The glorious and triumphant return of now-19 year old Blogger, the revival of a once-grand and dare I say influential webspace that produced daily content, and the crippling anxiety of a young woman who no longer has any time or motivation to write, and feels like any ability she had acquired in the past through repetition and sheer will alone is now slowly slipping out of her grasp. Brief history of the Blog and Blogger can be found here.

Here be personal journal entries, observations, slices of life, questions and conclusions, as well as exploration of social and political topics seen through the lens of a Malaysian Muslim, feminist, lesbian, Marxist, and horse enthusiast.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Everything Will Glow For You

On Wednesday, Hanna and I watched Frozen. I guess I should really elucidate the progression of my one-week sickness because it culminated in yet another of my mom's now infamous mental breakdowns yesterday. I started to get a tickle at the back of my throat on Monday morning and by that afternoon, I was completely unable to get out of bed. My adventures as a quarantined invalid was made worse by the fact that I was on my period and I had a new cat to take care of. (I named her Ilse - she used to live at my granddad's house with maybe 20 other cats, but my granddad's old and can't be bothered to wake up to the smell of cat poop every day so he wants to send all the cats to the market and just leave them there for someone to pick up. I have a heart, you know, so I took Ilse even though I wanted her brother who was white with brown spots). Also, my mom didn't give me normal cough syrup - the kind that made you drowsy and tasted like what you would think cough syrup tastes like - she gave me some herbal alcohol-free and sugar-free concoction that's made from some kind of leaf. It tastes a little like green tea and is supposed to reduce throat irritation and phlegm, but so far, it's had no affects on me, positive or otherwise.

I finished a box of tissues and was unable to taste food or smell until Hanna came around. It was like she was my magical charm or something because once I got my hands in her hair, I caught a great whiff of the hair dye smell. And from then on, I was able to taste my orange-flavored Strepsils.

Even though I was still sickly (and my mom didn't waste a single opportunity to remind me of this fact), I got my mom to drive Hanna and I to Paradigm (I already got my driver's license at this point, actually, but I'm too anxious to start driving and my parents wouldn't let me either, I'm sure. I got the P stickers too. My mom went to collect them for me on Tuesday. I was too lazy to go out but I told her I was feeling too sick to get out of bed. The new license is ugly and is the color of public restroom walls. The JPJ are talking about a new and improved system or whatever, but the only thing they've managed to accomplish is to delay every single process by if not three weeks, then at least a few days later than it was originally. Intan took the computerized written test - the one you have to pass to attain an L license - and the results were only calculated the next day. It's a computerized objective test). Our measly breakfast of bread at 11 am apparently satisfied Hanna, but I was kind of hungry. She wanted some Crazy Potato, though, and got some fried squid thing, so I got a cupful of spaghettini. There was surprisingly a lot of spaghetti in that small cup, and it was nice and hot and only $8, so I was happy. We sneaked our Crazy Potato into the cinema and even though we only bought the tickets about half an hour ago, we got pretty good seats and managed to sit in row C. I don't think I bothered the person sitting next to me much this time around, except that some scenes in the movie were so cute, I flailed my hands around every now and then. There's not much to do in Paradigm, so Hanna and I had unsatisfying tea at a deli (well, it was okay for me, but they were out of tomato soup so Hanna ended up having to order the exact same thing I did, which happens far more often than I'm actually comfortable with). We talked about how, if we were just a little bit taller or had longer legs or something, we would practically be perfect. And as obviously that wasn't desirable (because it would be quite sad for everyone else, not being perfect and all), God decided to make us short, or rather, fun-sized. My mom picked us up around 6 or so.

