The awkward turtle

Celebrating the failings of a successful person


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On my mother

Mum to tell you that you have always been there for me would be to remind you of a truth that you and I well know. You have been there guiding, supporting and nurturing me consistently from my first breath and that is why it was so inconceivable for me to imagine a world where you were not for the first time this year.

Just the thought of such a world sent me to a dark place. A place where I had to bring my own light instead of looking to the one you have constantly held up for me. For you have been the light in my life. All those times you tried to push me forward when I held myself back. I was too afraid to shine and I wish I had taken some courage from you back then. For you have been courageous. There have been decisions you made that I couldn’t understand but if there is one thing that I have learnt about you is that you forever march to your own drum and I wouldn’t never change that about you.

So for all those times I rolled my eyes when you were showing me off to every random stranger. Because you were proud and for some reason I couldn’t find the same pride reflected in myself. Thank you.

This year, even breast cancer couldn’t make you conform to this world around us. Seeing you in the hospital you looked so small and I thought, as I think more and more these days, how vulnerable you were. I wanted to roll you up in bubble wrap and keep you safe. Is this how you felt when you first saw me? As much as I love you and could not bear to see you leave my side, I never had the heart in me to make you feel guilty about your unconventional approach. Everything you have made in this life, all the good and even the bad, has come because you followed your own truth mum. You are truly beautiful.

Thank you for having me. For nurturing me. For loving me.

You are forever imprinted in my heart.

Love Thai

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Dear Reader

Jane Austen“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice

Dear Reader,

I’m in love with a friend. I have been for almost 2 years. He doesn’t know, I didn’t know myself until recently. The worse thing that could possibly happen now would be him finding out. He must never know. How could I then claim to be his friend? How could I stay composed and retain my dignity in future meetings if every time he would always know it was an act, that my insides were really writhing at his every glance, my veins pulsating with excitement, and my head dizzying from oxygen deprivation as I forget to breathe. There are multiple occasions I can recall with the clarity of sight that love is infamous for imbuing the world with, whereby a brief locking of the eyes can be twisted and mutated into a plethora of meanings, each one more colourful than its predecessor (He took a special interest in what I ordered at the restaurant. He took pains to chastise me for a frivolous comment made). Yet the episodes that torment me more are the ones which tell me unequivocally that he does not love as he is loved (He ‘forgot’ to tell me the revised arrangements for a night out. He rarely instigates a meeting even though he expresses appropriate levels of excitement when it is mentioned. He is perfect).

What I am most scared of is not that he will not love me – and believe me this is a profound fear – but that this is not really love. I am scared that I have been whipped into a frenzy intoxicated by the pheromones of infatuation. What does it feel like? Those palpitations in my chest furiously competing with the ever angrier butterflies in my stomach anxious to be released, is that what love is? Nobody can tell me, all they say is you just know.

My voyage of emotions has taken me from complete indifference at the point of our first meeting, to romantic obsession. It was a serendipitous encounter and I am a fool for serendipity; he was being shown around my house by the landlord, I was fresh out of the shower and preparing for a night out. At first glance I mistook him for another friend, at second I reckoned I was in the presence of Mr Darcy. The pseudonym of Jane Austen’s most famous character relates equally to his resemblance aesthetically and allegorically too; he appeared in my doorway in a white shirt open at the top on account of the summer heat, his hair dark and his skin fair. As I appraised him in what I hoped was a cool manner, I felt unworthy in his eyes. I despised him from that moment because I couldn’t change the me I imagined he saw. Some time later I discovered the unbearable truth: he was not as I had hoped, a pompous, entitled villain, a shameless womanizer, an obnoxious twat, he was a good man: unassuming, generous and modest. How dare he. It took a tactical and conscious decision on my part to rescue myself from the crippling feeling of unworth by removing myself from a candidate position. I refused to allow him to make an option out of me because I was convinced of the inevitability of rejection. I thought I was freeing myself, not imagining I would have to face the truth of my feelings eventually. I had so thoroughly conned myself into a friend category to the extent that I tried to set him up with my closest friend: in my mind she was everything I was not and thus he would love her. The only result has been that liking him is yet another thing my friend and I have in common.

