Sunday, February 19, 2017

Just a word of update

Hello folks, it’s been a wild week over here. I’m sure you’ve heard about the heatwave that’s thrown Australia into a furnace with temperatures edging closer to 50C. I don’t think you can imagine the hot air, but to provide some context, it was being baked alive in an oven. To make things worse, there were unscheduled blackouts for load shedding. Humidity also paid a visit. It’s different from the 70 - 80% humidity that we have in KL in the sense that you feel like you’re being suffocated. At least with KL, you’ve the cool winds at night.

“Because it’s easier to know what you’re not than what you are.” - Born in Ice by Nora Roberts, page 182

Everyone has spoon-fed me with things along the lines of intelligence, confidence, and kindness and expected me to be brainwashed by those sweet words. Some of it is based on the the truth, which I’ll willingly admit, but some are sugarcoated. I’d rather believe that I’m the average girl next door who’s trying to weave her way into a smooth transition from one environment to other. I want to believe that I’m capable of dropping people like hot potato once they’ve inflicted enough damage and making them suffer emotional trauma because it masks my weakness with the protective layers and keeps me from keeling over in angst.

It’s for the same reason that I’ve kept my innermost thoughts at arm’s length from the good friends, instead using exhaustion as an excuse to mask the absence.

That’s it from me today. I’ll be back with a more detailed post some time next week.

Friday, February 10, 2017

2/10/17



I dreamt that I drove to someone’s house and landed in their driveway. It was occupied by a Chinese family - judging from the happiness sticker that they plastered on the wooden door. The occupants looked familiar, but I couldn’t place where I previously saw or met them.

Later that week, when it was time for exams, I searched for the examination hall hosting the paper that I was about to sit. The security guard didn’t search my bag and demand that I send it through something that resembled the airport scanner because I slid under the radar. Once inside, I perused the noticeboard for my name, but it wasn’t listed there. A name similar to mine was, but either it belonged to someone else or it was a spelling mistake. I didn’t want to take my chances and commit identity fraud.

In reality, I’ve been visiting a particular family - acquainted to my Mom since when childhood - whenever I’m back in town. A quick reference check online indicated that the inability to find my seat for an exam meant that I want to prove myself, but am unsure how to. It’s like being restrained against your will.



In another dream, I fled from the floors of SJMC and found myself head to head with someone at the entrance gate. Her eyes burnt with fury and demanded that I leave the scene immediately. An adult with a younger fellow entered the seaside building on a breezy yet sunny afternoon. It was evident that they were mother and child. When I saw them, I ran in the opposite direction. The child saw me - her father - and called for him. My heart wanted to embrace her, but my brain said to run. I was cornered by walls at every turn while I tried to rid the child off my trail. We ultimately caught up with each other at the row of elevators. Her voice was enough to melt my stone cold heart.

In reality, the aforementioned person in the hospital is someone whom I’ve not spoken in months. In reality, we’ve drifted away due to unresolved matters and the distance of time. Maybe she’s thinking of me or still annoyed with me, I don’t want to know.

The change of gender in the dream reminded me of something that an acquaintance posted on Facebook a while back… it went along the lines of not being able to be the doting parent to a beautiful and treasured child. Could my dream be a signal that the father in the dream is the adult version of me? Or just the way of an exhausted yet sleep-deprived subconscious?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2/7/17

Start afresh?

A quick refresher?

It was already nightfall when Brendan was given his hotel key card after the check in process was completed. He didn’t care much if his room was blessed with the magnificent view of Swan River because he wouldn’t soak up Mother Nature’s beautiful artwork. Most of his time would be spent outdoors, experiencing Perth while tracking down Winnie. What he needed was a comfortable bed to crash on instead.

With the help of the hotel receptionist’s instructions, he made his way to the Crawley-Nedlands campus of University of Western Australia by bus and train the next morning. As he was a stranger to this part of the country, he assumed the role of a prospective student and casually followed the crowd into the admissions office before he waited at the corner. Half an hour later, he found himself being given a tour of the large campus and the accommodation. Allowing himself to rest on the wooden yet heated bench and with one last effort at contacting Winnie, he dropped a text on WhatsApp and hoped for little. Two years of friendship and continuously seeing each other in tutorials were enough for Brendan to understand the inner workings of Winnie’s mind. The girl had the penchant of ignoring messages on Messenger for weeks at one go. Getting her to reply on WhatsApp was a tad bit easier but still took an effort. Brendan shook his head, relieved that at least Winnie came with the brains to answer to urgent and important texts on either social media accounts. His phone vibrated with such intensity that he almost jumped in shock.

It was Winnie, which surprised him.

“You’ve finally got in contact.”

“I read your messages. Why did you track me down in Perth?”

It was not a question of how. It was more of why, which was highly indicative that she knew he’d search for her whereabouts and that their former lecturer fed him with the important information. She knew he was hot on her trail and it wasn’t long before her hideout would be exposed to the light of day. “I needed to know if you were alright. You left without a trace. Katrina and I are both worried about you.”

“I had my reasons.”

“Any of which you want to spill? I’ve time and can listen.”

She navigated past his gentle prodding. “Don’t you have classes to attend to back in Adelaide? It’s not the autumn break yet.”

Smart gal, he thought. Although she was no longer physically in the North Terrace campus, she still kept herself in touch with the university’s academic calendar and events. “Missing a tutorial once is fine. Plus, my friend will cover for me. My flight’s on Sunday. If you’re thinking of throwing me off, it’s not working, Winnie.”

