I Don’t Have a Good Reason

Shrug

I’d like to apologize for being away and neglecting my blog, but I actually just don’t have a good reason or even excuse to back up why I was gone for so long. I didn’t go overseas and I wasn’t so terribly ill that I couldn’t type. Sure, I had a cold and a few appointments here and there. I watched the summer intern that I helped trained go back to university. Went through a bunch of interviews and a manager who only lasted a month. But so what? That’s not an excuse for not writing.

But what about offline? I’ve only just gotten back into the hang of writing into an actual book. I haven’t been working on any offline writing projects, yet I know the story is in my head. It’s not like you would just forget about the characters that you’ve painstakingly been holding in your mind, after all. In fact, I do still write, but you just don’t see it. I write in indelible ink that doesn’t touch paper.

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ”
― Agatha Christie

The thing is, I write in my sleep. Agatha Christie wrote her books while she washed the dishes, and I do my writing in my dreams. And if you think I’m crazy, then you’re probably right.

That being said, there was something that I did before I unwittingly decided not to return for awhile. This story –  a fiction piece that I had in my mind for sometime but only had just put down to paper had resonated with someone. That person is Nancy J. Walker. Although that story may be fiction, her’s is linked too. Of course, life is always more painful and stranger than fiction. Now I believe everyone has a story to tell but there are just some stories that are more compelling and worth the read. And as writers, we all should read a bit more. As people, I think we should all read a lot more. Reading is akin to listening to someone’s tale and from that you learn, taking in perspectives you never knew.

Remember, I don’t really get any monetary gain from doing anything like this. It’s true, I may get a new follower or two but if you’ve followed me for this long, you’ll know my follower count isn’t very high. It’s never been my prime goal to have a huge number. It’s more important that my pieces stir something inside you. That being said, I’m still intent on growing my reader list but I’d rather they be people that hang around for the long run and actually read and engage with the pieces I produce. If you don’t feel anything from reading any of my pieces now, it’s unlikely that you’ll turn around one day and follow me. That’s fine.

If you got this far, then thanks for coming back. And if you’re new, welcome. I’m not promising anything, but I am going to write more. You’re probably going to see the return of Poetry Jam and more 100-Word Stories. Okay, so maybe that is kind of a promise. But I don’t know, seems silly to apologize for that too.

Hello?

Fountain Pen

A very late thank you to Daniel of the Oddity Writer who went out of his way to write about this lil’ ol’ blog. Again, he’s been extremely kind in sharing the word, even though I have been (embarrassingly) missing-in-action. It’s good to be back. What I like is that Daniel can appreciate the diversity of writing styles.

I don’t think he realizes this, but that is a huge step in acceptance and peace. Recognizing the differences between yourself and another being and celebrating them is what makes us unique. A point of difference is all it takes to either make peace or start a fight. And for those who have experienced pain in forms that most people don’t have to worry about, you have my respect.

There are some things that still haven’t changed. I still don’t have a smartphone. I’m no hipster, but I just don’t really see the point in one right now (I’m a sucker for screenlogging). However, I have a weakness for stationery and I just bought myself my first fountain pen. It may seem outdated in the day and age of computers, tablets and smartphones but there’s just something extremely personal about handwriting. I’m glad that I have at least one friend that shares my point-of-view and she will send me things through snail mail just because she knows that I enjoy reading her squiggles and loops. It’s also reassuring to know that other people make mistakes when they write too.

Perhaps this is going off into a tangent, but in the name of privacy it isn’t illegal to read another person’s email. It is however, illegal to open another person’s mail. The messages that pass through the Internet are like postcards or Post-It notes. And depending on where you put these Post-It notes, someone with malicious intent may come and ridicule your writing. Likewise with postcards, depends if the messengers are snoopy enough to read your scribble.

I remember being surprised on one of our high school open nights where they used current students to boost the image of the school and do some shameless self-promotion. On a screen with blue knitted fabric, in my English classroom there were student pieces of literature pinned on. One of pieces was particularly striking to the eye. We leaned in closer and my friend commented on how beautiful the handwriting looked. We figured that because it was so aesthetically pleasing it must belong to a female.

“James,” I said, as I eyed the bottom right corner of the page. “Wow, it’s a boy.”

