Monthly Archives: July 2014

THE002 Her

I stare at the buzzing phone in my hand. Caller ID says it’s him. I don’t know why I still kept his number. I don’t know why I still kept his picture, which is flashing on my screen. He’s smiling and his eyes twinkle up at me, as if knowing with such complete confidence that I’ll pick up. So many emotions stir up within me. Emotions about him I’ve suppressed since we last met in person, where he rejected me outright.

He’s still calling. Why is he calling me? Why is he calling now? It’s been almost two years since we last met.

I flash back to when we first met. He was my classmate’s best friend and we’d met at this computer workshop thing. I can’t even remember what it was about, because I was kind of dazzled by his smile. When my classmate introduced us, he gave me this big confident grin as we shook hands. I controlled myself and remembered my manners, thank goodness. He added me as a friend on Facebook after the workshop.

The first time we talked online was over a shared interest in a musician: Lindsey Stirling. Oh I absolutely adore her! She can dance and play the violin at the same time and I love the music videos she makes when she mixes classical and dubstep together.

Anyway, he had shared one of Lindsey Stirling’s videos and tagged our mutual friend. I commented on it and we had a good time defending Lindsey from our mutual friend, who didn’t really like her. Since then we’ve bonded over every single music video that Lindsey Stirling released.

One day he told me about this introduction class to Latin dance and asked if I would go with him. I was thrilled, he had asked me out! I moved my schedule around so that I could go with him and replied that yes, I’d be willing to go. It seemed like he, too, was interested in me, because shortly after that, he asked me out to breakfast before our first Latin dance class together. We chatted for a while on Facebook and boy was he hilarious. There just seemed to be no end to his jokes and puns and quick quips.

When we met for breakfast, I found that he was really chatty. I mean, he had the gift of the gab! He did talk rather fast, but I put that down to nerves. Heck, I was so nervous too; I was barely able to say anything. It was a good thing he could talk a lot. I enjoyed his funny stories and anecdotes very much, and I did notice his effort to encourage me to talk. I appreciated that, but all I wanted was just to listen to him speak.

A couple of days later, he asked me out again. He’d somehow found out that the club I belonged to had organized a Halloween event and asked if I was going. I replied that I wanted to go, but no one I asked was interested. Actually, I hadn’t asked anyone at all, but it’s still technically not a lie. I just hoped he’d ask me to go with him and sure enough, he did. I was so happy and I even bought our tickets for us and treated him to dinner. We spent about three hours together at the event then hung out for a while after that. I had turned up late and made him wait half an hour for me because I was running around doing errands, so I’d insisted on buying him dinner.

Then one day after one of our Latin dance classes, he totally dropped me. We were walking a little behind our group, heading to dinner. There was this small road we had to cross and he just stepped off without seeing the oncoming taxi. Okay it was close enough that we would have to run if we wanted to cross before it, but far enough for me to reach out, grab his hand and pull him back. For those few seconds, it was blissful. He held my hand loosely in his, and then the worst thing happened.

He threw my hand away.

Okay fine I’m exaggerating a little. He just let go of me, he didn’t throw my hand away, but it sure felt like it. I was so hurt as I watched him step off the road after the taxi had passed and I meekly followed behind.

I thought he liked me. He asked me out three times and still he hadn’t confessed, so I thought I’d nudge him a long a little. The taxi gave me the perfect excuse to hold his hand, but that seriously backfired. After our last Latin dance class, he never asked me out again. We still talked a bit on Facebook, but I also noticed he stopped sharing Lindsey Stirling videos with me.

I was hurt, then angry. I felt strung along, like a naive little girl. How could he have treated me like that? I loved his confidence, which showed especially in his eyes and smile. It was hard and I felt like I didn’t deserve to be angry at him because he hadn’t actually confessed to me and dumped me. It was like losing something that wasn’t even mine to begin with. But, eventually, I managed to move on. I suppressed all my feelings for him, because I’m tough like that.

I’m not a foolish girl anymore.

But as I stare at the buzzing phone in my hand, he smiles at me with that soft confidence I once loved.

Oh, darn it.

“Hello?”

-Jace

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THE002 Him

It’s been a couple of years since we last met in person and I’ve learnt a lot more about love and relationships; what I like and what I dislike. I had a crush on her before, but I never did anything much about because I wasn’t as confident then as I am now.

