Disclaimer: The following piece of fiction may hint at references of the author, be it decisions, thoughts, or actions. The following piece may be inspired by a true life story; however, it does not reflect the true life of the author. The piece is meant to be fiction, and is meant to be read as such. Rest assured that the author herself is currently living a very happy life, and has no thoughts of killing oneself imminently anytime soon.
“It’s a game that can be replayed over and over.”
1 March 2010
Drawing. Have this weird urge to express self. Through drawing. Writing. Sketching. Dancing. Done in my head, mostly. Images in head never got transferred onto paper, ideas never had chance to be put into words, moves never performed for fear of rejection and ridicule by others.
For now, am drawing. One of those rare times when my urge gets so much, I need to. What’s word for it? Pour out? Express? Whatever. Was in bus, sitting in one of seats near aisle. Never liked window seats. Wonder why some people do. Hate feeling of being in between window and somebody else. Prefer aisle seat. Feel self have more freedom.
Was sitting in bus, staring into nothingness when lowly thoughts of self emerged. Everyone else are successful. Everyone else are doing what they love. Everyone but self. Everyone has own talents. Abilities. Darren shines at dancing. Gerald recreates photographs into magnificent pieces of art. Alice’s very own online store is growing well. Fred is straight A student. Mandy is godly at the piano. Eddie sings like a nightingale.
See? Everyone has talents.
Self is just student. Third year undergraduate majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Sure, was top of class back in secondary school. Sure, was straight A student in O Levels. Sure, got self enrolled into one of top 200 universities in world.
Feels self utterly useless. Grades are mediocre. Have no talent. Feel shallow. Not even popular among friends.
Slowly turned thoughts around to self in another universe. The successful self. Self with recognized talent. Self with brand – self with something people recognize by. Decided then that self in current universe could do it too. Decided to sketch. Have done other drawings before, boyfriend had complimented them. Said they were good, said I had talent in art.
Know I have. But just a little. Not enough.
Need more. Recognition, at least.
Decided to sketch current view of bus once arrived in dingy hostel room (okay, to be fair, it isn’t that dingy; it’s actually pretty comfy but had wanted to sound dramatic).
Took in view of bus. Eyes darted around, focusing every detail available. Forced self to memorize a virtual image of current view. Tried to visualize the borders of where sketch would end. Found that could not.
Wondered about how the eye sees. Funny how our eyes never see border of end of view. Every time try to focus on border of view of sight, eyeball tends to turn towards that direction, making border shift further away. Annoyed. Now, will never know where picture ends.
Never mind that. Focus. Angle of view not staring directly at front. Current view about 30 degrees out towards bus aisle. Seldom sit straight towards front, unless busy playing with PSP or phone. Sitting straight towards front is boring. No view, except for view of back of seat in front of mine. Another reason why hate window seat. Nowhere to stare, except front. Know that staring out of window is option, but uninterested.
Current view looks pretty good. Can see other people from here. Mostly students like self. Some look wasted. Must have been hard day for them. Not that I pity them. Life’s like that. Some days are hard, some aren’t. Nothing to be pitiable about.
Can see bus driver too. Back of bus driver, and quarter of steering wheel. Can see aisle. Can see seats on other side of aisle. Above seats, holes. Probably where cold air from conditioning comes out. Probably? Definitely. Duh. Silly self.
Back in room. In search of paper and pen. Didn’t know it’d be such a task. Could not find a piece of decent paper (reminder to self: buy paper supply from nearest bookstore) so tore a page from note book. Hate the faded lines on note books meant to help you write in straight lines. Irritating and annoying in drawings. Sketches will never be perfect with those straight parallel lines in the background, as though saying “no matter how awesome your art is, we will always be there to ruin it.” Reminder to self: scrap that paper supply thingy; invest in decent sketch book.
Didn’t have black gel pen at hand. Had only blue. Annoyed. Never drew with anything else except for black gel pen. Not pencil, nor ballpoint pen, nor any pen in any other color. Only used black. Gel. Pen. Period.
Unfortunately had no black on hand, only blue. Contemplated against drawing, was feeling kinda lazy to do it anyway. Let it be one of those many failed inspirations of getting myself to accomplish something but never doing it. Guess that’s one of my many flaws that has gotten self to current sorry state of uselessness. But there was time to kill, before Astronomy Club meeting starts at 6 p.m. Fine. Draw.
