"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It is four days til spring;
Already the sun has strength to it
(The rain is quite indignant)

Summer was a lifetime ago
And you are half a world away
In the autumn gloom you faded
I lost you to the winter chill

But it is almost spring, now
And my heart is full of wildflowers
In your tampering, I was tempered;
I bury my childhood with you.

One day, when you are an old man
You will think of summer
But I always dream of spring.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

treading lightly.

Now Playing: Clean by Taylor Swift (you're still all over me like a wine stained dress I can't wear anymore)

I try to tread lightly in this world.

I think people underestimate how much happiness and pain we can inflict in very short spaces of time; so I tried to tread lightly. I like to think that when my former partners think of me, if they think of me at all (and I give them total leave to forget about me entirely; blue hour romances by definition rarely outlive the sunrise) I hope they just think of me with a smile. Like damn, that was a crazy night. I have been hurt so badly by the careless, thoughtless actions of others that I try very hard not to do the same.

Minimizing drama isn't minimizing pain, by the way. If you've hurt me every man and his dog is going to know about it. But the reason why I was single was to spare myself some pain; I never seriously entertained ideas of commitment and I resent people who jump to that conclusion. But sometimes a good night is just a good night, and the leaving, the letting go - you should make that painless, for yourself, and yes, for the person you just met. You don't owe them anything but this.

It's so easy, by the way. I realized that as I got older. Intimacy gives one such power, it's so easy just to rip a fresh wound for the hell of it. It's easy to cut the people close to you without really realizing it. It's easy to let people fade out of memory without giving a thought about what scars you left, and whether they are still fresh.

Not pursuing someone seriously isn't the same as not taking someone seriously. I'm all for relationships that are not meant to stretch into the forever and always; but you have to keep in mind that no matter what happens or how you feel, they will continue. They will live on when you are not a part of their lives and if you don't want to be an active, physical presence, the least you can do is not be a ghost in the shadows.

I'm just feeling very vulnerable at the moment. In my younger and more vulnerable days I had such a cheerful attitude towards being young, being single, being reckless, of naively assuming that people took pleasure in good faith, that when someone cares about you, no matter how little, no matter how ephemeral, it at least meant they wouldn't actively hurt you.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Hi, I have a Gender Studies degree.

Now Playing: Drop the Game by Flume & Chet Faker (give me things that I wanted to know, tell me things that you've done) 

People think that because we all deal with gender and sex and sexuality on a daily basis, we all have a general idea of what we're talking about, and people who end up saying 'as a Gender Studies student...' are wankers.

But here is my defence of the humble Gender Studies student.

Firstly, gender isn't easy. Just because we all have a gender doesn't mean we all understand all of it - in the same way that we're all made of atoms and chemicals and hormones and whatnot and I definitely do not understand any of that. You wouldn't think it from the way that Gender Studies programs are willy nilly pulled together and then wrenched apart, but gender is a mind-bogglingly complicated thing to study. It is a constantly-evolving interdiscplinary field of study that nobody claims to understand fully except for Beyonce fans who spend a lot of time on tumblr but who are actually finance majors. Saying 'I am a Gender studies student' is less of a boast and more of an acknowledgement of the rabbit hole that gender is. Studying Gender Studies, especially as an honours student, has been mostly a constant Jon Snow-moment: I know nothing. All I know is I know nothing.

So people are incredibly arrogant about gender and the study thereof. People argue with Gender Studies students and academics about gender in a way that you would never argue about physics with an actual physicist. Our degrees might not mean anything to the money-grabbing uni admin satan worshippers, but we don't spend all those years staring at a wall. We're academics. We're not in it for the money. There's no fame or glory. We just want people to acknowledge that studying something for years on end will give one the privilege of a somewhat-learned opinion.

Speaking of privilege, the acknowledgement that one has a degree in anything should not be taken purely as a token of intelligence or big-headedness. It is an admission of privilege, as well. The fact that I have a degree probably says more about my privilege and my interests than what I actually know, and that's okay. But I don't think people say 'as a Gender Studies student...' with the intent of intimidating people into shutting up and listening.

