Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Sense Of An Ending

Picture found on: camillo-longo

As I am busy finalising my packing for my trip to Phuket (I leave tomorrow!), 2011 is drawing to a close. I wish I could say that I fulfilled every single one of my New Year's resolutions, but the problem lies with not having set any in the first place. Haha. I tend not to set any as I find I either set the aspirational bar too high, or break them within the first 2 weeks of January.

Unfortunate as it is, 2011 has not been very kind to me but they have been necessary to develop character- as most things of this nature are. I've had to figure out many inner conflicts on my own - some resolved, many not. Learning to let go has never been more challenging than it has been this year. All of these thoughts continue to lecture me, sometimes at the most inconvenient of times. But pushing forward regardless is the best thing anyone can do. (I thank this blog for helping me to continue to search for what it is I need.) And I'm very glad to say that I am one step closer to where I need to be, and definitely better off than I was yesterday.

Enjoy the rest of your holidays. I, as I'm sure many of you who read this are, am looking for a fresh start for 2012. Good luck and will see you all in the New Year...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Holiday Season

Picture found on: o_lie
"Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space." - Dave Barry
Here's hoping that these holidays will bring warmth, love, and happiness to all those who deserve it (ie. everyone).  Even though Christmas was never really celebrated as part of my family's religious beliefs, we still managed to find the will to see family friends, and, if lucky, would see family members all over the world. Spending time with those who you love can easily be taken for granted. Sometimes I hated going to other people's houses and having to mingle with people who I barely even knew. But I suppose I actually look forward to those gatherings now. They are events which are all too rare in my everyday life nowadays.

My dad flies back tonight after spending his 2 month hiatus from life in the sunny island of Singapore. No doubt, I was extremely jealous of his fortune, especially during times of exam study and 9-10 hour work days. But the upside is that he has promised me a great heap of presents from my favourite shopping city in the world (as well as from my lovely cousins, aunts and uncles). We're sort of even now. Haha.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday! And in the wise words of Jerry Springer, "Take care of yourself and each other."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Learning From Moments

Picture found on: theprettychoice
"Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we'd rather collapse and back away. they're like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we're stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are." - Pema Chödrön
Being the vulnerable and sensitive person that I am, I don't assume it comes as any surprise that I like this quote. This quote spins a new perception on 'feelings' (for want of a better word - I understand many people don't like showing and/or talking about it) that I have not yet come across before. 

I suppose I wear my heart on my sleeve; even though I've inherited the selfish and hypocritical quality that says I am not a fan of people who do in public. (Apologies if you fall into this category). I try to keep the  majority of "bad" feelings to myself and leave the "good" feelings out in the open. And if one feels happy and joyous, one should be able to walk around feeling like they are on top of the world. The cheeriness spreads like a disease everyone should catch, and no one is likely to be harmed if doing so.

But as always feelings and the moments they spawn out of are two-fold. Those terrible feelings like disappointment, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear are all indicative of our insecurities. I, for one, keep these emotions bottled up inside until it manifests itself into some grotesque creature within me. I suppose  it is due to the perception of being vulnerable. And when one is vulnerable there's the awful possibility of being a failure. But instead of feeling like a failure, why don't I choose to learn from the moment? I know I do not handle bad situations well; I expect everything to go according to plan (well, the plan in my head) and when it doesn't, I react badly. With no surprise, it is one of the traits of my personality that I need to work on a fair bit. Perk up and listen to the feelings - learn, reflect and utilise these emotions for positive reasons instead of playing the victim. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Day on Earth


One Day on Earth is a compilation of events that have taken place around the world on the same day. Its aim is to create a picture of humanity from different perspectives. The footage follows characters and events that explore the progression of life from birth, to death, to birth again.
"In the end, despite unprecedented challenges and tragedies throughout the world, we are reminded that everyday we are alive there is hope and a choice to see a better future together."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Underground

Picture found on: Cedric Sam
"Reality is created out of confusion and contradiction, and if you exclude those elements, you're no longer talking about reality. You might think that - by following language and a logic that appears consistent - you're able to exclude that aspect of reality, but it will always be lying in wait for you, ready to take revenge."
By now, you should all be familiar with my unhealthy obsession with novelist, Haruki Murakami. The story of Underground is another book I have added to my list. I do not usually stray into the genre of witness literature that often, simply because I find the issues too heavy and confronting, and therefore not an enjoyable read. (However, I do appreciate those who have an interest in reading witness testimonies on true events.)

Without going into too much detail, the Tokyo Gas Attack and Underground itself is, amongst other things, an attempt to understand the psychological effect of violence in an affluent, peaceful country. In many lucky parts of the world, we have become accustomed to safety. Wilful death is no longer a common occurrence. So when a mass murder is committed in such a place, this then has a strong social and personal impact on those involved - it shakes us out of our comfort zone and perception of harmony.

Murakami also attempts to focus attention on the 'Us vs Them' dichotomy. In his final essay, he looks towards people's immediate reactions to attack the perpetrators. And understandably, put as much distance between them and the event. This is a logical reaction but, as unfortunate as the gas attack was, more needed to be done than to simply say that one is a monster. And I suppose that is what Murakami tries to achieve in Underground. That everything happens within a context, and we are always part of that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Things You Don't Forget

Picture found on: thoughtcatalog

I know I've preached to the choir not to dwell on the past, but I've decided to include a sentimental romantic piece from Thought Catalog. Sometimes it's good to reflect on happier moments. Sometimes...

"Where you met and where you went on your first date, and how excited you were in the hours before your first date, and how nervous you were during your first date, and how badly you wanted a second date, even before the first date ended....Anniversaries, birthdays and the names of parents and friends. The people you liked, and the people you didn’t like, and the people you tolerated because you had to tolerate them. 
Favorite bands and favorite books and the places you shared — the restaurant you always went to, and the route you took to his or her house, and how you stayed the night on Tuesdays and Thursdays, sometimes Sundays.
You won’t remember how he or she drank coffee or tea, until you hear someone order coffee or tea the same way and you will remember how he or she drank coffee or tea ,and you may even remember how it irritated you that three equals and a dash of cream was needed every time, and how you once had to go to two different coffee shops because the dark roast was out at the first place you went. 
Makes and models of cars will be forgotten, and the numbers of miles you shared in these cars will be forgotten, but you may not forget how he or she never offered to pay for gas, and how it started to drive you crazy.... 
You won’t forget how much you loved, because love is not something easily forgotten. You won’t forget how hurt you felt, or how betrayed, or how alone. You won’t forget your promise to not feel hurt and betrayed and alone again. You won’t forget goodbye. "

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Not You

Source of picture: iobad.com

I have no choice but to admire people who motivate others for a living. Especially if they have a kick-ass body! (I also fell in love with Bob Harper when he showed off his incredible yoga poses on countless episodes of The Biggest Loser...) Speaking of which, I haven't touched any downward dog positions in well over a month - another activity to put on my non-existent 'To-Do' list...

