I am unable to get started on my Use of Force formative essay. I have not emailed Dr K about my essay topic because I don't have one; I haven't even gone through the stuff that I brought back. I managed to read some of Dworkin's book ('Is Democracy Possible Here?') and half of one of Dr K's papers (it's a good idea to know where your professor stands on certain issues that you may want to write about if he's going to be grading your essay - which he is. On a side note, I think he writes really well in English for a German, and by that I mean he writes really well in his second languge. I continue to be impressed with people who can write fluently in more than one language because I can't do it at all) and in the process of doing the latter, I discovered, in a footnote, the argument that I wanted to make which I thought I made but didn't actually make in my crappy Theory of HR Law essay. Clearly, I still have some way to go before I start making arrogant remarks again.
I'm so annoyed at this current situation. I haven't done shit over the entire term break. My biggest accomplishment since coming back from Taipei is opening a Word document for my Use of Force essay; I can't even think of a good opening sentence, and when I can't come up with a good opening sentence, my essay can't get started at all. I feel so utterly uninspired, the way I'd been uninspired over the past few years. I feel like, once again, I can't do anything anymore. I don't know why this place makes me feel this way, but it has a cunning way of tiring me out with its banal familiarity and daily reminders of the uninspired existence that I was so happy to have left just a month ago. God, I need to leave again, however difficult it is; but before that, I really need to do my essay.
I was shocked to find out, when I logged on to LSE for You, that I didn't do that badly for my Jurisprudence essay. In fact, I had the best score for that essay out of the 3 essays that I submitted. It also happened to be the one that I struggled with the most - I didn't stay up till 4 a.m. the day it was due and woke up again at 8 a.m. to finish it because it was fun; I did it because I really didn't know what the hell to write. It was a struggle just describing the philosophy (which took up two-thirds of the essay, which is such a junior college - actually, make that secondary school - thing to do but I had 2,000 words to fill), let alone think critically about it; and when I forced myself to not submit a purely descriptive essay because it was just too embarrassing, I nearly wanted to tear my hair out trying to put into proper, coherent sentences the half-formed, half-understood ideas that I had in my head (I didn't have that many, thank goodness). It was one of the worst essays I'd ever written and I didn't really understand what I was saying, and I really expected to get a bare pass for it, but I got a 68. No idea what happened there. I do note with interest, however, that my professor entered her comments in the system on Christmas Eve; the most likely explanation for this shocking turn of events is that she was imbued with the holiday spirit and feeling extra generous while reading my essay and marked it higher than it deserved.
I really mean that too, by the way. It's a shit essay. I'm embarrassed just reading it. I don't know how the worst essay that I thought I wrote ended up getting the best mark (though, admittedly, the difference between 68 and 65 isn't that significant; but it's still something) and the essay that I thought was the best ended up with the worst mark. The other one was a 66, which was also a bit surprising because, once again, the effort was quite shitty.
In any event, if I'm still pulling these numbers when Lent Term starts (which is presumably when I start taking these things more seriously), then I should seriously consider taking remedial classes or something. They're simply not going to cut it. I really want to attend my graduation ceremony so I'd better get the distinctions that I want so badly.
On another note, I found Taipei teribbly boring this time round and I definitely wouldn't have gone if it weren't for the need to see my grandparents. Going shopping was a bore because 1) I had no money to buy anything anyway; 2) I didn't want to lug a bunch of stuff back to London, more than I already have to lug; and 3) when you have no intention of buying anything, looking at pretty clothes gets really boring after a while.
It's obvious, though - at least it's obvious to me - that the city remained the same, but the girl had changed. For once, Taipei felt depressingly backwards and insulated from the rest of the world. Being surrounded by homogenous ethnic Chinese faces and being appalled by Taipei's continued bad English reminded me of everything that I don't want in life: I don't want to be defined merely by where I come from, because it is too small to contain my ambitions; and I don't want to be cut off from the rest of the world because the world is so much bigger, more vibrant, more exciting, and more promising than it appears if one's whole world were just Taiwan, or Singapore.
The highlight of my trip was definitely meeting up with the Taiwanese professor from the National Taiwan University whom I met in law school. He talked a lot and it wasn't all about what I wanted to know (though he gave me a very helpful five-minute crash course on the proportionality analysis used by Taiwan's constitutional court) but I could relate to what he said about not letting Taiwan define him and narrow his point of view. I appreciated that he thought I would possibly have something to sell to the Western world in terms of my background (academic and otherwise), and predictably, he was surprised to learn that a Singaporean is studying human rights law in the United Kingdom.
I've always been anything but practical, so it's not really surprising if one knew me well enough.
It is difficult writing anything deeper and maybe more emotional because I am having trouble accessing my emotions. It is rather scary to think about how readily I am able to shove my emotions to one side and pretend they are not there, and switch it off and focus on other things that don't require me to open this part of me that I have neatly compartmentalised away. It is easy not to think about it when I'm in another continent; it is still easy not to think about it when I'm in another part of the island, away from you.
It is not surprising that the emotions spill over sometimes because they have not left me; they are somewhere locked up in a corner of my mind or heart (I can't tell the difference anymore), and seeing you unlocks the door and lets it out. It is not surprising that I cry when I'm with you because I want things to be different so badly but there's nothing that I can do; and so I can't help but settle into a passive contentment when I can avoid you because I can't deal with this, or you, or us, or the pain in my throat when I do stop to think about all of this and make the effort to write about it.
It's been almost a year and I haven't accepted this new reality, not truly anyway. I have not truly accepted it because I don't think about it, and I don't think about it because I can't deal with it. The pain in the throat, it is unbearable. It feels like the pain of my heart breaking when all this happened and I was the only person that knew, and I wasn't big enough of a person to put my selfish desires aside and truly stand by you. I continued hurting you on the pretext that I didn't know what to do, but it was always clear what was the right thing to do, even if the easier thing to do would be more beneficial to me in the long run (and perhaps in the short term too). In a sense, I feel like I'm making it up to you now for my past mistakes by being with you even though there are times when I am desirous of leaving. It is, however, precisely because I am in this situation that I understand Kantian morality so well: a moral being, according to Kant, acts out of a sense of duty and not inclination, let alone desire.
In another sense, I feel like it is my duty to stick by you because I know that you need me, even though there are times when I am inclined to leave because I think that it might make me happier, maybe. But I can't leave you, and even though I am with you partly out of a sense of duty, I can't leave you because you are the love of my life and I can't abandon you now, not when you need me the most, and not when I know I will realise that I truly still love you the way that I did before all this happened when, on a night like this, I take some time to access the emotions that I have locked away. Please know that when I'm distant, or flippant, or angry, or unresponsive, it's not because I don't love you; it's because I am too afraid of the awareness of how much you still mean to me and how much I still love you.
It's because I don't know how to lose you.
I can't stop crying. I can't write the last sentence. It hurts too much. This is why I don't let myself feel anymore. Please don't blame me for being distant; I simply don't know how else to cope. I'm sorry that I can't be better for you.