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Things That Happened in January

I hadn’t been able to find the time to post about what happened in January this year. I would say though that it’s not something I’d like to think or talk about candidly because it’s one of my darkest days, and I am glad I’m over the entire episode.

So I had a crappy job last year. It only started getting crappy sometime in August 2019 because I switched bosses, and I started the job in March 2019. The crappiness came to a head sometime in January 2020. For my friends who were there for me or knew the story, I was probably a huge mess, but thanks for always being there.

My former boss (well, reporting officer would be a more appropriate term) yelled at me 7 times in a month, probably from December 2019 to January 2020. Each time she yelled I didn’t retaliate, and I mostly stayed quiet. It was not really out of fear that I did that, but I’ve never been too keen on being very dramatic in public, didn’t wanna start then, and I actually had never encountered such a situation at work so I didn’t really know how to manage.

After yelling at me for the 6th or 7th time (I would have to check my notes but frankly I’ve put most of these things to dust), I think she was summoned to the Deputy Director’s room to explain the situation. This happened the first week of January. The Deputy Director of the department I worked in is male, and after she left his room, he shot me a rather rude email about wanting to speak to me. Of course I asked what it was about. He said it’s just a follow up to some meeting we had in November 2019 (an appraisal of my work done between August and November). I’m not sure if it’s practised in the regular world, but to pit someone who’s been at a portfolio for three months against someone who’s been at the job between 1 to 5 years, I thought it was just the stupidest thing!

Promptly at 2pm the same afternoon I brought my computer and knocked on his door. He laughed nervously when he saw me with my computer, and I said in a no-nonsense tone, how else would I show evidence?

To cut a stupid story short, I explained what was wrong with my reporting officer, then things blew out of proportion after that, and the story became “Bonneka was being mean to her reporting officer”.

The head of department spoke to my reporting officer in the third week of January, and the latter exited the office after the conversation, and cried at the unfairness of it all, while I just sat there thinking “first you yelled at someone seven goddamned times, then now you cry foul??”

Contrary to what my face looks like most of the time (i.e. resting bitch face), I am not an angry person all the time. But this made me so angry! It made me so angry that I wanted to kill myself.

I wasn’t entirely honest with people. If I hadn’t off-ed myself that evening (Wednesday) I was sure I’d have come to work and murdered my reporting officer. Maybe if not murder, just beat her to a pulp? Those weren’t healthy thoughts, so I did the next best thing I could: I checked myself into the psych ward. I stayed for two days in the hospital and was given a 10-day hospitalisation leave.

The minute I stepped into the office in February 2020 after my hospitalisation leave, I sent in my resignation and was out by the following week because of all the vacation days I had.

Sometimes when I quit jobs I still feel a bit of sadness, but at this particular job I smiled from ear to ear the minute IT took away my computer. While I didn’t block anyone, I was and still am not really keen on contacting anyone from that awful workplace.

A week before I left, I made a comment to the Deputy Director regarding my successor (I did not willingly make the comment, but he forced my hand and I already could not give half a shit to be nice or professional anymore).

I told him if my reporting officer was not able to articulate properly in English (I could always see that she translated everything from Chinese to English in her head; in the first place she isn’t very bright), then they should really hire someone who could speak Chinese. Apparently my comment could qualify as a “racist” remark, so after all that crap about being methodical in my complaints, and remaining professional despite being abused at my workplace, the story concluded with “Bonneka being very controversial and confrontational”. I just smiled when someone told me that, and I told him he didn’t need to teach me how to behave in a workplace.

I have mental illness, and it so far has not impaired my judgment when it comes to work and being professional, although I must say I am still naïve and believe that everyone has good and bad.

I now understand we can’t throw caution to the wind about certain things, and if a person is a rotten apple and they have absolutely no redeeming qualities then so be it. No point debating or trying to reason!

This was frankly the only job I was overjoyed and too eager to leave, and I am glad I no longer work there. I’m not even interested in drama that comes after my departure, I don’t want to know anything, and I keep my interactions with my former colleagues to the minimum (of course I’d like to choose going NO CONTACT, but the industry is small, and so-and-so would always know some other so-and-sos).

Never in my life had I been so affected by work that I’d voluntarily check myself into the hospital, but there’s always a first for everything. Kind of like fisting and anal in sex.

That’s out of my system (woo-hoo!), and I’ll tell you more about my mental health in my next post.

Artsy Things I Like to Watch and See

Most of the activities I am up to require little physical exertion. I prefer quiet activities.

Lately, I have been obsessed with art restoration, and any day I have twenty or so minutes to spare, I watch art conservator Julian Baumgartner’s videos. You can find him and his work here, here, and here.

