You gotta get up and try try try

There’s something about karaoke and its ability to make you pay attention to lyrics to songs you had never really paid close attention to before.

There was a profound moment while singing (shouting) Sean Paul’s Get Busy last night when I realised I had no idea what the fuck he was on about.

“Percolate anything you want to call it
Oscillate you hip and don’t take pity
Me want fi see you get live upon the riddim when me ride”

I mean I can probably take a stab in the dark and figure out the subject matter but WHAT EXACTLY is he saying? So it has now become one of my life’s goals to figure out why Sean Paul’s songwriters decided there were no better words than percolate and oscillate to use in a song about sex.

Later, we sang (shouted) Pink’s Try, which is a song that I may have listened to a couple of times but not one I had really listened to until last night.

“Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try”

See how much better a song is without the words percolate and oscillate?

There was a moment when I was singing (shouting) the words of the chorus of the song and I just said: “Holy shit, that’s so true. You gotta get up and try (try try)!” as though Pink is the first person who came up with the revelation that you have to try to make something work even if it means you might get hurt.

I find that the chase is often one of the more thrilling (and the easiest) aspects of a new relationship. When someone you like desires you all the same, it’s a glorious feeling. But then what happens after?

Fate can only bring two people together. But ultimately, it plays no role in those two people staying together. The part that comes after the chase is often messy, uncertain, unsettling, ugly and sometimes even brutal. If you’re lucky, there is beauty to be found. But it’s not happenstance. It’s a whole lot of work.

This past weekend was all about romance. Not mine. Just a bunch of fictional characters on my computer screen. I binge-watched Love, the new Netflix series co-created by Judd Apatow.

I initially thought that it would be yet another story about that hot-but-screwed-up girl who meets that nice guy who eventually fixes her.

But it turned out to be a much more messy affair. Gus (Paul Rust) is a “nice” guy that turns out to be this huge passive aggressive jerk. And Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) is a girl that has addiction issues who’s basically looking for a nice guy to validate her.  They have a meet-cute. They like each other – but that’s the easy part.

What happens after is how they communicate (or mis-communicate) their expectations of each other. Actually no, they just skipped that communicating part altogether.

Being honest is easier said than done. And half-truths that are designed to pass off as honesty are unhelpful.  “Sure, it was fine” “I guess” and “Not quite” don’t exactly say anything and they don’t help in framing and managing the other person’s expectations. And this was basically the problem between the two leads in Love.

Things really start to go wrong on their first official date together. Gus has a whole date all planned out and he’s super excited and he clearly thinks it’s going to turn out great. But he doesn’t really know Mickey, and so it’s no fault of his own (at first) that she is less than excited about his plans. Things go downhill from there after Mickey doesn’t appear to enjoy the date the way he expects her to enjoy it.

Expectations.

Hah, I’ve been guilty of this one too many times.

Sometime last year a friend visited me here after we first met in Koh Tao, Thailand nine months ago when we were learning to dive.

We spent two days together here and it was great. But the second night, when we were out just laying under the stars (in my revisionist version, we could see actual stars okay?) with the skyline of the country splayed out for display in front of us, was magical. The conversation was flowing, jokes were being laughed at, phrases in our respective languages were being exchanged and taught, and an unforgettable night was being made.

Both of us acknowledged that this would make a perfect date. “If only we were with the right people,” I thought.

After that night, I made a mental note to do all of these things – with the right person. Let’s just go ahead and define the right person as someone more right than him. The next one is always the right person anyway until he isn’t.

Finally that time came. Well, the right person came. The planets were finally aligning. I can finally have that perfect date. I had so many expectations that I didn’t even acknowledge the possibility that it would be anything but perfect.

Alas, it wasn’t.

Maybe it was me (unfairly) expecting him to be in awe of everything he saw and maybe I didn’t know him well enough to know what impressed him and what didn’t. Either way, I was annoyed. Because I had brought the right person and I didn’t feel that same magic – not that night at least.

Just like Mickey wasn’t at fault for not enjoying her date in Love, I don’t fault him for not feeling that night or for possibly not enjoying the city.

After all, I think (for me at least) that there were some smaller, magical moments that didn’t need the help of a splashy skyline and some fancy trees.