Okay, done. Took 30 minutes. Doesn’t look too good. Picture out of proportion. Never mind. First time sketching view. Always drew, but never real life views or scenery. Usually drew abstracts and caricature, never views or scenery. Not too bad for a first timer.
Okay, it’s 6 p.m.. Just on time. Just so you know, I’m in main committee of Astronomical Society. Scoff all you want, but am proud of self even if it’s just tiny achievement.
6 March 2010
Ever mentioned I loved reading?
Mum introduced me to words when was about two. Wrote words in red, bold markers on homemade flashcards and read them aloud everyday. When about three, gave me the Peter and Jane series. Remember first sentence on first page of first book: This is a boy. On second page: This is a girl.
By time I went to primary school, reading talent was astounding. Shocked everyone. Especially teachers.
Love reading. Fiction, in particular. Non-fiction’s okay too but fiction’s better. Always had nose buried in book when young. Been reading my way through all of kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school. Less when in university, because of piling assignments and difficult syllabus. Have recently taken up reading again.
Am not pretentious. Am not pretending to sound intellectual and educated. Am really in love with books.
For past few months, have been reading novel after novel. But financial status cannot keep up. Books are expensive. Went to check out local library, but membership fee was expensive. Free membership not applicable to foreigners. Reminder to self: Get Permanent Residency after graduation. Not as good as real citizenship but good enough.
When grew older, found self to have talent in creative writing as well. Began to write more and more. Wrote first short essay when was seven. Personally, think is huge achievement. Most seven-year-olds can’t even read yet, let alone write an essay.
When was 14, in one of English classes, teacher asked to write a short paragraph, approximately 100 words, about anything. Anything at all. Everyone groaned, but not self. Self got to work. Managed to stretch what was supposed to last just 10 seconds into whole paragraph. Inserted lots of adjectives. Expounded on every detail. Made every second seem like eternity. Teacher loved it. Said my essay was good. Said I managed to explicitly describe what was supposed to be simple situation, i.e., student walking to front of class to retrieve exam grade, into full paragraph.
In other words, expanded simple sentence “I walked to front of class to retrieve my exam grade” into something that was 100 words long.
Teacher loved it so much, requested to read it aloud in front of entire class.
Felt awesome. Felt worthy, felt proud of self’s achievement.
When was 16, joined creative writing competition advertised in some magazine. Didn’t expect to win, but won anyway. Set of 8 books, and letter of offer to join team of creative writers. Promptly accepted offer, but later was told that had to submit another piece of work for consideration. Aghast; had been having writer’s block. Decided to give it up – gave self two excuses for it: O Levels was only 8 months away, and wasn’t good enough a writer anyway.
Know. Was stupid. An idiotic coward giving self lame excuses, preferring to stick to norm. Study hard, get good grades for upcoming O Levels, get into university, graduate, get 9 to 5 job. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Had good opportunity to make something out of self but gave it up. That branding self thing - could have been a writer. A writer!! How awesome would that be?
Lowly thoughts of self reemerge. Self is failure. Never had any achievements in life. Always hoped something would happen, but never pushed self to do anything about it. Understand that nothing will happen if nothing is done, but that’s another huge ugly flaw of self: Self never does no nothing about own dreams and shit like that. Self only sticks to traditional study-hard-play-hard typical student.
Look at drawing of bus interior done yesterday. If look at it long enough, looks pretty good.
7 March 2010
Showed boyfriend picture drew six days ago. Says it’s not that good, out of proportion but overall its okay. My supportive and honest boyf. That’s why I love him. Honest to goodness, he doesn’t have much accomplishments either; guess he’s pretty much like me, but at least he’s got good grades. Unlike stupid old self.
It always boils down to this, doesn’t it. Lowly thoughts of self.
21 March 2010
Examinations looming near. Bummer.
10 April 2010
Summer break! Yesh!
2 August 2010
Suddenly recalled reading somewhere (newspaper? Magazine? Internet?) that some entrepreneurs actually slightly crazy.
