Blurred reality

I was washing the dishes when this scene conquered the previous random thoughts in my head. I can’t accurately put a name to the place I was at, nor do I even know where I was. All I know is I was at a cafe somewhere and I was sitting outside on a cobbled road. So I’m assuming I was in Europe, possibly Germany. I had a hot mug of mocha in my hand, it was steaming hot and had a generous serving of whipped cream on it. I was holding a book, it was a Murakami book as usual. I don’t remember who I was with but it didn’t matter.

In that particular scene, I was people-watching during the brief 10-second interlude in that awkward moment of flipping into another chapter of the book. I call it the awkward moment because that is when I usually have to shake myself off the story and bring myself to face reality, and sometimes I’m so immersed in the book that I can’t even discern which is the reality anymore. If I take too long of an interlude between chapters, I lose the connection with the fictional world I was in and succumb to my reality. that’s when I lose interest in the book so I always make a conscious effort to minimize the interlude time.

so back to the scene in my head while I was washing dishes (now I’m confused which is the reality – pretty sure the reality is me washing dishes). It was a very very brief scene in my head, probably not lasting more than 2 seconds in total. But why I even bothered thinking about this incident again the next day, and taking the time to actually type this down, was because of the feelings that overpowered me the moment that scene overtook my thoughts.

It was a feeling of absolute happiness, of utter calmness. Though brief, I felt like that was what I am destined to do, what the purpose of my existence is in this confounding world, what my calling is – to find that moment of happiness.

After the scene had played in my head and I had come back to my reality, I spent the next few minutes wondering why that scene had so much weight and stirred such mixed feelings. This is not the first time it had happen and every time it happens, it was always when I’m doing something completely mundane. When I was showering, when I was putting moisturizer on my face, when I was starting my car, etc.

the worst part is, I’m always left feeling very confused if that scene was a scene from a dream I once had, or a reality I had once lived in, or an alternate reality my alternate self is currently living in. I know this is all quite bullshitty but ever since that first lapse of that scene, I’ve always wanted to re-live it. Maybe that is my ultimate nirvana? Maybe when I reenact that scene in reality, I will achieve the enlightening state that everyone has been yearning for? Funny how my nirvana is when I’m reading a book and people watching somewhere in Europe.

but sometimes i wonder what is reality anymore. The lines between dreams, reality and alternate reality all seem so blurred to me now. All I know is I need to get myself to that cafe, somehow, someday.

1,302

Stay calm and teach

Dear diary,

Today, I saw a diary entry from one of students that got me thinking about what I’ve been doing here.

“Teacher, I want to read more English books so I can speak with you in English. I’m sure I can do it”

I just need to say this. Everything that I’ve done for the past almost one year is so freaking worth it.

From that moment in March when I made the random decision to apply for Teach For Malaysia, from when I decided to accept and sign the offer letter despite resistance from my parents, from when I took weeks to ponder on my decision and to convince everyone that it’ll be worth it, from when I decided to challenge myself even more and choose the most rural school on the list, from the first nerve-wrecking day of school, from the fatigue of 5-hour sleep everyday the first few months of teaching, from the tears I’ve shed after exiting classrooms, from the tears I’ve shed while IN the classrooms, from the many sleepless nights worrying about everyone’s progress, from that moment I heard my illiterate student read flawlessly..

Everything about teaching is so worth it. I don’t know how to articulate this better but if you want the most rewarding job in the world, one that will challenge you beyond your capabilities, one that will teach you humility and kindness, one that will give you as much as you’ve given, do teach.

Teach your siblings, teach your family members, teach your neighbour, volunteer to teach at an orphanage, seriously just teach your heart out!! Teachers are not born, they’re made. I really never thought I could teach ever before because I’ve always been impatient and arrogant, but teaching has taught me the value of patience, selflessness and humility. Teaching has taught me so many things I never thought I could still learn.

I think what I’m about to say will be super cliched, but teaching has taught me the value of life, the meaning of my existence and most importantly, it has taught me to be a much better person.