I didn’t receive a formal art education (something I sometimes still feel sore about!), so a lot of what I know happens by chance; I read, watch a lot of YouTube, and did a short portion in a university Humanities class analysing paintings, and that only covered the basics. In my late twenties I went to learn life drawing, and progressed to learn oil painting. It’s the medium I am most comfortable with.

I first came across the concept of art restoration in an Elementary episode. The idea still intrigues me, because good restoration is a combination of patience, good art education, some talent in painting and colour, tones, and composition, and interest to conduct research about the artwork, and a high level of expectations when it comes to outcomes and customer satisfaction.

These are some of my favourite videos:

While Baumgartner’s videos are not meant to be step-by-step instructional guides to art restoration, he explains what he does to artwork that comes through his studio’s doors. You can always expect to see how he uses different solvents and cotton swabs to first test portions on what reacts well to remove dirt, grime, varnish and other previous conservations. My favourite part of his videos is always the touching up. I would totally buy his palettes. He is also very organised and meticulous in his work, and that is something I find extremely sexy.

Other forms of art I enjoy consuming are of course music, other visual arts such as architecture (I love patterns), graphic design, ceramics (I sometimes watch people make stuff from clay, although usually the texture of the finished product makes me anxious), and applied arts such as fashion. I am not really well-informed about artists’ decisions or history behind an artwork, but if it is pleasing to my eyes and ears, I don’t really care or think much about it. I also do not read anything “literature” these days; my choice for books is self-help.

S recently introduced me to Zoe Hong, and I am very interested to learn to draw clothes, but I do not have the confidence. Gesture drawing/sketching was tough for me when I took classes years ago, so I cannot begin to imagine how spectacularly I would fail.

Museums are always my go-to when I need some inspiration (not that I do any art worth mentioning) and I like going to Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum, and I hate to admit this, National Gallery Singapore. Thank you to all the taxpayers who contribute to nation-building, and make this possible for me. (Not sarcastic)

I would like to spend the year making a lot of art. I do not foresee sharing any of my art online, not because I am private, but because I am just so lazy to take photos nicely.

What sort of art do you like?

Things I Did Today

I have calmed down a bit. I think it is crucial as a person living with mental illness that I have a list of things to do (I won’t use the word ‘accomplish’) in a day because I feel really lousy when I don’t appear productive.

With that being said, even if I don’t feel like doing anything but maybe I take a shower or read, it should count for something.

Today I had eleven items on the list. At 2304 hours I have completed 7 items on the list. 2 will not be accomplished today. The rest of the 52 minutes will be spent doing the final two items I can muster some energy for.

At the end of the day, I have concluded that my list of items will be adjusted. I will do less than 11 items in a day, but focus on items that take longer or more brain power to do.

We will see tomorrow.

I have already taken my meds. I read a lot today (not scheduled), on top of doing the 7 items on my list.

Mental Illness Kicks My Ass

Almost a month ago I took a shower upon reaching home from work, fed my cat, and got ready to bring myself to the hospital. I had suicidal thoughts, but I now feel I either would have killed myself then or my boss the next day (seemed like a good idea at the time, she deserved anything bad coming her way), and neither scenario was ideal, so I’d better checked into the hospital.

I cried for two hours before reaching the hospital.

What a crazy start to the decade.

I was hospitalised for two days, and received hospitalisation leave for ten days.

The day I got back to work (two weeks ago) I handed in my resignation. My job requires a month’s notice but because I had so much leave I utilised all and have been at home since a week ago.

I didn’t and still don’t feel good about checking myself into the hospital. I think it was the weakest thing I did in my life. Xanax calms me, but I hate the idea of taking it. Risperidone spikes my sugar level, but coupled with lithium I sleep better.

Then the whole concept of living with mental illness saddens me and every time I feel I’ve made some progress, I will regress in other aspects, and I feel I might as well not take my medicine. I also feel isolated and very far away from my loved ones. They try to understand, and I am not good at articulating everything to them even though I jot notes about how I am feeling. It gets frustrating.

It is a constant battle. I try to read about bipolar to understand what I am dealing with, but I also don’t relate to accounts from other people living with bipolar, so I am not sure how to move forward.

There are so many things to sort out now, starting with getting enough sleep and immersing myself in activities that actually bring me some joy, anything short of mania.

I also don’t want to hang out with people, but I met my social obligations these past two weeks, and I was truly happy spending time with family and friends.

How do you deal with your mental illness? Do you obsess about it? Or do you take your medicine, shut up and ride the waves?

My Father

If you’re looking for an inspirational story about father figures, this will not be it. Fair warning.