Let me explain. Know how some people have disorder where they do crazy irrational stuff? Don’t remember what that disorder called, but assure you, am not making it up. Real disorder. Happens to people all the time. Think might be similar to bipolar. You know, disorder where people experience extreme mood swings and sometimes have urge to do crazy stuff. Stuff like, “I wonder what will happen if I ride my bicycle and ram it into a tree?” and then they really do it, just to find out.
Think self might be bipolar too. Sometimes finds self thinking of crazy stuff like ramming bicycles into trees too. Sometimes finds self having mood swings. Like recently. Been thinking lots about insignificant self, unpopular self, and self with zero achievements. Am bipolar or not? Probably not.
Correction. Of course not.
Back to idea of crazy entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people who have these crazy business ideas where we normal people would usually think, “heck, human civilization has been around for years and years and years. If that idea actually worked, why hasn’t it been accomplished already?” Entrepreneurs are people who get hyper about ideas and get extra excited about accomplishing the impossible.
Experts are now saying that these entrepreneurs with crazy business ideas actually have slight manic disorder (yes! Got the word! Manic disorder!), but not completely crazy. People who have manic disorders think irrationally and make crazy decisions without thinking. Entrepreneurs, however, are brave enough (read: crazy enough) to take risks while also being sane enough to evaluate rationally and making decisions based on logical thinking.
Why am thinking of crazy entrepreneur article?
Am like crazy entrepreneur.
Have had many crazy ideas to carve for self road to success. Not necessarily entrepreneur-like ideas, but ideas like being successful dancer, singer, artist, writer.
Think self worse than crazy entrepreneurs. Though crazy, they get successful. Self? Self is crazy as well as failure.
Wanted to dance. Remember when was 13, friend (not so close now) telling me I had talent. Wanted to go to dance class but parents had forbid.
Wonder why am in mechanical engineering school when obviously have other interests and talents. But talents never good enough to be made into profession. Stick on safe side, study science stream and study good ol’ engineering. Jack of all trades, master of nothing. Nada. Nil.
3 August 2010
OMGOMGOMG am featured in New York Times. Even my picture (albeit being ugly – why couldn’t they pick a prettier one?!??!) was up. No kidding. Seriously, click here to view.
Wasn’t such a big deal at first; heck, how many people actually read NYTimes? Am just another random stranger who got on news, someone whom people probably forgot the next moment they stopped reading.
To amazement, was kinda big deal. Thought was nothing much to be noted of, until people started commenting. Viral emails forwarded, calls made, Facebook statuses shared. All in the name of spreading the news “Lookit! Rachel is on international papers!”
Middle of night, received phone call from friend. “Oi, didn’t tell you were featured on New York Times!”
Self thought, “Is it such a big deal?” Said as much.
Friend replied “Heck, it’s on everybody’s lips. YOU’RE the hot topic now.”
Asked, “How did you find out I was on the news?”
Replied, “EVERYBODY knows you’re on the news.”
Amazed. People do actually know me. Talk about me. Had never happened before.
At least think not.
Went back to hometown for weekend. Everyone talking about it.
Wow. Have been drowning self in lowly thoughts for so long. Even when self was featured on papers, did not think that anybody would notice. Happy that people actually do. Happy that finally – oh, thank God, finally – got self some achievement of some sort.
Friend said he was jealous of me. Said he’d never get so lucky as to get on news. International news, at that. Said thanks, but wished could say, “You think getting on the news is big deal? Self has not gained anything by getting on news. No getting smarter, no improved grades, no extra talent. Unlike you. You don’t get on news, but you have many talents. Popular (well, not quite, but at least in a better situation than mine – I think), smart. You get onto Dean’s list, I get onto papers. Wonder who’s supposed to be jealous one?”
See? Every time people congratulate me, that’s what self thinks of the congratulatory goodwill. Am hopeless, no?
Got curious of exact degree of self’s fame. Googled self. Typed “Rachel Liew” into Google search bar.
First few were (naturally) self’s Facebook account, blog, etc. etc.. In third or fourth result, THERE! Name in International Herald Tribune, NY Times. Scrolled down. Article reproduced again and again in other websites. Was in Malaysia Chronicles. Singaporean forums. Some Malaysian blogs. In short, was all over. Not only in NY Times. Other places as well.
Okay, am kind of famous now.
