徵 – wanted; levied; requested

Because I’ve been told that the Universe needs specific direction, because of the Law of Attraction, the Secret, and whatnot. So here you go.
As always, the usual tethering terms of service mostly apply. Sauce for gander equals sauce for goose, etc. Mostly, because there’s the physical bits for the lover and the only sort of person I can pick up is a toddler less than 40 pounds.
Anyway Universe – it’s your move.

Writing and critique partner (2, perhaps 3 openings):

- must love my writing
- must be capable of giving con-crit regardless of that love
- must have time and spoons to do said con-crit
- must be equally capable of wielding the whip as warm fuzzy hugs
- must be supportive of this mad-cap journey we call self-publishing
- preferably local but not necessary, although similar time zones are definitely a bonus
- loving me as a person would be a bonus but not necessary

General friend-of-all-trades (3 maybe 4 openings):

- must be local (within easy transportation distance to NTU)
- must be willing to do lunch/dinner/random meals
- must love me
- preferably happy to go exploring this city with me on occasion
- preferably someone happy to walk in circles around the campus with me (it’s a big campus. really. it’s not as boring as it sounds)
- preferably someone huggable/cuddle-able

Lover (your call, Universe, your call):

- must look on me like I’m their personal miracle
- must love me
- must be local (non-negotiable)
- must be willing to do meals and share food
- must be sexually compatible or happy to negotiate the shoals of no-sex loving (cuddling a must and non-negotiable)
- must be compatible in terms of time and space and affection needs
- must be capable of communicating clearly, aware of self’s needs and desires and limits, and able to recognize and verbalize about trigger points
- must be their own person, with own life, and own dreams and hobbies.
- preferably the owner of a sprawlable lap
- preferably capable of picking me up for hugs

Those who have interest in the above positions should leave me a message in the comments or tweet @katjexia.


Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 58

Jack pointed out yesterday that having four bouts of fever, two severe enough to be almost hallucinogenic, in seven months is not precisely normal. I had a twinge for a moment, where Fear whispered in my ear again, and then it passed. Mostly.

The thing is, Fear, I’m not quite afraid of Death. I’ve been flirting with Thanatos for far too long to be scared of him. He is darkness and respite, forgiveness and mercy.
You, however, I do not like and do not want flitting around me.
Always, I’ve been more afraid for those around me than for myself.
So rather, thank you for illuminating the way.

If I were dying. If I had cancer – would I still be doing this?

Do you see magic when you gaze upon me?
If so, then summon me, bind me, keep me at your side.
Tether me softly, my love. Tether me gently, for I am lighter than air.
Weave a net of gossamer, anchored with strands of braided nettle.
Knit a robe of starlight and moonshine.
Weight the jesses with the sound of crystalline bells
Bar the way with your love and perhaps
Perhaps I shall coalesce out of the mist
Take shape and bind my spirit to yours long enough
Just long enough until you release me

There was this beautiful post about autumn and dying and welcoming the cycle of life and…well, I’ve always been fond of the fall. The spring is sometimes too fervent and the summer cloying, but I adore the crispness of autumn and the quiet of winter.

What would I do if I were diagnosed with something dire?
For sure, staying at NTU would be right out.
Staying in Taiwan would be right out immediately after that, no matter if it might be suicidal. If I have to die, I refuse to do it in a place with 90% humidity most of the time, is stultifyingly hot, and has flying cockroaches big enough to send me into hysterics.

I’d move back to the US.
I’d probably continue writing.
I might indeed go back to my idea from before, of renting a small seaside place in Scotland and staying there until the end.
I would try to spend as much time as possible with those who want me to, barring those who would disturb my rest. My crazy relatives might have to be banned from my sickbed because in no level of hell would I want to deal with all their drama if I were actively dying.

Dandelion fluff and twilight dew. The lazy spin of winged samara upon the air.
Wanda said the other day that she was struck by how I was smiling, how I looked when she saw me for the very first time. Thene said that Chris once said he thought I was the happiest person he’d ever seen when we first met.
Those are good and beautiful things to know, because it’s those thoughts I will treasure most going forward.

Perspective. So thank you, Fear, for that.

