answering the call.

It is my bed time: 2.00am. I inhaled and exhaled strongly in front of my reflection, trying to block the emerging panic from my own body. I know that it is from the black coffee I had a few hours ago, or it could be my PMS; but there is an underlying terror that is aching to be heard by myself.

The deep breaths allowed me to recollect my thoughts – a simple grounding trick that I often took for granted. I realised that I have let my thoughts clog up for months, if not a year, if we count this lockdown. The word ‘clog’ is a verb that I despise but haunts me, as it tells me that I have to take action, to pull the gunk out, to see the dirt and slime present. But it informs me that I have let it rot, and I lost my sense of self with it. Living in the small walls of my apartment is not helping either, as my walls, my routines, all blend into unidentifiable progress. I journalled, and journalled, but I do not have the heart to look back. My hand is tired of putting the pen on the paper.

I know that this final desperation comes in the form of wanting to connect, talk, and hopefully see something move forward. For months, my social circle is tied to my work and my immediate friends, which is less than the number of my fingers. I make myself known to others on social media, taking shortcuts such as short clunky messages and sending emojis. Sure, it does seem like an ideal world for an introvert, but even an introvert needs another person to validate their cues. I ache for visibility again, and to be heard, to know that there is room for meaning even in nothing.

I bought this domain earlier this year, hoping that it would be something monumental to my life. I’ve always wanted a domain name and a space dedicated entirely to myself, and no one gets to mess with it. As a teen, blogging was my lifesaver, a mark of me “living” my life. Regardless if it’s a mundane or silly update of my school days, or my current obsession, but at least I have a personal record online that is read by someone (even if there was no comments received). & I miss that. I miss having those chunks of text where it is entirely me, and without anyone interrupting my train of thoughts.

& I envy those who, at the time, could have an entire space, a domain, all to their self. They could take the photos they want. They have complete control on how to exist in this vast and permeative space of the internet. & years later, I can finally earn one. In retrospect, it is a materialistic goal, but at least it’s satisfactory enough to formulate my identity and thoughts to a void. And in this dire state where my life is driven off road due to the pandemic, the government, the greed and the arrogance of others, I need to get my sanity back.

I was also plagued with the fear of ‘wasting’ my life away, or not doing my life justice by not writing. This was the dream that the younger me dreamt of. I have all the time, resources and even capacity to do so now. It is even more demanding, especially when the world, the country, requires more voices to take it out of its darkest pits. Merdekakan suara, merdekakan rakyat. To watch young Malaysians walk for the sake of the country is inspiring. So I need to start buckle up and find that courage, too.

Other things that have kept me afloat:

  • I finally got on the K-Drama train. This year alone, I watched more shows and series than the past five years. Titles include Run On, Hospital Playlist, Move To Heaven, Law School, Kingdom. I may want to talk about them soon.
  • I am still clinging on dearly to Monsta X, with so many drafts and collected thoughts on what they mean to me and music. Regardless of the issues presented on stan twitter (in which is a place that is toxic, no nuance, and contrary to popular belief, exudes xenophobia), I still hold them dearly.
  • The young and newly debuted Malaysian athletes at the Olympics are bringing so much joy to us right now. To watch the diver Dhabitah Sabri smiling and enjoying each dive, and cry because she is proud of her own achievements, give me a lift to move forward. To see the badminton players cheer for each other and show their best through years of training made me want to celebrate my peers and continue write.

Documenting my favourites from the past months, serving as a note for me to update in the near future:

  • Just like how Twice won me back in 2019, I have taken a liking towards Stray Kids’ 2020 efforts. It started with God’s Menu’s all-encompassing execution of their concept, Hyunjin’s new hairdo and his stunning beauty, followed by their fun, catchy repackage Back Door and its b-sides. Stray Kids’ often stray (hah!) into hard EDM sounds that I don’t vibe with, so the emphasis on their rapline in the repackage pleases me. In fact, it reminds me so much of what BTS’ rapline used to offer.
  • I admit, The Tropical Zodiac Signs feel suffocating for me at times. There are a few stereotypes and restraints that make me feel like I cannot transcend into a better person, especially when I want what other zodiacs have. It was not until I found ThePeoplesOracle‘s explanation on the Sidereal Zodiac that made me feel like I can break free from the rigidness of Capricorn, in which, as much as I love that sign, it can be tiring. There is an innate need within me that wants to be more adventurous, to take a leap. The Sidereal Zodiac does not penalise me for wanting that, but at the same time it warns me of the price that I have to pay.
  • There is a lot to be said about Jooheon’s mixtape, but first things first: I am so proud of him to talk about his anxiety and provides a moral support to others. And the production value in this whole release is spectacular.
  • Did wordpress adopt Notion’s UI?
  • Marie Howe’s Singularity: “before we came to believe humans were so important / before this awful loneliness.” Followed by her interview with The Isolated Journals.
  • The only way for me to make intimacy alive again is to write it. And this is what I have to promise myself – that I am here to explore the human connection that I yearn and cannot really withdraw from.
  • I steer away from proclaiming myself as an empathetic person because, for one, I know that I am not, and two, I feel like that is such a huge burden to carry. Within that space, you are given yourself the risk of setting expectations and not healthy boundaries. Plus, there is acknowledging that we all operate on our own set of biases, projections, and limited lived experiences, thus we chose who to empathise with. I am not good with words in real life, and I am still learning to fully hold all words accountable. My starting point, from now on, is to ask the other person on what do they really want to do or feel now, and give myself the permission to accept that I cannot solve everything.