363

Clutter

Today I realized that I probably need to spring clean my room soon. I’m leaving in a week + and I’m constantly panicking that I will not have time to pack for the next two months. Oh yeah, starting from the end of this month, I’ll be at Genting for my intensive teacher training (I keep getting a :O look whenever I say it’ll be in Genting, but it’s not where the casinos are!).

Ten days….this is crazy. It’s really beginning to dawn upon me that I’m REALLY going to be a teacher in a rural school, that I’m REALLY doing this permanently for the next two years, that I must be REALLY out of my mind. I know I talk about this too much these days but bear with me, I just can’t stop thinking about it!

I mean..I’ve been talking about this for months on end now and everyone around me is quite sick of it too, but it feels so different now that it’s getting so much closer and I’m beginning to slowly start packing my life up for it. I love talking about the fact that I’m doing this, but on days like this when I sit and think about it more, I sometimes feel like my knees start wavering and that I might pee in my pants that all the talk has to translate into action now.

IT’S SO SCARY!!!!!!!!!! BUT I’M SO EXCITED!!!!! BUT SO SCARED!!!!!

Sorry just had to get it out of my system. I’ll probably say the same thing every few days from now on, so pretend you’ve not heard of it before and just layan me ok! It’s just me starting this very foreign journey so out of my comfort zone. It’s like..tasting durian for the first time, so scary but exciting! Or like getting married and having children, or like deciding one day to completely move somewhere far away forever, or like falling in love for the first time, or like getting drunk for the first time, you get the gist.

Most people I talk to don’t understand my fears, cause they think we’re just going to be teachers and how hard can it be right? My mom met a friend during dinner the other day, and she told her that I’m going to be a teacher because “it’s too hard to find another job”. They then proceeded to talk about why it’s a good job not because I’ll be changing lives or making an important impact on the future of tomorrow, but because it’s an “easy job ma! so many days off and get good pension also.”

Why I know this is going to be much harder than just doing what a conventional teacher does (not that that’s not hard already): We are expected to finish our pre-reading of a 300-page book, another 200+ pages of articles on transformational leadership and teaching, and we have to run a community project and write an essay on it, all due BEFORE the training.

After going through 3/4 of the pre-reading, I realized that this is going to be way harder than I’d thought. We’re going to be expected to bring the students in our classrooms (whom I assume will be at least 3 years behind their grade level) up to their respective grade levels. This means we have to make sure that at the end of the year, they would have progressed THREE years from the level they were at in the beginning. This is if they’re only 3 years behind, which I would be very lucky if that’s the case. (context of being 3 years behind: if 13 year olds in my rural school can speak english as well as what’s expected of 10 year olds (can converse in simple English, can write short paragraphs))

It’s intimidating and extremely daunting, but I’ve learned that we have to set very high expectations and goals, and merely going through the syllabus with them is no longer sufficient.

Actually I’m getting a bit rambly, and the content of this post is getting so specific that many people may not be able to relate. But be prepared to read a whole lot of this when I start cause I don’t think I’ll be capable of talking about anything else wtf. Sorry if I’m boring you T__T

On a more personal but very related note, I’ve been an emotional wreck the past month or so. It has started a big grotesque circle of destruction, where I get upset at anything and everything, and I get upset that I’m upset at anything and everything, and THEN I get upset at the fact that I got upset but not do anything about it because I simply can’t control my emotions, repeat cycle of destruction everyday and you get a very drained me.

It’s like I’m PMS-ing every single day of the month of the year.

Why this is related is because if I’m all over the place, if I can’t even keep my emotions in check, how am I going to be able to stand in front of these kids and be a role model?

Umm, maybe I shouldn’t talk about this in public…what if the team reads this and think I’m too unstable for this job wtf

But I’m documenting this, and documenting all my rambly thoughts because I think they’re important. They reflect my exact state of mind prior to my journey, and I want to remember where I started.

I start here, completely scared and nervous, completely uncertain and uncollected, but I know I can do this and I’m determined to progress as much as my students. That’s the spirit….right? *gives self pep talk

570

Forever ago

(a song to accompany this post:)

It’s a melancholic night in exactly a week after I turned 23 in the company of people I love most. Just a week, but feels like forever ago.