There was a moment’s silence in which she debated whether to reveal the truth or to keep the cards close to herself. Sure, he was someone she trusted. She had come to appreciate his presence in her life over the course of their friendship. He was able to be there for her while maintaining a distance - unlike Katrina, whom Winnie felt was intrusive at times. He was a mature chap who understood the crooked paths of life, but she was unsure if he could handle everything she was to tell. It wasn’t just Katrina’s role that complicated matters. It was his feelings towards her… and as she hated to admit, her thoughts of him. He fulfilled all of the attributes of her Mr. Right but distance was a double-edged sword. He didn’t endure the 3-hour flight to unchartered territories for nothing. He wanted answers, something to assist him in understanding the rationale behind her decision and the reasons leading to it. She’d dish the truth on a plate to him, as per his silent wishes, but she was in no way responsible for the impact on him.

“Fine, you win. Where are you now?”

“Your campus.”

“Tell you what, Brendan. Meet me in front of Coffee Club Harbour Town in two hours time. It’s quieter there and we’ll talk.”

The call went dead before Brendan responded. Winnie was deranged to have suggested that place. How was he to head there? Couldn't she have suggested somewhere nearby, somewhere closer where he wouldn’t find himself lost like a confused deer? With a sigh, he retraced his footsteps to the admissions office and prayed that whoever was in charge would be able to guide him.

Friday, January 20, 2017

1/20/17

In the first scene, which didn’t provide enough context for me to work with, I dreamt that I couldn’t find my way home and landed in an adult’s house. The owner’s eye shot up when he saw me because I looked familiar to him. It dawned on him that I’m a friend of his nephew and we’ve met at an open house gathering.

In real life, the nephew is my childhood friend who’s happily living his life in Boulder, CO. The reason how I could make the association was because he mentioned the friend’s name. The house resembled the ones in the neighborhood of USJ 11. I reckon that the dream’s nudging me to address the insecurities and annoyance at everything going around me. Either that - or I’m harboring the subconscious fear of failing and wish of desiring a safe pair of arms to guide and nurture me to weather this storm.



In the second scene, where it was much clearer, I dreamt that I loitered outside a large hall full of foldable tables and chairs with a trolley that students use to lug their textbooks to school in. The hall was devoid of people when I entered and immediately settled for the seat opposite a female friend for the next tuition session. Seated diagonally us was a college friend who didn’t notice my presence there.

“Dreamt of him working in a coffeehouse and, guess what, he’s actually a barista in real life,” was what I whispered to the female friend. “I haven’t spoken to him after our graduation…”

In real life, the said female friend is an associate in law who’s in the same batch as me. The said college friend is the same one mentioned here.

The memory of attending that tuition in elementary school, albeit a different location, arose like ashes in the air. I don’t know; maybe it’s a hint of personal growth, where I’m learning something that will propel me to greater heights. Or it’s an indication that I need to improve intelligence as I’ve been feeling a little … well, un-intelligent lately. I wouldn’t dare say that it’s hinting me to confide in a non-judgmental person because I’m quite comfortable in keeping most thoughts/comments/opinions to myself nowadays.

I know that it’s a signal for something if the college friend can appear in my dream twice. A quick check online revealed that I need to reflect on my acquaintanceship with him for clues as it holds the key to lessons I’m now experiencing.

In the third scene, which left me with a frown, I dreamt that another friend dropped me in front of an office after picking me up from somewhere. The departing destination was not revealed. The person awaiting me in front of the office was wearing an office attire and an employee tag. His eyes beamed with happiness and he proceeded to rubbing my cheeks in the same way that I used to do it to my Shih Tzu. He kept muttering that ‘aw, you so cute’, much to my chagrin. I rolled my eyes and shot a visual signal to my friend, who was rearranging his things at the back seat of the car, for help.



In real life, I’ve no idea on what to make of this because the identities of the so-called friends in the dream weren’t revealed. I can interpret this dream in two ways: 1) the person rubbing my cheeks is someone close yet exerting authority over me. I can’t fight back although I should and he knows that, exploiting my weakness to his advantage; or 2) there are positive changes coming my way hence his action of jokingly rubbing my cheeks. This action would require the person to be a loved one - either a parent or a lover.

The online interpretation even went as far as to suggest that a dearly beloved one is in my midst but treating my existence as invisible. *facepalm*

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

1/10/17

Start afresh?

A quick refresher?

"I’m leaving, cause I’m so tired/ Of never knowing what to do./ I’m feeling you got me hired/To be a fool for you."

Guilt-inflicted anger crawled on Katrina like a cockroach when she read Winnie’s Facebook status. It was the first verse of "Fool for You" by The Once. No matter how much she disliked her for not helping her to nail Brendan as a boyfriend, they were like a family to each other. The three were supposed to stand up for each other and protect the other from harm’s way. She felt that she disappointed Winnie by accusing her of things she never did. But with Winnie out of the picture and with no one standing in her quest to pursue Brendan, Katrina’s smile crept out of the corners of her lips. Inasmuch as her conscience nagged her to show this to Brendan, her heart waved the idea off. It didn't benefit her if she helped him find Winnie. In fact, she’d land herself in more detriment by doing so, especially when it was clear that Brendan harboured a love for Winnie.

It dawned on Brendan that Winnie already hinted at her impending departure months ago when she casually commented that she foresaw herself working interstate, not in town. He didn’t think much about it because it’d be a long time before her wish could be granted. Yes, he remembered that she mentioned the states of Western Australia and Queensland, but both were larger states than his hometown. Pinpointing her current location would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Although her Messenger was idle, her WhatsApp service was still connected, which meant that either her phone number was still in service or was somewhere with good wireless signal.

