Author: Grace Yin

Somebody you used to know.

小寒

Minor cold.

Class resumes in less than a week, and in the time in between I have been Not Sleeping Well, Not Eating Well, and generally not Faring Very Well. Reading the news from the relative safety of my bed (a soft, warm place) in a room in the back of an old house (somewhat stable, not owned by me) at 5pm is a kind of surreal experience nowadays. Am I reading fiction? What part of the last 12 months have felt like grounded reality to me? Of course, not much of my life as a whole has felt like reality. There were many times throughout my childhood that I felt as if everything was passing by too quickly, like I was on a train (which I’ve never been) going through the countryside and I was trying to count the cows or read the signs that we passed. There was never really a moment to pause and process anything, and maybe that’s what’s impeding upon my experience of existing.

Anyway, not much to talk about again. Still cold outside, a bit chaotic as usual, and full of anxiety about Everything. I’m dreading school, and I’m dreading having to dread things again, which is another big problem. When your biggest problems are yourself, you’d think it’d be easier. You’d also think that, having gone through some Shit at a younger age, I would be better equipped to deal with mental health issues, but unfortunately it’s quite the opposite. I’ve developed some pretty bad coping methods. I had a friend assume I’d be okay just because of that, which is laughable. It’s like when someone hurts their elbow and instead of seeing a doctor or anything, favours it and instead uses their shoulder and strains that instead. At some point they’re gonna have an entirely damaged arm, and then they can’t do anything anymore. It’s unsustainable. I’m unsustainable. (The metaphor was a reference, yes.)

Not much else to report. We’ll see how I feel when school starts. I really hope the 2nd semester is better but historically, no it won’t be. Again, I’d just love to pass my courses. Please and thank you.

2021

元旦快乐
Happy New Year!

I’m not quite sure how to start this one off, but we’re going in headfirst as usual. There’s never any plan or cohesive structure behind any of these posts, so it’s always fun to see where I end up by the final sentences. As per my own customs, we will begin by reviewing last year’s post: 2020.

I guess I was right about the “you never know what could happen”. Staying alive really did become an achievement this year, and I turned 20 successfully. That’s a plus. My usual pessimism turned out to be pretty accurate as a predictor, which is not great. I like this line: “Being busy is a lot better than being sad.” This is hilarious because I was not only busy but also sad. Except for the summer, of course: I don’t know if I was busy or sad. I was just floating. I think that’s a good descriptor for 2020 in general: just… going with the flow. 2019 felt like 5 years, but 2020 felt like just 2. Clearly, I have no grasp on time, but I hope you get what I’m saying.

Here’s last year’s reminder:

  • There’s a lot out there, and you’re not an outsider to it all.

I have no clue what I was talking about. Is this referring… to school? To Adult Society? I have no idea. I’m not really in the mood to try to analyze it, either (analyzing things reminds me too much of school), but I think it was more of an encouraging type of thing. I’ve always been pretty passive, usually observing and commenting quietly on things and trying to avoid getting too invested in anything. It’s a tactic that definitely is pretty safe, as far as self-preservation goes, but it can also be pretty boring… which is another thing I can’t stand. So I’m guessing I was just trying to get myself to care a little more about things. I think I did sort of end up doing that, I fought with some instructors and met new people and tried to be less cold, in a way. Not sure if it worked, but only time will tell.

Some people have also been listing their achievements from 2o20 to lift themselves up, but I probably can’t do that. I’m a depressing person and I’m not as keen as I used to be about reflecting constantly. It’s a circular thought pattern usually, especially since I live alone and I don’t really get a second opinion anymore to the things I think about.

Let’s keep this simple.

  • Continue going with the flow. Don’t be too quick to judge others even if they judge you first. Sometimes people are just like that. The only thing I know is myself, and I have faith in my (lack of proper) morals.

Also, I’ll try to call my parents more often and try to stay focused in class (which is harder than usual because I’m no longer physically in class and I don’t need to act cool. I’m kidding. Maybe.

Anyway, the solar term system seems to be working great, so it’ll be continuing. I’ll update the categories at some point next week, and maybe… there will be… some more Other Content. Who knows.

Until then.

冬至

Winter solstice.

a pretend sunset.

School is technically over, except I felt really burnt out so I got an extension and thus have not finished my work for that one class. I guess I’m kind of glad about it, because otherwise I’d be bored. I’ve been living in a timezone of my own for the past week or so, sleeping when my friends wake up and waking up a few hours later and then repeating this process. Does the sun rise? I never see it.

