existential dread and optimism

December is going to be filled to the brim with activities so I figured I’d get this out there before I’m so swamped with work I won’t have time (and, knowing me, before I forget). I’m not sure where all this came from but any thoughts are appreciated. I hope you’ll all survive this winter. They are mighty dreadful.

Dialogue with Robin (forgive me for not having a real title for this)

“I hate days like this. The sun shining brightly, the scent of freshly mown grass, ice cream dripping down children’s hands, but most of all the laughter, all the fake smiles people put on to pretend they’re happy, they’re having fun in this miserable existence.”

“They’re not fake. You just can’t comprehend that people could be so happy, so carefree because it’s so foreign to you. You think because you have to fake it, others do too. But guess what. Your experiences aren’t universal. None are.”

“They are unlike my own experiences, I’ll give you that. But as Tolstoy said: all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. I’m not saying they have the same reasons for hating existence; just that they’re faking it because society conditioned us to put up this front, to never show sadness or anxiety. To be honest about our feelings, about our intentions and thoughts and motivations, that requires unlearning what we’ve been taught, what has been drilled into us from day one. People hate to see sadness, true sadness. We all hate the sound of a baby crying and do everything to get it to laugh. Why? Because we can’t handle facing the pain of existence. And so these babies are taught to smile because smiling and laughing means the weird grownups will stop making odd faces and scaring them.”

“You’re universalising your own experiences. How can you claim to be empathising when your understanding of people is based on the conception that everyone has the same motivations in life, that everyone thinks the same way? You’ll never understand human beings if you continue to push them all into the same mould. Some people don’t fit, and never will. The world’s bigger than you and me, you know.”

“You’re not hearing what I’m saying. While our experiences differ to an extent, there is such a thing as human nature. There is an inherent part in all of us that responds to these things, that we’ve trained to respond a certain way, to appear normal, whatever that means. We’ve repressed it for so long, focused on trying to be positive, optimistic, to see beauty in this world, but now that everything’s crumbling we can’t escape its return. We will all have to face it eventually. Days like this will become exceedingly rare until they’ll have disappeared altogether. Only then will we stand a chance against life, against society, against all the lies we’ve told ourselves all these years.”

“You’re crazy. What kind of weird conspiracy theory did you read up on to be spewing all this nonsense? What happened to the Robin I once knew? It’s fine if you think this way – I’m not going to police your thoughts – but why ruin everyone else’s day with your pessimistic bullshit? Aren’t we allowed to be happy, to enjoy life? Do we all have to be miserable just because you are? I love you but you’re a right dick, you know that?”

Robin laughed. “I know.”

But was it a real laugh?

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fun times at university

When I get frustrated, it’s often because I don’t understand something or am misunderstood myself. Yesterday was a culmination of both. For class I had to read Eric Hobsbawm’s text on Invented Traditions (forgive me for not looking up what it’s called), then discuss it with my classmates and the professor in class next day. The text itself isn’t horrible per se but it is quite vague when the main point he seems to be making is “there’s this phenomenon taking place in the 19th century that hasn’t been studied enough; get on it” yet for some reason he needs 60 pages to say this, inventing his own terminology in the process.

The main question we asked was what invented traditions are and how they differ from ordinary traditions. Yet no matter what everyone answered, there was no clear difference. So I kept asking because I was dissatisfied with the answer because it didn’t answer the question. However, the more we discussed the further we strayed and the more questions I asked the fewer were answered. My classmates, and even my professor, might have thought they were answering my questions but really they were rehashing things I already understood and agreed with. I don’t think they purposely misunderstood but it is frustrating that I still don’t get what the hell invented traditions are and why he didn’t just focus on the important things instead.

That’s how I ended up crying in class. Fun times. Then as icing on the cake, one of my classmates “reassured” me by telling me the text was “very intellectually challenging” so it only made sense I wouldn’t understand. Thanks, girl. Truly helpful. Instant raise in confidence. What’s worse is how nice and cool she seemed before yet the moment I opened up to her she was like “uhhhhh bye”. It’s sad. How are we ever to learn to open up and speak up about who we are and what we value when the moment we do there’s some person who will tear us down? Does she realise how hard it was to open up at all? How hard it was to trust her? And the way she said it, so sickly sweet and “understanding” or “empathetic” as if she was some kind of saint for acknowledging and finding a reason for my struggles.

