Tick Tock Ka-Ching

This month isn’t too bad actually, in terms of work load. But I’m still anxious and unsettled. I’ve been living off my savings for the past 3 months so there’s plenty of catching up to do (most of it goes to paying the rent) and work for coming months is yet uncertain.

Numbers and figures, hours and dollars
Time is ticking, time is money
Tick tock, ka-ching

Busy is good, busy is great
Busy with work and clocking hours
Busy looking and applying for jobs
Busy keeping track of time and busy fighting sleepy bugs
Busy counting balances and calculating expenses
Numbers and figures, financial planning and mathematics
Trying to work out the sums oh what a headache*
Busy worrying, stressed and scared
Will I be able to pay my rent?
July August September
Safe for the time being but what about next?
It’s not just rent but utilities too
But more than that, I’m busy hoping for a holiday
Busy wishing I can afford that
Because right now I’m just a slave
Keeping busy to pay my rent
I rather be busy planning for my holiday
This is the reason I keep myself busy motivated
Because I need a break from this crazy busy
(And what if my loved ones are falling sick
I don’t even dare to think about it
Maybe I have just jinxed myself
Gosh I can be so superstitious)
Busy keeping my executive functions working, busy to stop my mind from wandering
It’s hard to struggle between low and high functioning
Busy fighting depression
Not all hope is lost (and repeat a 1000 times)
Busy fighting anxiety
Keep calm and move on (and repeat a 1000 times)
Busy fighting exhaustion turns out to be a real hard battle
And on top of it all, busy pretending I’m fine

Numbers and figures, hours and dollars
Time is ticking, time is money
Tick tock, ka-ching

*Loser earns $X dollars per hour.
Loser pays $Y dollars per month for the rental.
A vacation trip costs $Z dollars.
How many hours does Loser need to work per month/day in order to pay the rent?
How many more hours does Loser need to work and save per month/day in order to budget for a vacation?
Assuming Loser works the same number of hours or more each month, when is the earliest time Loser can afford to go on a vacation? No wait, Loser can’t assume. The question to ask is what is the probability of Loser getting the same amount of work or finding new employment next month?

I actually prefer the acoustic version but this version matches my current mood better. Nothing arrived but keep on busy.

Featured image from http://www.pexels.com

“I don’t know” deconstructed: Take Two

Dreams are made up of hope that keep me alive
Without hope, there is no dream
Without dreams, I’m just an empty soul
Disinterested and unmotivated

This blog exists because of a dream. I’ve always been able to count on escaping into my imagination to lessen the stress and anxiety of day-to-day life. In my Wanderland, I dream of a better place, sights to visit for my next holiday, vast open space and wide blue skies. And then I hope that one day my dream will come true, if I dream long and hard enough. I used to think that it is my dream that brings me hope. I was wrong. I dream because I have hopes. It was the prospect of a better place that made me dream. This would explain why I stop escaping into my imagination ever since I was suddenly made jobless. From the day I realise I can’t even afford a holiday trip, my dream was over, I’m stuck. It all came down to money. No money, no hope. I lost my words, I lost my interest, I lost my Walden. There is no point in dreaming and I’d have stopped blogging altogether, what you’re seeing now is pure obstinance.

To have dream is to have hope, and I will hope for everything to be a dreamer again. And to all dreamers, be thankful and proud of yourselves!


At the bottom of the darkest pit there is still rays of hope
And I’m begging, I’m begging you please throw down that rope
‘Cause I’ve been here too long, too long, too long, too long, too long
I’ve decided that I want, I want, I want, I want out

Soaring through the dome, never to recoil
I have found a home in what I might become

Featured image: Collapse, Robbie Rowlands

“I don’t know” deconstructed: Take One

“Someone may ask the person with an ASD, “What are you thinking and feeling now?” and the reply may be, “I don’t know.” This is not being obtuse. The full answer could be, “I don’t have the ability to conceptualize my thoughts and feelings in a coherent way that you would understand, and I do not have the words and language to precisely express my thoughts and emotions.” Tony Attwood, Been there, Done that, Try this!: An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth.

