Monday, February 19, 2018

Same festivity, different year, different place

Seeing that it has been a long while since I properly celebrated Chinese New Year (the reunion dinners and the red packets included), I was more than prepared to spend the first day on campus to do my own thing. It was also advantageous that the Adelaide Fringe started on the same day, which meant that I could ditch my backpack in the locker and tour the Adelaide Night Market and Parade of Lights if I wanted to.

That certainly didn’t happen.

About a week before the actual event, my sister decided to step in because she didn’t want me to feel all alone and homesick during the festivity. (In all honesty, I’d have been okay either way. Unfortunately, Christmas might just be the time that I’ll feel all alone.) She arranged for the good friend to celebrate Chinese Year with me. Contrary to what you think, we didn’t have a big meal. We only had a simple dinner that consisted of πουργούρι and Japanese potato salad. Now, πουργούρι (romanized as pourgourri but pronounced as borgori) is a traditional Cypriot wheat made from durum wheat. Based on what I gathered from his explanation of the dish, it hinged towards fried rice - except that we use loads of soy sauce and they use Greek yoghurt. The potato salad was a recipe taught by an acquaintance in Petaling Jaya almost a decade ago.

First day of the Adelaide Fringe's Parade of Lights. The building in the background is the Art Gallery of South Australia

The Northern Lights at the South Australian Museum

Northern Lights - up close

M1 on North Terrace being illuminated

Elder Hall

Elder Hall

Oddly enough, the hours slipped through the crack of my fingers as we chatted about everything - ranging from uni-related matters all the way to our hopes for the future and relationships. You can probably imagine that it was an open-ended conversation in a half-private matter. The campus usually buzzes with life on a Friday evening, but because university hadn’t officially started, there were less students than normal. Kind of a slow pace, you could say, but it gave us just the right amount of privacy to speak. I guess the nature of our conversation allowed us to understand each other from a different perspective - something that may not occur in the ordinary circumstances, i.e. catching up after class or even a group hangout.

Soon after sunset, we figured that it would be better to breathe the fresh air and check out the architectural projections instead of gluing ourselves to the seats. There were so many people who turned up that it was easy to lose your companion - unless you have a way to contact them. Not to mention, it was tough to get a good angle for photography without a monopod/tripod and without accidentally capturing other people’s faces too. I figured that since I might have to stay back on campus until dusk after the semester started, it’d be easier to take the pictures there and then.

At the old location of the Royal Adelaide Hospital

As it approached towards 10pm when we arrived, the crowd dwindled. They either made their way to the Adelaide Night Market or onward to the Garden of Unearthly Delights

Live acoustics

It was also a surprise to have met his sister, their cousin, and their mutual friend too! I became an observer instead as small talk is not my forte and I couldn’t contribute to their conversation, which, I think, he felt it too. Yet we made our way closer towards East Terrace - and closer towards the location of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital. I kind of liked the atmosphere that greeted me: it was away from street party yet it had its own celebration. There were five sheds dedicated to food trucks, but since we went late, only two were open. There was access to food and drinks with good, relaxing music. Other diners were more than welcome to engage in their own conversation or listen to the acoustics. I don’t remember what time it was when we called it a night and went our separate ways, but we were yawning - one after another. A surefire sign that we were exhausted.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Slipping through my fingers, I must face the consequences

After all these years, I’m still amazed at how I’m capable to separate my emotions when I’m alone and around friends. Whenever I’m with people - regardless of whether they are friends or acquaintances, I’ve learnt to maintain a smiling face. It is when I’m alone that the true feelings emerge. I bang doors. I smash things. I curse at the walls like an unrefined lady. I prefer to feel anger even though it kills my cells. I don’t like to feel sadness because it makes me feel … off - like there’s no longer any hope for me. It sends me down the wrong path and forces me to relive the moments of shock and heartbreak.