Manage your expectations.

Lesson learned, move on. More accurately, lesson is being learned, moving on.

Love also explores what happens after the quirks you like about the other person fade into the background – and the ugliness starts to show.

And sometimes that ugliness can manifest in the vulnerability and insecurity that’s annoyingly par for the course when you start to like someone. You now have something to lose. “Why hasn’t he texted me? Why has he read my texts but not replied? Why are his replies so lacklustre? What is going on?” I’ve been through all of this before (and sometimes even worst!).

It’s frustrating and it makes me super annoyed at myself because I don’t like being that person who reaches for her phone in the middle of the night after a random dream/nightmare to see if someone has texted (though it’s also a great feeling if he does text – ah, contradictions!!). Somehow when someone I like (a rare occasion in itself) enters the picture – my picture, things start to shift and my cool all but disappears.

So at what point is it okay to show your ugliness with the comfort in knowing that the other person won’t leave?

Just gotta get up and try (try try) I guess.

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A little respect for bad dancing

I am bad at a lot of things. Cooking, cleaning, telling stories, math – basically everything my mum wishes I was good at.

But there are some things that are just fun to be bad at. Singing is one of them. (How can karaoke actually be fun when you can’t croak and crack your way through a Mariah Carey song? )

And then, there’s dancing.

I’m a bad dancer. No sense of rhythm at all. When I go for my Body Step or Body Combat classes at the gym ( I should really use past tense for this. Gym hasn’t happened in a while), I literally spend a lot of the time just standing still in the middle of the room, while everyone else’s limbs seem to be cooperating with each other.

Meanwhile, I just look confused as I stare at my arm and mentally chide it: “Arm, why must you always move in the same direction as Leg?”

When I’m at a club, or at a music festival though, I don’t care. My fingers are pointing up at the ceiling (or sky), my feet’s moving (probably not in sync with the music), I’m singing along (badly) to the words of the song, and usually, my eyes are closed.

I tend to dance with my eyes closed because I want to feel like I’m alone in the room. It’s a euphoric feeling.

I want to feel alone in the room, because I do not want to feel embarrassed that my feet is not moving to the right beat, that my hips don’t lie as well as Shakira’s – and oh gosh, what do I even do with my ass?

I want to sing as loudly as possible, with one hand clutching my chest as I belt out the (wrong) lyrics and the other just pointing at random things. (Kim Jong Un and I are probably meant to be).

But when I watched the clip above from HBO’s now-cancelled series Looking, I remembered thinking: “How nice would it be to simply badly dance with another person without fear of being judged?”

I loved this scene when I first watched the episode two years ago. Andrew Haigh (Weekend) directed this episode, and man, he is a genius at portraying intimacy. I love how we can hardly spot Patrick and Richie at first, and then the camera moves slowly toward them, and ah, there they are. We get closer, eye-level almost. I feel almost privileged to observe this moment between them. This 51-second long moment.

Patrick (the non-bearded one) is dancing off-beat, jumping about unfashionably, and singing out loud without a care in the world – basically doing exactly what I would do. Except that he is directly looking at the object of his affection. He dared show his dance moves in front of Richie! And he’s not embarrassed! HOW does he do it?

Emotional intimacy, with a romantic partner at least, is something I’m admittedly not that familiar (or comfortable) with. It’s scary sharing a part of myself with someone else – whether it’s sharing my (very very very) bad dance moves, singing, or even something as simple as telling someone how I felt about my day.

So many questions start swirling around in my head. Is he listening? Does he care? Is he bored? Should I stop? Will he judge how I can never dance to the beat – or how I can’t rap in time? Is there even a point to this?

But I am learning that sometimes it’s best to not overthink things. Live a little, they say.

I always feel super happy whenever I revisit this clip. Firstly, it’s because it’s hella romantic. And secondly, it’s because, if Patrick can do it, so can I! (I identified with Patrick a lot in the show because he is also not entirely experienced with love, very naive, lacks self-awareness, and has a general tendency to be an idiot. That’s me).

I’m not there yet, but I believe that I too will soon be able to dance, with my eyes wide open, as I look into his.

Till then, I’ll practice my moves.