Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dealing with grief has 5 or 6 stages, according to an article i read. there's: shock (some pieces omit this), denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. somehow i feel that this doesn't necessarily apply exclusively to grief, but to negative events in general that are sufficiently upsetting. or maybe that's not entirely accurate too. perhaps it applies to different forms of grief. the most common scenario in which i've seen this being used is to cope with the passing of a loved one. thankfully, my scenario is only coping with the death of a relationship. but anyway. i'd thought that i had went through all the stages and accepted it already, until i felt an inexplicable surge of anger on wednesday. that's what also prompted me to read up on the stages, by the way. the article i read said that anger can occur at any time of the grieving process, which probably means that i'm not as over it as i'd thought?

so, i thought i'd do a bit more of an in-depth analysis...going through the stages, understanding where i stand, and perhaps why the anger is/was still there. it's probably a good thing that (i think) i skipped a few stages, or went through most of them as the relationship was still dying. i don't think there was much/any shock, perhaps only when the ex told me that they still couldn't love me after 22 months. denial mostly manifested in the thought that if i held on just a bit longer and focused on happy moments, something would change and the relationship wouldn't end. the thought process was similar for bargaining, in that i thought that if i improved my physical appearance by a certain time, the ex would be more willing to be intimate, and that would somehow save the relationship. i wouldn't really say that i went through depression, more like sadness that we were heading towards a breakup despite my efforts to be patient and accommodating. as for acceptance, i had accepted within myself that a breakup was the best way forward, and that there would be no turning back. have to thank scary JC friend for that, because she told me that she would only initiate a breakup if she really meant it, and not use it as a power play or for mind games. i think that's a great mentality to adopt.

which leaves anger. i guess i'm angry because the ex had been rather inconsistent throughout the relationship, in the sense that there are double standards. for instance, the ex said that they couldn't love me because i wasn't kind enough and that they didn't feel secure with me. and yet, they loved their first ex despite being cheated on, lied to, and generally being treated badly. bear in mind that the ex's definition of love is "i'd die for you". i'm not expecting them to die for me, but the fact that they'd rather die for someone who treated them like that, as opposed to me, is rather...difficult to swallow. i guess you could say i'm angry because i feel that it's unfair to me. and during our breakup conversation, the ex did mention that they could have looked past the physical aspect if only i had been kinder. i highly doubt that. thing is, that never came up as a reason for not wanting intimacy. the main factor that had been brought up from the start was my lack of a nice body. so i'm taking that with a pillar of salt. of course, that may have been said to leave a better impression of them in my mind, but i won't question their motives too far. it's way too late for that now, anyway. to bring that back to anger, perhaps i'm angry that i was being taken for a fool, or that even up to the point of breaking up, the ex still didn't give a reason which i personally found satisfactory. but well, as one of my friends (whose ex broke up with him over his temper) said, if they want to break up with you, anything you do will be perceived as wrong. so there's that. and i suppose a part of it had to do with lack of reciprocation. major example here being the valentine's day conversation. i realize i haven't blogged about it, so i'll give a quick summary. after our valentine's dinner this year, i half-jokingly suggested to the ex that since i had been the one planning valentine's days for the past 2 years, it would be their turn next year. their first response was "then i'll disappear that day", and there was no follow-up "i'm joking!" or anything like that. i don't know if i'm being sensitive, but seriously, that made me feel rather lousy. even "but it makes me feel special and loved when you do things like that" would have been better, and i likely would have agreed to continue doing it. maybe this might put into perspective why i felt that the ex was taking excessively without giving much in return. and no, throwing money for expensive gifts doesn't count for much in my book. i'd rather have something cheap and hand-made than any of the high-end portable consoles. the former shows more effort, i think.

regarding that bit about unfairness, i came across this in the past week by sheer coincidence. it's a quote by captain picard (played by patrick stewart, whom i first knew for his portrayal of professor x) from star trek: the next generation. it goes "it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. that is not a weakness, that is life". and speaking of signs, it seems the universe at large has been pushing me in the direction of moving forward. for instance, the wifi in school died last weekend. i thought my computer was giving up on me, so i changed my password (which used to contain the ex's number). that kind of spurred me on to remove more remnants of our relationship. my friend gave us a couple's gift once...matching black rubber wristbands with the batman logo and "partners in crime" written on them. i have no idea what the ex did with theirs, but i hung mine on the gear stick in the car. i replaced it with another wristband that i got some time ago from an event. i'm also thinking of selling the 2DS, PS vita, and maybe the 3DS. i've also deleted our chat, changed my phone wallpaper, and deleted my grabhitch routes to and from their place. you may call these actions minor or even petty, but i think they have helped to some extent. have to change my desktop password next; i keep forgetting.

i guess that helped to sort out my emotions a little better. at least i somewhat understand the reasons for how i've been feeling this past week. to not cause anyone to worry excessively, most days have been good, really. just that the odd bad day will catch me unawares. thankfully, my chemistry friends are (and have been) here for me, so i have people to fall back on if it gets too daunting to solo it.

on the topic of potential relationships, i had dinner with someone last sunday, and we had fairly enjoyable conversation. that is, until they brought politics in. this person is a hardcore supporter of the ruling party. nothing wrong with that. thing is, they were trying to evangelize and "convert" me. not the right thing to do on our first one-on-one meeting and third meeting overall, if you ask me. if we were to date, we could probably work past the difference of opinion. but the more i interact with this person, the more i think we'd be a poor fit. for instance, this person is really into shopping and buying branded stuff. while i'm not dead-set against it, it suggests to me that this person is rather superficial. and more recently, i've noticed that this person likes to take pictures of good-looking guys and worse, set such photos as their profile picture on line (the app). by "take photos of", i don't mean like approaching them and asking "hey can i have a picture with you?", but more like those stalker-type sneaky shots. it's quite disgusting, now that i really think about it. shows lack of consideration for the subject. what's worse is that this person is extremely adverse to having their photo taken, so where's the whole "do unto others" thing? too bad, i found them quite attractive. but as you know, good looks don't make up for questionable character.

that should do it for this post. i should really blog about more positive stuff, huh? having such depressing stuff can't be good for my readership. thankfully i don't make money from this. anyway, i'm just going to check on my reaction and head home. hopefully my synthesis works.

-random thought of the day: Better to be single and happy than partnered and miserable.-

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Almost 48 hours after the breakup, i'm doing ok. more or less anyway, given the circumstances. one noticeable change is that over the past 2 days, i've been more sensitive than usual to feelings and emotions, those of sadness in particular. like, i was watching random recommended youtube clips, and there was one of naruto (the anime character) meeting his parents. not going to sidetrack too much, but if you don't know why this is a sad moment, it's because his parents sacrificed their lives to protect him when he was a baby, and he grew up alone and ostracized, only meeting them (well, energy forms of them) when he was 16. the manga's been out for so long that i think this hardly qualifies as a spoiler. but anyway, that video brought forth a fresh flow of tears, to the point where my nose got temporarily blocked up. guess it's the after-effects of what happened.

one of my friends told me that he deals with breakups by immersing himself in work. so whenever his productivity suddenly skyrockets, his colleagues know what happened. i'm considering that; it might not be a bad thing since that i have to get the compound out ASAP. actually, i needed to get the compound out like, 3 months ago, but we work with what time we have now. somehow, the reactions aren't as straightforward as they should be. i'm not getting any of my products! and that's a big big worry. hopefully i can make something in the remaining 18 days of september. if i can pull that off, there'll still be a chance for thesis submission by next january.

also been thinking about other aspects of moving forward, like potential new relationships. at this point, i'm not actively looking for one. i've been thinking that i should have some me-time and learn to adapt back to being single. there are a few people in my social circles whom i find attractive, though i can't determine if the feeling is mutual. if the opportunity for a relationship presents itself, i wouldn't be hasty in either accepting or dismissing the possibility. it will require a fair bit of evaluation, especially since the wounds are still rather raw now. the one guiding principle above all is to treat the other person fairly, meaning that it shouldn't be a rebound relationship, and i shouldn't think of the next person as a replacement for the ex.

by now, i think most of the people important to me know about what happened. their reactions have ranged all the way from emphatic ("i know how you feel"), joyful ("congratulations/well done!"), supportive ("let's have dinner soon"), _______ (fill in an adjective that describes "i can only imagine how you must feel"), to concern (how're you doing?"). chemical engineer cousin also reminded me not to dwell on it too much, and not ruminate excessively over the whole situation. no doubt i will inevitably think about it once in a while, but i won't let it consume me.

you can probably see that my support network has been truly amazing in catching me at these low moments. it's easy to forget that they exist when things go well, and only turn to them in times of need. i hope i'm not such a person. and of course, i owe them my thanks, and more. interestingly, one mentor figure said that i might be too concerned about others and not about myself, hence my ability to wait so long for the ex. i wonder if that means i have to be more selfish. well, maybe not selfish per se, but maybe i have to consider my own interests and needs more in future relationships. good learning point too.

still haven't written the letter to the ex. don't dare to. not sure if i want to while everything is so fresh. but it will have to happen, sooner or later. maybe just before or after bali.

