Queer Women Films

This is a developing list, so I will be updating as I watch more and more queer content. So there’ll be a bunch of titles only at the end of this list as my To Watch List. Scroll on down.

Ever since I started to view my attraction to women as something more than just an admiration and role model, and more of a romantic and aesthetic interest, I craved for representation. Whether on the big screen, small screen, web series/YouTube or music, I wanted to belong somewhere, even if it is fictional. At least, I know someone out there thought of this storyline (that is my life) and I can put a face to it.

Then like everyone, I Googled the shit out of articles, lists and recommendations of media and fandoms I should get into. And boy girl was I presented with hundreds of suggestions.

After watching the more popular lesbian/queer girl films, I liked some, didn’t like some, and couldn’t figure out what was happening in a bunch of others. I moved onto the lesser known ones; the indie films, the non-English language films, the multi-genre ones, basically anything with a promising Wikipedia review. To be honest, I connected more with the lesser known ones.

Just like a thousand other lists out there, I want to compile my own as more of my journey through Queer Women Film in the sequence that I’ve watched them. Also, I want to remember what I loved (or hated) about these movies and to keep track of what I’ve watched. So I’m gonna put in my review, long or short depends on how interested I am in it, and which ones I’d recommend (bolded, highlighted, colored, you’ll know when you see it).

Though I have to say, I’m on a journey to find a reasonable, not-too-cheesy, realistic gay romantic story. But I do enjoy the occasional mix of other genres. And not to forget, some fun in the sheets too. 😏

Queer Women Films

The Kids are All Right (2010)
Tbh I watched this movie for Mark Ruffalo, but then he ends up being such an ass. The relationship between Jules and Nic here pretty much depicts what a lot of couples (both straight and queer) fear, lack of sexual interest in the other partner, unless you’re ace or demi then this shouldn’t be a big deal. So that’s nice that they display real life marriage issues instead of just gay-specific stereotypes.

Addicted to Fresno (2015) Recommended!
I only watched this film because there was Aubrey Plaza and Natasha Lyonne. Wasn’t expecting it to have any queer characters or interaction but hey (SPOILER ALERT) Aubrey and Natasha are super cute together! The ending ❤️ Aubrey’s character is such a no-nonsense awkward flirt and I am just so attracted to that.

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
I’m pretty conflicted about this film. I get that it’s supposed to be an artsy indie film but I cringe at almost all the decisions and choices made by the Adele. Plus, there’s just way too many lesbian stereotype and clichés taken too seriously. Not the best queer girl film representation out there in my books.

Kyss Mig (Kiss Me/With Every Heartbeat) (2011) SUPER Recommended!
Coming from the previous film, Kyss Mig is a breath of fresh air. Finally! A film that hits me right in the feelings. I have watched this film way too many times to keep track of, and it instilled in me my love for the Swedish language (and Swedish girls). Yes, I know the cliché storyline of straight girl finds out she’s not straight and leaves boyfriend to be with another girl is there but this one portrays it oh-so-elegantly. Even though Mia cheats on her boyfriend, I was actually rooting for her and Frida to work it out. And thank the gay Gods they did! That final scene of Frida turning back with that smile when she saw Mia gets me everytime :’) If there was one queer women film I’d recommend anyone to watch, it’d be Kyss Mig. Without a doubt.

Tru Love (2013)
Not a lot of romance stories between two older ladies out there and this one was really sweet and touching.

I Can’t Think Straight (2008) Recommended!
I went into this film with low expectation, thinking it was about the whole traditional homophobic parents struggle but wow, it was that and so much more good stuff. I find it pretty brave in the sense that they made the whole coming out to your traditionalist parents situation more bearable and gave hope to all the young, closeted gays out there that your family will accept you no matter what.

Imagine Me and You (2005) Recommended!
Another must watch, just because there is a lack of lesbian romcoms out there. Imagine Me and You is so light-hearted, it makes me queasy when I think about how much we need happy, comical and fun gay romcoms in the world today. Plus, if you’re like me and only finding out about this film after discovering Game of Thrones, it is such a delightful treat to see Cersei actually be jolly and good. If you’re feeling down or not gay enough, go out there, stand on a car and scream from the bottom of your diaphragms “YOU’RE A WANKER NUMBER NINE”.

Life Partners (2014)
Nothing too heavy or life threatening, this film is pretty light hearted and focuses on two girls’ friendship, one of which just happens to be queer. Also, I didn’t know Kate McKinnon had a tiny cameo in here!

Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
I really didn’t get this film at all. Most of the time, I’m left wondering why Jessica or Helen did what they did. Unless the point here was to portray real life awkwardness where it isn’t so “cute and adorable”. And when they finally got together and didn’t last because Helen wanted more sex? I mean… okaaayyy.

Lost and Delirious (2001)
Probably the truest film title ever, the plot, character (Paulie) and ending truly was lost and delirious. I do like the fact that it had a very deep meaning of how sexuality can literally be life or death for a lot of people and that the teenage years are really the most fragile for a closeted or questioning person. Definitely not a light-hearted show, but I feel that the heaviness is well portrayed.

Loving Annabelle (2006)
If there ever was a lesbian Hallmark-esque full length movie version of the song Hot for Teacher by Van Halen, Loving Annabelle would be it. After cringing for the first 10 minutes of knowing the whole teacher-student relationship going on, I actually started to root for them. Why were all my teachers never that hot? :/

Chasing Amy (1997)
Somehow, I didn’t get this film at all. The entire plot and pace of the film just didn’t feel right, although there seems to be a lot of good reviews of how this film is exploring stories and topics that have not been told yet at the time. I guess watching this almost 20 years after it comes out really does make it outdated. Also, the whole straight guy falling for a lesbian and him pushing and not giving up feels a little too selfish?

Room in Rome (2010)
This film is a great excuse to stare at boobs for two whole hours. This film is what I would imagine two manipulative and mysterious spies do in between jobs, lie and have sex. But of course, this film isn’t about spies, just the (half?) lies and sex part.

Bloomington (2010)
Another teacher-student relationship, this one a bit more light-hearted. I’d prefer Bloomington simply because the ending was more satisfying. Also, that one library scene definitely stuck with me for a couple of nights after that. Oh, you know which one :))))

The World Unseen (2007)
Same two leads from I Can’t Think Straight (who are amazing btw!) but veeeery different stories. Lisa Ray who plays the more dominant, unashamed queer woman in ICTS is the timid and devoted wife to a man in TWU. Sheetal Sheth was the clumsy and shy girl in ICTS becomes the strong, independent and pursuing dominant in TWU. This role reversal was so refreshing and made me love both films although one has a happier ending than the other.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (2010)
This was such a treat to watch as Anne goes around the men’s backs and getting all the ladies. The Mr. Steal-Yo-Girl of the 19th century. I love this film and I’d recommend it for a light-hearted girl empowering film.

Elena Undone (2010) Recommended!
This film is so ridiculous and slapstick/over-the-top but I love it. It feels like it meant to be parody to a lot of “married-women-finding-out-they’re-gay” stories but just enough to pull it off in a tasteful way. There are quite a number unnecessary subplots like the narrator’s entire existence in this film, the oddly amusing “longest one take on-screen kiss ever”, the son’s childish tantrum, the son’s girlfriend being way too cool to be real, etc. Okay, I was really rooting for the son’s girlfriend to leave him and be gay or something.