So I’m staring at my phone, her number on my screen and I’m just one tap away from calling her. I need to know. I need to know what we could have been then, and could we be anything now? I think back to the first time I met her.

We met during a computer class though our mutual friend (my best friend and her classmate). I thought she was cute and a typical girl-next-door type. She was very polite, not cold or stuck up, and I got the “good girl” vibe off her. The three of us chatted for a bit and she and I ended up befriending each other on Facebook.

Most of our interaction was online from there. The first real connection we had was over shared interest in YouTuber Lindsey Stirling. Lindsey is a dancing violinist and creates original songs by blending classical music with dubstep. I had shared one of Lindsey’s videos and my best friend didn’t see what the big deal was. Then she came to my defense, or rather, Lindsey’s defense. The both of us bonded over Lindsey’s music videos as we gushed about how awesome she was. Since then, every time a new Lindsey music video came out, I’d share it with her, or she with me, whoever found it earlier.

The first time I actually made a move was to ask her to a short intro to Latin dance course. Bottom line is, she accepted and we went as partners. We had even colour-coordinated our outfits for each lesson. While we chatted about it online, I was my comfortable witty self and she said I was a funny guy.

A funny guy! I love to make people laugh and being a funny person has always been what I’ve striven to achieve. No one had ever told me I was funny before. Sure, they laugh at my jokes, but no one has ever said I was funny. Now THAT was the trigger. My self-confidence skyrocketed and I asked her out to breakfast a day before our first dance lesson.

She agreed, but it wasn’t exactly a date because I had put it as a “get to know you better since we’re gonna be dance partners for a while” thing. If I could reach back in time and slap myself I would do so right now. This might not have been a date, but it was the closest I’ve ever gotten to one, so naturally I was nervous. Still, it wasn’t a complete disaster. We ended up chatting for almost two hours. There were some awkward pauses here and there, but I had prepared a list of topics to talk about and ask about her, so I managed to keep the ball rolling. I think that was a bright idea on my part; my mind just kept blanking out whenever I looked at her.

Sometime later, I found a school Halloween event that her club had organized. I asked if she was going and she said that she wanted to go but nobody else was interested. Immediately I asked her if she wanted to go with me and she said yes. We didn’t dress up as anything for the Halloween event, but I still remember what she wore: a cute little pink dress that was adorable and yet somehow elegant on her.

In all the time I’ve known her, there is one thing I’ve always regretted doing and it’s the reason why I’m holding the phone in my hand, my finger hovering over the call button.

See, there was this one time after dance class when we went to have dinner with the other dancers. She and I lagged behind the group a bit to talk. I was so engrossed with talking to her that I didn’t check the small road we were about to cross. There was a taxi coming which I hadn’t noticed and I stepped off the pavement. She grabbed my hand and pulled me back immediately.

I know what you’re thinking; it’s a classic scene from a Korean romance drama or something. I seriously did not make this up. It wasn’t even a close shave. But it happened and it wasn’t even the thing I regretted.

After the taxi passed, she didn’t let go of my hand.

BUT I LET GO OF HERS.

As soon as I did, I realized my mistake. She didn’t even make a move to pull her hand out of mine. It’s not that I didn’t want to hold her hand; of course I did! And it’s not like we haven’t held hands in dance class before. I just felt so… shocked. I had no idea how to react, so instinctively I pulled away. I have lost count of how many times I’ve beat myself up over this. It’s the worst oh-gawd-why moment I’ve ever had. And I was too much of a coward to do anything about it afterwards. To this day I still remember that her hand was small and soft and her palms were a little leathery, the mark of someone who’s worked hard with her hands.

Just one mistake which I failed to recover from and it’s haunted me ever since. And with all that I know now, I have to find out if we could have been something.

The phone is ringing in my ear.

-Jace

Soulmate Theory

I have a new theory on soulmates. There is no ONE person just for us; it’s a type. There are many people with whom each of us could have a successful romantic relationship.

Okay, if there really only is one person out there for each of us, then the probability of us finding that one person is very very small. It’s so small it’s unrealistic. We also really don’t know exactly what we want anyway. Don’t we usually go into relationships thinking he or she is the one, only to find out they’re not?

