Friday, January 9, 2009


I don't know how to describe the past fifteen-odd days with my family in the motherland, but it's been an incredible mental extravaganza. There was a week in the middle where I hardly spoke, mostly because of a combination of the close proximity of my sister-in-law and the patch started to make me extremely ill. I was also spending an inordinate amount of time in speeding vehicles, which make me very very very very nervous, particularly when they are being piloted by my father, who gets distracted by his many gadgets while driving.

I've learned a lot about my family on this trip, and in a way it makes me understand myself more and feel less fucked up. My father is descended from the Hakka people, a Chinese subgroup he says was kicked out of northern China. Hakka means "guest family." My mom comes from all sorts of weird family drama and is now speaking to aunts that she hasn't spoken to in 40 years. She's still not really allowed to talk to her only brother, nor are we allowed to see him. I wonder if I'm going to be a wanderer like my ancestors, and kind of deranged and fixated on the past like my grandmother. If so, I have lots of genes to blame it on.

I have many fond memories of Malaysia and Singapore, most of them having to do with eating and prancing around in tropical weather. This time around, I'm struck by how homogeneous the population is, and how much time we actually spend indoors, hiding from the heat. Singapore is aiming to be a largely indoor city. The malls here are the size of entire city blocks, and are connected underground. Yesterday I went to a city exhibit to see the master plan for Singapore and I thought of how funny it would be if I came to work for the city planning department of Singapore, to live as an expat in a country where everyone assumed I was from, and where my parents were from, but I have spent a total of about two months in. It would be totally bizarre. Even though English is one of the official languages spoken here, I am greeted in Mandarin in most of the smaller establishments, and am at a complete loss. The last time I was here, I felt very at home, and now I feel so strange here.

I was going to buy a pretty batik dress the other day when I remembered that it will be winter when I get home, and also that in my real life, I don't really wear batik prints. It was a sobering thought. A couple of reality thoughts struck me since returning to Singapore from Malaysia. The morning we left was my older brother and sister-in-law's fourth wedding anniversary. I can't help it, but they really depress me. I was chatting online with Joe one morning and he was telling me that he was really looking forward to jury duty, and possibly subletting his room and moving home for a month to save some money. I found this depressing, too. Then ACLU emailed to say he would be coming through New York next week. I kind of told myself I was going to de-complicate things and focus on Joe, but there is this restless part of me that just can't focus one one person, one place, one thing, even though I do miss him and like him a whole lot. I just can't do it right now. Little Brother says I should be careful of older men, that ACLU is probably married, and that I am not being honest with myself about what I want.

And then I got this weird email from The Ex that was an attachment of a Weekly Report I used to make him read when our relationship was on the rocks. I'm not kidding. I used to write him a weekly newsletter, lay it out in InDesign with photos and such, with different columns and icons, print it out, and give it to him every week for him to read, because I am clearly a psychotic woman who is obsessed with her relationships. The report would tell him every fucking thing I thought about every fucking thing, summed up neatly because he had a short attention span, and it gave me a chance to weed out all my mini-hysterics throughout the week and just tell him at the end of the week what was still pissing me off. I wanted everything to be out in the open.

And now, I can't even date one single person at a time, because I am clearly a psychotic woman who is obsessed with her relationships. Multiple relationships. They are just as addictive as The Cigarettes, The Booze, The Drugs, and The Caffeine. Sister-in-law said: Wow, you sure need a lot of substances.

Honestly, what do I want? I still wish things worked out with me and The Ex, even though I know they could not and will not. I wish that I were innocent and virginal and uncomplicated, even though I find those people terribly boring. Little Brother and I went to see the new Miyazaki today, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. It was beautiful. I am into fairy tales. No, I CANNOT accept reality. Isn't that obvious?

1 comment:

Papagayo said...

yeah, but it's okay, isn't it? aren't there plenty of people who don't accept a given reality and create their own and do things that they enjoy and love, and sometimes that others enjoy and love? most artists could fit into this category, bjork, dali, plenty of others. it's hard not to put a lot of pressure on ourselves due to our upbringings, but i believe we have to distance ourselves from it in some way- that's a mission of mine right now. ps, your S-i-L grates on me too; can't imagine two weeks with her. did i just type that?