Winnie Richards was a careful and systematic person. There was no way in hell that she’d skipped town without someone knowing. But the problem is, who could she have told? She would’ve told someone about it in advance, he was sure of that. Plus, something in his gut was persistent that she was completing the remainder of her degree interstate.

Their Criminal Law lecturer.

It was only plausible that she’d have sought help from their lecturer as Criminal Law was her highest-scoring course in her degree. In fact, one of the best performing students for that year. She also knew him on a personal basis and would’ve felt more comfortable approaching him on those two grounds.

“Hi, Mark.” Brendan entered the lecturer’s office, almost engulfed in a wave of trepidation. Although Winnie has spoken to Mark in his office on more than one occasion and went to describe their lecturer as strict but friendly out of tutorial hours, the nerves still affected Brendan as it was his first time here. It was a tidy office - with folders of papers kept to a minimum and books arranged on the shelves. There was a framed photo of his son who looked no more than five years old on the third tier. “Am I disturbing you?”

“Hello there! Nah, you’re not.” Mark’s smile immediately melt any fear that Brendan felt and gestures towards the seats in front of the office table. “Take a seat. What can I do for you today?”

“I’m actually a friend of Winnie Richards, who was a student of yours last year.”

“Yup, I remembered her. She was in one of my classes. A quiet but intelligent student. If memory serves me right, you were with her in the seminars too. What’s your name, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Brendan nodded. “Brendan. I know this may sound odd and maybe shocking to you, Mark, but did Winnie inform you about her departure?”

“Departure? You mean, academic transfer? She did. In fact, Winnie asked me to write a referral letter to boost the chances of her application to transfer being approved by the receiving university, UWA. It’s a first for me in my years of teaching; that’s why I remember it well. What happened to her?”

“It’s just that she stopped contacting her friends, including me, and we’re trying to find out if she’s okay and where she is. You said UWA? Is that in Perth?”

“She actually contacted me last week to drop a note, Brendan. In the email, she said that she’s doing fine in UWA, but adjusting to a new campus will take some time since she’s halfway done with her degree. To answer you, yup, that’s the one. There’s one more thing, though.” Mark shifted himself on the chair. “Winnie knew that you’d ask about her sudden disappearance from campus and specifically requested your friend Katrina to be kept out of the loop. She didn’t explain why but said that it’s to do with you. If you ask me, it has to do with love and relationships. Just a sixth sense.”

“Thanks for letting me know, Mark.” Although he wasn’t sure why Winnie would tell the lecturer that the reasons were complicated, he couldn’t disregard Mark’s comment. As a married father, Mark would be able to arrive at the root of the problem faster than Brendan because he’s experienced and seen life. He couldn’t help but ask for an advice or two. “What should I do?”

“If I were you, I’d take the next flight to Perth and settle it with Winnie. Tomorrow’s a Friday. If you’re worried about skipping a tutorial, an occasional one is absolutely fine. Just get a friend to pass the seminar notes to you. If that is impossible, read the prescribed textbook reading for the week and listen to the lecture again. It won’t be as good as personally taking the notes, but it works. Next week’s the autumn break for us. Then again, it’s just a suggestion.”

“I’ll have to think about it…”

“No worries, and all the best!”

As he slowly worked his way around Qantas’s automatic bag drop service, he felt the pain of purchasing a flight ticket at the eleventh hour. Although he was lucky to get a good seat that allowed him a view and an accommodation in Perth’s city centre for the weekend, he had to sprint home to pack his travel bag with clothing from Mark’s office and rushed to the airport before the peak hour traffic.

He’d decide on his itenary on the flight itself.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Have I changed?

Great, I cracked the entire screen of my iPad when it slipped from my hands and crash-landed on the carpeted floor with a thud. Oh, how awesome my purse would feel when it’s time to send it to the Apple technician for repairs. I’m leaving it as it is because I don’t have the extra dough to spend and I’ve to remind myself to be more cautious with electronics.

Maybe someone’s right; my psyche’s possessed by extreme exhaustion. It feels like I’m on autopilot at times because I can’t elaborate on some of the things I’m doing and my concentration levels are at an all-time low. A part of me is nudging me to seek help or, at least, an explanation for the peculiarity yet I can’t form the words to describe my feelings.



Put it this way, I don’t believe that anyone will be able to understand things from my perspective. Believe me when I say that I’ve given voice to my thoughts, but the other person’s reply and reaction made me believe otherwise. It convinced me that it’s for my own good if I remained reticent or isolate myself when I’m not interested to deal with humans. 2016 has led to personality changes, I’m sure. I remember looking forward to starting university life as a sophomore and spending quality time with Criminal Law. Bumpy turns here and there later, my patience ran thin and I found myself pretending to be alright when I wanted out by second semester. Now, if you lay the option of hanging out with friends or dating books (including textbooks) indoors, I’ll take the latter option in a heartbeat. From the looks of it, 2017 will be a chaotic year - where I’m attempting to strive harder for academic excellence while suppressing my true emotions underneath the layers of faux exuberance. As I’ve spoken about this before, I’ll leave the pen here.