Even Animology shows you that there isn’t just one person for you, and that’s a tool for finding your soulmate. Each person does a quiz and is given a profile, which consists of a colour and an animal. There definitely aren’t seven billion permutations, which means that there are multiple people who have the same profile, meaning multiple people can be your soulmate.

Therefore a soulmate is not a person; it’s a profile. But each of your possible soulmates could be different too. It’s a person’s quirks and choices that make them who they are. So then once you’ve found your soulmate, it all comes down to whether you can tolerate their quirks.

So I have a new action plan: dating by elimination and actively looking for deal breakers.

See, I figure that if I work the probability, dating more girls would mean that I’m more likely to find someone I can click with. Cast my net wide, ya know? Also, each time I ask a girl out, I find out more about myself, what I like and what I dislike. That way I can fine tune my search for my next date.

Perhaps this sounds very mechanical, unromantic and somewhat desperate, but hey, I’m looking for my future partner. Someone who I can and want to spend the rest of my life with. I deserve to be picky and I’m doing everything in my power to make sure that happens the way I want it to. Okay, that sounds so controlling. Rephrase: I’m doing everything I can so that when the right woman arrives, I won’t mess it up. Every girl I date unsuccessfully provides me with practice and experience for when I finally meet my significant other.

So the second part to my plan is to actively look for deal breakers. Habits and quirks about a person that make me go “Nope, I’m sorry, I have to call this off right now.” Some of these include smoking, the inability to understand my jokes (especially puns), excessive use of vulgarities and not making the effort to look decent. I’ll expand more on this and in more detail in a future post.

This is also the way I’ve started looking at the new friends I make. I actively look for deal breakers. I find that there’s another advantage too; these things I look for give me conversation openers. Like, I ask them if they smoke. If they say yes, I back away. If they say no, then I can start hating on smokers.

Someone once said that bonding over shared hatred is stronger and more fun than bonding over shared interests.

-Jace

Carousell

I’ve recently been using Carousell, a mobile app similar to Ebay, but specific to Southeast Asia. I think it’s much more user friendly and intuitive, as there are less options and requirements than Ebay. I can only compare it to Ebay because that’s the only other secondary market platform I’ve used.

For now I’m only trading Magic: the Gathering (MTG) cards and books. Two weeks ago, on Friday, I made three trades. Bought the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy at $25, Mastermind at $7, and did an even trade with MTG cards. My first three transactions went pretty well and I was very happy with them.

Not only do I plan to read the books I bought, I’m also going to wrap the covers in plastic wrap and resell them when I’m done. Perhaps I can even make a slight profit! As of now I haven’t sold any books, just cards. (I’m selling the Divergent trilogy and the Rogue Agent series, if anyone is interested!)

Last Friday I bought Ellen Degeneres’ book, Seriously… I’m Kidding for just $8. I’ve only read a bit of it and I can’t stop laughing!

But it’s not always good. After I bought Seriously… I’m Kidding, I was suppose to meet another guy to sell him $5 worth of cards. The plan was to meet him at Woodlands MRT station at lunch, around 12.30pm. I messaged him at 11.30 saying that I’d be on time, but he replied to say that he’d gone somewhere different for lunch. So we pushed it to 6pm, after his work. I had to go back to Jurong East station to pick up the book anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal to me. When I went to pick up the book, I asked if he’d be there, but he said no, perhaps around 9pm instead. I was fine with that because I would be taking the train home anyway from town area. I could make a little detour.

Then the real problems started. Initially, I wanted to go check out a new churros place at Somerset, but when I reached there, it was already 8pm and there was a huge queue. In order to make it to Jurong East by 9pm, I’d have to leave at 8.15pm. The queue looked as if it would take more than 15 minutes to wait for, so I left empty handed. At least I found it and I knew it was popular.

As I left, I shot a message informing him of my location and estimated time of arrival. No reply. At 8.40, I sent another message saying I’d be there by 8.50pm, as well as a description of what I was wearing and carrying. No reply. At 8.55pm, I started getting worried and asked if he was on his way. Finally at 9.15pm he said his phone was dying and his meeting ran late. I asked if he could reach by 10pm, but he didn’t respond so I left at 9.30pm.