My Summer of Love (2004)
This is one of those films where you can follow the story as you are watching it, but once it ends you’re left wondering “What’s the point of these two hours?!” You sit back and try to think what the writers/director was trying to convey but there really was no message other than that they just could. It felt like they were building up to an epic decision or event, only to crush it down by saying “it was only a dream” or “it was all pretend” :/

Raven’s Touch (2015)
A really weird but touching story. I didn’t feel much chemistry between Raven and Kate tbh, but all other emotions about Raven’s past and Kate’s strain with her children felt. Throughout the entire film, I just remember admiring at Raven’s (and Dreya Weber’s) strength as she climbed up and down in that hot desert. She’s 50+ while filming this! I felt tired watching her lol.

Camp Takota (2014)
Got to know about this film because I love the YouTube Holy Trinity (YouTubers Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig) and their videos. So a film revolving the three of them is already great in my books. They know what we want and deliver it with such great lines, wit and humour. Plus, the three of them are directly involved in the film’s writing with Mamrie at the helm and Hannah is gay in real life so you know you’re gonna be treated good with the gay (Hannah) character’s plot. It’s really funny and good y’all. Go support this film 🙂

Freeheld (2015)
The fact that this film was based on a true story makes my heart full after watching it. A literal win for the gays! Not only is there equality for same-sex marriages in here, there’s the age gap difference element to it too. Plus, who doesn’t love some Julianne Moore/Ellen Page loving? 🙂

Ghostbusters (2016) Recommended!
There isn’t a real queer moment here but we all believe Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) is gay and you can’t take that away from me (or us). Then again, I guess her wink during her lip sync to Rhythm of the Night is a huge hint that she was hitting on Erin (Kirsten Wiig). There may not a confirmed or obvious (except it was obvious to me) gay plot here but the movie is still such a great move on its own with the female-empowering undertones and reminiscence of the first Ghostbusters movie.

Dirty 30 (2016)
Another hilarious heartwarming film from the YouTube Holy Trinity, this time wilder than ever. This story was more down to earth and real with the character’s life issues rather than it all revolving around a camp, which was fun, don’t get me wrong. Again, Mamrie is brilliant with her witty and humourous lines as the screenplay writer, amd I’d definitely would love to come to this party.

Almost Adults (2016) Recommended!
Overall, the plot was more or less predictable but I’m a sucker for my fav lesbian vampire couple, Hollstein (Carmilla Karnstein & Laura Hollis from the web series Carmilla). Both leads there play leads here, Natasha Negovanlis and Elise Bauman. This film would have been good for someone struggling with their sexuality and how they are able to come to terms with liking people of the same gender. Other than that, it a really fun movie and you get to admire Elise’s arms 😀

Below Her Mouth (2016) Recommended!
I suggest that you watch this either alone in a room with the door closed, or with your bae, because hot damn! I can’t decide if I want to be Erika Linder or be under Erika Linder. Say all you want about how cliché this plot may be with the whole seducing straight, engaged-to-a-man girl and turning her gay (I just realised how similar this is to Kyss Mig), but these are the stories needed to prove that we exist and these things do happen where women only find out they’re gay at a much later age than teenagers. Plus, there are endless movies out there with this exact plot except they’re straight couples, so one more lesbian one won’t hurt.

Mystère à la Tour Eiffel (2015) Recommended!
Aaah, a period murder mystery with an interracial lesbian couple at the front. I was sold from the moment I found out about this film through gifs and images from social media (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). I love Louise’s no-nonsense and I-don’t-need-marriage-to-complete-me attitude and Henriette’s charm, wit and fearlessness, especially in the tiny, hidden lesbian bar. The fact that Louise stuck with her decision to remain single rather than marry a man for the sake of society’s expectations and her father’s wishes, is already one notch higher than a lot of other films that chooses to end with a straight couple marriage to pleases the masses (think Jenny’s movie in The L Word). So basically, I’m a sucker for women politely telling dickhead patriarchal men to fuck off.

Liz En Septiembre (Liz in September) (2013)
Another lesbian turns straight engaged-to-a-man girl film but set in a quaint little town and is really heartwarming. I can’t help but feel a tiny bit win everytime these films get made and the couple makes it through till the end, which is what happens in this film.

La Belle Saison (Summertime) (2015)
This was stressful. I really felt the struggle that Delphine goes through making her decision whether to leave with Carole or stay with the mother at the farm. It’s an okay film, with lots of nudity and relationship ups and down, and a little age gap difference between the leads, which is great because we definitely need more of those.

The Handmaiden (2016)
So. Much. Sexual. Tension. Also, way too much pervert-old-man than I’d like to see. Location and setting for this film was amazing and so beautifully shot. As an Asian, it felt so comfortable (although I’m not Korean), probably because it was a rich (dirty) man’s house. Plot has so many twists and turns, it was pretty much a triple (or quadruple) crossing story. The only parts I disliked were the perversion and erotic, but I guess that’s why people seem to like it.

The Runaways (2010)
Lesbian/Bisexual rockstars? Um, yes please, sign me up! Kristen Stewart and Ellen Fanning are just living out my fantasies over here. But the main idea here isn’t about sexuality, more on the music and their stories as a musician.

Rent (2005)
I’ve definitely heard of this film, and know of a couple of its songs, but I didn’t realise what it was about. I found out there’s at least two gay couples here. It isn’t the main storyline but it’s there. A lot of shows/movies I watch now used to be in this movie so it’s quite a treat.

Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål) (1998)
Being my thirsty self, I immediately thought that Fucking Åmål meant the sexual kind but then it was said in the movie in a cursing manner towards the town, Åmål in Sweden. It’s a very amateur schoolkid storyline, would’ve been good if I a pre-teen questioning my sexuality but watching this now in my early 20’s I find it a little ridiculous but adorable nonetheless.

The Secrets (Ha-Sodot) (2007)
A lesbian version of the rebel meets a by-the-book nerd storyline bonding over helping a cancer-stricken woman set in a religious town in Israel. It’s a pretty heartwarming story of a blossoming queer girl love that (SPOILER) doesn’t end well when their homophobic community finds out. I definitely did not understand why Michelle (Michal Shtamler) did what she did in the end. Not satisfied. At all. 😦

Bound (1996)
Mmm… a female version of Mr.-Steal-yo-Girl-from-a-Mob-Boss. I couldn’t really stand Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and the way she talks slutty-seductively. It’s sexy at first but then it got annoying after half an hour. But Corky (Gina Gershon) though, phew! Sexy, sweaty plumber with those arms? *heavy breathing* It’s a little over the top in terms of its plot but a fun action-ish movie.

But I’m A Cheerleader (1999)
Aww, a classic. Watching this movie today, it doesn’t impress me, but think of it being released in the 90’s and it’s such a step forward for the LGBT+ community considering the homophobia. As all the other reviews say, it REALLY is a very in-your-face statement to all the homophobic stereotypes against the queer community in a very comedic sarcasm. A+ for comedy.