Standing at the precipice of my adult life I realise I no longer wish to cower where fear dwells. Rejection, unworth, acceptance, beauty, ego; these words skip around my head poking fun at me. I look to past situations and my hand instinctively raises to shield my heart. I don’t want to be made to look a fool. I am no Elizabeth Bennet, I’m not even a Bridget Jones but I am in love. It may not last forever but shouldn’t it at least be given a chance to start?


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‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ – an awkward turtle movie

On Saturday I had a hot date with my friend Becky. I persuaded her that we didn’t want to see the Anna Karenina movie because the thought of enduring a Tolstoy classic being ruined by Keira Knightley’s gasping-for-air thatpasses as acting, was unbearable. I had wanted to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I affectionately named the perky wallflower film, as it is in the long line of tradition of coming-of-age dramas that I am very fond of. The film is based on a book set in the early 90’s (hence the beautiful cinematography of low quality pixels and muted hues), and follows a highschool freshmen’s (Charlie) introduction into the real world, led by his colourful wallflower friends (Sam and Patrick). The high school divide – the cool kids, the losers – is reminiscent of iconic 80’s films like Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club, and successfully made me grateful that I never experienced an American education system. Ezra Miller’s Patrick brings all the comic relief and flamboyance of Duckie, but with an added persona of confidence coupled with not overplaying the camp card. However it was really the protagonist Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, who I fell in love with. He executed social awkwardness to perfection; he wasn’t comical, he didn’t make it uncomfortable,  he played it with such sincerity that awkwardness was retained in its little awkward box where it belongs: a social limbo.
He was indeed the perfect wallflower.

It took a total of 10 minutes from the moment Emma Watson appeared on screen to realise that I was not watching the latest installment of Harry Potter. The parallels were glaring: the two guys and a girl dynamic, the one guy hopelessly pining after the girl, everything screamed Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The minor difference being that this time Harry was actually gay (Patrick), Ron was not ginger (Charlie), and Hermione was quite the slut (Sam). Charlie is a kid with a lot not right inside but the film does not fixate on him as being the subject of a mental disorder. Instead the pill popping is blurred out into the background as the real story is about human connections, being yourself (no matter what your experiences), and not feeling like everyone will turn you away.

“Do you ever feel like if you told someone everything in your head they’d think you were crazy?” (Charlie)
– How about all the time

The film’s tagline can be listed as “We accept the love we think we deserve”  as the theme of choosing partners who are unsuitable and unworthy of our love, is played out in variations through the primary and background characters. In the middle of all this we find Charlie; a witness to what seems a universal mistake, and one which oppresses him to the point of psychosis.

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I was floating along easily with the film; laughing when the gags were delivered, cringing when someone got caught out, and sympathising when there was a profound moment. But I felt as though I’d been cheated out of a catharsis of emotion. I was waiting for a tragic moment that would make this story feature-length worthy and not mini-series. I was beginning to think the director had seriously missed out on a dramatic opportunity, when suddenly the dramatic crescendo stole upon me. That moment when all those emotions poked at through the first 60 or so minutes came to a crashing climax, where before I had just been teased to no completion. I don’t want to ruin the ending but this happened whilst watching Charlie ask the psychiatrist “How do I make it stop? All the suffering, everyone I love is suffering. How do I stop it?”. The tears began with a modest trickle down my face and soon enough my flood gates were burst wide open. I suddenly went from leaning on the arm-rest I was sharing with Becky, to trying to disguise my torrential tears practically sitting on the empty seat next to me. I was crying so hard that I shocked myself . At some point I heard my phone drop to the cinema floor but my wet hot tears had me frozen to my seat. An old chap a few seats away took pity on me and returned my phone but I was so choked up I could barely mutter a thank you in reply. I think Becky was secretly appalled by the excess of emotional display in public.

Some memorable one liners just to let you know this is not a completely wet movie, include “I met a tree but it was a dragon”; “$20? What do you want with $10?”; “Our relationship is so awful that sometimes I imagine one of us has cancer so that we don’t have to go on”.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is pretty perky, sad, funny, and surprisingly intense. And not forgetting, most certainly awkward. View it with an open mind and not too harsh criticism on the pretentious over-emphasis on musical taste.

The old Potter trio: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

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Left to right: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, & Ezra Miller

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Directed by Stephen Chobsky