We are so inclined to develop excuses as to why we don't deserve to have wonderful things, especially when it comes to our own well-being - physically and mentally. There are those who dedicate their whole loves to taking care of others. And, in fact, those are the people that truly deserve to be taken care. But sadly, rarely are. Are we to attribute this to the perception that 'wanting' is an act of selfishness? To this I say, there is a great difference between selfishness and a healthy body and mind. Wanting to be happy with your health is not a crime. Wanting healthy, mutual love is not a crime. Chasing your dreams is not a crime. In fact, being happy makes others happy. (It's infectious! I'm sure a scientific study out there can support this proposition.) And Jillian Michaels puts it perfectly: The truth is that we are all deserving. We all deserve to be happy.

So, as cliche as it sounds... love others, love your body, bless your soul. Chances are that all of us are a little over-worked, a little stressed, a little too busy, a little too afraid to take good care of our health and well-being. So why not do the things that make you happy? Why not you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Everything Goes, Everything Returns

Source of picture: phildesignart
"Everything goes, everything returns; eternally rolls on the wheel of existence.  Everything dies, everything blossoms forth again; eternally runs on the year of existence.  Everything breaks; everything is integrated anew; eternally builds itself the same house of existence.  
All things separate, all things again greet one another; eternally true to itself remains the ring of existence. Every moment begins existence, around every ‘here’ rolls the ball ‘there.  
The middle is everywhere. Crooked is the path of eternity.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Life is a series of entanglements of our dreams, hopes, experiences and failures, so I thought this poem from Friedrich Nietzsche seemed fitting. The simplicity in his words reminds me of how each of our encounters within our lives serves some sort of purpose - whether we realise it or not at the time. I am a staunch believer in the philosophy that what we expel, we receive in kind. And not to get all 'The Secret' on you, but there is some relevance that that book has with this poem; what we put out, we attract. For me, this is what keeps me going whenever I have days that aren't filled with as much light as the others.

It is sad to think that everything ultimately has an expiry date. The things that we have become accustomed to (and, in some cases, may have even loved) should, one day, be no more. And in this sense, nothing can last or be forever. But life is a ring of existence - a circle that ties us to our experiences. It is this process itself that is eternal. There's something beautiful in his phrasing that suggests what we give out will be returned to us in one form or another.  And that for every end, there will be a new beginning. 

I couldn't have said it better myself, Nietzsche.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shake It Out


Continuing on with my theme of 'mad women', here's Florence's 'Shake It Out'. Her videos oddly captivating, as well as stunningly beautiful. And I am particularly fond of this song. I suppose she is singing about the  moments before the light, the moments before a new beginning. And to rid of past baggage even though it may not serve any purpose in doing so or if one has a strong attachment to those thoughts/feelings - just shake it out. How apt...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Bell Jar

"If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days."
I've found the workings of a mad woman an interesting read. Probably because I am one myself. Haha. Sylvia Plath's slow descent into madness, which then translated across into her writings (notably the semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar) gained her a cult following and produced one of the most defining classic pieces of literature to date.

Her life fascinates me. Of course, this is the woman who committed suicide by famously sticking her head in an oven. Her work was and still is hailed as a major work of feminist fiction, tackling sensitive issues such as 'sexism, materialism, and complacency of American society'. The feminist movement, fascination with death, and mental illness were at that time contemporary preoccupations. But The Bell Jar made its impact in an oddly different manner. It was such a personal look at a young woman's struggle with suicidal depression - very much a reflection of the author's life.

A piece of confessional literature is, for me, extremely hard to come across. I tend to shy away from emotionally heavy issues such as depression. I fear that reading too much of it will rub off on me in a bad way. Still, having read Plath's one and only novel made me realise why the book is categorised under 'Classics' in bookstores and how much her works have contributed to feminism over the years. A bizarre read but necessary to understand the mind of depression.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In The Meantime, Forget Yourself

Picture found on: exzackt
"Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." - Henry Miller
As we are etching ever closer towards the end of 2011, it's best to spend our holidays and free time enjoying things that we love and surrounding ourselves with those whom we love. 

My last set of exams have ended, which means I have time to focus on things that I find extremely enjoyable ala superficial crap - catching up on good TV shows, updating my knowledge on fashion via magazines, getting around to downloading new songs onto my iPod (and possibly spending hours playing Angry Birds on my iPad). Haha. Of course, I have no intention of spending the majority of the time sitting on the couch. I need to spend my holidays outside my natural habitation. I'm heading to Phuket for a mini holiday during New Years. And what does every girl want to do before going to a tropical paradise? Apart from shopping for holiday beach clothes, I have to summon the motivation to get my keg belly back to the gym and tone up. Flat washboard abs, please! Who knows what kinds of delicious Thai platters I'll be filling my body with.  But, as lame as some may find it, I am looking forward to reading. In fact, I've lined up 10 books to see me through the coming summer months before semester starts again. I may even purchase more (a goal of mine is to read all of the books that have been awarded the 'Man Booker Prize for Literary Fiction'). I am already picturing myself reading on the pristine Karon Beach sand overlooking the Andaman Sea. Bliss. 