Saving Face (2004) Recommended!
I love this movie for its candid yet very true Chinese slapstick jokes. Being Chinese, I’ve been through much of this culture, with the Aunties starting a bunch of trouble with their nosey-ness. I identify much with Wil (Lynn Chen), a closeted workaholic who’s pretty awkward and shit at flirting. Now where can I find me a Vivian (Michelle Krusiec); openly gay and understanding of Wil’s closet-ness yet super hot? Plus point: lots of cute, sexy make out scenes 😀

The Chinese Botanist’s Daughter (Les Filles du Botaniste) (2006)
I had so much hopes for this movie when it started, with the beautiful serene landscape pan and those beautiful eyes of Mylène Jampanoï. Then comes the usual storyline of an overly traditional homophobic father (botanist) comes in with a closeted and scared-of-change daughter meets this quiet, alluring, also-closeted orphan. Next, a bonus: an egotistical, patriarchal, also-homophobic brother of the botanist. So, said gay lovers hatched a plan to marry orphan to brother so they can be together forever! Wow. Just, WOW. Seriously? I can’t even. I’d only recommend this movie for the pretty garden, landscapes and temples. :/

My Friend from Faro (To Faro/Mein Freund aus Faro) (2008)
This one is a fun one. Don’t expect too much of sense on this one. This whole movie assumes that the same girl can have two very opposing public assumptions. Mel seen as so tomboyish that she’s assumed to be a guy by some people, which isn’t too surprising from the way she presents herself. But at home, her tomboy nature and always brushing off any mentions of “boyfriend” by her family doesn’t seem to give them any hints of her sexuality.

The Intervention (2010) Recommended!
Ahhh… a reunion of Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall (But I’m A Cheerleader). There isn’t a main romantic queer love story in this, more a a mix of 4 couples who are friends working through their own separate sets of issues. It’s a really good, fun indie movie with lots of various angst and the house is really pretty! Natasha and Clea are super adorable here as well. Plus point: new Tegan and Sara song (Fade Out) and Sara scored the music in here!

The Duchess (2008)
Hmm… I have to say I started to watch this film because I stumbled upon a gif of that one scene between Kiera Knightley and Hayley Atwell on Tumblr so I jumped straight into this movie. Well that one scene was the only gay one. But y’know I do enjoy period dramas with their overpowering royal patriarchy. Oh well.

Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006)
Phew! This movie made me so hungry with all that curry. Bad idea to watch this in the middle of the night. But it’s such a fun hallmark-esque rom com, even with all of its overly conservative Indian culture & community drama. Overall it was a fun, light movie to get into. I just need to head out now to get me some curry!

You and Me Forever (2012)
Okay this one I just can’t. I came across this movie in the Autostraddle ‘Now, An Updated Edition Of The 102 Best Lesbian Movies Of All Time’ and from their little excerpt of recommendation, it looked promising. Turns out, there was barely any lesbian storyline throughout the film. In fact I found it extremely annoying with the overpowering teenage sulking, being such a privileged brat and angst of the main character. If there was one thing I remember from this is just unnecessary teenage angst.

Circumstance (2011)
This Circumstance’s storyline reminded me so much of The Chinese Botanist’s Daughter and boy, did I dislike that film so much. The girls here were a bit more intelligent and modern but really? Do people really think that you could be happy and get away with being with your girlfriend forever by marrying her brother?? And the brother just so happens to be a sadist, misogynist, rapist, homophobic or an all around asshole? I just can’t even…

Fingersmith (2005)
So I found out that this is the original storyline for The Handmaiden and wow, the Korean version pretty much just lifted the entire plot right outta this one, right down to the sexualised sore teeth massaging scene. I’m more inclined to The Handmaiden as it was more refined and y’know, I love me a happy ending for the girls. Also, the dude suffers more over there. Fingersmith was a little too complicated, they wanted to put in so much storyline and character development into such a short time (mind you, it was a 3 hour two-part TV movie).

Breaking the Girls (2012)
This one feels like another adaptation Fingersmith/The Handmaiden triple crossing plot, except this time all 3 are girls. It started off with a romcom-esque girl meets girl at the bar and fall in love but quickly turns into a psycho-murder mystery when Alex brings up the Strangers on a Train murder plan.

Water Lilies (Naissance des Pieuvres) (2007)
This was 80 minutes of pure awkwardness and cringe-worthy stalking, which is fitting I guess, if you wanna portray weird teenage behaviour. Marie’s just superrrrr creepy, with the intense watching and collecting Floriane’s trash, though Floriane was totally such an ass for playing her. And the ending was such a loose thread, what happens to them??

Affinity (2008)
A supernatural, lesbian period drama. Something you don’t see often, if not at all. I didn’t really feel any chemistry between Margeret and Selina when they met the first few times, it felt very sudden. Also, the whole hair smelling/kissing/caressing-against-face is super gross and cringe-y. Other than that, the plot twist is really cool and unexpected.

Tipping the Velvet (2002)

Joven y Alocada (Young and Wild) (2012)

Viola di Mare (Purple Sea) (2009)

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Discovering Hayley Kiyoko

So here’s my appreciation rant on this new obsession of mine. I feel like I’ve been missing out on so much because I discovered her so late. I only came to know of Hayley about half a year ago when I was looking for some queer themed music and came across Girls Like Girls but then I didn’t really love love her until I watched the music video for Sleepover the day it released.

Sleepover oozed a much needed representation of unrequited sapphic feels and my God, I have never wanted a girl like I wanted Hayley Kiyoko. The entire music video was just so aesthetically pleasing with the orange/yellow colour mood. The story goes with Hayley falling for her straight girl best friend and the whole POV switches between reality and her fantasy where they’re both frolicking around a room and in a bathtub. So much feels ❤️

Then I started listening to the rest of her music and I just went so deep down this rabbit hole of music that spoke to my soul. On top of being super catchy, Gravel to Tempo is just so true to what a lot of young, insecure, gay girls go through at least once in their lives. As a teenage girl who didn’t realise her admiration for her fellow girl seniors was probably attraction to girls, I could relate. And if you’ve watched the music video, you’d ship the hell outta Hayley and the headphones girl.

I am just so in love with the entire Citrine EP. So many good songs like Ease My Mind, Pretty Girl, Palace, and One Bad Night. Plus, songs from the This Side of Paradise EP and A Belle to Remember EP. The best part? Hayley herself wrote these songs and they’re all based on her own experiences. I literally have not stopped listening to her songs everyday since Sleepover was released (that’s about 2 months now at this time of writing). I’m not even kidding, I need to listen to her everyday or if I’m not, it’ll be playing in my head, full lyrics and all. Yeah, I’ve never had such an intense liking to a person I’ve never watched before, beats all my other badass women on film/TV crushes. 

Then I found out that she’s actually been around for quite a bit, acting in a bunch of movies and TV shows. Most recently she played a hacker with the CSI: Cyber team. Then I also found out she’s most recognised from her Disney movie/TV shows involvement. So I recently watched Lemonade Mouth and I loved it. Now, I usually don’t like Disney movies because they’re just super cliché and too high-schoolly but this one was pretty good despite the unrealisticness. And the music’s pretty good! The five of them can actually play the music instruments and sing. 

So she sings and she acts, but have you seen her on stage? I haven’t, but I shall be in the crowd of her live show ONE DAY! She builds a stage around her for her performances. I talking about this little space she creates surrounded by her instruments and mic. From her One Bad Night tour, you can see her electronic drum pad on her left, keyboards on her right, mic in front of her, plus she can also play the guitar & bass too. 

*swoon*

I don’t think I’ve ever liked a person and personality from afar so much that I want to date, and even marry her. I written in a previous post that I don’t prioritise marriage in my life but for the first time, I could actually imagine myself being happily married to someone like Hayley. Okay, I know how stalkerish that sounds (Hayley, if you ever read this pls don’t hate me), but what I really mean is that I think I found the type of personality that I can tolerate and spend the rest of my life with. 

This is me stalking her Instagram stories

Okay enough ranting, here’s more of Hayley beautiful, beautiful face. 

A Buddhist Wake & Funeral 

It’s been less than a year and I’ve lost another grandparent. This one hit me harder than the previous because we did not expect it to come by so fast.