Reading status updates of my eager juniors in college excitedly talking about first days of classes, discussing what to wear to the infamous annual major party, bitching about schoolwork. Graduation was 3 month back, but feels like forever ago.

Saw your face upon arrival, suitcases scattered all over the place, handbag slipping off weak shoulder, you smiled your warm glowing smile. I was so in love, but feels like forever ago.

Drunken night by the lake, throwing pebbles off the dock, freezing my ass off in the company of similarly happy tipsy people, exchanging scandalous stories and ambitious life goals. Can remember vividly how hard I partied but working just as hard in the library the day after, but these memories feel like forever ago.

Eagerly awaiting your Skype calls, sour conversations, dim yellow light by bedside, pouring my entire heart out to a pixelated image on my computer screen, falling asleep and waking up to see that you’ve left. I used to do this everyday, but feels like forever ago.

We used to laugh and love so hard, cry and scream, hurt and be hurt, promise and break promises, smile and hope. We used to be happy, but it all feels like forever ago.

Kept trying, fixing, mending, building and destroying and rebuilding and redestroying. We both knew we couldn’t continue fixing what’s already been broken, but we exhausted ourselves and kept trying anyway. I thought I could fix you, and you me, but we came out of this more damaged than ever. The promises of a better tomorrow still ring in my head, but they feel like forever ago.

Today all the forever agos came to me like rude uninvited interrupting guests, their presence so heavy and yet so unimportant, so abrupt and yet so planned. I was certain that if I stared harder into the distance and pretended that I was no longer thinking about them then they’d leave. They didn’t. Then I stopped trying to pretend, and they left as swiftly as they came.

427

Plateau

Something is wrong with me these days, but I just can’t point my finger on what exactly. I would stare into space in class for what seems like a few seconds, letting my mind go blank for a short while, and poof class is over. I would walk back to my room following the route I’ve walked on repetitiously for years now, and poof I arrive at a place I’ve never seen before. I would sleep and dream, and dream, and wake up not knowing which is my reality.

I’m running in circles, chasing my imaginary tail, chasing and chasing, but never grabbing it. I came close to it once, and I was so pleased with finally being able to feel the concreteness in my grasp that I accidentally let it slip away again.

I got an email the other day from a reader, and the moment I read it I felt depressed again. She said she loves my blog, and loves me, and thinks I’m a huge inspiration to her. She said she envies me, envies my passion for life, envies my strength and my persistence. It was all too flattering and I wanted to reply with my usual “thanks for reading my blog!” but I just couldn’t do it, because I was ashamed of myself.

Ashamed that the person on the receiving end of such adulation is just a girl in her torn oversized tee with unkempt hair, without motivation nor passion for anything in her life these days, mulling about counting the days to when she can finally escape from this bubble she has been in for the past 4 years.

Ashamed that whatever zest and excitement that once overfilled her every being have now evaporated into thin air, leaving her grasping in desperation to whatever that’s holding her to her reality these days.

Ashamed that the so called inspiration she is to people is this person who doesn’t even have the motivation and will to learn anymore, this bane of the society who forsakes her opportunity for knowledge to settle for many hours of dwelling in her miseries.

I don’t know what I’m going on and on about.

I took a happiness test a month ago, and I scored every question with a I’M VERY HAPPY, VERY MOTIVATED AND VERY SATISFIED WITH MY LIFE. Funny how the tables have turned in such a short time.

I’m not unhappy, i’m not depressed, i’m just.

That’s the thing, I don’t know what I am right now. I’m in a limbo of feelings, neither here nor there, floating in this weird realm of nothingness.

——–

ok fine. I might have exaggerated a little about how I’m feeling. I’m perfectly fine, and this is just an on and off feeling I’ve been experiencing.

Actually…. maybe just for the past few days WTF.

but it’s still is a big hindrance to my ultimate plan of saving the world.

310

Lean on me

When I was very much younger, I once had a friend I practically worshipped. She was beautiful, tall, intelligent, she was almost perfect. I wondered everyday why she would pick me, a nobody, as her friend. I was short, fat and I once got 78% in Science.