People sasy 'I have a Gender Studies degree!' out of exasperation because we want people to understand that the things we know, the things we study, were patiently explained to us by much, much smarter people in the disciplined environment of a classroom, and even then there was fiery debate and people struggled with words. The things and terms that people throw around on social media are not really things that can be explained in a Facebook flame war or in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Just as white people demand that people of colour teach them All the Things on racism, people demand a lot of emotional labour of gender studies students to basically regurgitate their entire degree for free on the internet to an obscenely hostile audience. We just think that if you want to talk about really complicated moral quagmires like sex work or abortion or whatever you might actually want to do your homework first; or at least not tear down the people who have, and have a flimsy bit of paper and no job security to show for it.

Monday, August 01, 2016

C v. P

Now Playing: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire (sometimes I wonder if the world's so small, then we can never get away from sprawl) 

Both Canberrans and Perthians seem to operate under the impression that Canberra and Perth are fairly interchangable, in that they're both small boring isolated places treated with equal disdain by potential tourists and locals alike. But, to paraphrase Tolstoy, all exciting cities are alike, and each boring shithole is boring and shitty in its own special way (I'm an English student, we're great at paraphrasing). I've been living here for six months now, and here are the examples to suggest that Canberra and Perth are not clones divided by the inhospitable desert.

1. Perth is bigger. 

Perth is small. Everyone knows that. Every disgruntled disillusioned suburban Perth child knows that. But Perth is 2 million people small and Canberra is 380,000 people small. You begin to appreciate things like actually having a city centre (a shopping centre doesn't count) and the glories of Transperth-facilitated shenanigans when you move to a teacup. For what it's worth, despite frequent trips to Melbourne and Sydney via the Greyhound, Canberrans don't seem to think that Canberra is small, but Perthians will tell all and sundry about how claustrophobic and monotonous Perth is.

2. Canberra feels impermanent. 

Canberra is, for the most part, students and politicians. Everyone here is from somewhere else, and almost nobody plans to stay here forever because quite frankly that's a terrifying prospect that I refuse to entertain for my own sanity. Part of the oppressive joy of Perth is that it really feels like a place where people are born and live and die whilst the rest of the world pretends that Australia is All The Sydney All The Time.

3. I goeth down, I yelleth Tinder

I was a happy single pringle in Perth. Every semester break we would 'go out', which was really just a euphemism for 'get laid'. I met my partner on Tinder and met everyone else at uni parties and/or on sleazy dance floors. The beach plus the mining boom plus the aggressive anti-intellectualism does tend to attract colourful characters from around the world, and Teenage Me loved all the pro-Brexit/country bumpkin/borderline insane weirdos with the cool accents.

Here I'm practically falling over hand-holdy, face-licky couples, although I might be biased somewhat by the fact that I'm still in the 'everything is a lie unless its pasta' part of the breakup, and I live on top of a bubble tea establishment. Still. Dating here is a thing in a way that it wasn't a thing in Perth, or at least it seemed very optional and just another part of the buffet rather than the set menu. Speaking of food, people here don't eat by themselves. Treating myself was an activity in Perth but an anxiety attack here. Every time I try and eat out on own hairy emancipated don't need no man feminist lonesome I'm treated like some kind of leper, including the nice lady putting my plate of pad thai in front of Mr Imaginary across the table from me.

4. Canberra is prettier. 

The lake. The mountains. The strategically planned city planning and the fucking arboreteum. Is pretty. Is pretty, okay? I'll give you that. I mean, Perth has a beach, and 'Acton Beach' is 300% Not A Beach, but there's only so many times you can consent to brining yourself and slowly rotating over the hot sand like a rotisserie chicken before you lose the plot.

5. Canberra is the well-connected cousin 

I've driven to Sydney and Thredbo from Canberra with no more inconvenience than packing an overnight bag. Drive in any direction from Perth and all you'll get to is Nowhere, Middle Of the Ocean, or Halfway to Singapore. Then again Canberra uses its neighbours as a crutch - anything Canberra doesn't have, you can just nip off to Sydney. It's not like Perth can rely on Bunbury for anything.

6. Perth is the better wannabe 

Both Perth and Canberra are Melbourne Wannabes, but Perth does it slightly better. I am biased, because I like ramen, and Canberra doesn't do ramen.

