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I Know Places



There are no words to actually describe how much I miss you or the summer we shared.

No regrets, I said to you, but my heart protests at the empty space next to me that used to be your comforting presence.

I give myself three weeks for this to fade, I said; so much bravado. Three months on and all I am is this wistful longing.

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My Name Means Peace

I've been going through old blog posts recently, because a new friend asked for the URL to this little domain I call my own, and I really couldn't remember the last time I wrote something here that I could be proud of.


I realise I haven't really posted the way I used to. This journal isn't even any indication of my real life anymore... more of an after-thought, which is sort of sad, considering how long I've been blogging (eleven years). Also, I've been taking down past posts as I see fit. This is my tapestry of words, after all, and I reserve the right to decide what content gets to remain and what should best be removed, to minimise harm to others, and put some limit on the negativity.

I guess what happened along the way is there has been a lot of changes in my life. And I've grown a little older, and more reticent about sharing some of the aspects of what I do on a day-to-day basis. Not because I think I have anything to be ashamed of, or anything to hide - quite the opposite, I am proud of how far I've come since those troubled times where this blog was my only connection to sanity.

But with age comes wisdom - and I know that for the sake of my own well-being (and future prospects), there's this thing called personal privacy that I'd love to keep away from the prying and oft-judgemental eyes of the public, considering how scandalous the unvarnished facts of my life would appear to much of the population.

So as this year comes to a close I'll just write a little recap of... what? Myself, I suppose, and what I feel I am right now, because people are evolving entities... and I'm not quite the same girl who started this blog here.

I'll still acknowledge this: I am an atheist girl living in this conservative, contradictorily religious country called Malaysia, and I am also of Chinese descent... all that means I was raised in an environment when old values and new ways of thinking make for a confusingly chaotic clash of cultures. 

I believe in harm-reduction and raising awareness when it comes to things such as drug use. That's still a controversial opinion to have despite many countries adopting that stance, and there is compelling evidence that the approach produces results that are a lot more positive. I think governments could do better than just outright ban things that do not sit well with conventional morality and values, and find better ways of regulating  things. Reading of Jose Mujica and his progressive ideals makes me feel like maybe there's hope that we'll eventually manage a more enlightened society.

I also believe in sex-positivism: I'm probably too liberal in regards to these things for my country... I have friends who are straight, bi, gay, trans, and everything in between, and I'm a pretty out-spoken feminist. I'm all for pro-choice because nobody should tell a woman what she should do with the contents of her uterus, and I think people should be left alone to fuck however they wish to, as long as things are consensual between two adults, and do not cause permanent harm (oh c'mon, Fifty Shades isn't THAT much of a shocker when you pause to consider that even in "normal" intercourse, injuries happen inevitably - ie. micro-tears in delicate membranes...).

I guess I won't be the sort of person you'd want to introduce to your conservative friends, but since I'm almost pushing thirty and learning that what people think of me doesn't really matter that much, I really am starting to not take to heart what polite company think of me. Rather, I will be pretty damn vocal on many topics, most notably how I feel about various social injustices, because I think we're all too indifferent about upholding what is right and someone has to say these things.

My personal life is convoluted as hell, and is definitely no-one's business but my own, but if you really want to know... believe me when I say I've never been happier about things on that end. I've had my heart broken, badly, as many of you long-time readers would know, and I've suffered abuse, and other things I'd rather not elaborate on... but I've learn to let go of bitterness and I've started to learn to love again. 

I think I lucked out: I've met good men, men who would uphold my rights to my body and my opinions, who would champion my views against this whole sexist male culture we live in, men who would never, ever, ever lay a hand on me in anger or out of spite.

I think my heart is slowly becoming whole again. Maybe one day, when the time and circumstances are right, I might find someone I could even consider living with. Maybe.

That said, I still don't really believe in this whole institution of marriage thing, but who knows... maybe one day I might meet the person to convince me otherwise. One thing I know for sure though: I doubt I will ever want to reproduce and have children of my own. The world is over-populated enough as it is, and I don't think I'm equipped to raise offspring of my own.

On lack of updates: I used to write a lot here. That was possible when I was fluctuating wildly between depression and mania and my insomnia was a lot worse that the occasional sleepless night I suffer these days. Also, I didn't have the outdoors activities and other fitness-related things that eat up most of my free time. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, it's been advantageous toward my emotional well-being, 

This year has been a pretty dramatic one... lots of tragedies, but an equal if not greater amount of love and light. I really can't complain. I'm not sure I'm entirely a different person, just one surer of the things I once didn't have the wisdom to uphold in a manner that was credible. I think I learnt to verbalise things better, over the years, and maybe I've just about succeeded in reigning back my latent anger, and directing it a little bit better.

