A Guide to Long Distance Friendships

I wrote this a while back and it’s been in my drafts ever since. After much thought and consideration, I felt like it was time I hit POST on this:

The blessing of the Internet has provided me with the opportunity to make friends from all around the world. When I was ten, I would jump at the opportunity to have a penpal who lived in a different state. Would I have ever imagined that I’d have some overseas? I don’t think so. Look how much the world has changed since then! When you get close to people you never see or have friends who aren’t within a 50km radius (yes, let’s just use that number), being good friends, being best friends even, is trying. But here’s what I’ve learned in past few years:

1. Use your phone

“With the wonders of technology, communicating to a loved one is only a click away”. That should be an advert. It probably was an advert 10 years ago. Anyway! I have besties I don’t see on a regular basis, I have people I have never met, in person, in my life. You still want to be a part of theirs, so TALK. Text message, using Whatsapp or Snapchat or whatever app comes in handy. Write emails, use Google Hangout. Spam their Tumblr ASK box, or Tweet, if it comes to that. With how rare it is for someone to not have a phone in 2015, it’s almost ridiculous if you can’t say HI once in a while. ALMOST because..

2. Remember that life gets in the way

I mean this in the most logical of senses. I have a good friend in Ireland right now and when she’s very free, Helen and I talk almost every day via recorded messages sent on WhatsApp (yes, so we can ‘talk’ on the phone without actually paying the international call charges). But when she’s back to teaching practice or I’m back in classes, those conversations become rare instances. Sometimes, they don’t coincide, so I can be left feeling like she’s ignoring me (and vice versa!) but that does not mean the person is actually doing that. LIFE gets in the way. (Helen and I constantly apologise profusely when this happens) Sometimes, you really have NO time to listen to messages or you do, and you don’t have the time to actually reply. Or days, even weeks go by and you don’t speak to one another. If you’re on the receiving end of a lot of this, don’t blame the other person. Sure, there will be times when he/she may be pissed at you for some reason and not want to talk, but usually, it’s because they genuinely have no time. So, don’t take offense if you’re sidelined. I find that there will be times when conversation flourishes ridiculously and those help to tide you over during the ‘drought’ seasons.

3. Write physical letters

Or postcards. Or send them something in the mail. I know every person I write to enjoys getting a handwritten card or handmade anything. Heck, if the letter is typed out, but signed with a pen/pencil, I’d appreciate it. I like mail that’s not bills, and I think a lot of people do too. If you have someone you don’t see often, send them something that gets delivered by a person (or a robot, if that’s a thing somewhere on this planet). I think they’ll appreciate it.

4. The 5 minutes (At least!) Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout session

This is something I find to be super useful. As lovely as constant messages may be, it’s always good to SEE a friendly face. One Tuesday ago, I spent 5 hours online, talking to my best friends because our timing never synched up properly and because one was in a completely different country (and time zone). It was so much fun, despite having to figure out how to not talk over each other. I think it’s important to set up a Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout session as regularly as you can, if you can.

5. Don’t quit on the person

Unless you truly don’t want them in your life. I’ll be blunt and say that sometimes, you don’t need certain ‘energies’ in your life and it’s okay when you want to not try as hard because frankly, you don’t want them in your life. I know that comes off as asshole-ish but let’s be honest, there are friendships that fizzle partly because of distance but mostly because it wasn’t built on substance to begin with. When you have friends you truly love, you will fight to keep that person in your life and you know, they’re trying as hard as you.

Make sure you’re keeping the right people in your life, and don’t waste time on people who clearly don’t want you.

No, I’m pretty good, too

I know you’re scared right now, but if there was ever a time to not be pathetic, it’s now.

I think ‘later’ is my time. That’s when my time usually is, ‘later’.

GIRLS, Season 4 finale

I didn’t quite have time to write yesterday but here’s my weekly round-up post for last week.

I managed to come home on Friday night and I’m leaving tonight for JB again. Has my time at home been fruitful? Not really. It’s how it usually is. There was an occupation with buying enough things to bring back as supplies for the next few months. I spent time with my family which is what I’ve been wanting for the past few weeks. Yes, FaceTime is a real thing and a lot of the time, everyone is too busy with work to actually be able to chat for a bit. Most of our conversations occur around mealtime and for as long as I am not physically home, it’s hard to accomplish that. The next time I come back is in about five weeks.

I have an assignment due by the end of next week. I’m not remotely close to being done with it. I am suppose to get more work done with the research paper and somehow figure out another meeting with the tutor in charge this week. I still have to finish packing some of my things before my flight.