My maternal grandfather was a great man, he cared for all of us deeply and you could tell he knew his end was near. It all started when he was admitted into the hospital after feeling unwell for some time. Found out he had a lung infection, and after going in and out of the hospital for about a month, he finally left one Sunday morning. This was about a month ago. I remember that day very clearly as I rushed to his hospital bed at 5.30 in the morning to say goodbye. It was heartbreaking as all 18 of us held him one last time.

We immediately held his service the next night and for three days long. Unlike my paternal grandmother’s last year, we opted for a simple and not too traditional, yet beautiful service for him with Buddhist monks and nuns chanting. It was held at the amazingly comfortable and professional Nirvana Memorial Centre in Sungai Besi. The facilities and services there are top notch, it even felt like a five star hotel environment. Only the best for my Gong Gong (“grandfather” in Chinese).

The first day we headed over after lunch to prepare, though there wasn’t much preparation for us to do as they had prepared everything beforehand (part of the package paid for). The only things we did were folding the prayer paper gold/money that us grandchildren to do, but the rest of the family chipped in and helped as well. By the third night we had at least twenty large bags full!

The room we had was named “Orchid”, to which my mother mentioned was Gong Gong’s favourite. :’) The room was larger than the others around as we opted for the corner room with a larger hallway to accommodate more people. We knew that we could expect a large crowd of family from his nieces/nephews travelling from another state as they loved him very much. We have a rather large family as my grandfather was part of 10 siblings (and he was the last surviving sibling 😥 ), each with plenty of children, he himself has 5 children. Plus, there’s the numerous relatives, friends and colleagues that each of us immediate family had and his own friends as well.

His altar had a really huge blown up photograph of him (which my uncle took 3 years back) that was so comforting to look at. He had this warm and contented smile that made me want to just sit there and stare at him. On the altar were flowers (the entire building was very flower based, so pretty!), a joss stick sand pot to hold the thicker type of joss stick, food including a bunch of his favourites we brought, tea, a large bowl of water and a basket of fresh yellow chrysanthemum flower heads. Nirvana (or maybe it’s a Buddhism culture) uses a lot of flowers throughout the entire funeral process. Mostly yellow and white flowers as a sign of mourning. There was minimal joss stick burning so it wasn’t smoky (plus, it was held indoors with air conditioning on full blast that we were all shivering). The only joss sticks present was that one stick lit and replaced constantly burning at the altar throughout. Even that, the monk/nun would handle. For the food offerings, it was provided by Nirvana and was vegetarian food (because Buddhism) but they allowed us to bring in anything we want. So we made the effort to buy all his favourite chicken rice, fried rice, lamb chop, egg tarts, roti canai, coffee, tea and a few other tidbits he loved. The chrysanthemum flower heads were for guests to place into the water bowl as a sign of respect to him. It was like lighting up a joss stick but a much more environmental friendly way. So when there were a lot of people, the bowl was overflowing with flowers.

Behind the altar, separated by a wall, was the casket positioned with the foot nearest to the back of the altar and head furthest. The top half of the casket was opened with a glass covering over. My grandfather was dressed in a smart looking suit with a light green shirt and dark green tie (his favourite colour). Again, he was ever so slightly smiling, looking contented. :’) An umbrella was placed over the opened top half of the casket. Again, this must be the superstition of protecting against evil forces/prevent black cat from jumping over. The bottom half of the casket had prayer papers and cloth draped over the closed cover.

There were also the whole set of paper paraphernalia; the huge mansion-like house inclusive of two maid/servant, wide screen television, mobile phone, clothes, shoes, accessories and even a satellite dish for the television; a car that was supposed to be a Mercedes-Benz complete with a driver; two bridges (one gold, one silver) that I think was supposed to symbolise either reincarnation or a bridge to heaven (?).

You know when we thought we’d be expecting a large crowd? Well, we still underestimated. The crowd was waaayyy larger than expected as there was barely any seats/tables to spare the whole first night. Everywhere you turned, you’re bound to almost bump into someone. To be honest, I felt proud of my grandpa to see how much he affected all these family and friends. Each one of us immediate family were busy talking to family and our own friends/colleagues who had come to pay their respects. Even my own colleagues took the effort to come after work hours, despite only knowing them for less than 6 months.

We immediate family (children and grandchildren) had an attire to wear, a plain white tee and long black pants just like the Taoist one. We also had the cloth belt and a small square coloured patch of cloth pinned on our left sleeve to differentiate our rank in the family. I had a white belt with a red cloth tied onto it and a blue cloth with a red centre on my sleeve. We also had to wear this same set of clothes for all three days unwashed. We couldn’t wash our hair with shampoo, only with water for three days, slightly better than the Taoist rule last year.

For the prayer sessions, there were three sessions on the first night starting at 7.30pm. Each session was about 30 – 45 minutes with intervals up until 11pm. This time, I’m unable to translate or explain what each prayer session meant as the monks/nuns were chanting in Chinese and what I think is Sanskrit. Plus, the chants were so sing-songy it was hard to even hear them clearly, but it was very soothing to listen. While they chanted, we would sit/stand/kneel behind them with our palms pressed together and every so often we were asked to bow once or three times as instructed either by them or another man who was the coordinator for this service. They even gave us a cushion each to sit or kneel on rather than on the carpet floor itself. So really, the hardest thing we did was sit still for 45 minutes straight. Standing was much more comfortable really.

The first night were monks and the second night and third day were nuns. I later found out that there had been a mixed up on the first night where we initially requested for nuns throughout the process. Not too sure why but I guess my family preferred nuns as they had a more soothing chant. They chanted facing a separate altar placed adjacently next to my grandfather’s. There were three statues of which we later asked were the middle is (one of the variations of) Buddha and two (variations of) Kuan Yin on each side. It was a very complicated explanation by the nun of who and what they represented. Long story short, they are all variations of Kuan Yin but the middle statue was one who has achieved the status of Buddha and completed all tasks/stages required. The two other statues has not. So it’s like a rank thing. Also, they were all from the west side, supposedly they are in care of all death and the dead.

Please, if you know more about Buddhism and its variations, depictions, rituals and meaning, correct me as I only know what I have been told thus far. Again, I genuinely want to understand and I could only ask so much in so little time.

On the second day, went over early to bring Gong Gong his lunch and hung around still folding paper gold/money. Again, prayers started at 7.30pm and this time we had 4 sessions with intervals. This night, there was about half the crowd of the first night and it was much calmer as we didn’t have to rush here and there with lesser people to address. Towards later in the night, before the final prayer session, we the immediate family followed the nuns downstairs and outside to a separate and controlled shed where they placed the paper paraphernalia and paper gold around it to be burned. We were then instructed to call out for my grandfather to come and collect his items. I guess in a way, it is also to tell any “wandering” spirits that these items belong to my grandfather and it’s not their for taking. So we watched the raging flame engulf the paper until it was in ashes and went back inside. Other than this, the second night was pretty similar with the first.

The third day was sending Gong Gong to his final resting place at Nirvana Memorial Park in Shah Alam. This time, we started way early at 9am. It was a sombre morning as this was going to be our last viewing of him before they shut the casket for good. They opened the casket completely, even the glass covering so we could see him and touch (his clothes, we didn’t touch his face as I’m sure they would have put on some form of chemical preservation?). We stood there, talking to him, saying our goodbyes and tears just started flowing. Then they took in the flowers that were sent in the last two days, cut the flower heads off and arranged them neatly around his body in the casket (so pretty :’) ). Next, there was a ritual where his children laid very traditional grand cloth-like blankets which was supposed to symbolise comfort in his afterlife. All this while, there was a flying bug/insect, which of course the elders mentioned that it was Gong Gong visiting us. I mean, as much as it sounded ridiculous, what harm could it do to just be comforted by the thought that he was still with us in some way.