-random thought of the day: Please let my reactions work!-

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Starting with the condensed version of this post: i'm single again, (some) tears were shed. if that already sounds too depressing, don't read any further.

it's been almost a week since the last post. and considering the week before that when we already weren't really talking that much, i had about 2 weeks to prepare for it. things started off rather normally...dinner at tanjong pagar, short trip to JEM, then back to the partner's place, where i sat them down at the void deck for a (the) talk. i began by asking them how they defined love. and the answer was they would be willing to die for a person that they loved. clearly, i'm not at the to-die-for stage (pun intended). so that's fine. next question was, what was preventing me from reaching that stage? answer - i'm not kind enough. seems like the partner expects someone to be at least 10 times more patient and understanding towards strangers than i am. and unfortunately, that's just not my character. apparently, the partner said that if i was kinder, that would supersede the physical aspect. well...who knows. i'm not going to get caught up in debating too much about would-haves and could-haves, nor will i read too deep into whatever the partner said now. after all, it's too late already.

we shared some honest conversation, and the partner told me that i made them feel special, accepted them for who they are, and went above and beyond a normal boyfriend's "job scope" in doing romantic gestures. and despite all of that, no love. i was reminded of the nokia CEO's famous statement, "we did everything right, and we still lost" (paraphrased). granted, i don't think i did EVERYTHING right...i'd rate myself at about 70% for rightness. but as i told the partner, i'm not attempting to assign blame or credit. the partner also told me that they thought love was a feeling, like one day they were expecting to wake up and go, "oh, i love him now". my opinion kind of differs. yes, there has to be some feeling for love to occur, but a large part of it is also choice. like how you can choose to suppress your love for a person and never tell them (quite unhealthy, by the way), choose to love them even when there's conflict, and as i've recently experienced, choose to love them despite them not loving you. the partner did apologize, for being selfish, among some other things as well. i didn't quite know what to apologize for. i guess for not being the partner's ideal boyfriend, and for my lack of patience relative to them.

i also told the partner that i treasured our time together, and that's the 100% truth. while i think it was a learning experience, another part of me wishes that i could have learned the lesson sooner. but hey, better late than never, right? the relationship was good for me too, and i told the partner as much. being with them did help me to mellow out a fair bit, and to their credit, the partner was very patient with me and my flaws. i guess towards the end, i did get tired of being reminded of these flaws, although the intention was good. the partner's advice to me was to keep on doing what i was doing (romantic gestures like writing letters, cooking, etc.) when dating someone else. personally, i never felt that it was anything extraordinary, and that it was just something i'd do for my date/partner. on my part, i told the partner that although their intentions were good in getting gifts and whatnot, perhaps next time check with their future date/boyfriend. for instance, i have a PS vita. 2DS, and 3DSXL which are more or less gathering dust. the partner did give me permission to sell them, though i think i might keep one.

while we were being completely honest, i also told the partner that i had two main regrets after all the dust settled. first regret, that this went on longer than it should have. in retrospect, i shouldn't have agreed to take the relationship to the next level in june. ending it there might have saved me a significant amount of negative feelings. or maybe i should have ended it even earlier. admittedly, i have friends who told me to end it as early as a month into dating (based on the previous rejection). again, i suppose i had to learn the hard way, otherwise i'd always feel a worse kind of regret, that of wondering if i could have tried harder. the second regret is a bit more selfish in nature, and it's that i wish we could have been intimate, at least once during our dating or relationship. again, not full-on sex, but more than kissing. you fill in the blanks yourselves.

somehow, i think the partner was prepared for this outcome too. they said that they'd been thinking a lot about something i said - that tolerance isn't acceptance. and i guess they finally acknowledged that they'd just been tolerating me and hoping that i'd change to suit their expectations. and i also guess that they didn't want to waste any more of our time(s?). i still find it baffling how the partner can love their (first) ex, but not me, despite me treating them better and being faithful and all that. no point thinking along those lines, right? i know. so i guess we both knew where the relationship was headed. and i just had to be brave enough to initiate it.

most interestingly, the partner thought it was sweet of me when i told them that i had planned to text the mother tomorrow, to inform her about the split as well as to thank her for looking out for me and accepting me into the family (kind of). as fate would have it, she was still awake when we went up (unusual), so i got to tell her in person. surprisingly, i had kept it together pretty well up till that point, but tears fell when she hugged me and wished me the best. i can't explain why, either. i then beat a somewhat hasty retreat, and cried a little more in the car before driving off. thankfully i'm almost incapable of producing tears when i drive. fun trivia: i've owned a car for longer than the relationship lasted. i'm still choking up occasionally as i'm typing now, but i understand that it's normal.

all things considered, the silver lining was that it was a pretty good experience for a first breakup. well...as good as breakups get, anyway. no violence, no drama, no outbursts, no blame games. i should be lucky if all my future breakups (*touch wood*) went like this. bearing in mind chemical engineer cousin's advice of no bitterness, i'm grateful that both of us were able to approach it maturely and with no animosity. at this point, i think we can remain friends, and/or remain in each other's lives to some degree. i told the partner that it was the end of the road for us as a couple, but not a dead end as far as we were concerned. maybe that'll change when either of us starts seeing another person, but for now, that seems to be the understanding. i'm fine with it, more or less.

predominant emotions i'm feeling now are sadness and relief. sadness that nothing tangible came from my effort, yet relief that i don't have to fight the losing battle any more. again, i should be grateful that the breakup wasn't ugly. i was telling the partner, that maybe one year later, i might look back at this and laugh. not sure how my feelings will change in the next few days/weeks/months, but i do know that time heals all wounds. and no matter what, there will not be attempt #3 with this same person.

for fun, let's go through some numbers. dating attempt #2 lasted from 11 november 2015 to 10 september 2017. yes, tomorrow would have been our 22nd month anniversary. so we were together for 22 months. i thought the 22-month mark would be on the anniversary day itself, but it seems that like phone billing cycles, a month counts as the anniversary minus one day. as i deleted our chat from my phone (after making the necessary backups), i saw that our conversation had 38014 messages. i don't know when the chat history starts, since i've accidentally wiped out my chats before. assuming it's for the whole duration of the 22 months, that's about 1728 messages per month, or 58 messages a day on average. assuming we met an average of 1.5 times a week, that's 6 dates a month, 132 dates in all. i don't even know how to begin calculating the distance i've driven for the relationship. i'd say probably...5000km? we've celebrated 2 christmases, 2 new years, 2 CNYs, 2 of their birthdays, 2 valentine's days, 1 of my birthdays (though the partner had already bought tickets for the upcoming final fantasy concert as my advance birthday gift this year), 2 of the mother's birthdays, 3 staycations totalling 7 days and 4 nights. not sure what other figures i can come up with. if there's something you want to know, just comment and i'll give you my best calculation/guess.

well, i guess that as i prepare to wrap this post up, it's time for me to change the term of address. after this post (after this line, in fact), "the partner" will become "the ex", or i will only refer to them as a partner in the past tense. i guess that's another achievement in life unlocked - have an ex. the relationship was definitely a learning and growing experience, and it helped me find out more about myself, in terms of tolerance levels and my style of loving. as mentioned before, i'm resolved to not let this affect my future relationships negatively. if anything, it should show me what kind of person i'm more suited towards (or what kind of person is more suited for me). i think i'll follow up with a post in the form of a letter to the ex, but not tonight. being highly emotional fatigues me.

-random thought of the day: Should also thank my friends. More details in another post.-

Monday, September 04, 2017

Exactly how powerful is facebook's algorithm for targeted ads? don't know if it's sheer coincidence, or if something did indeed send this into my recommended articles:


you should be able to click on the image to go to the full article...at least that's what i intended. click here if it doesn't work. as you may have guessed, it's occupying my thoughts a fair bit, though the roles are reversed in my case. 20+ months is not a short time. it's almost an NSF's entire term of duty, the time given to JC teachers to prepare their kids for A-levels, and according to a website i found, it's about half as long as the korean war. if you ask me, it's also more than enough time for love to develop. is a person's loveability based on their appearance? i honestly don't think so. perhaps it's a side-effect of growing up not being the most attractive, but i tend not to let a person's looks influence my interactions with them. unless they have a face that deserves to meet a wall repeatedly (like the notorious "pharma bro"), but i don't think i've encountered more than 10 people like that in my life so far. and besides, the article states that once the lady realized that she still loved her boyfriend, her libido returned. so i guess that it's mind over matter?

until now, i am still puzzled as to why the partner is unable to feel love for me. i do things for them, sometimes even going out of my way to do so, i give in to them (on most things), i do things that are above and beyond the basics, so why is it so difficult to elicit an "i love you"? rediscovered this clip while browsing youtube. although the issue from which the conflict stems is different, it expresses my frustrations quite nicely.