We shared everything about our lives and she would often show me a side of her she didn’t show anyone. Every single stolen minute I had with her made the young me incredibly happy, it was as if we were in a world with noone else but the two of us. We spent hours lying on the grass talking about our deepest darkest secrets, sitting on the sofa exchanging stories of crushes and giggling uncontrollably when her cats lined up to listen to our stories. It was a beautiful friendship, if only she wasn’t so caught up with the whole popularity race.

In school, she was undeniably one of the most popular girls. Guys would constantly try to get her attention while girls would die for her to write in their cute autobiography books. When she was surrounded by these people, she would pretend I meant nothing to her. She would pick on me, call me mean names, make fun of me while everyone laughed along.

It was alright for a while, because I secretly knew deep inside she loved me the most and would do anything for me. But slowly, my self-confidence plummeted. Sometimes the jokes would get too far, and I would sulk and not talk to her for days. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her my issues because I didn’t want to be petty and lose her, so I would avoid her and she would get mad and accused me for being a bad friend.

This weird friendship went on for a while, and we would ping pong back and forth between whispering secrets and giggling, to being mad at each other for days on end, to hurling insults at each other.

One day while we were with a big bunch of people, she jokingly told everyone a secret I had only told her in utmost confidence in the comforts of her room with her cats watching. I was dumbfounded but I laughed along when everyone turned to me and laughed. I kept telling myself that she meant no malice, that she must have in the heat of the moment thought I could take it. I couldn’t, but I kept it inside me.

Our friendship ended that day for me. In my eyes, she was no longer the perfect girl I had loved. The days of lying on the grass became a painful memory instead and I started inching away from her. She had built her confidence at my expense, and I felt utterly stupid for sharing all my secrets with her.

I haven’t spoken to her for what seems like an eternity now, but I realized in that time that maybe if I had confidence in myself to begin with, I wouldn’t have allowed the hurt and hatred to manifest inside me. Maybe then, I could have somehow salvaged a friendship that I had cherished so much before.

But it happened, and I’d lost her. Maybe in another lifetime, we would find each other, lie on the grass with the sun shining brightly above us, and be in our own world again.

485

Somebody loved

I wrote an entry this morning out of pure frustration and hurt. I went on and on about how I’m finally happy now on my blog after months of downright depressing entries, how it’s disheartening that people could prey on my happiness, how I should have known better and be tougher after more than seven years of putting myself out there in the public space, how I’ve decided that so be it and I won’t compromise my honesty and adopt an online persona that’s not really me.

But I didn’t publish it because I realized that it wouldn’t make a difference at all.

So as I lay on my bed surrounded by the warmth of my heated room, I look at the pretty lights I have hanging down the ceiling softly lighting up the pictures of my family and friends and I am reminded of the warmth that matters more to me.

Happy smiles of people who care about me forever etched in a 4×6 piece of paper, birthday cards and cards with memories of love, random meaningful fortune cookie fortunes I’ve amassed throughout my time here.

It was in a random gift store in a hidden corner of a tube station in London that I laid my eyes on this card. As I was reading the words, I could actually smell the salty sea breeze, feel the softness of your hand in mine, feel the giddiness of being drunk with love and fresh air.

Before I knew it, I received the very same card in my mailbox the month after, reminding me of that few seconds I was completely lost in the card’s world of secret rendezvous.

I moved into my very own single last week, and I couldn’t be happier. It was a very small room, smaller than I’d liked, but something I’ve grown to love more each day. The small size of my room makes everything in the room appear more significant, makes every petal of the tulip lights I have hanging brighter, makes every decoration more meaningful.

The best part of moving here has got to be my amazing view. I have direct view of the lake (that is frozen now so it’s just a blanket of whiteness) and the sun shines brightly into my room.

The only problem is I have way too many clothes for this small room, but this will do. I just don’t know how I’m going to bring three full suitcases of clothes back with me later on.

The snow and icicles are melting, a great sign that Spring is on its way. It’s been extremely cold these few days though, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed under my puffy down coat that the flowers will bloom soon. It will come, slowly but surely.

