Monday, October 31, 2011

That's it, isn't it?

That story uncanningly reminds me of my own parents. And probably so many other parents as well. Didn't my dad come to NZ by himself with a work visa? For two years he was here by himself, working part time and studying at uni with a loan. He'd come with a group of men in similar situations, but he was one of the only ones who persisted and stayed. After two years he deemed it time for my mum and me to come. We lived off around $100 a week at that time in a small flat with second hand furniture. I wonder how I was so oblivious to these things back then. I don't even know what sort of jobs my parents had. It must have gotten better because we could afford to buy a new (second hand) car before we drove down to Wellington. Wow, and I remembered we had to stay in a hostel at the city hospital before we could find a house to rent.

I'm almost in awe at my parents. My dad especially. How could I have taken everything for granted growing up? How did my dad, in the space of 15 years, manage to build a life here for us from scratch? He had to learn a new profession, a new language, way of society, a new culture. And yet here we are now, stable, indulging in excess because we can afford it, and my parents undoubtedly both have successful jobs, my dad extremely so. He climbed to the top.

This just proves it. I've realised the whole point of all this remembering. The real world is like survival of the fittest. My dad was the fittest. He survived and built us all this.He succeeded. I have the same genes. The survival gene. The fittest gene. The success gene. He slaved and worked so, so hard for who else? For me, so I could have the opportunity to succeed as well. So I could have better opportunities, more opportunities, and be even more successful, right? So my children, my future family, and generations on, can indulge excessively in a rich and comfortable quality of living.

It makes me wonder if it's true, the fact that some people think homeless people deserve what they get. If they'd just try, perhaps they would get somewhere better in life? Is it possible? Because right now for some reason, I feel like my parents have earned the right to indulge in every single dollar they spend, no matter what it's on. They have the right to do what they want with their money - maybe their hardships aren't as pitiful or tough as those endured by people living off the streets, but they've earned this life for themselves, and I definitely believe that if you want something, then you have to work hard until you earn it and deserve it.

I've wasted a whole hour trying to analyse all these random thoughts. Panic is setting in, the fact that my parents are constantly ringing every hour definitely speaks volumes about how much they want me to do good in this next exam. Well at least now I know I'm armed with the success gene, as well as the "blood and sweat and toil" gene, so with the strongest resolve I can muster, I'm going to study this exam so hard that it's gonna beg for my mercy on friday to go easy on it as I pull out the moves (yeeah I dunno about the likelihood of that ever occuring but you gotta aim high to get somewhere...)

I've just realised something. It's selfishness isn't it? When we procrastinate, when we go out and party instead of studying, when we play games instead of doing what we're suppose to be to guanrantee a bright future, we're just being selfish. Our generation is pretty selfish and self-indulging.. everyone's guilty. What's worse is that studying and doing work isn't even a selfless act. It's not like it's all for your parents and none for you. In fact it's predominantly for yourself. But often that's not a strong enough motivator.. because think about it, you can deal with hurting yourself, but would you hurt your parents? Love is a better motivator than anything else. Than bitterness or competitiveness or ambition or redemption. If you know you have to work hard to not disappoint the ones you love, then that should be all you need. If you still can't summon the self resolve to do something for someone who was always there for you from the first time you fell over to now, then question your own morals and priorities for a second. Everyone's more than capable of achieving things they have labelled off as "unrealistic". You just have to want it for the right reasons. But that's just my take on it. I'm sure for a lot of people, their situation would be different. Still, just something to think about.

I wonder how they've been

So in the middle of my intense exam-cramming this morning, I (predictably) drifted off into a daydream, revisiting random thoughts and recollections of things gone past. I suddenly remembered a chef and his wife from the Chinese takeaway place I used to work at, people I hadn't thought of in a long, long time. It's strange to realise that those times with these people who I'd almost forgotten about was actually something I wrongly took granted for. Looking back now they were really, truly valuable and precious moments, simple and filled with warmth and care-free banter. And why? Why was I reminiscent of hours labouring under the heat of a part-time job, with a few random Chinese migrants I hardly knew? It's stranger and more surprising to realise that the answer is because I hadn't felt that carefree and happy for a long time. Which annoys me. Why can't things just be like that? Why couldn't I be as simple, the people around me be as simple? It's not like I lacked the stress and workload that I have now, back then I had two jobs as well as year 13 and pressure to do well in everything. In fact, I think that was much more work and stress compared to my situation now. Yet everything was so simple. I had to earn money so I had money to visit Auckland during the holidays. I had to earn money to support myself, to gain work experience, to feel independent, to be independent. And most importantly, I had to do well in school, join random councils and groups I didn't really want to join because I wanted a scholarship to Auckland. Bottom line was I had to work hard at everything so I could create a legitimate excuse for myself and for my parents, for choosing the "illogical" path that was Auckland. I thought everything would pay off when I could come here and free myself of the suffocating confines of Wellington; that small place; that small, stuffy, dull little city that I always took for granted.