In real life I don’t exactly enjoy talking about people. I do talk about people and I try to do it only when there’s a good example to learn. Sometimes to attach meaning to a behaviour, especially when it’s peculiar, I would talk about people. I also like to postulate mental illnesses people have by what they post on social media, or how they behave in real life. We are after all humans. We interact with people. Sometimes we just need to bitch about people to get shit out of our system.

My dad just got home five minutes ago. He sat on the couch and started teasing my cat. As a proud and a bit indulgent cat mom, I do not believe, at all, in manhandling my cat, well, this extends to the entire animal kingdom (unless one’s life is threatened). I do not look at my cat as though he is so precious and not naughty. He has his moments, and is the chief reason my house is not immaculate. It’s like having a three-year-old. But he is generally a good cat, enjoys my company, and accompanies me do things around the house. The feelings I have about my cat are mostly of affection. I asked my dad why he would tease or even pinch my cat. He had no answer, and quickly changed the topic to some other cat dying about five minutes where we stayed. I had no interest to listen.

That sums up the relationship I have with my father. Almost non-existent, and if we talked, it would somehow lead to an argument or misunderstanding. The latter happens more than the former, and while I wouldn’t say our relationship deteriorated after my mom’s death, I would say I do not particularly care for his presence. In fact, before my mom died I had almost zero interaction with him. After her death I thought OK, this was who I had left, so maybe show some respect or filial piety. I used to wonder if he were smarter, or a good conversationalist, or a supportive father, would I have liked him more? Maybe. I wouldn’t know, and it’s not something I’d now waste my time ruminating. Why put myself through agony?

We are as different as night and day. He usually talks shit about me to my other siblings when I am not around to hear, so I am not surprised he doesn’t have friends. He had colleagues, I don’t know many, or any of them, and one sleazy ex-colleague of his actually texted me last week and called to “hear my voice” and ask for a selfie. I did not mention it to my dad because it’s not something I couldn’t handle. Blocking people on an app is not difficult. Even before blocking I can opt to ignore the calls and messages. I’m about to go on a rant about men being horny, but this entry is about my dad so we’ll stick to that.

I once mentioned to my sister that when he died in future I was certain it’d just be a handful of us who would turn up for the funeral (mean, I know, but it would be true).

I am saying all this because for single people (meaning not married, but maybe you’re a woman in a relationship with a man) this is important if you are considering a man to be your life partner. Maybe someday you would like to have children, too. While you can choose the person you marry, your children can’t choose their parents. There may be detrimental effects when you make wrong choices. I think when we date someone, and as the relationship progresses, it is important to talk about values, and compatibility. Most people I dated were on the same page. We were, still are, individually, and collectively, not pressured by society or whoever to give birth to a few children.

My dad was mostly absent, both physically and emotionally, when I was growing up, and I’ve already told you the story about how he married another woman while still married to my mom. When he was in Singapore (he mostly worked overseas) we would talk sometimes but they’re weird questions asked by a non-intellectual adult (which was fine, he didn’t have much education in the first place). I also don’t blame him at all for my daddy issues (thankfully, not severe!) even if he ’caused’ them. I am more comfortable dating much older men, well except for S (who is my age, but is like a dad, a mom, a lover, a brother, a business partner and above all, a best friend), and while I joke sometimes about daddy issues, they are real, I exhibit one trait strongly, and it’s not what I wish I have, but I am well aware, but not too concerned.

11 months ago I was ready to commit suicide. I picked a date. Told my best friend. She freaked out. And I still don’t know what transpired between the time I told her and the time my brother appeared at my doorstep. He cried like a child. I tersely told him mental health wasn’t a topic I felt comfortable talking to him about, and he just stayed at my house well into the evening. When my brother asked my dad if he knew anything about it, my dad got extremely defensive and went “She never tells me anything!” and behaved as though this was none of his business. (I don’t want to get into the story about suicide, because it kills the mood, but this really happened).

For months after that I was not allowed to be in a room unaccompanied, and if I wanted any privacy I could have it only with the door unlocked. People are bad at preventing other people from committing suicide. I did tell them actually I wouldn’t pick a painful death, such as slashing my wrists or jugular veins, or jumping off from a tall building, or I don’t know, run through traffic. Those aren’t my style.