I don’t normally take this route, but I was so glad I did the other day when I saw the river and how pretty it is. I gotta admit that as much as I hate being in a college that is literally in the middle of nowhere, sometimes I really should stop and smell the roses because before I know it, I wouldn’t have the chance to smell them again.

It’s a really nice Friday night for me. I’m huddled under my warm comfy duvet at 3 in the morning listening to The Weepies and I had spent the whole day in amazing company be it on skype or in real life. I can’t believe I had spent the previous few days mulling over the fact that people hate me enough to think the worst of me, that whatever I do will never be good enough because some people just want to see me fail, because truth is, I will rise above all this because I know I’m beyond lucky to be where I am now with who I am with.

And no one’s gonna take that away from me.

821

Blowin’ in the wind

Alright, so my self-proclaimed hiatus and all that “I’m not going to blog anymore/I don’t want to reveal myself to the public anymore” was short-lived wtf. Now that I’m back in Malaysia and have been more happening and cheerful lately, I keep coming back to my blog and thinking of new things to talk about.

Truth is, I have a million things to talk about! I’ve spent many afternoons on my own now, mulling about the house alone indecently dressed in torn oversized tee and shorts, sprawling flat on the cold marble floor to cool off, lying on the couch like a sloth reading a chick lit, catching up on personal blogs I’ve stopped reading for a long time, listening to old songs from CDs I never knew I had, sitting by the window watching kids scream playfully in the pool, rummaging the fridge and every cabinet in the kitchen for food and then suddenly remembering that I’ve gained so much weight since I’ve been back so I keep putting back the food while giving them a “sorry I can’t eat you today” look, helping my mother with household chores which sounds really filial of me but in actual fact said chores only include hanging up the clothes to dry, taking them back in and folding them (also proud to admit that I’ve mastered the important skill of taking more than 10 hangers of clothes at one time with the stick thingy, which is worth boasting about because it takes great wrist flexibility and upper arm strength to be able to maneuver the stick with such precision) (but sad to admit that I cannot fold clothes for a living, mom always comes back from work to see such ugly folded clothes and have to refold them again ;_;) – okay, lost my train of thought from too much digression, totally don’t remember what I wanted to talk about.

Anyway, that’s not the point at all. The point is, I’ve become a much happier person lately. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m in my comfort zone now in this familiar territory, or the fact that the weather has been extremely kind to me, or the fact that I’m fatter (from the happiness? happiness from food?), or the fact that I actually have friends again, or..the fact that I’m in love with someone amazing.

So this is something I’ve been hiding from the public for numerous reasons ranging from the potential harsh judgment I might get for moving on from my previous breakup so easily to dating someone who seems unconventional for me and thus breaking whatever societal norms/rules there are out there. It’s been six months so if you want to judge me for moving on and for being happy, then screw you. All I know is I’ve been trying to make amends for the pain and hurt I’ve put the people who love me through, and whatever that happened should only concern the people who were involved.

I guess in some ways, I’ve come to terms with having people judge me anyway so why not clear things up myself rather than being speculated mindlessly about. Yes, I’ve moved on and have started dating again. Yes, I’m a cruel person for moving on so quickly when I should be mourning for an indefinite amount of time and be all miserable and sad. Yes, I actually allowed myself to find my own happiness, hence increasing my Cruella Devil-o-meter.

In the pursuit of my own seemingly selfish happiness, I may have been branded many ugly names but so be it. At the end of the day, those names will be mere whispers and will be blown away by the wind, the people who throw ugly glances at me will be mere faceless shadows, but I will still remain happy.

Do you want to know a secret?

You have no idea how amazing it is to be back home. I don’t feel like going back to that dreaded place again, the place I never really belonged to. This is where I should be, this is where my heart lies, and this is where I shall return to.

Nothing anyone’s gonna say will make me change my mind.

843

Falling for fall

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of turbulent emotions for me. I should have learned my lesson by now, to always listen to my head and not anything else. Have you ever felt like you wake up knowing exactly what is right or wrong and what you should do, but godammit you just fail every single time?

And fail I did, everyday.