I’m rather surprised that I’m not sad about my departure - when most of my friends are. Sure, there are resignations and regrets about my stay here, but that is part and parcel of studying abroad. There is always that slight edge that we international students lack. Although I’m looking forward to graduating in absentia, I am finding it hard to do so. The reason lies with those two chubby sweethearts. I have referred to them on the blog multiple times before but with a different term. I love them enough to actually consider staying back at a shot for a legal career (in fact, one of them has pleaded with me not to leave).

I can foresee the things that will happen if I choose to start afresh in a new environment with the chubby sweethearts. There will be the frequent hangouts or the dinners in a restaurant/cafe. There might be a small group travel to the mutual countries that we want to visit. (On that note, we are all holding passports of different countries. The visa exemptions that apply to one may not be extended for the other and vice versa.) There may even be a shared accommodation. I might be the one who ends up with the toughest task: researching the available properties for shortlisting. One - the planner - will be in charge of furniture shopping. One - the one with a creative eye - will be in charge of purchasing the decorative items. One - most likely be me - will be in charge of the kitchenware. When we finalize on a property (be it a house or a condo/apartment unit that we love), we may taken turns to cook and whip up our best dishes for the fellow housemates to sample.

With the way circumstances have shifted my emotions, I have no idea if I want to remain here. The last flight home made me question myself whether I’m able to be in a foreign country without family to fall back on. There is nothing like home. As they say, a home is where the heart is. A house is just a house if your heart isn’t in there. If your heart is in sync with the aura of the house, then it magically turns into a home. And there’s love. In a hypothetical situation, if I do find myself married to a local, the matters that I have to deal with will be more, ranging from the visa application to assimilating with the life and culture here. For me to remain here, my heart has to be here. As of now, I feel that it has taken its own leave of absence and went somewhere for a holiday.

There are a bunch of reasons why I desire to graduate in absence. It does not necessarily mean that I will skip the convocation. The right reasons have to justify me spending the extra money to be back for a short time. I just don’t see any reason how my folks would agree to it. I understand that most parents would give anything in the world to attend their children’s graduation because it is worth their financial sacrifices. For my case, I’m not comfortable with the idea of having my folks flying all the way here to watch me have my five minutes of fame onstage. Mama Carrie has already hinted at it. If the entire Carrie family were to attend the convocation in person, she will take pictures of me in the graduation gown on campus…

Sigh, we’ll see how it plans out in this final year. If God wants me to stay back for reasons that only He knows, then I guess I have no choice but to do so.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

(My) Tips on Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

Now that I’m fresh from the time spent abroad, I reckon that it’ll be best for me to kickstart 2018 with a proper post. And what better topic to write than tips on surviving a long haul flight. Trust me, travelling on a plane for almost eight hours is never fun, not when you’re in the economy class where your comfort is restricted. So restricted to the point that you have to make do with your sleeping position.

And off we go!

Tip #1: I know that the in-flight entertainment (IFE) is not something that passengers would like because of the close proximity to the face and the blinding brightness in the dimly lit cabin. But do take it for me. It is your saviour. My first trip abroad involved me sitting in economy class for 10 straight hours, which leaves me wondering how I’d survive if it hadn’t been for the IFE. This is one of the many reasons why I avoid flying on a budget airline, unless the flight’s short: say two or three hours the maximum.

Tip #2: You might also want to consider bringing an e-book or physical book, but remember that the latter will be handy during the take-off and landing. As for me, I don’t bring a physical copy of the book that I want to read. I find that it’s troublesome, especially if I’m already having the tablet and laptop with me. I prefer to save the weight for something too fragile for my checked luggage, i.e. glass.

Reading the electronic version of 'After You' by Jojo Moyes on the plane. It killed at least an hour off the plane ride. 
Kobo eReader is the one that I'm using, partly because it has the electronic versions of the books that I want to read.  As you can see from the picture, this is my dashboard on Kobo. It's a relatively new account, but I don't think I'll be purchasing any more e-books until my next flight adventure. (The beauty about Kobo is that you earn points, which can be then used for rewards redemption.)

