So far

It is currently 2:13 am and I am forcing myself to write. I have forgotten how great it feels to walk around in the dark, naked. I am beyond full from a tray of Animal Style fries from In-N-Out – maximal gut distension- and am relying on green tea to kickstart my metabolism. I have been finding it difficult to refuse things I don’t even need. I am not listening to my body.

Last time I felt compelled to write, it was 6am on a Monday as I was riding the buzz off the coffee I’d chugged to complete an application for a minor (due later Monday). But alas, I did my French homework and went to sleep. I would like to reiterate that college is not conducive to hobby maintenance.

This quarter has involved a string of responsibilities I asked for but did not understand the realities of. I expected a quiet quarter- more space for relationships to grow, more time to weave networks. Instead, it’s been stacked acapella rehearsals, greater investment in the Schizophrenia treatment lab, lots of planning for my sorority’s philanthropy. I attempted a 21-day fast (learning as I went) and have recently come off a binge. Post-Application/Stress Monday was cheat day. As was every day since.

Whenever God changes something within me- whenever I am no longer struggling – I seek out the very things I’ve been saved from. No longer craving peanut butter? Let’s eat peanut butter for the hell of it. I remember post-fast brownies: disgusting. But I kept eating, hoping the next bite would taste as good as I had once remembered. My first bite of an Oreo was strange- not nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. How interesting. Why, Lord, do we still chase our former idols? It’s like, not wanting to take antidepressants for fear of getting better- for fear of transformation. Who would I be without my vices?

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of who He has created me to be: free. All things are permissible but not everything is beneficial. I am mindful of what I put inside my body. I take only what I need, no more, no less. I am content, I do not crave. I seek Him first, over any material goods, and I live according to the belief that all actions have a spiritual consequence.

Although I am so far from this goal, I have faith that God can take the worst of me and write me a beautiful story of transformation. My evils will teach me Your redeeming grace, Father.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:15

 

Cum laude

I don’t know whether it’s a bigger deal in America or whether my fam is particularly nonchalant about it. Like, sure, we’re proud of you as the eldest son who has just graduated college, here are some congratulatory messages over Whatsapp. Send us photos. We want to tell you how great you look in your overpriced robe and cap.

I thought: perhaps I should care more– what do you give people when they graduate? I decided to get my brother a lei because apparently it’s customary and I thought he might appreciate one more piece of the American pie, in the same way I’ve enjoyed the experience of getting drive-thru McD’s and sitting on a Big Yellow Bus.

Because I’m sitting in the nosebleeds, miles away from the action, I’d rather be an observer than a lame participant. There will be no screams from me. Only zooming in on my brother from afar as he gets up to go to the bathroom. Only tolerating Asian parents yelling on either side of me.

Blue and gold is not a practical colour scheme. Let’s be real, it’s blue and yellow. The graduates file in one by one and from where I sit, they look like marching ants. Generation Y graduation involves documentation from the first-person perspective: what it’s like to stand next to your classmates and hashtag #graduation, what it’s like to see your face blown up on the big screen when a camera gets in your face. I see so many smart phones, it’s epidemic. Even a grandparent of a grandparent is tapping her big screen, tracking dear Billy’s every movement. “So many ‘dabs’, so many Colgate smiles and Queen Elizabeth waves”, dads type excitedly with one finger to uncles twice removed.

I learn my cum laudes. I check out the boys and the bedazzled caps. And I agree with the professor that the Humanities often get shit on even though hard science majors can’t write. I will take no part in childish rivalries.

In the end, I rush out to take your picture. I want this to be special for you. You’re right, graduation is just a ritual for the community. Get fucked up on spirits because hey we did this together- it’s a reason to celebrate. I like that, though. Let’s find every excuse for celebration. You did it. If no one will say it, not even yourself, I will. I am so proud of you.

Onwards

At first I was going to attribute my lack of feeling to how surreal it is to finally be out of high school. I feel like I’m on holiday (which… is bad as I should be working towards my final exams). I haven’t thought much about loss, and maybe it’s because I’d already disconnected a while ago. Set my eyes forward, bags packed and ready.