i have been digging and digging to uncover the reason for that reluctance. perhaps the hurt from the previous relationship really was too deep. to be very selfish for a moment, i somehow feel that that isn't fair to me. relationships should be between two people who feel almost equally strongly for each other, right? i mean, it doesn't have to be right down the middle, but in this case, it feels like 80-20, which is sad. for full disclosure, although the partner told me that they didn't feel love for me, i managed to get "i am fond of you" out of them. it sounds so...superficial. i personally am fond of chocolate, driving, and sushi, to name a few things. i wouldn't even say that i am just "fond of" my car; i feel more strongly for it. so...i'm not quite sure how to take that. but then, one of my friends brought up a good point. he told me that maybe the partner and i had different definitions of love. for instance, i say "i love you" quite...not carelessly, exactly, but i'm a bit more liberal in the sense that i say it to my good friends. the level of emotional attachment i assign to that is like, i would go out of my way to help them in a crisis. like, bail them out of jail (not like it's happened yet). the partner may see love as something that entails a bigger commitment, say, abandoning everything and following me overseas if the need ever arose. so if i look at it like that, i guess i can sort of come to terms about them not loving me. to be fair, i have never said "i love you" to them too, only because i know how they'll react. i don't want a confession of love to be met with disgust or awkwardness, jokingly or not.

having had conversations with just about all the people whose opinions i value, i think i have arrived at a decision. if the partner cannot give me anything definite (in terms of time or actions that we can take other than to wait), or if i cannot accept the values for those parameters, then the logical thing to do would be to break up. i guess i've known this for a while, just that i've been afraid to face it. i came close in june, but the partner agreeing to progress past the dating stage gave me hope that things might work out. while i'm at it, let me just list all the breakup inhibitors that i've identified over the past few days.

obviously, there's fear...fear that i'll never find someone else. looking at it another way, it could also be fear of being single? it's not quite the same, i think. i'm ok with being single for now, but not ok with being single forever. then again, scary JC friend has always told me that it's better to be single and happy than partnered and miserable. while i'm not at the miserable stage yet, i do see what she means. it could also be fear that i'll never find someone like the partner again (though most of my friends might agree that that's actually a good thing instead). seriously though, perhaps it's part of my low-self confidence regarding my appearance, but i often wonder - who would accept someone that looks like me as a partner? it's weird, because if i look at it from a "friends" perspective, i wouldn't befriend anyone who only sees me for how i look, and not who i am. logically, shouldn't that apply all the more for potential partners? guess that's a hole in my logic that i have to fix.

a certain amount of pride/ego contributes to the reluctance to break up too. you see, i've always said that we can't choose our blood relations, but we can choose the people with whom we surround ourselves. if a relationship that i chose to be in doesn't work, that just means that i have poor character judgement. and perhaps me wanting to hold on to the relationship is just so that it appears that my choice wasn't that bad, and that i am a good judge of character after all. but you know, it's no point to keep up appearances. that's actually something i personally quite dislike, as my posts around the CNY period would reveal. so that's probably the worst reason to be holding on.

lastly, hope. it's the most powerful reason that's keeping me from walking away. so many times, i've thought to myself, 'maybe the partner will make a breakthrough soon'. but if there's been such slow progress over the past 20+ months, what are the odds that there will be a huge change in the next few weeks? there are 2 ways of looking at this. first is the optimistic/delusional/gambler's way. if there hasn't been a big change for so long, surely a big change is coming? compare that to: my 4D number has never shown up in the draw, surely it will win something this week? next is the more realistic perspective, and that's "if there hasn't been progress for so long, what makes me think that things will be any different anytime soon?"

right now, it seems that we are headed more or less for a breakup. i'm still reconciling myself with that, and i'm about 80% ok with the idea now. i would like to think that i'm not making a rash decision, and that i'm not giving up too easily. i shouldn't feel accountable to anyone else but myself, and perhaps to the partner, but to a lesser degree. perhaps the partner's right, in that we shouldn't use other peoples' standards to judge our relationship. but i'd say that external influence will always play a part. we learn everything from external influences, after all. although if i were to strictly follow my friends' timeframes, the relationship would have been over by this time last year. so, here's the plan: one more meetup to talk, and possibly reach common ground. i really don't want it to turn hostile, or to even think of it as a negotiation. don't know how successful i will be on either front, though.

suppose i should do a little preemptive planning. most likely scenario: breakup. worst-case scenario: ugly/hostile breakup. depending on how the talk goes, i guess we may be able to remain friends. although given how little we have in common, i'm not sure how big a role we will continue to have in each others' lives. ordinarily, i don't think our paths would have ever crossed, if not for that message i sent over two years ago. i do wonder what kind of an impression i will leave with the partner. that i'm decent boyfriend material, provided that one can get over my looks and temper? shouldn't really worry about that now, should i? one thing's for sure, though. there won't be a third try at a relationship after the next breakup. you know the old saying...once bitten, twice shy, third time you can go and die. so, amicable breakup or not, i'm very sure of that, at least. it seems like such a waste, though, to throw everything away because we disagree on a few things. then again, the disagreements happen to be over a few major things, with seemingly no acceptable resolution possible.

the partner has told me that they are over the ex, but that the experience with the ex had ruined their capability to/capacity for love. if anything, i will make sure that i only take away lessons from this experience, so that it won't be unfair to future people i meet/date. a song describes this kind of well...i've thought about it for a while now, maybe starting within the past year, but definitely within the past 6 months. this is the song.

O-Town - All or Nothing
I know when he's been on your mind
That distant look is in your eyes
I thought with time you'd realize
It's over, over

It's not the way I choose to live
And something somewhere's got to give
As sharing this relationship gets older, older

You know I'd fight for you
But how I can fight someone who isn't even there
I've had the rest of you now I want the best of you
I don't care if that's not fair

'Cause I want it all
Or nothing at all
There's no where left to fall
When you reach the bottom it's now or never

Is it all, or are we just friends
Is this how it ends
With a simple telephone call
You leave me here with nothing at all

There are times it seems to me
I'm sharing you with memories
I feel it in my heart
But I don't show it, show it

And then there's times you look at me
As though I'm all that you can see
Those times I don't believe it's right
I know it, know it

Don't me make me promises
Baby you never did know how to keep them well
I've had the rest of you
Now I want the best of you
It's time for show and tell

'Cause I want it all
Or nothing at all
There's no where left to fall
When you reach the bottom it's now or never

Is it all or are we just friends
Is this how it ends
With a simple telephone call
You leave me here with nothing

'Cause you and I
Could lose it all if you've got no more room
No room inside for me in your life

'Cause I want it all
Or nothing at all
There's no where left to fall
It's now or never

Is it all
Or nothing at all
There's no where left to fall
When you reach the bottom it's now or never

Is it all or are we just friends
Is this how it ends
With a simple telephone call
You leave me here with nothing at all

well...i'll know soon enough whether it's all or nothing, i guess. i think a sure sign that i am approaching my limit is that the acceptable timeframes are shrinking. from june next year, to christmas this year, to our second dating anniversary in november, and now, to before i fly to bali for my cousin's wedding next month. maybe it's for the best that i don't drag this out for too long. if it means being the bad guy who's inconsiderate, impatient, and can't wait for a good thing, maybe that's the unpleasant tradeoff that i'll have to make.

-random thought of the day: Everything happens for a reason.-

Friday, August 25, 2017

Just want to put on record two conversations today that have had a significant impact on me.

conversation 1 was with my lab friend. or rather, my ex-lab friend who is working in the neighbouring research group. i gave him a lift on the way to genesis, and took the opportunity to monopolize his ears. his take on the whole thing is a little different, and was a new perspective for me. so far, almost everyone i've talked to has told me to break up and go. my friend, however, told me to stay and try until i could try no more. and only then, leave. i think it's interesting, because by doing this, i'd have accounted to myself that i've done all i can, and there was really nothing else for me to do at that point. i guess that's something that i can consider.

conversation 2 was with a lady who took my grabhitch after my gym session. we got to talking, and she told me that her husband was hitting the gym too. we had a nice conversation about various gyms, and i told her about my horrible experience with personal trainers from anytime fitness. before she alighted, she actually commended me for attempting to live healthily and getting fitter. slightly embarrassed, i told her that i had a car and couldn't complain about distance or whatever. she said that still, it took effort to drive from NUS to genesis, and to prepare my own meals. she knows, because she sees her husband go through the same thing. that really made my day. i was just thinking to myself that maybe the partner doesn't actually see the behind-the-scenes stuff, like shopping for groceries, or leaving lab and praying that traffic won't be too rough, and that i'll be early enough to beat the ERP. to be fair, they do send encouraging messages for the workout, but i thought it was nice that someone recognized the preparations that go on outside the gym too.

that's it, i guess. rather short post. the partner and i had a whatsapp conversation too, and it's given me a lot to think about and to reevaluate. brief highlight: even after so long, the partner doesn't feel love for me. and as you know, time has not really helped with the whole finding me unattractive thing. i still don't understand why the partner is holding on to this relationship in light of these two things. maybe now you see why i'm questioning my purpose here. a few of my friends have said that i'm basically disposable. sucks to hear, but i can't really deny it. well...let's see how things go. i'm due to talk to chemical engineer cousin and the chemistry guys too. i think by then a decision might come to me.

