Loss & Gains

There was no pressure. There were no expectations set forth.

It was a conscious decision. It was a well-calculated decision.

It was also spontaneous. It was also in the heat of the moment.

My agency is defined by my social environment but it is my agency that made the choice.

This landscape is grey. This landscape is uncertain.

How do we with growing agencies decide? How does my developing agency decide that it is okay?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents this week. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve been brought up and the values that I have learnt to incorporate into my life.

I have yet to identify why I feel so at peace with the choices that I have made.

And above it all, I feel that I have no qualms in letting my parents in on the choices I have made.

I don’t see the need to hide. I don’t see the need to appease. I don’t see the need to conform.

I trust in the decisions that I make. I trust in my parents to accept the decisions that I have made.

I cannot help but feel a sense of overwhelming gratefulness for my parents who have contributed to the formation of my identity with unconditional regard.

I realised then it is not what they taught me, but how they taught me.

Dear reader, I am strangely at peace.

Within me, a formidable force grows.

She is still fragile. She is still hesitant. She is still filled with excuses but she tries.

She bloody tries.

To what extent?

Matters of the heart.

Emotions are emotions. Statistics are statistics.

Ever since summer started, it’s been a whirlwind. A whirlwind of sexual appeal, of sexual tension.

It’s been such an abundance of a whirlwind that I have lost count. Of memories. My mind palace is really truly saturated.

Over the course of these months, I have had the opportunity of meeting individuals. Of putting together together little pieces instead of taking the pieces apart.

With time, comes practise . With time, comes experience.

I am not formidable. See, there’s this formidable feeling you wake up with. You can feel it in your muscles.

It is a nagging feeling. It is a push. It is a pull that you wonder about as you try to put together your emotions.

You can be spontaneous, you realise. You can be selfishly spontaneous.

In the heat of things though, there are triggers that set you off. These triggers are real, very real.

Sometimes, they notice it. Sometimes, they do not. When they do notice, the fragility comes out.

The fragility takes over. The fragility strips you of your confidence. The fragility oozes out of every pore.

Fragility in your eyes. Fragility in your actions. Fragility in your thoughts.

It is an act of giving to the deepest degree. It is an act that we do not think twice about.

So when you say ‘It’s okay.’ It’s a trigger that sets me off. It’s a trigger that brings me back to myself.

It’s a trigger I am grateful for in the presence of you.

Men in Crisis

I am a feminist.

I used to be the crazy archetypal feminist that we commonly associate feminism with.

I am not a raging lesbian. I don’t shave my legs (they are hairy and keep me warm).

I am guilty of man-bashing before I learnt. I am guilty of pitting women against men before I learnt.

With knowledge comes sense, right?

I don’t agree with stretching my hands out and inviting men into the discourse the Emma Watson way. I do not believe in coddling men.

I do think that men are in crisis though.

The issue of men and masculinity is a central topic to feminism.

It is completely ridiculous to dismiss the role of men when it comes to feminism.

Feminism affects men like how racism affects white people.

I am a feminist.

I am not the crazy angry archetypal feminist. It’s true. That’s not what feminism is about.

I think feminism should be about inclusion. It’s the inclusion of men.

To assume that the tipping point for women won’t affect the tipping point for men is ridiculous. It is ignorant. It is hypocritical.

Feminism is about me. Feminism is about you. Feminism is about how you and I interact.

We need a discourse that involves talking about men.

We need a discourse that debunks violent masculinity.

We need to look at men.

Sizing you(me) up

The Johari window is like the running track.

The running track gives me repetition.

The running track gives me consistency.

The running track gives me the stripping down of my mental barriers as my mind shifts away from the track.

My legs stay on point, my feet keep the pounding going, my lungs inhale and exhale, my eyes fixed on the golden prize.

My mind like mush, my mind like liquid, my mind swimming,

The Johari window comes into play.

sohaiguailous, motherfeckingcibais become my mantra.

My eyes start to glaze. My eyes on the track. My eyes not really focusing on anything except the track.

It isn’t about the timing. It isn’t about the distance.

So no matter how many times you size me up. No matter how many times I size you up.

The running track isn’t like the world of swiping.

There is no sense of entitlement, there is no teasing, there is no acting coy, there is no sexual promiscuity.

There is only my mind, slowly but surely slushing around.

How distance magnifies yearning

There is a certain anonymity that my blog posts enjoy.

I am very warm and comfy in this safe space to be this transparent and confidential at the same time.