In the meantime, I will forget myself. I'll forget the annoying trait of paranoia I've developed when things don't go smoothly. Forget what others think and see of me. In a nutshell, to rid the selfishness in me for a while. My time will be much better spent immersing myself in other things, other cultures, new people, new ideas. Yes, this definitely sounds like a great way to start my holidays.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Year of 22

Picture found on: observando.net
"Don’t wish me happiness. I don’t expect to be happy all the time… It’s gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humour. I will need them all." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Today I officially turn 22 years of age. A decent amount of time to be spent on this Earth, but painfully embarrassing to admit that I haven't accumulated an amount of knowledge over the years to show for it. Today wasn't particularly noteworthy, unfortunately. My mum and I went shopping, however I didn't end up buying anything (shock!); Lunch at a Chinese restaurant wasn't as good as I expected; and I spent the afternoon reviewing my exam notes(!). Pitiful behaviour, I admit. But I digress. I didn't particularly organise anything for celebrations, but having exams tends to limit the kinds of festivities one can throw during this period. However, I did have time to reflect on how my life could be better spent on letting go of unwanted memories and relationships. So I have compiled some short thoughts on what has enlightened me this year.
  1. Take risks. The courageous are successful for a reason.
  2. Save up and travel more. It truly broadens the mind.
  3. Money worked for is valuable than money given for free (although it doesn't hurt...). 
  4. Letting go is harder than people on TV/books/quotes make it out to be. 
  5. Yoga is the new black... leggings. 
  6. Change is good. Change is important.
  7. Leaving things to fate is frightening, but excitement doesn't come to those who plan meticulously. 
  8. Defeat isn't always the most cheer-inducing event one can go through, but it's not the worst. 
  9. The best way to appreciate something is to be without it for awhile. 
  10. One can't start the next chapter of life if one keeps re-reading the last. 
  11. Food is comforting. And dangerous if taken carelessly. Use with caution. 
  12. Sad thoughts can creep up at unsuspecting moments. Don't fight it. It'll pass.
  13. Music is the cure to most things. The rest can be taken care by chocolate. 
  14. Reading literary fiction does wonders to our soul. 
  15. People can never be anything but themselves. Don't expect too much.
  16. Hard work is always rewarded... even if takes more time than expected to be recognised. 
  17. Comparing one's life to another is like comparing apples to oranges. I must keep in mind that I didn't have the same opportunities as those I envy.
  18. The ability to understand one another is a skill worth cultivating.  
  19. Like attracts like. 
  20. Happiness is unattainable if one continues to search for it in the wrong places. 
  21. Life's a bitch, and then you kick its ass. 
  22. Re-evaluating it starts here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Be Absorbent

Picture found on: hist0rique
"Become like a sheet of blotting paper and soak it all in. Later on you can figure out what to keep and what to unload." - Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Murakami has struck a chord within me with his wonderful words. Again. (Also reminding me that I have to buy another packet of facial blotting tissues... I have skin oilier than a fish and chip shop.) But vanity aside, one of the most important aspects that a person can hold is the ability to transition ever so seamlessly into an unfamiliar territory - that is, into the next chapter of life, whatever that may be.

The biggest challenges are usually faced with closed minds. I am to start planning a grand travel adventure at the end of my studies. And if there is anything that can be learnt from watching 10 seasons of 'The Amazing Race' is that travel can never be fully enjoyed with a closed mind. In fact, it acts as a hindrance. The winners (with notable exceptions) always seem to exude an air of happiness amongst them, due to the sheer reasons of embracing the physical and mental stresses along their journeys.

I am looking forward to the next chapters of my life - graduation, adventures, working (okay, maybe not so much the last one). No doubt, all extremely nerve-wracking experiences, as I'm sure many of these things are. But in Murakami's words, I must keep the following in mind: soak up all your experiences, whether they are amazingly noteworthy or terribly confronting. Embrace all with open arms. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Year In New York


A Year in New York from Andrew Clancy on Vimeo.

In a desperate bid to curb my boredom during study, I've sought out another great video on Vimeo. This time involving a guy, a camcorder, and 365 days of living in one of the best cities in the world. Enjoy the beauty!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Art of Travel

Source of picture: the lightlover
"If we find poetry in the service station and the motel, if we are drawn to the airport or the train carriage, it is perhaps because, despite their architectural compromises and discomforts, despite their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world."
It has been a while since I've posted a book review (all complaints can be directed to my university). I am fond of travel as much as the next travel agent, so it was plausible for me to begin reading this book by Alain De Botton (well known for one of his novels making a guest appearance in the movie, '500 Days of Summer').

Few things in our life bring about an immediate sense of happiness. Luckily, travel is one of the few (albeit sometimes expensive) outlets for us to seek out this feeling. In his book, Alain attempts to outline the reasons why we travel, as well as subtly offering ways in which we can improve our moods while travelling, and deepen our value of our voyages. Written in a poetic manner (a common occurrence with the books I read), he explores a range of reasons why we travel where we do - from the obvious means of curiosity and the exotic, to the niche areas of art, beauty and the sublime.

The only downside I found when reading his essay was its Euro-centric focus on travel. I would have liked to see him explore countries outside the European continents, to exotic places where we might find ourselves extremely our of our comfort zones. Nonetheless, his style of writing is academically brilliant; one of the best essayist I've come across yet, and a definite must for fans of 'philosophical thoughts on life'.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lessons From The Bench

Source of picture: frankie magazine

"To young people in their 20s, my advice would be unashamedly to search for love. It is the indispensible commodity to a full life. You might not find it, or you may not find it where you thought you’d find it. If you find it, then you’re a very lucky human being." - The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG
Every student who has gone through law school in Australia would have inevitably come across the workings of former Justice of the High Court of Australia, Michael Kirby. Earlier this week, I sat in on a lecture he presented at my university.* He is a terrific speaker, proving not only that he has a brilliant legal mind, but also how respected he is in Australia. You can't help but admire his stance on some tough issues in the law. You can watch him discuss gay marriage as part of TED Sydney 2010 here.

I was rifling through a stack of old magazines in my spare time (yes, I somehow managed to scrape in 'spare time' with my busy schedule of being a uni student and a working woman. Haha.), and found the above quote in an interview Michael Kirby took part in with a magazine some time ago. This interview was refreshing - he didn't discuss the law (of which I've been quite aquainted with) but rather gave snippets of his life on being gay, being young, working in a tough profession, and love.

I won't bog my readers with the particulars of the article, but he does mention an important aspect of his life while completing his postgraduate studies that he does feel sorrow over:
"Looking back, this infatuation with university was an anaesthetic to postpone my engagement wit the real world, and with human relationships. It was a lonely time. Most human beings seek out personal relationships and sexual experiences and I did none of the above. I simply concentrated on my studies, but I knew there was emptiness in my life..."
That is on of the things I'm most fearful over (as for most people, I'm sure); focusing too much on work and shutting myself off to potential relationships with great people and great loves. In a sense, he impliedly cautions young people of making that mistake. And I suppose it ultimately relates to the quote he ends the interview with, and of which I have placed at the beginning of this post. Search for love, by any means possible. And if you haven't found it, keep looking.

NB: Michael Kirby has been with his life partner for the past 40 years! Here's hoping the romantic in me lasts for that long...