(I'm really getting side-tracked and it's now approaching 2:46pm.. when the time hits 3pm I know my productivity is bound to decrease so I should really stop writing and get on with the study.. but I'm in one of those "have to regurgitate this over-powering and somewhat self-obsessive emotion or else I'll just continue to reflect times of the past like a fool" moods.)

The point of all this is that I wanted to properly remember Da Jun and Bin Bin, the chef and the wife. I worked with Da Jun the whole time I was at Hungry Wok, so I guess I did know him for quite a while? Must have been two and a half years at least, and coincidentally the time I started working there was when he started as well, that was when he first came to New Zealand. Actually he wasn't really a migrant, he didn't even have PR. All he had was a work visa, and I think I remember him taking a break for a few months once so he could go back to China and visit his wife. To be honest, it really surprised me that he had a wife, although it shouldn't have. He must have only seen her a couple of times, if not only once, during the first two years in NZ. It makes me think, what sort of resolve does one need to do something like that? To leave behind everything that was familiar, leave behind your wife and job and home, step into a foreign country, and work six days a week at a Chinese takeaway (because where else would take you?) because you had to earn money? He told me in one of those engaging conversations we used to have, that what he earned now, although merely a takeaway job, was so much more than the a lot of the RMB wages people earn back in China.

Being honest, he was quite a charismatic guy. When I first started the job I was so scared and shy and overwhelmed with everything there was to remember. I can't remember when we first started talking - a bit after I came out of my shell perhaps? - but when we did start talking, it was the most amusing conversations, I can't even remember half the stuff, they were just interesting. And his wife, when he told us that she was going to visit for a few months and come live with him here in NZ, oh the anticipation of meeting her was thick in the air alright. She was lovely, really hard working, sensible, strong and reminded me of one of my younger relatives from China. I don't know why I liked them so much, I just did. I felt really happy for them at first, it must have been a really long time coming, that reunion. But nothing's ever so easy right? She had to work on below minimum pay at the takeaway because, how else does someone who didn't know english find a job? Because she couldn't stay at home everyday doing nothing while her husband works 6 days a week right? I remember trying to help her find an english class, like the ones my grandma goes to. But none of the classes take people with no PR. She shouted me some sushi for helping her on that trip, but thinking back now I wonder why I even let her. That must have been worth around two hours of work for her at that time at least, it should be me shouting her.

I'm kinda sad that after I left Hungry Wok near the end of the year for exams and for uni, I never said goodbye properly. Bin Bin went up to Palmerston North towards the end to stay with some of Da Jun's friends, and that was the last I saw of her. I was so naive back then, thinking I could introduce her to the Chinese girls I worked with at Bubble tea so she could make some friends apart from Da Jun's. She seemed so much more mature than them though. The manager at bubble tea was a post-grad accountant student at Vic uni, they were the same age, but she was the sort to shop everyday, have so many pairs of shoes her boyfriend complains, and snack indulgently on the rich cakes and desserts we used to sell. I'm not sure if Bin Bin was that type of girl back in China, but it was just so hard to imagine her indulging in excess like that. Although, I wish she could've instead of the hardship.

Da Jun left work before I left for Auckland. I didn't see him leave, just came to the shop one day after school to say hi and found a new chef where he used to be. Apparently he'd gone to palmy as well. I wonder how they're doing now? Maybe if I visit palmy one of these days, they'll be working at some place there? Or maybe they've gone back to China. We talked about the right time to have a kid once, and it was agreed upon that the time was ripe for the both of them and they had to get a move on with getting Bin Bin pregnant.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's truly important

So I've come to realise why life feels so aimless and dull and dreary. It's not motivation I lack (well actually it kinda is but it sounds better to say it this way), more like a lack of something to motivate me. I need a challenge. Not only that, I need fierce competition. Having embraced the calm of lying in bed unable to sleep and letting deep and transcending thoughts attack my mind (well, not calmly and not embraced), I've realised that shockingly, I can't remember when was the last time I actually set a goal and fulfilled it. I mean there were certainly high points in my life this year when I did achieve something semi-noteworthy in contrast to the drone of everything else, but it didn't come about as me setting myself a target and doing whatever it takes until I reached it.