Happy that self finally has small achievement of self. Finally made self proud.
“She was a cheerful, sociable person. She was always the centre of attention, always the one who made people laugh, someone whom every group of friends should have - the socialite. She didn’t have many friends, though. Just us. But she seemed happy enough with her life, she didn’t seem to mind having a small social circle. I had no idea she was that depressed inside – if that’s what you would use to describe someone who could make drastic decisions such as this.”
8 August 2010
Was talking to mum the other day. Had always wanted to go to art school when younger, never ever in life had thought about self as engineer. Always thought self of many things: Lawyer, doctor, artist, singer, dancer, TV host, celebrity.
Self had wanted to study arts, but parents advised science. Obliged.
Imagined self in art school. Future would be so different then. Current situation would be so different. Circle of friends would be different. Concepts and viewpoints would be different. Even (dare I think) personality might differ from current self’s.
Now, third year in engineering school. Engineering student with small circle of friends, very logical mindset, zero inspiration. Regrets?
Told mum was her fault that am studying something not of interest. Told mum wishes of going to art school. Mum retorted “Nobody’s stopping you from going to art school now.”
Mum was probably joking, but was pissed. Damn pissed.
Had wanted to go to art school so bad, but took parents’ advice. Studied engineering instead. 3 years later, mum says I can go to art school. Felt like she treated my life as game, as though 3 years of effort and time wasted on engineering can be undone, as though life can be started all over, time can be turned back and I can go to art school all over again.
Like WTF you told me I couldn’t go to art school, forced me into engineering, and 3 years later you tell me I’m free to make my remake my choice. Sometimes I feel my parents enjoy playing games with me.
Like the time when was 13, told my parents wanted to wear braces. Parents said “absolutely not, wait till you’re gown up and earning your own money, then you go do your own braces.”
Had protested that nobody wears braces when grown up, would look like freak. Everybody wears braces as kids, nobody wears them as grown ups.
Parents didn’t care.
Now, 7 years later, told parents wanted braces.
Parents said “Isn’t it a little late to do it now? Why didn’t you do it when younger, when still in school?”
See? They treat my life as though it’s a game that can be replayed over and over.
“I knew there was something wrong with my daughter. At times, she talked so much; other times, she shut herself in and would not talk. I tried to talk to her but she’d only shrug me off. I thought she was just going through a rough patch, as some young adults might experience. You might call it late puberty, being away from home and learning to be independent and all. I didn’t know she’d commit… I can’t even bring myself to say it. I should have done something to stop her. She’s a smart girl, she knows her parents love her. I don’t know why she had done what she did – sure she had her mood swings, but she had never hinted at doing something so extreme. Her father and I miss her so much.”
30 August 2010
Sometimes feel self is worthless.
4 September 2010
Am working at ExxonMobil. Correction. Am interning at ExxonMobil. Yes, yes, nice achievements, is huuuge international company, everybody trying to get in, yadda yadda.
I suck at studying, suck even more at working.
9 September 2010
What else do I suck at?
Everything, I guess.
10 September 2010
Parents treating my life as game. In some ways, guess it kind of is.
What's stopping from starting over? Not bad idea. Mistakes undone, decisions remade, choices changed.
“I knew she was always a little eccentric, that’s what I loved so much about her. She always poured her heart’s contents to me, and I took it all in. I knew she loved art, I knew about her inner talents, all about her passions and dreams. She’d always tell me I was the love of her life, she’d naively told me she’d want to marry me one day; I don’t know why she’d do this. Ever since I knew her, she had been always like that – this cute, funny, bubbly, crazy girl who never had her mind made up on anything. At one time, she would be laughing, at another she would be all serious, and then she’d be crying, then laughing again. I guess I didn’t seem to mind this craziness coz, well, I guess that’s what made her so special, interesting, and exciting to be with. She was always on the go, trying new things, drawing, singing, playing the piano, always using various means to express herself. Sure, she’d told me about her contemplations – she’d express her feelings of insignificance of herself, but I’d never known that it’d come to this. I feel like we’re having a love-hate relationship, y’know? Sometimes I miss her so much and at other times I feel like I could hate her forever for doing the thing that would hurt me most. The worst part is, I will never know why.”
13 September 2010
Wonder what it’s like to fly.