His letters were evenly spaced, adorned with beautiful loops and legible. I was used to seeing uneven, sloping letters from boys my age and this completely blew me away.

I had always been praised for my handwriting during my childhood until my late teenage years. And after all these years, I think I may just be able to take James on. Maybe after a few weeks practice, though. Have to at least finish writing the lyrics out to Lionel Richie’s, Hello. I mean, hello!

I Admit That I Have Commitment Issues

No I didn’t die over the last couple of weeks (although at times it felt that way).

I just have trouble sticking to routine and keeping things in check sometimes.

What has happened over the few weeks involves: me catching a chest infection, a colleague handing in her resignation letter and a round of interviews conducted by yours truly. Which is why you probably haven’t seen me in awhile. Now something’s gotta give and I’m going back in to step on my pile of work. Just like crushing recycling cans. It doesn’t go away, but at least if I make it smaller, it’ll be more manageable.

I finally mustered up the courage to talk to my boss about having keys to the office. As some of you know, I started about 7 months ago. Now work (or I) finally dictates that I should have a spare too. Weekend work it is for me. Luckily I don’t have kids or a spouse/significant other (actually, why would that even matter? If I was attached, they probably wouldn’t care) or things might get messy.

As for my colleague? Sure, I can understand why my colleagues, manager and boss were irked when that happened. But I can also understand why she’s leaving. In her current role, she’ll always be someone in the background. And as wonderful as it is to get a quiet thanks, volume does have a lot of impact. Hopefully she’ll find happiness in her new role and hopefully we’ll find happiness (or at least competence) in someone else.

Breaking the Code: Imposter Syndrome

You probably remember the case of the golden child, Jennifer Pan who became embroiled in a plot to murder her own parents. As a result of tiger parenting, it’s obvious that she had her own personal struggles. The heartbreaking part of the story is when her mother pleaded with her conspirators to not harm her child, and with that, her life was gone.

Actually Jennifer, though not a straight-A student, was gifted. Though I do not condone lying, she was intelligent. She knew what it took to get her parents to believe her and how to use this subterfuge to her advantage. She could have channelled that talent and intelligence into other activities – be in piano or some other creative endeavor. Living a lie is one of the ways that is sure to hurt you in the long run, as well as those around you.

Even though my parents have never been tigers, have I ever felt inferior at any point? Of course. They never placed a lot of pressure on me – mother would always (and still does) tell me to “do my best.” Her reasoning was that since that was all I could give, then there’s not much to be said or done after that. So quickly, I came to learn I should only be ashamed if I had not given it my all – the best of my ability within the circumstances at the time.

And from time to time, I still feel a little stupid, like I’m a massive failure that drags her heels instead of walking behind others ahead of her. Sometimes I can’t solve a problem and I know that at times, I have trouble letting things just go. These are one of those times where I’ll stare at the screen or paper for hours and feel like banging my head on the desk. Thoughts like, ‘Why haven’t you thought of anything yet? You’ve been sitting here for 4 hours,’ creep in. Then when I can do nothing but go home from work and think about it more, I get stressed about stress that hasn’t even occurred. And that’s exactly the wrong approach.

Sometimes taking time to do something else is more productive than just trial-and-error (wish I actually did that last week). That way, your mind gets a rest, you don’t become so bitter about everything and you get to enjoy a bit of your time. And eventually, you’ll find the answer. Between two paths – one with multiple hurdles and one with multiple rest stops, it just doesn’t make sense to torture yourself. Well, unless you’re masochistic or something.

When I do solve a problem, that feeling is often short-lived. It sometimes feels as if I didn’t do it at all, a.k.a Imposter Syndrome. When things go wrong, I have a hard time of putting them down. It may be the odd perfectionist streak returning or maybe I’m just stubborn. Who knows?

So what comes of this? I would only teach my children to be good and kind. To be the best version of themselves they can be.

I know you all probably don’t want some cheese for dinner but, just do your best.

P.S. It’s been a year since I’ve been with WordPress. Time sure flies.

Public Enemy #1: Self-Improvement

Winston Churchill Quote

I had forgotten how many people hated me until the late Winston Churchill reminded me.