Since I’ve just mentioned that I sometimes carry my laptop on-board with me, I’ll continue elaborating on this. There are two reasons why I do this: firstly, I don’t want to gamble with my chances by leaving it in the checked luggage. A wide array of consequences could occur. It might be stolen or damaged to the point where I’ve to change a new laptop instead. Secondly, I’m able to draft my emails and send off later when I land. On top of that, I can watch the videos and movies that my iPad cannot store.

Tip #3: I understand that it is a hassle when you pass through Customs because you have to declare it separately from your carry on. And if you’re flying internationally, you might have to do it twice. But having the laptop with you is convenient, especially when you want to kill time on something useful rather than watching the movies on the IFE. Just don’t forget to bring the AC power adapter with you onboard. There is a plug with enough current to maintain your laptop’s power life. If you’re taking the seats on either side of the plane and peek below you, you’ll notice that the plug is installed in between the aisle and window seats.

It is only when I’m going somewhere remote or on a long, long flight that I don’t bring the laptop with me. Unlike my Mom’s MacBook Air, my Sony Vaio doesn’t allow me to do much although I have the removable battery pack with me.

Tip #4: When I’m not travelling with a laptop, I’ve usually have one A5 notebook and my iPad. My iPad has the e-books and videos for at least ⅔ of the flight and is lighter. The A5 is just for me to scribble my notes or draw doodles out of boredom. I’ve drafted blog posts this way a couple of times before. Don’t forget to bring an extra pen or two. Not only are you able to use for your notebook, you’re able to fill in the incoming passenger card without needing to borrow one from the cabin crew.

Tip #5: While I’m on the subject of technology, bringing your USB cable that fits into your phone’s charging port is also good. It enables you to also kill time on your phone and charge it hours before your arrival so that you don’t arrive with a flat battery.

Tip #6: And sleep. God knows how important this is, especially when you’re on an overnight flight. As I’ve inferred earlier in the post, this is difficult when you want to recline your chair to the maximum but don’t want to make the person behind you exasperated at the lack of space. Trust me, most of my flights depart at night and I’m not one who easily sleeps during the flight- unless the seat is spacious enough.

If you read my previous post, you'll know that although the turbulence worsened the flight experience, it was the symptoms of jet lag that left me on a zombie mode.

Additional Tip: This one was recommended by Monica of The Yum List. If you are bringing electronic devices to keep yourself entertained, please don't forget a pair of headphones. I don't think your fellow passengers would want to disturbed by the music/sound from your device.

The same applies to children as well.

Hustle and hustle

Surprise, surprise.

Now that I have convinced my heart to follow my brain back here, I guess I can slowly pull myself back to focus on blogging. I’ve one scheduled post about long-haul flights, so keep an open eye for it. I’m not sure if I’m able to continue balancing the blog with my studies and the volunteering activities. The academic workload for my final year is pretty hectic. There’s a mock trial that is marked as an interim assessment. I won’t know how that is structured until the first lecture. There’s also another advocacy that I have to go through - and, unlike IHL, this one is part of the course.

Oh, my luck.

After spending almost two months away from Adelaide, I noticed that I’m forgetting certain places in my mind. Take my campus as an example. It’s relatively medium-sized, yet I found myself going in circles to find a particular building. It’s okay if I’m a freshman, but I’m now a final year student, for Pete’s sake. Final year students are expected to know their way around the area, especially me as some of the volunteering events deal with commencing students.

Oh well.

I just hope I don’t forget where I keep my things. That’d be a havoc for me and my parents because we’re at least 6k miles away from each other and I don’t want them to pace the floor in worry.

But yeah, I never knew that I have been experiencing the symptoms of jet lag for most of my flights back to Adelaide. I always thought that the heavy head and dizziness from the flights were a result of not having enough sleep on the eve of the departures. I guess it’s not just that. Caffeine or no caffeine, this always occurs. Alcohol or no alcohol, the first thing to greet me when I’m back is not my friends or the residence, but the symptoms instead.

