Posts Tagged ‘word’

loner

This day 2 years ago, I woke up in Venice.

It was the last day of my trip to Europe.

(By the way, the view from my dorm’s window was spectacular)

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I made the trip largely on my own, bar for 3 weeks in Prato, Italy where I had a class and Paris where I was accompanied by 2 good friends.

But the rest of the trip, I was alone. And I have to say that I enjoyed the experience.

More often than not, I prefer to to associate or socialise with others. I guess that makes me a loner by a definition.

Being a loner feels wrong sometimes. Because humans are fundamentally social animals. We require interaction with other members of the species. It’s not even materialistic, as I believe our need of interaction is purely psychological. Social invisibility is frowned upon and often stigmatised.

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One very illustrative example will be eating out.

What it means to be a loner Perks of being a loner Things that are not so great Sometimes, it still happens when I step into a restaurant and signal a table for one. The waiter/waitress suddenly looks quite amused AND bemused. Who is this guy? Why is he dining alone? Has he no friends? What’s wrong with him? Well guess what. There’s nothing wrong with me. There are days when I just like to have dinner in silence, without the need for conversation. I can spend that time appreciating the food, thinking about what I am going to write next (like this one) or observing other patrons (which is fun. You should try it more often). It is the period of time when I deliberately refuse interaction with human beings other than whoever’s waiting my table. I am going so far as to claim that not having company at all is much, much better than having the wrong company. And I have had my fair share of wrong company, you can believe me. I need my pensive moment desperately, and that simply cannot be achieved in the presence of another person.

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Being a loner is fun, as you have the time to realise a lot of interesting things. During my brief stay in Prato, I used to go to my favourite gelateria (that’s “ice cream parlour” for the uninitiated) and had gelato alone. As it was winter in Europe at the time, there was frequent rain, which made it even better (having gelato when it’s cold outside is one of the best feelings we ever get to experience, I can assure you).

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Orange + Tiramisu, 2 scoops for 3 euros. Noiceeeeee!

Once, I saw a mother with a young child who came in during the downpour. The boy was around 7-8 and he looked very excited. He told his Mom something along the line of “Hey Mum, we were lucky that it rained. I was feeling a bit warm! Now we can have ice cream!” (that’s the gist, my Italian was rubbish back then and it is still rubbish now). He seemed to have genuinely liked the rain. Another time, a young lad came into the gelateria with a heavy, agitated look on his face. I overheard him mutter something about the damned rain.

That’s when I learned life is just like rain: it is what it is, but the choice of how to react is yours alone.

However, of course being a loner has its own drawbacks. In social situations that demand interpersonal interaction, I am extremely uncomfortable and often screw things up. I lack both the experience and the will to communicate with another person/other persons. I also miss out on many group activities, which indeed looked fun. Being too comfortable on one’s own does have that effect of self-isolation.

And of course, there is the occasional loneliness. I can’t help but feel it. I feel the need to talk to other people but since my options are severely limited, most of the times I just keep to my own. Only so naturally, negative thoughts creep upon the mind.

But overall though, I’d say being a loner has been good so far. I got the time to inspect myself as well as others. I don’t have to suffer terrible company during mealtimes. I don’t have to put up with people I don’t like.

Of course, the downsides are not absent.

But as long as I get to finish the dessert all by my self, I’ll A-OK.

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Nice tower the French got there

Gonna break convention and write about DELIBERATE PRACTICE next week. Watch out!


Every week, I take one word and write my thoughts on it. You can suggest a word in the comments below and it’ll appear on this blog some day, I promised!

Word of the Week #4: sex

Posted: January 30, 2017 in Word of the Week
Tags: , , ,

sex

It seems oddly appropriate to write about sex in the first days of the Year of the Cock (hehe!)

So, sex. One of the oldest topics to write about. It’s been with man since the dawn of human history because, well, sex is our means of reproduction.