Also, if you are reading this randomly, and we don’t know each other, and for some reason you are contemplating suicide, I have been there many times. Those were my darkest days. I definitely do not respond well to ‘Think of all the people you’re leaving behind’. When death seems like the only option, when you feel so lonely, so isolated, people won’t even enter your mind. In a less savoury fashion…. I meant to say ‘who gives a shit?’ I certainly didn’t all those times. I only thought about my mom when she was alive, because I knew it would have killed her to bury her child, and then my cat. I do not have sage advice, but think of whatever you are going through as temporary. I needed a lot of reminders for this over the years, S does it all the time for me, but think of the situation as temporary. My heart goes out to you, you truly matter, so just sit down for a bit, and keep telling yourself the situation is temporary. But seek help from a professional. The hospital is always willing to help. You probably would have to wait, but that’s also temporary, so just do yourself this tiny favour by going to the hospital.

If you’re not suicidal, but if your loved one exhibits harmful behaviour (mentally), it doesn’t hurt to show a lot of support by talking to them, listening, giving them a huge hug and if you know you’re not equipped to help them, it is okay to ask if they would like to see a doctor, and bring them there.

Back to my dad.

My dad has his good points. He’s not lazy about work, and I inherited that from him and my mom. He went for a lot of upgrading courses despite not having a lot of formal education. But he doesn’t give a shit about anything, or anyone else. Most people have told me most Asian men are like that. They’re composed. They’re naturally manly. They don’t show emotions. The reason they’re not loving towards their wives or female loved ones is because the minute they show ‘softness’ women will climb all over their heads. I just cannot get behind this perspective.

I think as a conclusion, all of us have good and bad points. The universe lets us have relationships with people, both good and bad, to allow us to learn lessons. By being exposed to things I do not find desirable, I indirectly learn about patience, about resilience. I am aware there are things I should avoid doing, and to be more mindful about how I behave and interact with people. My dad, despite being responsible for some of my mental illness, helps me realise that even when he mistreated me, or didn’t care, I could choose the way I react, and the way I want to live my life.

Christmas Spirit

I don’t celebrate Christmas in a religious sense, although over the years I did go to parties and exchange gifts with friends.

My job before this could qualify as multi-national, with the bulk being Singaporeans, and the headquarters in the US did not celebrate religious holidays so days leading up to Christmas were never festive at the office. No decorations. No gingerbread cookies or cakes or panettone or Mariah Carey whistlesinging all she wanted for Christmas was me from the radio. It worked out fine. Nobody cried or bitched or moaned.

At my current workplace (my division at least), there was a Christmas game played on the eve of, and it was something like Secret Santa, but I can’t tell you the actual name in case someone Googled and landed on my blog. I do not wish to be dooced, no matter how much I bitch about my job (the bitching itself is a second job haha).

Each person had to bring a gift of minimum 10 dollar value, and we had to pick a number which let us know the order we could pick out a random gift. And the chosen gift would be unwrapped, and the next person could either steal the previous gift, or pick another unopened gift. Popular gifts would naturally be “stolen”, and each popular gift could only be stolen a maximum of three times.

I am lazy by nature and I didn’t want to think about whether a gift was perfect or useful, or waste a lot of time running to and fro a few stores, so I bought a 20 dollar voucher as a contribution to the game. Ten dollars sounded cheap, anything above 20 would be ass-kissing or telling how badly you wanted to be liked at the workplace, so 20 it was (it was the sweet spot!). The thing about me is while I don’t like any of my colleagues, I am not generally a stingy person, I will die one day and can’t instruct my living relatives to bury my money with me, but my morals also didn’t want anyone feeling like butt when they ended up with my gift.

Like I’ve mentioned more than once here, this job teaches me a lot about people, and I learn a lot about being an average (or ‘quintessentially’) Singaporean employee.

I have worked with a lot of Singaporeans. I have made some good friends from those jobs and I am extremely lucky to beat the odds (in any country!), but I find it hard to get along with most of my colleagues (in all workplaces but one). This is my experience, and I’m not saying this is the ONLY experience that matters or is true or correct, and if I could say so myself, I am still hopeful that I will eventually end up at a job I like and treasure and find rewarding. Working on it!

My experiences were also half my fault because I have this thing called a personality and I somehow appear as if I don’t give a shit about anything. Either that or that I am boring with boring hobbies. Or they think I am aloof and super action (Singaporean slang for show-off)!

Most Singaporeans I meet at a workplace are people I don’t wish to hang out with after 6pm. The following descriptions of people could be universal, I frankly don’t care:

There always is the depressed colleague who likes to bitch and moan without doing anything different to ameliorate their situations, so it gets tough to hold a conversation after a month because you just want them to shut their pie holes, then there’s the dumb person, who is actually not dumb, very careful not to be offensive or draw attention to themselves, he or she does okay not excellent but okay, but seems to know what it takes to rise up the ranks (they’re not brilliant at all, but their ability to get the promotion regularly maybe shows that hey they are brilliant after all!), then you have a bunch of gossips (these people lie on a spectrum; some just like to talk a lot about harmless things such as ‘Mandy is not good at housework but her husband still loves her despite this flaw’, then you have the types who go around telling other people what other people said and just standing back to watch the whole world burn (I don’t like this type or want to be associated with them so I usually pretend I don’t hear what they say) and then anything in between).