The symptoms this time were pretty bad, to be honest. Although I had the heavy head with dizziness, my head furiously pounded to the point where I almost fell asleep in the shower. When I woke up, I didn’t have the appetite to take my lunch and went back to sleep. I drifted in and out of consciousness. I know that sentence sounds weird, but that’s the only way I can use as a description. I thought that if I woke up in time for dinner, I could pop around the grocery store to catch a quick meal. Nope, it didn’t work out as planned.

I would’ve also skipped dinner as well, but I knew that it wouldn’t be healthy to leave my stomach hungry for the rest of the night. Even though I wasn’t having much of an appetite, I needed something light and nutritious to fill the space. That way, I won’t collapse from hunger or land in the path of gastric. UberEATS to the rescue. I ordered a takeaway in the form of a salad bowl from Poke Bar and waited for the delivery. I noticed that the lethargy and the heavy, dizzy feeling dissipated afer I ate the meal, but the fatigue still remained.

I find this extremely odd. I drank alcohol and caffeine during the last trip and didn’t suffer much from the jet lag. Heavy and dizzy head, yes, but it improved after I had a nap. Not like this time. I stayed away from the alcohol and caffeine yet it worsened. I’m starting to wonder if it’s because my emotions got the best of me in the plane? If so, then I was more dehydrated than I thought because I didn’t drink much water on the aircraft.

The irony of all this is that I only recovered two days after my arrival. It was only then that I could run all of the errands.

The flight experience was a tad bit different this time for a couple of reasons, too.

I arrived at the airport much earlier to avoid the queue at the bag drop counter. I’m not going to reveal much about the process since you and I are rather familiar with it and I don’t want anyone to know where I went for the last seven weeks. Since I didn’t eat before leaving and had hours to kill, I decided to eat a late lunch at the airport.

As I had enough Enrich points for redemption, I decided to treat myself to a Golden Lounge voucher. I just wasn’t counting on the actual Golden Lounge to remain closed on the day of my flight departure, which led me to choose the one closest to my boarding gate (CIP Lounge). I wasn’t about to waste more time finding the one recommended by the staff in charge, albeit it was larger and had more facilities (including toilets and shower facilties).

Although the CIP Lounge didn’t have a lavatory, the place was alright. At least it had plugs for the passengers to charge their laptops and cellphones, if necessary. Towards the back of the lounge were catered food and desserts. Next to that was a refrigerator with all of the chilled drinks, save for alcohol. There were options for coffee, tea, orange/apple juices, or water.

I also flew alone this time around. It wasn’t by choice, let me tell you that. I’m not a fan of flying alone because I don’t like to sit next to strangers for night flights. You wouldn’t know what could happen to your carry on when you are in the toilet and most of the passengers have fallen asleep. I guess I was lucky in the sense that the seat next to me was vacant, which allayed my fears and proved advantageous. While other passengers had to sleep in their seat, I was able to curl up and rest.

In actual fact, I stretched my legs wide enough to prevent the blood clots but made sure that I spared the lady behind me from my smelly socks. It was in their position that I managed to catch forty winks - and found myself waking up as the cabin crew prepared to serve the light breakfast some fifteen minutes later. Don’t worry, it wasn’t the lights that woke me up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It's time to let go

Now that I’m hiding somewhere for my escape, I feel that I know what I want with a clearer mind. It is as if I know how to execute my plans without the slightest hesitation. Everything seems to fall into place now. My heart doesn’t yearn for much with the knowledge that my departure will be a matter of time.

Since nobody understands the rationale behind my decisions, I figured that it’s better to prepare for that day in advance. I’m drawing back, so as to let everyone around me get used to my absence. It forces me to be independent since the decision to study in Adelaide changed me in ways that I didn’t expect. I no longer look at people’s positive side. Rather, I assume that they are bad. I’ll let their actions disprove my presumption with supporting evidence. If my suspicions are proven accurate, at least the pain won’t be tough to swallow. You could say that it’s similar to the reverse onus of proof theory.