But I guess I’m not complaining so much as observing myself. Disassociation. Today’s winter solstice, which is associated with dumplings, so one of my housemates (who is Chinese) and I went out to get dumplings. They were very homemade and not as good as the ones my family makes, but I’ve been pretty spoiled by my parents food-wise. That’s good, of course, but also bad because now I am picky and also not into cooking. I am into desserts, though. Maybe I’ll just be the resident dessert maker and eater. Anyway, I had a beer and a few dumplings. After a stressful semester, even this was enough to make me feel alive again. That’s step one: eating properly and talking to people, taking walks, feeling the freezing cold wind, all that stuff that reminds me I am a person and not a personality plugged into the internet.

Anyway, I’ll probably get to trying to be better at taking care of myself once I’m actually with this absolutely cursed semester. I just want to sleep for 24 hours. I probably can’t do it, but the idea is so enticing. But for now, I’m going to take a shower and get back to writing.

things people about 20 years older than me should know

Here’s some more free-form thinking. This is not directed at any particular person, but instead a certain denomination of the people I interact with. To be fair, this could apply to not just people around my teachers or my parents’ ages, but also anyone who tends to think like a conventional adult.

Firstly, let’s start with my outlook on Things In General. You have to keep in mind that I’m only 20, but that’s also part of the fun. Wouldn’t you like to know what 20 year olds think about? I know basically nothing and yet I still have all this confidence in my own beliefs. What were you thinking about when you were 20? Did you think you knew what you were doing, and where you wanted to go next in your life, and what your plan for the upcoming five years would be? I don’t have a plan. I don’t have a goal in mind.

Whether this is a personality thing, or the result of certain experiences in childhood and the adolescent years, I usually prefer to live in the moment. The most planning I do is course selection and grocery shopping, and I feel like that’s just the way I like to do things for now. Maybe one day I’ll find a goal, or some other reason to continue living for, but as of now I’m pretty content just doing whatever makes me feel alright.


I didn’t really have a specific structure in mind when I decided to write this, so I’ll go full stream of consciousness. Next up is the topic called Where I am and How Did I Get Here. I am currently living on my own in downtown Toronto, attending university (online), and generally being very Alone. There are a multitude of answers that I give when people ask me why I chose to move from the Vancouver area to Toronto alone, but essentially I just wanted to leave home. I love my parents and I love my siblings, and I had casual friends at home, sure, but when I started grade 12, I kind of knew that things had to stop going the way they were, and the only way out of that was to leave.

I had a pretty average childhood, for the most part, up until grade 4. The short version of this story was that I was being treated badly by my teachers and some of my peers, and developed a nasty case of anxiety that never went away. I was a shy kid to begin with, so of course being bullied by my teachers didn’t help at all. I changed schools, but by that time there were only 2 years of elementary left so it was almost impossible to make friends. After that, high school was bad. Despite it being a regular public high school in Burnaby, it was competitive and toxic and full of incredibly unhealthy things. I wanted to make friends, and so became swept up into the whole thing. It was very bad for me. Throughout all of high school, I was always ready to die. I wasn’t planning on committing suicide, or actively seeking methods of self-harm, but I knew that if there was a way to just disappear and never come back, I would choose that option.

… and here I’d like to apologize to my parents. I’m thankful they’ve always provided for me, and I always had too much to eat, and I was given a lot of freedom unlike my peers. But just like any teenager, I kept them in the dark about a lot of things that happened to me. I didn’t consult them when making decisions, and I would hide my feelings and thoughts all the time. It led to some pretty bad arguments (mostly between my dad and I), and I know that I’m still like that now. I just don’t want anyone to have to worry about me. Unfortunately, that also meant they may not know me as well as I imagined.


Anyway, even at the end of high school, when I prepared to leave home, certain bad things happened. I’m a fairly prideful person, and it’s quite hard for me to tell my family that I was assaulted or scared. I imagine it’s hard for anyone to tell their family about that.

So I went to Toronto, and went to university, and learned about living alone. I miss my family a lot, but I also get some peace and quiet. I have more privacy, since I rent a room in a house. I can eat as little or as much as I want and not feel guilty (that’s just me and my Eldest Sibling responsibility). I can go outside whenever I want without worrying anyone. I can sleep whenever I want. Of course, during the pandemic, it’s extremely lonely, but then I think to myself: I’m lonely wherever I go, so what’s the difference?

My dad (and many others, actually) judged me really hard about wanting to move back for school during the pandemic. I know it may seem like a waste of money, but hear me out.

