Thoughts (2)

Almost a week later and I never saw that old man again.

Funny thing is, I casually asked the wife of the house if she knew how to prepare crabs. That one topic rolled into every one of us in the house started talking about this old man for the last five days and we asked each other if any of us saw him.

Too bad none of us saw him anymore. I feel a bit let down, but life goes on I guess.

Today I rode a bus to the city center. Thoughts filled in and out of my head but I was too disinterested in nitpicking any in particular. I felt somewhat melancholic, having nothing to focus on. But on second thought I guess it had its own calming moment there.

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Thoughts (1)

I had five bucks in my pocket. I’d been lamenting the fact that my living budget had to be cut down to a very minimum due to some family finance problems and one of the ways to minimize my spending was to not hail an uber and instead walk home from work.

On the way home I walked by an old man selling fresh crabs on his motorbike. It was 4PM and blazingly hot even under my cap. (First off, I usually get an extra notch of sadness when I see old people having to work their ass off just to make ends meet. Probably because of the Chinese upbringing that suggested elderly should be taken care of and enjoy their final days tending the garden or at least work comfortably under the shades goddamnit).

Then I thought, “but why is he selling stuff in an industrial area where people usually ride pass in their cars and motorbikes and wouldn’t stop cause who would bring fresh crabs to work?”.

At this point I had become a mixture of sadness, confusion, and anger cause suddenly I wanted boiled crabs and I had no money to help myself and the crabs seller. Then came the second wave of anger targeting me self-pitying my own still-manageable financial situation when there were less fortunate folks.

Then another confusion hit me cause did I just use a person whose personal situation and story I knew nothing of as comparison and decided that I should feel better about myself? At first it sounded like I had been humbled but on second assessment I felt like it was sort of cruel and degrading for the other party. I felt like it bordered on schadenfreude; or maybe it was?

Of course I turned to google and Wikipedia. (Yes, here’s a person who admittedly spends hours in Wikipedia rabbit hole and not ashamed about it).

After some searching, found out that there’re studies for social comparisons called upward and downward social comparison :

Downward social comparison is a defensive tendency that is used as a means of self-evaluation. When a person looks to another individual or group that they consider to be worse off than themselves in order to feel better about their self or personal situation, they are making a downward social comparison. Research has suggested that social comparisons with others who are better off or superior, or upward comparisons, can lower self-regard,whereas downward comparisons can elevate self-regard. Downward comparison theory emphasizes the positive effects of comparisons in increasing one’s subjective well-being. For example, it has been found that breast cancer patients made the majority of comparisons with patients less fortunate than themselves.

So uh… there’s that. Even when I already find this out, I still feel unsettled and don’t think it is a right approach to assess other people or even my own personal problems. A part of me thinks that I should just do something in any way possible and don’t think much about it, while another part thinks that I’m not solving anything by doing it cause it would be like I’m acting out of pity.

Though I still want some boiled crabs and tomorrow is payday so, there’s that.

About sword and food

I know, I know. I talked all big about posting more on this blog only to come back almost 3 months later and I plan to talk about unimportant stuff, as usual.

Anyway I have been busy being not busy (other than work, but work is boring when you have nothing to do at work). Since around 3 weeks ago my colleague recommended me to pick up weekly Kenjutsu practiceHere’s a very good and interesting video to start with. In which I spent the first few minutes thinking Hugh Jackman was talking to me about how to hold my sword before I snapped out of it. Anyway.

Back to Kenjutsu, it’s all about being calm, focused power, fluid movements, and trying to cut a piece of tissue with a wooden sword (so far). Anyway it all just makes me aware of how stiff my whole body is and how bad my hand-eye coordination and distance-gauging ability are. An anime action figure has more instinctive flexibility than me. Forget the tissue. My sword slices thin air.

But to be honest it has been fun. But it has also been only three weeks and I tend to have a short attention span. I am having a lot of fun doing it though, so there’s a slight chance that it could be a long-term thing considering it mainly consists of things I find enjoyable like low intensity physical training and practiced movements; it also helps to sharpen my focus a bit. Oh and I had a chance to touch my sensei’s arm and whoa, he had the firmest slender arm I have ever seen. I WANT THAT.

