Sleeping with one's cell phone switched on and not put on silent is a very bad practice. I found myself waking up every once in a while wanting to turn it off but was still too sleepy and tired to. Therefore, sleep was choppy and I woke up for real when it was nearly 12 noon and still felt tired.
It's Chinese New Year and that thought carries with it an enervated sense of ennui. Same old, same old. Boring. It's been so long since the last time I spent Chinese New Year in Taipei - so long that I don't remember it at all. Firecrackers were the norm on Chinese New Year for me for a few years, the beginning few years of my life, but even that's a distant memory, so foggy and vague that it's as if it never happened. Spending Chinese New Year in winter - not even a viable concept in Singapore.
I'm quite tired of this country, of all the things I do every year, the same tried and tested and burnt out routine. I wonder what it's like to spend this time of the year with the other half of my extended family. I wonder why we never make the effort to book the plane tickets to Taipei, stock up on thick jackets and jeans and long-sleeved shirts to survive the winter. Ad-hoc barbeques lining narrow streets at the base of apartments, the stench of dog shit lingering in the air, the sharp shriek of motorcycles as they zoom past somewhere in the distance.
The fact that I'm in my room typing this entry on the eve of Chinese New Year when I said a few weeks back that I really want to spend it in Taipei makes the heart ache for the city even more. Forming new memories to replace the ones that have faded into forgotten territories, new memories to make up for the ones that repeat themselves every year, without fail, without variations. Just thinking about tomorrow, about Monday, makes me very, very tired.
Having said that, Chinese New Year is my favourite holiday period, bar none. It still means something to me, even though I don't really do the spring cleaning thing, especially not this year since I'm planning to do my Public Law assignment after I'm done with this entry. I didn't bother with getting new bedsheets this year, but I got new everything else: Shoes, an actual one-piece dress (albeit dark-coloured), another set of new clothes for Day Two, two sets of new underwear. My wall is painted red and that is kind of new, too. Reunion dinner on New Year's eve, even though I have dinner with my family practically every day. It's not a reunion as much as it is an adherence to tradition. Why do we adhere to tradition? I don't know, really. We just do. It feels wrong being somewhere else that isn't home on New Year's eve.
Chinese New Year is the only holiday that I don't want to spend with anyone else but my family. No matter what. It just feels wrong any other way.
Ploughing through my archives is a bit of a shocking activity nowadays. Reading the thoughts I recorded before is enough to derail everything all over again - the bitterness, the angry cynicism, how I shut myself off to the idea of love. How I believed, so earnestly and sincerely, that I wasn't programmed for a normal relationship, that I wasn't fated to fall in love, the way I viewed other people's happiness with a stab of jealousy of which I was deeply ashamed, and yet couldn't cast away.
Some of it remains, most of it is gone. And so reading the words I wrote brings back that acidic, almost vitriolic sense of jadedness, the entitled belief that no guy could ever be good enough to break me; and in the midst of remembering how things used to be, there's also a sense, mildly desperate, like clutching at straws, of wanting/needing to be that girl again. She would never have agreed with Tennyson, you know.
Things were a lot simpler back then. Things were clear cut black and white: You're either good enough, or you're not. You either want to be with me, or you don't. You either like me enough, or you don't. Anything in between and undefined was a waste of my time, anything falling short of what I deserve wasn't worth it. And so it follows in a logical progression that anything that wasted my time and was unworthy of wasting my time was easy to put down, to turn my back on for good, to forget, because they never meant that much to me anyway.
The first boyfriend, the second boyfriend, the guys that were interested in me whom I wasn't interested in, the guy I dated for a month or so, the guy from New York who wanted to kiss me and wrote me messages telling me how he felt about me (which, quite frankly, I never understood and always read with a major pinch of salt), the guys I liked who never liked me back, the guys I was mildly interested in but never got to know better. One after another after another, more anecdotes to tell my girlfriends, laughing it all off like brushing a speck of dust off my shoulder. Sure there were tears shed, there was some sadness, but things fixed themselves after the requisite mourning period had passed, and I bounced back and was normal again - was me again. Another layer of brick around my heart. So what?
The big deal lies in how weird it feels when all the bricks collapse and leave in their wake a weak pile of powder, and that's the only form of protection that remains. More specifically, how I don't feel the need to protect myself anymore; how I look back on everything that happened and don't feel that used-to-be familiar tinge of anger and hatred, not even the slightest bit; how, despite everything, the thought of starting a new cycle with someone new makes me so very tired.
Before, I would be angry and bitter and scornful; now, I'm just plain tired.
One thing that still remains is this: I can't imagine myself doing the whole relationship thing again. But the reason is different this time round; it's less out of spite and more because of resignation, a fatalistic belief that - once again - I'm not programmed for normal relationships. You try to change that but you don't know what you're up against, why you're even bothering, and life goes on while you sit around and wait for something to change and you don't even know what you're waiting for anymore. Someone told me once that it's no use trying to have all these relationships with different guys that ultimately fail when the fundamental flaw lies within yourself, and that it's only until you have identified that flaw and fixed it that things will start to change.
I thought there was a lot of truth in that, and I never quite saw it that way. But if truth be told, I don't know what is so fundamentally flawed with me that I always end up staring at Square One's ugly face. And attempting to figure it out gives me a headache and I honestly don't care that much at this juncture. It's just one of those things, one out of countless many others. What does it matter? What did it matter? What does it matter anymore?
What I do know is this: I've come a very long way since taking the bus to that Italian restaurant by myself in 2002 to ask for a hot waiter's number. As for what lies ahead, I'm choosing to face it with a confident smirk, some reservation, and a slightly reluctant willingness to keep an open mind.
Public Law, Public Law. I have so fucked up my 30%. Time to attempt to salvage it.