Most Singaporeans I work with don’t really read, and they always look lost when there is uncomfortable silence and I offer to talk about current affairs or pop culture and they’re the ones inviting me for lunch. Reading maybe isn’t crucial at work, I don’t know, you just read emails, right? What sort of intelligence do you need beyond that? You just do your work and go home.

Some Singaporeans aren’t able to string a proper sentence. Some don’t understand tone or basic courtesy and always need to be right even though their arguments aren’t cogent at all. Then somehow I am the douchebag because I ask ‘What was that again?’ when they put on that impatient tone and write aggressive-aggressive emails.

Most that I met or still meet weren’t or aren’t open-minded (I don’t mean about life stuff, I mean even at work). Things have always been done this way, so the only times policies or processes are questioned would be during the promotion exercise where everyone suddenly wants to prove that YES THEY CAN THINK. YES THEY CAN IMPROVE. YES THEY DESERVE THIS PROMOTION SO YES NOW THEY ARE QUESTIONING POLICIES WHATCHU GONNA DO ABOUT THAT HUH, CRYSTAL?

In the first place most of the policies were created because of an urgent need (duh, also, some people just wanted to give themselves work sometimes to appear educated and fanschy pantschy or cover their buttholes before they get fucked), and while at that point those policies or processes satisfied that particular need in some form, things evolved, these people and their bosses usually didn’t think about how logical, airtight, or useful the policies were, and due to lack of experience, had no foresight whatsoever, and never realised that oops, these policies couldn’t remain relevant or worse, that they had a lot of holes.

I got carried away.

My gift was apparently popular. It got stolen three times. There were other good gifts too, but other gifts were useless knick knacks such as towels or tea bags or a snow globe or bags. I was inclined to think these were stuff already lying around in their homes and what better way to get rid of these stuff than contribute them to a Christmas game?

I think if I’m still at this job next Christmas I will still purchase a similar gift but will opt out of participating to receive a gift. Not being a snob or pedantic or OMG CHRISTMAS GIFTS MUST BE LIKE THIS AND THAT (with hand gestures and all), but I really don’t like hoarding things I don’t want or need. I actually deposited the Christmas gifts I received from colleagues this year into the trash can at the mall after picking out the okay or cool ones (which I gave away). I kept two.

Nevertheless, Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! ❤

The Swimming Pool

Two weeks ago, five minutes before I switched off the computer on a Friday evening, my boss came up to me, hissed and yelled at me to quickly send the email out! while I sat there perplexed. Her instructions the day before were to make sure 1) I let her vet every single detail before I sent it, and 2) when I had already told her there were some iffy details that needed to be addressed, she had 3) asked me to clarify with the person. She had neither vetted the work nor approved it for circulation. I then emailed to clarify the details with our colleague, and my boss had gotten mad, and shot me an email to tell me I should just send the email already! Most of the time, similar types of miscommunication with her happen, and I chalk it up to her inability to communicate properly. She has pulled similar stunts with PowerPoint presentations; it was completely all right for her to present data in a certain manner, but God forbid if I asked if the data could be presented in a similar manner to hers (suddenly the manner is WRONG! Use your brain!). To be on the safe side, I had copied her original PowerPoint slides to my desktop and if she ever raised this, I would just show her what the original was. A lot of people in my personal life tell me not to argue, just show some respect, and follow her instructions properly. I could, but her instructions and rules are always random, and I have come to accept that if it’s not the font, it’s the colour, if it’s not the colour, it’s something else. At this point I don’t care about being efficient or right or how to improve as an employee. My boss is also not the person paying me my salary; I keep reminding myself she is merely my reporting officer who is also getting paid by the organisation. I do believe that I could learn about people and behaviour at this job (i.e. stupid behaviour to note, and avoid doing) and because jobs are scarce now, my options are limited.

During dinner and a movie that evening I realised I could not concentrate on anything. Although I have a sense of humour about a lot of things, I must say the yelling affected me a lot, no matter how much I tried to not let it.

It was also the evening I decided I needed to find an activity or an outlet for my frustrations. I have piano lessons on Sunday mornings and I enjoy them because they make me think and improve my memory. While I do it to my friends (I’m sorry!) I don’t like going on like a broken record about what happened at work or how I feel about work.

I chose swimming.

I haven’t gone swimming since I was a teenager, and to prepare myself for this activity I bought a few swimsuits.