Needless to say I am done with her and anyone else who thinks it’s okay to say these kinds of things. Silence would have been a much better choice. Why don’t people know when to shut up?

But the worst thing is that a few hours later I found out I failed my first class with a shockingly low 4,5 (which is lower than any grade I’ve ever received at university before) so I’m starting to think she might’ve been right. My confidence was finally up after graduating from my bachelor’s degree after all that time but then it only took this one day to push me back down.

I keep coming back to this one factor, to this same story, whenever I think about academia and that is my way of thinking. It doesn’t match other people’s. We read the same texts and while they do get some different things from them, because they’re a diverse group of individuals with unique backgrounds and life experiences, somehow they still end up thinking in the same direction, or at least following the same trail of thought, whereas I am left with conclusions an ocean away, seemingly drawn out of the blue when I mention them.

And when I ask questions I get these looks, as if I’m asking something crazy or ridiculous or obvious. Either I’m the village lunatic who doesn’t comprehend the world and anything in it or I am the ignorant child who doesn’t understand the basics you learn in elementary school. So tell me: how am I supposed to improve if asking questions is ridiculed? And why are only my questions ridiculed when other people ask far stranger and more obvious ones? Why me? What’s wrong with me that I can’t think the way they do? Am I really that different? Or is it them? Are they simply unable to burst out of their safe little bubble and see what’s out there, all the possibilities? I don’t know and I don’t get it.

I am so tempted to call my GP again and ask her to refer me to a psychologist to check what the hell is wrong with me but then I’m reminded of last time I tried and how she basically ignored my request and suicidal me was left with no one and a complete lack of trust in any doctor out there. I reached out to her last January, had a breakdown in her office, and asked her to refer me to a mental health professional, and she said “sure, I’ll call you” except she never did. I’ve seen her a few times since and she never even brought it up again. You would expect a doctor to understand that reaching out and seeking help is hard so she should be on top of things. There is no way in hell I could bring it up again myself, not after the first time. It was hard enough doing it, but getting ignored or forgotten like that really doesn’t do your image of self-worth any good. If even doctors don’t give a fuck whether you live or die, where can you turn?

And now winter’s coming again, the time when it gets dark at 5pm or earlier and everything dies. The time it’s nigh impossible to get warm, the time we celebrate stupid things just to feel less alone. And my birthday is coming up next week, which I am not looking forward to, not because I hate getting older because I actually appreciate having survived another year but because it’s always been the loneliest time, because friends always cancelled in favour of something else, because only my closest family cared to spend time with me.

So yeah, this is a bit of a pity party but it’s also all these buried feelings resurfacing, old wounds being scratched open, getting salt poured into them once more, because nothing got better with time. Everything still sucks. Nothing that needed to change has. I have tried so hard to become a better person but apparently I’m just not likeable, not someone who should be heard, not someone that can be noticed. And I don’t know what to do because I just can’t seem to make any meaningful connections. Is it me? Am I the problem here?

You know, I just finished reading Arthur Japin’s Vaslav the other day and while I could strongly relate to Peter, what worries me is how much of myself I see in his portrayals of Nietzsche and Nijinski, both of whom went crazy in the end. So I don’t know whether to take their path and just love people regardless of who they are or how they see me or if I should do the opposite, start living life for me and me alone, attempt to stop caring about people who are “unworthy”, whatever that means. I just don’t know. But I am done crying over this. People can suck all they want, they don’t deserve my tears. I’ll try to do my thing, write some books and some more poetry and just surround myself with good people, even if I have to resort to old videos online because they died or are far away.

Oh and if I fail the resit of this class I failed, I will have to drop out and redo the whole year next year. Not gonna do that. I decide this is going to be my last year at this university. If I fail, I’m dropping out for good. I will either find something else to study elsewhere or I’ll start looking for a better job but I am not restarting this programme next year if I fail. I said so last night and my mum agreed so it’s decided.

I did remember the advice my mum’s weird friend gave me last week at a party we threw. She told me I should write down everything I like and then see what jobs might come out. I did. It made me feel a bit better. I ended up with 10 potential jobs, and only a few of those are ridiculous but they had to be written down. I got author, translator, embassy (worker), travel guide, English teacher (abroad, though I hate teaching but being elsewhere would help a lot), poet, content creator (intentionally vague), world leader, monarch (I’m sure this is the most realistic option here but it might be too easy so I’ll leave it on the backburner for now and focus on something that would take a little more effort on my end).

