minute thoughts 1.23.17

Thoughts while rewatching Breakfast at Tiffany's for the fifth time

1. I am so damn proud of all of my friends that participated in the Women's Marches across the country, from San Diego to LA to San Francisco to Washington D.C. to Santa Barbara to New York. It makes me so happy to see people I love standing up for our country and our rights, in the largest inaugural protest in U.S. history, and to see people around the world marching in solidarity with us. It literally gives me chills. "Women's March" is almost a misnomer, because it's really for everyone; "People's March" would be more accurate. But these protests remind me that although there is a great state of turmoil in our government at the moment, America has its moments and we are nothing if not resilient.

2. I think the idea of using VR in museums is awesome, and if all museums had this I would probably never leave them. It's also something I wish existed half a year ago when I went to SF MoMA with two easily distracted boys.

3. My coworker sent me this photo series called Singapore Pantone, in which this photographer reimagines different places in Singapore as Pantone colors, and it's awesome and very aesthetically satisfying. I've lived in Singapore for a little over five months now, and I'm still obsessed with how beautiful the architecture here is.

4. The Transatlantic accent and the illusion of grandeur that it lent to old Hollywood cinema has always fascinated me. It's such a strange phenomenon, one that kind of just came and went without any real explanation and is acknowledged but not really question. It's just so odd. Accents are something that I think about a lot here, because one of the most curious things about Singapore is that although most people I know learn English as a first language, they all have different accents. And I'm still not quite sure why; while there is a mix of cultures, I feel like being a part of one community would have some sort of standardization effect. It's so unusual. But it's one of those things here that's just kind of accepted.

5. I read a long time ago that humans hate the sounds of our own voices because when we speak we hear ourselves through bone and vocal chords, while everyone else hears us through air where there's less to mitigate the vibrations. But apparently there's also a reason we tend to hate photos of ourselves: it's because we're used to seeing our reflection flipped in a mirror, and when we see ourselves in pictures it causes a jarring departure from our initial mental image. Amazing. Everything makes sense now.

6. I finally gave in and purchased my own subscription to The New York Times because I was tired of running out of free articles on the third day of the month (this actually happened to me). But my uncle just pointed out that The New York Times has some excellent free newsletters that just send you the highlights and headlines. You can subscribe to regional ones, special interest ones (arts, cooking, editorial), breaking news ones...it's perfect if you don't want to read a lot but you still like to stay informed. Other great bite-sized news subscriptions: Newser (click on the envelope in the top right corner!), theSkimm, and Morning Brew.

7. I've written about the difference between American vs. Singaporean ideals of freedom before, but I saw a poster on the MRT and had another revelation. It said, "Freedom is knowing you are safe anywhere in the world." And I've realized that there's a significant difference between being "safe" and being "protected," although we usually use them synonymously. But we as Americans tend to prefer the latter option.

8. I refused to watch the actual inauguration, because I really didn't think I would be able to listen to it for an hour, but as I watch the recaps of it on late night comedy shows, the tone of his inaugural address is eerily familiar. Just Google, "fire and brimstone sermon." And just like all of the Christian pastors that preached the image of a vengeful god, he is manipulating his audience into thinking that they need protection from these imaginary adversaries, like foreign terror attacks or even our own media. Honestly, I am still astounded by how utterly transparent (I mean that in the worst way) our president is, and the completely undisguised way in which he discredits people and entities that disagree with him. Whenever an article is published, you know you can expect an immediate response on Twitter, usually one filled with false claims and personal insults. It's so incredibly elementary and so dumb and I don't understand how people can possibly take him seriously. If this were a normal person, they would be dismissed as petty and their comments thinly-veiled personal vendettas (I know people like this and subsequently take everything they say with a healthy grain of salt). And despite his UPenn degree and supposed business acumen, he still speaks with all the eloquence of a second-grader reciting a Shakespeare soliloquy without knowing 75% of the words. Sad!

9. Is anyone else watching Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix?! I was absolutely enamored with these books as a kid; I remember eagerly awaiting Library Day each week so I could check out the next one, and devouring them nonstop even during class, which sometimes got me into trouble with teachers. I can still recite my favorite quote from memory:

Taking one's chances is like taking a bath, because sometimes you end up feeling comfortable and warm, and sometimes there is something terrible lurking around that you cannot see until it is too late and you can do nothing else but scream and cling to a plastic duck.

So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Netflix was making a TV series. I really like it so far. The actors have received some criticism regarding their performance; some people have called it "stiff" and "unrealistic," but as I pointed out to my friend, I think this is a stylistic choice, as they're supposed to be very precocious and almost a parody of adults in fiction novels. It also stays very faithful to the books, which I like, but at the same time can get a bit formulaic (which is to be expected, I suppose). But as a whole, it's very enjoyable to watch, just the right amount of quirky, and I think it's beautifully shot, all grey and Gothic overtones against a pastel background.

10. My friend sent me this article, which I thought was interesting, so naturally I asked every Singaporean I know about it. They all agreed that it was pretty accurate. My coworker pointed out that everyone in Singapore is taught to be efficient, and sometimes don't consider their emotions a priority. I asked my boss what Singaporeans' goals in life are, since one of the core constituents of the American dream is happiness. "So is everyone's," my boss told me. "Just that the Singaporean definition of happiness is already defined by the government (edit: not literally, guys, calm down). You get married, you buy an HDB flat, you procreate, maybe buy a car if you can afford it, send your kids to school, dream of a private condominium, rinse and repeat until you retire at 62 and withdraw your CPF savings. That's the Singaporean dream." My other boss remarked that this often creates dissatisfaction because, "the problem with a set bar of success is that everyone is at different starting lines." It makes me really consider the American fixation on happiness and fulfillment, what created our definition of happiness, and how it has evolved over time. I feel like we are more entitled, but I also feel like it's unfair to place the blame entirely on us.