eso es todo

1. trying to remake yourself is hard. reconsidering every action a second after you’ve initiated it, thinking over things you’d taken for granted up to that moment. i’ve been trying to be more confident and do things like looking at people walking towards me instead of staring off into the distance avidly to avoid their gaze; striking up conversations with people when I see them beyond the same hi/bye; continuing a conversation or turning a topic where i’d normally let it fall flat; sharing a little more about what i feel and what i’ve learnt. i dunno how successful it’s been, probably not very, but if i’m ever going to get to a healthy place where i can survive work-level interaction i’m gonna need practice. and honestly, for someone who claims to think that people are the most important part of life, i don’t show it much in terms of how i talk to people. I think it might stem from how i am as a person because i assume that people don’t want to interact unless they positively show that they do. kind of like how when you go into a shop you don’t want the staff to ask you if you need help… but that’s not universally true. i think that this says something about me, about how most times i kind of only want social interaction on my own terms, which can be informed by anything like my mood, who you are, the people we’re around. but the problem with that is that when you want to dictate the rules of engagement, you’re going to have to initiate. which i feel a lot of the time i’m too passive and unconfident to do. so something else to work on; either become more approachable or more assertive.

i am working on it. i think i’ve talked to more classmates the past week than i have in general- thank you dorothy. it’s bad to keep that kind of scorecard though- it implies that there’s some kind of quota to fulfill, an ideal number after which i can just stop. maybe one day i’ll see this as an end to itself.

2. one of my mods is groupwork-based and i’m the only girl in my team so i’ve been thinking a lot about differences in working style recently, especially after the women in law conference last semester. case in point: i got angry over one of my groupmate’s messages because i thought he was being passive-aggressive by saying that we shouldn’t expect to leave our next meeting at [the time that i had left a previous meeting early]. later i figured that he probably hadn’t meant it like that and that i had probably read too much into it. when i talked about it during lunch with dorothy yesterday we found ourselves ranting about it. she said that he should have thought about the implication of his words and been more careful about it, and that the idea that women are ‘too sensitive’ is annoying because particularity to nuance in interaction isn’t an inherently negative thing, and that it’s probably coded as such because it’s thought to or in fact does feature in most women’s interaction patterns. I was angry because we were socialised to be non-confrontational to operate in a society where assertive women are seen negatively and it seems ridiculous that the onus is now on women to adapt back instead of teaching men to be more emotionally sensitive, especially since the latter stereotype is still alive and well.

also i honestly had no idea if i was being heard by them or not. there was one issue where the other person refused to follow my advice even though i told him multiple times. he put it down to just wanting to finish as fast as possible (no innuendo pls), but i just wondered if it would have been the same if i had been another guy. it’s exhausting and frustrating, tbh- to constantly wonder if there’s something i could actually be working on, like if i could have justified myself more or explained a little better, or if it’s just because i was never going to match up in the first place.

3. the last few weeks have been pretty introspective, i think, in between classes and worrying about falling behind (which i absolutely am, why did i even bother hoping that i wouldn’t, it’s inevitable at this point). been thinking about pretty much every aspect of myself and my ideas that i thought i had accepted. but you can tell yourself a lot of things and it doesn’t make it true. it doesn’t even really mean you believe it. i’m going to have to negotiate that about myself now, kind of ping-pong off diametrically opposed conceptions and try to come to a healthy middle ground. (this is v evasive; i’ve been narrating the process but not the substantive outcome. i guess some things are still too tender to verbalise.)

4. there’s a moment, midway up the first slope we come to in the trail we normally take in botanic gardens, right after a thin copse of trees with a branch of leaves you have to duck if you’re more to the right of the path. it’s relatively early on so normally at that point i’m still breathing through my nose, but far enough away that if i push my speed at the beginning i start to feel a strain. up to that point there’s nothing really noticeable but a hint of pandan, but as you pass it there’s a sudden burst of vanilla. it’s inexplicable and almost always unexpected, but it’s delightful.