In less than 2 months time, it’s a crazy run to the finishing line - yet I’ve second thoughts about it. I mean, I’m officially past the halfway mark and am more than relieved about it but I don’t know if I can accomplish all of these silent goals by graduation. Because I don’t have external assistance, I’d rather grit my teeth than to ask and work my way through the mess. (I call it ‘mess’ because all of the answers are buried somewhere in the case studies or prescribed readings.) Throw the requirement for a clerkship (read: an internship with a law firm) on top of that, sigh. Speaking of which, if any one of you, my readers, happen to know any legal firms in Adelaide, who are looking for interns, it’d be awesome and appreciated if you could send the details over.



Academic matters aside, I honestly need to pay more attention to my emotional well-being, especially after the unexpected visit from the pelicans. If my paws are continuously on the accelerator, I’ll eventually collapse from the stress with two consequences: either I’m down with a total nervous breakdown and a definite appointment with the psychiatrist or I’ll be force-fed with food to the point of regurgitating all of the contents into the toilet bowl when I see the family friends again.

Neither of which should happen.

Much to my disappointment, the flight home did nothing to alleviate the anxiety or stress. It did the opposite - in fact, it worsened my emotions to the point where my eyes burnt with tears when the plane left the runway. It was as if I didn’t want to return to Adelaide and I actually know the real reason why, but would rather keep it private - between myself and God.

And until I’m feeling much better, I’ll see you when I do.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Flashbacks of 2016

A photo posted by Ciana Carrie (@thetemperamentalist) on


January

It’s the final month of summer break, and inasmuch as I wasn’t keen to return as a sophomore, I had to convince myself that I’m nearing the halfway point. After the release of exam scores for my Semester 2 subjects, I’ll officially stand at the middle line.

Since I was able to sit down and reflect in the weeks leading up to Orientation Week, I managed to deal with the emotional issues, but as long as I keep the stress levels to an acceptable level and avoid the triggers, it’d all be cool.

February

Lookie, look!

It’s the Adelaide Illuminations - in conjunction with the Adelaide Fringe Festival! I was insane enough to make my way to campus at night to capture some pictures for my album… because let’s face it, will we ever be able to see something similar in Kuala Lumpur? Jalan Bukit Bintang, maybe. Subang Jaya, highly unlikely.

And guess who photobombed my experience?

The news crew.

Yes, you read that right. *sighs* The sneaky cameraman decided to creep behind me and captured me taking a video of the illumination on Elder Hall, but thank God none of the acquaintances recognized me in the split-second footage. Not that I’m panicky about cameras, though. Then again, I was lucky enough this year to have a first-hand experience at the same time; I hid behind the crowd and craned my neck to watch the parade with delightful and colorful performers, lol.

Since a promise was a promise, I spent all 3 days with the finance friend at Barr Smith Laws, experiencing O-Week as sophomore students - in the heatwave! Still, we didn’t let that be in the way of our enjoyment as we caught up over bottomless amount of lemonade and soda with the handful of pictures. We were lucky that neither one of us ran a temperature or suffered a heatstroke. I skipped almost all of the activities as a freshman (save for the photo booth and the BBQ session) because I wasn’t keen on it, plus everyone knows that activities can be mundane if you’re participating in it on your own.

Honestly speaking, I may have had my reasons for enrolling in Criminal Law a year earlier than everyone else (and Law School wouldn’t be surprised by it either), but there was a pang of regret after the first lecture. I underestimated the additional workload and stress that I had to endure. When I ran into my Public Law lecturer outside the elevator area one Friday morning, he looked at me as if I was insane to study Constitutional Law, Equity and Criminal Law together due to its intensity. (Technically, he’s correct - it did feel like mayhem in my brain when swotvac arrived)

Having acquaintances in the same seminars will make the transition easier, because who wants to make a new batch of friends in each course for each semester every year, right? Running into each other on the first day of lectures was fine, but little did we know that there was a little surprise waiting for us.

You can probably imagine our horror when we crossed paths in not only one, but two classes. The words that I told him after the completion of our group project immediately rang in my head: who knows if we might be in the same lectures/seminars next semester?

*face palm*

God knows what the chap thought in the moment, but I was internally sweating because I didn’t mean those words. It was thrown out there as a half-joke. The time-slots were of my choice, and the decision was not tattered with undue influence either. I’ve to be responsible for it, no matter what surprises it carried.

I was rather surprised when the good friend dropped a message, asking whether we (read: my sister and I) could meet up as he wanted to pass the long-awaited Christmas presents. After firming up the time, date and place, we finally caught up in the Hub, where he was joyous to see us (although my sister would say that he was happier to see me, not her; then again, I wouldn’t want to know either). Methinks it’s because I decided not to attend the Criminal Law lecture to spend time with them both.

March - May

I don’t remember much from these three months because the academic workload knocked me out in cold blood. Autumn break should’ve allowed us some time out, but we’ were dating our assignments instead. I almost banged my head on the wall when I took a peak at the assignments.

Two of them were even due at the same time!

It was around this period that I had the crying dream and should’ve seen it as the subconscious warning of a mental breakdown. (Note: it happened months later - in the midst of a lecture. I was rushing to look for a safe spot after the lecture because I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. You’d be able to tell anyway; who wears sunglasses when the rays weren’t blinding?)



I even volunteered for the Semester 1, 2016 graduation ceremony and actually earned a thing or two about it

1) NEVER EVER be late for it, or you’ll have to receive your parchment in-absentia and lose the glory of graduating in a spectacular, regal place;

2) make sure your guests arrive on time as well; and

3) dress appropriately. It stinks to see people attending the ceremony in flip-flops.

