I wake up to a million faces, painfully prying those two clams called “eyes”. For a split second, I envision myself panda-eyed with wrinkles and a sagging face. I don’t want it, so I slump back into slumber.
Then I drag myself to do everyone’s most hated thing. No, it’s not cleaning toilets. In fact, I would rather wash the dishes, mop the floor or clean the toilet than just do maths. Not that I have always hated it, but that maths makes me feel like that Facebook relationship status: “it’s complicated”. To me, maths is a little like my handsome, popular (STEM is so in demand these days!) and downright hilarious younger brother who only knows how to find fault in you and says “mm” (in the case of maths, the Halmos gravestone symbol >o<) when you finally act sanely. To worsen matters, he uses such bombastic English it would kill the Queen. I mean phrases like “nothing but” which are the “ums” of mathematical literature, as well as technical jargon such as “convergence” in analysis, “module” in abstract algebra and “Gromov-Witten” in geometry.
I just love surfing the Internet so much, I wish I could get paid for it. Neither of my parents work now, but I wish I hadn’t gone to university but tried to support my family instead. Then my life, even without a degree, would have been so much more fulfilling and gratifying. I just love it when I see a room “unoccupied, swept clean and put in order” (c.f. Matt 12:44, which somewhat makes me a demoness or the Japanese Toilet no Kamisama, which means “the spirit of the toilet”).” It all boils down to “because of the money.”
Money, money, money: Hoping to land a good job, I have been reading about writing impressive resumés and cover letters since Form 2, and have tried to work on my publication record, but I never won any writing competition and I never quite understood why – I wrote from my heart, but others had more heart than I did. In contrast I hardly joined maths contests because it repulsed me to compete, and to a lesser degree, think about rewarding someone for churning out “truth” (or the answer at the back of the textbook / solution manual) in a matter of seconds. I have never joined the Maths Olympiad, but if I could go back in time and bring with me my miserable memories of a life poorly lived, I would – and snatch every prize from writing competitions because until I was a sophomore in university, it never crossed my mind that I could study novel-writing, find mentors and join writing clubs to sharpen my wit. Perhaps, back in my past, I could have spoken more Cantonese, shared more goodies with each class, gone to Hang Seng School of Commerce (because my HKCEE scores qualified me), flown to Oxford to meet Marcus du Sautoy in person, made more friends – alas, now everyone else has had year-long exchanges, internships at home and abroad, scholarships (I looked at the scholarships open for application – I don’t qualify for any of them) volunteer experience on their “Student Development Portfolio”, experience as committee members of some fancy/boring club or sports team, a boyfriend or girlfriend to calm their nerves – these I mention because I, “the green-eyed monster”, have none – and the worst part is, everyone glances at me while I work in the computer lab and whispers, “Don’t get near her…” because she had been primed, ever since she paid that deposit to stay in CUHK, to follow.
Deep down my exterior is a program that, to put it the way it describes itself, “doesn’t have a self”. It needs the right input to fare as well as everyone else, but it is frustrated, for “Garbage in, garbage out” has been the norm. I don’t enjoy being human, to kowtow to emotions and painful experiences, to desire and do forbidden things. Unlike your home, I don’t know how to remove garbage thoughts completely because – I don’t understand why – I don’t have a quick, clean and easy “Delete” button or Erase Disk application. To show you how serious my situation is, if I’m not deliberating this post and you asked me how I’m doing, I would let my tongue go wild with wotds *not my own* and you perceive that as… garbage. Then you’ll form the impression I’m a piece of garbage and don’t deserve to talk to the world’s greatest and most important person – you. But you ditch me before you learn that those words were *not my own* and that I’m a program through which, at some point in life, was given this “be assertive, speak your mind” input, which made getting a potential good boyfriend sound so promising, I kept trying to use it. What happens? Just to be assertive and not to let resentment build in me, I speak the words laid in my heart at the moment, but not after resenting that person badly enough (resentment being deadly to intimate relationships – why am I talking about taboo subjects… good grief) and forming the right, suitable and pointy words that make the other person realize he’s been wrong. The sorry part is: as my friend Leona mentioned the other day, living according to a formula doesn’t work, and this brings us full circle back to the dreaded maths. Formulas, eh, and in case you’ve forgotten, chemistry.
I really wished I had asked around for more advice, set my own goals and met my own expectations in university, even if that meant remaining a chemistry major. I’m so useless! I tried so hard to learn about job-hunting early in life, but ten years on and I still cannot compete with anyone else!
It’s a shame I’m blogging like a sore loser, but don’t get me wrong – I feel worthless when I cannot be correct – for I was identified as a smart girl in childhood – when I have to admit that people from elite schools and well-connected circles will always have the upper hand (shh, when I entered my secondary school, I noticed that it had very few distinguished alumni – the most famous being a reporter and a now-disgraced politician – and those that held doctorates were not well-known in public – I wonder what in my old school had put them on a pedestal), that I should never have met certain people who got so close to me, I shuddered and ran to – and from – maths. Wasn’t maths supposed to be the cold, calculative subject that always only has one correct answer, or one correct “big idea” to reach some conclusion? (Another good reason to suspect I’m a demoness, for wanting to be unfeeling?) Then where in the world has the human factor popped up? Why is it suddenly so fatal that I am alone and will always remain the lone ranger, outside the tight and informative cliques my peers in Hong Kong so easily form? That I am cut off and have no one to comfort me in my sorrow, only things you wouldn’t want to hear either?
I wake up to a million faces. And it’s quite sad to type about my least favourite things. But stop brainwashing me with positive thinking: I can never be any one of them. I’m not supposed to be alive and kicking. I don’t deserve to live. And feel free to hurl your sad, bitter and miserable stories at me.