I go swimming for thirty minutes most evenings after work. I like the feeling I get when I walk down the steps into the pool (I suspect it’s similar to happiness). I usually stand there for a bit, look up at the sky and sigh. When I do that, I always feel my anger melt. Then I do my laps. I feel tired usually after four or so laps, and I will catch a breather and keep going before my thirty minutes are up. At the end of it I usually no longer think about work1. Then I take a very cold shower for about 8 minutes, get dressed, gather my things, and walk the twenty minutes home.

A few days ago, I decided to go swimming in the morning. It is still the school vacation, so I saw a lot of children with their parents. I was amused. Despite obviously having no teaching experience, fathers were screaming at their sons to kick or stay in the lane and don’t splashhhh aroundddd! (Mother ducks who don’t go to expensive schools teach their ducklings better!), children bringing their Super Soakers (what are they called now? NERF SOAK GUN?), spraying everyone and not giving a rat’s ass about personal space (well, it is a public pool, Bonneka, lower your expectations, swim a little more, then lower your already lowered expectations), and mothers were sitting on the side (not swimming) ready to offer a snack to their pre-teen children.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy the session, stood at the side more than I swam, cut it a bit short, stood underneath the shower for a longer time, and got a hot dog to reward myself for being a good citizen (because I didn’t tsk at any kid, and I smiled graciously at grandmothers hand combing their grandsons’ hair).

I am not a snob. My mom used to take me swimming all the time because I had scoliosis (it wasn’t and isn’t severe) while she read on the bleachers. My mom was the most loving person to me, but even she didn’t mollycoddle me in public, so no snacks or juice boxes waited for me when I emerged from the pool and said “I’m done!” (J’ai fini!).

I still prefer going in the evenings when there are fewer people. I always feel relaxed, and it’s a good activity for self-care.

What are some of the things you do to relax?

1I had a German pen pal once who told me the story about exercising to force himself to get his mind off work. Over the years I have tried a lot of different activities and I do want to engage in strenuous activities to help me sleep better. Some that have worked well: trampoline classes (can choose combat, or ABT training while jumping on a trampoline, 1 minute in should get your blood pumping), hiking, and running on the mill.

My Thoughts on Marriage and Children

I think the decision to get married and have children is something personal. It is not the same for everyone, and while we can learn a few things vicariously, what other people go through or have done is just irrelevant. What works for others may just not work for you.

Culture also plays a part in how we view marriage and children. While single people are becoming more common these days, the norm is to get married in our twenties, pop out a couple of children, and when you’re reaching retirement it’s OK if you hadn’t saved any money because your kids are your retirement plan. Haha. I wish I were joking. I once knew a man (same race as me) who told me he would like about five children because at least one or two of those children would be able to take care of him in future. I do not see children as retirement plans, please get a proper retirement plan, and if I had my own children I would want them to live their own lives and not feel obliged they’d have to demonstrate filial piety by supporting me in my old age.

I think around 26 I really wanted to marry some dude who was so wrong for me in so many ways but I had known him for years, glad that didn’t work out, but since then I had been more discerning about who I date (no broke dudes! Haha! But he wasn’t broke, he actually was heir apparent to a business empire but we had nothing in common so conversations were never good and always ended with petty squabbles that didn’t make any sense. The sex was terrible too, he was not a giver, and I remember I cheated on him a lot with other men and one woman haha, and he once confessed he cheated on me and I burst out laughing because I thought I had to confess, too. I didn’t, because I had my head screwed on tight), and I now have a soft spot for people whose values align with mine (which should have been the case in the first place).

This is a bit personal but if you have this URL you probably already know me in real life and I probably had already told you the story, but when I was 11 my dad married another woman, while still married to my mother. This incident, while having little to do with me, changed my perspective on things, especially marriage and men, because I am very similar to my mother. We look the same. We talk the same way. We share some common interests. I also started developing mixed feelings about religion (I was raised in a Muslim household, among other things we do not eat pork, and we always talk about Hell like we have a clue) and have considered on a few occasions to not practise religion.

There’s something about coming home from school to find your mom sobbing loudly in the bathroom that forces you to grow up overnight. I remember cradling her and telling her to stop crying. Again, I was well aware her marriage had nothing to do with me, but I just hardly spoke to my father after that. I did joke a few times, when I was on the cusp of adolescence, about sex with my mom and told her if she had been willing to put a cock in her mouth maybe he wouldn’t have gotten a second wife?

I joke. We don’t make people do things. Yeah we might influence them a bit, but we all have agency and we do things we want or feel is right, and most of the time those things are done without anybody else’s input.