In addition to that, a presentation for Criminal Law awaited me. While my original preference was ‘fair trial’ since it sounded awesomely challenging, I’m relieved that the teammate chose the topic of ‘mental impairment’ because of its hidden familiarity. It’s no wonder that McNaghten’s Rules (which is now codified in s269C in CLCA as the test for presumption of mental competence in s 269D of the same Act) sounded familiar - we skated on this in Canadian and International Law before.

My final thoughts on it? It’s still a wonder that I managed to remain in one piece before class (although that came at the expense of ignoring almost everyone).

June

A couple more weeks and it’s the commencement of exams. It’s an ongoing fact that the finals would always be in the way of a proper enjoyment. It was evident that I was apprehensive over Criminal Law. I would need to bring the A-game to an all-time high to hammer the exam blue and the ambitious Sagittarian in me wanted more than a bare pass.

Another exchange of presents occurred, but at my beckoning this time. It was far too early to pass the good friend his birthday present(s), but it was better if we gave it to him, now that it’s all wrapped and ready for delivery.



There’s a high chance that I’ll be busy in the weeks leading up to the actual day. Plus, the three of us could also kill two birds with one stone by catching up before the exams. I didn’t want a repeat of last year, you could say - where I wore a pair of exhausted eyes (no thanks to crying) to the hangout. Surprising everyone, including myself, I blushed brighter than a tomato in front of them. I was already feeling it the moment he tore open (yes, literally) the gift bag and perused the birthday messages. While he hinted that he’d get our birthday presents at the same time, I never expected him to follow up on his word. The item was something that I mulled on buying when I was in Kikki K a couple of months ago to buy another friend’s gift. Talk about reading my mind, lol. It wasn’t until I told him that I’m travelling during the summer break that it was good that he got the present now.

What I wrote on it sounded as if I’m unwillingly leaving Adelaide for Perth and emotional about my departure because it’ll be a long-distance friendship, and we’d have to instead rely on Messenger as a form of contact. My sister shot glances and whispered to me when he said something aloud… the World Issues student in me didn’t find it weird, but it was the conduct before that that left me with a raised eyebrow.

When he later turned to me with a perplexed expression after I mentioned that Typo is selling cat-influenced items, it left me in the hot seat because I never expected him to catch on that, lol. I’m still wondering how that word can be misheard as ‘cat influenza’, but there is a possibility that he saw the stress in my eyes and wanted me to laugh it off. *raises both hands* I’m merely working on probable grounds.

One of my friends from the Thursday’s class actually sighed because it meant cramming the revisions (for Constitutional Law and Criminal Law) to the point where we actually practiced our issue-spotting exercise together over Snapchat. (You’ll never read this anyway, my friend, and I don’t think your detective skills would be able to find my blog. *winks*) The exam jitters punched me with such force that my heart raced faster than it should when I flipped through the Criminal Law questions during the reading time.

July

We waited until it was officially the winter break before we decided on a mutually convenient date (and movie of choice) to make use of the free movie tickets (that I received from volunteering at the graduation ceremony).



That’s how we ended up watching “Me Before You”, starring Emilia Clarke (from Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (from Hunger Games). It was the well-deserved break that we both needed after (metaphorically) murdering ourselves as we tried to achieve our respective academic goals. It wasn’t as emotional as it was projected by people who’ve managed to watch it at the cinemas earlier, but it didn’t mean that there was a dry eye either.

As the release date of our final result crept closer, I dreamt of exams in two consecutive nights with different plots altogether. I could pin down the first dream almost immediately after I woke up to the fear of failing. The second one was harder to decipher because of its context (and the sense of reality attached to it was . . . shocking). But I’m just relieved that I’ve passed all three papers with God’s blessings. *smiles*

A photo posted by Ciana Carrie (@thetemperamentalist) on


After holing myself up in the privacy of my four walls, it was an interesting time to have volunteered for the ISC’s Welcome BBQ for the froshies - and boy, it was exhausting too. Watching the crowd flocking to the tent, waiting while we prepared the ingredients for service made the scene look like one of the Masterchef Australia’s outdoor competitions.

Semester 2 has commenced, but to a wet start. *sighs* It was raining heavily on the first day of classes.

August

We never planned to have a time out, but seeing that I needed something to take my mind off academics, we decided on hiking one fine weekend. It was good to rid the system of the burdening emotions with the fresh, hilly air. To make it more interesting, we ended the exploration with a plate of pizza in his suburb.

The original intention was not to enroll in this politics elective because I didn’t have the faith that foreign policy was my thing - if you know what I mean. I wanted something related to history or creative writing, but since none of the ones listed was suitable for me, I knew I needed to consider something unprecedented.

I swore I heard my good friend screaming with exuberance when I told him that his wish would be granted. I won’t reveal the nature of our conversation that led to the ultimate decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it brought a tiny speck of happiness to his day. Judging from the way he worded his reply, he desired to be in the same tutorial with me again.

Not to mention, I was more relieved towards the middle of the semester when there was a distance between me and someone. I don’t know what that person’s thoughts were, but I didn’t want the awkwardness to occur again. That incident was already weird enough to digest. That cannot be said of the workload. I almost caved in with the amount of pressure that I missed the opportunity to score a credit for an assessment by 1%, sigh. Two of the assessments were additionally due on the same day albeit an hour apart, which, I thought, would be alright. I underestimated the difficulty to the point where both pieces did not make sense to me while reading it.

If I can’t understand it, how am I to convince the marker with my arguments and propositions?