On Thursday, I was feeling slightly worse for wear and I blamed it on the fact that I had unnecessarily exerted myself the previous day and also, I had no one around to physically distract me. I guess that's why on Wednesday night, after Hanna left, I broke down and started crying because I got it into my head that I was too much of a useless and selfish human being to take care of three cats, much less four, and that I was going to have to ask my mom to give Ilse back. I told my mom all this in the morning and started crying in front of her and I mentioned how Fluffy wouldn't sleep or even hang out in my room anymore since we brought the new kitty home. That evening, I walked into my parents room demanding to know where Ilse was (she slept in my bathroom at the time but my mom took her downstairs occasionally) and my mom said that she was in the kitchen and she and Fluffy got along now, and that she was apparently smart enough not to run out of the house to explore the garden and further territories even though all the windows were wide open (it was raining, but whatever. Still impressive). So that issue solved itself.

I was supposed to go to Nisa's house to 'talk' on Thursday. We haven't talked for months, ever since I called her a stupid fuck on Twitter for being insensitive and she took it to heart, which led to me wanting to talk about what an insecure little asshole she was being and her constantly rebuffing all my attempts, which led to a lot of messy communication via text and e-mail, and Nisa told me that she didn't want to deal with it until SPM was over, which I agreed wholeheartedly with. For once, it's nice to not come out of a fight with a friend as the definite asshole and instigator, so that was nice. Nisa said a lot of what I guess can be considered emotional stuff in her e-mail to me, about how school was very hard without having me around and that she had looked up to me as a source of strength. All of that made me wildly uncomfortable, so we never got around to discussing it. Not on Thursday, because Nisa had to take a rain check because she had to go out somewhere, and not on Friday either, when I actually did go to her house.

On the way to Nisa's, my mom started on how I shouldn't even be out of the house, I was still sick. I was wearing a skirt and still hadn't taken off my black nail polish, and she went in on me because I asked her why she was being so touchy. She told me that it was because I was taking it to an extreme, and that not only should I not be flashing my thighs around, I should have my head covered, too. She asked me why I hated them (my parents) so much and why I didn't love them, committing such sins that will inevitably end up on their shoulders until the day I get a husband (because that apparently is the time that the sins of daughters stop being equally shared between parent and daughter). She said it was all right for other people, because their parents were still young and mine were old and could die at any time soon. And she cried a lot all throughout this speech and I didn't say anything because I didn't want to antagonize her, or act like I didn't have any empathy for her. Which, I didn't and I don't. It's selfish and self-serving but if I added my parents' worries of the hereafter on top of my own (which I'm still sorting through) then we'd be here all day and I'd probably lose all will to get out of bed in the mornings. I've talked about this ad-nauseam: I don't want to subscribe to the individualistic social mores practiced in Western cultures where children don't respect their parents and cart them off to old folks' homes the first chance they get (which I don't actually believe is all that common. And I think the best type of family is one that is open, supportive and full of loving, tolerant and non-bigoted people, which is less common where I live than where my American and European friends live. But I've only lived here all my life and what I know about the big bad West, I know from television, so I'll rely on accounts made by diaspora kids who seem to know a lot more about the sociocultural landscape of Western societies than I do). But at the same time, I really don't care much about my parents because they never raised me to care for them.

And I'm not blaming them, as much as a sentence like that can be neutral towards a perpetrator versus victim dichotomy. I just don't understand where my parents are coming from. Or rather, yes, I do understand, but I disagree so vehemently, it's like they're telling me that if I don't do what they say, a unicorn is going to come and shit on my face in the middle of the night while I'm asleep. Like, that's not going to happen in a million years. Neither is most of what they're afraid is going to happen, probably. My mom listens to radio hosts talk about the proper way for a Muslim to sleep (we can't sleep on our backs, apparently, and must lay down on a specific side facing a specific direction). After the thing where my dad asked my mom whether she would be down with polygamy and she freaked out on him as she totally had the right to do, they've leveled up on the whole religious fundamentalism thing. I guess with all the guilt they're each individually burdened with, they're just afraid that the sins they've committed in their lifetime are insurmountable. Also, they're 60, so they've got the whole mortality question staring them in the face everyday. As a 17 year old, I don't have to think about my own mortality, and I hardly think about my parents dying much either, because I'd rather just relegate those thoughts to the back-burner. Besides, my main issue with death is the fact that I'm afraid I'll have an inappropriate reaction to it, like I did during the family bowling session we had for my 15th birthday when my sister broke her arm and I cried the whole night because I had to spend my birthday in a hospital and I didn't get my ice cream cake.