So there you go. And lastly: my name is Irene, which was supposedly the Greek goddess of peace. I've always considered that the biggest joke of all, given that misnomer so many years ago.

But maybe I'm a little bit closer in my aim towards attaining that, eventually.


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Some Monday Thoughts

I've been waking sore, on most mornings, as a result of my daily exertions.

It's become such a luxury, though, to slowly stretch those cold muscles, and feel that mild ache in whichever muscle group that was last pushed to its limits... it's almost like a sensation of filling into this husk of meat I call my body, knowing that I am alive, and that the sensation of soreness came from reaffirming that alive-ness. That I could still run, swim, climb, and kayak in the days preceding to this morning of luxuriating in my bed, feeling that not-uncomfortable sensation in every muscle fibre.

Even better is this thought: that delayed onset muscle soreness just means I will continue slowly growing stronger, physically, and that the reasons behind that aching was just a test of my mental fortitude.

So yes, pain in the mornings... If not debilitating, is just another reason to feel blessed, from the moment I surface out of my dream-world, and open my eyes, smiling.

It's not a bad day to feel this vital, and give thanks that I can afford to spend my weekends doing things like these:

All smiles, shortly before we got attacked by prawns lurking amongst the rocks... -_- Image credits: Felicity

My standard hike kit. Stole this photo off the cousin's Facebook post. 

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In other (unsurprising) news, I think I am adjusting pretty well to your absence. It's a hundred and ten days since you first voiced out that crazy idea of  of yours, which I so recklessly agreed to. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to stop keeping track of these things, considering the current circumstances.

Yeah, I do miss your enthusiasm for the things I no longer have the idealism to believe in, and the million and one moments of warped humour we share, but life feels like a tidal wave now... time waits for no-one, and just so easily, it slowly washes away the foot-prints you left in the sphere of my existence.

I never thought it would be this easy. It scares me a little.

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Of Many Legs

Sphaerotheriida

This is a pill millipede. It is not a pill-bug, even though they have developed the same defence measure against threats (by rolling into a ball) through this amazing thing called convergent evolution. Pill millipedes are classified under the superorder Oniscomorpha, and have eleven to thirteen segments. This particular specimen was found on one of my hikes (Wallace Trail, up Bung Muan a.k.a. Bukit Peninjau), and was fortunate it didn't get tenderly placed in a "safe" place by my well-meaning animal-lover friend. Two of its brethren ended up rolling a fair distance downhill the week before due to such kind sentiments.

Anyway, today I just feel like doing that - curl up into a tight ball and pretend the outside world does not exist. Such a self-absorbed, self-pitying emotion, and I won't pretend I am getting rather impatient and irritated at my extend duration of intermittent emo. I've grown to despise Whingy Irene, and I think Emotional Irene is pathetic, so I deleted the post I initially wrote, to replace it with a picture of possibly the cutest variety of millipede ever (yes, I just called a leggy invertebrate "cute").

Polydesmida

On the topic of millipedes, I've been seeing heaps of them on hikes lately, because it is the rain season... these fellows love the humidity. 'Pedes are common on the tropical jungle trails I take, of course, but for the past few weeks we've been observing a way larger amount of them just casually ambling along, in so many different forms and even more amazingly, bursts of colour.

A particular specimen that I photographed last week (image just above), the silvery plated individual I found (along with another of its kin) along the trail to Gunung Gading's Waterfall 7 seems to be a favourite with my friends for its very industrial-looking aesthetics. This species does not curl up in self-defence; five minutes spent on prodding and flipping it over with a twig only resulted in it walking off away from me rather unhurriedly.

Just below this paragraph is this rather flamboyant giant-sized millipede that is my favourite, so far. With its gaudy colouration of black, pink and yellow, friends have gone as far as to nickname this species as "the Elton John millipede" and even "Beyoncepede".

Spirobolida (Image credits: Alvin K)

Not too sure if this one has the habit of curling up but I read somewhere that it releases a foul liquid in response to threats that whilst is not toxic to humans, isn't exactly something you want to touch either, so it's a case of just appreciating its beauty from a distance.

I'd really love a terrarium with just these three species inhabiting it though, they're so diverse in shape, size, and colour, yet pretty much require the same diet (decomposing plant matter) and living conditions. I do wonder, however, if a tank full of these different species might result in fighting for territory? Not too familiar with their habits in this regards.

