musings of a twenty year old

Some draft poems from 2018 that I found recently. It’s always fun to stumble across writing from the past and reflect on what still resonates vs. what sounds like it’s written by somebody else.

sometimes I feel like I should just settle already
for a place, person or version of myself. I could
have a son or daughter. I think I’d like that, living a
quiet life at the edge of the city like my mother did, does.
Other times, the four-legged dreams inside me yearn
to break free, run across the rocky terrain of the unknown,
fill my lungs with flammable potential with every quickening
breath, let life burn bright as my heart beat rises, until I am
panting art and sweating fire, leave expectations in the ashes,
the becoming, rather than taming, of the beast.


today I went to the physio and she told me that the pain in my back was real.
how relieved I was for her to touch the knot between my shoulder blades and say “oof”
to know it wasn’t all in my head as she taped me up and suggested sticking needles in my body
(even though that thought petrified me).
What would have been worse is if she told me there was nothing wrong
and at all and that all that pain I felt was normal.
Maybe if I can start going to the physio, I will also be able to go see a doctor about my brain.
Let them scan it for wildflowers and weeds, so the garden of mind is once again one I am
not afraid to visit, walk through barefoot and carefree.


I know this isn’t a popularity contest (but it also sort of is right)?

some people have more facebook friends than I have followers and I get more likes on Instagram on a quick photo slapped over by valencia than I ever do on a poem I fiddle with for days and I wonder if I amjust not good enough?

I’ve been reading bukowski and he says you shouldn’t write unless it is practically bursting from your soul and I have never felt like that. My words do not flow like streams into a crashing waterfall, my words do not fall like rain into the sea. They do not burn like forest fire or pierce like bullets. They splitter and spatter like water in a pan full of bubbling oil. They chug along like an old train on a rusty railroad. A stuttering of the mind, a dearth of brightness, as if my head is submerged in a vat of ink and when I try to lift myself up to breathe I cover the world in mess and not art.

Maybe I am not a vessel for grand works meant to split the earth and revolutionise minds of my generation but it has been my public diary, a respite for bad days and that at least is worth something to me.

Tiny Letters: to remind myself the pandemic will be gone and I will still be here

Written in Chinese, English translation below.

2020年5月28号晚上,当你在看什么乱七八糟的女团节目时,手机突然响了。

A letter from the past.

你已经完全忘记去年的你会把自己25岁的规划发给一年后,现在的自己。

22岁最后的一晚读这封信,发现现实和欲望和短短几个月前真的变了很多。 当然都是和疫情相关的那些事。

最近情绪真的很不稳定。动不动的就哭,或者从里到外的麻木。虽然每天坚持写日记但是差不多天天都一样的这些那些有的没的。 低沉的点点滴滴也没有什么营养,需要仔细的品味。 好久都没有写诗了。

那天Stephen问我有没有什么我真正热爱的事情,我居然头脑一片空白。 小时有真的有,摄像,写诗 等。疫情之前虽然没有我自认为可以被称作为热爱的活动,我也会为了我喜欢的事情忙碌 – 跳舞,攀岩,去美术馆,在大自然里发呆…而其中对我来说最重要的可能会是旅游吧。

‘18年本不应该发生的单行旅游 (本和新西兰高中同学约好一起游玩一个月,不了她最后因为找工作没有和我在曼谷碰面)。路上交的朋友,青游馆和沙发上的记忆…发现我好喜欢那时候的自己。也喜欢刚知道自己得到梦寐以求的工作后的自己。

几个小时前,我才和Darcy对话。当时真的很伤心。聊着聊着就说到了关于自己想要改变的部分。我给他打了一个(一点都不诗意的)比喻。 如果我是一辆车,现在我想提升和升级的地方太多太多了还不如换一部车。可惜要把自己完全换掉可没买一辆新车那么简单。

我真的很感谢这封信的到来。也许它不能完全的把我从颓废的几个月里拔出来,但是它提醒了我,我不是一直都这么不喜欢自己。 疫情不过是一个外来的因素。它压抑但不是一个永久的状态。

加油,马上就要turn 23岁的我。 而现在我也写一封信给十二月三十一号的你。

2020年,这个奇怪的一年马上就要结束了。如果你还没有定下名年的目标,那你就赶快想想吧。 希望这封信对你像对现在的我一样是一个惊喜。 希望你听到我现在的伤心和迷茫,可以笑着说你已经克服了。如果还没有,容我心疼一下下,然后告诉你我们真的没关系。 不管怎样,你已经很棒了。

我的一生至今很有幸 – 生活没有起过很大的波浪。(希望不会jinx自己) 目前我自身是一艘很小很小的船,微不足道的波浪和风就能把我的船身震动,行程搅乱。但不是还没有翻船吗!怕什么! 活得好好的话在可能的情况下能开朗点就开朗点 。主动权要放在自己的手心里然后握紧它。 世界上最无条件的永远支持和懂你的人不就是你自己吗…一定不能忘了对她好点。

Be gentle with yourself。 2021,新年快乐~


It’s the evening of 28 May 2020. You are watching some awful Chinese girl-group competition and an alert pops up on your phone.

