He looked at them. They looked at each other. They looked back at him. Five seconds of awkward silence passed, and S!mon T@y answered his own question with a joke.
What does China stand for? And when I say China, I'm referring to the People's Republic of China. As much as I would defend my culture, probably to death, I must say that I would much rather have the USA as the superpower of the world, shove its values down the world's throat, over the PRC anytime, any day. I feel no affiliation whatsoever with the PRC as a political entity. I suppose there's no reason why I should, but truth be told, I'm still the same ethnic-proud Westernished Chinese I was four years ago. Nothing has changed...except maybe my command of Chinese which has changed for the worse. Perhaps at some point I was glad that China was on the rise and on a few occasions I was almost on the brink of shouting, CHINESE PRIDE!
But honestly? China doesn't stand for anything that I want to believe in. It doesn't stand for the values and principles which I believe are broadly, even universally, applicable. I don't subscribe to the popularly-held opinion that Asian values and Western values are necessarily mutually exclusive, let alone contradictory. I would even take it a step further and contend that "Asian values" and "Western values" are really artificial constructs that don't really mean anything.
This also relates to why I believe fiercely that Taiwan should be a de jure independent country. And I haven't stopped being absolutely mystified by how little some PRCs understand Taiwan, and how, despite their ignorance of their supposed "breakaway province", they still insist that Taiwan belongs to them. Wake up and smell the shit, please. It's no longer 1945. I honestly can't fathom why it is that virtually every single PRC that I come into contact with insist that Taiwan is a part of China. It's absolutely befuddling.
I have to admit that I don't like the PRC very much, and this general dislike extends to its citizens. I honestly don't think that I can stomach talking to a PRC, knowing that he/she probably subscribes to the 'Taiwan is a part of China!' shit that his entire country seems to believe as a bloody religion. It would probably inadvertently come up and when he starts insisting that Taiwan belongs to China, I will just get tremendously pissed off. And I'm not even really Taiwanese!
Which leads me to another question I've been pondering. I get asked whether I'm Taiwanese quite often, and the obvious and easy answer is obviously No. I hold a Singaporean passport, a Singaporean IC, and whatever Taiwanese nationality thing that my dad did for me when I was a kid is pretty much useless. It's like an empty, or a URL to a webpage that has no content. And since my dad has never told me exactly what this nationality thing is, I can't even say what it is or what it signifies or what it does.
But still, the answer really isn't as easy as that. Your affection for and connection to a country transcend mere nationality and what your passport tells you you are. Am I Taiwanese? Yes and no. The usual explanation I give to people is, "My dad's Taiwanese, I spent half my childhood in Taipei, and I go back to Taipei very often."
But that doesn't quite explain why I feel, to some degree, that I'm not telling the truth a hundred percent if I simply answer 'no'. It constitutes half the picture and it's the most general, quickest, most self-explanatory answer that I can give; but if you think about it, it doesn't fully explain why I feel this way. One can respond to my answer with, "So what?"
And one wouldn't be wrong. So what if my dad's Taiwanese? So what if I spent half my childhood in Taipei? I've asked myself that too, and I haven't been able to come up with any real, concrete, rational or logical or sensible answer. All that I can manage is, I just feel this way. There is familiarity amidst the strangeness every time I go back to Taipei. There are memories forged there that I can never replicate anywhere else. There is a sense of pride that I don't quite feel for Singapore when Taiwan achieves something laudable or praise-worthy in the international arena, which, sadly, doesn't happen very often anymore.
I can't honestly say that I'm Taiwanese. Simultaneously, I can't honestly say that I'm not.
At the same time, though, I realised that I don't hate Singapore. I want to leave, yes, but not because I hate it. I just want more opportunities for myself abroad that I can't find here, and I don't want to be confined to our geographical size. Singapore, unfortunately, is a very small country. It is a very small country. I want more than what it can offer me, which is also why I won't work in Taipei despite my obsessive love for it. But I still use the 'we' pronoun when I talk about Singapore, so I think, at some level, I do identify with it on some intimate level. And I care enough about this country to criticise its lack of liberal democracy and whatever else that I can't stand. I've always maintained that bankrupting opposition political leaders and driving them out of a country is a very sad waste of talent and human resources, because I believe that the people that truly care about the country are those that care enough to dissent, knowing full well the consequences of dissenting, of joining opposition politics.