I’m sure after this shitfest of feelings you’re all super stoked to read more stuff I wrote. Here goes.

Another time, another era

When he painted he was free. This was something he’d known from the moment he dipped his fat finger in the little jar of paint as a toddler in pre-school. Nowadays he used brushes and sponges and other tools but every once in a while a painting called for some finger action that he was always happy to provide.

He took a step back and observed his creation. He’d started on a portrait but somewhere halfway through he abandoned the idea. The result was an abstract work with many bright colours, yet it had something sinister, as if the paint was about to melt and something dark would appear from behind it, something that remained hidden, that should remain hidden.

It was his heartbreak. Ever since that summer his paintings had a haunting quality, seeming cheerful but feeling rather sinister the more you observed them. He wasn’t sure how others experienced them – he refused to read the reviews – but every time he looked at his work he got scared all over again.

She was there beside him, always, to comfort him if he needed it. She saw through his happy façade and pushed him forward when all he wanted was to look back and remember those blissful days.

She understood. Her own girlfriend had abandoned her in favour of a loveless but conventional marriage to a man of decent standing, some banker who would spoil her and satisfy her family. What could she have expected? Women were not allowed to be together like that, she knew that, yet she couldn’t help her rapidly beating heart, the warmth that gathered in her chest at the sight of those crimson lips, that soft jaw, that sharp nose. Johanna. She was in love.

He could sense her sadness, her longing, as it mirrored his own. It was kind of pathetic, how much they had given only to have it all thrown back in their faces, to see the resentment in their lovers’ eyes.

“You seduced me,” Markus had spit at him as if their moments together had meant nothing. “I never would’ve strayed without you.” His usually warm eyes now seemed icy, all tenderness long gone.

“I wish we’d never met.”

It was too much to bear. He dropped down on his knees and let his tears flow freely. Why had he left? Were they not in this together? The new legislation had even decriminalised sodomy; things were finally looking up. Why now?

It was getting hard to breathe. He curled forward and slammed the floor with his fists. Why wasn’t he good enough? Wasn’t love enough?

He started to shiver. If only he’d been born a woman. If only…

He couldn’t finish his thought. Would things be better in the future? If he’d been born a hundred years from now, would they have been able to lead a quiet life? Why was it so wrong for him to love a man?

She found him like that an hour later. She looked at the envelope in her hand once more, then at him, then back at the envelope. It was pretty, his name written in ornate golden writing. She put it away. There was no reason to hurt him more. He would read about it in the newspaper tomorrow anyway.

She kneeled down and hugged his limp form. If only she hadn’t introduced Johanna and Markus.

Happy Halloween?

Halloween wasn’t really a thing here until a few years ago. The standard candy-getting holiday here was Sint Maarten (Nov 11th) and the standard dress-up holiday was Carnaval (5 days, ending on Ash Wednesday, I think) but I guess US culture is seeping in. I wasn’t initially going to do anything but then I realised I hadn’t posted in a while and I do have a short piece ready that’s a little too creepy to post any other day so here we are.

October was alright, not as hectic as September so I actually had time to recover. Unfortunately November is going to be September-like, though December should be October-like, schedule-wise. Hopefully my planned trip to Milan with my sister will be enough to keep me going through all the stress.

When skies cry

When the rain stopped, he went inside. His hair was dripping wet, leaving drops on the floor. His body shook, the cold having made its way to his bones. No fire could heat up the kind of cold he felt in his heart though.

None of it mattered anymore. The only reason he kept himself alive was so he could prolong the torment. He couldn’t end his own suffering, nor did he want to. He deserved so much worse.

It didn’t matter what society decided either. He was a vile specimen that never should’ve seen the light of day.

He lit the fire anyway and slowly undressed. By the time he was naked the fire was ablaze. Without a moment of hesitation he stepped into the flames. How long would he be able to last this time?

All the wetness evaporated, leaving him to endure the heat. Even the pain didn’t pierce his stone-cold heart. He wanted to scream but he couldn’t allow himself to. When the heat became too much to handle, he endured some more.

Finally he stepped out from the flames and fell to the floor. Everything hurt like hell, literally.

