Sunday, October 25, 2009

Word of the Moment : Melange

All I feel now is...a swirly mess, a rainbow shake-down, knock-out blended mix of proteins and sugars and other good stuff and maybe some bad stuff and a little bit of the stuff that's about to blow.

Randomly, I realise that when we eat any processed food or even drink a milkshake, what we say in in it: say a banana and strawberry milkshake - isn't really bananas or strawberries anymore. They've been transformed into a shadow of their true fruitiness and mixed in with other things and you may get a hint of it, but its not, truly, a banana.

I also realised that being with people that I dislike/annoy me drains me of energy. Trying to ignore them, trying not to be visibly annoyed with them, being upset with myself for not liking them when they're not bad people (but annoying, which sometimes feels much worse - give me a charming rogue over an annoying goody-two-shoes prat for company any day) slowly saps me of any ability to treat the other people around me nicely as well. I guess this is part of growing up as well. As an adult everyone has to face people they dislike and hide it. Perhaps its their boss, or their co-worker, or their employees, or their other acquaintances - either way, there's no way to avoid them. I don't want to spend my time hating people. But it seems impossible to be neutral about it - some people annoy you just by inhabiting the same space as you.

Or maybe I'm just grouchy due to hormonal imbalances. But this makes me tired and unable to treat the people I love and respect the way I want to. I guess there is a flip side to being really emotionally affected by my interactions with people. They can give you lows as well as highs.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Watching Yasmin Ahmad commercials always makes me nostalgic for a country and a people far away. One important aspect of me is how people dress - the old t-shirts, the hand-me-down shorts, the faded all that there is an assumption that dress really isn't that important. The most beautiful, courageous, eloquent people in her movies are often sloppily dressed most of the time. They do dress up, but it is for an occasion, a special enough reason so that even the meticulous preparation is a joyous task. A first date. A performance. A wedding. A raya celebration. These are the milestones that call for the best representation of oneself, and one obligingly steps up to task.

Contrast to American private colleges. Every season requires a new wardrobe. People say "the most important thing to me is closet space! Thank God there's enough here to fit all my clothes!" My three suitcases of stuff, which to me seemed like too much already, only half-filled my expansive closet. My roommate's is bursting with cute dresses and shorts and jeans and pretty tops. There are so many "extra things" - make-up, lip gloss, hair bands, hats, tights, bags, shoes (don't even start)...that need to be diversified for different occassions - and those mornings when you wake up and you "feel" a certain way and need to dress how you feel.

Clothes become an extension of your personality, a declaration of yourself to the world in the commercial choices that you put on your body. It becomes a barometer of taste and standards, a discreet unspoken measure of economic position.

Oh these first-world consumers who buy and throw as if the price you paid in that shop means you have absolved all responsibility to the rest of us. I wish I could walk around in my faded t-shirts, my big unflattering shorts, my grey trackpants, my kind-of worn out pretty tops and my perennial 365-days-a-year slippers as I would at home. You have made me ashamed of what I wear because I am reduced only to that in your minds. I wish you would understand that 1 US dollar is 3.4 ringgit and a relatively cheap 16 dollar sweater that you'd buy in a second costs 55 ringgit which is what I used to earn working 14 hours in my more-than-minimum-wage job after high school. I know you have people struggling with economic problems too. But that is all swept away in the mania for new clothes and cuteness and fashion sensibilities.

I asked for this, in a way. I have intruded your modest upper-middle class enclaves with the rise of affirmative action and need-based scholarship. I do not belong here and maybe I show it. But look beyond that and see my struggle every day, in every outfit I pore long and hard over, balancing budget constraints and the desire to look as beautiful and put-together as everyone else. My ultimately-purposeless labor to fit in with the rest of you.

I'm not the only one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Tears you apart, it really does. Maybe what I have isn't love, because how can love hurt you so much?
The main task now is not to think, not to think of what happened or how messy and horrible everything seems because we squish and squash our hearts together and didn't handle them gently. Like flowers here today and wilted tomorrow. That's what hearts are like, so handle gently, hold tenderly.