5. i might actually be better qualified to discuss general elections after doing some interest-driven but rather extraneous research into Singapore politics for our public law assignment. sadly i still have neither a snappy title or a thesis.

in the trust that up high/ lie here together

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“I absolutely agree. It’s interesting that it’s an experience of standing before a figure of a god, but in the 20th century. This god is broken, this god’s head isn’t there. The speaker tries to make a connection. Attempts to link himself to that source, even broken or lost, of authority, power, vision…

“Otherwise / the curved breast could not dazzle you so.” In Greek sculpture, there’s this line that goes underneath the abdominal muscles and down to the hips. (It doesn’t matter how many sit-ups you do, you can’t get this line.) He’s seeing that line as a smile. The stone otherwise—we keep hearing what it’s not. If it were this, actually broken, we couldn’t know what we do. The translucent cascade, the wild beast’s fur, the burst like a star, figure after figure, and what do these figures have in common? Well, not so much. Light in the case of the lamp and the star, and to some degree maybe the fruit—you can imagine the ripening fruit glowing. But it feels like the speaker here is groping to describe what’s in front of him. Trying to name this power, which is palpable, real, but perhaps essentially unsayable. When we confront a great work of art, a great work of the spirit, we feel something, but how difficult, how impossible it is to say what it is…

It’s very difficult to say rationally why the experience of beauty or spiritual power produces this strong sensation. The poem makes the leap for us that’s like the experience, I think, of seeing the work of art. The speaker tries to take it in, he thinks of all these figures to describe it, none of them quite do it, and then there’s the kind of immediacy of experience that’s similar to the Pound poem. Boom, the whole appears.”

Mark Doty, On ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’

new year’s resolutions

trying to be practical about resolutions this year: focusing on things I could actually get myself to do and that I might make demonstrable progress towards instead of, like, ‘stop procrastinating’- the timeliness of this post tells you as much about how committed i am to that goal, though i have been thinking about writing this ever since the year pushed over, probably. or ‘try harder’, which was last year’s resolution. still have no idea whether i achieved that or not: i’m leaning towards no, because i don’t think i felt the satisfaction that you get after working really hard at something and getting the result you wanted, only a curious sense of deflation in its place. i’m still wondering if that should be considered a conclusive sign of working hard, but that’s probably just me trying to rationalise my lack of effort. still though, i need to start focusing on other parts of my life that isn’t school. feel like i’ve been using school as a reason to justify not working on being a better person for way too long. life is larger than that; as should be my attention span.

1. cook more, at least one meal a week. that means conception, prep and execution- coming in 15 minutes before dinner to help mom stir-fry vegetables doesn’t count. extra points if it’s something new. as an absolute last resort, breakfast counts.

2. be more careful about other people’s feelings. talk in the car in the morning because you know mom feels uncomfortable and bored when it’s silent. tell her more about school and your life because she worries. mediate disputes or at least help to change the topic if you don’t want to get in the middle of it. ask everyone more questions. really want to hear the answer. stop thinking of and then dropping conversational threads because the moment has passed or you’re afraid to say it. it really doesn’t matter that much. if someone texts to talk don’t blow them off. send letters and do nice things for friends who are struggling. it doesn’t have to cure anything. it just has to remind them that you’re on their side. let ying jun tell you about whatever the fuck she wants and put on an interested face as she does it. it won’t fucking kill you. she’s twelve!! so many people are going to ignore what she has to say in the future. don’t be one of the first. those hurt the most. don’t let her become you. that’s the entire point of being older than anyone.

3. you KNOW what’s wrong with parasocial relationships. get past them. stop imagining what people you’ll never know are like and go talk to people that you actually could.

4. be more respectful. be more appreciative. greet people who are there in the room before you, don’t wait to be noticed. thank people for the work they do. leave comments on stuff you like.

5. write more. you end up considering more, processing more, and having more to look back on and think ‘wow, i wasn’t actually as stupid as i remember being when i was __.’

6. talk more to the people around you. find more things to talk to them about. consciously articulate your feelings more. it doesn’t necessarily have to be an exercise in self-involvedness- it can invite and encourage them to talk, because you’ve revealed yourself first. if you want people to share themselves with you, you have to share yourself as well. or alternatively: get better at recognising what those around you want from you.

7. be better than passive aggression and moodiness. let people know what’s going on and they’ll be so much more understanding about it.