Thursday, April 16, 2009

149 - Personal insecurity

In my younger years, I used to be unbelievably shy. I simply would not utter a single word to my classmates throughout the school day, because I thought that these other kids were strange beings, people I could not understand. And because I could not understand them, they were people that I deeply feared. (The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety. - Henry Louis Mencken)

It was only until my mother had picked me up from school and whisked me away that I was suddenly capable of human speech.
She would meet me at the gate everyday after school, lead the way to the nearest road, and hail a cab. And it was inside this cab, where I instantaneously transformed into the talkative and opinionated person that you, my readers, are presented with today.

I behaved this way at the time because I only trusted my mother, and did not trust these strangers who worked and played alongside me. I also didn't think I was the best at anything (even though, at the time, all we did in class was basic maths, basic English and drawing). I didn't think too highly of my abilities and I did not want others to know my standards. I wasn't confident. I did not have very high self-esteem.

In retrospect, I believe it was because of this lack of confidence in myself and others that I did not have many friends in primary school. In fact, I am still very much like my five-year-old self, and when I go to school these days, I actually find myself distrusting my own and other people's judgements, and that's what usually separates me from the group.

I know several people who experience unease and nervousness each day because they perceive themselves, or others, as inadequate or worthless. T
here is a very fine line between being insecure but pretending to be okay, and actually being okay. And it's in pretending to be okay that annoys me, because the person I'm talking to is achingly putting on a fake, confident smile, just for me.

So what can that person do, or what can I do?

I like to attack a problem by first eradicating the source of the problem, like hosing down the stove in a kitchen fire. By that analogy, I mean trying to build confidence is the way to achieve a healthy quantity and quality of self-regard (i.e., remove insecurity).

However, how this can be done effectively is beyond me. These people are so insecure about themselves, that they think they aren't capable of anything, and that includes change for the better. They never feel motivated enough to talk more, or talk to one more person, they never feel like they can actually break out of their usual behavioral habits. And so it's just a horrible paradoxical internal bewilderment that exists within us, a bewilderment that is borne of these strange beings who feel insecure, sort of like a sprinkling into our lives of realistic humanoids that are machined to solely experience doubt, shyness, and feelings of being threatened... it's just another one of those vicious cycles.

I hate it, how are you supposed to build a strong relationship with someone that's insecure? Come on, readers, do you hate it too?


(Do you hate it too? has received a Neno's award, displayed on the right-hand side underneath the Golden Bog Roll. Please check out the link, as I talk about why I love to blog. :D)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

148 - People who yell out the manner in which they just accidentally hurt themselves

"OW, I hit my funny bone on the edge of the table!"
"OW, I stubbed my toe!"
"OW, I accidentally touched the edge of the frying pan!"
"OW, I hit my head on the ceiling!"

It's stupid enough that you caused yourself the pain, but must you shout it out loud for the world to hear? That's imbecility that is incredible to me. Why are you telling me how you hurt yourself? Does it relieve the pain? Do you want to be known for clumsiness and thick-headedness? Does it make either one of us feel better?

No! Don't tell me you ventilated like that as part of a reflex reaction. Are you really garrulous and unpredictably verbal to the point where you really do not have any control over your own mouth? I just can't help but think that you deserved to get hurt after such a reaction as yours.

This is probably God's way of having fun. Using the principle of karma, normally, you would be dealt pain that would exact the degree of your wrongdoing, but in this case, you are dealt the punishment first, as God knows you will react by committing that exact sin. Like I said, God's playing with fate, and there's a touch of irony, of a paradoxical relationship.

Monday, April 13, 2009

147 - Opera singing in the morning

Three years ago, I went on summer vacation in Europe. My mom and I joined a tour which brought us to Italy, the Vatican inclusive, Switzerland, France and England.

My favorite holiday destination out of those just had to be Switzerland. In the same day, I was exploring the ice caves on the peak of a snowy mountain, and then cruising on the beautiful lake Lucerne. And the water... now, this may seem like the most unlikely 'dish' or 'delicacy' you'd think of when it comes to Swiss cuisine, but the water... the Swiss water that was so cool, and pure, and reminiscent of the journey I took from the Swiss mountains down to lake (like a river)... that water was perfection.

Anyway, there was a forty-something couple in our tour that usually shared a table of four with us whenever our tour stopped for lunch or dinner. They usually stayed in the room beside ours, too. We talked a lot and we discovered that the wife was actually an opera singer. Every morning, I woke up, cranky and grumbling, because she would be doing her daily projection exercises. I guess she felt Switzerland is a very European, music-y, opera-esque place, and it's close to Italy, and it's the morning time in Europe, so it's the time to rise and shine to a good soprano...