I’ve just got this to-do list and I wish I were more motivated to do it. But of course, unlike some things in life, there are pressing events that require your immediate attention.

that one song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

hug
hug 2
source

Once in the library when I was 14 years old, my best friend passed a paper to me with the words “What do you think of PDA?” written on it. I wrote back, “what’s PDA?”.

Yes, I was pretty unaware that public displays of affection was a thing. While I have no experience in the romantic sort of PDA, I am undoubtedly a huge proprieter of PDA in my own life that is PHYSICAL displays of affection. I love hugging people, I would hold your hand if it were appropriate. I’d loop my arm through yours while we walked if you allow me to. I’m pretty physically affectionate with people I care about, as long as they’re comfortable with it. If someone clearly does not enjoy hugging or even high fives, I won’t do it. But in general, it’s something I like to do. I think I have only ever had two friends, not even best friends really, who were comfortable enough to do the same.

I know a lot of people frown on PDA, either versions of that acronym. And sure, I get it, if someone is macking on their boyfriend or girlfriend in public, it can cross the line to ‘inappropriate’. I know people who don’t hug on the regular and any physical form of feelings that involve human touch is foreign to them. While they are definitely allowed to feel what they like, I can’t help but think they’re missing out on something. There’s a difference between saying ‘I miss you’ and hugging someone and saying ‘I miss you’. For me at least, there’s a comfort in feeling someone’s arms around yours. It doesn’t even have to remotely be romantic for it to be a good thing. It’s scientifically proven that hugging releases serotonin and endorphines. Maybe I’m trying to chase that high, but it’s a good high, rarely destructive.

Where do you stand on the PDA front? Are you for it or against it?

It’s Sunday, so you know what that means

1
Meet Steve. I have no clue whether or not you’ve met him before. But this is Steve. He occasionally sits on my window sill and gets his own stories on Snapchat (@hicklory, in case anyone is wondering).

Clearly, round-up posts are a thing on my blog now, even if I have posted slightly more regularly this week. You have been forewarned that this particular piece is going to be a jumble of many things, be it pieces of conversations, things I have heard, or things I’ve seen.

QOTW

“Grace isn’t as gung-ho this year, huh?”
I received that particular message through a conversation with my housemate this evening. It was something a group mate of mine told her yesterday when they were helping out at a kids home. I won’t lie, that stung a bit. But it’s not really a lie is it? I think every single year I’m in medical school, my willingness to put in more effort has reduced. And with my stupid bouts of depression coming in, it’s harder to focus. I did not realise that it ended up translating quite obviously to people I didn’t know too well. If that isn’t a slap to the face, I don’t know what is. I guess it’s high time I fix that.

What I Saw

I watched Cinderella on Friday night and I am completely enamoured with it. I wasn’t keen on Frozen when I watched it (though having ‘live-action’ versions of the characters appear on Once Upon A Time warmed me up to the characters significantly), but Cinderella was excellent. The animation of the creatures to people and back to creatures was delightful. The costumes were breathtaking. Richard Madden was absolutely darling as the Prince and I believed Lily James when she played Ella. I have seen them in other things before this (Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey, namely) so I was not sure if I could separate them from who they were previously, but they were those fairy tale characters perfectly. And good on Kenneth Brannagh for making Cinderella’s backstory more fleshed out (Hayley Atwell as Ella’s mother was perfect. I am terribly biased in that aspect). Sure she was a princess in the end, and she wore beautiful clothes after that, but the main message of ‘have courage and be kind’ was not lost. I do hope my little cousin sees the show for more than pretty things.

Upcoming Event

I am watching the proper stage-musical version of Beauty and the Beast in April, so yay(!) for that. I’m going to be third-wheeling all the way to Singapore but I’m going to bring my camera along and do the whole tourist-y thing. No, this will not be the first time I’m going there. Yes, it will be the 4th or 5th time, but what else can you do when you’re the third-wheel. I’m going to consider it a ‘treat yo self’ day because the ticket is expensive and I’m sitting alone. Whatever, I’m a big girl, I can handle this. Aaron was suppose to come down and go with us but his passport is expiring in July and he can’t be bothered to get it renewed. I admit I’m a bit bummed out, but whatever, right?

Something I Realised

I have yet to outgrow 16 year old me, though I have talked about trying to do this before. I am still going to watch Glee’s finale next week and cry. I am still the weird friend who attempts to velcro all her friends to her even if they have clearly moved on with their lives. Maybe high school never ends. Maybe that’s just how life goes.

Okay, word vomit over.

Things I do when the internet is shite.

wifi-life

1.Write a blog post about the things you do when the internet is shite.

2. Spend way too much time playing the dinosaur-jumps-over-cacti game that shows up when a page cannot load on Google Chrome. My high score so far is 556. Yeah. I’m that good. It takes a while to build up to that number. Can you tell I am quite acquainted with it by that number?