In the end, I was fined an extra $2 for overstaying in the MRT, so that just added to my level of annoyance. I left a message asking for mail trade, but he didn’t reply. So I decided I would have nothing to do with him anymore.

This was a very important lesson for me. Sometimes I’m too nice. I don’t like conflict, and I do my best not to go into an argument unless a) I can win flawlessly and b) winning matters. I don’t take action in anger very often, but when I don’t hold back anything.

Mum always says to pick my battles wisely.

-Jace

World Building

Wow, writing this story is much more difficult than I thought it’d be. I’m now world building and it’s slow because I’m the only one doing it. I mean, I do bounce ideas off my friends, but I want to be able to say I made this story myself, you know?

Anyway, this is an update on what I’ve got. I know I said I’d have a chapter once every two weeks starting July, but I already missed the first fortnight because I’m not ready to release it yet.

I did settle on a structure and names though. I’m gonna write a trilogy, and the titles are Learn, Remember and Forget. That should provide me with enough scaffolding flavour to craft my story around, as well as know what parts of the story should belong to which book. Sometimes I think of scenes in my head, or encounter real life scenarios that I can incorporate into my story, so the titles give me a filter I can use to assign each scenario.

I thought I’d be able to do this whole project from the bottom up, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’m a top down person. I need to have to whole structure then work out the details. So that’s also why I’ve been delayed in writing; I’ve been busy planning out the major portions of the story.

On a fun note, I’ve created a skill tree for mental abilities! Did quite a bit of research in telepathic skills and psionic abilities. It was very interesting and the research not only helped me create the skill tree, it also helped me classify different types of abilities that my characters would have.

I also finally created my antagonist. There are several stories in which the antagonist isn’t actually evil, just misunderstood or different from the protagonist. For example, Alien. The xenomorphs are just animals that have evolved to be at the top of the food chain. They’re only the “bad guys” because they kill the humans, which most viewers “support” or “root for”. From the xenomorphs’ point of view, they’re just following their natural instincts to hunt for food and protect their queen from threats. Humans are merely food to them, just as cows and pigs are to us. Aliens are much like ants and bees, but these creatures aren’t “bad guys” to us.

There are many other non-evil antagonists out there too. Freedom fighters, natural disasters, unavoidable situations. It just has to be unhelpful to the protagonist. So that’s how I’m going to write it. I’ve come up with a sort of left brain vs right brain sort of concept, but I’ve filtered that battle into Remember and Forget.

The last reason I have for delaying the story is making characters. It’s one of the reasons why I thought of the Friend Date. I get to see different types of people and then model my characters of them, or blend different aspects or quirks of different people I know to create a new character. My protagonist is easy, he’s modelled off an ideal version of myself. But since this story is about mind reading, I’ll need to understand different people and how they think; what exactly goes through their minds.

So anyway, the new release date will be in the first two weeks of August. I’ll probably finish the first chapter in July, but I’ll need some buffer time to prepare more. I always like buffer time.

-Jace

Friend Dates

I had a thought; why do we date? It’s getting to know the other person in depth and to see if the two of you can connect and click well together.

So why don’t we do that with friends? Think about it, one on one quality time with your best friend (even of the same gender) is always about getting to know him or her, know what’s going on with their lives and to reinforce the connection you have. I’m thinking I could turn this into a new project. I should go and have one on one quality time with my friends. I already do this with my best friend, Song, on a semi-regular basis, so why not expand it a little? Besides, it’ll also act as a secondary filtering tool to help me see if that friend and I really could be close.

Obviously, it’s because I want to spend time with them. I don’t want superficial friendships, so the friends I do keep have to have a connection with me. So the first reason I want to do this is to strengthen and maintain the close friendships I already have.

Taking a look back now on the close friends I have, the close friends I’ve lost, and the friends I wish were closer, I really wonder how it all happened (or didn’t happen, in the last case). This project will be partly a research project to help me understand myself better as well. What makes us best friends? What is it that separates just friends and best friends? Perhaps actually extracting a clear list of traits will help me pick future friends more carefully.