A letter from the past.

You’ve completely forgotten that past-you has sent a copy of your ‘goals for when you turn 25’ to today-you.

Continue reading “Tiny Letters: to remind myself the pandemic will be gone and I will still be here”

How (not) to win over your partner’s parents

I visited the small country town where Darcy grew up over Christmas.

To be clear, calling Moonambel a ‘town’ is incredibly generous. There’s only 167 residents (according to the 2016 census) – it’s no wonder not a single colleague or friend could place it on a map when I shared my holiday plans!

Of course, this did not dampen my excitement for this ‘suburban girl goes country’ adventure. Not only would it be the furthest I’d have travelled since the pandemic, this was the perfect opportunity for me to meet and (obviously) win over Darcy’s parents.


What do I mean by “suburban girl” anyway?

Growing up in Auckland, New Zealand, I spent my formative years within a 30 minute walking radius from the suburbia starter kit: gorgeous beach, shopping centre and local public school.

All my basic needs and more were fulfilled in that bubble.

I’ve always assumed most kids lucky enough to live in this part of the world (with a few key caveats) would have had a similar experience. I had no idea how unrelatable my upbringing was to Darcy and vice versa until we began sharing childhood stories with each other.

What do you mean Linda had to gather firewood and heat up water for you to have a hot shower? Are your fond childhood memories really throwing piles of bricks at the wall and sticking your leg into the river as leech bait? Did you and your best friend spend an entire weekend cycling back and forth (thrice) through the mountains because a girl he had a crush on lived in the town on the other side?

How strange, how fun, how exciting!


As soon as I arrived in Moonambel, I begin experiencing the ‘foreignness’ of it all for myself.

First stop was the winery Linda works at.

All is normal as we wait patiently for her to close up shop… except for the delicious smell of turkey wafting through the building on Christmas Eve. Understandably out of place, particularly after everyone else has gone home.

Why could we smell a turkey being roasted in a winery out of hours, you might be wondering?

Well with no oven in her house and having built up excellent rapport with the chef, it made perfect sense to Linda to call on a few favours for our visit.

A few hours later, with delicious turkey in belly and mission top of mind (to make Linda love me more than she loves her son), I offer to do the dishes to show my gratitude for the feast she made.

I could tell Linda was a bit uncomfortable with the idea at first but I insisted and she relented. She ends up hovering over my shoulder the entire time as I scrubbed turkey stuffing off one plate after another. I didn’t think much of it, chalking it up to the almost obligatory polite dance around guests helping out with the clean up or perhaps she was quite particular and she wanted to make sure I was cleaning the plates up to her standard but too nice to say so? I make sure to take extra care to ensure every dish is spotless.

In my mind, I did a decent job. Linda didn’t really say anything to the contrary either except a gentle reminder for me to turn off the running water when I wasn’t actively rinsing a plate, fair enough.

After she goes to bed, Darcy and I debrief and perhaps we were both being paranoid, but just in case we were committing a heinous faux pas without realising through our insistence of doing the dishes, we decide to take a step back and gather some intel the next day.


As we polish off exorbitant amounts of leftovers on the evening of day two, our eyes meet across the table. A subtle nod and our plan is set to motion.

Soon, with drying towel in hand, I am taking mental notes of Linda’s every move as she begins the clean up process.

Immediately, I notice that she opts for an entirely different method of dishwashing than I do.

She fills the sink with warm soapy water like a ‘bath’ for the cutlery and plates. After the items are cleaned, they are removed from the soap-sudded and scrap-filled water and are immediately air or towel dried.

Whilst not exactly a revolutionary way of doing dishes, particularly for my Caucasian friends, I remember discovering this style of cleaning when I was 11 years old.

At the end of our first soft-tech (cooking) class in school, all the teams are cleaning up their workstations. What would have otherwise been an uneventful day is turned on it’s head when I scan the room to compare our progress and freeze in horror at what I was seeing.

“How can they not rinse the soap off the dishes? There’s bits of food in the water they just pulled that out of…why does the teacher not care? This is so gross!” I whisper to my fellow Asian-New Zealander friend.

“I know, I don’t get it either, but just do it like we’re told.” She replies, clearly embarrassed by how uncool I was acting.

As dramatic as it sounds, it felt like a key tenet of my upbringing, identity and world view was being challenged in that moment and I have never backed away from an opportunity to explain the ‘superior’ dishwashing method since to anyone I happened to share a sink with.