Look upon me as if upon a miracle and I shall do the same for you.
How has this universe bent itself and twisted so that we could meet?
Can we ever know how many angels deliberated over our fates?
Smile, my love, smile when you look upon me and I shall do the same for you.

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 57

It’s interesting, but no one has precisely asked, “why tigers and feathers” yet.
I almost want to just leave it a question and see what people come up with. Why, indeed, tigers and feathers? Of which tigers do we speak of? Of what feathers do we weave our dreams?

Speaking of emotional labor, today, somewhat out of the blue, my aunt told me that my uncle who drank pesticide kicked up a great fuss about returning back to the ancestral home hours away from everyone else in the family and then proceeded to do so. She also told me not to tell my father lest he worry.

My immediate reaction: Why tell me? Why tell me if I’m not to tell my father immediately? You’re his sister and you’re in contact with him weekly, sometimes daily, and you’re telling me this after I tell you that I’ve had a fever? Why in the world?

Boundaries. It appears that the theme of my life is boundaries.

It’s funny, because I am queen of blurring boundaries. I like to melt, to meld, and I am infamous for being completely willing to divulge any and all intimacies within minutes of meeting someone. I like to think that I give trigger warnings and I don’t tend to spill things on people without being asked or if it’s not necessary in some way.

But then again, it could just be more of the same karma. You get what you throw around, and all that.

Something occurs to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, listen up please, I don’t want to be your hero.
No, I am not open. Parts of me are broken.
Do yourself a favor; save yourself. Don’t pick me, find someone else.
Why’d you want to bother? Find yourself another.

- Darren Hayes – Hero

For fuck’s sake, Katje, when someone tells you that they don’t want to be your hero – pay the hell attention.
But then, like I said, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to such things.

患得患失。Lately I’ve been tripping into Fear a lot and I’m tired of it.

Come and hold my hand
I wanna contact the living
Not sure I understand
This role I’ve been given
I sit and talk to God
And he just laughs at my plans
My head speaks a language
I don’t understand

I just wanna feel
Real love feel the home that I live in
Cos I got too much life
Running through my veins
Going to waste
I don’t wanna die
But I ain’t keen on living either

- Feel, Robbie Williams

And this is why tigers and why feathers. To remind myself that I’m not the center of anyone’s universe but my own. To remember that promises can be broken just as easily as made, even with the best of intentions. To internalize the truth of how the only way to fly is to be somehow lighter than air.

Illness is a terrible thing. Not just in of itself, which it is, but because of how quickly it tears down all of my defenses. It’s when there are no more spoons in my pocket and I’m flailing mid-air for more wishes. When I want to limpet onto someone because yet another hurricane is raining wrath down on the land. When I laugh at the futility of waiting and giggle at the notion of lingering and hoping gaining anyone anything ever. When the rains are depressing and the sunlight is debilitating.


Go away, Fear. I don’t want to talk to you today. I don’t actually want to talk to you, ever, but I guess sometimes you can come in handy. Just, again, just not today and not tomorrow either.

I might not get that embrace I need, but there’s hot water in the shower. Maybe I can’t curl up in someone’s lap the way I want to, but I have a pile of blankets and the option to buy more. This fever isn’t going to last forever, and once it’s gone, I’ll be back up to my tricks and kicking ass. My stupid sick brain might have Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero running on infinite loop, but some quiet ignored corner is singing Tata Young’s Cinderella as loudly as it can to drown out the noise.

I’ve been dispensing advice like crazy lately. Remember to breathe. Don’t sweat things if those around you aren’t. Give yourself a break. Don’t call yourself stupid when you’re just anxious and stressed. Take care of yourself.
The irony that I’m now the one sleeping for 15 hours at a time with a fever probably brought on by doing too much is not lost on me.
However, it just proves my point. As I said to Eden last week, sometimes the only thing to do is to say, “Fuck you very much.”
Not no, because often people don’t understand that no is a complete sentence. No discussion necessary. No explanation required. No qualifications needed.
So just so the message is clear: fuck you, Fear. Fuck you very much.

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 56

The line that runs through my mind: we could’ve flown like pollen.