  1. I don’t have to wake up at 5am for classes if I live in Toronto. This is a very simple reason. I also sleep at 5am these days, so maybe it’s a stupid reason.
  2. I can’t concentrate on school work at home. This can be split into more specific reasons: a) I don’t have a desk at home, and all my school supplies were in Toronto. b) I love my siblings, but we only distract each other.
  3. I have extreme anxiety whenever we leave the house. I realized this in hindsight, but during the entire summer, every time I had to leave to even go grocery shopping, I had really bad stomachaches. At the time, I was thinking: hey, this is exactly the same as when I was 9 years old. This is anxiety, isn’t it. I’m guessing now that it’s because I associated my home city with the bad things I’ve experienced, and I was unconsciously afraid.
  4. Even though my parents are pretty relaxed, there’s still a feeling of pressure. There’s my responsibilities as the oldest, and household things, and my bickering with my dad… there’s many positives to living at home, but at times it can be confining.

Well, I’m here now. It does get lonely at times, but as I said earlier… I’ve always been lonely. I’m bad at making connections with people, and have developed a fear of being betrayed or taken advantage of. It’s a self-defense tactic. If you don’t let your guard down, they can’t hit you.

All things considered, I’m a somewhat functional normal person, and I enjoy privacy like any young adult. I like to take things slow, and not think too much about the future. I don’t have high ambitions or goals: I just want to live every day with no regrets, and a little bit of happiness if I can squeeze it in there. If I can make myself feel better, either right now or in the near future, then I’ll make the decisions that will lead me to that place of comfort.

I’ve spoken to some of my friends from high school (I really only have 2, since I drifted apart from the others), and noticed that they live a life that seems very structured. They strive to reach certain life milestones at certain ages, like finishing a bachelor’s degree, getting jobs, finding a partner, etc. I don’t know whether it’s ingrained in them to live according to certain standards, or they just only know the one way to live, but at the very least, I know that this sort of life is not for me. I don’t feel like I have to have achieved many things at a younger age in order to feel accomplished or successful, and I don’t want to be pressured into doing things that won’t benefit me. So that’s why I’m studying something kind of useless, while wasting my own money across the country from my family, eating lazy dinners and too many cookies.

If there’s anything I learned from between the ages of 6-18, it’s that I know what I don’t want. I know that I should be good enough to myself because no one else is obligated to care or ask about me. If I don’t do things that I feel good about (or feel deserving of), then what’s the point? I’m on this wretched earth anyway, so I might as well make the most of it.


Another thing: at school, in academic contexts, I find that instructors don’t always understand the current movement of self-care. It’s a hard life out here, as I’m sure they’re aware, and kids are becoming traumatized earlier and earlier as a result of the internet (a lawless place) and also the pandemic, probably. I mean, depression and anxiety rates among children are higher now, and whether that is because people take mental health more seriously now than even 15 years ago and testing more kids or truly testimony towards the fact that the world is indeed harsher… I’m not really sure. But the problem exists. Some people react to the unfairness of the world by fighting back and speaking up; others retreat and hibernate; and yet others do both, interspersed with a healthy dose of self-care. What’s wrong with drawing things for fun? What’s wrong with writing self-indulgent stories about fictional characters and reading dumb YA romance novels? Or playing Tetris for three straight hours until your vision gets blurry? So, in a roundabout way, what I’m trying to say here is that academia may not be for me. Or maybe this specific part of it. There’s enough suffering as it is, so I might as well find something I enjoy doing. But again, who knows. I’m a bit of a masochist, so maybe I’ll keep going to school.

I’m not really great at talking to adults. Or… I guess I should say older adults, adults with more experience being an adult. To be fair, I’m not great with talking to anyone really. I like to get personal and possibly overshare, and then keep talking about all sorts of stupid things. I have no idea if my friends humour me and pretend to listen or if they actually think I’m entertaining, but that doesn’t really matter too much in the long run if they stick around.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now. Maybe I’ll put up a part 2 later on, or maybe I’ll just talk about something else next time.

 

 

大雪

Heavy snow.

It’s the end of classes! I am actually three days late, but whatever. I had (and still have) a lot of final projects due, so hopefully understandably I have not been able to do much writing outside of an academic context. Have some pity for me, please. It’s not that school is significantly harder but it’s just been so tedious this semester. I sincerely doubt the next one will be any easier, but hopefully things will be more streamlined? Maybe the profs and instructors will actually know how to use technology to its potential. Please.

Anyway, I need to sleep. Probably won’t be able to catch up on it, but maybe get a start. I’ll be back soon: we’re also nearing the end of the solar terms, so I have to think of the Logical Next Step. Until then.