Then we had one last prayer session, where the other guests could view him one last time. After that, we gathered in front of his altar, us immediate family kneeled in prayer while his casket was sealed shut with a golden axe. This was done by the people from Nirvana. I think this part, we were allowed to watch which is why we were in front of his altar instead.

After a short break, they moved the casket into the hearse. Next we moved downstairs onto the road where the hearse was parked onto a road leading to the exit of the building compound. We were asked to stand behind the hearse, put our hand on the back of the hearse and while it drove forwards slowly, we were to shout out calling him and to wish him well on his smooth journey in the afterlife. It went on for a short distance until the hearse reached the exit, where we got into our own cars and followed behind on our way to the memorial park. We did stop by my grandparents house for him to visit one last time. I think the most exciting part about the drive had to be this other car from Nirvana where they drove in front of the hearse to stop any oncoming traffic at junctions to let about 10 cars through so that we were all in a single line following one another.

At the memorial park, we were brought to a hall that I think should be the crematorium place behind. My grandfather’s casket was placed on an automated trolley-like doorway. While we were kneeled in front of an altar setup, the casket moved towards the doorway which was now opened to reveal a golden statue of Buddha with a green laser light shining from the jade on the forehead. This laser light moved up and down the moving casket as if it was blessing as my grandfather went away. But I have a feeling the laser was a sensor for the mechanics to know when to close the door after the casket fully moved in. Very dramatic and it really hit us deep because this was it, his physical being was leaving 😥

Next, we prayed at a temple nearby, changed into red colour clothing to symbolise the end of our mourning period and had lunch while we waited for the cremation to be completed. We decided to complete everything on the same day rather than come back the next day. It took about 2 hours so we hung around the place. We returned to the hall where each of us immediate family took turns to place a piece of his remains into a green urn. So yes, as morbid as it sounds, I picked up a piece of my grandfather’s bone and placed into an urn. I honestly thought it would be all ashes, didn’t expect there would still be small pieces of bone.

We brought him to his final home at the columbarium. Performed a prayer session for him then placed the urn inside the space. We also put in his reading glasses and wrist watch next to his urn.

Aaaand that was it.

Basically I did nothing for four days except to pray, reminisce, cry, sleep, and repeat. All in all, the service was beautiful I would say. He truly deserved the best and I miss him so much.

Gong Gong, Popo and us young ones

Gong Gong looking so fine back in the day

Life Update? 

Or more like trying to include 2017 in my list of blog posts. 

In the months missing since my previous post, I have 

  • Graduated university with a degree
  • Went for a number of job interviews
  • Lazed and bummed around the house for 4 months unemployed
  • Finally got a job
  • Found a group of pretty cool colleagues to hang out with at work
  • Lost my grandfather 😦 I miss you, Gong Gong
  • (Finally) Registered and currently studying for my actuarial professional paper that I’ve been scared about (it’s in one week 😨) 
  • Gotten significantly gayer ever since I discovered Hayley Kiyoko and Katie McGrath. 

 
Yep, I should absolutely get back to studying but you know, I’m the best at procrastinating. Though I would really like to rant about my new found love for Hayley, I shall save that till after my paper. I promise. Hayley-filled post coming right up! 

A Hakka/Taoist Wake & Funeral

I have to say, this is probably the first wake that I’ve ever been actively involved in (not that I’m complaining, hear me out first). So I am not sure if this seems to be a norm in other cultures/dialects, this is only my first hand experience of witnessing a traditional Taoist wake and funeral in the Hakka dialect & customs.

The Hakka rituals in prepping the deceased in the afterlife is a very unique, detailed, complicated and sometimes contradicting process. Having said that, I’m still proud of my culture and where I come from.

If I could summarise these three days, it would be every action done and choice made has a meaning and/or story behind it. I’m not kidding, I’m talking about every prayer session done follows a story, there are reasons behind why we aren’t allowed to do/wear certain things and even the design of the tombstone has meanings. All of which I will divulge into later on. This account of events are only what I’ve learnt from this experience, there are probably other versions of stories, reasons and customs out there, so if you know better, I would definitely like to know more. I decided not to photograph any of it as I think it is inappropriate and the elders might deem it disrespectful to my grandmother. So, looooong wordy post ahead.

First off, I was told that attire had to be of plain, dull colours such as white, black, dark shades of blue, green, brown to show that you are mourning . Red, yellow and orange are to be avoided at all cost, because those are colours of celebration and prosperity (very Chinese New Year colours). I learnt later on that even a hint of red is frowned upon as I wore a grey tshirt with a smidge of red pattern on the front :/ Nonetheless, I only wore it for awhile as I would be changing into a brand new set of plain white tshirt and black pants provided by the funeral parlour handling the wake. This set of clothes would last me throughout the entire mourning period of 3 days, without getting washed. Well, budget constraints I supposed?

We arrived at my grandparents house in the evening and pretty much everything has been set up. Two tents with deep blue curtains and blue plastic chairs, the standard here in Malaysia (auspicious events like weddings, birthdays, etc have red plastic chairs instead), we’re placed in front of the house. Since my grandmother passed away peacefully inside the house, her casket was placed inside the house where all the living room furniture were moved to another room. If the deceased passed away anywhere else outside the house, the casket would have to be placed outside the house under the tents instead. Why? I’m not too sure either.

I’ve come to know that the position of the casket has to be a certain way as well. The casket has to be placed where the foot faces the door and an altar set up in front of the foot. So once you enter the house, you’ll see the altar with the casket directly behind. On the altar, it’d be the usual joss sticks, candles and food offerings set up with flowers and a large photo of my grandmother. Her casket was open but had a glass covering over so you could see her. There was large prayer paper opened up on top of the glass covering from her neck below, an umbrella opened right under the casket cover at the head and a tiny recorder with a prayer chant on repeat. All these I supposed is to protect her from any evil. However this umbrella does have a story behind it, it is said to also protect against any cat, particularly a black coloured cat, from jumping over the casket. Myth has it that if a black cat jumps over a casket, the deceased body will come alive. Well, now…

In the front porch, there was another altar set up for the Gods. Now, the Taoist and Buddhist culture here is pretty similar. So I think this set up is very much like the Buddhist custom. There was a large banner with what I’m assuming is three Buddha’s (if I’m not mistaken, there are three but the specific are unclear to me) and two Goddesses at the end which looks very much like Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) to me. On the table there were about 7-8 more Gods I’m unsure of. This altar was mainly handle by the priests conducting the prayer sessions.

Now that I’ve described the scene, onto what happened. The ones who actively took part in the prayer sessions were the immediate family; sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and grandchildren (me). We all wore the same white tshirt and black pants but were given a small patch of cloth and cloth belt of different colour according to our rank to identify us. We were all also given a prayer charm to attach to the front of the tshirt in order to protect us from any supernatural harm.