Rob Brezny suggests screaming curses at the night sky for as long as it takes to purge the pain that no longer matters.

Consider this my attempt to make this pain irrelevant. I had another impromptu breakthrough today. Thanks, Jack. *laughs* And it’s brought to light something that I realized before but hadn’t internalized: sometimes it’s not just important to understand where you’re hurt, how badly you were hurt, but in which ways you were hurt.

I thought I’d forgiven, but I hadn’t realized the true pain, the real betrayal, and so my forgiveness was essentially worthless.

Is your world so strewn with beauty, so populated with kindred spirits that you can afford to toss me away the way you did?
I had forgiven you for not loving me enough, for not giving me what I needed, for not being who I wanted you to be, for lying to me again and again. I’d forgiven myself for asking that of you, for staying through pain I should have scorned, for being foolish in the face of love and fear. I’d forgiven us for the travesty that was the middle and the cool indifference of the end.
But now that the dust has settled…
The resentment that simmers is the one where I wonder how is it that I wasn’t enough to keep, why you let go of being friends.
Is it so easy for you? Does such synchronicity simply fall into your lap? Do you routinely find people who you can talk to for hours, who hold you without apparent judgment, who invite you to creativity and incite you to full blown laughter?
But, perhaps I wasn’t that for you. And if that’s true, why would you let me believe otherwise? You deserved better. I deserved better.
The castle of ice I held in my hands is nothing but boggy ground underfoot. Painful, when I believed it to be diamond.

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 55

I quoted something to Jack once, almost three years ago, “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.”
It’s a balm that I agree with past-me, that this is important.
But then, as I said, I see being soft as being like water. Fluid, relentless, capable of both molding to fit its circumstances and wearing down the hardest stone.
Although, one wonders how long it would take for water to wear down diamond?

I wonder what the tightness in my chest is telling me. What’s the warning of the nausea that makes it almost impossible to eat? The spinning of my head, the fuzziness, the inability to focus – does it mean something beyond simple fatigue and illness?

Things I am trying to believe in:
It is all right if I fail. I am no more or less worthy if I don’t manage to succeed at what I set out to do.
Even if everyone in the world considers me disposable or replaceable doesn’t make it true.
The past doesn’t predict the future.

I wrote once about life being a river, and we all duckweed floating along on the surface. Sometimes congregating, sometimes separating, but always moving, ever shifting, never able to go back to where we once were.

That was the first time I was called up on the carpet for plagiarism.

Which, I wonder, if I’m digging around old pains and half-remembered thorns, how much I’ve internalized that. All these people in authority questioning if my work was actually mine, telling me in essence that I couldn’t have been capable of producing such writing. And wondering how this internalization has shifted to this wariness in showing others my work, in lack of confidence rather than arrogance.

I told Thene today that to a certain extent I feel like I’ve failed at everything I’ve set my hand to and it’s so very hard not to let that color everything.

I held dandelion fluff in my hands. The wind rose around me and I unfurled my fingers and let them go. Seeds of possibility or the start of a war, I know not. Shall we feast upon the greens come the summertime and twirl tipsily upon dandelion wine, or will the sproutlings be met with poison and sharp implements? Where will I be when the spring wind comes again? Where will you be?

I feel like 2016 is teaching me to let go, but I don’t know how to let go without wanting to release everything.

I am obsidian. Sharp when broken open, reflective, and brittle. Don’t drop me.
Sometimes I close my eyes, and all I see are jagged edges, brilliant and merciless. Every night, I fall, and every morning I wake up bloody. But triumphant, they ask. Perhaps.
All I know is that every time I’m dropped, the more I shatter, and the more likely I am to bloody myself on the next person who holds me because those sharp facets face mostly inward. Mostly, but if you grasp hard enough, I will cut you open as well. Take heed, I want to whisper, and don’t pick me up unless you have the care to.

