Dissonance/Agency

I have fingers stretched out over the keyboard, I hate to generalise.

I would like to think that I embody the idea that the personal is political, but to what extent?

Would it really be a conscious decision to say that I envisioned myself loving you for all your intricacies and yah brahs?

If it brought me too much pain, then of course, I would say no, that it was out of my control.

In saying that though, it is to say that I had no agency, that I fell prey to societal obligations.

See, the push and pull tears me up open.

The anger is not irrational. I am sorry you do not comprehend.

We are both thinkers. It’s funny how four years and five days separate us.

We think in different ways I would like to think. We really are different thinkers, don’t you think?

Maybe in due time, I will look back at that beautiful week of tangled vines and realise that I was in love with the idea of you.

I did not really love you.

I could not love you.

I will set me free, for the sake of dissonance/agency.

Me 4 Me

The Ms are wise when they talk about love, infatuation, and casual sex.

One M said that it’s about fixation. That it’s about the realisation that you are seeking experience.

Another M said that it’s about readiness. That it’s about meaning in the moment.

I remember writing about monogamy. I remember writing about the loss of one’s virginity and how it is an act of giving, and how it is an act of love.

Maybe my defence mechanism is on pointe.

Thing is, I remember your eyes. I remember staring intensely into them and you would end up breaking into a smile and we would wash, spin and repeat this same act.

I remember how you would grab at my hips because you knew I was ticklish.

I remember the kisses on my forehead. And on yours.

I remember the empathy, I remember the omgzs.

I remember a lot but I don’t remember that night.

I don’t remember the night when things became clear when they weren’t clear at all.

The tread back to reality was fuelled with shame and fragility.

Ultimately though, the end of the match burns out.

I carry with me my heart. I carry with me my shame. I carry with me my lessons.

I will carry you with me until one day, I snap out of this foolishness and everything comes full circle.

The Ms are right though. The statistician and computer scientist have clear intentions. The Ms are what I am thankful for.

My Quest for/to (?) Cultural Acceptance

So, I wrote this rather lengthy piece for a class that I have been taking this semester. The style is a little different but it’s part of the collection (well, sorta) of my cultural explorations (or rants, whatever you might think of it). 

Race in Intercultural Dialogues is concrete and in complete contrast to what I learn about race as a social construction in my other classes. Throughout the weeks, I have learnt to see race and how it interplays with different identities of any given individual. I have also learnt how to perceive race as anything but arbitrary because although race exists as a social construction in today’s society, race makes up the social fabric of what makes humanity tick and breathe and progress or fail, it just depends on how you look at it.

See, the thing about perceptions is something that I have learnt to grow to love and respect as a result of ICD because each and every class, I am presented with differing views regarding any given topic and it is a journey itself attempting to place myself in the shoes of someone else. Day one of class, I held on to every little notion of ethnocentrism that I had in my being because I was angry that my identity as a South East Asian international female student often goes unnoticed or misunderstood. Over the semester, I have learnt to  let go of my sense of cultural sense of superiority as I sit down in class and listen to what others have had to say. Throughout my ICD experience, the crux of race has become more clear and definitive to me. I believe that it is the understanding of this crux that spurs me to constantly perceive, to stay curious, and to be culturally sensitive.

Throughout my ICD experience, I have had the opportunity of channeling my anger and cultural frustrations into quality conversations regarding topics that I hold close to my heart. With the space to explore what I feel and internalise, I am constantly challenging myself to put my thoughts into coherent words that capture what I have to say. Add on to that the need for tact given the sensitive nature of the dialogues we have in class, I think I can safely say that the ways in which I discuss and think about the ways the discourses shape the conversation improved for the better because I am vigilant and aware of the micro-aggressions that go unnoticed.

I do not know what the future holds for me after this semester ends but I know I am already struggling to come to terms with the fact that all good things must come to an end. I have felt positive change in my being as a result of thinking and being exposed to the different ways in which race represents itself and I crave more knowledge. I am content but at the same time, yearning for more because I know that my experiences with ICD are something that I will bring with me wherever I go. I guess you could say that I have chosen to internalise what we talk about during discussions and I carry the burden of understanding the operation of oppressions within the society. I perceive it as a burden that I will guard with fierce will and determination because there is power in the invisible and in order to counter the invisibility of privilege, one must always hold on to the delicate understanding of how oppression pervades society.

I think back to the idea of equality and equity that was brought up by one of my classmates and I compare that with my beliefs that suggest the acknowledgement of differences and the challenges that come with it. You seem I have always questioned the measure of difference and am a firm believer in the idea of the myth of meritocracy. I never have an answer for how to replace the idea of meritocracy and so I am unable to present an explanation for my beliefs but I think now, I don’t believe in equality. I believe in equity.

I apologise if the flood of words on your screen has been overwhelming, dear reader. I thought I should switch it up a little, something more descriptive of my life currently.

Of unwashed sheets & aching butt cheeks

I’m sitting on my bed, leaning on my hippo wedged between my legs as I write this.

Crywolf singing out their souls as I look out the window of my college apartment room, fingers slightly chilled as the temps dip lower.

It’s been a few weeks of contemplation. A few nights of baring my soul. A few nights of important conversations.

I’ve taken a hiatus from putting my thoughts into words. Of defining what I feel deep within.

Dear reader, I want to run. Run, feel the familiar surge of emotions course through my veins as I slough it out on the track.

Dear reader, I am saturated. Saturation of the very best, Saturation that is the most potent. Saturation that is of the most vulnerable.

My joints hurt in funny places. My body aches as I hack away at this terrible dry cough that refuses to leave me be.

I find solace in those precious moments. In the tightly wounded vines around my body. In the warmth that is created. In the bond that is sealed. In the intimacy that is spontaneously overflowing.