to live in the cave

(Written on 2020/9/5)

The last time I blogged or put together a string of paragraphs together was years ago. It was not peppered by distractions, disjointed twitter thread cuts, and the exaltation of boredom. It was not in the depths of stan twitter, but also not tied to any exponential growth outside of my old bedroom. I now no longer type from the same house. That bungalow, which was on the brink of falling apart, has already been torn away from the family lineage. I am now a different person than I was before, in a sense that I now have lived in a different country, is earning a monthly income, paying for a car loan, and back hunched scrutinizing my bills. It is a dream already achieved, a practical dream, a dream to show that I finally belonged to my age group, that I am in some ways functional and not incomplete. In between the free time, when I was trying to gather my personal space among the crowd bustling in the LRT trains, my fingers tied to scrolling through twitter. I walked into another cave. 

Currently my bookmark rests after the surah Al-Kahfi, the cave. My bookmark requests this: “choose a medium that does not consume you. No check-ins, no tweets, no ads, no updates, no comment.” I have owned it for a decade, and yet the language is still similar, if not more pervasive now. We have seen how technology, or social media, has moved beyond our own grasps in the past few years, but we run around in the same system and in limited verbs. My inability to really communicate how I have felt in the past few years was due to the entanglement with the expectation of hard selling my identity. Can this sentence do its job? Can this sentence truly reach my target? Can this sentence, for once, not tied to a monetary gain but to personify the clot that I carry within my being? Again, I am circling the darkness of the cave. 

I am trying to understand where my resistance and the drought came from. They echo this: no one told you that depression would lead to memory loss. No one told you that depression would lead to muscle memory loss. No one told you that depression would erode you and your capability to build. Again, there is a need to reach a target. I admit that now that I have landed a job (and hit the one year mark! A milestone!), I have cried less. I could move through the day without truly losing it. But there are pockets of time where it crept up, such as now, when I wonder if I have done enough to really satisfy everyone in question. With every meeting, and now enhanced by the loss of body language, I find that my sentences never end, like pebbles sinking in the water after they realised that the ocean is too large for them to explore. And in this sinking I begin to ask myself if I am true, if I am alive, if I do have the power to truly carry this sentence I am about to ask. This is also my fear with my poetry (which is something I will talk about later). Again, I am afraid of the cave, and yet I am living in it. 

But I want to learn to live in the cave. Or even leave a mark, provide it light, give its rocks and crevices a new meaning. I want to befriend the cave. Yes, it has consumed me the moment that I was born, but I can chisel it to the shape I desired. The darkness of the cave should never carry only one meaning, which is fear – but the darkness should also carry the meaning of beginning, becoming, or even comfort. Again, I am questioning the cave, but I also want to transform it into a womb, a breathing warmth, a meaning that tells me I am worthy of rest, if not happiness. 

The pressure to rest well.

The older I grew, the more estranged mornings are to me.

We are bestowed with another three-day weekend, but I feel that I’ve wasted it by sleeping in my mornings. The ever-increasing anxiety from the pandemic and my current line of work which demands keeping up to date with the nation makes an extra free day more precious, if not luxurious. Unfortunately, my sleep cycle has fucked me up so bad that it would only fall deep in a slumber at 3AM and skip mornings altogether.

This fear of wasting a good day of resting by doing something that is, on hindsight, physically resting, haunts me. The guilt is even worse now that I am permanently glued to the same table, merging work and personal life in the same room. The only transition I have is by changing my laptop, but that is a transition too short to separate two worlds.