To think I used to cry over a Merit in English or that I'd gained 0.5kg. My past self is almost laughable when I think about it that way. The conclusion to all this however, is that I've realised that I can't be satisfied living day after day devoid of the need to prove myself. I need to need to prove myself (WORDCEPTION; wait not really). I need competition to overcome so I can prove myself. Oh, won't you come out and play darling little rivals of mine? Maybe I should be like Monica and learn how to compete with myself. But I'd most likely lose to my past self, so that's no fun at all.

When I think of the unfairness so many things gone past, people who've wrongly assumed the worst of me, accused me of things I didn't do, recognition that I should've been received for blood and sweat and hardwork but instead went to people who were simply lucky and blundered on into the prize, most of all, the injustice of so many things still going on in the world; if somehow I was given a voice, then I can speak out? Then something can be done to make those close-minded, ignorant people see, to see why they are so wrong, why their vision is so narrow that it hardly permits then to see anything but what they want to see.

Something I've also noticed is how this blog has progressively become more self-centered and "woe-is-me". I don't like it, although I'm not sure if I can help it. There are days when my mood is so dark, my outlook so grey that it seems like I have to write it all down, pour out the venomous black liquid filling me with bitter resentment or else be at risk of imploding/exploding/becoming a black hole of gloom. Maybe if I manage to work this self-improvement thing and succeed in my goal (note the goal setting; I'm beginning to improve already!), maybe it'll inspire me to write about other things, more important things than myself (haha). The need to make this blog arose because I needed to publish something really badly; that first entry was a message I wanted to convey to as many people as possible: and I still do. If you haven't read it and you're reading this, read it please.

I know I've changed a lot from the person who wrote that. It's so hard to not be superficial and not become absorbed into the over-indulging, materialistic lifestyle around us. It's very, very hard to keep a grasp on that feeling of transcendence when you realise the world has much bigger fish to fry than your little woes and joys, and likewise you, should have bigger fish to worry about than your own silly little goldfish dilemmas. When I lose my grasp on that mind set (okay, to be honest it's been out of reach for awhile; playing hard to get), I read back on what I wrote last year and the undeniable emotions of sadness and disgust at our superficial come back to me for a that brief moment. It's still there. I just have to sort out myself first before I can fully grasp it and show the world what's really important.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A great man's words

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
~ Steve Jobs

Whether you think he is a great man, whether you think he's corrupt or greedy or someone who's got the blood and pain and sweat of millions of workers out there, whether you like Apple or loathe Apple, admire his work or hate his work, you cannot deny that regardless of what sort of man Steve Jobs might have been, he still accomplished many, many great things in the life that he was given. It could have been great and wonderful or great and terrible, but it was great. Even if such technology and innovation, such addiction and distraction becomes the ruin of man, it would be at the hands of only one man; one great man; and it would be this man.

His inspiration is for all of us to have done something wonderful for the world. Something that has at least changed the lives of a small group of people for the better. I recently watched the film Ballet Shoes. Three orphans, all abandoned by their parents at birth become sisters, and they vowel to put their names into the history books, to achieve greatness, to have the names which are uniquely theirs engraved into the history of humanity.

Our lives are at stake every second of everyday. The ultimate threat of death is always there, we always have something to lose. Take the leap. Make the jump. Take a risk if you think it could take you somewhere wonderful, and perhaps one day make the world just that little bit more wonderful too.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

For some reason

For some reason these days I feel like I can't be bothered to do anything.

(Which sounds really bad. And it is. I'm not really talking about just school work either. By this time throughout the year I've sort of had the time to deduct that nothing I take right now can be so hard for me to master that I'll actually struggle intensely. So I've slipped into a sort of over-confident mindset (always a warning sign), skipping class and skimming texts until the week or few days before an assessment when I know I have to study.)

I feel like I'm just so tired of my life, everything, day after day, it's all so monotonous. I can't take it.