Not that her voice didn't sound nice, I'm not saying it wasn't good... but that is the last thing I need to, or want to, wake up to in the morning. Maybe projecting your voice over the lake while we're feeding bread to the ducks and the swans is acceptable, but when I'm shirtless, in my boxers, curled up under the sheets in bed, there is no other sound on this planet that sends more, or chillier, chills down my back. The line between professional opera singing, and creepy, horror film music is a damn fine one.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

146 - When someone thinks they're better than you

I hate this, whether it means they think they're smarter, richer, kinder, fitter, faster, cooler, prettier, or more popular, courteous, verbose, moral, loyal, rational, adaptable, experienced, balanced, or correct. To think you're on a "higher level" is nothing short of arrogant; to advertise this exact self-image is just abhorrent.

Benjamin Franklin said: "To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness." People with a strong ego scoff
behind the authoritarians' backs, look down on, and patronize, their equals, and treat their subordinates like they're scum, or non-existent.

And it's most detestable when such conceit is observed in the people you love. I just... I don't even want to think about it anymore.

Friday, April 10, 2009

145 - When someone isn't close to their parents

We all feel lonely sometimes, even if we have a spouse, a sibling, or a large clique to hang out with. It's nice to have someone, or some people, who you can rely on, whenever you're feeling lonely - the kind of people that will answer your calls in the middle of the night if you need to talk, the ones that will always love you and care about you, the sort of person that won't mind accompanying you for dinner, even if it means they have to cancel other prior arrangements.

I'm lucky enough to have three of those people: my mother, my father, and my best friend.

They listen to me, they like me unconditionally, they have stuck by me for so many years. It hasn't been easy, no, not at all. My mother has kicked me out of my house, my father and I have had long periods in which we don't talk to each other for years, and my best friend has told me before that he hates me.

But the fact that these relationships have been maintained for so long, despite all the disagreements, is a testament to how strong these bonds really are.

I never understand how people can not be 'close' to their parents. I've tried to resist my relationships with my mom and my dad, in my iconoclastic, adolescent, rebellious spirit, but upon reflection, I honestly cannot help but be drawn to them. Still a teenager myself, I find it uneasy to say this, but people should make the effort to talk to family. I'm not going to cry out loud about my own domestic situation, but I know others with far worse-off conditions, and you know, they somehow function, and they function because the family communicates and works through their issues together.

Frankly, I hate hearing about people who "never really talk about stuff" with their parents because I find it rather sad. These people, like one of my older cousins for example, don't really know how to talk to their own kids either. It's a vicious cycle passed on from generation to generation...

But perhaps this familial flaw should be attributed more to the parents rather than the children. After all, when you're a kid, you just don't know any better. It's up to the parents to teach the kid that talking about "stuff" can be good. I say it's better than talking to a psychologist/counselor. I say it's better than withholding your emotions.

But meh, whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

144 - Reluctancy to do household chores

Hey guys! Today is my second-last week of school before my study leave begins. The exams start in May, so in less than a month, I'll be writing things down on pieces of paper that will determine my future. So excuse me if I'm not blogging as much. I'll try to make my posts longer in the months of April and May just to compensate, like this one for example. I have a lot of studying to do, but hopefully, I'll be back on Friday once more.

So, I hope everyone is enjoying Eastertime, 'cause I'm going to go indulge in a chocolate egg now. Toodles!


A couple years back, during one of Hong Kong's hot summer holidays, I rented what is known as a 'holiday house' for a couple of days. There are many holiday houses around Hong Kong, mainly located in more rural areas outside the city, and on the outlying islands of Hong Kong, near beaches, biking trails and hiking routes. These houses are typically furnished with several beds, a TV, a fridge, chairs, tables, a pot, a pan, some eating utensils, and a barbecue pit in front of, or behind the house.
What these holiday houses are, are basically houses you can rent for a few days to escape the technology and the pressures of citydom, and to spend time with your family or friends actually having fun the way it was meant to be had (i.e., non-electronically).

Two years ago, thirteen of my friends came along with me to live for four days in a holiday house on 'Cheung Chau' Island. Together, the fourteen of us played Playstation, rode bikes, threw frisbees and balls at each other on the beach, and of course, drank a lot of vodka with cranberry juice and Red Bull. There was one night in which I even started up a barbecue fire and cooked everybody's dinner. It was heaploads of fun... heaploads.