Everyday brings forth another set of unnecessary drama with much pain and confusion, all inflicted by me to people who never once asked for it. I watch as my life (and the life of others) fall apart right before my eyes but I tell myself, that tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I will be a better person, and hopefully I will be strong enough to make the right decisions.

But tomorrow never comes.

Have I ever told you what I want to do in my ideal world in the future? I want to open a preschool someday. I want to change the learning landscape in Malaysia. I want to dream big and pray for a change in how education is perceived. I want to be someone useful, a true contributing member of the society. I want to know that there exists a reason for my existence, however small the reason may be.

And most importantly, I want to go back home and be part of the change. I have always been naive and idealistic, but if idealism is the sole driver of my passion to change things for people who matter to me, for my own kin and countrymen, then I hope with all my heart and soul that I will never have a change in heart.

It’s almost the end of fall here, and seasonal change makes me extremely broody and melancholic. I sit on the steps outside my dorm everyday thinking about the person I once was and the person I have and will become. I think of it so much that that old Suet seems further and further out of reach these days. The only sliver of thread preventing it from escaping my loosening grasp is this familiar environment I have been in for years.

I have a sinking feeling that once I close this chapter of my life, I will become a completely unrecognizable person at the far far end of the spectrum.

And to be honest? I can’t wait till that day comes.

The other day I was late for class and as I was trying to locate my bike, I realized that someone had stolen it. It was upsetting for a while, not because I’d lost something of value but because now I have to walk to a class that I was already late for.

I think to myself now, a week after I last saw my bike, that how things like that hardly upset me anymore. If someone finds it so easy to take something that does not belong to her, then so be it. I just wish she’d return my bike lock. It has stars and hearts and flowers instead of the usual numbers as combinations.

I realized while having my lunch by the lake that I may never return to this beautiful campus again after I graduate. An immediate sense of relief swept over me, followed by a momentary burst of happiness and excitement laced with thoughts of finally venturing into the real world. As I took another bite of my salad, the feelings quickly changed into sadness and despair. After all, I did spend four years here, four years of my first glimpse of adulthood.

As much as I bitch about this place I fondly call the shithole, it does have its moments. It’s where I finally learned to not take education for granted and to view it as a lifelong process of searching and finding and never actually finding anything but it’s the means to the end that matter most. It’s also the backdrop and/or catalyst to most of my eventful soul-searching process.

I guess I am falling for this place, albeit a little too late.

I feel weird asking this, but have you ever felt like you are constantly going to trip and fall flat on your face? I think about it all the time, to the point that the thought of me falling (everywhere, while walking to my table, while getting down from a bus, while shopping) has invaded so much of my private thoughts these days.

“What should I eat for lunch? Mm that looks good, but seems fattening -OH SHIT I AM SO GOING TO TRIP- but I deserve something nice cause I just finished an exam -I AM GOING TO FALL NOW I TELL YOU- ok set I’m ordering that -I AM GOING TO FALL FLAT AND EVERYONE WILL LAUGH AT ME AND IT’LL HURT SO MUCH BUT I’LL TRY MY VERY BEST TO LAUGH IT OFF-”

Here is the funny part. As fate would have it, I have never fallen once. Not even a slight trip, or a slight misstep that might cause a stumble or two, zilch nada. On a normal day, thoughts of me falling invade my mind at least three times a day. On a bad day maybe as much as ten times. On an exceptionally good day, none.

It’s driving me crazy! I’ve gotten to the point that I’m now trying to accidentally fall in an obscure empty place and then try to trick my subconscious into believing that that fall was completely accidental and that I did not will myself into falling and then, maybe, maybe I will stop feeling like I will fall all over the place.

I think something is wrong with me.

You know how sometimes when you’re walking down the street and you try to plan your steps according to how many crunchy dead leaves you can step on? Fall is a great time for all you crunchy-leaves-stepper you. The satisfaction of having your foot crush the already dead leaf to death, the pleasant crackling sound as music to your ears, the trail of unrecognizable bits and pieces of a leaf that had once lived a fruitful life you leave behind.

Fall, it is truly my favorite season of the year.