*For those of you curious to know, he presented a talk about the importance of the correct interpretation of legislation - always pay close attention to text, context and purpose!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Comedy Nights

Picture found on: alexh
"I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person." - Audrey Hepburn
Attending comedy shows/gigs has been a frequent hobby of mine ever since I was 17 years old. If ever I were to spend more money than that on fashion and beauty products, it would be on comedians. I try to go to at least 3 or 4 stand up shows a year. (You know, just to keep up with the ever changing world of pop culture.) And if luck serves me well, I hope to head to Melbourne in the future to attend the Melbourne International Comedy Festival held every year in April - an array of local and international talent all under the one roof!

My favourite comedians tend to be extremely intelligent and witty in their observational humour. I have a great affection for local Australian comedians (Wil Anderson, Akmal Saleh, Peter Helliar, Kitty Flanagan, Frank Woodley.) Oh, and Americans with irony always blow my mind too. (Cue Louis CK, Paul F Tompkins, etc.). And the odd racial humourists (the good kind!) in Chris Rock and Russell Peters. At times, they can be overtly offensive but that's the risk they run with an audience on any given night.

There's nothing like the feeling of laughing like your insides are about to burst. Or, in my situation, laughing until my laugh lines are forever indented into the side of my mouth. I've fallen in love with the act of laughing. Or rather, the side effects from watching people take the schtick out of themselves. Someone to show me: "If you think you're life is bad, at least you're not me".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Perfect Companion

Picture found on: weheartit.com
"It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it."  - Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation 
Generally, we all want a a person who has dreams, hopes and aspirations that they see themselves achieving; a reflection of their hope for something bigger than contentment. An indication that they are willing to love (or die) for something that is passionate to them. More importantly, we want a companion whom we can share our most intimate secrets with, no matter how painful or embarrassing they may be. This may entail reliving past events that may be too painful to acknowledge but is necessary, to be understood to the other person. And when we find that someone who understands us, a weight is lifted off our shoulders - how wonderful it is to have someone that can relate to your pain.

And I suppose that is what Oriah is referring to in her poem. I want the ability to share with someone, not only my successes, but my flaws and hidden secrets of my life too. Becoming obsessed and concerned with the frivolities of our lives does not aid us in any healthy manner. They eventually fade away over time and don't take on any greater meaning; whether it be age, career, status, politics etc. When it really comes to it, the things that do matter are held close to our hearts - the things that inevitably make us human, relatable and understood.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sincere Apologies

Picture found on: ashleymorgansargent

My sincerest apologies for being slack with my posts. As I type this, I am currently sitting in a thoroughfare at uni, scoffing down my lunch at an unimaginable rate known to man. (It's not even a very tasty lunch, so I'm not even sure why I am doing this to myself.) There comes a time in a uni student's semester where assessments trump social outings, and copious amounts of coffee trumps adequate sleeping hours. I'm hardpressed to find the time to respond to emails and Facebook messages, let alone contribute worthy writings to this blog. But I promise to be back very soon with more insightful anecdotes that you all haven't come to expect from me. My last assessment is to be handed in this coming Monday. After which, I will be free of this evil that has plagued me for the past few weeks (pending examinations in November...). In the meantime, I hope you are well, and I wish each and everyone of you a great October. Ta-ta!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The (Mini) Holiday That Was

"Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind." - Anthony Bourdain
So I'm back. And holding mixed feelings for my future (but we can discuss that another time). I was scheduled to post this entry last weekend, but alas, procrastination and weariness got the better of me - as it always does. My apologies! Overall, my trip to Melbourne was informative and eye-opening. What was supposed to be a fantastic, enjoyable trip to the other end of the country, turned out to be a journey that left me sleep-deprived and money-drained. (In all fairness, the money-draining part was money well spent on a beautiful dress, cheap Haruki Murakami books and wonderful mascara.)

I was particularly looking forward to my trip to Melbourne, as I hoped it would symbolise an exciting future, with suitable career prospects I would see myself accepting. But the process in getting there was always going to be tough. I knew that. And I can't help but wonder if maybe - just maybe - I sabotaged myself unintentionally. Was I scared? Was I truly ready to make the move to a bigger (and possibly better) future? To be honest, I'm not so sure now.

Needless to say, I came back home with a bitter taste in my mouth, and dim hopes for the goals I wanted to achieve in this city. To make matters that little bit worse, our plane had to be turned around, and waiting for another flight for 4 hours did not make me the best person to sit next to at Krispy Kreme! I mostly attribute this to the lack of sleep I sustained during the trip. Haha. 

But even if all doesn't go well to my very meticulous plans, I'll eventually come to terms with it. And you know what? That's okay. This simply means I have to work harder, and set new (and achievable) goals. After all, nothing that's truly worth having, never comes easy. And when it does, it'll be the best feeling in the world.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Travelling Through Time

Picture found on: favim.com
Everyone has a time machine. Everyone is a time machine. It’s just that most people’s machines are broken. The strangest and hardest kind of time travel is the unaided kind. People get stuck, people get looped. People get trapped. But we are all time machines. We are perfectly engineered time machines, technologically equipped to allow the inside user, the traveler riding inside each of us, to experience time travel, and loss, and understanding. We are universal time machines manufactured to the most exacting specifications possible. Every single one of us.” - Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
This is my new favourite quote. I've even dedicated a space for it on my Facebook profile page under "quotations". (So you know I am very serious). I'm not exactly sure why I have taken such a strong liking to it. I suppose it is because of the grand scale of nostalgia and loss that it represents metaphorically.

We have all experienced the unusual wave of nostalgia from time to time. Sometimes it's pleasant; sometimes it overwhelms us with a terrible sadness. And sometimes it takes us to the point where we are convinced the past is infinitely better than the now. But whatever reasons we have for holding onto the past, the underlying rationale is clear. The past is comforting; is uncomplicated; is familiar. Sadly, some of us get stuck in our time machines, constantly looped in way that is dangerous to our well-being...

Time machines weren't created simply for the purpose of staying in one place and they don't get stuck on their own. We all have the relevant mechanisms built within us to move forward. That's the glorious thing about time travel. There are buttons and formulas to take us to the present. And all it takes for us is to push them.  Not technically into the future (although, as I hold many questions about mine that would be a completely fantastic trait for the machine to have!), but away from the past and into better times.

*Speaking of machines that allows one to travel, I'm about to hop on a plane to Melbourne! I have my fingers and toes crossed that this city will bring with it delicious food, fantastic shopping, and hopefully... a great future! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Say Something Nice


Following another semi-productive day at university. I've hunted down yet another great video - this time created by Improv Everywhere (an American-based comedy group). The premise behind this wondeful performance is simple and sweet. Stick a podium with a megaphone attached to it, in a middle of a busy New York intersection, instruct a passerby to "Say Something Nice" and watch what happens.