No one would come to his rescue. They didn’t last time and they wouldn’t now. He was all alone here.

His burnt skin stuck to the floor as if glued. He’d lasted so much longer this time. Would he recover from these wounds? He didn’t doubt it for a second. Still, the sight of him must be even more gruesome than before. They deserved it though, just as much as he did.

He’d vowed never to hurt another person again so he couldn’t make them pay the way his heart desired but he could torture them with his visage. Soon they’d all be dead anyway. It was only a matter of time.

Healing

Am I the only one who thinks Korean and Arabic have a similar sound? They’re both really pleasing to my ears but it goes further than that. Back when I was even worse at Korean than I am now, I would occasionally mistake the two. Nowadays that no longer happens but I still see similarities. Perhaps one day I’ll attempt learning Arabic too.

Lately I’ve been struggling to write anything at all but I couldn’t really pinpoint why. I’m still not sure but my best guess would be stress. My life is currently filled with so many activities I feel like I’m heading into an abyss. I don’t want to relapse from stress. I’m not sure how I’m going to approach this problem yet but at least I managed to write a little snippet today.

Healing

In this reason to believe me I have found myself.

In this darkness that surrounds me I am just myself.

In solitude, without you here, I can hardly breathe.

In this ocean of forgiveness I learn to live with that.

Let my faults be faults

Let my dreams be dreams

I reconcile with myself.

And perhaps some day

In a year or so

I’ll accept your apology.

I’ll show you

It’s been ages since I’ve written anything. Between school, work, and sleep, I haven’t had time to do much of anything, and when I did have time my energy levels were at a low. I don’t know how to find time to write anymore.

I’m currently at home, skipping school because my body hurts all over. I hit my back on the corner of the bar at work while cleaning and at taekwondo a friend accidentally jumped on my leg while doing an exercise so I’ve been trying very hard not to move today so I’ll be fit for work this weekend.

One thing I did manage to write is this poem, which remains untitled for now.

Untitled, september

If I show you my face,

Will you welcome me with this same openness?

If I tell you my story,

Will you tear it apart?

If I allow you a glimpse,

Will you be satisfied?

Or will you demand more,

As if I owe you in return for your support?

You are not entitled to my time,

My secrets, my thoughts.

Enjoy my art and the snippets I give you,

Without leeching for more, sucking me dry.

I’m a shell, all is out in the open.

Are you satisfied yet?

How much more will it take?

Is this the price of fame?

Privacy no more than a dream forgotten

In the spotlight, under a magnifying glass.

Now you know everything.

Am I worthy or will you move on to the next

Victim? Shower them with you love until

They thank you for killing them?

What started out so innocent, so well-meaning,

So loving: when did it become so toxic?

I miss you. Please leave me alone.

No one’s awake

Even though I have friends and family all over the world, no one is awake or available to talk right now. And that sucks because I’ve had an awful nightmare and could use a distraction so here I am. You can be the audience. Maybe writing it down will get it out of my head. It’s currently 5.15 am and I’ve been awake for some 20 min now, trying to stop thinking about it.

I don’t have nightmares super often but they do occur about once a month, which is 12 times too many each year in my personal opinion, but what can you do? I used to be such a good sleeper. I don’t know what happened. This is the third time I woke up tonight too. So on to the nightmare. I don’t really tag stuff but I’ll let you know now it was about sexual abuse so if you need/want to quit reading, now would be the time.

I don’t remember how it all began because it was such a long time ago but I, a student at school, was being sexually abused by a professor. Now the school set up was weird. I lived at a dorm, as did all the professors. His was in the basement, where our only tea and coffee machine was. The cups we used were the same ones we have at work. Next door lived Luke from SMG4 (the youtuber, idk why) and next to that a guy I met two weeks ago, who was an exchange student in the dream so he’d be leaving soon. I don’t know where my personal dorm was but it was probably far away.

He’d been abusing me for a while and I’d wanted out so I finally did something about it. Initially I wasn’t really believed so nothing much changed but they did keep accuser and accused apart as much as they could, without putting in too much effort. One day we’d gone swimming but the showers turned out to be unisex so while I was topless (guess now’s as good at time as any to mention I’m a woman) some dudes came by and we got scared. But they were harmless, though annoying, so they left quickly. However, while I was brushing the shampoo out of my eyes, someone, i.e. my abuser Ron, hugged me and pressed me against his bare chest. Now I’m not short (175cm) but my face was against his chest so he was tall. He pressed me so hard though I felt like I couldn’t breathe but I was also scared of him and didn’t want to have anything to do with him. So I fled, though I would be returning for my clothes later.