In my early adulthood I always wondered if the second marriage didn’t happen, or if I didn’t know about it, or if I didn’t stumble upon my mother crying in the bathroom after school (I was prepubescent and hadn’t even gotten my period so I didn’t understand anything sexual or relationship-related), would I have been a different woman? Would I have respected marriage and whatever it entailed? Would I think that hey, marriage is not sooo bad? Would I have gotten married?

I think while this somewhat influenced my thoughts on marriage and my reluctance to be in one I have come to accept that that happened to my mother, and it wouldn’t necessarily happen to me.

Most people (not men I date, people who actually are irrelevant to my decision making) think I like to only have fun and sex, am selfish, they think I am scared to do housework (hahaa, the feeling is not ‘fear’, it’s more like why don’t you buy enough clothes to last you for a couple of months? :p I kid, I kid) and that I am just scared to take the good, the bad, and the ugly of marriage.

One, I think it is just unnatural for anyone to be stuck in an arrangement where you (I mean, me) vow to fuck one person the rest of your (I mean, my) life. Two, I don’t know enough about what I want or aspire to be, and had never had a roommate so I need to learn to be a good partner and I don’t want my first marriage to teach me that (with that being said, if you’re not a piece of shit maybe you won’t need a roommate as a test run!). Three, anything that hints at being permanent makes me uncomfortable because mortality is real to me, so for someone who doesn’t leave things to chance or fate, it’s a lot to think about. Four, for me marriage has nothing to do with just love or feelings or that I don’t have feelings. Love must definitely exist. We somehow do things we don’t normally do, for people we genuinely love (I have lots of examples, but shan’t go there) and over the years I have come to learn that as much as you need or want to be accepted, you have to accept the person, too. Don’t be a dick. Other aspects of marriage include good communication skills and a willingness to work hard at it. I have a lot of love to give someone (or some twos haha) so no, it’s not about fear or that I am so robotic I can’t love.

And about children. People have children for a variety of reasons. It’s a lot of work. It’s resource intensive. I don’t hate children at all, but I just don’t think everyone should have children no matter how cute the idea is (actually, whoever thinks having a baby is cute should not have children).

I probably would have diabetes by the time I reached 40 if I didn’t die already, the same manner my mom inherited it from my grandmother, and I have my mental illness to think about and manage, too, so to impart that to a child I supposedly will naturally love or outlive me is a bit of a contradiction for me. I also get cranky when I don’t have enough sleep, so I am not too eager to experience lack of sleep. I know the consequences, and they’re really severe, and while I think about God sometimes I don’t think I’m supposed to rely on prayer that I can get through this.

My mom used to say I was selfish and I told her she could call me selfish if I already had children and just not care for them properly. The fact is because I am aware, I choose to remain childless. However if you see me with child/ren in future it most likely means either the father of the child has a lot of money, or that I changed my mind because I love him so much (I’m allowed to! Haha).

I’m also on Team Have Children Because You Want Children and Can Be a Great Parent and not on Team Have Children to Guilt Your Man to Stay With You.

In my culture having children is a sign of God bestowing all sorts of blessings but I personally know people whose children have decaying teeth and they (parents) have no money to send their kids to a proper dentist (same people who see their children as blessings) and their children are just not doing well in school nor have basic manners (ooh they’re just being kids, let them be pieces of shit!) because they themselves have no clue how to raise them or be less shitty. Of course if I had children of my own I wouldn’t be angry if they did badly in school. It’s not a death sentence. We all have strengths and weaknesses. I’m not gonna yell at my child for something that could be addressed. Before the child did badly you probably already would have noticed, monitored and anticipated. What? You don’t check your child’s progress? There is no one way to raise a child. I would be concerned, though. I wouldn’t take it lightly, and would pull out all the stops to make sure they’re cared for and loved (through providing a conducive environment and a lot of cuddles) and that they just enjoy learning. And that they wouldn’t be robbed of a childhood. But I can be selfish and say that because I’m not poor nor uneducated. Some people are just not interested to learn how to love their own child/ren (serious, what the fuck), and or how to educate their child/ren. Activities for enrichment and play cost money, and with the bills to pay and food to put on the table, these often are neglected. If you’re really intelligent and resourceful and have time (at this point, pick two out of three) you can make flashcards from practically anything and whatever little money you have left you could send your child to those indoor playgrounds or a class once in a while. One thing I learnt this year, though, is you can’t teach someone to give a fuck.

Then there’s the thing about poverty, which I shall not go into. Perhaps another time.

I also think there are other interesting things to think about besides having children.

For those who already have children, cherish them because they won’t be children forever. What have you done to make their lives better?

Work

Warning: Rambling ahead!

