Gloomy Clock: Log #1

Today, too, let’s be functional.

I would stare at the mirror and thought that. I can’t even remember when did I last wake up feeling energised, I’m already too familiar with the lethargy that has been plaguing my days from start to end. I feel tired when I wake up, I still feel tired when I’m about to go to sleep. I really had to will myself,

Let’s be functional.

Let’s try to pay attention to the surroundings during today’s commute instead of get lost in thoughts again.

And so I tried.

There really were days where I’d wake up feeling weak, hardly able to move my limbs even just half an inch. I would sigh then. And as I did, I felt this sharp pang of guilt. Ah, there I sighed again. There I go being dramatic again.

Have I ever done anything for these past few months beside piling up guilt?

Five, six months.

November? December? October?

I didn’t mean to count, but I kept looking back. Five, six months of generally feeling ever so gloomy. Five, six months of repeatedly asking myself, why am I being like this?

It’s not like I don’t have any list of people I can reach out to. I do, though? Or so I convinced myself. I do or I don’t, what difference does it make. I’d still feel cut off from the world.

See, so dramatic.

I’m exhausted. I feel guilty for even feeling exhausted at all. I feel guilty for wanting to announce to the world that I’m exhausted. I feel guilty for taking this exhaustion so personally. Everyone is exhausted after all, and I really, cognitively, am aware of this. I can acknowledge that. Everyone is exhausted. I truly, truly agree.

Look, you’re not alone!

That should make me feel better. It doesn’t. I wish just by acknowledging that alone can affect me, but it really doesn’t.

I’m mentally exhausted.

I’m physically exhausted and I’ve troubled a great deal of people for being so. Sometimes I really would feel like my body can’t keep up and that’d show on my face and people would comment, nonchalantly and innocently so,

Why do you look so tired?

Good question. Why do I look so tired? Why do have to be looking so tired most of the time?

This is where you’d see me picking up another guilt and keeping it close like it’s some sort of invaluable diamonds.

In a world where you’re only allowed to be happy, what chance do I stand?

And another.

I can’t keep up. I feel sick. I’ve been feeling sick for quite some time now. Ah, but it’s probably psychosomatic so I should not make a fuss about it. Let’s refrain from troubling yet another great deal of people. I’ll get by, I think I’ll get by eventually.

But it’s so hard to breathe. This loop that I keep going on through from time to time can get too suffocating sometimes.

Then at one point my hand got in a lot of pain for a month or two. I’ve been overusing it, apparently. You depend on your hands a lot for all sort of daily tasks, so it really crushed me when the pain got more and more persistent. All this time I could barely holding on, and now I have to endure feeling so worthless and undeserving just because I can’t use my hand like a proper human being everyone else is.

I cried for a week.

I haven’t cried for a really long while but back then whenever those thoughts resurface I ended up crying.

I can’t keep up.

I’m exhausted.

I should’ve learned to stop piling up guilt by now but I still do anyway.

If I’m exhausted then whatever let’s just be exhausted whenever! So I told myself. And didn’t feel anything, let alone feeling any better.

Let’s stop indulging in self-pity and self-loathing!

That’s true. That’s actually reasonable. I wish I have any energy left to actually care.

It’s okay to feel anything or nothing at all! You’re valid the way you are, you were, you will be!

I wish I have any energy left to feel even just slightly moved.

I’m tired. Whatever.

I keep piling up guilt. Whatever.

Let’s just be functional. I’m already so undeserving, the least I can do is to try to be functional for the rest of the day.

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Gloomy Clock: Log #0

I have avoided doing this—or tried to avoid, at least. It really is not recommended, is it? To share your thoughts, to reveal even just glimpses of beyond the surface of your persona right on the internet. People will see, all sort of people. People I interact with on daily basis, people I haven’t met for a long time, people I have no idea of knowing that they exist somewhere. It’s quite unsettling. And so I always ended up wiping out all records of my previous blogs. The ones where I was so carefree about the things I wrote.

And yet here I am, going on a loop.

I’m getting older. The thing about getting older that I just come to realise is that apparently it makes me become more sensitive, too. I wish I was joking but really I’m not as stern as I used to be. The things I could just brush aside in the past now tear me way too easily.