Anyway this has been rather therapeutic. What started out as a whingy load of self-pity has somehow gone off on a tangent into an enthusiastic description of these many-legged creatures... what a nature nerd hah.

Ya know what? I shall aspire to charge through the depressive fog of the past few days, with all the single-mindedness of that stoic little silver 'pede, and just keep going and going and going and going instead of being a total wuss sitting here blubbering in front of my PC.

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How Hope Got Perverted Into Something Else

"You don't have to "deal" with it you know, I mean, how do you "deal" with it... you kinda live it through," the cousin tells me.

I know that, but what I meant to say is, I'm not living anything through, what with the current escapist route I've taken.

I've had pets die, friends die, family die, even ex-lovers abruptly passing on. I've always accepted, no matter how badly devastated I have been, that the dead are dead, and are no longer here with me, as depressing as that acceptance is.

With you it's different. You know, I used to scoff at tales where parents leave the bedroom of a dead child as it was, for years and years, unchanged and untouched, just because it feels like their deceased offspring might just return home one day.

I scoff too much at these things, I think. Maybe it's bad karma, because I end up experiencing the same pain, sooner or later.

I'm not moving on. At all. It doesn't feel like your death has actually sunken in yet. Most days, I wake up expecting you to barrel in onto me. Every creak in the house makes me feel like I'm not alone, as if you're just hiding from me somewhere, ready to ambush me when I'm relaxed and not expecting you to do so.

I've been busy with work, with non-stop hikes over consecutive days... exhausted and sore and sleep-deprived, so I no longer have the capacity to think or feel.

What I do not tell anyone is my phone memory is running out of space, and I usually clear out my photos and videos every few weeks, but I've not even dared to scroll through old files because there are too many images of you, photos of you being so lively and so there, videos of the things you do to make me laugh...

I can't scroll through old posts on Instagram because I'll come across #littlemissalyx posts.

It's as if pretending you're on extended holiday away from me, and not thinking too hard about you, or the circumstances of your passing, will save me the pain of acknowledging you're gone.

And I don't know how to snap out of this self-denial.

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Water

The time differences are tiring me, the silences are getting longer, and I am too exhausted to rectify that. I'm finding that I'm out of words, for the moment, for either of you.

Juggling as many as I can - filling up my time beyond fullest capacity; it's a dangerous game, I'm sure to drop a ball one day.

I'm sick of keeping confidences, sick of secrets, sick of dealing with this alone. I need a friend who'd understand, but I think the decisions I've made are not exactly fathomable by anyone except myself.

I'm not so sure if honesty has been any better on my heart... might lose friends in the process, or even family. Maybe that's already happening. Maybe in acquiescing to your persuasion, I've been set on path where there's quite a lot to lose, and we don't quite know what the conclusion will be just yet, and if the price to pay was worth it.

Someone once reiterated to me over and over again, "The truth will set you free." Does it, really? So much melodrama over the things none of us ever really had any control over. I'd say it was unfair, but then again, so much of life thus far, hasn't exactly felt compliant to any definition of justice.

I won't regret any of my decisions. I did not do wrong when I chose love over apathy. I have lived in carefully-cultivated indifference for so long to know how it gradually erodes away at the spirit, and it was you who reignited my desire for something more than this carefully-moderated handful of muted emotions.

As rational as that train of thought is, it does not make me feel any less shitty about the eventual sacrifices that have to be made. If only we could have it all, but life has a way of taking as much as it gives. Maybe my earlier statement was inaccurate - there might just be a rhyme and reason to what you gain and lose in the course of figuring out an existence, I don't know.

Either way, I suppose that in looking out for myself, in embracing something that felt like something good for me, I've come across as being selfish, and it'd do me good to brace myself for more recrimination to come.





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The Simplest Reason

Someone asked me why, someone said you weren't suitable, someone said I could do better. 

They don't know anything.

There's really no explanation for it, my sweet, except you slowly, insidiously stole my heart with the fact that you were looking at me, long before I even looked back at you.

You wanted to keep me safe, and care for me, and keep me happy, even before I even understood that was what you were doing for me. And you never told me any of that. You were just there, never demanding, never expecting, you just loved me and loved the moments when I smiled back at you. 

My laughter was all that mattered to you when other men might have felt short-changed by my ignorance and my lack of reciprocation.

You are good, and you are kind, and you see all that is beautiful in me, when all I can focus on are my jagged edges and my teeth and claws.

You make me want to love myself more. 

And that, my love, was all that was required to convince me that you were worth disregarding the rest in order to return your affections.