Author Archives: phantomcyros

Call me by your name – exploring myself

Hmmm… Hmm.. Peaches..

I chuckled as I thought of the word, the fruit that I’ve never tasted, the experience that I’ll never have. Yet, I chuckled, not of the absurdity, but of envy.

I don’t envy the pain. But I envy you the pain.

Has it started out of the curiosity? started with the movie, the intentions were so subtle, especially of Oliver’s. The famous, everyone loved, Oliver. What did he want. Why did he want it when he could have everything. But not the love of another man?

Anger was what I felt after the movie. More than curiosity. I was angry with Elio. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Would Elio’s pain worse by not knowing that Oliver would love him back? Would hating Oliver been better than to have lost him after the intense love affair?

Is it better to speak or to die?

I hated Oliver for being such a cold hearted bastard. What do you want? What do you want from Elio? Does Oliver really love him that much? Can’t you leave everything behind and be with Elio? Why would you lift him so high only to crush him to the ground? Maybe he chose slower death, for speaking would also mean death.

I moved to the book as soon as I finished the movie. I wanted answer to Oliver’s coldness. There has to be more than fear of people finding out. For love should be stronger than fear.

On my bed in the mid South Australian winter, it was ten degrees Celsius out but it was cold enough to be snugged up under my warm blanket in the middle of the day. Page by page I got hooked into Elio’s simple, plain, honest narrative. As he ushered me to his version of curiosity, I forgot about Oliver for a while and wonder around my own teenage memories or anytime I’ve felt attraction to someone. Where did it start, why did I like them.

It was late afternoon when I took a break. Oliver was still a stranger, Elio had grown into hate loving him. He hated his coldness, his “later!s”. He hated that he desired him while unsure why.

The next few days for me was hell. I was drowning in this melancholic, saudade. I searched myself for answers. Why did I feel this way? Why do I feel this way? What am I feeling? The longing for someone I desire who desires me back? I thought of people around me, the beautiful people I desire. Is any of them my Oliver?

As I lived through my days hiding this piece of emotion I was carrying, Sufjan Stevens songs fed my sorrow. His simple voice, so simple and beautiful. His was the music that I would play in the background when I read the book. His was what I listened when I write this piece of me down.

I yearned for free time to continue Elio’s story, which I don’t usually do with books. I read when I have absolutely nothing else to do. But I was willing to give up my dancing time and tv time to read this piece of work.

Continued on Elio’s struggle in acting on his desire, the movie was really close with the book, to the exact conversations they had. The one when Elio vaguely confessed his desire and Oliver weirdly understood. The one when Oliver touched Elio’s lips and kissed him. The exchange of notes and the midnight meeting.

What Oliver said after the first time they kissed was the only obvious clue for me on the struggle that Oliver was having. That brought me back to being curious about Oliver. Was he afraid of people finding out. Was he ashamed of what he desired. But he had kissed him. That was something to be ashamed of.

So far we’ve behaved. We’ve been good. Neither of us has done anything to feel ashamed of.

On the note, what does that even mean, grow up? Grow up and understand the world that they were in? Grow up because love between two men is wrong? Grow up and do what you wish. Talk to me if you want it. Touch me when you desire it.

Grow up, meet me at midnight

I loved that one detail in the book after they had made love for the first time. Elio was physically uncomfortable and emotionally disgusted by what they had done. Oliver was showering Elio with great love and caring while Elio was unsure if he would still desire him. Oliver was scared. Maybe scared of both being found having sex with another man and scared that Elio didn’t love him as much as he did. He went to the town later after breakfast and was so happy that Elio came to see him and shown that he didn’t hate him. And that was when I fell in love with Oliver.

From that moment on, I longed to read more about Oliver. Say something, Oliver. I wanted to know him more. I loved that scene when Elio found Oliver on the rock next to the sea. I loved Oliver’s relationship with Vimini. I loved it when Vimini was around talking about Oliver. I loved it when Oliver ate the peach.