I should preface that my sexual experience is inanely limited, so if you’re here for the marveling and captivating stories of my sexual adventures, you’re going back with disappointment. Nonetheless, since it’s holiday season and you have nothing better to do, you will read on (might as well right?).

From where I see it, the place sex occupies in society is peculiarly paradoxical. On the one hand, sex seems to permeate almost all aspects of life, both private and social. It appears in a plethora of channels, from entertainment to commerce to literary works. Either explicitly displayed or implied by innuendos (I made one at the beginning of this piece), sex is arguably one of the central themes of human activity, especially in the modern world. One only need to turn on the TV to see sexuality being flaunted in product advertisement. Sex sells, because it panders to our instincts and dominates our psyche. And we heartily embrace it.

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However, when the time comes to treat sex seriously, the response is often disappointing. We joke about sex too much we can’t treat the subject with thoughtful consideration. Sex education programmes in school are severely inadequate. Instead of things like protection, consent and emotional maturity, students are taught anatomy.

Sex Education Class - "Today in class I'll be explaining where your babies come from."

 

Support sources outside school are also severely limited. Parents are of little help,as I am sure the vast majority of you know how awkward “the talk” can be. Sometimes there is no talk at all as the parents can’t stand the awkwardness and turn down the opportunity to teach their children very useful and important knowledge. Thus, students are left to consult Google on their free time. Things start to go wrong rather quick from here when we are reminded that these teenagers’ hormones AND curiosity are through the roof. The Internet is a wonderful place, but it can also be a horrible one.

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Ironically, we indulge in highly sexualised thoughts and materials, yet we issue judgement to those we consider sexual. Derogatory terms such as “slut” or “whore” are often used to describe the sexually deviant, but what does even “sexually deviant” mean? Does it mean having more than one sexual partners? Is that so deviant from the cultural norm? I am not talking about people who are already in a relationship, for I do believe in fidelity and monogamy. This is for people who engage in casual sex, i.e. friend with benefits and the likes. I feel that condemning these people as sexually deviant is, for the lack of a better word, icky. Just doesn’t feel right to put a label with heavy negative connotation on something that’s supposed to be neutral. This applies primarily to ladies (which, in my opinion is unjust). If you are a gal who happens to like having sex with different people and the gossipy folks somehow catch wind of this, you’re fucked, and not in a good way.

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I think the situation will improve when we recognise sex for what it is: a biological need, simple as that. One’s appetite for sex may be high or low. Just like that for food. If the person does not cause harm for others when seeking to fulfill this need, we should just let them be. The individual should be accorded the liberty to engage in coitus with whomever they wish, free from the righteous condemnation of other people. If you like to try out new restaurants every week, it is rather hypocritical to critise other people for having numerous sexual partners. And similar to teaching children (and adults!) about food safety, it is important to teach them about sex safety as well. The conversation on sex needs to be opened under the guidance of open-minded and non-judgemental folks. Destigmatise sex, normalise it. Then perhaps it will become less worrying and we can devote our time and energy to worrying about something else.

Over-hyped but under-discussed, sex, in my opinion, is not getting the treatment it rightly deserves. It is hard to imagine something so central, so pervasive in our lives whose sombre discussion is often avoided. But anyways, I hope things will take a more positive turn in the near future.

That’s probably enough for now. Enjoy the rest of Lunar New Year people!

Peace out.

P.S: Next week’s word is “loner” (I dig this one!)


Every week, I take one word and write my thoughts on it. You can suggest a word in the comments below and it’ll appear on this blog some day, I promised!

booze

I like booze.

If you’re acquainted with myself, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Among different types of alcoholic beverage, this is probably my favourite:

pen

The bitterness. The warmth. The aroma. Everything hits just right.

wine

I don’t like beer because it fills my stomach way too quick; I don’t like hard liquor because the alcohol knocks me out way too quick. Wine is perfect for me. Also my birthday is 15 Feb. I can send you my shipping address. But I digressed (or did I?).

