feminine. And here there are these females who are, bizarrely and counter-productively apparently trying to be men. Why buy into the idea that a suit and tie and masculinity means power, means control? Why think that you have to be the ‘male’ in the relationship and buy the drinks and make the moves and buy the flowers? All that chauvinism is exactly what they’re fighting against and they don’t want people from their own ‘ranks’ undermining their position.

On the other hand, Amy is just like them– she knows who she is and she accepts herself and will not lie or back down about who she is, even if she knows that it will make life difficult for her. She stands up for her own truth, just as they stand up for theirs.

The ugliest moment was when the girls made fun of her to her face, tried to mess up her neatly gelled back hair, and forced her to put on a girly top. Trying to ‘free’ her from her ‘self imposed’ restrictive masculine persona when in fact what they were doing were forcing Amy into their own box.

In another scene from the L word, Max (formerly Moria) tells Jenny, “If you think men are the enemy, then you and I have a problem.” Yes, men, or masculinity, aren’t the enemy, even for feminist. The enemy is bigotry, the enemy is oppression. The enemy is forcing your truths down someone else’s throat, forcing other people into your boxes, because you are more comfortable with that.

The truth always looks slightly different from different angles.

For me, trans* is difficult to understand because, my biological sex doesn’t matter as much. It’s not a core part of my identity– I honestly think that I would feel as comfortable in a male body as I do in my female body. To me, the expression of my gender and the expression of my sexual orientation is much more important than my biological sex. I am all for blurring the gender lines and androgyny.

I dare say this wouldn’t be the case for most people– if you find the thought of having the body of a member of the opposite sex weird and disturbing, then I dare say you can understanding how a trans person feels even more than I do. And if I wanted to understand, I can easily translate their experience into something I can relate to.

As humans, we are so incredibly diverse and the way we experience things can be so different. It can be such a leap to try and understand something that is so foreign to you it have never even occurred to you and you don’t know how to even start thinking about it. Yet, underneath all that, I really believe that all of our fundamental experiences are exactly the same. We are all human. It just takes you to make the effort to listen with openness and translate someone else’s problem into something you can relate to.

We are all human.

Freedom


It’s when you’re thrown in darkness that you most appreciate the light, when you’ve been in the scorching sun that you most appreciate the shade, when you’re parched that you most appreciate water… I’m sure you know all this.

It’s only been three weeks since I started work work proper and woah, the freedom each Friday/Saturday and especially today with a one week break coming, tastes so sweet. The freedom to be wandering around aimlessly and not worry about getting home to get work done, or to get sleep. The freedom to wonder to yourself, where should I go next? and know that it really doesn’t matter– I can wander for a few more hours or I can go home, it’s entirely up to me.

Not to mention the freedom to wear something other than collared shirt and pants, and the freedom to actually style my hair something other than boring neat and normal, and the freedom to  paint my nails odd colours and…

Too bad my freedom will never last long enough for me to have the freedom to have funky hair…

This afternoon we were about to jay walk across the road and the group of us were like um, no so nice right, for us as what we are, to jay walk? One of the girls exclaimed, we have no freedom!

I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed and saw pinkdot calling for volunteers. As a civil servant and especially this kind of civil servant, am I not allow to volunteer for pink dot? Is my freedom really that restricted?

Can I survive three years in this environment, with these restrictions? To put a part of me (a large part?) on hold and behind bars for now? How sweet will the freedom taste after three whole years? Or would I be ‘tamed’ by then and these things no longer freedoms that I crave but mere wild fancies that I can easily do without? Would I find that it was those childish whims that were restricting me and holding me back, keeping me from reaching my full potential and leading a productive life?

Freedom to be who you want to be versus the freedom to fit in and live a normal, respectable life. How important is the freedom to be whatever you want to be, do whatever you want to do… compared to all the other priorities in life?