September

While the lecturers this semester didn't require us to complete assignments during the spring break, it didn’t feel like a break at all. I never traveled around the city for explorations or uncover the hidden gems of Adelaide. The only adventure that I experienced was the road trip to the Catholic winery in Clare Valley - and that was it.

I was under the weather a couple of days after that, which left me worried. If I couldn’t recover before we returned to tutorials, my chances of making a full recovery would be drastically reduced. Not only was my head on fire, my throat was a living tarred road with all the coughs and my nose was severely congested. I was more of a panda than myself. The backdated work only made it worse by taunting me for my failure to get on top of everything, urgh

October



When the opportunity to run for the recent Law Students Society elections presented itself in the form of a friend’s invite, I jumped on it because the polling period was shorter than the one for Students Representatives Council. Although our team lost by a majority and certain things happened along the way, I never regretted the decision to nominate myself and campaign for the votes. Apart from the elections, I felt like everything - the academic burden, the emotional stress, and the uncomfortable environment - pulled me in various directions. I resembled a fish struggling to stay afloat, but refused to shout that I needed time out.

Why would I want to portray the times of weakness to the shadowy world? It was something that only I can resolve it without a definite time period. If I didn’t understand why my college lecturer warned me to forget about double degrees back then, I sure do now. Depending on the combination of degrees (I’d have gone for Law and Creative Writing), battling 4 concurrent courses for 5 years isn’t for the light-hearted. The workload can be intense, especially if your exams and final assessments are due at the same time.

The late nights spent on assessments, lectures and revisions threatened to break the persistence that I’ve held for these couple of years. With a neighbor who behaves more like a nocturnal bat than the average homo sapien, it wouldn’t be long before I’ll lose my patience. Even my neighbor back home was more considerate to play soft, soothing and sleep-inducing songs. With the deck of cards I’ve been handed, it’s now arduous to play it like the ones desired.

November

I almost yanked at my hair when the examination timetable was released 6 weeks ago. Those who were enrolled in administrative law - including myself - were one of the first batches to simmer in the pressure cooker and still emerge from it in one piece. On the bright side, at least it wasn’t like last semester where ACL and criminal law exams were too close for comfort. My psyche threw in the towel the moment I found my allocated seat. I immediately knew that something was wrong because I was incapable of emotions. There was no pre-exam jitters. It was a neutral reaction where I wanted to be done with the paper and have a long sleep. If you compare this to last semester’s exams, I was panicking until the final moment back then.

A photo posted by Ciana Carrie (@thetemperamentalist) on


I sprinted from the examination hall to the tram station, needing to clear the stress from my system and catch the tram on time. The anxiety levels almost peaked when my eyes burned with tears at my inability to do better and had to convince myself to just breathe - repeatedly. My friend never knew this, but it was a pleasant surprise when he checked up on me via text while on the road. Maybe God spoke to him? Or, maybe he was genuinely concerned? At the time of this writing, I’m antsy about the overall grade - as to whether I’ll have a bare pass, resit the paper, or retake the entire course. I had to play by ear - the anxiety threatened to cause a mental breakdown.

The rest of November was spent between keeping myself calm and catching up on lost sleep. As it is, the worries kept me awake for longer than expected at night.

December

Owing to the exam arrangement, the results for the earlier exams were released a couple of days before the official date. I didn’t pay much attention to the electives because I knew it was a guaranteed pass, but it was a pain to know that I was 2% away from a credit and distinction for two electives. That’d have been a game changer for the GPA.

What led to a sudden mental crash was Administrative Law. My heart pounded with intensity because the replacement exams would’ve delayed all of the travel plans. Thank God it’s now in the past… or at least that was the lecturer mentioned when I thanked her for allowing me to pass. What I failed to realise was that my anxiety over the final grade led me to forget the errands I needed to execute. I guess it’s a huge reminder that it’s time to go back to basics: pen and paper and excellent time management.

The break that I insinuated occurred on my birthday - although not on a good start, but it’s not worth elaborating on it. My college friend, now in UK, insisted that I take the time off as he felt that I’m biting off more than I can chew. I was dealing with a time bomb - it could’ve easily detonated or exploded in my face, depending on how the results were - but I never expected it to be so evident in my words.



Unlike last year, there weren’t any drinking episodes at my beckoning. Alcohol, when ingested during emotional periods, has a terrible consequences. You drown your sorrows, but it’ll consequently worsen it. My appetite refused to improve much to my horror - I barely sampled the delectable dishes (even my favourite plate of steamed prawn) and shared the portion with friends or family.

Maybe I shouldn’t have detrimentally relied on promises and instead dealt with the matters personally. It would’ve yanked me out of unnecessary eleventh hour problems, sigh. To be honest, if it weren’t for my parents, I’d have stayed back and paint the town red or head east for some R&R.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

12/27/2016

Her lips curled into a grin when she stopped him leaning against the wall and patiently waiting for him. She shot a smile and a wave at him before making her way over. Without giving much thought, she squeezed him into an embrace.

His eyes widened with a bittersweet surprise. Although he was stunned, he was exuberant that she treated him as a friend enough to want to hug him when they caught up.

“I’m sorry,” she sheepishly apologised. “It's a habit acquired after my sojourn abroad. I hope I didn't take you aback.”

While they waited for their orders in a quiet cafe off-campus, she slid a package towards him. It contained his birthday present and souvenir in addition to a birthday letter. A glow shone on his face when he stole a glance at the contents of the paper bag. There were two individually wrapped items, which meant that she wanted to retain his suspense of receiving a secret gift. When she wrote that she desired to pass the birthday gifts, he never thought she’d keep to her words.