-random thought of the day: Need to clean my room.-

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hello readers! this post will be split into a happy part, and then a sad/emo/frustrated part, and maybe a neutral part if i have the time and mood. i'll put markers so you can avoid anything that might spoil your mood.

happy part
chemical engineer cousin is in town! she's back for a work trip, and her husband came along. although they've been married for close to 10 years, i only saw him in person for the first time this past sunday. that was during a big family dinner at long beach. my cousin did tell me before that he's really introverted, but i thought he handled the crowd quite well. i had a bit of one-on-one time with him earlier today, as i brought him to the SEA aquarium and the trick eye museum. he's a nice guy, really easygoing. the conversation was a little halting, probably because we were unfamiliar with each other, and probably because we're both more introverted anyway. at the end of the day, he enjoyed himself at the aquarium (or so he said), so mission accomplished. and we both thought the trick eye museum was nice, but not fantastic. it's more for those who are into taking photos. $25 ($20 after passion card discount) is not worth it to me.

as for my cousin, it's her first time back in singapore in 12 years, according to her. that means the last time i saw her in person before last sunday was either sec 4 or J1. doesn't seem that long to me. but looking back, i guess it's accurate. A-levels, army, undergrad, and grad school so far. sounds about right when put into stages of life rather than number of years. thankfully, we live in an age of email (then ICQ, then friendster, then blogger, then facebook), so we still remained relatively connected throughout that time. she was also the one who helped me through the whole saga of 2014. so despite being physically far apart, i'm still closer to her than to some of the other cousins whom i see more regularly. we're due for a proper face-to-face catch up this coming saturday. her husband will be there, though i'm not sure about the partner.

sad/emo/frustrated part
perfect transition! so as you may guess, the relationship has been the main cause for my negative feelings recently. it's 2 issues which i'm facing. before i go further, i'd just like to say i'm not assigning blame onto either party. i will just state the facts. so, we had an argument last saturday. the partner wanted to go to bugis to check out a new phone, and maybe buy it. i think it was a combination of not understanding why they wanted to change phone again, and also the impression of not being told the whole story that caused me to have a negative (over)reaction. that night's dinner was the most uncomfortable dinner we've had by far. tonight's probably ranks a distant second, but i'm getting ahead of myself. to be perfectly honest, i simply do not see why the partner feels the need to change phones so often. of course, it's their money and i have little to no say as to how they spend it. but it simply does not make sense! although they resell the phones that they don't use any more, used stuff will naturally be sold at a loss. so assuming a phone change once per month, and a mark-down of $50, that's $600 lost over the year! and i'd probably understand more readily if all the phones bought and sold were different. but there have been at least 2 samsung S8's in the past year. and my question is, why go back to a phone that you sold because you didn't like? i'm all for splurging a little (even if it is a silly/unnecessary purchase) to reward yourself, goodness knows i do that too. but this is irrational. maybe it's linked to our perspective. i don't know how much money the partner has in the bank, and they won't tell me. fine, no issue. but i've asked whether there's 5 months' salary as backup in case of a rainy day, and apparently there isn't. i'm just thinking to myself that the money spent on phones could be put to better use, like investing or even just saving. but again, it's out of my jurisdiction, so to speak.

so after that disagreement, the partner said that they wanted to be left alone for a while, which is why i only messaged them yesterday. we had dinner today, and as you saw above, it was rather uncomfortable. might be because we had a talk before dinner, where the partner said they felt stifled because i took offense to certain things they said. i think most people will agree they they do not like to be reminded of their shortcomings, or to feel patronized. the latter comes from the "don't bully me" incident in magic. i felt lousy about it because the partner is obviously a better player, due to experience and knowing more about the game and about the cards. so to accuse me of bullying is like...damn. google images doesn't have anything appropriate. the image in my head is of 2 kids at a playground. the bigger/stronger kid is beating up the smaller/weaker kid, while repeatedly chanting "don't bully me!". it would be different if i was in any actual position of power, in which case i'd probably laugh it off and be all "what are you going to do about it?".

and as for other things the partner says that i don't agree with, they tend to be hurtful, like that whole gym thing. again, i will ask - is it so hard to be positive and affirming? i have never made fun of the partner's shortcomings, simply because the thought never even crossed my mind! if i wanted to, i'm sure i could find a few flaws or areas in which the partner doesn't measure up to pick on, and do it in such a way that it hurts the most. but what purpose does that serve? i wonder if the partner secretly feels inferior, and therefore feels the need to put me down to bring me closer to their perceived level of themself. it's an interesting hypothesis, which is sounding increasingly likely to me. i still ask the same question, is it so difficult to mean what you say, say what you mean, and express your feelings? can you believe the partner has never even said "i like you" to me, let alone "i love you"? not even in the privacy of the car, or a hotel room during staycation, or even their own room when i'm over at their place. i get the different love languages thing, but there should be some basic level for each love languange right? i'm not asking for a love song, or pages of poetry and prose. just "i like you". if it's really that difficult, then something is wrong. which i hope you can see is why i wonder whether the partner buying me extravagant gifts that i rarely use (2DS, 3DS, PS vita) is just a way to compensate for the inability and/or refusal to say "i love you".

earlier on, i also told the partner about acceptance vs. tolerance. although they may be used interchangeably sometimes, they actually mean very different things. tolerance has an underlying sense of reluctance, like "i can't find anything better, so i'll settle for this one". i kind of feel that that's the partner's attitude/mentality towards me now. maybe i'm convenient and nice to have around because i have a car, or because i'm someone who can help them run errands and carry their shopping, or because my presence can dispel the loneliness. whatever the reason for the partner having me around, if it's anything other than "i love him", then perhaps we need to reexamine the relationship. i don't want to stand in the way of the partner finding true happiness. if the partner defines true happiness as being with someone with a killer body and gorgeous face who doesn't mind being at the receiving end of barbed comments, then there's clearly a mismatch here.

there's been a persistent issue in the relationship, and that's regarding physical intimacy. *friends and family, you might want to consider stopping your reading here. you have been warned.* physical intimacy can refer to a rather broad range of things. to be blunt, i'm referring to sex. well, not full-on sex, but more than kissing. that should give a decent impression about the range of activities encompassed. the partner has been reluctant to engage in any of that, and the usual line is that they needed more time. first of all, i know that the partner has done stuff with the ex, so there's somewhat of a precedent. it's been a year and 9 months, which i think is a reasonable time for a couple to get intimate. there are no religious concerns, or stuff like saving yourself for marriage, so i was a little confused as to the reason for waiting. i had my hypotheses, and unfortunately the partner confirmed that one of them was right - the one where they didn't find me physically attractive. for reference, other hypotheses included: the partner is doing this to push me towards working out more and becoming more attractive; the partner doesn't feel that that kind of intimacy is essential to or needed in a relationship; (extremely unlikely, but for the sake of completeness) the partner is fulfilling that need with someone else; the partner has an STD that they are reluctant to tell me about; the partner doesn't want to do it at home; the partner can't get over the ex.

learning that raised so many thoughts and questions and scenarios in my head. first of all, i know i'm not the most attractive person, in terms of both looks and figure. i will also admit that the partner is more attractive than i am. so i guess it's understandable for them to want someone closer to their level of physical appearance. my next question is why date me and why even agree to be a couple if they found me unattractive? the partner told me that it was because they were trying to convince themself that my personality and character would override my lack of physical attractiveness. now, i don't quite feel that this is right. my perspective has always been that if you love someone, you love them for who they are. looks and personality don't go on the same balance. i don't know about you, but i'd rather have someone who looks below average and treats me with love and respect (and intimacy), than be in an abusive relationship with a model. unfortunately for the partner, my character is just like that. whether you know me for a month or a year, i don't think i change very dramatically. so i guess if the partner can't convince themself to be attracted to me after so long (1 year 9 months of dating, 2 years 1 month of actually knowing each other), then i don't think there's much more hope. i also told the partner that i would not treat them extra special just to get into their pants. i don't want it to be a transaction. thankfully, i'm not desperate for sex. and sex should never be used as a bargaining chip or a reward, anyway. it's something couples do as a way of showing their love. hookups are different, but that's a topic for another day.

my natural instinct is to look for ways to solve this problem. even after meditating on it for almost 2 weeks, i only see 4 possible outcomes, out of which only 2 are realistic. if you're still reading, i hope you can provide alternative perspectives which i may have missed. first possible solution: wait. i just sit back and let the partner come to terms with it in their own time. while this would be the most ideal solution, there are 2 risks. (1) my patience running out (as it is i'm already close to my limit of waiting. it's almost been a term of NS!), (2) the partner being unable to convince themself. just because i give it time, it doesn't mean that success is guaranteed. for all i know, i could be waiting for 5, 10 years, only for the partner to tell me that they just can't see us in bed together. then not only do i lose out on that end, i lose out on the time wasted while waiting. second solution: the partner suddenly agrees to give things a shot. let me tell you, pigs will probably fly before this. third solution: open relationship. if the partner doesn't want to get physical with me, let's both find other people. while it technically is a possible solution, it isn't a solution to which i'm particularly inclined. call me old-fashioned, but i believe that couples should be monogamous. whatever happens while a person is single is all fine and well, but as a couple, you should be devoted to each other. and even if the partner agrees, i wouldn't go for it because knowing myself, i may not be too good at separating physical and emotional intimacy. falling for a hookup would just complicate matters. plus, i don't believe in sharing, not in this context, at least. last solution: break up. since it is clear that an acceptable compromise can't be reached in an agreeable timeframe, might as well just call the whole thing off. this is definitely a last-resort-type thing, because i don't see how we can be friends after breaking up due to this issue. so, while it is not my preferred solution, i worry that it will soon become the only solution. of course, if i'm being perfectly honest, i will feel that it's a bit "wasted" that we never got to do anything physical. maybe that's just typical guy thinking...i don't know.