I am at a cross roads once again, dear reader.

Monogamy is up for debate. I used to think that it is as simple as ABC (oh how I miss my porpor’s ABC soup) but interwoven with all sorts of different vines and you end up with a maze that can rival a certain Amazonian bush that I am familiar with.

There is no one entity. There is no universal hegemony.

My heart ripples. It throbs. It flutters.

In the very presence of vines so beautifully represented. In the form of privilege checks. In the form of short term memory loss. In the form of dry humour.

Tug at Heart, Shape My Identity

Dear reader, I really like my mornings.

When the outside is blanketed in snow, when I am still groggy from sleep, when the world seems to be at peace.

Geographical imagination is something that I have learnt recently, amongst other things. It shapes/blurs my perspectives whichever way you look at it.

I have questions, many questions.

You see, I am cautious of the way I think the Ferguson incident affects me.

I don’t know how you look at it, dear reader but I might not necessarily agree with you.

As a citizen of this world, this little piece of history will affect me and you.

Think about the hegemony. Think about the ideas that influenced the verdict (it is not all black-and-white as you might think). Think about how race and violence affects America. Think about how American culture affects you and I in terms of foreign policies, in terms of what we consume, in terms of what the media tells us.

I do not champion this hegemony but the struggle is collective.

The influence of this hegemony is never-ending. The influence of this hegemony cannot be ignored.

Dear reader, I don’t think I am ever static. I don’t think my moral code is as rigid anymore. I don’t think it’s a turn for the worse though.

There is no eating away at my soul. There are only 3 (wo)man pile-ups on the couch as we sing lullabies, the Malaysian national anthem, and songs about Malaya’s independence.

I think I’ve established that I am rather erratic. That I can be rather reckless, sometimes. That I can be a nutter.

Maybe there is no legitimacy in how I live and I am not going to tell you to fuck off if I think that you don’t agree with me.

Though sometimes, there is much joy and liberation in acting like you’re intoxicated when you’re really not.

Happy thanksgiving, my fellow Americans. I am here, there, everywhere with you in spirit.

Damp Hair from the Rain

Image 1 of Jen's Front

Image 1 of Jen’s Front

Waking up to the Madison fog. Walking under the pitter patter of the rain. Skies gloomy, puddles of rain water mixed with fall’s shaded leaves. Sentence fragments that do not make sense.

It’s after all another Sunday afternoon as I sit in my pjs plus tights cause I’m too lazy to change into boxers.

It’s a good day to contemplate. It’s also a god damn good day to write my critical review.

But yet, I find myself itching to write here a little. As look out the windows at how wet everything is, I am content.

I feel like a child. I am antsy. I get the breathless spurt of youth and vitality. I am god damn content.

There really is no flow to this post I realise because my memories are fragmented at best.

But they are good memories, no matter how disjointed and disorganised this post sounds.

In creating wormholes as I slide and bump my way through my coming of age experience, I am swiftly swishing around.

In my own little pool of thoughts that I hold dearly to myself.

I know what is defective. I do not have answers to justify my actions.

These choices are the product of my swishy behaviour and reaction is something I am prone to.

This journey is inherently mine, inherently yours to disregard.

So as I meander along, as I acknowledge the intricacies and contradictions of my actions and thoughts, I am content.

You cannot abhor me for my choices.

Image 1 of  Jen's Back

Image 1 of Jen’s Back

Revelations of the Tanjung Bungah Kind

I’m a pj girl at heart.

Weekend brunches with the family at Village Park, O & S coffee shop or just tapau-ing from do re mi that’s a five minute drive away from home sweet home epitomise the pj things that your typical, Malaysian Chinese heternormative family of three, four or five enforce kinship and familial ties.

I’m a banana at heart.

With parents who both received Westernised tertiary education, who both loved to read, who both impaired their eye sight with reading while lying down or in dimly lit places, who chose to talk to me in English, who bought me the likes of Enid Blyton & Roald Dahl ever since I was a little girl, who took me out of Yuk Chai at the last minute to put in the now highly-regarded SKTM that at that time, was a humble Malay national school, who dressed me in the imported rejects of Baby Gap and Old Navy, who hit me with the cane and forced me to a play a classical musical instrument but at the same time imparted on me the wisdom to say no to resistance (which I usually often take too literally), there is not much reason as to why I am the person that I am today.

But, my attachment to Penang has never been something that I have given much thought of.

It is something that I take for granted seeing as ever since I was born, I’ve made the four hour car ride/forty-five minute plane ride to Pulau Pinang at an average of about three times a year.

I’ve made the pilgrimage almost every teenage year during the Ching Ming week, picking my way through the muddy uneven paths of the Mount Erskine cemetery, suffocating and having breathing difficulties as I pay my respects to my many, many great grandparents in places where cremated remains are put into urns and left to reside (aka temples).

I’ve stuffed my face with all the goodness of the food at Mount Erskine, Pulau Tikus, Air Itam, Tanjung Tokong, New Lane, Gurney Drive, and Sungai Dua among many other places.

I’ve also found companionship with a fellow Penangite where we indulged in desires of the burning passion kind.

I reflect on that blissful period of intimacy, attachment and joy. I smile at the memories of the exchanges of our lives where for the most part, we were never ever in the same country, let alone same continent.

I think back to that fateful day when I busied myself with technology while I waited outside the boarding gate for my connecting flight to Chicago.

I miss you, sometimes, dear pen pal. I think of you fondly, old friend.

Someday, I hope we meet. Someday, I hope we can look back on this, when we are both romantically involved with our respective partners and leading successful lives, when Snapchat becomes ancient, and we’ll smile that knowing smile.

Knowing that years before, the pj girl who identifies as a banana met the tanjung bungah boi.

p.s. some parts of the actual story have been modified to account for the privacy of individuals involved