Archived entries for personal

Okay, okay, okay…

Today, 14 Sep, is “R U OK?” day where people go around spamming the cryptic phrase everywhere hoping to get people to fess up. It’s noble, but seems vaguely misguided in the deep cesspool of awesomeness that is social media.

For my part, I’m not OK. I have some serious shit going on in my life but that’s not an invitation for pity. I am seeing a psychologist so I have professional help. For what it’s worth you can usually tell how bad things are with me by how much I’m writing. I’ll readily admit some of my best writing came from the darkest of places and the number and frequency of blog posts is usually a clue.

In my circle of FB friends I know there are several of you just as fucked up as me, more or less – don’t worry, I won’t out you – but isn’t it funny the stigma associated with mental illness such that it’s a secret held between me and each of you separately?

Of course the point of all this is to ask, in my usual way, using way more words than is necessary, “are you okay?” Because if you’re not, then I’m somebody who has been down the rabbit hole, and is still digging around down there. I know what happens next when you respond to that question with “no, I’m not,” and I won’t just offer some hand-wavy “advice” to call up a helpline or talk to your GP. Heck, I’m not even going to offer to talk to you about it over a beer, primarily because I hate beer, and if you even thought that was ever going to be a thing with us then I don’t know you.

Meet Elan Wong

Like father, like son - Elan and Caesar

Elan on the left, and an old Polaroid of me (Caesar) when I was a baby on the right.

Jenny and I are absolutely pleased as punch to announce that not only are we with child, we had the baby on Sunday morning, 29th December 2013. Sorry for keeping him a secret from you, internet; we’ve been disappointed in the past and so wanted to keep something so very precious to us private.

I’ve put together a brief FAQ for what I imagine are the most pressing questions right now:

What are the gory details?
Elan was born on the morning of 29th December 2013, weighing 3.86 kg (8.52 lbs). He’s a big baby – his head circumference was 37cm which supposedly puts him in the ~95th percentile. Winning!

How do you pronounce Elan?
EE-lun (IPA: /’i:.lən/) – essentially “Ian” but with an “L” shoved in, not the regular English word.

Where did you get the name from?
Elan, from Rich Burlew's webcomic 'The Order of the Stick'

You named your son after a stick figure?
Yep. It’s from a brilliant, if slightly nerdy, web comic. Check it out: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots.html. No particular reason; I like it because it’s relatively unique without being too “out there”.

Does he have a Chinese name?
My parents have helped us to choose 黃栢延 – we haven’t settled on the romanisation yet, but it’ll probably be “Wong Pak Yin”. I’ll have to figure out what it is in Korean too… will update this post when I figure that out.

Magic words

Image of Andrew Huang from the Youtube video "Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing On Rainbows"

The hardest part about an ability is the using. Many of you guys say that I write well – maybe I really do, or maybe you’re just being charitable – and that I should write more and more often. Whatever your real intentions are, I do wish I could write more; I simply lack inspiration.

Some would say that we’re surrounded by inspiration – and indeed many artists can write a song, paint a picture, or pen a poem at the drop of a hat. I recently came across Andrew Huang on Youtube – this guy is a veritable master of sounds, making reasonably good songs out of seemingly any idea that pops into his head, such as sounds of water, turning Beethoven into Dubstep, his obvious love of rap and a whole lot more besides. Heck, he even wrote a whole song based on a single asinine comment about fuzzy unicorns posted to one of his videos!

That’s not to say I have a shortage of ideas. In fact, I have A Lot Of Ideas. Thinking back on my previous output though, it occurs to me that what I’m waiting for is almost always an interesting sounding word (e.g. macabre) or turn of phrase (“Meet Me In My Reverie“) that I can latch onto, around which I can craft something. To use a horrible cliché, it’s like a pearl forming around a grain of sand, or a raindrop around a speck of dust.

I also find that having limitations helps. When I wrote “Danse Macabre” I forced myself to write solely on pen and paper, without using the computer to look up words or rhymes (truth be told, despite what I previously wrote, the real reason why I started writing that way was to try and use up as many pens and as many sheets of paper as possible because I had so many lying around). My poetry is also mostly in rhyme because it gives me a way to constrain all the possibilities inherent in language – otherwise wrangling words would be like trying to herd cats.