So I try to empathize. I don't try all that hard, though, because they don't bother to empathize with me, they have never actually done that, I think, and while yes, they've been very financially and socially supportive of me and granted me massive amounts of freedom and like they've routinely reminded me, they fulfill most of my wishes while I rarely return the courtesy or the sentiment, I've never had the sense that they 'understood', or have tried to understand me. I don't actually think they think personal feelings and emotions (and thoughts and opinions as well) have any stock in real life. The only thing they hold to be paramount is belief and devotion to God, and that is the end of that. I think to them, our sojourn in the life of the living is not a journey, but rather a stagnant period where we're supposed to understand our purpose in life as a worshipful servant of God from day one until our death, and life truly begins after we die and enter the gates of paradise (or drop down into hell). All of those are, I guess, not entirely untrue. And they can't have had this mindset their whole lives. My mom admits herself that when she was younger, she didn't even think twice about finding a husband who's qualified to 'guide her on the path to salvation'. Just because our country was hit by a tidal wave of Islamization, apparently now all the youngsters are expected to shed their youthful curiosity and wonder and just jump on the bandwagon without any questions. I think I'd empathize and definitely love them (more) if they would allow me to talk and express my concerns, instead of putting a dead end to all questions with 'because God made it that way'.

I don't know what else to say about my parents, really. I'll change my mind about them when I grow older and I'll maybe forgive them for their lack of understanding, as well as come to fully appreciate their sacrifices divorced from the guilt trips and incoherent sermons that accompanied them. I think that's mostly something you develop as you grow older and understand the full extent of the human capacity to make mistakes and be jackasses. But right now I've got college to worry about, and I've only started to come into myself and build up a strong and steady foundation for my self esteem. I can only pray that there will be time.

But back to Nisa. I caught her up on everything that was going on with my parents, something I didn't even tell Hanna about, and she told me about what's been going on with her own parents. I guess it wasn't awkward, or if it was I wouldn't be able to make that call anyways considering the fact that I am always awkward. Situations others consider awkward hardly phase me. We ordered McDonald's (I shouldn't have, really - I was still sick) and watched half of We're the Millers before Marissa and her driver arrived to pick me up. So that's the whole Nisa thing taken cared of. I don't quite know how to feel about this whole situation yet, but since nothing seems to be happening that's worth getting worked up over, and regardless of the fact that we didn't 'talk' about anything that actually mattered, we did manage to return to some semblance of normalcy (which, go figure, never included heartfelt confessions in the first place).

Went to Sunway with Marissa, Sya and Roo. We actually did shop this time. I was wearing the same high-heeled boots I wore to OU with the gang last Thursday, and I was sick, so I wasn't in much of a mood to shop, and of course towards the end there, I was only still standing on my feet through sheer willpower alone. I got a t-shirt at Uniqlo for sale and another tube of lipstick that, would you believe it, actually looked the same as two lipstick colors I already owned. Roo shopped mostly. She had been at the mall since 12.30 pm and the rest of us only arrived at, like, 2.30. She got stuff at Uniqlo and later on, I helped her out in choosing the right shade of lipstick. She was profusely thankful to me for this, but I didn't really help her much, on account of the fact that I do not feel comfortable hanging out just the two of us so I barely offered her advice other than what we had already discussed on Twitter.