7. Canberra seems more family friendly 

But I am not the Virgin Mary.

8. CANBERRA IS FUCKING FREEZING 

WHAT IS WITH THIS WEATHER. I CAN'T DEAL. PERTH MIGHT NOT HAVE A DISCERNABLE AUTUMN BUT ASIDE FROM THE GREAT HAILSTORM OF 2010 THE WEATHER DOESN'T TRY TO KILL YOU

(8a. In Canberra's defence, Perth summers are unbearable. A city that close to Antartica should not be so fuckin hot.)

9. Bagging on Perth is so fun all the Perthians join in 

Moaning about Perth is a favourite Perth pastime. 99% of the whinging about Perth is by people who live there. Canberrans seem a tad too attached to Canberra for this baffled Perthian.

10. Perthians are much better at whinging. 

Perthians whine. All the time. But whining gets shit done. We can't fly to Sydney every time we want dim sum or ramen, so we have our own. You can't walk ten steps without running in to a Mecca, of which Canberra only has ONE, and it isn't even a Maxima. Canberra would get better if Canberrans learned the art of the whinge.

Friday, July 29, 2016

花樣年華

There is a beautiful sunset tonight

Two hours later the same sun will shine
On different clouds

A single tear will fall to the earth
And then up to the heavens
And then down on you

The wind will carry away
Words we cannot speak.
And drown out words we must not hear

The earth turned away from us, from our summer
The cold winds rise and sweep away our beauty
All the constellations conspired to drive us apart.

(We were the sunburnt, star-crossed lovers
But now my heart is buried in the ice)

Two hours later the sun will shine
On different thighs

I am one eye open
And you are two eyes blind.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

유령

I had to leave.

I don't know if it was fear or courage;
But it was not my choice to make

You don't know.
You don't know the little girl I left at home
Each time I got in your car

She doesn't have time for you, and me.
She gave up on her white knight a long time ago;
She has no energy for destiny.

I had to go, for her.
Because she never leaves, and they always did
When I am alone, she is with me, and I have to carry her
I owe it to her.
I owe it to her red brick, brown thistle childhood
When words clawed at her flesh like thorns
When they tried to break her
And she refused them all.

She taught me that all you have is whatever you make
And you are a monster of my own creation
You are the love of my dreams and you haunt my nights
And I am sorry I made you.
I should have left you to the heat.

And when you killed me, she clung to life
You snapped me in half, but she survived

You are the deafening silence
You are the hooded figure in the shadows

Perhaps you do not exist.
They always took great delight in tormenting me

You are not the worst;
You will not be the last.

But still, I bleed.
(Silently).

When I lost you, they wouldn't let me cry
And when you killed me, they wouldn't let me die.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dislocated

I was born on a faultline
(I am your fault)

Heaven and earth-
Wrench me apart

I am a liar
I don't know where my loyalties lie

I loved you
You were the only concrete thing in my life

I was born on the border
(I gave suck on barbed wire)

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY
I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO BREATHE
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO BE

I loved you your arrogance
In your certainty I thought I saw destiny

I was born a traitor
Come, come, friendly fire

The enemy of the enemy is another enemy

I am your hazel eyes
I live such a hazel life

I have always disappointed
Look, see
I have my papers
Never mind the name

I made a deal with the devil
I was four;
You had marble hands

It's so much safer, on your own
I remember your marble hands around my throat

I've always been on my own
Hands up, hands up, hands up where I can see them
(You can't see them in this light)

he's dead now.

I AM NOT ONE OF YOU.
I AM BETTER THAN YOU WILL EVER BE.

(thus, without a kiss, I die.
fire and ice, etc.
see, I am one of you, after all
burn me with all my books, please.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I don't remember your face, anymore
Your eyes were green, I suppose

I remember your form in the moonlight
Like a statue, marble and indifferent

I only remember your arms
How your skin burned in the icy night

There is a difference between you and I
The spark cast a warm glow on you

And cast me in shadow

I am plain, but you are barefaced;
With bared teeth

What is it about you and your need
To pick wings off flies?

Did you resent my lonely skies?