And in saying that, have you said something nice today?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

As A Twenty-Something Year Old

Picture found on: favim.com
"In your twenties you’re becoming who you’re going to be and so you might as well not be an asshole. You’re generally less humble in that decade than you’ll ever be and this lack of humility is oddly mixed with insecurity and uncertainty and fear. You will learn a lot from yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love." - Dear Sugar (June 2010) on The Rumpus.net 
Here's a truth. Trying to be a nice, kind-hearted and sincere person takes effort. I am nice, and I try to be this person in all facets of my day-to-day life. The downside to this is that there are personal frustrations that have to be aired every now and again. As a few people have discovered, I am capable of being intolerant, rude and brash - an asshole. It is never my intention to be that way but in some circumstances, I think they can be justified. But putting that aside, I choose to be a nice person simply because being mean-spirited and apathetic to others is 'easy'. And who ever heard of good things happening to people because they took the easy way out?

And I think it is truthful to say that 20 year olds are less humble  - I've certainly come across a number of dickheads around this age bracket (pardon the language). It's hard living in a world where young people are are taught to fight for what is theirs and in doing so, compassion and sincerity has to fall by the wayside. We are taught only to think and look out for ourselves. Because no one else will. So why should we care about anyone else?

Your twenties is all about 'yourself' - in the sense of finding who you are and what you want to lead a happy life, or at the very least a content one. As young adults, we have the whole world at our fingertips. And, not to sound cliche (but I'm going to regardless), we have the ability to change it. I am certainly not suggesting that everyone should quit their day job and become a champion of humanity... but let us start with ourselves and those around us. With our family, with love and with friends - even if it means acknowledging and opening oneself to insecurity, uncertainty and fear.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Strangers, Books and Morning Commutes

Source of picture: taufidius

In my various attempts to stay positive in the mornings, I've taken a shine to the ways I travel to work. So much so, that it has come to the point where the best part of my day is getting a seat on the train (if luck permits), taking out a book and reading for the next 15-20 minutes until I reach my destination. 80% of the time, I narrowly miss the crowds associated with the peak hour traffic and am left alone to enjoy my peace and personal space.

Of course, there are always downsides to catching the train to work: the feeling of being pushed up against another person's body during peak hours, the screaming kids that can be heard 2 carriages down the train, the volume of music that can be heard being blasted on a pitiful teenager's headphones... and the list goes on.

I owe it to the books I carry with me for some of the most interesting and insightful conversations that I've had with complete strangers. As I've noted in a previous post. I was happily reading One Day on a train in Singapore and struck a conversation with an older man sitting next to me. He asked me what book I was reading so I proceeded to tell him. The conversation then turned to how we could all spend our time in more economical ways. (For me, it was reading books. For him, it was the newspaper or striking up conversations with strangers!) 

It is highly likely I may never see him again, but I appreciate the curiousness and time taken to get to know me better. And before this elderly man left, he shook hands with me and mentioned what a pleasure it was to talk. I suppose, in a way, I am curious when speaking to strangers too. Curious to know what their interests are, how they think, and essentially, discovering glimpses as to who they are. There are always stories that are amazing, beautiful and interesting. And, if one has the chance to come across lovely folk, appreciate their kindness and sincerity - take the time to get to know them better as they have to you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Decade of Magical Thinking

Picture found on: therumpus.net


Here is an article I wish to share with you about 9/11. This piece is bold, thought-provoking and brave for an American writer to put into print. It also puts into perspective what we have learnt about humanity since the events 10 years ago. Warning: Highly political and may offend some readers.
"A Rumpus Lamentation on What We Lost

Say you took the long view of September 11, 2001, the view from the heavens, the view of a compassionate celestial being. From up there, you’d see that approximately 150,000 earthlings died that day. Most of these deaths were caused by malnutrition and age-related illnesses, roughly 1500 were murders, hundreds more were due to civil wars. Also, 2,977 Americans were killed in terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

A lot of human beings died, that’s my point. They all left behind mourners.
Imagine the mother who watched her child die of hunger. Here’s this tiny person, a daughter. She has a name, a face. She doesn’t explode or fall from a skyscraper. She simply stops breathing. No cameras record her final moment, the lamentation of that mother. These images are not replayed on the television over and over and over. What would be the point of that?

I recently went on a radio program to discuss the literature of 9/11. The host spent most of the hour chatting with people about their memories. They all talked about watching television. They were telling personal stories about watching television.

One of the duties of the artist – not the only duty, but a central one – is to impel people to imagine the complexity of thought and feeling inside another person. Art complicates moral action, because we have to accept that other people matter, that their hardship and suffering, even their rage and sorrow, are, to some extent, our responsibility.
Propaganda has the opposite aim: it is intended to simplify moral action. People get to disregard the humanity of others. This makes them easier to ignore, deport, imprison, torture, enslave, and kill.
...
At one point on this radio show, a TV producer discussed his decision to stop showing footage of the attacks. The host said she wanted to see those images; that she wanted to remember what had happened and how she’d felt. She was glad networks were going to re-broadcast that footage in the next few days. She added that didn’t want to see people jumping to their deaths, just the towers falling.

...
If one of my relatives had died that day …
But, you see, none of them did. It felt fraudulent to me to appropriate the emotional life of those in mourning, to pretend those atrocities were something personal, to rhapsodize about national unity. What I felt was dread, a sense that my country was going to respond precisely as the terrorists intended: by becoming less human.
I visited a friend a week after the attacks, a good-hearted fellow who spent a lot of his time and money establishing a school for at-risk kids. He told me that he didn’t know exactly who’d done this to us, but that he wouldn’t mind seeing Uncle Sam drop a few hundred bombs on them. He looked down as he said this, because he knew, I think, that it was a shameful thing to say, that he was calling for other human beings to be killed, not because they had harmed him, or his family, but because they had harmed his sense of omnipotence.
...
Nobody stood up – in Congress, in the bright studios of our corporate media, in city hall – to make the obvious point that millions of people in other parts of the world live in a state of perpetual danger. And that the events of 9/11 might therefore require of us a greater empathy for those suffering elsewhere, might even nudge us toward a more serious consideration of our own imperial luxuries and abuses, and how these might relate to the deprivations suffered in less fortunate precincts.
That’s not what we talked about. No, we talked about our feelings. Americans were bloated with empathy in the weeks after 9/11. But something fatal was happening: as a nation, we were consenting to pursue vengeance over mercy. We were deciding – with the help of all that deeply feeling propaganda on our television sets – that the only human suffering that mattered was American.