3. Question whether SPOTIFY premium would be worth the RM100+ a year. And then be almost tempted to get it before chickening out at the last minute. Shut up, that’s a lot of cash. I can live with the adverts (most of the time). It’s the offline listening that I would miss out on.

4. Reread storybooks that I have stashed in my room. Yes, I should be reading medical books but I’m thrash that way. Sarah Dessen over an Oxford Handbook any day.

5. Question if mobile data would be a good choice to switch to because your WIFI is clearly crap. But then again, mobile data would be much much much more limited. But it would work most of the time. At least you hope it would.

6. Stare at the strands of hair on the tiled floor. Don’t judge, everyone’s hair drops. It’s only far more obvious if you have white tiles as floors and not sensible wooden floors like normal houses. Apartment living, what can you do?

7. Turn the WIFI thing on your laptop off and on repeatedly, hoping that it might suddenly be active again. You know this is a pointless activity but you do it anyway.

8. Make to-do lists. These are the things you know you will never do although they are reasonably important. You keep these lists for the fun “PANIC NOW” nights when these items are due the next day.

9. Sleep. Yes, your life revolves around the internet. If there is no internet, sleeping is the next best option.

10. Rewatch one of the movies you have on your laptop. No, you don’t even bother to take your external hard drive because that requires effort and we all know energy is best conserved for the marathons of YouTube videos.

11. Acknowledge that you can do work in the mean time but refuse to do any. Again, your life revolves on your WIFI signal. When it’s down, you are the epitome of a flatline.

12. Consider what a wonderful life you had before you were addicted to the Internet. Consider quitting it especially when it’s being a prick. Consider the more human connections you can make without it. Consider how simple everything would be if it wasn’t invented.

13. Thank goodness the internet is back. #blessed

Rest in Peace, Sir Terry Pratchett

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.17.10 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.14.30 PM

I first read his work the year I turned 13. I cannot believe I am saying goodbye ten years later.

There aren’t many authors whose deaths would make me sob but this man was definitely one of them. The amazing Sir Terry Pratchett just passed away and I feel like my soul has been ripped. Sure, I never met him. But his books, his mind! He brought so much joy to my brother and I. I shared his books with people I knew were great readers. I have spoken to other fans, I have bought almost every book I could get my hands on.

His words mean the world to me. His characters are forever going to be ones that I will hold dear. I know he never believed in a God but wherever he is, I do hope he finally found rest.

Bless you Terry Pratchett and I hope you are at peace. Thank you for everything. Thank you for the books, thank you for the words. I hope Death came as colourful of a character as you made him. Thank you so very much.

“I commend my soul to any god that can find it”

GIRLS

FYI: This is not a PSA screaming YOU MUST WATCH THIS SHOW. It’s just something that struck me and I thought I’d write about it.

Is it weird that the older I get, the more appreciative I am of the HBO show GIRLS? If you have not heard of it, you’re probably not as ‘into’ TV shows or media as I am, because it first premiered a few years ago. It’s definitely not new, and it’s in it’s 4th season.

Lots of things have been said about GIRLS along the years; some good, some bad. Lena Dunham recently (well, last year really) got a lot of flack for what she wrote in her autobiography “Not That Kind of Girl” (you can look that drama up, if you want to, I won’t go into it). While I can agree that that particular book was not my cup of tea, I can also agree that GIRLS is a pretty decent TV show.

No, they are not role models.

No, they are not always funny.

Yes, the cast is made up of ‘privileged white women’, and the storyline can be called ‘self-indulgent’.

But that’s the whole point isn’t it? The show revolves around four young women (hence the title card) and their choices in their early-to-mid twenties. They are screwed up, they make every mistake you can think of: they break up, they hook up, they run away from their problems, they self-destruct.

As much as we’d like to deny it, that is the reality of what being in your twenties is like. Sure, if you’re from my background, the likelihood that you’ve done half of what these characters do is pretty slim to none. But the number of times I have done something similar to what Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa have, or been tempted to do what they’ve done… it’s no surprise I can relate to it. I have friends/ I have had friends who have similarities to these people. It’s not a far-fetched idea. Lena Dunham may be wacky, but her material can hit close to home.

I used to think this show was ridiculous and ‘not real’, but on closer inspection..if you really break it down, it’s about four girls who are trying their best. The stories can be crude, it is on HBO for a reason. But their stories are human. Their choices are almost never good for them, but it’s often what they think if good for them at that moment in time. They fail, they repeat their old mistakes, they try to pick up the pieces. Sometimes, things are just too broken and everything falls apart. But they try.

I can appreciate that.