And you get to be on your own a lot of the time. As gloomy as I was, back at school I could still manage to keep myself in check from time to time, thanks to having classes I had to attend every day and mindlessly tagging along a few people after class (I feel sorry for these people). And so I pulled through, somehow. Fast forward to the me now who out of the blue would cry on her way home.

For the most part, I really have changed, don’t I.

I used to be angry and carefree.

I used to be able to write whatever and only shrugged at the possibilities of someone from school might read it. It’s not like I was in a better mental state back then but at least I didn’t ponder much before writing anything. But as time goes by, as I get older, I started to self-censor a lot. I started to sabotage myself. I started to just take mental notes and not actually write it anywhere. For someone who doesn’t go out often, this, apparently, turns out to be a terrible move.

I used to be so angry and carefree. It’s not exactly a positive emotion, but at least being able to get angry shows that I still have that drive. Now I’m just empty.

I think I’m paying the price for suppressing too much. Graduating and thus having too much time being on my own probably took a toll on me.

It has come to a point where sometimes I would forget how I look like. I’d be in the toilet and when I was about to wash my hands, I’d be caught off guard by my own reflection in the mirror. Oh, so this is how I look like.

It has come to a point where I’m more uneasy by the thought of writing in my journal, instead of here. It’s funny, because I did still write everything in my journal up until two years ago, as in actually recounting stuffs in appropriate details. After that I just started to write vague PC-ish barely informational pointers of short sentences. Look where I end up now.

It has come to a point where, instead of calming down my thoughts, writing in my journal has become more of an attempt to self-destruct.

I had no idea this is how far I’ve strayed away. So far that when I try to sit down and try to process everything by writing it down I ended up feeling defeated instead. Having to gulp down the awful stench of inadequacy wreck me. Forcing myself to admit to the thoughts I had, to actually write it down, it really seems like an attempt to self-destruct after all.

I’m a lost cause, I wrote once. And thought countless times.

I genuinely think so.

You’d say then, reach out. I agree, but that’s easier said than done. It’s not even a matter of who, but more of a how. I despise texting as a way to communicate, but even when I’m already on a face-to-face conversation, I still find it difficult to answer “How’s life?” with “I’m really having a hard time.” Sometimes I’d feel like I’m living like a corpse that I couldn’t speak at all, other times it’s because I don’t think anyone is made to contain that sort of gloominess. No one would want to empathise with negativity, that’s why they made psychologist a profession.

Get help, you’d say later. And then I’ll answer with a faint smile, as if there’s anything that can be helpful.

You’d frown any time now.

I’m a lost cause, I wrote once.

I think so.

And so it really feels pointless to ask for any help. I don’t exactly need help, I just need an outlet. I’ve sabotaged myself from one then, so now I think I should rebuild another. Or rather, reopen. I should let myself be vulnerable and let the whole world feast on it for good. I should allow myself be seen.

This’ll ruin me, but it’s not like it’ll be the first time I feel destroyed.


PS. Yes, the title is basically a rip-off from this song.

“You Did Well.”

I posted this as a post-birthday obligatory post:

Relatable

It was a scan from the photobook of his latest album. Someone translated the Korean words and I thought, “How relatable.”

I’ve also been having this sitting on as draft since March:

Draft

A list of my favourite artists (can’t believe I really forgot to add Utada Hikaru). I remember wanting to hype these people on my blog just because I love their music so much and I want the whole world to know.

You see, I take music very seriously.

Even before I know it, I have turned into an intense listener when it comes to music. It’s always been all-or-nothing. Either I make time to listen to the whole discography or just don’t bother at all. It’s probably why I never really paid attention to my Discover Weekly playlist back when I still used Spotify. It’s also probably why I only listen to very few artists and have very poor variety on my library.

And it’s why it’s always special when I find someone I can hail as my new favourite artist. Because I don’t really try to look for them anyway.

I probably only started to listen to his works around earlier this year, or really later last year. Just not long after I first got to know SHINee, which was probably around November last year. Even so, it didn’t take long for me to listen to all of his works, and I already loved what I heard back then. His musical comfort zone is the usual genre I always welcome with open arms, and to add to that his voice fits perfectly. I’ve never been a lyric person to begin with, but sometimes when I was feeling curious I would look up the translation of his lyrics, and found myself impressed most of the time. It wasn’t so difficult, loving his works.

“Ah, after what seemed like an eternity, I finally have a new favourite artist to add to the ever-so-brief list.”