The tragedy of 9/11, then, wasn’t that 2,977 people died. It was that 2,977 Americans died.
...
Freud and others were fascinated by the concept of “infantile omnipotence.” This is what a child feels early in his life, and what he must eventually surrender, when he realizes he does not, and cannot, control the world.

There are some people, though, who can never quite accept this truth. They don’t have a strong enough sense of self to sustain the psychic injury. And thus, they resort to magical thinking, delusions of grandeur, angry projections, wild superstitions. They become, in this sense, more closely aligned with primitive cultures.
It is my belief that the enduring legacy of 9/11 resides in a permanent regression of the body politic, a narcissistic injury that we return to as a talisman of self-victimization, and which allows us to frame our sadistic urges as moral duties.
The attacks stunted our capacity to accept the awful truth of the world. This is most obvious in the ravings of demagogues. But in the end, the demagogues merely provide cover for our own quieter, more subtle abdications.

Let us return to the long view, to the benevolent celestial being who may (or may not) be looking down upon us, and ask: Has the mass murder that transpired a decade ago made us a more compassionate people? More united? Less fearful? Less paranoid?
And if not, why not?
I believe the transmission of stories has something to do with this. Watching a building collapse on television is not a story. It engages the viewer in a spectacle, not an act of moral imagination.
What of the stories we tell ourselves, and our children? What do we, as artists, as parents, as citizens and activists, ask of our leaders? What do we ask of ourselves? That we gaze backwards at a misty image of our own bruised nobility? That we look ahead to some childish rapture? What of the horrors and holocausts of our present? What of the girl, her mother? Can the heart still feel what the heart must feel?"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Discovering Lady Antebellum

Source of picture: ladyantebellum.com

My last week has been filled with study and learning new ways to resolve conflicts. But as I found out, keeping the peace is much better said than done. University woes aside, I've come across a great band that has kept my sanity (somewhat) at bay during times of frustration. I am always pleased when coming across a band I am unfamiliar with. Discovering new music by myself is, for me, equivalent to a child getting a toy as a present. I will discover, download, and play until I am sick with it and ready for another. 

As much as I'd like to think I have a wide taste in music and am open to listening to anything*, I've never been an avid fan of country music. It is a prejudice I hold very strongly. Maybe it's the southern accents that I don't acquaint myself with on a regular basis, or maybe it is the images of 'boot-scootin', and fiddles and violins that I associate with this genre. But Lady Antebellum has crossed that threshold of checkered shirts and cowboy hats, and into the elusive 'country-pop' territory. They've wormed their way into my musical soul and made some elements of country okay. Haha. (I've still yet to be completely sold on this genre.)

Yes, some of their songs are quite cheesy and have the potential to be played over the credits at the end of a romantic-comedy movie. But the majority of their music is awfully sweet, endearing and heartbreaking - the foundations of any good piece of music. And it doesn't hurt to have brilliant vocals to add that extra emotion to any given song. I suppose the most attractive part of their music is their story-telling. Admittedly, I believe that country singers do this quite well. It is in their nature to do so.

And if Adele has a soft spot for them, I'm sure I can make room for their music as well. Speaking of who, I must make mention of a great cover of Lady A's "Need You Now" sung by Adele and Darius Rucker. You can watch it here.

*Although, 'death metal' will never be found on my iPod.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

One Day

"Live each day as if it's your last', that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn't practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at...something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.
I’m not a great fan of overtly-romantic novels but in saying that, give me an unfortunate love story and I'll listen... It's a good distraction from my non-existent one. Haha. I first came across this book when I was in Singapore earlier this year. I wandered into a local bookstore after work one evening; I needed something to read on my train journeys and listening to the same songs repetitively on my iPod became insufferable. I scanned the bookshelves and as fate would have it, my eyes were drawn to One Day. Long story short, it will be one of the few novels I will read over and over again. (A lovely elderly man on the train noticed the book in my hand, and we ended up talking for the rest of the journey!)

My affinity for this book stems from an unfortunate truth for many people: some of us may never find our true significant other. Even worse, finding that person and not realising that they were in our lives for a long time. Emma and Dexter go on to lead seperate lives after their short stint together but, nonetheless, keep in touch over 20 years. The author, David Nicholls, doesn't follow the typical cliche love story between boy and girl. They don't spend the 'rest of their lives together'. No one's fighting terribly for the other's love and affection. No one is standing outside the other's window, throwing stones. No one is making big affirmations of their love to the other. The characters simply move on with their lives, unaware of the potential between them. To me it feels... realistic. Sad, but real. Hence why I loved reading it.

One Day is released in Australian cinemas on September 1st.  

I will be on hiatus for the next week - uni commitments are always looming in my world. I hope to be in contact with you all soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Way To... Beautiful Skin


I've decided to include my personal beauty routines as part of my blog entries. I think it's nice to take a break from all my usual 'philosophical writings' and splurge my writing prowess onto something that requires lesser focus - although is just as important, substance-wise. Haha. Glowing healthy-looking skin is something I pride myself in and for years, I have invested a fair amount of money looking for the near-perfect products. So far, the following have been well-worth the expenditure and wait.

From L - R:
  • The Body Shop Chamomile Eye Make-Up Remover - The first thing I do before I take an evening shower is to remove my eye make up, if I have any on. The chamomile has an amazing soothing effect on my weary eyes. Also, no one likes looking like a panda in the morning... Use: Everynight
  • The Body Shop Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser - The amount of brands I have gone through since I started using cleansers is plentiful. I tend to kick myself for not knowing of the wonderful benefits of Aloe Vera in my teenage years. Knowing that this plant works well for my skin, I'm staying put for a very long time. Use: Everyday/Everynight
  • The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner - To tone or not to tone. That is the question. The answer is To Tone. Always. Use: Everyday/Everynight
  • Malin + Goetz Detox Face Mask - If ever I choose to go back to a product twice, it means I have excess cash to spend or the product does wonders for my skin. The latter of the two is the most plausible scenario. I don't dabble in face masks very often, so to have one that comes in a pump container is very convenient for those late nights when I can't be bothered going through my whole Cleanser-Toner routine. Use: 2 times a week
  • Khiel's Epidermal Microdermabrasion - When I first used this product, I was worried about how harsh the small beads were. But when used sparingly and in a gentle manner, this product exfoliates dead skin cells effectively. Use: 1-2 times a week
  • The Face Shop Post-Acne Brightening Serum - Oh... the post-acne years are quite a b****. This product is probably the most coveted of my skin care essentials. I have terrible scarring on my cheeks (and only my cheeks!) so investing in a good product is quintessential for my self-esteem. I've been using this serum for 5 months now and have noticed decent results. I'm still not 100% satisfied with it, but so far it's doing its best. Haha. Use: Everynight
  • The Face Shop Post-Acne Night Time Spot Eraser -  Something to assist the brightening serum in carrying out its work... Use: Everynight
  • The Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Fade Night Lotion - Moisturise, moisturise. People should moisturise. How else do you get soft, supple, youthful-looking skin? Use: Everynight
  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Eye Cream - To be honest, I'm looking to invest in an all-in-one eye cream in the near future. But this pink tube has been serving me well, for now. Use: Everynight

