Child development or trauma? Why not both. Wes Anderson, take notes.

For legal purposes and to avoid a verbal whopping from my family, this is a disclaimer that what I have written may or may not be true. (It’s totally true.) Again, I want to reiterate that everything I’ve written here may be a work of fiction. (It is autobiographical.) Great, now that I have caused a confusion, you may now read the rest.

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Downtown Yangon, Myanmar. Check out more photos from this series over here.

With the viral sensation that is COVID-19, tourism, and subsequently the hospitality industry, has taken a massive hit. I know for a fact that my family’s hotel business has. Ever since they shut the doors, I’ve been having a small but constant dread in the back of my head. This anxiety has made me long for home and feel nostalgic for the past few weeks (correction: months, this article has been sitting as a draft for way too long). So then I thought, why not dig up my past and explore my childhood for a bit? …


Let’s talk about tacos for a second. Because, why not?

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Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that in spite of the intricacy and diversity Mexican cuisine has to offer, I have fallen in love with the most basic dish — tacos, a dish so mainstream that there exist restaurant chains based on it. Infamous for satisfying late night cravings and its accompanying laxative properties, Taco Bell has tainted the legacy of tacos. Though I am slandering an already tarnished name, Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupas are to die for. Unfortunately, my guilty pleasure is equivalent to having Crab Rangoon* as your favorite Chinese dish or that Wyoming be your favorite U.S. state. …


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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Despite being one of the most visited websites, Reddit is not for everyone. I have a lot of issues with that platform, from the users to the company itself. That being said, it does have pockets of gold nuggets, and this, my friends, is one: r/lifeofnorman.

The premise of that subreddit is very simple — it’s about a very ordinary, average guy named Norman. People write about very average things that a very average Norman does. It’s cute, it’s wholesome, and it’s a quaint little community. The subreddit tags itself as “a collective story about a remarkably unimportant individual.”

But it is sad. Though peaceful and can be wholesome, it’s dark to see a life so unremarkable. The problem is that I see myself as Norman a lot. I don’t go on adventures. I get anxious about how I present myself to the world. I play by the books. I am depressed and lonely. The worst of it all, I don’t even have the positive attitude Norman brings to his day to day life. Hopefully I don’t end up like Norman, but if I do, the positivity he brings to his life is all I can wish for. …


On a related note: bribery works better than exorcisms

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Photo by Alana Harris on Unsplash

During my teenage years, I was told I was allergic to various kinds of meat. Be it pork, beef, or shrimp, my family constantly nagged me to avoid them. I was always skeptical of their warnings because of their abstention from certain foods for spiritual and religious purposes, and I for one am not religious. For instance, my entire family avoids eating beef because they believe that cows are sacred creatures; they believe that consumption of beef would bring bad omen to their lives.

My family also believes in astrology, and often consults an astrologist on how to improve various aspects of their lives. When they asked the astrologist for advice on how my life could be improved, he advised my family that I should avoid eating pork. …


lightning mcreeeeeeeeee

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Photo by takahiro taguchi on Unsplash

Why do I get angry when a car cuts me off? Especially when they don’t signal. My first instinct is to say that the driver was endangering the surrounding, but I’d be lying if that was the only thought that goes through my mind. I feel like, somehow, my ego plays a part in this. I don’t know how it fits in, but I bet it does.

Perhaps it’s “how dare this car cut me off?”, but it’s not like the car was only targeting me. Or maybe I hate the fact that people are not following the societal rule — don’t cut someone off, or if you have to, at least use the damn signals. …


it’ll leak from your eyes

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

I am an emotional person by heart, but rarely do I express emotions. Over the years, all the feelings and trauma I have accumulated, I bottle them up. It’s easier. It’s less painful. The space eventually runs out, and when it does, it never empties, like iCloud. The complimentary 5GB of storage has filled up. Like how my phone reminds me that it can no longer backup my phone after every picture I take, my brain does that whenever I have to process a feeling.

I have stuffed so many things into a bottle it’s starting to leak. This is not the first time this happens. Whenever it all becomes too much, I stick the bottle in the freezer. Sure, my feelings are put on hold and everything goes well for a minute, but guess what happens when you freeze water? It expands. …


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Photo by Natasha Brazil on Unsplash

A friend of mine today said he didn’t want to try speed dating because it wouldn’t be a good story to tell. Just like meeting someone on Tinder or any other online dating apps, speed dating doesn’t provide a good story, he said.

I was taken aback. In this day and age, meeting people in any way, except via dating apps, creates beautiful stories. And then I realized my personal bias against dating apps. Sure, my requirement for a good story was less stringent than my friend’s but why did I even have a requirement at all?

I think I have watched too many movies. Over the years, I have bought into the romanticization of romance. I have put rom coms on a pedestal, and worshipped them in hopes for experiencing one for myself. Every now and then, I have to remind myself that real life doesn’t have a director or a script behind the curtains. …


since I wrote

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Photo by Majid Rangraz on Unsplash

It’s been a week, and I couldn’t get myself to write every day. I have become hesitant — what am I getting out of writing 100 words? Does publishing much shorter articles dilute my other longer pieces? What’s the point of letting others see my diary-like entries?

I always do this. I start something new and never see it through until the end. There’s a Burmese saying that goes အစမရှိ အဆုံးမရှိ, which directly translates there’s no start, there’s no end, synonymous with half-assing or not going through with something. Usually, I would simply give up, but recently, I have started to forgive myself for not being perfect all the time. I try to, at least. So, here I go again.


Or are they my rationally irrational fears?

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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash. Weird picture, isn’t it?

Getting murdered by a hitchhiker.

Dying from some sort of disease, mistaken for a common cold.

Drowning in the ocean. (Ridiculous thought, because I’ve been to the beach maybe twice in my life.)

Getting shot in a crossfire.

Somebody approaching me at night while I struggle to open my front door.

Never finding love.

Dying from cracking my head too hard on a highway.

Being framed for a prison sentence.

Losing my sight.

Losing sight of my future.

Getting pooped on by a bird as I leave my house.

Never becoming rich enough.

Dying before achieving anything tangible.

Starving to death in an apocalypse.

Falling off of a collapsing structure (i.e. building, bridge, etc.)

Never experiencing true warmth and affection.


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Photo by Bruno Figueiredo on Unsplash

I have been thinking a lot about what to write now that I have taken on the challenge to write everyday. I think about it on the car on my way to work. I think about it during the day as I fail to have it done in the morning. I even think about it during lunch, hoping to sneak in a few words here and there.

From all the time I spent on thinking about what to write, at the end of the day, I will have come up with more than a handful of topics. It is when I get stuck on the story I want to tell. Forming a cohesive narrative is hard. …

About

Kaung Shein

One of my best friends said, “Life sucks and then you die.” We are all out here just trying to figure out how to die at a later time and make life suck less.

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