Different from many Vietnamese compatriots, I started drinking quite late into my life, when I was 21 or so. Before university, I never knew my limit as I had only drunk 1 can of beer maximum every time there was an occasion to drink. At one point, I even had serious doubts whether I could hold my liquor. Boy, were my doubts unfounded.

I think booze is an excellent social lubricant. It helps me open up and eases the conversation. Something to do with the chemistry and substances, but I believe the effect is very commonly known.

I have had drinks in a pub only once or twice, and decided that I didn’t like it. Mainly because I was/am too poor to afford them drinks LOL. But it’s also because I don’t quite like the idea of consuming alcohol in a public place (even if that place is a pub!). What if I get drunk and do something embarrassing/endangering?

Instead, I like having drinks with my favourite group of people. People who can actually hold their end of the conversation. The more drunk we get, the better the conversation becomes. That’s what I drink for, really. Stories, insights, advice and most important of all, friendship.

I suppose all have stories of those wild nights when we get hammered and wasted and fucked up with alcohol. Mine are relatively more gentle and uneventful.

There was one time when four of us started drinking wine at around 9PM. We finished 4-5 bottles at 2 in the morning and ran out of booze. Feeling extra frisky, we turned to these

straw

And drank 1 litre of milk with these flavoured straws. It was the first time I tried those. Mind-blowing, to say the least. I’ve since bought the straws as gifts for my nephews. But anyways, we then ran out of milk. So naturally, we made tea. At this point, the alcohol started wearing off, which was fortunate because we were about to take in a f***load of caffeine. Because sane and sober people put this much tea leaves when they make tea:

white-tea-in-a-cup

 

But my dear friend, who was in hindsight not very sober, put this much

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I shit you not, that’s what it looked like. But then again, the rest of us weren’t so sober as well, since we said nothing in protest and drank the tea. That’s pretty much my definition of a wild night (told you it’s relatively less eventful).

On another point, I don’t quite like binge drinking. First, you’re fucking up your body. Consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time is damaging to one’s health, especially the liver. Second, what’s the point of getting wasted so quickly and so senselessly? You

Of course, you will point out that I am contradicting myself since the story above shows that I indulge in binge drinking. So today is also the day you learn that I am a self-proclaimed hypocrite. Yes, I do drink a considerable amount of alcohol, but that happens very infrequently. Which brings me to my next point.

I also dislike very much the idea of getting drunk too frequently. Of course frequency is subjective, but you get what I mean. While booze provides a great route of escape and source of distraction, indulging in frequent drinking isn’t productive at all. For booze to be an escape, I need to have involved in something and thus incurred the want to escape that very thing. If you get drunk every single day of the week, perhaps it’s the booze that you need to escape.

Another point (big point as well): Vietnam’s “force” drinking culture disgusts me. For those who don’t know, we Vietnamese really like to force each other to drink as much as we can. “Force” sounds rather violent, we actually rely on words, social superiority and peer pressure to do that. But yeah, I’ve never got the rationale either. If you love booze so much, why don’t you drink all the booze? Or do you actually take joy in seeing the other guy get wasted? That’s really sick and disgusting. Anyway, if you refuse the drink (especially if it’s from somebody who’s older than you), you’re gonna get called names and your manhood is gonna get assessed really harsh. Yeah, I’ve never understood the rationale either. If the guy doesn’t want a drink, just leave him the fuck alone and enjoy yours. What the fuck?

I brought up the point above because Lunar New Year is coming, and I am gonna get forced to drink almost for certain. So I am gonna buckle up and wipe the floor with whatever dimwit that insists I drink after I’ve refused once. But seriously, drink responsibly guys, especially in this festive season. And if you don’t genuinely enjoy drinking, just don’t drink – you are the master of your own will. And if you have been “forcing” people to drink, stop that shit. Don’t be a dick.

Peace out.

Oh, and next week’s word is sex. Yummy.