I told them that I had a good time watching Frozen and Marissa (who had watched the movie) agreed that it was just the cutest thing to hit cinemas this year. Roo said she was going to boycott it, though, because in the original Hans Christian Andersen version of The Snow Queen, there were more female characters and they cut it out just to add Kristoff and that snowman. I haven't read the story because it looks long and I'm trying to finish the entire Princess Diaries series by Sunday (which is tomorrow) so that I can do some Real Reading come next week, but I did read the Wikipedia article. It looks to me that Frozen, while not exactly groundbreaking material, gets more points for not being a story centered around a guy and girl couple, and they interpreted the 'act of true love' as love between two sisters, instead of your run of the mill heterosexual love story. And, like, I really have no idea how big a part the female characters who were cut out and replaced with Kristoff and Olaf played in the story, but Wikipedia didn't make much of them. They just read a lot of Bible verses and prayers and didn't even have names. I don't know why they even call this movie 'loosely based' on Andersen's story, it's almost like two completely separate things. I know they took their liberties with Tangled, but at least that girl had long hair and was named Rapunzel and had a crazy foster mother. The first Narnia book resembles The Snow Queen more than Frozen does.

So I don't know where I was going with this. Not to say Roo's wrong for boycotting a movie out of feminist convictions, but those are some really weird convictions, considering this is Disney. Disney made Pocahontas. But really, when I saw that Anna and Elsa were both white, petite and thin with facial features bearing striking resemblance to each other (yes, I know they're sisters) and Rapunzel, plus that stupid comment from one of the animators about how hard women's features are to animate, all 'feminist' merits of Frozen are rendered moot ("When will Disney have Princesses that aren't thin or orientalized POC?" Why I'm glad you asked). Other than that, I also thought that Elsa and Anna's relationship, while sweet and touching on paper, didn't play out with quite as much impact as Anna's relationships with her two love interests (like, there's the fact that Anna spends a lot more time with Kristoff during her search for Elsa than she did actually interacting with Elsa - or at least it seemed like it), so the ending was anti-climactic (I can't help thinking it would be better if they did more singing towards the end). Overall, my beef with the movie is the same one I had with Brave. Like, yes, it's great we're not focusing the entire story around true love between a man and a woman and instead, highlight the importance of sisterly love (and in Brave's case, mother-and-daughter love). But it really feels like any sort of plot is subsumed by the onerous idea of love, and the effect is that I'm left slightly underwhelmed. One last thing: the song distribution. Good God, man. Yeah, it's bad that you had Jon Groff and didn't allow him to sing anything substantial (I can't even remember if he did sing! I just saw someone on Tumblr said that he did, a little), but having all the songs jam-packed at the beginning and then just peter out like that? No closing number? If you're going to have all these good singers singing songs and call your movie a 'musical', you could at least have a closing number. I think that's only fair.

We didn't eat or anything, but we did end up at Starbucks. Only all the tables inside were full so we sat out in the heat. I took my sweater off and replaced it with a cardigan later on. I took a sip of everyone's drinks (Roo was the only one who was drinking Chatime because everyone insisted on this truly Malaysian rite of passage; Sya and Mars had Starbucks drinks) which is not really something I should have done because I was still sick and I got germs and and lipstick stains on their straws. Roo asked me to finish her Chatime and I did. My flu and strep throat was just starting to get better and I was already drinking God knows what. And when I got home, I was feeling so tired and lethargic, I went downstairs to peer into the fridge for some reason and ended up gulping down some Coke. My mom would scream her head off if she found out. Speaking of that.

I forgot to mention that my mom's breakdown in the car on the way to Nisa's house was probably partly attributed (or maybe for the most part attributed) to the fact that she was upset at my sister, who was traveling on vacation to Vietnam with her girlfriend Kirsten's entire family and she didn't tell my mom. The only reason my parents know was because I had asked them when she was leaving. How was I supposed to know that she didn't plan on telling them? I think my sister was furious at me for a while about that, because we didn't talk for, like, weeks. My mom keeps wondering out loud why my sister is so close with Kirsten. I think she still thinks Kirsten's a Christian missionary in disguise, set out to convert my sister by forging a 3 year long friendship with her, even sharing an apartment with her and converting to Islam. I didn't really believe this was something a person could conceivably think, but then the UMNO people started talking about how our next general election is going to be accompanied by a wave of Christianization and maybe, just maybe, the hardcore Islamists in this country really are just that crazy. Whatever, I still maintain that my parents talk about my sister's lesbianism behind my back and the only reason they don't say anything outright to my face is because they think I have no clue what gay people are. Or maybe they're trying to keep me from becoming more interested in the gays, considering I already have a framed picture of Chris Colfer in my room and have expressed my admiration for Yasmin Ahmad, who is apparently, a trans* woman. None of this explains why they don't say anything to my sister's face, though, but I don't think they really know how to do that - confrontation, that is. My mom's all fine with confronting my dad about his stupid ideas and throwing things at him, and my dad's fine with telling my mom that she's a flake who doesn't know how to be fiscally responsible to save her life, but telling your own daughter that being gay is wrong is apparently totally out of the question since deviant sexual preferences and practices are taboo.