The worst thing is I've recently fallen into a state where I just can't be bothered interacting with people. It's just too much effort, really it is. When I bump into someone and stop to say hi which consequently leads into a conversation about uni and life, all I'm thinking is that really right now I'd much rather be in my little shoe box room by myself, curled up in my bed watching doctor who and eating instant noodles. But then I get tired of that too, being alone and eating noodles. (I ran out of doctor who to watch) It's just that it's become like an instinct to stop trying to be social at all. I'm too tired. Thinking back to the beginning of the year when I tried so much, chatted to people in lectures and tutorials, at lunch, at my hall.. now it's just too tiring. It's not my natural instinct to talk. I prefer the silence. To think instead. I've always been used to doing things by myself, because I grew up doing almost everything by myself. I remember when I was little, at first it was a weird notion to ask someone to go on an errand with me, to go toilet, to go to the office, when I could do it perfectly well by myself. That used to be my mindset.

But then high school and things change you. Going to camp, suddenly meeting such an onslaught of new people, faces, you start to evolve and blend in with the status quo. And even though I still feel like I'd rather be alone instead of trying to talk to people, I can't, no matter how hard I try, revert back to the mindset that it's okay to be alone instead of trying to talk to people. So now when I have lunch by myself, I feel lonely. When I'm eating instant noodles by myself in my shoebox room and I can hear the laughter of people downstairs in the dining hall, I feel lonely. When I fall asleep at night listening to my neighbour and his girlfriend laughing hysterically and (for some really strange reason; haven't been able to work out why) doing monkey impersonations, I feel so, so lonely.

I wish I was still that little girl who could wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream and run into the next room to sleep with my grandma.

I wish I was still that little girl who was perfectly content with spending a glorious day in a little corner of the library, reading to her heart's content and, when the sun starts setting, start walking home in the fresh evening air, licking a 50c ice cream from maccas (because I had 50c and I was old enough to buy one without parental guidance).

(I also wish that right now I had more than 99c in my bank account so I can go downstairs and buy a pie/melona from city star.)

I never thought I'd say this but I even miss high school sometimes now, which is really, really strange because by the end of year 13 I really hated it. Maybe I just miss those days spent in the design room with permission to skip all my classes so I could finish a brief on time. I definitely kind of miss that last hectic week of art painting; the whole class sprawled over every inch of ground and corridor in the art block, painting, painting, gluing, drawing, sticking smoothing.. a year's sweat and pain accumulating to those final few hours of marathon painting.

(Is that why I miss high school; art? Because with art and design I could always challenge myself to do better, create better? Yes, there were no boundaries to what was good enough, you could never be good enough, always better. But with programming and logic and maths, all there is is right or wrong. All you need to do is learn it and do it. No need for brainstorming, inspiration, hours of designing concepts, thumbnail sketches and fiddling with every single little detail because you know it all matters, every last layer, every last stroke.)

Hang on; I just remembered (yes I'd forgot..) what else I miss so much about high school is English. Scholarship English on thursday afternoons, Mr. Edgecombe digging up some short story or novel from the literary canon, and while analysing the first passage of the text our conversation would somehow wander and get swept away by a controversial debate. I remember thinking at that time; "This is what I enjoy and I want to be able to talk to people like this in the future, have discussions like this, philosophical musings and analysing hidden meanings simply talk about deep things that make you do a double take and go, wow, that was deep". Guess that didn't exactly work out :|

I don't even know what I'm trying to say, just all these random emotions and thoughts floating around in my head when I still can't fall asleep at 3 in the morning.

I think the reason for all this is that I don't feel like there's any point to get up every morning. There's nothing to look forward to anymore. Life is dull, life is lonely, and life is full of boring, unchallenging and mundane tasks to do that presents itself to me with no great interest. Basically, life is go to uni (feel hungry), class, eat, procrastinate, (study maybe), home, doctor who, (occasional midnight snack), (deduce that it's time to vacuum/laundry/clean up), sleep, and repeat till I want to bang my head against the wall in monotony.

This is a really long entry.

But anyways, I've just finished watching doctor who behind-the-scenes on youtube, concluded that 99c is not enough to buy anything from city star apart from a lollipop, deduced that yes, I really need to vacuum and wash my clothes soon (note: cash out one dollar coins next time at city star) and yes, I need think to think about sleeping sometime within the next hour.