Various thoughts running through my head
Floodgates of emotions
Linking the past, present and future
Grievances, misgivings and despair
Crying out like poison to be expelled
Where do I even begin?

Nothing Arrived – VILLAGERS
“I waited for something, and something died
So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived
It’s our dearest ally, it’s our closest friend
It’s our darkest blackout, it’s our final end
My dear sweet nothing, let’s start anew
From here all in is just me and you
I waited for something and something died
So I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived
Well I guess it’s over, I guess it’s begun
It’s a losers’ table, but we’ve already won”
Featured image: Deconstructed coffee. Picture: Ellen Smith Source:News Corp Australia 




Stranger in the woods

My list of undone and unfinished tasks continues to grow as I recently added a new title to my list of unread books 📚 ~ The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel.

It wouldn’t be difficult to identify the common threads that run through my reading list: nature, exploration, wilderness, walking, solitude.

Stranger in the city

I was born in a small country surrounded by city skyscrapers and man-made landscape. Our family activities and weekends were spent mostly in malls and cinemas. The only nature I knew was the botanic garden, the tree-lined avenues and the weather. The highest hill stands at 163.63 metres (537 ft.) tall and I would hardly call that wilderness. My closest encounter with nature and outdoor activity was to get myself deliberately drenched in rain. It is a fast-paced, cosmopolitan city. There was hardly any rural life to speak of. The rural was considered undesirable and outdated by modern standards, people would have scoff at the idea of living or working in the rural. In short, the city is the only way of life I knew and the default way of life I was encouraged to strive for. And thus, I imagined myself grew up to be a successful woman living in the city and working in a large corporate firm, confident, sociable and popular. This is far from reality and yes, I pictured myself sociable, even though I had difficulty making friends. This was why I chose a university in London to pursue my undergraduate degree without hesitation. If I was going to further my studies abroad, it had to be a city and preferably, the capital city. I did end up in London eventually but I can hardly say I’ve experienced the city life for I was already quite a hermit back then and my reason? I was focused on my studies. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t get to explore much of London in my 3 years of study in the city. Nevertheless, I still harboured the thought that one day, I’m going to turn out successful and sociable. I honestly thought that the social aspect would come naturally after I graduated and embarked on my career. Not that I was unhappy to be alone, in fact, I’ve always been comfortable on my own but on the other hand, being alone doesn’t sit well with the society image of a high-flyer. I didn’t know much about autism then. In hindsight, I’d say I was trying to fit myself into society’s mold. When I moved to Hong Kong at the age of 24, I still believed that I was destined for the bustling city life and was determined to make the most of the city for I regretted not making good use of my time in London to explore the city and the rest of the country. Still, I was adamant that I’d make plenty of new friends and lead an active social life. I started hiking.

Hiking provides a great opportunity for me to get up close and personal to nature and the wild side and the experience has changed me in subtle and profound ways. It invigorates my soul and senses like no man can. Funnily enough, the more I hike, the more solitude I crave. Nature has the ability to reflect and bring out your true self whether you are aware or not. My diagnosis and understanding of autism later on put things into further perspective. It’s time to admit that I’m never going to become the sociable person I imagined myself to be. For nearly three decades, I tried to blend into the city and lived under the false sense of belonging but all along, I am a mere stranger in the city.

“I took a walk in the woods and came up taller than the trees.” Henry David Thoreau

Stranger in the woods

In my reading and armchair travelling, I often wondered what are the chances of encountering a deadly snake or spider in Australia or dingoes or leeches and ticks? What are the chances of encountering a bear if I’m hiking in the US? To be honest, it scares me although most books would point out that the chances of being killed by a wild animal are slim and advice people to exercise their common sense and leave wild animals alone. If anyone asks if I’m afraid to hike alone in the dark, to certain extent, I’m. But it’s a question of probability (depending on the location and circumstances etc) and a question of relative (I’m scared but my desire to hike alone is even stronger). I guess it’d be akin to asking whether surfers are afraid of sharks in the ocean?