The whole idea about high distinctions and competitiveness has left me undone. I’m not the type who pays much attention to HDs because I know that it’s not achievable for me. I can’t subject myself to that kind of pressure as the greater the hope, the deeper the disappointment. But it leaves me in a sensitive manner. Whenever there is a talk about GPA, I will fade out and ignore the conversation. I was never competitive and I highly doubt that I’ll change.

We’ll see what happens in the next ten months or so, sigh.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Temperamental Highlights of 2017

January

After months of back and forth communication that spanned from our Administrative Law and Criminal Law days, we caught up briefly for a quick chat about the Family Law enrolment. Now that I think back, we were a tad bit anxious about this because our academic timetables couldn’t be finalised until this was dealt with. I was more than prepared to commit mental murder at the first degree with History as an alternative choice, but, lo and behold, I remained with Family Law. It was quite alright - I waddled through it at my own pace.

February

As we all know, mid February marks the start of the annual Adelaide Fringe. It also brought with it the hottest temperature I’ve experienced. For someone who’s accustomed to geat with humidity, it was torturous. Chinese New Year was not spent with a feast, but a tennis match between Federer and Nadal at the Australian Open. We also had the Orientation Week campus tour, which was different from what we atte

March

The first week marked the start of my penultimate year - and the anxiety that castes a shadow in my Criminal Law days returned to taint the rosy semester. I’ll be candour; I knew what I landed myself into when the academic timetable was released for both semesters. The idiot perfectionist wanted a challenge again… and I don’t thrive under stress, lol.

Seeing that it was a long while since the good friends caught up as a group, we agreed on a mutual timing for waffles. The unexpected variable was the weather. It showered on us and soured my mood. Rain/showers have a calming yet sad effect on me. The lack of radiance in my eyes would’ve been indicative of the change in emotions hence everyone’s hesitance on leaving. On the overall, it was a blessing to see those two angelic and cute faces.

April

I’ve noticed a trend, in which April is one of the haziest month each year. I can’t remember much that transpired yet there’s definitely more that occurred. Our mid semester break fell in the midst of the Easter Triduum, which was a blessing. At least there’s no requirement to attend replacement classes. There wasn’t any time to rest because of the interim assessments as well. As I would later find out, one of it landed me squarely in the path of winter germs.

May

The practice moot was bearable and my body language reflected it. The moment the list of mooters was released, I was relieved that I wasn’t going against anyone I knew. There were five of us and anything could’ve happened. My heart, however, raced a tad bit when I recognised the name. An experienced mooter. Seeing that it was an ungraded one, I refused to give much thought about it. I took the opportunity to have a crack at things and see how it flowed from there.



The first graded one left me hugging my knees close to my chest in exhaustion and biting back tears. I knew I messed up but focused on maintaining my composure. My breath caught in my throat when the opposition team consisted of someone whom I’m familiar by face. There was a faint glimmer of recognition when he saw me standing at the hallway in a formal attire and having a conversation with another student. It wasn’t until I asked him the million dollar question that he was sure that it was me. I don’t blame him; we worked on a tutorial question for another course before the advocacy, lol.

The second graded one was … weird in more ways than one. The nerves and fear of failure clouded my clarity until I didn’t realise I spoke the wrong thing in the morning tutorial. It felt like someone shone a torchlight at me when his head shot up from his laptop in my direction. I still cringe whenever I think of it although I’ll chalk it up to me being under the weather. For the oddest reason, the opposition team was the same one we had for the practice, which left the four of us groaning with a smile. I panicked on the behalf of the person against me because his voice betrayed his thoughts.

As if luck would have it, in the morning tutorial the following week, the tutor decided to throw shade at us as we approached the whiteboard to be the speaker and scribe respectively. It was then that I suspected she might’ve seen me approaching him after the previous week’s class. We exchanged an awkward smile before we got to work.

June



Family Law marked the end of the semester for me, which threw me into exam preparation and assignment mode. I guess the tutor realised that we'd be feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders for the exam and decided to organise a tour for us - hence the attached Instagram picture and its accompanying caption. It was an eye-opener to have watched the family law proceedings as a member of the public, but whether I'll be able to transfer what I witnessed into the essay component of the exam remained unknown.