 

小雪

Minor snow.

screenshot of a video I took to show my family it was snowing here…

And it did snow, right on November 22nd. School is still absolutely terrible and stressful. The break was absolutely necessary for my mental well-being, but of course it went back to shit the moment it hit Sunday night. It’s very overwhelming. I’m very tired.

Anyway, whatever. That’s how school always is. I recently found an artist I really like, so here’s a song that really makes me laugh: a funny story. It reminds me of the past (which sounds kind of edgy and terrifying if I refer to it like that, but I’m too lazy to go into further detail). The past. Time really has no meaning nowadays. Sure, I’ve got deadlines, and grocery shopping days, and days where I can sit in front of my computer for fifteen hours straight of brain-death, but other than that, I don’t have a sense of what’s going on. It’s absolutely wild. I feel like an experimental subject who’s been given the absolute bare minimum social contact and then left alone in a cold room. I named the spider in my shower and was sad when it disappeared (I’m deathly afraid of spiders). I hover above the names of friends and old friends and think whether this is worth it.

I feel kinda sad that all my writing energy is being spent on stupid reading responses and discussion posts. There’s no discussion happening, no responses to my responses… it’s all just for a 2% mark. It really is pointless. Then there’s all those papers. I don’t enjoy writing those. I don’t know if I even enjoy writing anymore. I went through this phase for drawing too… I guess I just don’t like doing anything when I’m being forced to churn it out constantly. The quality is bad, the quantity is Too Much, and I’m losing the willpower to do anything. What do I like to do must? Do I have any hobbies? Not really, not anymore. On the weekends I’m too tired to even do my personal projects so I sit there and zone out really hard. Watch videos on Youtube of people discussing random topics and being cute; listen to music and talk to my sister mindlessly; eat a lot of cookies and think about a life I’ll never have; not sleep… etc.

These posts really are a roller-coaster ride to be honest. It started off kind of numb but vaguely optimistic. It seems that now we’ve gone full on disillusioned poor young person complaining about everything, but incoherently. The future looks grim, and all I ever do is look inward. I don’t know. I think everyday that I wake up is a thing that is amazing enough.

See you later.

立冬

Beginning of winter.

More sunset photos, with embellishments that don’t really add to the quality of the picture.

Finally! It is reading break, which mean I’m going to do absolutely nothing for a few days while mentally agonizing over what I will have to do in the upcoming few weeks before classes end. Again, not much to report on this time as well: just the abundance of deadlines and deadly feelings and maybe some general dissatisfaction with the way life’s been going (on a micro scale, of course). I wrote last time that I wasn’t sure if I’d make it here mentally intact. I’m happy to report that technically, I’ve never really been fully mentally … whole, and I’m not any more so than last time. The usual.

I reread Pluto (by Naoki Urasawa) yesterday, as a sort of celebration for making it this far into the school semester. The same parts made me cry as when I read it for the first time over seven years ago. Doesn’t sound like much, but I was freshly entering high school and I was thirteen and very unhappy. I would sit alone in the library and read, engrossed and also groggy because it was 8am, and the bell would ring and I wouldn’t notice until the librarians yelled at me. Anyway, I digress. I reread it yesterday and I was still emotional and I still love it, very much, and wholeheartedly would recommend it to everyone I know with a reading comprehension level above that of a sheltered nine year old who has never browsed Wikipedia for fun. Ideally I’d suggest reading through some psychology pages or maybe the world politics of 1990s-2000s but I mean… it’s not necessary. You’re going to get it either way, but having the background knowledge sure is fun. That’s the main difference between my first read and this last reread: I know some More Stuff now. Anyway, no spoilers, but please read it… it’s really good…

What else? I don’t know! It’s winter, technically, so that’s going to be wild as usual here. Soon we’ll be up to a year of these posts, so I guess I should be figuring something out for that. That’s it for now.

霜降

Descent of frost.

a little collage

A bit late again, but it’s fine. I was listening to this a second ago: [slow/oriental]

For a bit of a change, I’m feeling quite negatively about school. There’s problems I have with institutions as whole, with the way society (every time I write this word, it seems like it should have quotation marks around it) views post-secondary education, the pointlessness of my getting a degree, the lack of knowledge and skills or anything to prove that I did go to university other than a piece of paper I’m projected to receive in about a year and a half; the disillusionment has been growing ever since the beginning of this semester. It’s no thanks to a particular instructor I have this semester for 2/5 classes. I’ve actually never heard rumours about this man (despite him saying so himself that he has a reputation for being difficult or something), but I’m not going to lie: they don’t seem unfounded. He regularly misinterprets not only the things I say, but written words. He’s (perhaps unintentionally) condescending, and every critique feels like a one-sided defense battle where I have to be careful of what I say or don’t say, and how I do that, and what does it mean? How do I define that? Is this the right term? Let me try again. Wait, no, never mind… that’s not what I meant. God, I can’t understand you.