Hence the rough draft.

When Story Op.2 was released last April and I listened to Let Me Out for the first time, I thought to myself, “Really there’s no way I’m not letting the whole world know about his music.”

(I still didn’t work on that draft, though. I felt too guilty to work on it instead of finishing the one I had been working on for far too long.)

Let’s say I’m a gloomy person. Whenever I find music that speak to me, that I can connect to in a very personal level, I’ll worship the artist who allowed that music to exist in the first place. Let Me Out is that music for me, and Jonghyun is that artist. I remember the first time I listened to Let Me Out, I was really taken aback when the chorus hit. It was abrupt and somewhat disturbing on some level. There were hints of desperation all over it. It was so raw and intense, it really stood out from the rest of the tracks in the album. When I looked up the lyric, you might as well say my brain got short-circuited due to the abundance of shock.

You know you’ll most likely be in shock when something, figuratively, touches you too deep, way more than what you expect them to.

That’s just how personal his music can be.

And it’s exactly why I treasure him as an artist so much. An artist whose sensibility I really admire and look up to.

An artist who, even as a person, didn’t hide his emotions and was always so honest and open with it. An artist who has clear vision of what music he wants to pursue (which is also the kind of music I love). An artist who, like me, prefers smaller venue concerts because it yields more intimacy and interaction between the artist and the fans. An artist who’s also a poet. An artist I won’t hesitate to brag and gush about. An artist that also inspired me to wanting to create art that can touch someone too.

The only artist within K-Pop realm whose concert I want to attend.

I really look up to him so much. I think I’m so attached because I see him as the ideal figure I want to be.

So that is why, a week after his suicide, I’m still devastated.

It was hard. The news was such a big shock that left me feeling suffocated. Even when I tried to take a deep breath I still felt so suffocated. It was really hard, and still is. Never had I imagined losing your favourite artist, losing someone whose works has helped you to reconnect to yourself for numerous times, would hit you this awful.

And reading his final letter was even more heartbreaking, as if my heart hasn’t broken to pieces already. It’s not because I felt pity. Rather, it’s because there are some lines, some part, that didn’t even take a second for me to comprehend.

And it’s just what makes it so heartbreaking, to have even just the slightest idea how he endured so much for so long.

 

Jonghyun, you did well.

You really did.

And because I adore you so much, I’ll grieve.

Circa November 2014

Yang membuatnya terasa getir adalah betapa jari saya tidak dapat menangkap umpan-umpan terliar yang dilempar benak saya. Miss, miss, miss. Semuanya terlewat begitu saja tanpa satu bisa ditangkap. Yang membuatnya membendung, membumbung begitu tinggi adalah betapa ketika saya terbaring pikiran saya sama sekali rileks, tanpa siaga. Kenangan dipanggil, memori digali. Batin resah dipenuhi terlalu banyak hal yang tidak bisa saya kenali itu apa. Manifestasi-manifestasi abstrak yang kusut masai, meraung-raung minta diperhatikan tapi tidak mengizinkan wujudnya dibuat konkret. Kusut, kusut, kusut. Mencar sana-sini, bertabrakan, melilit satu sama lain, mencekik. Semuanya bergerak terlalu leluasa. Saya tak tahan, maka secara naluriah saya beranjak. Menuju pensil, menuju kertas, menuju keyboard. Saya ingin merasionalisasi apa yang sedang terjadi. Saya ingin menenangkan diri dan berpikir, merunut satu per satu kekacauan. Saya ingin punya kendali.

Lalu semuanya berhenti. Lenyap begitu saja.

Sesaat ketika jari saya bergerak, semuanya terblokir. Blokir, blokir, blokir. Umpan terlewat tanpa sempat saya jadikan kalimat. Miss, miss, miss. Bergeming seperti dungu, melongo seperti tolol. Menunggu umpan dilempar lagi, mencoba memancing yang telah lenyap dengan merangkai frasa-frasa yang tidak bisa saya satukan menjadi kalimat utuh. Dungu. Tolol. Seketika saya mencoba mengurai pikiran yang sebegitu kusutnya, seketika itu pula saya menghalangi saya. Tanya, apa yang membuat hidup menjadi terasa lebih rumit berat? Jawab, main anjing-kucing dengan diri sendiri.