I don’t yearn for another day in the quads occupied by kids playing downball, partitioning chair space with a friend (like, I’ll take the arm-rest this time, you take the seat) in the Senior School Center, or waiting in line for Teriyaki Chicken Rice in the pouring rain (ain’t nothing gonna stop us). I wouldn’t trade all my tomorrow’s for a gossip session during lunch to catch up on weekend festivities, or last-minute revision with coffee and a panicky friend. But I regard the memories with something like respect. I don’t and won’t discredit what the school and the people I’ve grown up with have done for me. I can’t be thankful enough for the people (even the ones I won’t miss) who made my school experience what it was, and more than that, for forming the pillars of my adolescence- for giving me stability. Somehow, I’ve gone from being completely naive and terrified of algebra, to being a little more critical, a little more skeptical (perhaps even cynical) and grudgingly accepting of mathematics. From annoying teachers to wasted supervision lessons, the incredibly frustrating moments are what I can look back on with a certain fondness.

At first, I wondered why I was immune to it all: the bawling, the sentimental posts that keep popping up left and right. People are coming to the realization that I’ve had ever since summer. Those who love me and matter to me will stay in my life; we’ll keep in touch. I have confidence in my friendships as of now. Those who once loved me and who I once loved will be left in the past. Some people from the first category will transition into the second. I’ve acknowledged this and I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve met some truly amazing people that I’d like to keep for as long as I can and I’ve been blessed with moments of elation, inspiration, and connection. But what once would have shattered me no longer fazes me. I have learned to let go.

So, on graduation day, I smiled gleefully towards the sea of faces in the assembly hall, sporting a quality hangover and bedraggled hair, feeling as though I had just run a marathon. As we sang ‘Keep Holding On’, I was surrounded by pink, tear-streaked faces and a flurry of hands rushing to cover them. I just kept on smiling, happy to be at the end with everyone, this class of 2014 that I belong to. Happy it’s a beginning in disguise. I smiled as if to say sayonara suckaas! I’m outta here, and it’s been an awesome ride. Let the end credits roll, the cheesy trumpets swell, and finally, the velvety curtains drop with a heavy sigh. I’m on the edge of my seat for the next big thing.

What will you miss most?

A Grad Book question. Simple. Shouldn’t be too difficult to answer.

But what if I’ve been too busy staring at the ground, watching my feet plod on forward through this period of my life, too oblivious, too focused on getting out? What if I haven’t been appreciating these moments enough to miss them? Living through school as if making a pit-stop? Treating these days as temporary stepping stones to something else, something better in the future? Crossing days off the calendar, wading through summer to get to winter. And look how far I’ve come! It’s December. And then it’ll be New Years and the last months of high school.

I spend eight hours a day within the walls of my school, five days a week for around ten months a year, yet nothing worth mentioning springs to mind. I do not have an attachment to a specific chair or classroom or locker. School’s been a temporary home and now that it’s almost time to go, what causes me reluctance (if any)? Or will I go without hesitation, turning back only after I’m out the door to commemorate the journey that has gotten me to that point? Like looking down from the peak of a mountain, finally breathing in success from a long, arduous climb.

My friends are another matter altogether. I know I will miss them – the thought tugs at my heart. But I can’t think of one thing that I enjoy that summarizes the school experience for me. I don’t think I’ll miss the rush of finishing off a piece of work at 3am before the 7am deadline. Even though I’m all for learning, I don’t think I’ll miss sitting through lessons that I can’t differentiate from one another. It’s a shame but my memories of all my classes form this globular pulp. Apart from my old English teacher who’s probably the most genuine teacher I know, my current English teacher who looks like a ginger version of Loki from the Avengers, my hilarious-without-even-trying Biology teacher and maybe the nice canteen manager, what makes my school life more tolerable? What stories will I tell my grandchildren about highschool?