I have bombarded you with enough information on my daily/nightly skin routine that I'm going to take a nice relaxing shower and dabble in my products until the next post... Aurevoir.

P.S. Keep an eye out for very exciting news in the near future that involves... travel, food, culture and possible work opportunities. In other words, good things!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Clouds, Dark Skies and the Occasional Storm

Picture found on: janecolleen
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.
 - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In a strange bout of uncanniness, today's weather seems to have mirrored my emotions over the past few days. One moment, the day brings about a pristine, clear, blue sky; the next... an abysmal torrent of wind, water and frizzy hair. (Actually, not so much the frizzy hair. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who is unaffected by it. Haha.)

Everyone has their "bad" days - those days where the task of climbing out of bed in the morning is equivalent to running a 10km marathon. Where simple everyday tasks seem burdensome to the emotionally and physically drained. Lately, those moments seem more often than not. I wish I could say that there is a strong desire to overcome those feelings... but sadly, there isn't. And despite my efforts to try and instill hopefulness to each day and approach it with an eager mind, a girl has got to take a break and just accept that some things are simply beyond my control. Not all situations can be turned around for the better. And to fight (or in some cases, ignore) what is basically the universe at work, is foolish.

So what are we to do about the stress, exhaustion (physical and emotional) of our everyday lives or whatever else it is that impacts negatively on our well-being to the point of negating it? It is acceptable to feel helpless and tired once in a while. In fact, I'd like to think it is healthy to acknowledge the vulnerability. After all, the clouds and storms aren't permanent. The skies will clear, the sun will warm its rays on our (tanned) skin, and bring with it a new array of wonderful possibilities. But for now, the best thing to do is to sigh and just... let it rain.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Inner Balance

Source of picture: healthyisthenewsexy
Yoga is evenness of mind”: detachment from the dualities of pain and pleasure, success and failure. Therefore “yoga is skill in action,” because this kind of detachment is required if one is to act in freedom, rather than merely react to events compelled by conditioning.” - Eknath Easwaran  
For those who are 'avid' readers of my blog, it may come as no surprise that I do enjoy dabbling in my meditative ways... in particular, my fondness for Yoga. To be frank, I had never given yoga or meditative exercises much attention over the past couple of years. While everyone has been lapping up the bikram fads, I've apparently been sitting on the couch exercising and stretching my jaw with potato chips. However, I have decided to take Yoga/Pilates/Contortionism quite seriously this year. I suppose my goal is to be able fit in a suitcase so I can become a street performer if ever my career in the legal profession should fall through. 

Sure, I've taken classes every now and again to give my muscles a break but ever since I've found myself thrown into a chaotic lifestyle, I needed to find a permanent outlet to channel my anger and stress. You know, so I don't go around murdering people after 8pm... And, oddly enough, my Body Combat classes weren't going to be enough. (Ironically, they may have encouraged me to become more violent. Haha.)

In all seriousness, I never realised how much I needed to stretch my body into awkward positions. Although my body is bending in ways it shouldn't, my mind seems to be at complete ease, focusing only on my meditating ways. Every Friday at 6pm, after a tough working/studying week, I make my way down to my local gym and sun-salutate, upward dog my body to its fullest potential. The endorphin rush afterwards is bliss.

And who doesn't want to start/end the day off with inner happiness? It's a full-proof plan, I say.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Move, Learn, Eat




Vimeo is my latest internet addiction. For those who aren't familiar with Vimeo, put simply, it is a video hosting website quite similar to YouTube. However, the difference between Vimeo and YouTube is that Vimeo users are predominantly unique, talented film-makers and artists showcasting their various projects... whilst YouTube users are 15 year old teenagers filming themselves in the middle of degrading acts which quite often ends in humiliating ways.

For me, this is the most inspirational travel footage I've seen this year. Compiled by STA Travel Australia, these video clips are stories of three guys (Rick Mereki, Andrew Lees and Tim White) who travel around the world for 6 weeks and experience all the world has to offer... by the simple acts of moving, learning, and of course, eating.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Commit Thyself

Source of picture: becoming sarah
"I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret." - Anthony Robbins
Commitment - A word that has been bookmarked in my life dictionary. There have been many proud moments where I have been dedicated to a certain project for the long haul, and the results have been overwhelmingly joyful. Unfortunately, there have been times where I've given up quite too easily or I've completed a project but the results have been disappointingly bitter. In those cases, I do feel like burying my face in my pillow, or punching my pillow, or throwing my pillow... Basically, I have a blatant disregard for the sanctity of the fluffy ball of wool I rest my head on every night. Later, I would come to regret giving up and come across the realisation of letting go too soon.

My greatest commitment to date has been the way I look after my body. Losing weight wasn't my primary goal at the beginning of my 'new look' (although, no one could argue it wasn't a bonus!). But rather, my goals were to feel healthy, to look healthy and to have an active lifestyle. I signed up to my local gym 5 years ago and now, I have reached a place of which I am more than happy with. I've achieved what I set out to do and pushed myself through tough moments. But, in saying that, I shouldn't stop looking after my body simply because I've obtained my goal. In fact, I don't want to stop; it is an ongoing endeavour. I've established a love/hate relationship with the exercise classes that are offered at my gym and if it weren't for my persistence and continued 'commitment' to waking up early on Sunday mornings, I wouldn't have found a new love - Yoga!