You can hardly envy now
My lonely nights

They say all men aim for the sun

I am only another body for you to climb over
(I thought I was the sun)

I don't remember your face, anymore
Your eyes were green, I suppose
But I saw your true colours fly

Monday, July 04, 2016

Do not console yourself
With ideas of how strong I am
When you poise to strike

Do not soothe yourself
With ideas that I might survive
When you aim the killing blow

Do not fool yourself;
I am as soft and sweet
As you remember me to be

I have only a dog's courage --
To bite back when bitten

If you aim for my life
You do not do it because I am strong;
You do it because you can  

Do what you will;
But I am not strong enough to excuse you

And when it is done
I will not be strong enough to forgive.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

the call of the mundane

Now Playing: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman (you've got to make a decision, leave tonight or live and die this way) 

All my life, I've been different. Weird. Unique. Talented. Pariah. Extraordinary. Freak.

I've never had much by way of normal. I have a weird body and a weird brain and I'm always compelled to do weird things. Doctors stare at me in amazement, and I've been 'the clever one' for as long as I can remember. I am very, very obviously Asian, but not typically Asian. I've never sat comfortably with ordinary things. I've always had things people can't have, or don't want to have, and I always find it impossible to procure what everyone else seems to have.

I thought I had made peace with my oddities; to the point where I no longer feel comfortable blending in. But the call of the ordinary has been...an extraordinarily difficult thing to wrestle with.

When I was younger I wanted what all little girls wanted. I wanted to be admired and adored and suffocated with love. I've been reading A Song of Ice and Fire and I'm an avid Game of Thrones fan and as much as little Sansa Stark is an insufferably annoying character, I see so much of myself in her. I had crazy dreams because I had given up on the ordinary ones. But I never stopped wanting.

Being a late bloomer is weird. Just when everyone else is getting tired of it, you're just getting started. When life is calling you to difficult, complicated, adult things, you're that little woman with the wonderful boyfriend with a fast car, only you're not such a little woman anymore. They don't give prizes for how long you can stay in bed with someone. Sweet nothings are not diplomas or job offers or career opportunities. But they are so sweet, and wrenching myself out of that reverie has left scars that don't seem to be healing anytime soon.

I don't think anyone has really appreciated how lonely I have been, my whole life. I remember being thirteen, sitting at the back of my new classroom, trying to inhale all the set texts everyone else had already read. I remember sitting alone, reading alone, doing everything alone. I remember admiring, loving, lusting, craving from a distance, not even daring to put words to the abstract ache. I remember how easily a younger and more vulnerable self fell into the most obvious traps, of pretty words and pretty smiles, desperate for attention. I remember using my loneliness as armour, finding such solace in fleeting blue hour romances, never daring to get too close, always wanting to end up alone, because being alone meant being safe. I look back at all the times I have succumbed to the call of the mundane and been burned.

I've wanted to be extraordinary my whole life. It was the only thing that kept me going. I wanted to become so big and tall that nobody would ever touch me, nobody would ever hurt me, I wanted to look down on everyone and spit on them all. Admitting to myself that I really just want to be happy, that maybe becoming extraordinary and becoming happy aren't the same thing, that maybe a lot of the reason why I am so unhappy is because I am so isolated...it's not an easy thing to wrap your head around, when you've formed your whole identity around being different.

I've always rejected being ordinary. It was easy for me to sneer at the mundane, because I never had it. The white middle class life was never something I could aspire to; I grew up always being reminded that I am not one of them. I took it in stride, during my lonely, angry childhood; if I couldn't be one of them, I'd be a whole other thing entirely. But now as I get older, as the challenges ahead are harder and the rewards I reap are not always wonderful in a wonderfully uncomplicated way...I do feel old, childish insecurities creep in. I keep telling myself that armour is not the answer, that turning myself into a block of ice, whilst I probably have every right to do so, will only hurt myself. But people take being warm and sweet as weakness, and there seems to be no shortage of people willing to exploit perceived vulnerability.

Girls my age are not meant to worry about dying alone, and I don't. I really don't. I know how my life is today is not how it's going to be forever, for better or for worse. But loneliness is a real, present, thing, right now, and I'm sick of it being constantly invalidated. I have started on a long, lonely path, and I don't know if I'll make it. And I don't know if I'll like where I end up.