The whole Vietnam situation was exacerbated by the fact that my sister's not even going via KLIA airport, she's traveling from Singapore's airport. Maybe that makes some kind of financial sense or saves time or something, but my parents are of the belief that she's doing this to avoid seeing them or having them ever find out about this trip. Well, I went ahead and ruined that last one. It is sort of unfair of my mom to displace all the anger and frustration she has for her lesbian daughter on her other lesbian daughter (but I didn't even do anything other than wear short skirts and nailpolish. I'm definitely not the one trying to avoid them at all cost and flying off to another country with my girlfriend and her entire family). And I don't really get what they're so worried about. I am pretty sure I'm not going to turn out like my sister. Whether or not I come out to them (I do want to after I'm living completely independent from them, like, three years after I graduate or something, but I don't think my family's above honor killing or hiring someone to kidnap and corrective rape me, I just really don't), I'm not going to sever all contact with them for the rest of my life. Every time I'm mad at my parents (which is almost every single second of every day), I still end up on autopilot walking to their room and hanging out with them for a while. I don't even know why, that's just what happens. So I'm not my sister. I can definitely work this whole gay thing better than my sister. Or so I keep saying, but I'm 17 and I can't even drive so I have yet to really be granted the 'freedom' to work anything.

All this talk about my parents is suitably depressing. On the brighter side of things, I'm organizing a Secret Santa this year with all my friends, even though only two of them celebrate Christmas (I'm just really into the gift-giving aspect of it. Like, why are we giving each other gifts? Who knows but the whole secret thing sure makes it a hell of a lot more fun). People involved are me (I'm the organizer), Mars, Sya, Elia, Mei and Roo. I found an online Secret Santa generator that basically takes care of every single aspect, right down to wish lists we can write and share with everyone. I drew Roo's name, which was not really what I was expecting, but she's definitely easier to shop for than Mei or Elia. I was thinking I'd get her votive candles, the cheap ones, and decorate the glass casing with pictures of her fave characters like Dany and Arya from Game of Thrones and Rachel Berry, and put Nicki Minaj lyrics on them. And I'd still have money leftover to get her earrings and lipstick without going too over budget because votive candles are cheap and you can get them at dollar stores.

It's nice to see all my friends excited for this, and it's really nice to know that it was my idea! I don't feel too bad about taking credit for this because in the end everyone's going to get presents and I'm not going to lie and say it's a chore to think of and then buy or make the perfect holiday gift package for Roo, or anyone of them. I haven't even thought about who my Secret Santa is, because I really don't care and I trust all of them to get me something I'm going to enjoy and be extremely over the moon about, considering everyone's so nice and creative and... Sya just told me she was broke, so I hope she's not my Santa. She asked if she could make something as a present, and when I said yes and asked her whether she was going to DIY a t-shirt (she's good at that), she said no, she was thinking of baking a cake, so I don't think she's my Santa anyways, because I specifically asked for no food.

The exchange is supposed to take place by the 20th, at which time we'll all take to Twitter and open our presents, hopefully simultaneously. It's nice to end a post on a happy note, so I think I'll stop here before my dad comes up and demands I go down and help him mow the lawn or something like that.

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