at the end of the day, you may ask why i'm making this out to be a big deal. that's because while sex isn't THE thing in a relationship, it still is A thing. i'm still a guy, and i'm still young enough that my sex drive hasn't died yet. biology aside, it is (to me, at least) a way of connecting with your partner on a deeper level (yes, i know the double meaning is there if you look). interesting trivia: denial of sex to a spouse is actually grounds for a divorce. i think the period for it to qualify is 2 years? if so, i'm quite close to the mark already. so it is definitely something important to the development of a relationship. and if the partner doesn't feel attracted to me, how can this work out in the long run? although credit where credit is due, i applaud the partner for holding out for so long. suppose i should applaud myself too, otherwise questions may be raised.

just had a stray thought. maybe the partner isn't the one for me. or maybe i'm not the one for them. i know friends from secondary school who look worse than me (in my opinion, of course) and/or are in worse shape than me, yet they have girlfriends or wives. one of them is even married with a kid! of course, there is a giant difference between them and me, which may account for our different luck in love. as for what that difference is...wait a year and 2 months and i'll tell you.

right. i see my course of action now. and that is to wait until i can wait no longer. i had thought about giving it until the end of the year, but i have a feeling that things will come to a head much sooner than that. maybe as soon as this weekend, even. whatever the case, i will continually remind myself of 2 things in which i believe: (1) this too shall pass, (2) everything happens for a reason. maybe this is to teach me a lesson to love myself more and not be pressured to conform to others' standards of attractiveness.

-random thought of the day: Do I look that bad? ...Maybe don't answer that.-

Saturday, August 05, 2017

I am not-insignificantly upset now. but let's talk about that later.

first, there's been a tent-type thing set up at the field opposite my multi-storey carpark. it's been blasting national day songs ever since a few days back, i suppose in an attempt to rouse patriotic sentiments. personally, i can tell you that it's not working on me. call me jaded or cynical or whatnot, but today's singapore isn't the same as the singapore i grew up in. somehow, it seems to me that there is a severe issue within the country. or rather, that there are several issues. part of which lies in the way kids are brought up. for my generation at least, parents were always pushing their kids to be glamorous things like doctors or lawyers. "chor kang" (blue-collar jobs in general) was looked down upon. does this sound familiar "study hard ah, if not you end up as a road sweeper!". yet, these kind of jobs (road sweeper, plumber, electrician) have to be done in a modernized society. and since we were brought up to shun those jobs, in come the foreigners. it's kind of different overseas, like in the UK. there's this blacksmith who posts daily youtube videos where he makes cool stuff out of metal. it's not glamorous, certainly, but it's a living, no? i also remember one of my friends posting on facebook "The son wants thieves, but too bad dad only raised sheep". that's a whole other can of worms which i won't open today. i don't have plans to migrate or anything as of now, but staying in singapore until i die doesn't seem as certain for me as it did for the previous generation.

on to what was making me upset...yesterday, i'd messaged the partner after gym to just share that i was making progress since i didn't feel as bad as on monday. their first response was "that means you're not working hard enough". i attempted to save the situation by saying that maybe it was because i was getting stronger, to which the reply was "or maybe your coach has given up on you". as my readers are neutral parties, tell me. how can you not feel upset when your significant other gives you this kind of response? the great irony is that the partner has been saying that i shouldn't feel the need to hold back on communication. but if this is the reaction i get, i hope you can understand why i'd feel reluctant to bring anything up. just imagine the following conversation:

me (M): hey i passed my thesis defense and will be graduating this july (or december or whatever)!
partner (P): why are you so slow? all your friends submitted half a year (or whatever timeframe) earlier you know?
M: but as you know, i've encountered some difficulties along the way...
P: so? you could have worked twice as hard and graduated sooner right?

if anything even remotely resembling the above conversation comes up, it's an instant breakup. it baffles me, you know? the partner claims to care for me, yet apparently has no regard for my feelings. they even said i was sulking when i didn't carry on the conversation. had it been anyone else, i would have seriously told them to *something* off and die. the fact that i haven't used any profanity on the partner shows how much i'm holding back. all i wanted was a little pick-me-up after finishing at the gym and doing grabhitch. call me whatever you want, but i think that nobody should have to take shit from their partners. the partner says it's a natural thing in their workplace, but i'm not a colleague, am i? i don't see why as the boyfriend, i should be on the same level as colleagues. maybe i should start treating the partner more like a regular friend, who i can curse at and assume that they won't take it to heart. i'm really tired of having my level of care not reciprocated. sure, i don't expect to be driven around or whatever, but at least show some consideration for my feelings, right?

even though we had a little whatsapp conversation addressing this issue as i was writing this post, i still am not 100% over it. i don't know...perhaps our personalities are too different. all i want is someone to be there for me no matter what, and not put me down. i don't think that's too much to ask for, is it? i guess the partner may be right about one thing...i have to reevaluate my priorities.

-random thought of the day: Is it that difficult to say what you mean?-

Sunday, July 30, 2017

On to part 2! before i go into talking about the relationship, i want to very briefly mention some happenings in the judo world. as you know, i have more or less removed myself from it, but snippets of my friends' involvement still show up in my facebook feed. first, the MMA gym has relocated due to financial reasons. instead of being on its own premises, the owner now has to rent a place. it's caused some logistics issues, and one of the solutions was to no longer run judo classes until further notice. i can't blame anyone for this, it's just one of those decisions that had to be made. but i digress. looking at my friends' updates, i felt a slight twinge of...jealousy, i guess. some of the junior referees who have been refereeing for shorter than i had been (even after factoring my unjust suspension) are being promoted to grades higher than i was at my resignation. i'm not saying that they're undeserving. i'm saying that i don't think i'm worse than them, so why was my promotion withheld? i was assured that my suspension would not affect chances of promotion, but as you can see, it obviously did. i refuse to buy the story that i am (was) of substandard skill and ability, because if i was at that point, at least 80% of the referees at my grade were too. it's times like these that i have to remind myself that anything and everything only has as much value as you ascribe to it. since i'm effectively withdrawn from the judo world, this news shouldn't affect me. and yet, it does. maybe, just maybe, i should attempt a comeback. not right now, of course; the timing has to be right. like once i'm out of NUS, and once the leadership changes.

right, got that out of my head. now for relationship news. we followed up the serious talk from 2 posts ago with another one on the saturday of that week. somehow the date wanted to go to the botanic gardens. at that point, i was thinking like maybe it's come full circle, we'll end where we started. we had dinner at relish, located at cluny court. they're famous for burgers, and although i can't remember exactly what i ordered, i know that it had blue cheese, and that i liked it. we had a walk after dinner, and settled down by the lake for part 2 of the talk. cutting a long story short, the date agreed to being a proper couple, and shared some more of their insecurities with me. to be honest, i found them rather silly. that's not to say that they're unimportant, but they're of very little issue to me and i don't quite see why the date was/is worried to that extent about these things. having said that, it's important that i treat these concerns seriously and do my best to make the date feel less conscious about them.

now that we're "officially" together, perhaps i should change my form of address. after all, we aren't just dating any more. maybe "the partner"? let's give it a go. so since that talk, there's been some concrete action on the partner's end, to advance in our relationship. the most tangible one is that we've had a couple of staycations already so far, and have one more planned on the weekend after national day. i think it's a good step forward, though i also acknowledge that we can't be doing this all the time. we'd go broke! other than that, it's been the usual routine of weekly weekend dates, with some weekday dinners thrown in too. i've noticed that the partner has been wanting to go to more touristy locations - night safari, bird park, science centre, SEA aquarium, to name a few. personally, i'd be just as happy with something less...adventurous (and expensive). of course, there are still some areas for improvement on both our ends, like my (lack of) punctuality, for one. right now, i'm maybe about 85% sure that the relationship will work out. i hope that percentage goes up with time. in the event that reality doesn't match expectations, i hope i know when to stick it out, and when to call it quits.

i think that's all i've got for now? yes, that should more or less cover it. have to go shower up, the partner suddenly invited me over for dinner, and i'm not one to turn homecooked food down.