I was talking with Thene about vulnerabilities and boundaries. The thing is, in this one area, I’ve decided to give up the notion of faking it until I make it. It is, after all, why I changed my name.
In order to be a 君,one has to fight endlessly, to never show vulnerability, and to conquer with extreme prejudice. I don’t want any part of that anymore. Someone else can build the empire and tame the barbarian hordes. Someone who actually enjoys it.
Pretending to be strong has brought me nothing but grief. Mostly because pretending to be strong involved carefully hiding the flinches when someone stomped on my tender places. There was a lot of sucking it up and breathing through the pain of supposedly well-meant advice. There was the exercise in futility of yanking on bootstraps when barefoot.

I said before that we are all duckweed upon the river, but, I live in hope that I will find a pond and be able to become a water lily instead. And the water hyacinth may be beautiful, but it is known to choke the life out of entire ecosystems if one is not careful. Perhaps the key to happiness is becoming a better horticulturist.

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 54

Yesterday, I spoke of tethers.
Today, someone suggested that I meditate to bring myself to the choices that I am considering.
So why not?

Let’s talk terms of service, shall we?

As I said to Jack, I am looking for the emperor who will treat me like an empress. Wanda laughed when I mentioned this to her the other week and said, “Yes, there are those who stand above princesses and queens, but an empress need bow to no one’s rule but her own and none will be placed before her.”

Tethers. Mutual tethers.

If you scream fire, I will stop, drop, and roll. I need you to do the same in order to tether to you.
I’ve looked within myself and I am made of glittering obsidian mirrors. There can be ease here, but only if you are serene within your own skin.
I can be content to drift and wander on my own, but I see those I am tethered to in every blossom, every sweep of the wind, and I would bring back the scent and spice of my travels to share. I need you to see me as well. I need you to carry me in your heart while you are away, the same way you are a sweet ache within mine.

I need someone who knows what they want, who will act upon that desire, and who is clear about their needs.
Be an emperor. Rule with tender mercy. Conquer with accepting wisdom. Judge with passionate truth.
It’s fine if I’m not what you want. It’s perfectly all right if what I offer isn’t what you need. What’s not acceptable is the refusal to figure it out.
I promise to be honest, to always strive for clarity in what I need and what I want. I need you to do the same.

The Aquarian horoscope for this month suggests that I let go of lists and lighten up about love, to go with the flow.
So I shall, because why not to fun and games? Playing can just be playing. I am a cat, after all.
But I am who I am, fangirl of Hades and all – I can only stray so far from my roots. Know yourself, know your enemy, and go on to veni, vidi, vici. In this case, as always, the enemy is fear. I do not need lists, but I do need a sharp knife to defend my line.
Now I know my boundaries. Now I make my prayers to Saturnus, god of time, master of karma. Now shall we open the fifth palace and dance.

Of Tigers and Feathers – day 53

Reason #5001 of why I love Thene: she asked me the question that I’d been thinking about for the last day or so.

By the way, I think one of these days I need to put together a list of all these reasons I love Thene, with their corresponding non-linear numbering and possible repetition and put it on one card. It would be hysterical.

I’ve reconnected with someone from the past.
Jupiter in Libra, dude, it’s no joke.
And somehow things went straight from “oh hey, we haven’t talked in years, but hi” to “your assignment for today is to put on something silky and send me a picture” in about 800~1000 messages (as calculated on the inestimable Facebook) and in about two days, maybe three.

Therefore, the logical and immediate question is: “Are you still single?”

Good question. I was just wondering that myself. <3 Thene.

What is being single anyway?

According to most surveys I’ve filled out, single is unmarried, regardless of whether or not you have “it’s complicated with ___” attached to your self-perception.

So, yes. I am single.

According to conventional thought processes, of the type where you have The Talk and you hammer out the terms of service, and most likely agree to exclusivity…

Yep, still single.

Then, of course, there’s the thought experiment part of the situation. After all, I didn’t really start counting myself fully single until I’d shifted my mindset from “I am a person with an ex-boyfriend who is mired in bitterness” to “I am a person who once knew X and had a relationship with them but have mostly reclaimed my mental space from this person and they are of interest only so much as backstory rather than a prominent landmark in my life”. Scars rather than gaping wounds, so to speak.

So what constitutes being not single?