The best high school stories are ones that include a little rule-breaking and general naughtiness. Those still doesn’t summarize school for me (if it did I’d probably be expelled), but they do a good job of making me smile. Scribbling on supervision tables, carving into them with a ruler or a pair of scissors, staining them with Tipex, missing school for lunch at the mall (I kid you not), accidentally letting droplets of rain dribble down from umbrella’s onto people’s heads in the canteen line, sneaky texting, wearing fake casts to get out of swimming classes, passing around notes during supervision (Year 7 days), listening to music in class from one earphone through the arms of a sweater… These little acts of rebellion arise out of the monotony of school- school as a production line for educated pupils, citizens of tomorrow and all that.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish I could just experience without having to reach a destination- and be comfortable with that. It’s a very Keatsian thing to say, to value present sensation over goals and dreams of the future. It would definitely make it easier to answer the question: what will you miss most? And ensure that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing things worth missing.

2:10 am

Writing a post at 2:10 am on a school night is not the wisest decision and drinking rich coffee three hours ago was also not the best choice.
Here I am typing steadily as the aircon breathes, the fan slowly waves, and the clock ticks incessantly.

Today, for the first time in my life, I went busking on the streets (illegal in Hong Kong. We have a bad ass over hurrr). Not many shoppers and late night passersby heard me and I am extremely thankful for that, as my nerves caused me to lose some control over my voice. For some reason, my body was shaking. I was reacting physically to being in a performance-type situation, indicating how long it has been since I’ve sung in front of an audience alone. Being as critical as I am about my performances, the short, casual, and pretty much impromptu session helped me feel much less disappointed in myself. I loved the experience and have realized it’s always been on the bucketlist in my mind. Going to add and cross that one off!

I also spent the last few hours with her, watching her drink beer whilst I munched on a chocolate bar, curled up on a couch on the far side of the lounge. We confessed secrets and shared worries and doubts in our hearts. We talked about boys and God and faith and alcohol and sin and uncertainty. We talked about hope and motivation and planned for the future. The thing about meeting people in church is that it seems easier and more comfortable to share personal experiences without the fear of judgement. With essentially the same values and core principles in general, the support system feels genuine. I have not known her for that long but time itself is irrelevant; sometimes short-lived experiences leave lasting impressions. She’s leaving tomorrow and I’m going to miss her.

Sobe needs to sleep.

To remember.

French toast & other things

Eggs and jam are disgusting.
French toast and strawberry jam doesn’t sound too bad, but trust me… No. I’ll blame the horrid taste on the low quality jam and the soggy eggy bread combination. But whenever there is two of any kind of food and I have nothing better to do, I will eat it. And I should probably stop that.

I caught a taxi to school, thanked God for one just as I stepped out and onto my street and got to school early. We’re supposed to be signed in by 8:10, which used to be an impossible feat for my lazy self, and I’ve succesfully arrived before 8 for two days now.  Achievement!

I was also excited about the newly renovated two-floored canteen, where coffee is available and a salad bar casually chills. It’s just there. Against the wall. Looking fiiine. Unfortunately, it offers only one type of leafy greens. Lettuce. And the pineapples have that pale, canned look to them which makes them unappealing. Such a disappointment. And it turns out that the hot coffee is gross as well… But gross coffee is better than no coffee. I suspect the energy and feeling of productivity I felt today had more to do with the placebo effect than with the caffeine itself. But in thinking that its a placebo, does it stop working? :l Speaking of placebos: to ponder

I have also realized that I’m exceptionally good at spotting what people are looking at. When conversing with someone, I will always note whether or not they are looking into my eyes, at my nose, lips, shirt, or even the desk to my right. I don’t do it on purpose but I am always conscious of where he/she is looking. If people look away often, my mind will start to infer a reason for their behaviour. I’ll wonder if:
they’re shy
its a force of habit
I make them uncomfortable.

I don’t know.

I also worked hard today (compared to the Nothing that I do usually) so I feel good. & I’m happy hard work pays off. I was doing terribly in my internal biology assesments and was told that it’s one of those things that people either get the hang of or don’t. So basically, I was told that it wouldn’t make much of a difference to try again… But I went from an 8 to 15/18. !!! PARTY IT UP!
Encouragement that prayer and effort works.

That’s all that’s worth mentioning today.

From Sobe to Sobe to remember.