Over lunch two days ago I was telling my companion and dear friend (same person) about work. We had been colleagues for almost two years, and I am not shy to share my opinion and stories with her, regardless of how the anecdotes make me look.

Her opinion of me is I allow emotions to get in the way of work, and that never bodes well for the future. To be fair to myself I’m still learning about my workplace; all the unspoken rules, who not to offend, who to steer clear of, who is good to work with. I think I am emotional in the sense that I am not used to getting yelled at at work, and it would bother me for days no matter how much I tell myself I shouldn’t be bothered.

Five minutes before I left work on Friday my boss came over to my desk to scream at me and even though I am usually a cheerful and easy going person I could not concentrate during dinner or a movie afterwards. I was also convinced if I were in the same situation it would be best if I didn’t meet anyone after a run-in with my boss.

Therefore I decided to just not give a fuck.

My friends have been telling me to update my résumé and send it out to companies and I sometimes wonder if they know how recruitment works. It’s the end of the year, nobody wants to quit, and then I’ll have to wait until January to find something else.

I also had bad experiences with interviews from September 2018 to February 2019. People who know me well will tell me ‘Don’t be so confrontational!’ (I am not, but with that being said I wouldn’t bend backwards and be agreeable just for the sake of being agreeable) but if you had sat through an interview as a minority, you could probably relate. Even people who were born the same colour as I sometimes cannot relate because they’ve never been prejudiced like that.

I don’t hope for better days at work. I hardly leave things to chance. So while I’m still there I am determined to learn as much as I can. This job is really good at teaching me how to improve communication skills (because most people don’t have the essentials so they really come across as uneducated and uncouth) and how to be patient.

In the meantime, I should learn to not be affected by the screaming. I should compartmentalise my life so that when it comes to having sex after work I might finally be able to relax.

Stupid Things People Ask Me

I cannot really write a lengthy entry today so to cut one long story short: if we hadn’t talked in a while, I quit my job in September 2018, and remained unemployed until I received a phone call sometime in February this year about a job. If I had been given a choice, I would totally not have taken it, but a job is after all a job, and if it didn’t pay too poorly then why the hell not?

I find my colleagues mostly sheltered and uneducated, and while I would have allowed myself to assimilate to such people around me in the past, I am just getting old, just set in certain quirky Bonneka ways, so while nothing has ever escalated to contention, I constantly find myself feeling sick to my stomach about how people behave.

My colleagues all seem to have one thing in common – asking stupid questions. I have developed this checking system (it’s not something I consciously do). Is it anyone’s business? Is the person I’m talking to open-minded enough to accept my response? Is it a stupid question? If it’s No, No, Yes, I usually offer my best Mona Lisa smile and get back to whatever I had been doing.

Question 1: If there is a Malay guy that you really like would you date him?

Although S thinks I am a liddle bit racist I don’t think so. I always tell my friends it’s not about a guy being Malay. Being Malay by itself doesn’t bother me, but I have dated and talked to enough Malay men in my twenties to sense an undesirable pattern. However, I also have dated Chinese men or (insert race here) men who also behaved like the Malay men I try my best to avoid. Therefore, it’s not about race, it’s more about the kind of assholes I am attracted to or I attracted.

The answer to this stupid question is: Yes, if I really like him I will date him. Full stop.

Question 2: Why did you change your name?

I never felt connected to my birth name and would always wince when I was called upon in school or when my mom called me. Out of respect for my mother I didn’t change my name until after her death.

People always can’t accept the “I just didn’t like my birth name” as an answer.

Question 3: Why are you westernized?

This question makes me feel all sorts of things I never thought I was capable to feel. People, including me until sometime ago, think that the western world is so advanced, and that people are all liberal and allow their children to be sluts and lose their innocence at 16 (or insert any number that will qualify as ‘controversial’) years old. That can’t be further from the truth, and the thing is this: some people are more liberal than others, then there are people who aren’t, everywhere.

I am not a confrontational person most of the time because there is nothing much to achieve from being that way but I have been called vocal many times. I don’t think I’m rude. I know how to read a room, so it’s not like anything I say in public is off-colour/racist/mean.

Question 4: Do you have children? Oh you don’t? Malays usually have a lot of children!

I don’t like to discuss personal choices such as which political party I vote for, and whether I want to have children. The answer is a big fat no (for children), but I do have moments when I feel maternal, and that maybe having a child would be nice. But then I pull my head out of my ass and continue being childless because I just don’t want children. I might change my mind but the mind changing is only temporary. And it’s a question I’m sick of answering. I also don’t care if you suddenly have children yourself and think it’s the best thing on earth. I don’t comment on the choices you make.

I have lots more but I have dinner right now so I will continue later.