Back to the point, I’m just a guy who strings words together. The more I read, the more I write. So if you want me to write more just give me more things to read, including things that you write such as your posts and comments on Facebook – just please no unicorns.

Perfectly crazy

Mr. Perfect, from the Mr. Men series of children's booksI have this habit, which annoys the crap out of Jenny: it’s my tendency to keep things in pristine condition. And I don’t mean just my mint-in-sealed-box collection of Transformers, but practically everything we own. For instance, I get monumentally upset when either of us scrape our car’s alloy wheels against the kerb, and last night, I got a little upset because she accidentally put a hot frying pan a little too close to one of our table mats, causing it to melt a bit.

I don’t like bending the spines of books or magazines when reading; I keep the boxes, manuals and accessories for almost everything for when I finally sell it or give it away after I’m done with it (chuck it out? I don’t know you); I even don’t like using the windscreen wipers on the car until absolutely necessary, to avoid excessive wear on the glass. Yes I am that batshit crazy.

So whenever either of us damages or breaks something I get really upset (or if I see it being done to something that’s doesn’t belong to me, I cringe on the inside).

To me, an item in its brand new state is a kind of perfection. The way it was intended to be. Its divine form. And I see it as my duty to preserve it to the best of my ability. After all, what are we if not the products and stewards of nature’s (or your preferred divine being’s) efforts against disorder and decay?

Those who are religious spend their entire lives in the pursuit of intimacy with a being – or beings – belonging to a higher state of perfection than themselves, and those of us who don’t believe still strive to fulfil our innate purpose of maintaining that unbroken chain of progress (be it biological/evolutionary or intellectual/scientific/technological). Perfection is both our destiny and our fate.

Therefore, in the language of religion, I feel that a sin has been committed when a thing is sullied or marred. The entropy in the world has increased by a perceivable amount, and I mourn it as a loss. Sometimes that means I display a disproportionate amount of grief over an inanimate object, but it’s probably the closest thing I’ll ever have to a spiritual experience.

Fuck you, evolution!

Last week I posted the list of drafts I’d accumulated all these years and asked you to pick which ones you’d like to see. A couple of you requested “Fuck you, evolution!” which hardly surprising given the provocative title, but going back and reading what I wrote, I remembered why I hadn’t posted it before – it was supposed to be an announcement (about what, precisely, should be clear soon if you haven’t already guessed).

Seeing as it’s been over 6 months since I first started writing this post (I ended up publishing this instead), and who-knows-how-long until it will finally need to be called upon again, I figure I might as well tweak it a bit and publish now, and think of something else clever when the time comes.

—-

If it were left up to nature, I should have died a long time ago:

  • I developed an unknown and undiagnosable ailment at a very young age which causes me to cough incessantly. The doctors at the time said that my lung capacity was reduced because of it but I’ve managed to live a completely ordinary life in spite of it – albeit I’m not the fittest nor most athletic person you might know.
  • I developed myopia – more commonly known as short-sightedness – at a relatively early age. I spent several years sitting right at the front of the class, not because I was so eager to learn, but so that I could see the blackboard because I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until my violin teacher, Mr. Russell, noticed that I seemed to be leaning in to the music stand probably more than an ordinary kid should, and mentioned it to my parents, that I finally got glasses. If I was living in the era of the natural jungle rather than the urban jungle, I would’ve been eaten by a wild animal a long time ago.
  • More recently, I discovered that I have psoriasis, and on top of that, psoriatic arthritis. My skin does weird things in weird places, and my joints are in constant and incurable pain. I use steroidal creams for the external stuff and take anti-inflammatory drugs for the latter – and will do for the rest of my life. Without them my body will destroy itself.

Yet I have survived long enough to procreate, and with the middle fingers of both hands pointed firmly upwards at the process of natural selection, Jenny and I will hopefully overcome the false starts of last year and conceive soon. Realistically speaking, it is entirely possible that our child will inherit some or all of the traits I described above thanks to genetics, plain and simple. But he or she will grow up in an era where modern medicine will likely render the symptoms irrelevant – even as I use the rudimentary versions of those techniques to make my life tolerably liveable today.

So regardless of the specifics of how we came to be, science has killed evolution dead in its tracks. Survive and adapt to that, muthafuckaaaaaaaaa…



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