At this point, I should probably explain how I do the dishes. You may read my description and think “duh”, much like what I expected of my classmates and teacher on that fateful day 12 years ago. In the time since, I’ve learnt many life lessons including to never assume anything about anyone – not their experiences and definitely not the way they go about doing their chores.


Maggy’s guide to dishwashing

  1. Fill a bowl with warm soapy water, this is your “main bowl”
  2. Take dish sponge, and clean all your plates/pots/cultery, dipping into the main bowl for more soapy water as needed
  3. Run everything under running water to wash off soap and air dry
Continue reading “How (not) to win over your partner’s parents”

Maggy’s New Years Resolutions 2021

One of my new years resolutions for 2021 is to start writing again and posting on my blog at least once a week.

At the end of week one, I have already run into trouble.

I don’t have any writing ready to share!

So, to kick off the year, I thought I’d put my hot-off-the-press resolutions out to the world.

I hope this is somewhat interesting to some folks. I personally love having a bit of a nosy into other people’s lives.

Rules:
#1. I am allowed to refine/edit my goals during the month of January
#2. I will share my progress quarterly for accountability


Relationships

  1. Surprise my partner six times
  2. Surprise my parents and grandparents twice each
  3. Build a habit of thinking of what my parents/grandparents might need when I go shopping
  4. Surprise my friends 12 times (10 left)
  5. Host four board games and/or dinners in our apartment

Fitness

  1. Hit weight goal
  2. Do six pull ups consecutively
  3. New running personal best
    • 5km in 30 mins
    • 10km non-stop
  4. New rock climbing personal best (aim for 15/16V)
  5. Try personal training in February
  6. Group fitness of some type every week

Career

  1. Find a meaningful volunteer role, preferably with elements of leadership development
  2. Connect with a mentor, have at least six purposeful meetings
  3. Weekly, monthly, quarterly reviews of work and life

Better me

  1. 12 new hikes this year, four overnight hikes/camps
  2. Mindful consumption of:
    • 24 Books/Audiobooks
    • 24 Films/Theatre/Musicals/Shows
    • 24 Webinars/Public Lectures
    • 24 Art Galleries/Exhibitions
  3. Try/Re-try something new six times
    • (e.g. Improv class, Medical trial, MeetUps, Bumble BFF, Fundraising writing)

Creative

  1. One post on blog per week
  2. 24 pitches submitted
  3. Make six crafts
    • (e.g. build DIY glass house, watercolour, pottery, clay sculpture)
  4. Print two rolls of film

Miscellaneous

  1. Investigate DELE exams for Spanish
  2. Investigate English teaching course
  3. Investigate tour guiding

Coincidentally, 24 goals for the year I turn 24.

Credit to Matthew Dicks for having a great NYR system that I have heavily borrowed from with some adaptions.

(Side note: the podcast him and his wife Elysha produce on how to become a better storyteller called Speak Up is a fantastic listen.)

If you have read some of my other writing before and have clicked into this post out of curiosity, thank you.

My writing will be a little different this year though I do hope to still get some poetry in here and there. The source material (read: me) is much of the same. I hope you will choose to stay.

Q: What are some of your end of year reflections or new years resolutions?

to be unnamed

This poem is inspired by Call Me By Your Name & was written with Visions of Gideon playing in the background.

If Heaven is built on white lies,
then let me believe for the last time
that your breath can run into mine,
giddy with love, you and me, likewise.

But why is it that every time our lips
collide, I can’t taste anything beyond
the quiet? Tell me, when will the thought
of you stop clouding these closed eyes?
Don’t forget the rain and wistful smiles.

Hey love, am I still allowed to call you
so? I suppose names were never our own,
gifted to us so our entirety can
be condensed into palpable syllables,
rolled over the tongue, bitten into and
chewed on until the flavour fades
or tastes suddenly change.

(Why did you change, or did I?)

I guess I thought I would be okay but time
reminded me of its unpredictable path
from now until tomorrow, here I am again.
Silence stretching out as long as a
sleepless night, and I am unlearning desire,
like feeling itself is a bad habit, brea
king words until they lose all meaning,
writing about you until I forget the way
I used to whisper – your name.

Continue reading “to be unnamed”

Another Letter Home From Melbourne

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Photography: mxqqy (self)

update mother,
people are packed closer here
but that means I can finally hear
the thumping of foreign hearts
as they jostle – collide, fumble – thrive,
and how wonderful it is to be able to breathe
as winter’s last bouts of rain
washes my deluded expectations clean.

(oh, and you know what?
I have begun to appreciate
my daily dose of intimacy
on crowded trams,
as they crawl up swanston street.)

yes mother,
there is more distance here
but the ones I love are forever intertwined
in the chords of my apple earphones
their voices drown out the 6pm traffic
and I have forgotten when the rush hour noises
became a familiar hum.