-random thought of the day: Lazy Sunday.-

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Realized that i am about 2 days away from missing my self-imposed minimum of one post per calendar month, so here i am. as you might expect, a lot of stuff has come and gone, but i'll do my best to blog about everything i remember and insert my thoughts and feelings wherever appropriate. it might be longer than usual...or it might not, depending on my mood as the post (and the night) goes on.

lab work has been mildly stressful. and my mildly, i mean majorly. so here's the situation: my candidature is due to expire around end-may next year. that's something of which i was aware. what caught me slightly by surprise was that my scholarship ends this december, and not along with my candidature as i'd previously thought. this means that in the worst case, i won't be earning money for 5 months. actually no. that's the second worst case. the extreme worst case is that i finish with a master's, but my professor told me not to even think about that. it also explains why he wants me to submit my thesis around december. another reason for that is because he's going on sabbatical for the first half of next year, so he won't be in singapore to provide guidance and such. all things considered, it would be best for me to submit and leave ASAP. and here's the second problem: i'm not sure if i have enough content. my enzyme side-project is more or less about to wrap up already (funny how i've been saying that since the start of june), pending one more result and one more assay. but that's just going to be one chapter out of a minimum of five that i'm supposed to have. i can't help but think that my linker project might have been a bit too ambitious. so far, even simplifying the structure of the final complex doesn't seem to be working. well...there's enough time to turn it around, i think. definitely need to work even more closely with my professor in the coming few months.

as you may recall, i've been doing grabhitch for a while. almost 2 months, i think? the experience has been good in general; i'd say 95% of my passengers are nice. some are willing to engage in conversation, others not so much. but that's fine. i'm pretty neutral about whether the passenger wants to talk or not. and you really do meet all sorts of people. just to give a few examples from the past 2 days alone, i picked up a make-up artist and a surveyor (also my first-ever double hitch!) who were both going to mediacorp. after some light conversation and finding out each other's occupations, the surveyor mentioned that she was getting married next year, and wanted to engage the make-up artist's services for her big day. amazing how connections can be made like that. on the other end of the spectrum, there was this horribly self-centred/spoilt poly/NSF/undergrad kid i picked up last night. for starters, he was waiting for me just in front of a traffic light. of all the places to wait for a pickup, that is probably the stupidest. especially if the leftmost lane is a go straight/turn left lane, as it was at that location. first thing he did was try to go for the back door. instant negative impression. it irks me when people go for the back seat immediately. and i've found an easy way to prevent that behaviour - lock the back doors. i laugh internally every time someone pulls on the door handle in vain. anyway. next negative point was that he didn't respond to anything i said, and stuck his earphones in his ears immediately. tell me, is that stuck up or what? the drive was silent (not that i minded) and not being familiar with where he lived, i drove past his condo. only then did he say "you should have turned in there". i stopped at the roadside and wanted to let him alight since it wasn't too far. he then followed up with "aren't you going to drop me off inside?" my goodness. ended up i did a u-turn and went in. horrible experience. in contrast, today's hitch rider was much more friendly, and the journey was much more pleasant. we're the same age, and he was telling me about his JC days. he got into AJC, which he told me was boring as hell. good thing my appeal in didn't succeed. he was also extremely punctual, and easy to talk to. and above all else, he saw the queue of cars at his destination, and offered to get off at a place that would be convenient for me. i would pick him up again in a heartbeat.

one thing i'm starting to notice over the past week is that more and more people are lying about the number of passengers. for those who are not aware, the grab app (for grabhitch, anyway) lets you specify date, time, location of pickup, as well as number of passengers and any additional remarks, like if you have luggage and need additional space. i usually only take bookings with 1 passenger, because more weight means that the car burns more fuel. and i believe most drivers do the same thing. so, some people have attempted to secure bookings by indicating that there's only one passenger for pickup, and when the driver calls or messages, they go "oh by the way, there are two people. i forgot to change the setting". the worst one i got was "oh there are actually 2 people, and a 32-inch TV". as a rule of thumb, i reject everyone that tries this trick. if you genuinely forget, go edit your booking. just earlier today, after dropping off the nice guy, i continued with a second hitch. one person pickup, as usual. when i got to the block, two people approached the car and tried to get in. lucky my back door was still locked. the one who made the booking apologized and asked if i could just give them a hitch anyway since it was a short distance blah blah. i refused because at no point before this did she mention an additional person, even during our short SMS exchange. i guess she was hoping to get me there, and since i would already be at the location, i'd just decide to get it over and done with. nope. other drivers may have given in, but i can be guai lan if pushed. i have half a mind to report her to grab for wasting my time and my fuel. all things considered though, grab is still quite enjoyable. most passengers are reasonable and even-tempered, and the good more than makes up for the bad.

gymming has been progressing nicely. there's been positive results, in the sense that i'm using heavier weights, and that my body fat percentage has dropped since i started. granted, there's still a long way to go, but i figure i should celebrate some small accomplishments. the biggest hurdle in my way currently is diet. have to be a bit more strict about the quality of food that i'm getting, as well as the quantity. the interesting thing i learnt is that while it's not healthy to overindulge in unhealthy food, it's also not entirely good to cut your favourite not-so-healthy foods out. everything in moderation, that seems to be the principle here, as it is for most other things in life.

that'll do it for part 1. took longer than i expected. next will be a huge update on the relationship. spoiler, it's still intact.

-random thought of the day: Feeling conflicted about morning dates.-

Friday, June 23, 2017

Update time! as that implies, it will mostly be about the date (get it? upDATE?). ok i'm sorry. no not really. anyway, i feel ridiculously conflicted at this point in time. as you're probably aware, things haven't been all that smooth sailing these past few weeks. well, things finally came to a head over the past few days. for once, it was the date who wanted to meet up to have a talk. so we did, on wednesday after work. i basically told the date my feelings, that i felt like i was the once doing all the chasing/pushing, that i was worried we weren't going anywhere, that our relationship has been stagnant for longer than i care to remember, and that i could not for the life of me understand why the date was so unwilling to take steps forward to being a couple, or to share certain details with me. after all, if we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, shouldn't i be the person that they trust the most?

to their credit, the date let me get all that off my chest, and acknowledged that what i said was true. they apologized for taking me for granted too, which was unexpected. they did tell me certain details (which i'm sworn to secrecy about), and that helped me understand a bit more about their character. they also told me that they tried (a little too hard) to differentiate me and the ex, to the point where since they had been intimate with the ex, they didn't want to be intimate with me. twisted logic at its best. there were a few other points of discussion too, one being the thing about the date not wanting to give me their word, and about timeframes. the reason i wanted both of those things was to hold the date accountable and not have to wait for an indefinite period of time. the date saw the sense in that, i guess. so, they suggested that we could be a couple - in the sense that i could be the boyfriend. most of you who have been following the relationship development would, at this point, expect me to agree immediately, and have a happily ever after ending, right? would that it were that simple. for some reason, i found myself unable to say yes immediately. in fact, i still haven't said it up till now.

believe me, it was equally surprising for me. i've spent a while figuring out why. and i think i know the answer, more or less. it's actually attributed to both past and future factors. for past, i guess i was (am) unhappy with certain aspects in the relationship. i think i may have mentioned it before, but there's a not-insignificant imbalance here. i thought that i could tolerate almost anything for the sake of the relationship. and i could, if it was the date and i against external factors. but having to struggle against the date's reluctance to progress and seeming unwillingness to fight for the relationship together, it's taken its toll. i just wish i'd did this before the breaking point. then again, that's why it's called a "breaking" point, isn't it? i did tell the date that there were a few things that'd we'd have to iron out before taking the next step, and they were rather surprised. perhaps i've just never let them know how badly i've been affected. and if the date is unwilling to change, or at least strike a compromise, then it's not going to be worth me fighting for. i think i told my scary JC friend as much, and she said something like i'm no longer looking at the relationship through rose-coloured glasses. i'd have to agree, though i'm surprised how drastic a change in perception it is.

i guess the past and the future are kind of linked, because your past experiences affects your outlook on the future. to be honest, the future scares me. i'm so afraid that even though the date says they'll try to change, they're just saying it to appease me. or that i'll grow impatient and end up hurting them more (in my defense, it's been 19 months+ already). i really don't want to take the plunge and have it end up in failure, or to go through this whole thing every few months if the date doesn't take action and keeps going through the motions. worst thing is, i have a precedent that makes me believe that will be the case. or rather, many precedents. before things got this bad in my head, i had told the date multiple times that i would like us to progress faster. i even told the date, "don't keep me waiting too long". that was valentine's day last year, i think? and in the end, look at how things turned out. i really want to believe things will take a turn for the better, but my rational side is preparing a truckload of salt with which to take the thought.