I once defined romantic love to Thene as when 50% or more of one’s emotional needs and desires are being fulfilled by this other person, or when one desires this other person to be fulfilling the majority of one’s emotional needs and desires. Emotional labor, so to speak, and important, because often one does not simply wish for a certain thing to be fulfilled, but also has needs as to who fulfills it. A hug from a stranger is all well and good for certain situations, but it’s not going to replace the need to be hugged by a loved one under other circumstances.

We’re still not agreed on this, but that’s a definition that works for me.

If we take that definition and then start thinking about being single or not, or, as I am starting to think of it, how “tethered” one is to another person, or “moored”, then…

I think that I am not single when:

I expect my emotional needs and desires to be met by a specific person, and when those same emotional needs and desires cannot be met by another person with the same degree of fulfillment.
To a certain extent, I also expect that “entitlement” comes into play. Do I not only expect these needs to be met, but in a specific sort of time frame and urgency?
Do I expect to come before hobbies, non-urgent work, and normal events? Or do I expect to be placed in the top five after breathing and normal cardiac/brain function?
Of course, whatever I expect of this person, there would be an understanding of reciprocation as much as I am able, the terms of which to be negotiated as things shift. Should I be a caretaker of a small child or an elder, or they are, then of course priority lists shift.

We can discuss how “fair” it is and how “desirable” it is to have this sort of entitlement later.

But for now, the verdict is: still single.


Day 53. In which pictures are taken and flirty words spoken, but tethering has not occurred.

Possible questions to consider: is there a fear of being tethered? is tethering desired (by both parties)? what does tethering look like in long distance relationships (aka what sort of entitlement is possible/acceptable)? and, perhaps most importantly, if assuming a base state of being serene and content in of myself, what sort of tethering would be ideal for the sort of life I want to live?

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 43

October 2016!
I am so very ready for 2016 to be over. This year has been a doozy.

The worst part is – I’m not even sure what I’ve learned in all this.
Maybe I learned that some days it doesn’t matter how much you claim to love another person – if you’re hurting them, then it’s time to just cut line and let go. Corollary: if someone is hurting you, then it doesn’t matter how much they claim to love you either. Maybe I learned how to let disappointment roll off my back because it’s inevitable, only a question of sooner or later. Maybe I learned that many hurts are self-inflicted through entitlement and in that case, no one should feel guilty. Maybe I learned that some liars never change and that there’s still hope. Maybe I learned that a lot of my humiliation is only within my mind and everyone else has already forgotten it. Corollary to the previous: things are so different when dealing with people who don’t fixate on your every stumble.

Tree frog update:
We were talking after class and just sort of walking along…and walking along…and walking along… At some point when I was getting further and further away from my dorm, I started feeling antsy because I had sorta asked what he was going to do and he’d said something non-committal and I decided that since I had no idea where he lived and he hasn’t said anything about dinner, I wasn’t about to risk walking him home and feeling super awkward.
So I kinda-awkwardly said, “welp, bye!” and turned and walked off back towards my dorm.
It’s funny in retrospect, and I shook my head at myself while I was walking back home. Awkward penguin is freaking awkward. Part of it, as I said to Iago later on, was that I have no idea how people are expected to behave in Taiwan and I didn’t want to risk sending out the wrong message or committing some sort of social faux pas.
Either way, whatever, you know?
If he wanted to have dinner with me, he could have said so when I asked him what he was going to do that evening.

I told Wei and Wanda the other day that I’m done chasing after affection. If people want me, I’m standing right here, they should feel free to come and get me. That’s not to say I won’t make effort to reach out, but I am exploring the line between being available and reaching out and carving into myself.
The new frame of mind to reach for is: casual and flexible.
Iago asked: “Who wants to have dinner?” yesterday and I went along with it even though I was tired had plans for a nice night in with fridge-food. If everyone had just scattered, I would have gone home and had a good time. As it is, I now know there’s a very nice Korean restaurant somewhere near the school’s back door that I have no idea how to get back to and I did enjoy actually having dinner with someone for a change.

This is another reef I’m navigating carefully – the line between self-care and punishing others for sins that were committed by others.