On the last night, however, something really bugged me. They were arguing over who should wash the dishes. Now, for the whole four long days, and three long, sleepless nights, I didn't really care who was picking up for all of us, and cleaning up after us, so long as somebody was doing it. Of course, it was preferable if everybody chipped in to prevent the house from looking too untidy.

I really didn't care who swept the sand off the floor after we all came back with sand in our hair, clothes and shoes, who mopped the floor after we returned
from the beach dripping in salty seawater. I didn't care who washed the pot and the pan and the plates after we had pasta on the first night, or who wiped the barbecue forks clean on the second night. I didn't care who went out in the morning to get everybody's breakfast, or who went out in the afternoon to shop for groceries, or who went to the supermarket after dinner to buy dessert, or who went after midnight to restock on junk food.

But the fact of the matter was, I did everything. For the enjoyment of everybody else, I really did everything. I made sure those who needed to leave early knew how to get home, and ensured the safe arrival of those who joined us later. I made sure the floors, the cooking and eating apparatuses, and the barbecue pit were all clean. I cooked dinner for everybody, I went out to buy groceries, to buy breakfast, to buy junk food, to buy drinks, and to buy dessert. I pointed out to people which way the beach was, where to get bikes, where the best place to sit and talk was, where the supermarket was, how to use the shower, and Hell, even where the damn Cheetos were stashed.

And most importantly, I had the key to the house. And that meant I had to follow everyone everywhere so that they had a way back into the house when they got tired.

On the last night, all thirteen of them decided to go out on a walk while I was just about to doze off curled up in my bed. I heard the door close, and I thought to myself, "If I'm the only one who has the key, and I'm asleep, do they all expect me to just wake up to open the door for them later on, after all the work that I did in the past few days for them?"

I had had enough of their slothfulness, so I ran out after them. At first, I was shouting angrily. Then I was shouting hysterically. Then I was crying about how sick and tired I was of cleaning up after them and catering them and letting them have fun. I was simply exhausted.

I have a very good friend with whom I talk to almost every night. It makes me smile when he sends me a message, "brb dishes", or "brb gotta take out the trash". It's admirable and quite a sweet quality for a guy if he's been brought up to do these sorts of things. He'd make a good husband one day.

I washed the dishes tonight after my mother and I had our first homemade meal together in over a year or so. I wash the dishes after every time I cook/bake stuff for myself to eat. I just do it 'cause it's logical... someone has to do it. It might as well be me, right? I mean, I don't see what's so disgusting about doing the dishes. And as for sweeping and mopping the floor, that's easy, and wiping the cabinets and stuff is not that difficult. Picking up the kids' toys doesn't take more than a minute, and doing the laundry is basically throwing clothes into a box and at the press of a button, voilĂ .

People... People: please do the dishes, even if it's not yours. Do your chores, they don't take long. I don't want to have an emotional breakdown in front of anybody again, and I don't want anyone to suffer from the same situation, because it's quite embarrassing to be crying over dirty dishes.

So, anyway, do you know anyone who hates doing the chores? Don't you hate them too?

Monday, April 6, 2009

143 - Saying I'm 'too old' for cartoons

So I'm sitting on the sofa after school, watching Scooby Doo on TV. (I love Scooby Doo, as well as Popeye and Dexter's Laboratory and Avatar: The Last Airbender.) Then my grandfather comes out in to the living room, sees what I'm watching, and goes ballistic because it's unthinkable that a person my age would be watching such a silly program. Perhaps I should watch Bloomberg, or BBC/FOX News, and get educated on law, finance and politics, or so that I can perhaps learn about the murder of a family of four in Kentucky, or a case of food poisoning in Xian, or maybe I can find out about the deteriorating environment around the world, or get to know a little about the vast array of unnerving epidemics across the globe.

Jeez, what the Hell is wrong with me watching cartoons? Cartoons are fun to watch. Let's face it: the news, and most documentaries bore the crap out of everybody. Perhaps you would like me to watch some violent, gory, suspense drama instead?

Gosh, I love cartoons. The violence displayed when Tweety drops an anvil on Sylvester's head actually entertains me in a way that Jack Bauer never could: it doesn't increase the risk of me suffering from depression, it doesn't make me more prone to being a violent father when I grow up, and no, no, no, it doesn't make me hornier, it doesn't make me want to have sex more. (Those articles in the paper and on TV piss me off.) Obviously, this is because these cartoon shows are for children.

