Tiny Letters I Will Never Send: Part One

Part One: Mum

Dear Mum:

I think it’s often the little things we do that speaks volumes and today I heard your love so clearly through a home cooked meal.

I decided to come visit you because it was the weekends and I knew I could squeeze a free lunch out of the trip so, why not, right?

As expected, you were cooking something simply mouthwatering when I arrived – udon noodles stir-fried with chilies, sliced capsicums, carrots and portobello mushrooms. A sprinkle of salt and a dash of sesame oil later, lunch was ready to be served.

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sadly I didn’t think to take a picture of my own meal at the time (photo credit)

I noticed that you had fried an egg earlier and put it on the side and that seemingly insignificant gesture to others reminded me of how thoughtful you are.

It was less than a week ago that I told you about being vegan and you didn’t really understand what I meant at first. Then you completely (but respectfully) disagreed with my views. You then transitioned to becoming concerned for my health and trying to convince me to change my mind.

Despite this, you cooked the egg on the side.

Moreover, you have always been a strong willed woman and you’re well into your forties. That’s more than enough time and personality to be obstinately set in your ways. Ways that include adding eggs to udon noodles because you think it’s healthy and adds flavour to the dish even after everything I’ve said about them.

Despite this, you cooked the egg on the side.

You took the trouble to cook the egg separately and add it to your own plate even if it would have been easier and more enjoyable for you if you just put it into the dish because you knew that it would bother me and that mattered to you.

Thank you mum, that was one of the most delicious and meaningful meals I have ever eaten. Thank you for always trying your best to respect, understand and love me even though you may not always support everything I do.

I haven’t made it easy either, I am definitely not getting an award for being the best daughter of the year any time soon. I think the last time I gave you something for Mother’s Day was before I entered high school (and that was a ‘card’ I wrote on the back of a fake $100 bill I printed on A4 paper and your name stitched onto fabric I claimed could be used as a phone case at that).

Sorry for tuning you out in favour of the arrogant whispers of my ego that I knew better and that I could do everything myself. It has taken me 18 years to figure out that I don’t have to treat you with childhood reverence or teenage contempt. I don’t quite know what this stage entails but I do know that I love you too and it’s about time I start treating you how you’ve always tried to treat me.

It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow and I promise to make yours a happy one in any way I can.


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on letting go & alice in wonderland

I have a confession to make.

Disclaimer: If you know me even moderately well in real life, this won’t be news to you but

I can become slightly very unhealthily obsessed with other people.

Just a few minutes ago, I caught myself a few months deep into an old friend’s Instagram account that I’d just discovered. When I tried to pull myself out of the #valencia rabbit hole, more than a few familiar faces flashed past as my phone painstakingly recreated the tenuous links I followed to find my ‘Alice’, seemingly in an effort to remind me of a fact that I’m well aware of: I’m a little bit mad.

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(C) Maggy Liu

Instead of focusing on how intrinsically creepy my behaviour is, I’ve decided that I’m more bothered by how much ‘Alice’ & I’s paths have diverged and all I know about an ex-friend are some pixels on the screen.

Should I be happy that we live in such a narcissistic and technologically advanced society that I’m able to access her life in this way? If it was back in my parents’ time, I would have nothing but fond memories and a colourful imagination but somehow, this feels sadder. Witnessing what feels like intimate moments of someone’s life whilst being fully aware that they’re broadcasted to an audience including strangers makes the experience decidedly less special. This takes an even more sombre turn when you can’t even recall when you’ve become one of the outsiders too. Continue reading “on letting go & alice in wonderland”

on homesickness & the little mermaid

After moving to a new country for university, I fell sick.

I wonder if it’s because my body is stuck in limbo between newfound unpredictability and missing old routines and that’s why at night these maladjusted bones creak for home…

Loneliness.

It almost feels taboo to say out loud.

Even more so if I add another layer of association:

I am lonely.

Homesickness is insidious. It hides in the shadows before it suddenly swallows you whole, leaving just an empty shell of who you are behind. I noticed its presence as I was pretending to laugh the other day, suddenly continuing the facade of being happy all the time felt so tiring. Continue reading “on homesickness & the little mermaid”

Life: Graduation

Hey, it’s been a while.

I always feel terrible when I take too long of a hiatus without any good excuses but I just haven’t been motivated to write anything, sorry! I don’t really know how other people’s creative processes work, but in my case, I have to wait for ideas to find me, which as you can imagine, limits my output dramatically.

That being said, I am most certainly my own muse when it comes to writing about my life so what better subject to exploit than myself? I guess the biggest (albeit a bit late) update I have is:

 – I am no longer a high school student –

I don’t really remember the exact date of graduation, especially since our emotions were then dragged over the tedious but important final exams for the next month or so. On one hand, I’m completely over it. I’m so glad that I am moving past this part of my life and excited to take on bigger and better things, but on the other hand, I don’t feel ready at all for what’s to come.

Thinking too much about the future fills me with jolts of panic about whether I’ll get into my university of first choice, if I’ll survive moving out of home or be able to make any friends…

Most of the time, I just feel like I don’t deserve to graduate yet with the minuscule amount of knowledge and life experience I have. I mean for heaven’s sake, I don’t even know what price point I should purchase potatoes at to get a bargain, much less how tax return works!

Continue reading “Life: Graduation”

Lenny’s Oranges

This is a true story from when I was a little girl. Although the details have blurred over the years, the feeling of regret that comes along with this recollection has not changed. 