The JJs want to do a get-together. Originally, people wanted to do Tuesdays. I imagine that me once upon a time would have gone along with it despite the fact that Tuesdays are hell, but yesterday I said no. No, I can’t, because Tuesdays start at 6:30am and end at 6:30pm and at that point, I’m ready for bed, not dinner, booze, and karaoke.
It felt good to be honest about it being a no. Even better, I didn’t feel very anxious about being the sole dissident. Despite wanting to fit in, despite feeling lonely and sometimes desperate, I stood up for my own comfort and took care of myself and didn’t second-guess myself about doing so.
So now we’re going to pizza and maybe karaoke next Thursday after class ends at 5:30pm. Works for me. Mostly.

In other news, now my father’s hopped on the bandwagon. He said, with chagrin, “I was at the concert with your mother, and I saw this sweet-looking girl and said that I wouldn’t object to having her as a daughter-in-law.”

In further news, my grandmother was very taken aback that my mother had said, once upon a time, that she didn’t need or had any great desire for grandchildren. I almost laughed myself silly when my grandmother denounced that statement and said it was very poorly done and wondered what my mother was thinking.

Smoke, mirrors, and fire

I mentioned those in my last post, didn’t I?

Thene linked it all together for me, however, when she mentioned something a client had said:
“Some people try to get things right by bean counting, whereas others are all about calibrating risk, eg (in this instance) looking out for the things that were most likely to catch fire and making sure they didn’t catch fire, screw the beans. Made me think of me & M, not least in that he ALWAYS knew that X was going to catch fire. Literally always.”
I noted that M seems to note all the fires, but doesn’t try to fight any of them.
Thene: “Oh, yes, in many cases he notes the forthcoming fire & just fireproofs his own boundaries. esp with me, he can’t force people into making the fire not happen.”

My dorm had a required fire safety class yesterday. I was tired and I was skeptical, but in the end I found out some very valuable lessons that can be extrapolated.

The fire person:
“If the flames are licking the roof and spreading sideways – GTFO. Or death. Don’t even bother, just go. However, if the flames are less than ceiling height and going straight up, get your courage and faith together, be a hero, and put out that fire. Be confident and you will prevail.”


“The reason why fire extinguishers are designed to only have about 10 minutes of power is because if you can’t put out a fire within that time frame, the house is going up anyway, so to have it last longer would only kill your chances of survival because you’ll stand there trying to put out the fire instead of fleeing when the fire has already circled round to block off your exit.”


“If you’re in your room and you know there’s a fire somewhere, but you don’t know where for sure, stay inside your room. If you open the door, you are likely to introduce a backdraft, also known as providing a burst of energy to a previously oxygen depleted environment. In most cases, this will result in instant crispy death of the person opening the door. So stay inside your room, open a window, and signal for help. Don’t just stand there, thinking people will know you need help. Nope. When there’s fire, there’s too much going on and way too much smoke. If you want to be saved, you need to signal for help.”


“When fighting a fire, keep your distance or you might end up singed. Fire extinguishers can work up to 5 meters away, so there’s no need to get up close and personal.”


“Do not panic if you know there’s a fire alarm going on somewhere in the building but the alarms in your room aren’t signaling evacuation. The floors most immediately at danger will signal for evacuation first. Stay in your room to avoid overcrowding and possible death by stampede.”


“Do not wander around in case of fire. Smoke rises at the rate of one story every second. You cannot outrun it. If you are more than 30 meters from an easy exit, stay in your room lest you die of smoke inhalation rather than actual fire.”


All fire safety shit, right?
But nooo, we can extrapolate!

If someone’s drama/issue is straightforward and appears solvable (aka, not descending into ceiling-licking crazy), then by all means, be a hero, be confident, and put out that fire.

If you cannot solve someone’s drama within a certain time frame, GTFO because you cannot save them/it and you should preserve your own life.

If you’re not sure of what’s going on, stay barricaded within your boundaries and do not introduce more fuel to the mess.

If there’s drama and you need evacuation, signal for help if you want to live. No one will know you are there or that you want help if you don’t let them know. No one will know that you don’t want any part of it if you don’t speak up.

Keep your distance from drama. Don’t get pulled in. If you can put out the fire safely, do so, but otherwise, keep yourself from being burned!