Another thing I’ve noticed about myself is that sometimes I tend to dominate a conversation, especially when I get too passionate about what I’m talking about, or if I have a series of follow up jokes to deliver. I’m aware of it and I do catch myself, but by then it’s too late to “un-dominate”. All I can do is pull on the reins and then people ask me if I’m okay because I’ve suddenly gone quiet. My point is, I need to learn to listen just for the sake of listening, not listen to reply. Right now, I tend to listen in order to have time to formulate a reply, or recall a quote or joke correctly. It’s difficult for me to do it right now, because my mind works at light speed, drawing connections to puns and quotes, going off on tangents and just wandering. I don’t want to be the guy who always has to have the last word, because that’s really immature. I have learnt the hard way that most people don’t think like I do or at the same speed as I do.

I guess I owe my friends an apology for each time I’ve been overly zealous when I speak.

I also realize that this friend date project can be used as a confidence building exercise. I have several friends on Facebook that I’m not close to but I wish we were. I haven’t spoken to them for quite a while, apart from random funny comments I leave on their photos and status updates. This could be the perfect excuse to connect with them as well as reconnect with old friends I’ve lost touch with.

I want to learn how to be able to talk to people even though I barely know anything about them. I think it’s called building rapport, so I guess the best way is to throw myself in the deep end. Heck, this isn’t even the deepest end yet; that’s talking to a total stranger anywhere and at anytime. If I’m able to talk to friends I’m not close to that I barely know, I should be able to move on to striking up a conversation with anyone.

Lastly, I’m also writing a fictional story about mind reading and I need different characters. As a side effect of this project, I’m hoping to gain insight into how different people think and, more importantly, why they think differently. I need to model my characters off real people, or perhaps draw different traits together to create a new character.

One thing I’m looking for are quirks that make a person unique. For example, my main character will have a really sweet tooth as a side effect of using his mental abilities to often. To normal people, it’ll just be a quirk. So if I can identify quirks my friends have and invent interesting reasons for them, I think my characters will be more relatable.

Well, we’ll see how this goes. I’ll do my best to talk to one person a week or two, so I’ll probably do another post in a few months’ time, reflecting on this project.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
-Dr Suess

-Jace

And I swear

This is hypocritical of me, but I hate swearing. I really have a bugbear with vulgarities and the way they’re used. Especially in the army. I mean, I’m a guy; I probably swear just as much as the next guy, but only in a casual setting and when there aren’t any girls around. But sometimes it just gets a little too much. It bothers me when it’s way too excessive and uncalled for.

In the Vsauce video above, Michael mentions an hour-long talk by Steven Pinker, who classifies swearing into five categories: Abusive, Emphatic, Dysphemistic, Idiomatic and Cathartic. Micheal explains all five in the video, but I’m going to write out my own summary anyway.

Abusive swearing is used to intentionally hurt others. This is the type of swearing I can’t stand, for obvious reasons. Also, overuse of vulgarities to reprimand someone just reveals the limited the vocabulary of the scolder. But I also understand that is the main form of communication used by commanders in the army to keep their men in check. It’s a crude but simple way of maintaining authority through intimidation. Sometimes, it’s also used to inject humour at the expense of one person.

Guys insult each other but they don’t really mean it. Girls compliment each other, but they don’t really mean it either.

Emphatic swearing using the taboo-ness of the swear word as an adjective or adverb to emphasize something. Normally you wouldn’t use a vulgarity, but since you did, it indicates to the people around you how strongly you feel about whatever you’re emphasizing. So swear words are useful to help with communication.

Dysphemistic swearing, or just simply dysphemisms, is the use of derogatory terms used instead of a pleasant or neutral forms of the same word. Sometimes it’s used offensively, but it’s usually to a lesser degree than abusive swearing. Also, while abusive swearing is primarily used on people, dysphemisms are broader and encompass inanimate objects as well. For example, “loony bin” instead of “mental hospital”. Many dysphemisms are the result of slang and short forms.

Idiomatic swearing is used in a casual setting, when everyone else is your peer and it’s alright to swear. Everyone in the group is comfortable with swearing, which indicates a stronger level of closeness than acquaintances without being intimate.

Finally, cathartic is when you cuss to relieve pain and stress. Step on a Lego? Swear. Feeling frustrated while studying for exams? Just curse. Got dumped? Let loose a profanity. It feels good to swear because it eases pain and suffering a little. This also brings to mind Tourette’s Syndrome, when a person has a build up of tension within his or her body and the only release is to involuntarily curse. Not everyone who has this disorder has the need to cuss though.

-Jace