Oranges – Dan Petrov

When I was just five years old, my family migrated from China to New Zealand. We lived in a unit house, because that was the best that my parents could afford. I thought of it as a quirky little place. It was like living in the middle of an evenly sliced chocolate-log-house, everything was so much fun! Thinking back, it must have been a difficult time for my parents, leaving their white-collar jobs behind to become a waitress and butcher in a country where they barely spoke the language. I was too young to understand all they went through, instead, I became enamoured by the orange tree in our backyard.

It was, admittedly, a rather ugly thing. Wrangled limbs reaching for, but not quite touching the sky as droopy leaves clung onto peeling bark. That didn’t matter though, because it bore fruit that tasted like drops of sunshine. I remember being upset during summer when there were far too many oranges to eat and stuffing myself full so they would not be wasted. I loved how my mother carefully peeled back the lumpy, freckled skin and a faint citrus perfume would fill the air. If you concentrated hard enough, you could still smell the remnants of happiness hours later, clinging to the space under her nail bed, my teeth, our hair as the summer fruit stained our hearts with joy. Ah the memory of tangy jewels of succulent juice bursting on our tongues before fading to a uniform sweetness… Continue reading “Lenny’s Oranges”

Heart to Heart

I have always found comfort in the fact that my world is subjective, that it’s my perceived reality.

It has helped me time and time again to recognise my purpose in life and form a value system I can stand by.

In general terms, I would consider myself strongly anti-deterministic and extremely liberal. In other words, I am a strong proponent that everyone chooses their own fate and are allowed to hold their own world views as long as they do not infringe on anyone else’s right to do the same.

That, I have convinced myself over the past few years, is the best way to make everyone happy. I hate to say this, but sometimes, just sometimes, I really wish it wasn’t.

Continue reading “Heart to Heart”

The Girl Who Spoke 5 Languages

How many languages can you speak?

I can only speak two, a rather common feat in such a globalised world. I have never consciously learnt another language, I’ve just grown up in a bilingual environment. I remember meeting a girl last year who was fluent five different languages: German, English, French, Japanese and Latin.

She told me that she wants to be a translator in the future and she’s on an exchange to improve her English. I was so happy for her because it seemed like she was on the right track to achieving her dreams. At the same time, I couldn’t help being a little envious. This envy was not just for her fluency in multiple languages, but more for the absolute certainty she had for her dream and the effort she put in to make it happen.

The story she told me about finding her niche went something like this:

“You know those Lets Play videos on youtube? Yeah. Those ones where gamers play all sorts of different games for entertainment. One of those guys was playing what was originally a Japanese game translated into English. The gamer was complaining about how bad the translations were and I agreed, they were absolutely terrible! It was then and there that I thought, you know what, I can do better.Continue reading “The Girl Who Spoke 5 Languages”

3 Steps to Deal With Failure

In life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

As a student, when your end-of-year results are released and the reality of your mediocre grades is hugely disproportionate to your high expectations, you can’t help but feel like you have lost. There are two extremes you could jump to in this moment or when dealing with any type of failure:

a. Instantaneously brushing it off: ‘lol alg man’

b. Crying a tsunami: ‘this has literally ruined my existence’

I suggest doing neither because it’s unhealthy: you’re not really dealing with the problem.

If it really was ‘lol alg man’ why did your instinctual feelings say differently? Are you sure you’re not delaying the inevitable emotional outburst and stunting your personal growth for the moment being? On the flip side, is over dramatising the issue really going to get you anywhere except into spirals of unhappy thoughts that are blown way out of proportion to the issue at hand?

Rather than trying to escape from your feelings or sinking into the abyss of pain, this is the time to think systematically and logically because of the emotional state you’re already in.

From recent personal experience, I present my 3 steps to recovering and improving from failure. Like all self-help articles, the steps are totally obvious but incredibly difficult to follow in practise. If you are dealing with failure, I challenge you to give it a try no matter how much you would rather numb yourself to forget or intensify the feelings to justify responding irrationality. Continue reading “3 Steps to Deal With Failure”

brave the world

[trigger warning for self harm]

There have been many times in my life where I have felt negative emotions intensely.

This is one of those times. Instead of me trying to paint you a picture of the people and events that led to this point, let’s talk about these crappy feelings in general terms.

Usually, my anger results from dissatisfaction with myself or something so silly and trivial blown way out of proportion. That is the ultimate price I pay for being ‘sensitive’,  ‘an idealist’ and forever ‘romanticising life’. These labels all hint at, but not quite explain, the intensity I put into merely existing.

You understand me, right? In fact, you’re a little bit like me, I’m sure. After all, there’s a little bit of crazy within the best of us. We are not spectators of life – we are life and life consists of more than new beginnings and happy endings.

The critics (which are oftentimes from within) will tell us that we’re being overdramatic, illogical and crazy – this isn’t a situation where I’d tell you to ignore them, instead, I wonder if maybe they’re right.

Just like how horror movies aren’t scary if you don’t imagine yourself in the characters’ shoes, maybe life will be easier if we took a more objective standpoint every so often…if we just paused for a moment and breathed out, pushed away.

When I was a lot younger, I just cried and cried when I felt negative emotions. Then as I grew up, I resorted to punching walls; I liked that sting that blossoms on your knuckles upon impact that fades out into a low hum of pain. Eventually, due to morbid curiosity – it was inevitable really – I experimented with a more stereotypical version of self harm.

p.s. this is when you click away if you don’t want to see imagery of self harm or romanticisation of the practise.

Continue reading “brave the world”

infinite monkey theorem

What is the infinite monkey theorem?

It states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite number of times will almost surely be able to type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Taking an extremely literal interpretation (which it is not intended for), the concept is rather sobering for anyone who considers themselves a writer – anything you think of can be created out of random chance

In light of this, I am left to question: why do I write?

Continue reading “infinite monkey theorem”