Actually, I think these shows are made for older people to watch, namely adolescents. It's not like a three-year-old actually understands what the heck is happening on Sesame Street, or really understands the wittiness displayed in cartoons like The Powerpuff Girls, or Teen Titans. Do you know how many great jokes there were in Finding Nemo? Paying for kids' movie tickets to see Pixar films is wasted money. They don't get all the quips, they don't understand what's going on, they don't comprehend the storylines, maybe only partially, but not all of it. Because they're too slow and stupid. Leave it to educated me to laugh at the seagulls repeatedly exclaiming, "Mate!". (The seagulls cry "Mate!" because they're Australian seagulls. Australians are known to refer to friends, and strangers, as their "mates". Hahaha.) (Don't you hate it when people explain their jokes/popular culture references to you?)

Teenagers can watch cartoons. And, in fact, so can adults. Humph.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

142 - Occupational cockiness

I've just finished watching the series finale of ER. It's sad, not because I'm an avid fan of the show, but because I have seen quite a lot of episodes in the past fifteen years, and it's sad that a show that's been airing for so long just ends. Watching all of the fourteenth and fifteenth seasons, I just feel the hard work that's gone into this certain highly entertaining and culturally influential phenomenon.

What I really find interesting about medical TV dramas like
ER, Grey's Anatomy and House is the way in which they depict doctors and surgeons. Sometimes, they're nice people, seemingly worthy of being physicians, but at other times, they're unsympathetic, melodramatic and downright cocky.

People who have been trained in the field they work in (especially those that have been educated for a long time like lawyers, doctors, engineers and airplane pilots) are always so arrogant. They think that just because they're the best at what they do, they can be rude and all high-and-mighty with everybody else. The doctor will shout at the cop, "With all due respect,
Officer, this man needs medical care, he's suffering from a xanthine oxidase deficiency!" Then the cop will respond with, "And without meaning any disrespect to you, Doc, he's under arrest and we have the right to arrest you, too, under the Californian Penal Code, Section 853.6!"

It's like the taxi driver in the morning that tells
me he knows which route has less traffic, when I've been going to the same school on a taxi everyday for the past three-and-a-half years. It's like the doctor, the plumber, the tour guide, the optician, the waiter, the cop, the teacher and the librarian who are just so damn impatient and inconsiderate. Aren't we paying these people's salaries with our taxes and our bills? Don't they teach them to be amiable in the services industry?

It's like the cashier girl at McDonald's who thinks I'm wasting
her precious time just because I wanted barbecue sauce instead of sweet and sour to go with my McNuggets. Like, girl, look at yourself. You work in McDonald's. Are you proud of that? Are you proud, of that? And besides, I told you I wanted barbecue sauce already, you just forgot. Stop thinking you're so good.

I'm sure my perspective will change when I grow up and get a job where I have to be of service to a customer or a client. But hey, I think I'll be able to accept that the customer is always right. Why are there so many people, especially in the services and catering industries, that lose their inner, human kindness, their fundamental manners, once they are at work?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

141 - People who ask you questions while you're reading

"Anything interesting in the news today?" "What book are you reading?" "Look at Lindsey Lohan on the cover of Michael's magazine, don't you think she's gotten a lot fatter?"

Our examinations are coming up, the final exams I will take in high school. Several subjects are worrying me right now, namely chemistry, physics and mathematics, so currently, I haven't been blogging as much so that I have more time to study.

This week, I've been focusing on building my vocabulary for the English exams, as well as going through my maths textbook, making sure I know how to use every single symbol and equation. I think I've mentioned this before, but to build my vocabulary, I've been reading a book named 'Word Power Made Easy'. It teaches you vocabulary primarily, by pointing out the etymology of a lot of different words, but alongside that, it touches on what is or isn't correct grammar, punctuation and pronunciation. It's a really effective means to attain a better vocabulary in the English language, for me at least.

What irked me at lunch today was when my friends asked me what I was reading. I didn't answer them, because I knew answering them would only attract more inquiries:
"Why are you reading that? Do you think your vocabulary's bad?"
"Where did you buy it?"
"How much was it?"
"What exactly does it teach you?"
"Do you actually learn anything from reading thing?"
"Dude, I haven't read a book in years, besides those we've studied in school. Can you believe that?"
"Isn't that boring?"
"What's the book called?"
"Who's it by?"
"Can I borrow it after you're done with it?"
"Why are you looking at me like that? You look pissed."

Shut up, peeps, I'm trying to read.