Then, a few days later, we had a barbecue outside and I was in a shit mood already. Ron had been following me around, trying to touch me again, but somehow I’d mostly managed to avoid him. Still, he got in a few fucks (rapes) so I was pretty done with the world. The headmistress, my boss, needed someone to bring us more food from the kitchen so she asked who would get it. She made a joke about me getting it since I was already up (to wash my hands because they were sticky for some reason) but I wasn’t in the mood so I ignored her. I had to go to the basement, though, because the kitchen was too small. When I tried to round the corner I was terrified of running into Ron so I acted almost like a spy (albeit a terrified one). When I saw the coast was clear, I went for it anf washed my hands, made some tea. Only then did I notice Ron sleeping in the room next door. Scared he’d wake, I grabbed my tea and wanted to flee but he woke up so I ran into Thomas’ room instead, which was occupied by Luke for some reason, and begged him to hide me. We hid behind his bed. We whispered a little but suddenly we got information that Ron could see us so we got up and ran, tea still in hand.

Thomas and Luke, scared too, were faster than me so they got away quickly, leaving Ron to follow me. He grabbed me but I managed to kick him off. When he got close again, I threw my hot tea (with milk) at his face, causing him to fall down the stairs. I was shocked but still ran. He recovered way too quickly and came after me. I considered suicide by jumping off the railing but I feared I might not die and he would come to touch me one last time. That seemed like a horrible way to go so I ran. I was screaming HELP at the top of my lungs by then bur no one came to help me. He was getting so close and I was so scared. Eventually I saw a full classroom and ran in, hiding behind the teacher, telling him to save me. Don’t let him touch me. Don’t let him hurt me. Please save me. My entire face was soaked by then from tears, snot coming out of my nose. I was shaking but I kept repeating these three things. Don’t let him touch me. Don’t let him hurt me. Please save me.

I’ve never felt so scared in my life. My heartbeat was going crazy; I could feel the terror. I was so scared and upset.

At that point I woke up, heart still racing, so I guess I’ll never know whether I was saved. I hope I was.

Crushed

This time I’ve got two poems to share. They were written within hours of each other and follow a similar theme. I’m not usually one for romantic poetry because I can’t really identify with those feelings but I’ve managed to get myself a crush so I decided to indulge.

I’m usually awful with crushes, trying to suppress them to the best of my ability, to varying degrees of success, but this time I figured I should try to do the adulty thing and just let it be, accept it, and move on. If it helps me improve my skills, why not embrace it?

The first one is my first romantic poem ever and I’m not sure what to think of it. I’m not a big fan of it but I felt I should share it so I can at least get some feedback. The second one I do like. The ending in particular cracks me up every time I read it.

I don’t know when I’ll update the blog next. I’ve been dealing with an eye infection, and throat and ear issues, so my energy’s been very low. On top of that, school is starting too. But who knows? I might surprise you (and myself).

Poem #1:

untitled 27-08-2018

swaying on a beat
only you can hear
creative juices flowing
the rhythmic beating of your heart
I feel it
when you touch me
in passing, deliberately
a look, a wink, a secret exchange
it’s not for the public
just you and me, too fragile
kiss me, feverish lips on mine
make me move in tune
the smoke never bothered me
not when I’m with you
I feel weightless
breathless but worry-free
I’ve fallen for you
be my friend, teach me
stay by my side, 내 옆에 있어
영원히, forever’s just a word
we’re in this moment
all that matters
your hand in mine
bodies swaying, electric touch
just one night

poem #2:

Micha

Sometimes I wish I could play the piano so I could release the melody that plays within me whenever I see you
Sometimes I wish I could draw, just to sketch your smiling face
Sometimes I wish I could sing so I could give you a reason to dance
And sometimes I wish I could film, just to capture your essence on screen
But I was blessed with a talent for writing so I sing your praise with these words
No words do justice to the beauty that is you, even were I to write a million more
Most of all I wish I was with you so we could make art together