On this note, this whole wake process is actually communicating with the underworld and for us family members to help guide my grandmother through the process so she doesn’t have to be alone. So a lot of the things we do is to protect both us living family and my grandmother from any lurking souls or underworld soldiers that may also be present. Chinese believes that after death, you will, to put it plainly “go to hell” where you will be judged upon of any wrongdoings during your life. So this wake is basically “opening up the underworld”, guiding my grandmother with the help of priests, bringing her to Justice Pao where he will decide her afterlife fate. So if you have led a good and honest life, you will be sent to heaven among Buddha, Kuan Yin and the rest. Earlier I said that this process is contradicting, because while we believe good souls go to heaven, there is also the part where we honour our ancestors every year during Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day and we burn paper and food offerings including money, gold, houses and cars. Ultimately these items are sent to hell (if you notice, the money currency burned are usually marked ‘hell bank’). So here’s where I’m very confused, if every year we burn items to hell for our ancestors to aid them in the afterlife, does that mean they’re constantly in hell? Including all those who have been truly good and sent to heaven? What about reincarnation? Because we also believe that. There’s even a prayer session for that later on. So if the soul is reincarnated, how is the soul supposedly still in heaven or hell?
please know that I mean no disrespect to anyone, I genuinely want to understand

Back to the wake, there were about five prayer sessions with each lasting about half hour to an hour on the first night starting in the late evening after we had an early dinner. The entire three days were conducted mainly in Hakka so I was pretty clueless as my Hakka knowledge was zero. I merely followed what everyone else was doing or asked the others. Luckily, the Hakka language was sounded very much like Cantonese where I’m better at so I understood simple basic instructions by the priest. There were four Taoist priest or more commonly known as Nam moh lou, each taking turns for each session. Most of the sessions were us either kneeling or sitting down on the front porch facing the Gods, each holding one joss stick while the Taoist priest led the chant out loud. Whenever he bowed, we followed, which was almost every five minutes. Sometimes we were required to bow three times consecutively, usually at the starting and ending of the session or a pinnacle point of the chant as a mark of respect. Another time is whenever we asked for something that required a yes/no answer from the Gods or any spirits. Usually a jiaobei is used but the one that the priest used were in a form of four bells. Basically, after the question/permission is asked, it will be dropped on the floor. If one half is facing up and the other down, the answer is yes. If both halves are facing up or both down, answer is no.

So that was about two to three session, what it means I cannot help you there because I did not understand the specifics. However, one particularly interesting session was one that mourned the loss of a life by crying. I sat down with a joss stick in hand facing another simple altar setup with a wooden plaque of what I suppose is my grandmother’s name on it representing her. The Taoist priest starting chanting, and I must say it’s rather pleasant to listen to as it was a very melodic tune to all of them. Then about 10 minutes in, I started to hear his voice break down as if he was crying and singing. I’m not even kidding, this guy was so convincing that I started to tear up despite not understanding about 90% of what he was saying. He was standing right next to the group on us sitting down and since I was seated in the front half, I sneaked a turn around to look at him. Now, with that crying and mourning voice, I half expected him to have a tear in his eyes, but nope, he looked exactly the same as before. My, my, this guy has got some talent.

Then there was a session where we had to stand in a line and one by one walk up to the set up altar, pick up a coin and place it into a bowl then pluck off a leaf from this huge branch and throw it into a box. Then repeat it again and again as we walk around in a circle. Barefooted. Not that I’m a princess and don’t want to get my feet dirty, I have no problems going barefooted. The only thing that was painful is that the altar was set right outside the house on the tar road where little pieces of jagged edged stones are scattered. Well, foot massage it is 😛

The second night of the wake started with a naming prayer session that I think was the most amusing one yet. There were those paper prayer paraphernalia such as a house, car, servants, driver and others that I couldn’t make out. The priest started chanting in front of the house and servants, as he described and talked about the house, he touched each aspect of the house with a red inked paint brush. In a way, it looked as if he were “activating” them to be sent to my grandmother. Then onto the paper servant and driver, he asked us what would their names be and their wages. It was kinda funny for the wage part, because after the elders agreed on an amount the priest would ask if they (paper servant & driver) agreed by using the bells that I mentioned earlier. The first amount was rejected and only had an agreement when it was increased 😛 The same process was done for the car as well.

Earlier in the afternoon, the priest had set aside some large space filled with sand. Then they started to sculpt it into two dragons coming towards a circle platform. It was pretty darn cool, I must admit. I’m not sure if the circle platform represented heaven’s gates or hell’s gates as there was a small arch doorway stuck in front of the dragons. About a dozen eggs with a Chinese character written on it each was placed around the platform and one egg in front of each dragon’s mouth. Then about almost 200 coins were scattered all over the platform and dragons.

Later that evening, the priest led a prayer session where he walked around it while chanting with the lot of us following behind one by one. I think we must have circled the sand sculpture for about half an hour. Then they had us sit down in front of the platform but at a distance. Two priest then started performing a really cool dance/fight scene. It wasn’t anything violent, more of a reenactment of a tame fight between some forces? I’m not sure but I was in awe. There was even fire breathing as well, okay, more like spitting oil into a bonfire. I’m sure there’s a story in there. Then it ended with one priest breaking the eggs in front of the dragons. They were raw eggs. After that, we were told to collect the coins, which we were to keep for good luck.

Another session involved a certain popular figure in the Chinese history. One of the priest portrayed Justice Pao who is a famous judge, whereby in this situation he’d take into account all the good or bad deeds in your life and then decide your fate in the afterlife, whether you go to heaven or hell. So in this reenactment, there were two bridges in front of Justice Pao (made of paper with the support of tables and chairs, very creative tbh), the golden bridge and the silver bridge. No idea what it meant but one of the elders held a wooden plaque representing my grandmother and guided it over the golden bridge towards Justice Pao where he would pretend to flip through a book as if he was looking for her name and read/chant as he decided, then another elder held and guided her back down the silver bridge. This happened about five more times. Apparently I later found out that this session is to also “wipe her memories of this life” as she crossed the bridges so as to move on to her next life and be reincarnated. During this bridge crossing, the priest asked us to shout out and persuade her to cross the bridge. You know, for the dramatic flair, because usually if you know you’re gonna lose your memories you wouldn’t want to cross that bridge. So we as family had to persuade her to go and move on.
Back to my point earlier, here you have reincarnation. Then there’s the whole going to heaven or hell based on the deeds of your life by Justice Pao. So I guess if you have to pay for deeds by going to hell, no reincarnation? Then if you go to heaven because you’ve done good while living, do you stay in heaven or be reincarnated to a better next life? Hmm…

Then it was the burning of the paper prayer paraphernalia. Since there was a huge field in front of the house, we used it for the burning. While we stood around in a circle, they set up the house, car, servant, driver, boxes of other paper personal items and the numerous bags of paper gold ingots. Then came my grandmother’s actual items such as her clothing, shoes, bags and a couple of her personal belonging. To be honest, I started tearing when I saw her clothes. For the first time since the whole wake started, it dawned upon me that she wasn’t here anymore. Seeing her clothes made me think of all the times she babysat me as a kid, cooked me meals and her constant reminders to drink more water :’) Then they lit all of that on fire as the priests chanted. With the amount of things in the pile, the fire grew so huge it had to be about two storeys high. But of course, it didn’t go out of hand. After awhile, everything burned and the fire died down and we went back inside.

On the third day, we started in the late morning. The priest told us that this would be our last chance to see my grandmother as they would be closing the coffin. As for the closing and transporting the coffin outside the house, we all were not allowed to see it happen. So we were told to wait outside under the tents facing the opposite direction. I was told that we weren’t allowed to see because it had to do with dealing with underworld-y forces and us living people may not be able to handle if there were any lurking spirits. So if we weren’t strong enough in terms of our chi or if our yin and yang wasn’t balanced, we could be very vulnerable. Now, I haven’t fact checked this superstition but you know, better be safe than sorry since it’s just a simple act of not looking.