Everybody talks about making friends, but whenever I do, it seems that I make at least one or more enemies. Every single time. By having any values or morals, you create a distance between you and other people. Distance – I’ve found, is good. Every time my friends or family stand up for me, they make enemies for the sake of me. Strangers that have stood up for anyone risk being ridiculed or scorned by others whose values don’t align. Sometimes it also means leaving people that affect you negatively and calling your loved ones out when they do something wrong. But hey, if they truly respect you, they’ll come back. They may hate you for awhile, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was always true to his word.

Definitely risky business.

But that goes to say that anything that’s worthwhile is hard. Yes, you may have talent. You may have lots of money. But without actually applying yourself, you haven’t really done anything. You know who are the only kinds of people who don’t seem to make mistakes? People that do nothing. Zip. Nada. And that in itself, ironically is the biggest mistake that you can make. There is a fine line in patience and waiting to make the right move and there’s just procrastinating.

Winning the lottery is just as hard (if not harder) than good old-fashioned hard work. The odds are always against you, at least a million to one. Selling your body (some people call it renting) or dealing drugs is fast money, but it isn’t easy money. This is where misconceptions start to build. It’s not exactly smart to trade in your health and safety if you’re no longer alive or well enough to enjoy life. I don’t know about you, but who wants to live in constant fear of being murdered? But they’re prostitutes. That, they may be. Just as that almighty famous quote from Batman Begins:

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”

Well, to the naked eye, perhaps. But then how much do we see what everyone does? We all eat, we breathe, we bleed. But would we really call ourselves bleeding-breathing-eaters? And we have to remember that we are very much responsible for the predicaments that they’re in. One of my very good friends since I’ve known since my freshmen year of high school asked me at university one day, “What if there was no prostitution?” I just couldn’t imagine it. I said, “There can’t be. There can never be one. There’s just too much demand for it.” 

Though we may not directly contribute to the situation, turning a blind eye certainly doesn’t help. It just enables the problem to carry on, like a cancer to eat away at the flesh.

I know that I’ve turned a blind eye more than a couple of times in my life and every time I’ve been ridden with guilt. Now I can’t do anything about those things now. But I can change what I do now. I can choose to make a stand.

Just like this blog, my writing, with everything I do – I’m a work in progress. What about you?

Mindlessness Mindfulness

Because real cities are made to be colored in.
Real cities are made to be colored in.

Because my vocabulary appears to be shrinking and my creativity waning, I’ve decided to take a stand.

I’m going to play adult for just a little while.

Like.. omigod… where do I even start? Umm…uh…like you know…I don’t get it.

I’ll be filling in the blanks with my coloring pencils and felt tips I’ve accumulated during my stationery craze days. I’ve been doing some writing offline and my ideas just seem so absurd. Ludicrous, even. And I’m supposed to be the queen of nonsensical poetry.

It also feels like my personality’s been watered down. I definitely was a lot more passionate about everything back then. Now my thoughts are marred by specks of nihilism. by My teenaged self would be so mad right now. But then again, she’d also be distracted by the pretty colors on the coloring book.

A Lunch Break for a Peanut Butter Sandwich

I suppose it’s time for a break and to explain my absence. In all honesty, I may be in need for a day to myself. Time to reflect, time to kill.

And despite being neglectful of my own needs and writing, there does come a moral to this story. Reddit is doing another one of their great secret Santa events for teachers. A lot of schools don’t get the public funding they need, which means less resources for educating kids.

And just to let you know, I am in no way sponsored by Reddit to promote this event, but if you’re too late for the main event, why not be a rematcher? Though I hate to say it, someone’s always going to default. But also, what better way is there to brighten a stranger’s day and pay it forward?

Of course you can just sign up to any other secret Santa event to give and receive – after all, one can only exist without the other. Likewise, if you’re not in a good financial position to actually partake in secret Santa, you could always just pass the giving bug on. Otherwise, pooling resources is a good idea. Maybe with a group of friends and/or family, you could come up with $20…

But honestly being a teacher is one of the most glorified and underrated jobs of all time and most get very little thanks for it. These are people that are meant to be educating the minds that will make up the future. Even the most skilled builder wouldn’t be able to put together a house without the right tools (and let’s not forget, at least one of my readers is a teacher… ).