Tak ada yang lebih membuat frustrasi ketimbang mendapati diri sendiri menghalang-halangi usaha sendiri untuk menggapai makna, mencari pengertian, pembenaran, apa pun yang bukan simbol dan abstrak. Apa pun yang dapat dimengerti. Anything that makes sense. Anything that fits the missing piece of the puzzle, if there’s a puzzle at all. Anything that doesn’t fire off jumbled nonsensical mix of words all piled up on a paragraph that is not even a paragraph to begin with because it doesn’t make sense. Hanya ketika saya tidak berusaha untuk berusaha, segalanya menari-nari di depan saya. Berkelebatan dalam rentetan citra yang ditembakkan secara serentak, sulit diproses namun masih bisa diproses, sulit dipahami namun saya mengerti dalam sesaat. Sesaat. Kemudian buyar, berhamburan jadi keping-keping tak terjamah. Meluncur kabur sebelum sempat digenggam.

Saya mencoba memetakan diri sendiri.

Saya melindungi diri saya dari usaha saya untuk memetakan diri saya sendiri.

Tak ada lagi yang lebih membuat gila ketimbang menyadari segala kecam mental yang saya lakukan pada diri sendiri agar saya bungkam. Don’t exaggerate, you’re not the only one who’s struggling. Not that big of a deal. Stop making excuses. Don’t be so big-headed. Stop making excuses. Everyone is struggling. Stop making excuses. This too will pass, no need to drag anyone, no need to write it down anywhere. Stop making excuses. Can’t bear the anxiety of being vulnerable? Stop making excuses, the world doesn’t have place for the weak. 

You’re not the only one who’s struggling. Stop making excuses.

Yang membuatnya terasa getir adalah betapa segalanya membuat saya terus-terusan, tidak berhenti mendorong orang-orang keluar ketika saya sudah merasa amat kebas dengan benak sendiri. Memutus kontak ketika itu seharusnya hal yang paling menolong saya untuk tetap merasa waras. Sengaja memicu retak, sengaja menoreh luka, sengaja mengundang berang, sakit, dendam.

What makes it lethal is that I don’t even try to stop myself from doing it, I just stand there, watching myself deliberately doing harm.

I can’t make sense of myself. I can’t make sense of why I keep doing things, of why I stop myself from doing things.

You Think You’re So Open-minded

I’m nowhere near being open-minded.

If anything, I’m fairly close-minded most of the time. I read things about topics I’m only interested in, I only listen to the music that’s been on my library for years, and I only watch films and series which premises seem like to support my pre-existing ideas. I do challenge myself from time to time, like trying to keep up with world politics from various sources, or listening to some pop albums on its entirety without skipping a single track, or even finishing a 40-episodes-long Taiwanese drama although it sucks and I hate how annoying Mandarin sounds (I really did, once). But not on daily basis. I’m not even sure if it’s weekly. A few times every month, probably. Roughly once or twice a month on average.

To complete all that, I mainly surround myself with people who, more or less, are on the same wavelength as me.

But I’m very self-aware. I’m aware of all that, I even openly embrace that part of me. Granted, it doesn’t eliminate my close-mindedness right away but, ah, it does prevent me from making an occasional dangerous slip to the Bigot Valley.

And by the way, realistically speaking, there’s just no way you can truly be an “open-minded” person. Your brain just naturally isn’t cut out for it. I know because I didn’t waste my four years studying human’s mind and behaviour for nothing, you see.

We all favour comfort above all, and there’s no comfort in it when we’re faced with something that contradicts or different from our preconceived notions. There’s this uneasy feeling we get instead, so uneasy we’d much rather avoid it if we can. You probably wouldn’t want to sit yourself through a 90-minutes symphony if you’re only into current popular music. You probably would’ve dismissed the idea of reading articles that doesn’t hold your interest. And I know you wouldn’t want to sit through some Korean dramas for hours if you’re usually into dark, intelligent, mind-boggling Western series. Oh, I know for sure.

It’s just how your brain works. Why suffer through unfamiliar settings every single time when you can take the easy way out? Yes. Your brain actually is just as lazy as you are.

So I couldn’t help but scoff every time I spot those people on the internet who proudly describe themselves as being open-minded.