I was out on a night hike and expected the trail to be quiet as it was after 9:30pm and especially after a day of rain. As I walked up to the Pinewood Battery historic site (link opens in new tab), I stopped as I heard movements immediately followed by the sight of an animal moving swiftly across the trail and towards the direction I was going. Despite my headlamp, I couldn’t make up what it was that just moved across my vision. It was the size of a big dog, could have been a feral dog or a lost dog but I didn’t hear it bark. Also, I thought the animal looked stout and ‘thicker’ than a dog, could have been a wild boar. I immediately thought what are the chances of running into a wild boar on Hong Kong Island? Wild boars are common in Hong Kong but mostly found in the New Territories region although they have been sighted on Hong Kong Island too. Whether it was a dog or a wild boar, I was certain that the animal was scared and wanted to avoid me as much as I was scared and wanted to avoid it too. At this point, I could either press on ahead without any idea where the animal went or retraced my steps back. Common sense and a cowardly mind told me that I should retrace my steps back. While it presented no immediate danger, I didn’t want to provoke it or made it felt threatened. In addition, my intent was merely to spend time alone, it didn’t matter whether or not I got up to the peak. Tracing my steps back down, I was amused that since I’ve started night hiking, no two nights were the same, each hike was a new different experience. But then, I haven’t started night hiking for long. On my way down towards a pavilion, I was once again alerted to movements in the bush. It was a much smaller animal compared to the one I just saw, about the size of a duck or goose and feathery, moving into the bush. If they were birds, it must be quite a big (medium sized) bird. It was a strange interesting night, mysterious, even creepy! The woods is very much alive in the dark and I wondered if the rain earlier had anything to do with my unusual encounter.

Even though I was by myself, I was aware that I’m sharing the trail with numerous living beings at the same time. When I think about how I felt when someone intrudes my solitude, I felt a sense of guilt for intruding their habitat. I was the intruder and the stranger, thankful to nature for tolerating my presence.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. It is cheerfully, musically earnest.” Henry David Thoreau

In the British tv series, New Lives in the Wild, presenter Ben Fogle travels around the world to meet people who have given up the rat race to start a new life in some of the wildest and most remote places on earth. I watched the series with interest and admiration for these people. I also know that my notion of wilderness will never match up to their living off the grid raw wilderness lifestyle. I simply lack the skills to do so. But I am content to leave the city behind for a more rural lifestyle, just as the Walden woods wasn’t that remote from civilisation.

There is a saying that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. I sometimes feel like a fish that has learned how to climb a tree poorly but doesn’t know how to swim.

How much time do I have left before it’s game over?

This is a game I’ve been playing for a while. The aim of the game is simple enough: in order to survive, I must avoid stressors that might trigger a sensory overload. If I fail to avoid the stressors, I put my life at risk of a sensory overload. Oh yes, it is potentially lethal. I haven’t thought of a name but F Off seems apt.

Rules of the game (current version is HK-17): To stay alive, I must avoid stressors that trigger a sensory overload. For each stressor I come into contact with, my lifespan is shortened by a day. Examples of stressors and things to watch out for include: loud and noisy environments; long line up; physical contact with people; people not looking where they’re going; people who stand or sit too close; getting poked by people’s umbrellas; people obstructing the way with their luggage; people blocking the way generally; people using selfie sticks or pointing their fingers without paying attention to where they’re pointing; kids yelling and running about; people who smell like they’ve just smoked a whole pack of cigarette or haven’t showered for a week; people breaking into laughter; commute at peak hours; construction works; vehicles honking; the loud passenger in a bus or train carriage; pedestrians talking enthusiastically behind me I can’t wave away their voices; stuck in a packed elevator especially a packed elevator in the campus full of noisy students babbling across my face etc. The list is not meant to be exhaustive. In any event, each time I’m out and with all the stress, anxiety and mental effort, I feel as though my lifespan has been shortened by a year. Going out for a hike is considered a risk event which brings no more than a momentarily psychological relief. I can earn lives by going on a holiday or getting a tattoo. I don’t rule out that most of the stressors that might trigger a sensory overload are also manifestations of my misanthropic tendencies or hypersensitivities to the human species. Yes, the rules are arbitrary, so is life.

If the human average life expectancy is 80 years, how many days or even years have been taken away from me and how much time do I have left?

Featured image: Thomas Hawk via Flickr creative commons