A band was set up and playing some really sad songs, didn’t help with the tears 😦 After they moved the coffin outside, another altar set-up was in front with food and fruits offerings. Again, we could not have any shoes on but was provided with white socks. They had us standing in a single line by family ranking and the chanting started. Then the priest passed the first person two paint brushes, one in each hand. We had to pass both brushes over our shoulders to the person behind while saying something in Hakka. No clue what that was.

Then in that single line, we walked around the coffin while the priest chanted. On each side of the coffin, there was a bucket of water and we were handed a stack of prayer papers. As we approach one side of the coffin, we dipped one piece of prayer paper into the water and swipe it along the side of the coffin, sort of like blessing the coffin. The same thing happened on the other side of the coffin as we walked around and around. This was a sad session as the priest was cry-mourn-chanting like on the first night. Every other 5 minutes, the priest would stop walking, and kneel down as if he was breaking down and also as a sign of respect, so we all followed and went on our knees with our heads bowed. This lasted for about half and hour.

Next, all of us immediate family stood behind the altar next to the coffin while the rest of the relatives and friends had their chance to pay their last respects. So every time someone pay their respects toy grandmother, we’d bow in respect to them back as a sign of appreciation. A very courteous affair.

When it was time to load the coffin into the hearse, again we weren’t allowed to see so we were asked to look away. While the funeral parlour people set up everything else for transport, the priest with two family members went around the house to take down all the covers over the God’s altars as if we were inviting them back into the house as we were done with the ceremony at the house. Then we started the funeral procession. It was a 20 minute walk behind the hearse from the front of the house to the main road where a bus was parked. The band also followed in a car blasting sad-ish songs very loudly in the neighbourhood in the early afternoon. Once we reached the bus, we all got into it as the memorial park was about an hour’s drive away.

At the memorial park, the coffin was lowered into the ground that had been already dug. Apparently the whole not allowed to look applied as well when the coffin was lowered but it was done as we stopped by the main building where we rested for a bit. An altar was set up in front of the grave where we placed our joss stick at as a mark of respect. Then the elders were asked to check if the coffin was aligned. Not sure the significance of that but that would be the last chance to align as no more adjustments would be done after that.

The priest begun the last prayer session and chanted. After that, we were each handed a small packet of uncooked rice and asked to look down and hold out the front of our t-shirts to collect as the priest threw loose rice grains over us. The rice collected in our shirts combined with the packet of rive was to be brought home and mixed in with our own rice to eat. Apparently, it’s for good luck. So imagine me who has no idea what was going on, following everyone else holding out their t-shirts and looking down then suddenly hit with what felt like stones hitting my head and neck 😛

Finally, we went up to the front of the altar one by one where there was a bucket of sand at the side, grabbed a handful of sand, threw into the grave on the coffin and walked away. We were also warned not to clap or wipe our hands over the coffin after throwing the sand because it was human instinct to instantly get rid of the remaining sand stuck to our hands. That would be disrespectful.

Aaaand that’s it. We could take off the socks and wear our shoes, change out of our three day old set of clothes and into a fresh set. Not sure why, but we had to wear something red. I guess it’s a sign of the end of the mourning period, but red though? Kinda odd, there we were about 15 of us wearing red together in a group. It honestly looked like it was Chinese New Year in the middle of the year hahaha. We finished late afternoon and we had one final dinner hosted by us immediate family for those who attended the funeral as a sign of appreciation for being there.

Well, there we have it, a Malaysian Hakka/Taoist wake and funeral. Super elaborate (don’t even get me started on the cost of all these) and definitely an eye opener for me towards my culture.
Should there be any mistakes or wrong assumptions I have made, please do correct me. If you know the reason/story behind any of the sessions I mentioned, I would definitely like to know more.
So yeah, this was my weekend. Hope this post was somewhat informative.

The First Loss

This weekend was going to be great. No, it was going to be epic. I was to be packing my stuff right now and heading off to another state for a 3 day camp tomorrow morning with 40 people whom I had the pleasure of calling my friends. They are the reason my university life was so bright and colourful. This camp was to be my final event I would be participating in this club. And as the recently retired President, this would’ve been an amazing closure to this phase of my life. Like a swan song to my position in this club.

But now, I’m sitting here in my room with nothing packed. Today, I had just received news of the passing of my grandmother.

I have been lucky enough to have known all four of my grandparents for 21 years of my life. I used to think that was normal, that everyone has grandparents to visit every now and then especially during the festive seasons. Slowly as I grew older I realised that a lot of my friends lost their grandparents at a young age, some didn’t even get to meet them.

So for 21 years, I got to hang out with my grandparents almost every other month and even every week for the maternal side. I’m not as close to them as you would think because of the language barrier. They’d only speak mostly Cantonese and Mandarin while I get by with the basics of saying hello, asking if they’ve had their meals, asking how they were and answering any usual questions they had for me. But close enough to have known them and their personality.

Today, my paternal grandmother left us. She is the first close family member I’ve ever lost. For the past 21 years, I’ve never had to go through this. I don’t even think I’ve ever attended a funeral of someone I knew personally. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for that. However, I really don’t know what to do, what to feel or what to say.

Feelings right now? Yes, I am sad. The moment I got the news I cried. But it wasn’t like it was a shock to us. We knew her health has been declining. In fact, over two weeks ago she was admitted into the emergency ward and was really weak. She managed to pull through and recover enough to be discharged. Then two days ago, she had difficulty breathing and was again admitted. This time the doctor had told us that she would not be able to make it. The first time she was in the hospital, I had already gone through all those emotions and braced myself for anything. So this time, I guess this time I’m less emotional.

To top all these bad news, I just fell ill with the flu. So any sort of crying will invoke a massive headache and a blubbery mess. For the past week I was so excited for this camp. If it were anything like last year (which it would be because most of them are the same people) it would be filled three days worth of fun, laughter, jokes and memories. Well, if the universe doesn’t want me to have fun with these people, I hope there’s something better in the future.

Nene, May you rest in peace. I hope you’re in a much better place. I love you.

How Pretending to Know Stuff Can Actually Work

How do you actually convince people that you actually know stuff and that yours is the best?
Confidence.

Time and time again, I can honestly say that I have pretended my way through a lot of things that people now praise me for. Deep down, only I know that I actually know the mere basics of a person who Google-d the crap out of that subject the night before.

The reason why this topic surfaced now when I’ve had this topic in my head for quite some time now is because of a recent assignment & presentation I had to do in class about 2 weeks back.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am pursuing my degree in Actuarial Science and this subject requires a team effort to design an insurance/takaful product that will rival those already available here in Malaysia.

Now, every other group chose insurance with some pretty interesting content (unemployment, flood, health insurances) & very convincing prices, but were pretty complicated to understand in terms of their structure and benefits.

Our group decided to go takaful, and there aren’t many microtakafuls here either. So we did just that. A very straightforward personal accident plan like microtakaful. If you don’t know what takaful/microtakaful is, it’s just like an ordinary insurance plan that adheres to the Islamic Shariah law in terms of its monetary structure.

So we presented our plan, where in my group of 5 members, 4 of us had a strong English command. I don’t mean to boast, but I’d say that in this class of 40 people, my English is probably in the top 5. So I Google-d my way into understanding our product and presented it in a way where I looked like a know-it-all asshole *hah* and at the end of all the presentations, my lecturer asked the class who’s product would you choose to purchase of all, and about 4/5 of the responses mentioned our product including the lecturer herself.