Other than that, I spent my waking hours thinking about what to eat for lunch when I was having breakfast and what’s to go with dinner when I was having lunch. All done while watching a series of Chinese food documentary called A Bite of China on YT. Let me link you to the whole playlist. I hope I am not committing any crime by doing this.

I have been watching the whole series over and over again since 2015 (usually over a meal), and it is by far the most amazing food documentary I have ever encountered. If you know Mandarin Chinese language, I find it even more rewarding watching the non-dubbed version.

I am going to watch episode 6 for lunch later.

Year in review (or not really)

It’s finally 2018. I’m between feeling excited of the new year vs lamenting another year of aging vs thinking what does it matter if Gregorian calendar decides today should be a start of a new year? Other calendar systems would beg to differ anyway.

But to humor the spirit of celebrating a new start of international calendar, I suppose I could review my (lack of) performance last year.

It had largely been uneventful to be honest. I travelled for a month following the 3-month cooling period required to start my new job to East and Central Java, but soon ran out of money and had to hole up at home for the remaining two months. Being a natural hermit though, I rather enjoyed only being surrounded by my immediate family, pigging out on all the fabulous foods my sister-in-law (who’s Javanese and cooks mean Indonesian cuisines) and my dad (who knows his fish) cooked.

Being back to work was also relaxing but in a different way. Changing my work hours to night shifts has been a welcomed experience since I always have trouble sleeping at night. I have been sleeping better instead of struggling like my other fellow night shift colleagues.

Since I finally rented an apartment with a working kitchen, I thought I would be more productive at cooking, and over time, be better at it. Um…. I did and also did not? Sort of? As Chef John of Food Wishes said, sometimes you get bad results in the kitchen and that’s okay. Through a lot of trial and errors and countless vegetables that shrunk up uneaten in the fridge, I have finally decided to go back to my Asian roots and rely heavily on condiments and dried food, as well as frozen vegetables. These days I purchase veggies and immediately freeze them.

Relationship wise, over the years I have become better at letting things go when they don’t work out. People I used to be close with somehow slipped away. People I never thought would stay eventually settled into a comfortable distance and time table. I still get the occasional mild depression, but having someone who could simply look at me and say ‘I get what you’re feeling’ is a very relieving experience.

I think relationship is like the food you cook. Sometimes you do well, sometimes you don’t. But you learn to accept the result of your labor, welcome it into you, and if it’s a particularly bad one, you let it out quicker, haha.

Oh, to end this I should probably go with a new year resolution. I’m never really good at sticking to my goal and usually have a very low standard for myself. So I’ll go with: do more physical activities (yoga, stretching, walking and hiking), smile and laugh more often, eat healthy food, read more books (manga totally counts!), live frugally, and talk to myself more often in this blog! Happy new year!

cleaning and anxiety

I just come to realize that a lot of my posts are centered around cleaning. Somehow doing house cleaning makes me contemplative, haha.

A few days ago, one of my friends opened up about his depression and anxiety in a post on Facebook. Now I know what a lot of people think about sharing problems on Facebook wall; but for him it’s a rare, if almost never before, occasion. I wanted to respond right away but a lot of people seemed to already posted their encouragement and I wasn’t sure if I’d be saying something offensive to him.

Sometimes words translate differently in text. I was never really good with words.

Continue reading “cleaning and anxiety”

Roses

 

A friend of mine gave me a rose. For women’s day, he said. 

But why roses? 

I took this picture when it almost fully wilted. At first I was happy receiving it. But as I came home day after day, I watched the rose slowly losing life. 

I put ice water. I googled how to keep it alive. I was almost frantic in my quest to have an immortal rose. But an immortal rose is a curse, isn’t it? At least that’s what I learnt from watching Beauty and The Beast (I love that movie by the way). 

In our culture roses signify love. It’s beautiful, but thorny. You have to trim it first to not get hurt. Cut all the thorns. But sometimes there are the hidden ones that will accidentally pierce you when you’re not careful. 

Does love, like roses, wilt as fast?