As I watch purpose-filled businessmen
and teenagers with rose-coloured dreams
roam our prison-bar shaped CBD,
they remind me of my mentor
and who I used to be.
Continue reading “Another Letter Home From Melbourne”

girl by the sea

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Source

do you remember
the time you cried
as the midnight waves
washed away
her sea foam love
as I tried to drag
your listless body
back to shore?

do you remember
the time vodka and mistakes
ran through my veins
and I clung desperately onto
something, anything
to anchor myself
in this maelstrom of life
and you became
my false sense of security?

because I remember
when you told me
that you were starting to like
the girl who lives by the sea
shy, kind and sweet
salt-stained hair
and sunset cheeks
I guess I stopped listening
when you confessed
that you still yearned
for the mermaid
who didn’t stay,
and that’s when you became
my next mistake.

Continue reading “girl by the sea”

Tiny Letters I Will Never Send: Part Three

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Part 3: musings & reflections on this/us

To readers of this blog (and other poets, artists or storytellers of any shape & form),

Do you ever find yourself gravitating towards trite and uninspiring metaphors to retell the same old stories?

Because I do and it’s been bothering me a lot lately.

A quick scroll down my page & you’ll see my obsession with comparing unrequited love, broken friendships and my overthinking mind to oceans, storms and dark starless nights.

On one hand, I know that it’s so important to always tell your own truth and this constant struggle with body image, establishing boundaries and vocalising my feelings to other people has been mine since I was a little girl. That being said, at times, there’s just this nagging voice at the back of my head that this is an excuse for me to be my own worst enabler.

Instead of focusing on living in the present and fulfilling my responsibilities in the real world, I am finding myself losing hours of the day wallowing in self pity (but as soon as I think that, another voice pipes up in my head telling me that I’m being too harsh and sabotaging my opportunities to feel vulnerability).

I feel like the root of the problem is that I haven’t been able to find balance. At one extreme, it feels like I’m picking apart the stitches that hold me together every few days just to see what words will spill out from from the seams and at the other, I am always swallowing words at the tip of my tongue, smiling, and letting strangers trample over my comfort zone because it’s a shortcut to their happiness, you know?

Continue reading “Tiny Letters I Will Never Send: Part Three”

the storm to be (she)

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Image courtesy of: Weewill

trigger warning: to be safe, there are mild allusions to self harm, body image issues, depression etc.

grey skies
and downcast eyes
the lost girl
leaves a trail of
silence and half-lies
in the hopes
that she’ll find
salvation
before the storm
arrives

she has already tried
drawing maps
on her arm
to help her navigate
the cold black nights
but she could never
find the way
before the cross-roads
faded into jagged lines
that mark her skin
with rods of blinding light

Continue reading “the storm to be (she)”

World Suicide Prevention Day: Guest Poem by Jess Rayner

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Image courtesy of: Hahanoui

For anyone who has thought suicide is the best option:

If you were to die today,
the sun will still rise
even if you’re not here to see it.
The stars will still shine
and the moon will still glow
and how beautiful the flowers will be
even if you’re not here
to appreciate them.

If you were to die today,
your mother would still be a mother
and Joy would still be a sister
but your girlfriend,
she would not remain so –
she lost her title
as soon as you lost your battle.

If you were to die today,
our group of three
will now become two
until one of us could not carry on
as an even number.
We were meant to be odd
and oddity doesn’t come
from you dying
it comes from you living
even if you do not want to.

If you were to die today,
we would lose a boy
who has lyrics instead of blood
coursing through his body.
Your beautiful body,
that you do not want to live in.

If you were to die today,
no one will get the chance
to fall in love with you.
No one will get the chance
to wear white
beside you at the altar.
We will all be in black
beside your grave stone.

If you were to die today,
you think that we would be okay,
that it would not matter
because no one cares about you
.
If no one cares,
why am I writing a fucking poem
about you dying
and crying about it?

If you were to die today,
the best part of me will die too.
We are oceans apart
and my hand is still holding yours,
no matter how you feel.

If you were to die today,
the world will still continue,
but don’t you dare think
I would want to it to.
Don’t you dare think
that I would want to carry on
in this world
that slaughters young men
who are so desperate to hold on.

If you were to die today,
don’t you dare.
don’t you dare die today.


I really wanted to write something for World Suicide Prevention Day because I think it is such a great opportunity to raise awareness about this huge issue that always deserves to be talked about more.

After reading this poem Jess posted into a little poetry group on Facebook that we’re both a part of, I realised I really couldn’t express my thoughts on the topic better than she has. With her permission, I am sharing this powerful piece with you all today.

This is the only post where I will actively ask you to please share if you can, because I think it is such an important message that really might be able to help someone that needs it.

Have a good day everyone.

Resources:

Lifeline (Australia): 13 11 14

Lifeline (New Zealand): 0800 543 354

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)