It struck me that all I wanted was for someone to love me back.

One thing I didn’t like about this book or movie was that there was no much detail around the friendship between the two. There were summaries. Oliver loved Elio for his abundant knowledge of music and literature. While Elio seemed to have attracted to his coldness, fame and physique. There were many unwritten conversations between them on their routine next to the pool, swimming or jogging. Oliver was also a very intelligent man. But the lack of details made the story less plausible. Do they really love each other that much?

Even when they were in Rome, their relationship was not more than physical. However, I loved Elio’s interaction with other people in Rome. There were moments where Oliver was not in his mind. And just like that Elio was alone in a train station.

And that brings me to Elio’s conversation with his father. That was when I weeped on a Thursday night cozy in my couch. Out of the whole book, this was what touched me the most. I understood why I was weeping. I wasn’t sad because Elio lost the love of his live. It wasn’t because I felt lonely either. I weeped for I wished I’ve had someone like Elio’s father who would say those words to me. Words full of understanding, compassion and love. For he was not there to judge Elio, but to be there when he needs him. I was longing for someone to know my struggle in its purest honest form, without saying a single word.

Just remember: I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not with me that you’ll want to speak about these things. But feel something you did.

Feeling something, emotion, even the terrible ones, is what make life feels alive. For feeling pain is better than feeling nothing at all. I enjoyed this week as I was filled with this unusual emotion. I am looking forward to finding more books like this. Something that make me wanna throw everything else away and be with the it. Or maybe someone.


Math is not useless

Being a tall person, mundane things can be challenging sometimes.

I woke up last night and moved around trying to optimize my blanket coverage. When I’m sleeping straight on my back, it can cover my whole feet up just enough to cover my collarbone. It’s fine that I can’t cover my face, but I’d love it to cover my neck.

Knowing that the length of the diagonal is bigger than any of its side, I quickly rotated it 45 degrees and get a much better coverage.

I lied that for awhile realizing what I’ve just did. And I asked myself, would I have known how to do that if I haven’t learned geometry or trigonometry?

Do we have reason?

Stoics have said that our ability to “reason” is important for us as human being,  that it’s what separate us from beasts. Stoic thinkers were also based their writing on the existence of gods, like Lady Fortune in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. There is a higher power in play that we can’t know and we can’t control. But it leaves us with our ability to reason, to make best of our situation, and to do good rather than whine or do evil.

Modern stoicism is stripping off the need of higher power while still pushing for the benefit of looking at the bright side, make do of what we have and don’t lose your sanity over things you can’t control.

Without higher power, the need to do good will need reinvention. The very basis that we need to do good because we are creatures of higher moral has became blurry. And therefore the questions over perseverance of moral and the definition of control will change too.

Forget about modern Stoicism, let’s get back to the “reason”. That’s said to be the only thing that we have full control of. Our ability to think and to perceive things. To be an optimist and to stop ourself from self harming thoughts. That if we can dig back into our inner desire to do good, we can overcome suffering.

But, here is the big question, do we really have control over our mind. Neuroscience has shown that our brain is a bowl of chemical mess. It reacts to the outside world and create an illusion of reality. And with example of genetic differences and mental illness, can one really master our mind? Can a person with mental illness achieve enlightenment if they can’t even choose to be sane? or everything is pretty much set to stone?

That also say that the great minds like Boethius and Epictetus could be a stoic because they had a brain that’s stoicable, that they were able to reason themselves to accept the world as it is and to make use the best of it.

I say that everything is predestinated, not of a higher power like a God, but of a chain reaction of events. That given that we’ve known all the variables, with a predictive model we could predict the future up to the individuals. And that by knowing the future will change the future in a constant reactive way. That the decision to see and change ones future is based on those predestinated chain itself and a million other variables that we’ve yet to discover.

So I guess for now we can call that magic.

The empty desire jar

Desires are one of the key fuel in life. They drive you forward into meanings. Without desires we are corpses, inert and rotting. With desires, we work toward achieving them.

