Monday, August 15, 2016

Recovery, honesty & Netflix

As I gain more insight into my mental processes, I become hopeful that there is a way to loosen up the constraints around my brain gradually and let it breathe. Seeing my psych more often gives my health that extra boost, even as I'm not making full use of the services offered. I've been invited to write to her between sessions, just one email which could be lengthy, but that's not how I work. I like to express myself in short bursts, so that I'm more easily able to defend my streams of consciousness from anyone who would like to find fault with them. Adding to a draft over time makes me feel insecure, in more than one way - I have lost online data in the past, which makes me doubt the wisdom of leaving work vulnerable to unexpected technology failure.

Something I keep learning about myself is that I love and value honesty in the people around me. I crave it. Thankfully I surround myself with people who fulfil that need. It takes the pressure to match a low level of openness off. Instead I aspire to be as honest as I can be, because that's what my friends and lover are doing too. To paraphrase Laurie Penny, talking honestly about feelings will never be cool. It's not a mainstream art and it never will be, not when the circulation of myths, falsehoods and half-truths is so high. But being honest allows you to be yourself without a layer of anxiety that accompanies remembering what white lie you told to whom, at what time. I've been there. It's not pretty. I sometimes relapse into insincerity, but less and less as I go.

I had no intention of joining Netflix until I saw it enthusiastically devoured by my partner. Right now I'm enjoying Jessica Jones (having just finished episode 5), which has helped me in ways it would be hard to articulate. The protagonist is gender nonconforming in that she doesn't have any friends, lacks social and nurturing skills, and demonstrates repeated physical superiority over almost everyone else in her world, to mention a few. Perhaps just as importantly, she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now, I do have friends. Sometimes I feel like I don't have enough time to myself because I cultivate so many friendships, but there was a time when I had almost none, and felt painfully lonely. That kind of isolation can be self-perpetuating. You feel bad because you're isolated, and you're isolated because your bad feelings prevent you from appealing to a broad range of people. Jessica Jones speaks to that part of me that will always be alone.

It doesn't speak to my sense of atheist Buddhist vibes. The character is intrusive and inconsiderate - she scores higher on aggression that I feel comfortable identifying with. Then there's the guns, seemingly a staple of anything vaguely action-themed coming from American shores. And there was a case of slut-shaming in the episode I saw today that made me cringe. Jessica disparaged the name 'Jewel' as sounding as if it ought to belong to a very 'slutty stripper'. As opposed to every other female character who has our sympathies, who is non-slutty, and hence good. Oh, why am I even using the word slutty in the first place?

But... there was a visual representation of cunnilingus, which made me happy. And it is made clear that while a male accomplice, the third addition to the previously all-female team, could be useful, he is not necessary. Also, the men these women sleep with tend to reveal more flesh than their partners in their respective domestic settings. There is clearly a progressive aesthetic at work here, and it's refreshing.

I have some other TV shows lined up: Orange is the new black, Firefly and Sense8. Occupied viewings are reserved for time spent with my girl, as we admire the greater number and influence of women on the universe of the Norwegian drama. People have long been saying that some of the best filmic texts out there are in the televisual form, and now I'm finally seeing what all the fuss is about.




Saturday, August 13, 2016

Becoming

Every day I'm becoming a little more me. A little more free.
Every day it's like I carve my initials into the air with incisive eye movements.
Every day I'm longing to happen upon a safe state of mind.
Every day there's relief when I close the door, turn on the heat.
Every day I'm looking away from my imperfections less.
Every day I'm valuing myself more.
Except when it's once step forward, two steps back.
There are plenty of those movements in store.

 *

Learn to resist the straitjacket of silence
Let the darkness ooze out in the direction it might
And if a whisper serves me better, let it
Develop. More resonating than a stylised shout

*

The more I know you, the more I care
I fear that I don't open up enough
But I know nobody's perfect and it's still OK
We remain both loving, and loved

*

Temptations everywhere I turn, of my own making
All I really need are strong jolts of self-affirmation
Did I leave you hanging, mid-revelation?
An epiphany that hasn't reached fruition
Muddled, searching, casually realigning
Fragmented forays into deepening my understanding
The unreliable narrator intends to keep on going
Enjoying and lamenting the ways in which she's growing

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Karaoke selection [short poem]

All the songs I used to sing
Bookmarked by my indignation and bitterness
It's time to grow attachment to new things
Sweep you up in my newfound love
But first I have to liberate my intuition
Let it reach new places
Negotiate new spaces
Meditate on tones
Relinquish things I loved the most

Friday, August 5, 2016

#PrataOmDet / #TalkAboutIt

The first few people I told about being raped either didn't take me seriously (Shanghainese police) or didn't believe me (members of the Australian Consulate/Embassy in Shanghai). What I mean when I say the police didn't take me seriously is this: They nodded when I explained what happened and took the offender in for questioning immediately, but neglected to interview me in any depth and dismissed both of us after (allegedly) beating the offender up. (I only have the offender's word that the beating happened, though it does seem, in my opinion, likely to have happened; the offender sought medical help and seemed unsettled afterwards.)
Perhaps more damaging to me was the female worker at the embassy/consulate who immediately questioned my account of what happened. I believe she said something like: 'If you were raped, why did you keep sharing the same hotel room with him?' She non-verbally implied that I was a threat to the offender's reputation. Always placing the man's authority higher than the woman's. Even though he wasn't in the room and she had never talked to him, the offender had a voice more powerful than mine. This was 2006, before the current feminist revival.
All this denial of justice and my authentic voice led me to believe that, in China, 'rape' doesn't exist. I believed that the Communist party had brainwashed the populace into denying the existence of anything that could be described as rape. I told this to my Dad when I was in the hospital. He didn't reply. He must have thought that nothing I said during that time made sense. He had no idea what I was going through, although he loved me and wanted me to feel better.