as usual, the question remains - what now? if i could answer that, i wouldn't be in this dilemma now, would i? right now, about 75% of me wants to have either a temporary or permanent break. the other 25% wants to continue on, but with certain conditions. one of those conditions is definitely to address the imbalance in the relationship. the problem is, i don't know how to arrive at a good resolution. i just don't want to feel...unloved, for lack of a better word. it's like, sometimes, i reach over to hold the date's hand, and they just don't want to. even when we're in private. or they'll do it, with some reluctance. it sucks. that's why when relating such things to my friends, the common consensus is that the date isn't all that into me. the other thing is about secrets. the date is not one to voluntarily explain themself to me. i don't think that they have ulterior motives, but it gets frustrating sometimes. and more importantly, it takes away my chance to have an input. like, would it kill for them to tell me that they have my best interests at heart? at least give me a reason, not simply "don't tell you" or "it's not your business" or "because i say so". it's such an inadmissible argument! another thing would be that i'd want to see positive action. the date tells me that they place little stock in words (which is what makes me think that the "boyfriend" thing may just be an appeasement tactic), and that they judge people on their actions. in these past 19 months, i think my actions are quite self-explanatory. so, looking forward, if the date truly wants to show their effort, they have to take action. most concrete example i can think of right now: booking a hotel for a staycation or planning a trip itinerary. i'm not expecting to be taken for a free ride; of course i'll pay my fair share. but i do need to see some effort, i guess. the last thing i can think of right now is for the date to be less critical. we'd actually spoken about this earlier this year, and i think there's been a bit of improvement. but still, the mentioning of my negative attributes seem to outnumber that of my positive attributes. and it's not like i really crave for praise...i would be fine if the date remained neutral and didn't say anything in either direction, i think.

earlier i mentioned that it was quite a radical change in perception. i wonder if it's because i got pushed past my limit already. which, i suppose, leads to the next question. can we work past this issue? as you know, i'm not confident enough to give a 100% yes. and despite what i've written here, the relationship isn't all that bad. there were happy moments, most definitely. i had always been telling myself that the positive aspects of the relationship outweighed the negative. now, it seems that the negative aspects have accumulated sufficiently to change that. i guess i'll find out after talking to the date again, relationships are two-way, after all.

-random thought of the day: Stop worrying.-

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Continuing from the previous, post, i'm supposed to blog about genesis. no, it's nothing biblical. genesis here is the name of a gym, which i've decided to sign up for. their selling point is that they're not really selling a gym membership. instead, they're selling a personal training package, and the training is conducted in their gym facility. i've had 2 sessions over the past week, and if i had to choose, i would definitely give them my money, instead of anytime fitness. the trainers at genesis are more attentive, focused, appear more knowledgeable, and overall just present themselves better. key observation: i haven't smelled cigarette smoke on any of the genesis trainers. so far, it's been a positive experience. i have some clear guidelines on what to aim for now. actually for me, the biggest challenge is my diet. i thought i was doing well for the meal prep, but the trainers broke down what i actually put in, and found that it was still too little. the goal they set for me was 140g of protein and 25g of fiber per day. even with my stew/soup, i wasn't even hitting half of that. so after a week of tracking, i roughly know what i have to do. that is, to approximately double the portion of fish, add some other types of meat, and swap out some nutrient-poor vegetables for better choices. i should really plan a massive grocery trip soon. maybe tomorrow. also, i need to find a supermarket that has a bit more variety than the NTUC at rivervale mall. am tempted to order online, but i don't want to risk it with fresh produce.

hit a minor roadblock in writing the paper. i don't know how much i'm allowed to reveal here, so i'll keep it vague enough. basically i got a result that appeared to contradict previous literature. but upon closer examination, one of the experimental variables was different. so i'm basing my argument on that. on the brighter side, it seems that my compound is more toxic than the original one from which it was derived, so that's a positive sign. but as my postdoc reminded me, i shouldn't get too happy just yet. after all, that was only one experiment out of a set of triplicates. still, i'm choosing to remain optimistic.

in not-so-good news, the date and i are having a difference of opinion. it seems that we are on quite different pages, as far as how we view progress is concerned. the date told me that they thought we were progressing nicely, which as you may know, is totally not how i feel. the date also shared that they still had some reservations about us living together, partially because they weren't sure how i'd get along with the mother if we lived under the same roof. sure, the three of us going out for dinner has been nice and all, but it was a valid point - living together is a whole different ball game. but then, living together will only become a concern in another 6 years at the earliest, so i can overlook that for now. what's troubling me a bit more is that the date can't seem to give me what i want at this point in time. things that i've mentioned in the last post, so i won't repeat them now. it's got me thinking about the whole relationship, actually. we are fairly different people, but that's a gap that can be bridged by a bit more time and understanding. as long as both parties put in effort, you know? the problem is, we can't accurately measure effort. the date may be doing their best, but as you can see, i'm not feeling it as much. and it's not all their fault either. maybe i'm not doing enough to make them feel secure. like, they've mentioned that my temperament is still a rather significant deterrent. to put things in the opposite perspective, i wonder if the date has seen how much i've mellowed, and whether they can appreciate how hard i've been working on it.

anyway, partway through our talk, the date said that they could not promise me anything on when they'd be ready to move on to the next phase of the relationship, and that if i wanted us to stop dating, they'd understand. after all, i deserved a chance to be happy. all i had to do was tell them first. i'm torn about how to take this. on one hand, i appreciate that the date recognizes that there is an issue, and is mature enough to find an outcome that doesn't really do much damage to either of us. and yet, another part of me is a bit upset that the date is willing to just let it go so easily. you know, i think in making the decision on whether to call it off or not, there will be push and pull factors. push being the date alienating me (which has happened to a small extent this past week), pull being me falling for someone else, to quote two of the more obvious hypothetical examples. as of right now, i think we're still relatively ok. so, my plan is to keep what we have going, and do my best to give the date their time and space. i just hope that my patience will pay off. and to accord the date the same respect that they're giving me, i won't attempt to start dating new people without informing them. that's basic human decency, right? and of course, i should be mentally prepared in case the date takes things out of my hands and breaks it off for whatever reason. after all, relationships are two-way.

unlike the previous times where there was the possibility of a breakup, i'm feeling rather calm now. perhaps it's because having that kind of open, honest talk with the date convinced me that even if we were no longer to date, we'd still remain on good terms. i know some people have awkward/messy breakups, and i'm thankful that in the event that this becomes my first breakup, it will be milder. i'm not saying that it won't hurt, but it won't hurt as bad as some of the others that i've witnessed. although the more i think about it, the more it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. if we both prepare for a breakup, it makes it seem like a breakup is a viable choice. i mean, it is, but not one that is to be considered so quickly. at the end of the day, i just hope that we'll both be only minimally hurt, if at all. one thing i'm really hoping for is that in the event of a breakup, i won't become jaded and bitter. part of the date's slow pace was because of their past experience with their ex, which is something that i don't have a basis of comparison for. i really wonder, how much did that breakup hurt the date for them to still be carrying the baggage of it close to 4 years later? it's something that i hope never happens to me, to be honest. i'm not sure how i'll handle something like that.

well...let's not worry about things beyond our control. what i can do is focus on research. i've got to collect references for my paper, find a way to explain the conflicting results, and send a draft back to my professor. then HPLC separation of my main compound, plus some further reactions.

-random thought of the day: Focus.-

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dinner with the date yesterday after the olympiad made me realize something about myself, namely that my inhibitions get lowered under 2 conditions: when i'm drunk, or when i'm tired. the latter is new info to me, so that was interesting to find out. the olympiad itself was somewhat taxing, more so than last year. the experiment i had to test was relatively simple. synthesis of a dye using a reaction which my student had to do in the course of his project. i didn't realize that the intermediate was that stable! my student used to do it under nitrogen, i think, but the olymipad procedure was open-air stirring. well, it worked, so i'll save myself the trouble if i ever have to do it again. marking was pretty easy, too. thankfully i got the shorter (easier-to-mark question). and there were lots of blanks and nonsensical answers too, so all those required was a strikethrough. then again, i can't really fault the students. they're only in secondary school. the fact that some of them know what electron-donating and electron-withdrawing groups are is already impressive in itself.

the date and i had dinner at nature cafe at tradehub 21. yes, that vegetarian place where we've eaten before. the food was up to standard (as far as vegetarian food goes). surprisingly, it was really crowded, and also really noisy. the previous few times we went early, and so the place was barely occupied. noise + fatigue isn't a good combination for me, but i somehow managed to hold it together throughout dinner. i had thought we might be going somewhere after dinner, but the date saw that i was looking a little worse for wear and convinced me to call it an early night. in retrospect, that might have been for the best, as i have to admit that i did feel rather out of it

during the drive home, something possessed me to talk to the date about my concerns for the relationship. that's why i said fatigue lowers my inhibitions. normally i'd think about it twice or thrice first before attempting to broach a sensitive topic, but somehow i just started talking. to tell the truth, i don't even remember exactly what i said. i do know it was something about how i felt that we weren't progressing. like, i feel that we are at about the same place as we were 6 to 12 months ago, which is at the stage in a relationship where couples find out more about each other, but are reluctant to fully commit to each other. i was about to say "casual dating", which was actually the first term that popped into my mind, but it would be unfair to the date. "casual" suggests the idea of keeping your options open, or not being exclusive. in that regard, i do believe that the date hasn't been seeing anyone behind my back. but the reason why i say that there seems to be reluctance in our relationship is because other couples who have been dating for as long as we have would probably have spent the night together, maybe even travelled together. i know it's not right to compare with other people. it just so happens that that's what i want too at this stage in a relationship. i did bring up one other thing as well, but in the interest of keeping this place family-friendly and more importantly, to not air any overly-dirty laundry and to protect the date's privacy, i'll refrain from saying too much. but yes, i feel that that other unmentionable thing is an important aspect of a relationship too. another thing i asked was what if either of us got attracted to someone else? the date seemed rather nonchalant, possibly due to their experiences with the ex. i would have thought a relationship that you're in would/should be worth you fighting for, so that response threw me a little. to their credit, the date was receptive to whatever i said, and said that they would think it over. they also hinted that there was something that they didn't want to tell me yet in consideration of my feelings, so there's that potential issue to tackle eventually. i've been thinking over what that thing might be. i have a couple of guesses, but won't jump to conclusions just yet.