This would be the same people who refuse to watch any Asian dramas because they think Asian dramas are all sappy, stupid, and unintelligent. This would also be the same people who refuse to read any shoujo mangas, or any young adult novels, for the exact same reason. This would be the classical music snobs (or any specific-unpopular-genre snobs) who refuse to even listen to any current pop music because they think pop music are absolute garbage.

This would be the same people who act as if racism, sexism, and social justice are the only thing matters today, and that it should be. The kind of people who think that those problems are universal on all levels, that it should be everyone’s primary concern, no matter who they are or where they come from or what kind of life they’ve been living. The kind of people who accuse everyone who voted for Trump as deplorable and unfriend them on Facebook right away. The kind of people who hold a black-and-white way of thinking, like thinking that an indifference to racism is still racism.

This would be the same people who, apparently, wouldn’t get that there are some other people who are just too desperate to feed themselves or have a place to live in, to be able to pay attention to those things.

This would be the same people who surround themselves only with like-minded folks, listening to opinions that are no different from their own. This would be the same people who’ve been living their lives in an echo chamber.

This would be you.

So, open-minded?

Get off your high horse. You know damn well that you’re not.

A Joke Played Out Too Soon

“If people have essence, I would think that mine is of similar elements to hers.”

[Click]

I get her.

Wait, how did I first know her again? Oh, right, someone mentioned her name just because I came out as a nonbeliever to them, since I was young and foolish and feeling too enthusiastic about my newfound identity back then.

But, yes, knowing her has once got me thinking, “Ah, we’re alike.”

“Ah, I get her.”

[Click]

And so she’s become one of the few people with whom I can talk to without feeling guarded.

“If people have essence, I would think that mine is of similar elements to hers.”

But then I’m still as distant and detached. If people ask me do I know her well I can only answer, “I wonder… Probably a bit? A wee chunk here and there?”

Yes, I’ve known her for four years, give and take a few months. We’re even in the same peer group, if that of any helps. And yet, I still think we weren’t so close. Quite, but not so close.

But I still get her then. Sometimes I would think that I can sense how her train of thoughts goes. I get where she comes from. I get her reasoning.

I get why she succumbs to social standards. I get why she doesn’t even try to fight it. I get why she’s been crazily, desperately trying to lose weights. I can’t explain how, but I get her. Hence, I didn’t even attempt to stop her.

It would feel too hypocritical.

“If people have essence, I would think that mine is of similar elements to hers.”

Only she’s a lot more pretentious than I am. So proudly pretentious. That’s her game, anyway. I couldn’t possibly beat her at her own game. And she could be so gruesomely evil at people. Every so often, I might add.

You: “Was she sweet?”

Me: You’re asking the question I just answered.

“If people have essence, I would think that mine is of similar elements to hers.”

Only she got a few strange features mixed in.

I didn’t consider those strange features to take full effect.

And so it goes.

I woke up to the news that she was already in coma, with platelet count hitting an all-time low at 400. I woke up to that news, and yet still I think so conveniently like a moron, “The doctor will do something about it.”

“What, can’t they transfuse some?”

I was so caught up minding my own business that day. I had deadline to destroy, translation quota to be filled up. So when I finally had the time to check on my phone, I was dumbfounded.

[”Sasa passed away.”]

I could only think, “What the fuck.”

And for a few seconds more I still couldn’t elaborate, “What the fuck. What—Fuck, what? WTF?”

Only after then, while still trying to finish translating stuffs, could I come up with the real question. Somewhat perplexed, somewhat stunned. Nothing resembled tears or sadness.

“What has she done to herself?”

“What the hell has she brought upon herself?”

“What the fuck, Sasa, what kind of shite have you done?”

Another moment passed, and new questions surfaced.

“Will I grieve?”

“She’s someone close, right? Will I grieve like everyone else? Or am I already grieving by being not sad at all?”

Because, me being me, I feel like I’m already somewhat seeing her all freezed up as a distant memory. One that I know will be momentarily forgotten for some time, one that I know will suddenly resurface while I was, I don’t know, grocery shopping, probably.

I hope it’ll hit me for real by then.

In memoriam: Sasa


“If people have essence, I would think that mine is of similar elements to hers.”

I get her. I never asked if she gets me as well, though. But at least she could tell you immediately what is the brand of my favorite soap, a fun-fact kind of knowledge that she seemed so pleased about.

A year ago, to be fair.