He was, however, more interested with the sealed envelope.

She nodded, reading his mind. “Feel free to open it, if you want.”

Her face flushed as red as a cherry tomato the moment he tore open the envelope and read the contents of the birthday card. Her internal temperature significantly rose, making her warmer and colouring her ears with a rosy hue. If she hadn’t known better, she’d have thought that she was running a temperature.

But she wasn’t.

There was nothing incriminating in the message or choice of gifts, so why was she fidgety and blushing brighter than the stars?

“Thanks for it, my friend!” His words penetrated her thoughts. “I really love it!”

“That's awesome!” She heaved a breath. “I was petrified that you wouldn't like it.”

“Not to worry! I trust your choice.”

Hours later, when they rose to their full height, he acknowledged his appreciation and thanks with a bear hug. He grabbed her with such intensity that her blood flow was constructed and strangling her.

“I’m … choking.” She croaked like a frog.

“Sorry!” Awkwardness twirled in his eyes as he released her. “I didn't mean to do so.”

“It's alright. I’d have preferred an advance warning.” She straightened her shirt. “I’ve to head off, so I’ll catch up with you later on Facebook?”

“Sure thing!”

He watched as she scurried off, mentally cursing himself for such a move.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Sneaky, Slithery Trip

Hello, dear readers!

It's been a while since my flight back. Although I've revealed the intention of a vacation in advance, I didn't let the cat out of the bag about the destination until the eleventh hour. So yeah, I flew out to Kuala Lumpur - unwillingly, if I may add - for a couple of weeks to run banking errands and clear the mental exhaustion.

Only a handful of friends in both areas knew about my impending trip. The rest weren't aware of it until I returned to Adelaide. I know I sound sneaky, but I didn't have the extra time to catch up with them over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Even the ones who knew couldn't meet me in person either.



I wouldn't dare to admit that the flight experience from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur was an awesome one. Those who are frequent flyers of the international routes would've experienced this: a morning flight would require you to arrive at the airport hours in advance to avoid the peak hour traffic - on the road and at the check-in counters itself. I almost missed my flight last November because both the boarding and Customs took ages, sigh. I'd rather resemble a panda from night flights than to struggle for morning flights and run the risk of being late for the flight.

That, as I recently learnt, has its own issues too. I'll elaborate on that later.

As my cabin luggage was over the limit, extra time was spent repacking - and history almost repeated itself, sigh. At the back of my mind, I knew that the gate for bag drop will close an hour before the flight's departure to allow the airport employees to bring/drive the checked-in luggages over and load it into the plane. It wasn't until the on-ground airport employee - a fellow Malaysian - assured me that  the plane will only depart after all checked-in passengers are accounted for that I allowed myself to relax. The reason why there was a large, unexpected crowd stemmed from a large chunk of passengers who bought their tickets at the eleventh hour.

Not to mention, some of them are transiting at KLIA before boarding another flight to their final destination.

I wasn't looking forward to being home unlike last November. It was if my psyche was stuck on Adelaidean soil when the plane left the tarmac. I immediately knew, with a sigh, that it was my brain protesting against the heart's desire to absorb the bright sun and nourishing humidity in KL. With the brain and heart in different places, it was obvious that I blew almost RM 2,400 (about AUD$800 +/-) on the flight ticket for nothing.

But hey, at least we satiated the cravings for Malaysian dishes and caught up with a couple of old friends. If only someone informed me that there would be more rain than sunshine, I wouldn't have packed so much clothing home. You see, I was under the mistaken belief that I’d be soiled with sweat. I’m not looking forward to the last two years of studies because it’ll be chaotic and hectic. Most of the courses are intensive or heavy-weighted. I better issue an advance warning to my parents to zone me out when I’m venting through WhatsApp and Skype.

If I thought that the flight to KL wasn't pleasing, my return flight to Adelaide was twice as bad. The check-in process at KLIA was alright - although no one told me beforehand that all passengers are to drop off their luggage in the same area. It should’ve been dedicated counters for the various flights like in the past. Thank God one of the passengers mentioned that everyone is in the same queue for the bag drop.


Not all of them are Adelaide-bound... some are heading to Melbourne, Saigon, Incheon and Bangkok among other places

Methinks the change must’ve been the result of cost-saving tactics. MAS, oh, MAS, you could’ve posted about it on your website or have a notice at the kiosk/queue itself…

Now here's the matter that I insinuated a little earlier in the post. Although the plane landed a little earlier than scheduled, 1/3 of the passengers were forced to wait for nearly an hour at the baggage carousel. When we reconvened there after clearing Customs, only a handful of luggages were there to greet us and it moved at a tortoise's pace - to the point where it was suspicious. I'm not expecting it to be out of the plane at a rabbit's speed because it's done manually, but an explanation at this time would've been helpful.

It wasn't this long last December. 30 minutes was all it took for me to grab my luggage and enter the arrival hall - despite the fact that the bag drop at KLIA was at least 2 1/2 hours earlier. *inserts sighing emoji*

Was it the replacement public holiday in Malaysia that brought the crowd to Adelaide?

Enough of me speaking. I’ll let the pictures take over now.



Dosa - a type of pancake-crepe that can also be eaten for dinner. From what I can remember, the batter is made from fermented rice.



The must try drink if/when you visit Malaysia: teh tarik (pulled tea). From what I can remember, it's actually milk tea that is pulled from one cup to another for two reasons: one, to froth the drink (hence the bubbles at the top) and two, to cool the tea to an acceptable drinking temperature.