Maybe you have a hard time disengaging from work at the end of the day and therefore can’t relax. Maybe when you try to take a short break, time gets away from you because you get sucked into a social media vortex. Maybe you never get any work done until noon because you always plop down in front of your computer before you actually feel awake.

Ironically, I feel the immense pressure to rest well on the 63rd Independence Day of my country. While everyone else are showing off their pride and their wishes, gallivanting through the hidden nooks of the country, parading their love for what’s left, I was desperately trying to wind down with a bad leg after a long day out. But of course, here comes the FOMO – I feel pressured for not spending (!) the day as well as I should.

Time is constantly ahead of me, leaving me bread crumbs of guilt for not doing the self-care that I want to do. This article, directed to those who suck at relaxing, pointed out my mistake: I mistook numbscrolling and disjointed social interactions as a method of resting. I am very much aware of this. I’ve failed my social media detox so many times, mainly because I am knee-deep in a fandom that is constantly whirring on daily, if not hourly, updates. My socializing method has shrunk to short-sighted twitter replies, DMs, disappearing chat rooms and sarcastic yet impersonal emojis. There is a nagging need to respond as quick as possible and affirm another person’s needs while refusing any conflict. I want to appear witty in every single tweet. I want to be constantly likeable, and yet still have the freedom to say my unpopular opinions without getting jumped on by irrational stans!

But that’s not enough. I need to be more intentional with my rest. And it does not mean that I have to literally spend it with materialistic gains – I need to rest well by truly allowing myself the hour to be me, but also allow the rest to morph into different forms. I admit that due to work limiting my time to myself, I have attributed resting or free days mainly for going out. And for someone who rarely works out? It’s tiring.

What makes it so pressuring to rest well is the looming anguish of not doing anything creative during the given non-capitalistic hours. I know that deep inside, I just want to write, read and draw. I have all these plans jotted down repeatedly in my journal but I never acted on it. Just like how it took me months to kickstart this blog again. I admit that my discipline comes in short but unsustainable bursts. I resorted to short-termed, self-soothing, numbing distractions. Often this corners my night into its blind spot, trying to fill in the late after midnight hours with my will to do something worthwhile, when it should be reserved for sleeping. This is my fatal flaw.

The actual self-care that I want to do is to actually play around in my chosen creative outlets, and see where it will lead me. I don’t want to wake up from a rest feeling like I am about to step into a nightmare of guilt – I want to wake up feeling like I can continue seizing the day.



drawer of shelved drafts

There is a private post dated 2016 stored in this blog.

I was nearing the end of my time in London and my Masters. For months, I struggled to make my life convincingly enjoyable and well-deserved, if not adored, for an audience. Clearly, I was burdened by many inflicted expectations and delusions that had been imposed strongly by colonialism and also countless social media boastings by others.

That was possibly my last attempt at blogging before I was swept away by the swift timeline of Twitter and Instagram. The last time I truly blogged was a few months after my last relationship in 2013, which was also affected by such platforms. After a while, I retreated in retweeting and reposting others’ voices.

However, like everyone else, my fatigue towards the ever-running and conflicting timelines has reached its threshold. A lot of my time was spent shitposting on my stan twitter, in which I mix my capslock fangirling with my torrential tweets of real life sadness. The decade was heavily anchored on two things: trying to make poetry possible, and gaining happiness from K-pop. I did not contain both sides well, and in a year my account reaches 40k tweets, with several dead accounts prior to that.

With the high dependency on Twitter, the archival integrity of the platform has lost itself and myself. I can no longer trace who I was, nor can I truly move forward from who I am without a focal point. My autocorrect recognises only a few words. Some are my typos, some are my keyboard smashes. Without knowing, in a desperate attempt to boost my serotonin through my phone screen in fear of losing my grip on my mental health, I was also losing my grasp on language. In real life, I chose to be mute, and loud only when the vocabulary is familiar and comforting to me.

So a return to blogging, especially during a global pandemic that has forced us to stay put at home, felt timely. Underneath my calm “fine-ness” I am afraid of losing more and more of my being due to the lack of opportunity to rise up to such occasions. The pandemic has already removed the privilege of talking face-to-face and replaced it with a fear drenched in surveillance from all sides. The now two-month long Movement Control Order (MCO) is not similar to the time I was stricken with grief and depression years ago, as I am now burdened with the fear of health and political uncertainty.

In an attempt to truly regain my sense of self, especially what had been done and thought of in the past decade, especially through my escape and countless DMs to my friends. I will open this blog with a series of delayed think pieces.

The blog is another drawer of shelved drafts, and I am fine with that.