I gotta say, I’m actually quite proud. Despite our content not being the best of the rest, all we did was to keep it simple and present the sh*t out of it and got away being at the top.

And this isn’t the first time either.

My conclusion is, be confident and believe in your own idea. Convince yourself before you convince others, because how do you expect other people to purchase something you’re not willing to pay for.

It also helps to be good at the language that is professionally dominant in your area. Like in my situation, the workplace environment here requires  English as the official documentation & communication but most of the time, Chinese and Malay is used when talking to coworkers. So much that my strength in the English language & weakness in the Chinese language deters those who are weak in English to even ask/talk to me. Which sucks because I’m perfectly alright if your command in English is weak. I mean, have you heard me in Mandarin? You’d have a hard time keeping your laugh down.

Perception

About two weeks ago, I made a spontaneous (but planned a long time ago) decision to chop off a large portion of my hair.

Most of my life I’ve had long hair, how I define long hair would be; if you can tie it up in a ponytail, it’s long hair. So I’ve always had long hair since i could remember, of course there’s the occasional trim every half yearly but it usually would grow faster than I’d like it  to. The reason why I kept long hair, although I’ve always preferred short hair was because of my mother. Whenever I’d go for my half yearly haircuts, I’d try my hand at asking if I could chop off to a shorter do and somehow she’d weasel her idea of me having long hair in. I, not wanting to piss my mom off for the day, gave in. So for more than 10 years, I pretty much look the same with the same hairstyle, varying just a little bit.

Now when I’ve finally gone from this,

IMG-20150827-WA0030  to this  2016-01-19 18.17.13-2,

I find that I have two very distinctive opinions from two different parts of my life.

The two opinions are of course a yay and a nay.
The two sides are; my friends and family.

Meeting my friends here and there for two weeks and I get comments that short hair suits me and my personality better than long hair. Of course, there’s the occasional “Wow, how are you so willing to cut off all that hair?!”. Well, I’m that person who believes that hair WILL grow back fast when you’re still young (if you do not have any conditions that prevent hair growth). So I’m not scared about losing my hair entirely even if I shaved my head bald. In fact, that’d be kind of a thrill to do actually 😛

Meeting my family, however, I get some “yay-ish” comments but mainly mumbled comments that pretty much says they’d preferred me in long hair. I even had one aunt exclaiming on my social media asking me WHYYYY I cut off my long hair.

My point is, I feel like my family still has the perception that since I am a girl, I must have long hair. They even mentioned once that short hair on girls just looks like a tomboy and will be able to find a boyfriend/husband in the future. *sighhh* They can really be such a traditional-ist when it comes to marriage, relationships, asthetics; although I know that they are pretty modern when it comes to everything else in the world. In a way, they refuse to accept that I’m not a girly-girl. My family relentlessly tries to make me wear a skirt or dress although I have told them every time that I prefer not to wear them. I have nothing against skirts and dresses, it’s just not my style. But to them, they don’t care what’s my style, they just want me to wear something girly.

On the other hand, people outside of my family circle know that I’m the type of person who id not a girly-girl but not exactly tomboy either, I’m sort of in between here and there. I mean, that’s my personality and character and I guess that’s why they agree with me having a shorter hairdo. Seems like my friends are the ones who know the true me, or my friends are the ones who accept the true me.

All in all though, I know my family is still my family. I’ll just have to put on a thick face, nod and ignore when necessary, and still be myself.

A Letter To The Girl I Can’t Bring Myself To Confess To

First off, I would respect your decision should you not have any interest in the same gender. I’d understand that you may be a straight heterosexual female but I can’t not try.

We’ve only known each other for just over half a year and really, I just cannot seem to help but wonder if there could be more for us. We met purely for future project coworkers purposes and now we’re pretty good friends. Over the course of working with you, I can’t help but like you even more. There’s just something about the way you talk, the way you can handle your work and be as cheerful as you are. Just pretty much, the way you are.

What I want to do may jeopardise this friendship we have. If I were to confess what I feel for you and you do not feel even the slightest bit the same, I could lose you entirely. Gosh, the thought of you avoiding me isn’t a pleasant one.

To be frank, I do not know how to even begin to approach this subject with you. In fact, I don’t even know how to approach any girl for anything more than friends in this place. Despite all the LGBT support there are in the world right now, there just isn’t much in this country. I know there are still plenty of traditional minded and anti-homosexual people here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed of who I am but I am just not ready to receive the brunt force and stereotypical criticisms just yet. But you know what, if I were with you, I’d do it. If you were by my side, I think I would be willing to fully come out of the closet to people that matter in my life.

Thus, the reason the why I decided to write this down. I feel the need to put these thoughts somewhere. I am perfectly aware that you may never ever see this but that’s okay. Sometimes writing stuff down helps, so that’s what I will do for now.

New Year, New Perspective

Aaaaand another year arrives.

Happy New Year!

I have to say, I’ve got a good feeling about this coming year. I think it’s gonna be a good, albeit tough, year. 2016 will be the year I’m going to graduate from university and be an unemployed person until I get a job! Then probably get a job, and not like the work like I’ve only done before. I’m gonna be a permanent employee like and not just an intern. Man, the intern life was pretty fun. You get to do less work, people don’t assume you know everything and actually teach you stuff, people are surprised when you do actually know things and then you get paid (very little).

But then again, I kinda want to get away for a month or two on a holiday. It’s been about four years since I last had a holiday more than 2 weeks. I’d really want to go on a getaway either on my own or with a friend.

2016 will also be the year I’m gonna fully embrace myself as who I am. The past year, I spent it coming to terms with being bisexual, figuring things out and trying to see where I would go with this. I spent a lot of time thinking of what it would be like being an openly bisexual person in this country (Malaysia) because the LGBT community isn’t very strong here. Yes, gay marriage became legal in the US and it sparked conversations over here but I’m sure there are PLENTY of traditional and close-minded people here. That kinda barriers me from coming out of the closet. I know I shouldn’t care about what others think of me and that I should just be who I am but I’m not ready to be openly critised because of my sexuality just yet. I know I will be one day, but today’s not that day.

A lot of my coming to terms with who I am is because of the many LGBT YouTubers I’ve come to discover. If you are a person struggling with coming to terms with your sexuality and coming out of the closet, I’d recommend watching the various YouTube videos about LGBT topics by the LGBT community. I really have to thank Hannah Hart (myharto), Stephanie Frosch (ellosteph), Arielle Scarcella (Arielle Scarcella), Rose and Rosie (RoseEllenDix and TheRoxetera) as well as many other YouTubers who address LGBT topics and make it okay to be who I am. In their own creative, funny and real life situations, I can relate so much to how I feel on the inside and have them answer and reassure me that I am alright and not alone.

In 2016, I’m going to be a better version of myself.
Now, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.
I believe in Resolutions.
If I want to start to do something differently, I’d do it. I’ll probably do it the next day but I won’t wait until it is the 1st of January of the next year. I believe that resolutions, targets, goals and ambitions should be done at any time of the year.

Let’s be real, New Year’s resolutions are just never gonna get completed unless it is your true passion. If your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier/lose weight/go on a diet, you’re probably gonna completely forget about it by the next week unless you already have been doing this all this while.

Nonetheless, I hope you do achieve your resolutions by December 31st, 2016. If not, there’s always next year 😉