*

25% of women describe being forced to have sexual intercourse against their will. In other words, 25% of women admit to being raped (though not exactly in those words). Remember that.

*

I hate to admit it, but I am still somewhat afraid of disclosing what happened to me. I'm aware that victim blaming is rampant, and many out there consider women who are raped to be 'damaged goods'. I'm happy that I stay far away from the misogyny I identify as such. I don't emote with men (or women) who slut-shame, or espouse puritanical views. I surround myself with proud, capable women who consciously identify as feminists. I get my emotional cues from them.

*

Be part of the solution: Talk about it. Talk about when someone crossed your boundaries. Talk about when you crossed someone else's boundaries and feel guilty. The more we talk about these things, the more we can put them into context, mobilise to act based on new knowledge, and change the system. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Work WITH it, not against it

My sense of myself and the world (where is the boundary? Is there a boundary?) as something that is beautiful is struggling to come through.

All around me, whether IRL or in the media, are people who struggle to find beauty within themselves and each other. I used to be much better at the process of finding beauty, but I too have joined the masses over the years. I have learnt from other people's mistakes; I have listened to too many people bash self-help practices; too many people that claim that my ideals are not worth aiming for.

Thankfully, I know how to claw myself out of this pit.

This is why I love following people such as Timber Hawkeye (an American Buddhist author), who radiates love and acceptance of self through his Facebook posts (and book). I also love following people who have an intense relationship with language and use it in such a way as to make worlds come alive through it - such as Laurie Penny and Sarah Menkedick.

I have everything I could ever possibly need to create a profound sense of beauty within myself.

Here are two other beautiful people I follow on Twitter I invite you to take a look at: J. D. Landis & ROSES. Their brand of beauty is all the more meaningful because they engage with the dark side of humanity. I still like the old Keats 'truth is beauty and beauty truth' philosophy.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Quizás [Perhaps]

I pulled a sad note out of the spectrum of responses I'd been provided
A bit sad, I said. I missed Germany.
But she was not one of those people who valued this small slice of sincerity
Her face fell a little
Next time, I told of her I was 'de buen humor', and she seemed happier
We have all been rewarded when we express positive emotions over negative ones
This happens constantly
I think of Martin, who joked that he went around telling people 'I was angry a moment ago...'

Agency. I have agency.
I can hire, and fire. I have the Australian government to thank for my small disposable income.
Without it, I'd have to be entirely reliant on my parents. And they wouldn't pay for language classes.

*

I'm looking to language exchanges now. They're free, for one thing. And perhaps I can find the words to ask for a language partner who is more my style. That niche description that opens up new worlds.

*

But I don't like the pressure that comes with being a writer, to always formulate sentences which are coherent. I'm not perfect. I, too, make mistakes. People are used to me expressing myself in a way that could be described as 'perfect', and notice when I occasionally fail. I'd like the freedom to sometimes get it wrong, and not have it remarked on. Even native English speakers make English mistakes, and I am not one of them. I pride myself on my writing and speech, but, sometimes it's more important to get the words out with speed and high accuracy instead of with pauses and a bullseye. Maybe even 'high accuracy' is an expectation which puts pressure on me. Though I seldom have anything but. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Exploring

["When you hurt me / You hurt yourself" - Beyonce]

Homesick. Home is where the heart is, and home is far away. I can't adjust my face enough / to please every passing soul / So I need to interfere with my intuition / Engineer a different song /
It's no good bypassing the sadness / I need its comfort now / I need all the comfort I can possibly handle / And I need it now
They say music can make the schizophrenic spring to life /
But have we really just forgotten how to relate
To ourselves and the other
I commiserate
Yet I'm chemically treated enough / to find the depth of despair implausible
I find it hard to relate to this stuff / Yet passing for 'normal' is impossible
Stuck in a biting algorithm / I'm opposed to my own success
I'm looking, always looking / For whatever happens next

Call me a traitor / I'd rather be hated than be numb
Gut(-wrenching) instinct / To pull the lever and jump
Out of the sombre madness / That streetlife in Sydney's become
I need to get out

A figure appears, and I want her so near
She's the reason I look to sticking around
A much needed conflict is found -
And she is a riot
Displacing what I knew
But I can't get lost in her
Because I've lost the incentive
To lose myself
In the end there's only me and you
(Okay, we're a few)
And when it comes to places, I make do