Circling back to the source of a desire is meaning. It is a very chicken or egg question. What comes first, the found meaning that creates desires or a natural occurring desire that produces meanings.

What are desires. Wanting to be somewhere. But why. Maybe that somewhere is beautiful. Why is it beautiful. Mountain ranges, snowy peaks, long roads, clear water lakes, autumn coloured forrest. why do they matter. I don’t know. But I still want it.

What about disappointments. Unfulfilled desires, where do you keep them.

How badly do you want something. How much are you willing to pay. How much do you have.

And what about the meaning of life. Why are you chasing these desires if life is meaningless. What drives the desire to fulfil your desires.

Let’s start with the desire to find meaning. If you believe your meaning of life is to reproduce, your desires would be to reproduce, raise good children. Having those desires in turns gives your life the meaning. Where do we stop.

Living a life without meaning stripped me off the privilege of having desires. Desires come and go. The difference is I don’t have a strong desire to fulfil them. That turned me into a walking dead. Am I even alive.

The lack of desire used to be my pride, a liberation from the need to chase dreams. A bravery act of strength of depending in me and me only. A protection from being disappointed and a carefree attitude to never feel miserable. But it has turned into a wall. I’m too scared to break the wall, to have desires, to be disappointed.

Having no strong desire is wearing me down. Every time a desire pops up I will fall into this pit of misery questioning the meaning, fighting it down. But how long can I keep up with this empty jar?

Exploring rare emotions

This is an attempt to immortalise this moment of my life so that I can come back later and maybe relive it again. Or better if I can experience this again.

Not that this is a pleasant emotion, it’s indeed of heartbreak and unfulfilled desires. But it’s rare nonetheless. I don’t regret having lived this moment nor that I wished this had not have happened.

I sat next to my speaker which was playing sad songs. Damien Rice’s, John Mayer’s, Adele’s and Sara Bareilles’. Also a bunch of other songs that I picked up over the previous days which amplified my emotions. Dido’s “Thank You” for the fantasy of having you in my life, “Bizarre Love Triangle” made my heart drop every time and started thinking of you again, and Sara Bareilles’ “Breath Again” for the desire to have you in my life.

Everyday for many days since I met you was a terrible day. For that one time we chatted pass midnight but not about you and me, for that every time that my phone buzzed with your messages and my accelerated heart beats only to talk about something else, for that one time we met and resisted myself to get closer, and for the rest of the time for waiting for your attention.

For that thought that I’ve finally found someone, that I am lovable, that I deserve an angel like you. To be dropped into pieces that it was my delusion. For you were never attracted to what I am. That you only wanted a friend.

And then for that hope that lingers, that I can make you love me, that I can make this work. I showered in your coldness instead. But I stayed for the hints of warmness.

So I sat next to next music hoping, weeping, regretting, daydreaming, embracing this emotion. For this is not desirable or pleasant. But at least it felt like something. The pains make me feel alive. For this is better than feeling nothing.

So I wanna thank you for that. For sparking something in me again. Though it won’t last for long because I’ve started to forget you, but maybe I’ll see you again. Maybe you’ll find me. Maybe I’ll meet some else.


Talking to a stranger

We had a quick chat for the first time after living here for 3 months. One of my neighbour.

It used to be normal to live with 5 different people in the house without knowing their names or talked to them. But it’s something one will do here upon seeing someone. A quick, “Hi, how is it going”, or shorter “Hey mate” will do. But sometimes unexpected need for a conversation put me in a very awkward situation. It was nice, he asked a few questions, how was your day, and the sorts. But having not used to small talks, I was left with short answers to the point of “he seems kind of rude”, or unfriendly.

So here are 3 reasons why Introverts are not meant to be talking to random stranger.

It is Spontaneous

It’s just not a strength of an introvert to think spontaneously especially when it involves more than himself. I can talk to you given enough time to prepare. But bumping into you somewhere unexpected and being asked questions will end up with short uncertain answers, especially when I don’t know you that well. And to quickly think of questions to ask back is another huge tasks.