If the drama isn’t spilling over onto you, please don’t go looking for it or add unnecessary panic to the mess. Stay calm, stay detached, and it will be fine.

Above all, don’t try to outrun the smoke. Barricade, barricade, barricade. Smoke kills more and faster than fire, in this case, meaning that drama explosion spill over ruins more shit than the original actual problem does.

Also, in a small contained space like a bus with lack of outside ventilation, lots of flammable shit, and people crammed together? You have like 30 seconds before everything goes up in fire fire fire. So really, gauge your environment, and if you’re in the equivalent of a bus (small incestuous screwed up group of people who feed off each other’s drama and think forgiveness is a myth), just GTFO. Unless you have super speed, which you don’t because you aren’t Superman or the Flash or whatever, you will be knocked out and crispy faster than you believe possible.

He also mentioned a couple of cases where people just wanted to burn some brush or dead leaves and ended up causing huge amounts of damage they were then responsible for. *nudge nudge*

Be safe, kiddies, and don’t play with matches. Or explosives. If you must, however, do it with permission and intelligently.

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 36

Te quiero versus te amo versus I love you versus I like you versus 我愛你。

But first, about wanting, needing, desiring, and then as always, definitions.
I was talking to a couple of friends about being 僑生 (overseas Chinese), coming to NTU, thoughts, expectations, and the funny thing was: we were totally bonding over our mutual disenchantment and wanting to flee.
I say funny because I was really hoping to connect with other people in a more positive way. Less dammit universe and more this is so great. I say funny because it’s just that sort of semi-hysterical laughter coming from – if you’re bonding over your mutual want to escape, what does that ultimately mean?
I really like Wei and Wanda. They’re funny, friendly, and unlike everyone else…willing to be friends. Wei, in particular, is my particular favorite brand of incisive, and Wanda just makes me laugh because she’s such a sweetheart.
We were discussing the whole NTU thing: it seems we’re all Type B people stuffed into an environment full of Type A++ people. The Type A++ people hereafter referred to as the JJs for brevity. That might change if I actually meet a couple of JJs, but for now it works.
And it appears that we’re not having the best time of our lives, but goddammit, who really ups and gives up a degree from NTU without at least giving it a shot?
Not me, anyway.
I gave up a chance at NYU and lived to regret it. I don’t want to just dump this without giving it the good old college try, but then again, let’s return to the question at the root: what exactly is prompting this?

Vanity? Oh hell yeah.
Hopes that this will open up more doors? Definitely.
Anticipation that this might lead to other things? Fuck yes.

But truly, how much of the actual doing and going are pleasurable?

Not a whole damn lot, unfortunately.

The class load is going to be insane: 18 credits next semester or seven classes. Each credit equals one hour of class time. If we calculate four hours of homework/practice per class, that’s  28 hours. That comes out to about 46 hours per week, not counting group projects, additional practices necessary to catch up to par, and practicum hours.
The teachers actually said that they’d prefer that we practice interpretation on our own for about 8-10 hours per week in addition to classes and homework.
The thing is, this isn’t mindless work. It’s full blown, brain stretching, mind melting levels of focus. And I truly don’t think even 4 hours of that per day is sustainable, much less the rates at which they’re suggesting.
People do it. People have done it. People are going to do it.
I don’t know if I can.

So that’s one.

Another thing is, being a 僑生 is freaking strange here. Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. As Wei put it, if we were blond and blue-eyed, we’d have people swarming all over us. But being “overseas Chinese” just makes us odd. It’s worse for those from countries that are seen as more “backwards” and “undesirable” by the Taiwanese.
It’s sobering.
As an American, there’s the issue with displacing the indigenous people (oh, those people who just like to get drunk, play off their heritage to get attention/benefits, and who are naturally lazy), the horrifying attitudes towards immigrant workers (those horrible Mexicans), the weird pandering to the desirable Europeans, and the lack of respect for people’s difficulties.
As a Taiwanese person, there’s the issue with displacing the indigenous people (oh, those people who just like to get drunk, play off their heritage to get attention/benefits, and who are naturally lazy), the horrifying attitudes towards immigrants (those darn Filipinos), the weird pandering to the desirable ones (Japanese, Korean, white Westerners), and a general lack of cultural sensitivity.
All three of us feel a bit ostracized and the odd person out because we didn’t rise up through the ranks the usual way and because we’re overseas Chinese. Too cool for the average person to like, but not cool enough to be liked, contrary as that seems to be.