Steamed crab in Pandamaran, Port Klang


Bak Kut Teh (Pork Rib Soup in English). I've heard that its origins are from Klang, but this dish is available nationwide now.



Need I say more? =P Another national dish (satay) that you need to sample if/when you're in the country.


Bak chang (rice dumplings)

I've more photographs of the food we've sampled in Malaysia, but I didn't want to upload all of them at one go because I'm not in the mood to tempt ya'll with the delectable dishes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

12/20/16

The rug was snatched beneath her just as and when she thought that she had control over things - emotionally, physically, and academically. It was on the second day before her final and toughest exam that this ensued. Papers were scattered around her on the floor in the living room. Folders containing the combination of her notes and that of her senior’s left open. It didn't help that the pounding in her head worsened with each flip of the textbook page.

She chose to ignore her ringing iPhone with abandon, but when it screamed with ear-splitting volume, she muddled through the revision mess and answered it.

“Hello?”

“Hey!” The voice replied. “Did I disturb you?”

“No, not exactly. What’s up?”

“I was wondering whether you’d be game for a hike tomorrow.”

It was a split second decision for her. “Of course!”

-

As she watched him working his way up the rocky path, she recollected that his personality contradicted her first impression of him and what other students commented about him. She was led to assume that he was a nerd who prioritised studies and work above anything else, not someone who adores nature as much as she does and loves trekking hills. Her past thoughts about him diminished like a disappearing car underwater and replaced by a positive one: helpful, outgoing, comical, kind, and knows when to have fun. Now that she thought of it, her coursemate warned her that there was a possibility of him being smitten with her like a lovesick puppy. She shrugged it off back then, not believing that it was possible as they were associates, not friends who’ve known each other for months.

“It could happen. I don't want to frighten you, but I also want you to be cautiously aware,” was her friend’s justification.

It was crystal clear that things had changed between them. No longer were they acquaintances, but it blossomed into a stable friendship and they were comfortable hanging out with each other to the point where they had each other’s cell numbers and email addresses. There was an awkward silent in which he gazed at her, waiting for something from her a couple of steps away.

“I’m sorry, but did you say something?”

“I said, are you feeling alright? You’ve fallen reticent.” And you look upset too, he wanted to include.

“I’m all good. Just the irrational exam anxiety,” she lied,

“That was the whole purpose of this trip, my friend. It was to take your mind off the papers. I don't want you to think about your revision. Plus, you’ll be alright. I’ve faith in you.”

“Thanks… I guess.”

“In that case, do you think you’ll be up for more scaling on this mountainous path?”

“Definitely! You thought that I’m exhausted by that?!” She thumbed towards the terrain behind her, shaking her head. “No way!”

“Awesome!”

He ensured that she was in the same foot rhythm as him before he led the way up the hill.

Refreshing themselves with a glass of club soda each, they were leaning against the balcony railing and admiring the breathtaking scenery of them. The silhouette of the hills kissed each other and formed a natural curve that was contrasted by the different shades of green. The sun poured its radiance on the wooden porch and threatened to bake them with the hue of chocolate chip cookies.

“Tell me something.” He shattered the comfortable silence. “Have you decided on next year’s courses?”

“Not exactly.” She sighed. “I’m still in the process of choosing mine. I’m assuming that you’ve yours all confirmed?”

“Yup.”

“That’s good.”

“Want to share?”

He sipped his drink. “Core courses for the first semester and a mixture of electives for the second.”

“You’re bringing forward the core subject from your final year?! Wouldn't that be torturous?”

“I want to complete the core ones as soon as I can and combine the electives with the training. I’m done with everything six months earlier, which leaves me with some time to relax and smell the roses. It’ll be torturous, but I’ll make it.”

“I would’ve done so myself too, but I’ve not completed one of the prerequisite subjects.”

“You could ask for a waiver?”

“Nah, it’s alright.” She drained the remainder of her soda. “I highly doubt the course coordinator would approve the request. You're lucky because you're a postgrad, so they are more likely to let you do the prerequisite subjects in the next semester.”

-

Her eyes shot open when the loud, obstreperous music permeated the air in her apartment. She barged out of bed when the digital clock read two-thirty on a Monday morning. The nocturnal bat of her neighbor was in his neurotic mode and breaching the house rules and the standard test of reasonableness. Had it been the holidays or the usual Friday's, she could care less. She understood that he loved music - maybe obsessively, judging from his tastes, in her opinion - and longed for some relaxation after a stressful day in the office, but with an exam in at least eleven hours time, she had to resolve it or she wouldn't have adequate rest for the afternoon. With that on her psyche, she threw on a cardigan and rushed down to lecture the person a thing or two about mutual respect and consideration.

“Are you out of your mind?! I’ve an exam tomorrow and would appreciate being left alone to rest in peace!” It wasn't her best choice of words, but she wasn't thinking straight in her annoyance and she had to shout over the music. “If I fail because of sleep deprivation, would you pay for me to retake the entire course?”

Her anger enveloped him with its rage that it shocked him into silence.

“Because if you’re not,” she continued, “please switch off the music or at least tone down to a more appropriate level. I’m not interested in screwing up tomorrow and I can't afford it either.” She inhaled with a deep breath before she broke into a small smile. “Thank you for your understanding and have a good night.”

Without waiting for his reply, she sprinted back to her unit to, hopefully, squeeze enough sleep to hammer the paper blue. It didn’t bother her if her tirade led her neighbor to assume that she was mentally deranged because she would be if he continued with his entertainment.
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