so...what happens now? life goes on as normal, i guess. until the date decides to have that potentially difficult/delicate conversation with me, that is. naturally, i've also been thinking about possible outcomes. the best case for me would be if the date agreed with me and we started on the next level of couple-y things. and while it is unlikely, the odds of a breakup are not zero. just have to bear that in mind. the middle ground ranges over a huge spectrum of possibilities, and i don't really want to think about all of them in detail. but if the situation improves, i guess that's a win. but in the rather likely event that some sort of compromise has to be struck, how do i do that? i think that i have been more patient than normal already. yet, i don't want to force the date into doing something that they don't feel comfortable doing. i know people say good things are worth waiting for, but i think that there's a balance between the thing's goodness and the amount of time for which you'd be willing to wait. for me right now...i'd say that i'd be willing to wait until the end of the year, or until this time next year at the very very maximum. the date told me before that they would do their best to stay in a given job for 2 years minimum for the learning experience. in a year from now (assuming no breakups), we would have been dating for 2 years and about 6 months, which should be enough for us to learn about all of each other, right? well, not quite. but it probably will have been enough time for us to learn enough to decide whether we are partner material for each other or not.

thankfully, research has been going smoothly. i'm in the midst of writing a paper, and all that's left are a couple more bio experiments (which my amazing postdoc has agreed to help me with), and confirming the results for a kinetics experiment. my professor wasn't too happy with the draft that i'd sent him, so i'm probably going to have to rewrite a large portion of it. can't say i wasn't expecting it, but at least it's less painful than repeating the experiments. don't want to get my hopes too up or anything, but i think we can make the june submission deadline. i suppose it's good for me too, as it'll be my first-ever first-authored paper, as well as something which i can use for the poster symposium in august.

feels like the next few weeks to a month will be a major "crossroads" point in my life. i don't know why, but something is telling me that the decisions that i make and the things that i do in the near future will have a larger than usual impact on my life. or it may just be me torn about how to feel with regards to the relationship. whatever it is, i'm hoping that i do things which are in my best interest, without hurting anyone else along the way if possible.

-random thought of the day: Write about Genesis.-

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Earlier tonight was probably the closest the date and i have come to an argument in a while. the junior chemistry olympiad is this saturday, and i signed up as a marker again. $160 for a day's work...not bad, right? as a result, i'd have to meet the date for dinner a little later...maybe 6:30pm or worst case 7:00pm. the date suggested we move dinner to sunday instead. i told them that i could make it on saturday, and it would make more sense too, since i would already be in the area-ish. and besides, i was planning on renewing my final fantasy 14 subscription on sunday, so that i could have an uninterrupted day of play. upon hearing that, the date insisted on having dinner on sunday even more. they reason they gave (or at least the impression i got) was that they were purposely trying to make me choose between them and the game. and they gave me an ultimatum too...either sunday, or don't meet. considering all the factors, if i had been really pushed to a choice, i would probably have chosen the latter. now, if a choice really had to be made, like if the date needed a lift to the airport or hospital or whatever, i'd drop my game in an instant. but the thing is, there was no need for any choice in the first place! to sidetrack to a somewhat related thing, this was one of the things my friend was unhappy about in his relationship with his ex. the ex would constantly make it so that he had to choose between her and his car (a great passion of his). and like with my case today, a choice never really had to be made. my friend was perfectly capable of handling his time and money such that there was never any conflict...or at least that's what he told me.

but back to the main story. it struck me as weird, because the date later told me about an experience at work, where another department could not properly account for their not-entirely-correct actions, and wouldn't give the date a satisfactory explanation. i was thinking that isn't it rather similar? you give an answer, but can't justify it. if the date had told me that they were worried that i would rush, or drive less carefully to meet the time we set, i might have been more agreeable in light of their concern for me. and even if the date was thinking it, i wouldn't know. i've learnt to not try and read too deeply into things, in case my overactive/paranoid brain finds hidden meanings that were never really there. i've actually never understood why the date finds it hard to tell me their feelings directly. but well...maybe it's a mental block thing.

thankfully, this story had a happy ending. the date eventually agreed to a saturday date. from my end, i was happy that they were willing to compromise. at the same time, i was also wondering why go through all that stuff about sunday or no date, or about making it difficult for me, basically. as you may know, i'm not one for mind games, especially not from my partner. maybe it's something that we can work on together.

i was actually talking about differences in our (the date and my) ideals with a few other friends. one thing i forgot to mention in the previous post is that the date told me that they don't envision us living together in the future. that's something that i will potentially have an issue with. in my ideal world, i'd want to live with my partner. i'm ok with our finances being separate, but i really think that we should work towards the goal of living under the same roof. i don't mean right now, while our finances are so unstable and insubstantial, but definitely in the future. i think this might be a potential deal breaker in the relationship. luckily, my friends were there to rationalize it a bit. maybe the date has other commitments, like taking care of the mother. or maybe the date feels scared. or can't get used to the idea, or never thought that far. whatever it is, i hope we can resolve it if/when we get to that milestone.

to be very fair, i should appreciate the date for who they are right now. they have a ton of amazing qualities, such as kindness, empathy, consideration, gentleness, cheerfulness, to name a few. not to mention that we've spent a fair bit of effort and time to understand each other. on top of all of that, the mother is ok with us dating. getting the "in-law's" approval is difficult for most people as it is. so i should be grateful. there's no guarantee that i will find similar success if i were to date someone else. so i guess until there's a REALLY good reason for us to no longer date, like maybe because of the living together issue or something of equal magnitude, i will constantly remind myself to treasure what we have.

-random thought of the day: Get red G1 refills.-

Monday, May 22, 2017

With reference to my last post, i ended up rocking the boat slightly after all. things went...better than expected, but not best-case scenario. but i'll get to that later. right now, i just want to put on record that i'm having a little bit of a headache, which is quite rare for me. it happened because i got a new pair of glasses. instead of going to my regular optician, i decided to go to owndays, which is a japanese store. the date got a pair of glasses made, and they gave a $20 voucher for the next purchase, so why not? they sell the frames and lenses, and have in-house opticians to test your vision and all that. it turns out my degree hasn't changed in the past 5 years or so, so they made the new pair with the same prescription. at this point, you'd probably be wondering why glasses with the same prescription would cause headaches. well, it's more because of the condition of the lenses. my old lenses were scratched up and discoloured due to age. these new lenses are, well, new. so everything is a bit more vivid. i figure that i'll be able to acclimatize by tomorrow. the glasses themselves are nice, at least i think so. they're half-framed like my previous pair, but these frames are blue and made of titanium. always wanted titanium frames. hopefully they'll be more corrosion-resistant than my stainless steel pair.

against the date's advice, i went to sign up for grabhitch...as a driver, that is. the date was not particularly for it because they thought my temper would get the better of me. but it's been good so far, both the money and the passengers. since my trips are usually really far (sengkang to NUS or the date's place), the fare per trip is typically above $10. counting back and forth trips, that's about $20 in a day. considering each tank of fuel costs me about $70 (rounded up), and i top up petrol about 3 times a month, i only have to give hitch rides once every day to cover my fuel costs. even then, i'll have some spare cash already. right now, i'm about $40 ahead of my fuel costs, and that's just from 3 days of hitching. my fuel tank's only half-depleted, too. i think that the possible downside is that i'll have to refuel the car more frequently. but i figure as long as my profit stays ahead of my costs, i can afford it. might set a goal to use the grabhitch money to pay for my new tyres...but i won't push for it.

now, rocking the boat. i had a belated mother's day dinner with the date and mother (since the date was sick on the actual day) yesterday. we ate at earle swensen's at westgate. was nice, though a tad pricey. lucky i had redeemed some rewards points to offset the cost. after that, we went back to their place since i had to wait for my NMR timeslot. i figured that it was a good a time as any, so i asked the date how they felt about our relationship, and several other questions. somewhat to my expectations, the date said that they were still not fully comfortable with me. it's because they were raised to be independent, i guess. on the bright side, they also said that right now, aside from the mother, i'm probably the only other person that they've allowed somewhat into their defenses. so i guess that there is progress, but like i said before, not that apparent to me, and not really up to my initial expectations. the date also advised me to not focus so much on the future, and live more in the present. it's good advice, and i'll do my best to take it. of course, i guess that it can be compromised both ways...i slow down while the date speeds up. and as much as i hate to think about it and hope that it never happens, i suppose that i should also be prepared for a not-good outcome. but we'll cross that bridge if we ever get there. right now, i think i'll enjoy what we've got.

-random thought of the day: Writing a paper!-