So there’s that for two.

And then there’s the overall stress of being a Type B (or as Thene put it, wanting to be a type Z person) in a world of JJs. Wanda and Wei’s roommates apparently do nothing but study. Get up early in the morning, sit their asses down, and do nothing else all day. It’s to the point where they don’t feel comfortable in their own rooms because they’re afraid of disrupting their roommates’ focus.
All three of us were hoping to make friends, meet people, network, and …y’know, have lives. We’re seeing that this might be a bit more difficult than originally anticipated.

That’s three.

That’s the NTU part of things and it mirrors and feeds into the “significant other” side of things. It’s all fear and smoke and screaming and it’s so very hard to find the actual fire to put it out.

I need this program, this degree, to get ahead.
If I fail at this, I fail, period.
People will think less of me if I quit and it will be hard to find a job.

I need a man to thrive, possibly even to survive, because this shit is super hard to navigate through alone.
If I don’t get a man, I’m a dried up spinster who has no lasting value to society.
If I fail at this, what other stuff is there?

I will survive, regardless. We’ll talk thriving later, you and I.

But Fear screams louder than Logic, unfortunately.

Note: I’ve been wanting to cuddle up to tree frog (he who is pretty and tempting and probably…poisonous. in that, an otter and a cat may fall in love, but where will they make their home sorta way). And it’s terrifying, mostly because I can’t tell what’s going on. Is it skin hunger exacerbated by stress or actual attraction? I don’t even know.

So. Love.

There was a question of interpreting “I love you”. The teacher said “I love you” and “我愛你” – theoretically meaning the same thing, even has the exact same structure grammatically, yet …one is not truly a substitute for the other. She said that (and this is where I disagree with her): “I love you as spoken in the US is lighter, something that can be said casually, but ” 我愛你” in Taiwan — have you guys ever said this to someone? Doesn’t it feel heavier? Can you actually imagine saying that to someone?”
Everyone else was like – yeah.
I stayed silent because I didn’t agree. I don’t know that it’s lighter or heavier or a question of how it’s going to be taken or accepted. For the longest time, I struggled with saying that to my family, even the “lighter” I love you rather than 我愛你. Of course, my personal traumas and issues come into play as well.
Teacher: so I wouldn’t translate I love you as 我愛你, necessarily, I would translate it as “I like you very much” or “I like you”.
Spanish guy: Yes, same in Spain, we would say te quiero, which is I want you, but te amo? I have never said that to anyone in my entire life.
And te amo is reserved for romantic love; you do not say that to your kid or parent

I thought about it, and no, I don’t think it’s lighter in America as I have experienced it. Yes, one says “I love X” or “I love Y”, but there’s a matter of tone. How does the quote go? “Back in my day, one did not say I love potatoes the same way they said they loved the Lord” or something like that. And whereas the character was decrying the devaluation of “love”, I would argue that one, in fact, does not say they love potato salad the same way they claim to adore God. When you string together “I love you”, in that precise way, that carries weight and I actually have not heard it as often as people seem to expect from watching US-based media.

I also mentioned that I might say “I love x”, while sitting in a group with X and Y, but direct that sentence at Y rather than turning to X and saying “I love you”. Because that’s lighter. That’s easier. That carries less chances of rejection or awkwardness.

It took me a long time to be able to say “I love you” to Thene, and there were many baby steps along the path. ILU or I <3 you or "me too". I had to make the conscious effort, not because I didn't feel it, but because those are indeed heavy words.

And...well, love has hurt in many unexpected and lasting ways. To say it, to summon it, to name it -- it's hard and weighty, no matter the language. Even though I do find it easier in English. Because of cultural baggage, because Chinese to me is the language of rejection, because of all manner of things that have nothing to do with reality.