Should I ask if he has kids, will it be rude, how about the weather, it’s middle of the night for fuck sake, ok just stay cool and wait for his next question.

We process things slower and in more details, looking for patterns, meaningful pieces of information to be delivered, which bring me to the next point.

Lack of meaning

It has to be meaningful else it won’t be done. Even when the meaning is fake, it’s good enough.

I understand the reasons for small talks. The search for compatibilities, a simple rule that glued our society together. But it changes with every individuals. Introverts see individuals as unique as themselves, avoiding generalizations. So every new people have to register some level of meaning for the chat.

Fine, it’s totally expected to bump into your neighbour, which happen almost everyday. But I’ve registered that we’ve passed the need for a chat, but a simple thumbs up or “howdy” is good enough. So again, walking passed him and being asked questions bring me back to that zone of thinking “what do I want out of this conversation?”

Lack of commitments

Well, he said that we should have a beer someday. I agreed even though that felt like an empty invite. Where is the when, where and why parts?

Introverts, back to our complicated thought process, make little commitments. But once we’ve made one, we’ll make sure it’s delivered.

When it comes to small talks with a random stranger, it boiled down to the question of “where will this conversation lead into?”. Will he become my next best friend, or else, I won’t be investing too much thinking about what to talk to him.

We make few friends, but stronger ones. We don’t know many people, but all the people we know are close friends. And given that it’s very expensive and difficult to be just an acquaintance, it’s almost not worth doing at all.

Having said all that, I apologise that I didn’t give a very good first impression to many of the people I’ve met. And to my neighbour, I’ll prepare enough courage and enough meaning and commitments points so that I have a good enough reason to invite you to my kitchen for a beer or two.

Lost in the cultural translation

There are many differences one can spot upon moving from an East Asian culture to a European ones. I was tempted to say western culture in place of european, but feel that Australia is not exactly geographically western.

I have a friend from Malaysia who’s recently moved to Japan. We’ve had a few great conversations regarding home away from home and how cultural adaptation can be a pain in the arse. It hit me one night that we’ve came from the same place but have ended up in two very different world. I asked her to take a picture of the night life scene of the bar that she’s at, but was quickly turned down that it’s not appropriate to take picture in public. That’s how much Japanese value their privacy. If it’s in Melbourne, everyone will be fighting to be in that picture.

I was struck by the fact that I’ve been adapting slowly without noticing it. Australian’s culture I would say is a very extroverted one. It is encouraged to share your thoughts all the time, and it is kind of ingrained and it’s not natural for one to be reserved. Even the more introverted people I’ve met have shown no drawback in expressing their opinions in a public settings.

I suspect that it all comes from the initial education system. Having none of the data to prove that, but by pure guessing only, I guess the school system in Australia encourage student’s participation from early age, removing the barriers of seniority and layers of authority. In contrast with the ones I’ve came from, students are thought to acknowledge the seniority and authority to the point where the people in charge are almost always right. I’m not arguing which one is better or which is right or wrong, it’s the matter of the results that interest me right now.

Australians talk to their teachers and bosses like a friend ( to some extends ), I couldn’t even look my teachers in their eyes while they were teaching. Their teachers are staffs, hired to teach. Our teachers are worshiped as a hero and are to be respected and their orders followed. Their parents job is to raise the children to be useful to the society. Our parents main priority is to make sure we will take care of them when they are old and useless.

I’ve written this with so much negative biases toward our side of the culture to the point that I need to defend them. Their parents have their government to help support their children, student loans, free educations. My parents have to work hard everyday to save up to my college fees. Their parents have retirements plans. My parents have almost no saving when I started college. One would have said that if our government was better at supporting my parents in the early years, they would not have to burden their children.

Their system have produced a relaxed, cool lots. We’ve grown up to be a fighter that will lose everything when we stop.