If I do successfully find employment abroad, I think there's a very high chance that I'd come back someday. I've told a lot of people that I think Singapore is good for retirement, so there you go.
As to the question of what I want to do abroad, at this point I have a very fixed and clear idea of what I'm going to do for the next six years. And it doesn't involve staying in Singapore. To put it in a rather abstract manner, I want to immerse myself in an environment in which my ideals and convictions are confronted and put to the test. I want to face a situation in which my idealism faces the threat of being completely shattered. Because it is only when your ideals survive after hardship and adversity that you know for sure that you truly, truly believe in what you claim to believe in.
I can only hope that I won't eventually derail my current future plan for like marriage or some other crap reason. All power to the people that want to get married and settle down, but I don't. At all. I have no use for married life; it entails compromises, and unless I find a guy who's happy with the compromise being entirely his, there is no way - NO WAY - that I would give up what I want for...what? I don't even know what it is. Marriage? Love? Pffftt.
Since we're on the topic of guys, let me just declare that guys with no principles, no convictions, no values, no ideals and no beliefs, absolutely turn me off. You have to be passionate about something, even if it's God. My beef with dating religious people isn't the fact that they're religious; it's what they do about their religiousness that puts me on guard. Some religious people don't require their partners to subscribe to the same religion as them, but I think these people are in the minority. I admire a guy who is staunch in his religious beliefs, because in my eyes, that guy beats a guy who doesn't believe in anything, hands down. Mercenary, by the way, isn't a principle. And I feel sorry for people who think it's childish or immature to believe strongly in things.
Because I know what I believe in and what I don't believe in, and I won't have anyone telling me that my beliefs are stupid or irrational. The modern day usage of the word 'ideal' borders on an insult, and I find that utterly insulting, and more importantly, tragic. It's no longer cool to declare that you have ideals, because people tend to scoff on such things and label you naive as a result. Take my beloved profession, for example. It's not cool at all to tell people that you believe in justice and fairness. In fact, I suspect that if I tell people that I believe in justice and fairness - which I do, by the way - more people would laugh at me and think I'm kidding than believe me. They would wonder how I can still say such a hilarious thing after two and a half years of law school and they would come to the conclusion that I'm some naive Bambi.
Well, I think these people are sad. Of course the law isn't perfect and neither is the legal system; in fact I would say that there are a lot of things about the criminal legal system of this country that morally repulse me. But that doesn't mean that I should stop believing in what I believe in, because it is these beliefs that get me through life. It is these convictions that will keep me going when I enter the profession. I'm not one of those people that can be happy with a fat paycheck, doing work that I find no meaning in. I am, however, one of those people who want the best of both worlds: A fat paycheck (come on - who doesn't want money? And I think lawyers are bloody underpaid) AND a meaningful job. But if it's one of the two, I would choose the latter. I would rather risk daily heart breaks and unhealthy emotional attachments than to put myself through the agony of doing mindless droning corporate work. This is why I feel completely fine that my year mates are doing Corporate Insolvency and Banking and Insurance, and I'm doing a bunch of "impractical" modules like Islamic Law and International Law and Asia and whatever else. I don't feel like I'm losing out, or that I should do these Very Important corporate modules - because it's really, really not what I want to do. Remember when I wanted to do IP, like, a year ago? Well, not anymore. I have no interest in IP. In fact, after Wednesday's ILA class, I'm becoming rather suspicious of IP. But that's another story for another day.
Going back to my original point - as a result, guys with no principles and no values and no beliefs absolutely turn me off. Come to think of it, I haven't met a lot of males who are not my friends that really feel very strongly about something, except some of my lecturers (M!ch@el H0r!). And feeling strongly about your favourite football team obviously doesn't count. (Have I mentioned my dislike for football-obsessed guys? It's just so cliche and predictable. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, and it's not a deal-breaker, but it doesn't score any points either.)
You know, sometimes it's really quite obvious to me why I'm forever single. Relationships are not a priority at all. I suppose there are some elements of my enervated been-there-done-that-seen-too-much tiredness involved, but it's really not something that I feel like I need, or have any use for. I think I could probably stand to die single and not be in a relationship for the rest of my life. What I miss about being attached isn't so much the promise of a future with someone; it's mostly having someone around to text random things to or enjoy nice moments with or to make out passionately with. Apart from the third item, I can do everything else with my friends and my family. Of course I'm not saying they're perfect substitutes, but it doesn't make them inferior to the boyfriend figure; they are, in fact, superior, because the prima facie assumption is that they won't ever leave you, which isn't an assumption that I would apply to a boyfriend.