Anyway, I’ve been second-guessing whether I do want to be a Creative Person after all. Seems like the odds are stacked up against me, and I’m nothing special. Just a little neurotic and long-winded, very petty, and I have no real social skills. I emulate the successful people I have in my life, I watch television and tone down what I see from there. Perform it for everyone. I wonder where’s the line between being having a Personality, versus being an outcast with no chance of being socialized. Maybe there’s no line (I can hear my instructor’s voice right now), but I like to draw boundaries, so let me do that. Let me try to figure out how to sort and quantify every tiny thing I see, analyze and over-analyze everything so I can make peace with everything in my brain. I don’t think I have the skills or the heart to be Creative. I don’t have the interest, the passion, the background and connections. I’m all I got, I guess, and there really isn’t much here.

Of course, I’m not making this a pity session where I divulge all my insecurities, childhood traumas, and regular traumas, this is just… well… evidence, I guess. Okay, it’s sort of a “woe is me” paragraph. I’m only a kid. You gotta let me whine once in a while. I just think maybe I’m not quite cut-out to participate in the art world. But I also don’t want tonor can I afford toattend more school. I guess I have a tentative plan right now for the foreseeable 3 years. I’m kidding, I don’t. I’m just gonna say, though: after 2020, I’m pretty sure I’m just fucking done with school for the time being.

What else do I talk about here… the weather? It sure is cold again. A couple of days ago, it reached 20 degrees, but then there was a thunderstorm. What an anomaly. I’ll include the pentads for this term below as a closing. My reading break is in two weeks. Whether I’ll still be mentally sane (or at least my current state) or not is up to fate, so… guess we’ll see.

豺乃祭獸
草木黃落
蟄蟲咸俯

 

寒露

Cold dew.

I have quite a few issues with the way some of my online classes are running, but for the most part they’ve been okay. Passable. Hopefully I pass those classes, too. Let’s see… it’s been a month now, and things are settling (microscopically), but the world seems as chaotic as always. Didn’t expect that to change, so I guess it’s fine. It’s alright.

I got my hair cut really short again, mostly because I was getting lazy with washing it and just having it in general. I went to the museum once, to a few bookstores, met some new people, ate some good food, went to the dentist, met some more new people, bought some shirts, and generally just tried to chill. It’s definitely quite hard to stay sane when you’re literally going insane… but I guess we have to try.

Well, the weather’s getting colder too. I don’t know what’s coming up, but I’m definitely not super optimistic today (because I didn’t sleep as much as I’d like, and I have a lot of midterms coming up this next week, and also because it is quite late already). By the way, the photo is from … around the Mid-Autumn festival day. I had a single moon pic, but it wasn’t really visible and I haven’t edited it yet. Working on it.

秋分

Autumnal Equinox.

doesn’t this kind of look mysterious

School has started, and despite not going there physically, I’m still feeling extremely stressed. There’s so much work… it almost feels like high school again, except this time I have to do my homework. It’s for marks.

Anyway, I noticed that recently I’ve been pretty much exclusively watching things that are crime-related. I wonder why that is… is it because they go case-by-case, which always introduces new fun events and characters? Is it because we get to see the main cast go through many different trials and tribulations, growing and furthering their relationships with each other? Is it because I have a short attention span and like things with Action and Suspense and some amounts of Violence and Gore? Is it because I like to guess who the real perpetrator is? Is it because I empathize with the troubled characters? Is it because I find the actors cute?

Yesterday I figured out the perfect amount of miso to put into one cup of rice. This may seem like a bland and kind of lazy way to make food, but at this point this is Chemistry. I’m experimenting. How much can I get out of one fairly cheap rice cooker? We’ll find out. I’m working on figuring out the best time to put in frozen things, as well.

There’s so much I want to do, and I’m going to have to organize my time better. Alternatively, I try to organize my mind better. Maybe get some diagnoses and stuff like that. It’s something I’ve been curious about since I was a kid.

Also! It’s autumn, which means it is getting colder, and which means it’s getting to the later part of the year. I really don’t know how to assess this year, but we’ll see how my mood is by then, I suppose. Funnily enough, the spring equinox post was the last one I wrote in Toronto during my second year. Not sure if that means time is slow or fast, but it sure is going. I should also be going…

…to bed.

See you later, then.