One of my warmest memories was a time where I had forgotten to bring my lunch. Luckily for me, my school would hand out sandwiches (usually peanut butter or Marmite) to kids who didn’t have lunch – no questions asked. My assigned ‘buddy’ (an older student who would accompany us on certain events), who was no older than 13 at the time handed me a Marmite sandwich with a smile on her face. Now that time I had just forgotten my lunch. For other kids, it was pretty much their only way of getting lunch at school.

Not everyone in life is born with the same hand. Some will have royal flushes and some will have hands so bad it might not be worth even gambling. Yes, good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But sometimes bad things happen to good people too. I grew up in a street where it was not uncommon to hear of things like domestic violence and for kids to go hungry. One of my friends in elementary school was a pretty, mixed Maori girl. She was always very kind to me but she would often come to school with tears in her eyes. It’s only caught up with me years later that she was potentially a victim of abuse. It’s more prevalent than we realize, if only we took the time to feel.

Now even if you don’t sign up to any of Reddit’s secret Santa events, I won’t blame you. After all, it’s your decision. But it’s break time for me. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, anyone?

Overspent.

Image credit: http://marcelnunis.com/

I can see why some people call credit cards the devil’s advocate now. I’m totally overspent this month and unintentionally too. That’s the price we pay for credit and convenience. Just whip out your piece of plastic and don’t have to think about things for another month. Then boom. Pay this now or choose to pay $10 and build yourself a nice house of debt.

No thanks.

I didn’t really sign up for consumer debt. I’m doing absolutely no one any favors by getting myself into debt. Especially high interest debt.

Even the most well-intentioned person can get off track simply by seeing something that makes their. Remember when I stuck to cash for pretty much everything? Those were the days. Cumbersome change may be, but that’s the whole point. Fumbling around with small loose coins really makes you think, is it worth it?

With more power comes greater responsibility. With more money comes greater spending. Sometimes things were a lot easier when I didn’t have a lot of money. Things that were totally out of my reach, I wouldn’t think twice about. Now there are so many things just within my reach and there’s a piece of plastic just lying there. It’s too easy to just say yes.

I’m especially bad when it comes to online spending. Click, click and click. Done. It also doesn’t help when you’re particularly good at remembering numerical sequences, so a card iceblock is totally out of the question.

Now economics is based heavily on theory. “If we assume that humans are rational beings— wait, no we can’t!” said one of my former statistics lecturers. And that’s the truth. No matter how rational anyone is, there will be something they have a weakness for— be it cosmetics, the newest game or even just puppies. Yes, puppies.

So in order to counteract the whole overspending bit, it means some scrimping and saving must be done for the next month. I overspent on my next month’s personal allowance as well and that’s bad. I’ve never really done that before. Obviously I’ve never been given a few extra grand as a credit limit increase, either. So you can see the psychology at work: you can now buy the things you’ve always wanted. Now I didn’t go buying a jet plane or anything like that, but things have a way of stacking up. It also only takes one big purchase to blow up your balance.

But I suppose the only way to progress from here is admit that I overspent and to leave my card at home. I know I said I was going to treat plastic like cash, but they’re clearly different. It would probably be best if I just went back to the basics – cold, hard cash.

Yeoowch. Credit card burn.

Change II

Adjusting to change is hard.

In fact, the first day at work was extremely hard. Not only because I didn’t know exactly what the heck I was doing, but a lot of things weren’t ready yet – like user accounts and software. After being out of the regular work so long, I was full of anxiety and doubt. I felt inadequate. I came back home the first day from work thinking, ‘Why did I even sign the contract? I want to quit already.’

Things were hard for the first week because I was still getting settled. I started to think differently. I thought, ‘Well it’s not so bad. I can always leave if I really hate this job. Nothing is holding me back from walking out that door and not coming back.’

Not to mention, this is my first real 9-5 job. I’ve worked anywhere from 40-50 hours some weeks before, but they weren’t common. Having an actual routine flipped my schedule back on its head, and before you know it I was complaining about 40 hours being taken away from me.

Just now, the end of the second week.

I’m feeling much better. The boss gives me very good, constructive feedback on the work I have done. I ask for help if I need it. I don’t feel inadequate anymore. I’m more productive and I’m actually learning. I actually want to learn more now to do better at my job. This may sound strange, but I think I’m actually starting to like it.

Change is inevitable. It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.