Of course, there's always the cliche post-break up "let's be friends" shit, but that doesn't work for me. I'm the kind of person that absolutely CANNOT be "friends" with an ex. I won't even say "stay friends" because that implies we were friends but, except the JC boyfriend, I don't date my friends and I was never friends with the guys that I date to begin with. Once dating proves to be a failure, I just don't want to have anything to do with that person anymore. And this isn't borne out of spite of malice; I just, very simply, don't see a need or a point, or to put it more coldly, a utility to me, for staying in touch. If our relationship was what defined us, if all along you were a boyfriend to me, once that is gone, the way I see it, there is nothing left. You can't move to point B if only point A existed, and I just really have no interest in creating a point A', a modification of what we have.
This extends also to guys that I go out with whom I originally intended to date, but whom I no longer want to date after getting to know him better. I honestly wouldn't give a damn at all if I don't talk to the guy ever again. When I no longer want to date him, I no longer see the point in going out with him. And I'm really not interested in arguments based on sentimentality that say that I should, you know, keep in touch so that I won't lose a friend blah blah blah. Of course, I could always gain a friend even if my original intention wasn't to gain a friend; but generally speaking, if I don't want to date him, why would I want to be friends with him? If I was interested in him, but subsequently change my mind, it means that his personality can't match up to his looks. Since I'm not superficial to the extent of caring what my friends look like (though I think my friends are all beautiful <3), it means that there's really no basis for me to keep going out with this guy just to be "friends" when the reason I don't want to date him in the first place is because his personality and mine don't match. I would say this for all my close friends: Our personalities match. That's why we're close friends. That's why I can hang out with them one-on-one and have a bloody great time. But discarded guys? Oh man. There are some whom I have nothing to say to, others whose jokes I don't get and vice versa, yet some others who say things that I'm not really interested in. It's tiring to act interested, very tiring to keep talking about mundane stuff because the other party can't offer anything that you find deep and meaningful.
I suppose I'm cold and heartless and a bloody bitch for being this way. But I just don't have the kind of in-built mechanism to feel regretful or rueful or wistful or whatever when the guys I used to call 'boyfriend' are no longer in my life. I don't talk to them, I don't know how they're doing, and I don't care. And I don't dislike them or resent them or anything; I just don't feel anything at all. Complete indifference.
I'm really not a very sentimental person, am I? Oh well.
I've taken so many tangents in this entry that I've lost my plot. My neck is also aching like crazy. It's also 3.21 a.m. I'm very pleased that my weekend started the minute Comparative Criminal Law ended at 3 p.m. on Thursday, and I'm going to the Bukit Batok Swimming Complex to swim later on in the day. It will be my first time in a public pool in...I verily believe that it will be my first time in a public pool in nearly ten years. I hope like hell that I survive. I must say that I'm a bit scared, but I'm more scared of gaining weight and my condominium's pool is still off-limits so I have no choice.
One last point before I post this: I am fucking pampered. I've never been to a polyclinic...oh wait, except this one time when I followed the ex-boyfriend to one polyclinic because he needed some stuff. But apart from that one time when I stepped foot in a polyclinic, I generally have no concept of it. I saw for myself that one time that it was bloody crowded, but I didn't really know why. All my life I thought that paying $20 for consultation with a GP was the standard rate - until I was told that a polyclinic charges about $8.
Seriously?! No wonder I always hear stories about long waiting hours (and I mean, hours) and long queues in polyclinics.
At least I took public transport, and I went to Jurong Junior. I don't think I'm completely oblivious to how the rest of the country lives.
Oh, and I used to stay in a HDB flat. Though I must say that I can't imagine ever staying in a HDB flat again. I went to see a couple of HDB flats for sale with my mom and I was particularly struck by how small and cramped those flats felt, nevermind that the rooms were easily bigger than mine. For some reason I feel like my house has more space even though we have one less room and my house is really quite small. But it doesn't feel cramped; it feels...elongated. Which I suppose it is, which I suppose gives rise to the illusion of space.
Okay, I really have to sleep. My neck is killing me. I don't know why it's so painful! Ugh.
YAY NO SCHOOL ON FRIDAY!!!!