It saddens me to hear stories of friends who never 'followed through' on a project, and, after, feel bitter with regret. And consequently, I've only come across a few people who truly know the meaning of 'hard work'. After all, commitment and hard work go hand-in-hand. Commitment must be constant and consistent- not sporadic or intermittent.  Although it has taken me years to fully comprehend it, I now understand that it isn't simply about gaining the expected results. There's more to it than that. Being committed can open doors to experiences and activities that you would not find yourself in, had you not taken the first steps. Achieving your set goal(s) is only, really, the beginning of great things to come.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday Night Lights

Source of picture: worldofthoughts
"There was a sky somewhere above the tops of the buildings, with stars and a moon and all the things there are in a sky, but they were content to think of the distant street lights as planets and stars. If the lights prevented you from seeing the heavens, then perform a little magic and change reality to fit the need. The street lights were now planets and stars and moon."  - Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream
So maybe our view wasn't exactly as beautiful or as mesmerising as the one above. Nonetheless, it was still a picturesque setting for a lovely dinner in the sky. To be able to look over the sun setting over Perth city was amazing. And the addition of a discounted 3 course meal was the cherry on top of a heavily-covered chocolate sundae.

I've always had a fascination with city lights at night, as well as the skyline that scatters across large bodies of water. For me, there's something about glinting lights that captures my undivided attention. I recall standing outside my friend's house late at night, and from his front porch, we could see a glimmer of street lights lined parallel alongside a hill off in the far distance. I found myself staring at the lights for a good 5 minutes or so. There was something hypnotising about the way in which they flickered and glowed amongst the darkness. My friend explained how, when he used to smoke, he would stand in his driveway and stare off into the lights... I can very much understand the fascination created from an act as tiny as flicking on a switch.

The street and city lights are my version of planets and stars and moon. It brings about the feeling that there is life other than my own. As my friend simply puts, "It's a sign that life exists...". And in a comforting way, the lights make me feel as though I am not alone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

High Tides Ahead

Source of picture: dustier

After an eight month hiatus, I have returned to university for my final year of law school. The first 15 minutes of my first class of 2011 was spent reviewing the ever exciting unit guide, as well as learning the definition of a 'ship'. Riveting material on both accounts. Thankfully the class picked up after that and I'm sure I will establish a mutually respectable relationship with Shipping/Maritime/Admiralty Law over the semester.*

My friend asked me whether it felt weird to be back on campus. Indeed, it was a weird feeling! Sitting through a 3 hour lecture definitely made me realise how not used to studying I was. And how thoroughly exhausted I became after hearing someone talk non-stop for 3 hours. How did I ever get through it? Oh, that's right... with abnormal amounts of junk food and coffee. And so this semester will see a decline in my 'healthy living' standards- if there were any to begin with. Fantastic. Haha.

After affirming that my eating habits will inevitably lead to obesity, came the realisation of the amount of work I have to put in this coming semester. My motivation and self-confidence will most likely be pushed to the limits for the next couple of months. It was only during this week where I received 4 rejection emails for jobs in law firms - and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come. Yes, a very bleak and pessimistic outlook on the situation but the real world is, unfortunately, a dark and unfair place. Success doesn't come easy and will require some sacrifices of one's own well-being. This is my last year to dimly glow shine. And all in all, it looks like I'll be returning to my hazelnut latte's, late nights with my study group and eating chocolate muffins for lunch.

*Fun Shipping Fact: Did you know that "empty ships" (cargo ships that are not carrying any goods/materials) are filled with sea water to reduce the likelihood of them "tipping over" when sailing from port to port? (Think of a small, squeaky toy boat floating in a bath tub.) They need to be able to sink in the water deep enough to be able to sail in oceans. The consequence of this is that when the ships are ready to be loaded with cargo, the water (carrying all sorts of marine life and bacteria) has to be dumped out in the waters of the port they have arrived at. As a result, a sensitive environment which may not be able to handle these bacteria and organisms, may find themselves under a bit of a pickle with damages to local sea life. Quite sad, right? 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Diary of a Young Girl

Picture found on: telegraph.co.uk
"I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary I treat all the privations as amusing. I have made up my mind now to lead a different life from other girls and, later on, different from ordinary housewives. My start has been so very full of interest, and that is the sole reason why I have to laugh at the humourous side of the most dangerous moments." 
My apologies for beginning this post with a horrible confession... When I was made to read Anne Frank's diary in my early high school years as part of the English curriculum, I read the first half of her book and didn't bother with the rest. Reflecting on that now, I feel terribly guilty about it and I should be brought up before a "Literary Board" for disciplinary action.

I guess I should start by defending my actions. Here's the thing. I'm sure those who are reading this post don't need me to explain Anne Frank's legacy... Anne Frank's diary is not only a work of history but it is also a wonderful piece of literature. And with any piece of good literature, it is to be enjoyed and reflected upon at one's own leisure. So when you're 'forced' to analyse the crap out of a beautiful book, attend a class full of kids who don't want to partake in tedious discussion, and be made to read 'so-and-so' pages in one day, one can surely sympathise with my actions! Setting a book of this calibre, as part of a learning curve in a rowdy Year 9 English class, was not going to be a successful manoeuvre by any means. In fact, it removed any sense of enjoyment that reading is supposed to give. And at that time, I was more concerned about hanging out with friends and watching mindless reality TV shows, to give any care for her work. I could apply this to all books that we were 'forced' to read in high school. (Apart from My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult... as this book was set for a Year 12 class sitting an English exam, so everyone had to pay attention.)

Reading her diary the second time around (from cover to cover), I finally had the chance to soak in how truly wonderful her story is. I was able to take in all her hope, misery, love and ambition portrayed through the pages. At parts, joyous, and at others, terribly sad. For me, the hardest part was reading her hopes and dreams she hoped to achieve, once she was able to step out of the Annexe - and sadly, could not be fulfilled. Thankfully, not all was lost. Her dreams to become a famous writer were seen, and the world was better for it.

I remember a question that was put to my English class one day (please don't ask me how I remember this...):

Would Anne Frank's diary had been as successful if she had survived?

Having now read the diary in full(!), my answer is no. The beauty in her work lies with the sadness of her death. We're not able to ask her the meaning behind her letters and must settle for the abrupt, incomplete ending to her diary. World War 2 and the Holocaust speaks of terrible grievances around the world and Anne Frank's diary is a reflection of light to an otherwise horrendous darkness. The faith and hope shown in her writing is something we all hold onto during times of unhappiness - it's a survival mechanism for those in hardship. And the ability to reach and connect to those who read is something all writers try to achieve. It is no wonder that her writings has secured their place as one of the most famous in history.