So there’s this thing called miles. And oceans. And air planes. And different time zones. Or just really, the vast expanse of the American midwest.

F8 is a funny thing. Miles are a funny thing. Distance is a funny thing.

To be honest, I say it’s funny because funny is an easy adjective to use. Easy, but safe.

Because I have grown accustomed to the world where non-committal expressions of adoration and sexual appreciation are greatly celebrated.

They are the ones that make you think of the what ifs.

The ones who have that twinkle in their eyes that make you chuckle.

The ones who remind you of raw passion.

The ones who are unattainable.

The ones who are separated by miles. And oceans. And air planes. And different time zones. Or just really, the vast expanse of the American midwest.

In the name of the ones who make us think of the what ifs, I shall dive headfirst into academia.

See you in a little while, dear reader.


Contents of My Care Package

A polaroid picture of Goldy in all his magnificent glory.

Two moon cakes (One pandan, one i don’t know what flavour, both no yolks).

Two pairs of boxer shorts.

Two pairs of bedroom slippers.

Two bottles of grandmother’s medicine.

Two bags of Julie’s Peanut Butter biscuits.

Three bags of my favourite mini milk balls.

One packet of Mondo’s Vanilla Nougat that travelled from Perth to KL, then to LA, then to Madison.

One bar of Cadbury Chocolate that travelled from Perth to KL, then to LA, then to Madison.

Some stationery.

A pair of mittens that fit my puny fingers perfectly (no too-big holes for my pinkies).

One packet of white biscuits that I don’t know the name of that were bought from one of the alleys in Petaling Street.

Did you know? That care packages reflect class privilege?

I know my posts lately have been racially and culturally charged. The thing about the Jen in America is that she’s hypersensitive for a reason.

Her lenses are not clouded, she will call you out on your bullshit. She will also call herself out on her own bullshit.

Maybe it’s the classes that I take as well. In two of my classes, I am the only Asian.

In these two courses, I am completely immersed. In these two courses, I internalise.

In these two courses, is when the segregation and discrimination is magnified.

It’s a milestone, really. When your classmate comes up to you and is aware of their own privilege, it is monumental.

It’s a milestone, really. When nobody wants to pair up with the only Asian for group discussion, it is in your face.

Back to my class privilege though.

Maybe it’s the classes that I take that are bloody ‘white’ for a reason.

With class privilege, with white privilege, comes the privilege to take the classes I take.

It is either I stick out way too much or shrink too much in a class.

The thing about Jen in America is that she’s focused on debunking the myth of meritocracy.

The thing about Jen in America is that she’s focused on reclaiming the word ‘yellow’ without othering anybody else.

The thing about Jen in America is that she’s focused on challenging the rigid social norms that impede any form of productive exploration.

In the mean time, I will retreat to my familiar well-beaten running path.

In the mean time, I will let my rage and frustration, both cultural and sexual fuel my runs.

My Malaysian Resolution

Then again, I have never really stuck to any resolutions that I set out to achieve. The planning fallacy is very real in my life.

Studying abroad drives me in many ways to preserve my Malaysian identity.

Why preserve? What is there to preserve?

I recently scrolled through the opinions section on The Malaysian Insider website on a sunny Sunday afternoon all snuggled up on the couch. Dear reader, I did not need ice-cream. I found much comfort and solace in reading about the political landscape back home.

So, there’s two sections. Articles in English on my left, articles in Malay on my right.

I don’t touch the articles on my right. 

Why not, right? Malay is after all the official language of the country that I feel most attached with.

I do not notice my refusal to read the articles in Malay until I read on about the opinions in English.

I begin to realise that the more that I read in English, the more I am forced to confront my love-hate relationship with certain aspects of being Malaysian that I am ashamed of. That I choose to reject.

That I choose to only recognise English as my first language.

I then bring myself back to me now on the couch, all snuggled up underneath the blanket on a sunny Sunday evening in Madison, Wisconsin.

Why am I ashamed? Why do I refuse to acknowledge some parts of my Malaysian heritage?

Studying abroad has driven me to seek validation. To seek acceptance.

From whom you might ask? Whose opinions dictate my actions?

Therein lies my weakness, dear reader.

I resolve to try (yes, this transition is foreign as anything, pardon the irony) to read the articles on the right that are written in the Malay language.

I do this because I am not trying to prove or disprove a point, I realise.

I do this because I am not trying to seek validation or acceptance.

I do this because of individual choice (which if you think about it is actually governed by societal influence).

I do this because being Malaysian to me at least has nothing to do with whether or not I have to prove that English is my first language.