The beauty about an assignment-based course is the amount of time to complete the final research essays. It also means that I’ve to be in research mode and milk the brain dry for suitable words. Anything but the pressure cooker of an exam, thank you.



The first thought that entered my brain when we arranged for the burger date was ‘oh, boy’. The good friends needed to sit for their papers earlier than mine - and I was absolutely not in the business of throwing their revisions off. In essence, we left the restaurant with an upbeat mood and something to take our minds off the exams. For them, it’s the ‘love letters’ - to quote my sister. Don’t get us wrong; I love these two intelligent and comical brats for the smile and laughter they bring, but only as a comrade and a sibling. In essence, I’m relieved that the handwritten letters lifted their frowns into grins.

July

I was definitely skewered for this round of exams. For the weirdest reason, my one and only exam was scheduled on the last day of the exam period. And as you may have guessed it, waiting for two weeks came with its positive and negative benefits. It was a blessing because there is more time to revise. It was a curse because I couldn’t properly plan my winter break. I watched with agony as the rest of my friends celebrated the end of their exams. It didn’t help my cause that my neighbors were night owls on the eve of my morning exam.

I fled for a winter getaway hours before the results were released. I didn't do great, but I did alright. I passed all of the papers, which is much more important than the GPA itself - although it’d have been nice to see a higher percentage, sigh. The beauty was that I returned in the second week of the semester - with little time to sleep off the exhaustion. I craved the extra time away to flush my mind of the stress acquired in the previous semester with four equally difficult courses. Why my heart desired a challenging period, only it knew - as there were profanities and cries behind closed doors.

Yes, you read that right. I cursed. And screamed until my throat ached.

It was a risk that I gambled with because I sacrificed a week’s worth of learning for the subjects. Luck was on my side because attendance was not taken and with a tad bit more effort, I caught up with the course contents.

August

I struggled throughout the entire month to cope with the massive stress from cramming two heavy courses and grocery shopping into one day. Although it was a relief to place the faces to the names that I saw on the attendance list for all of the courses, I was left groaning when history repeated itself.

Let’s just say that, in hindsight, I regretted taking Corporate Law on the same day as ADR. I mean, the stress may have been a killer, but it was the continous exposure in the crammed room that left me perspiring in anxiousness. I felt like I was being boxed in and couldn’t breathe. My hand shook once and I couldn’t focus on the whiteboard in front of me! You see, in most of my tutorials, I’ve always gone for the seats - usually the corner ones - that allow me to breathe. I’m not claustrophobic, but I am easily anxious when I am boxed into a small space. I got so angry with myself once over this that I almost lashed out at another friend when he tried to engage in a small talk with me. Neither was I excited when we had to do a group assignment for Corporate Law. It’s a consolation if it’s in lieu of a final exam, but it is what it is. I was thankfully in a team with familiar faces, which made our lives easier because we were familiar with each other’s work ethics. I was rather annoyed when unexpected things cropped up - and allow me to say that it involved blood, sweat, and tears. I honestly hadn’t expected things to roll this way and, as I’ve referenced in one of my posts, it might’ve been the work of a divine arrangement.

It took me until the end of August and one missed tutorial before I was able to properly manage my time and learn to breathe. I kept giving myself a pep talk that it was just the beginning. My workling life would be worse than this and it was better for an early exposure, rather than being thrown into it without any warning.

September

Seeing that I had purchased the birthday presents a couple of months in advance, I figured that it was better to pass it to the good friend earlier than on the actual day. At least I’m assured that I don’t have to wait until after the actual day - because that will ruin the surprise. As we both rushed on our respective assignments, we caught up for a while and promised that we’ll hang out at a later time.

Our team and I run amok when the tutor gently chided us that we barked up the wrong tree for our assignment. I honestly don’t know how we managed to do it, but we were able to come up with a backup plan in that two-hour period and nailed everything in the span of over the weekend. The arrangement left one of the mates with a heavier workload as it correlated with his original topic. Although he didn’t say anything about it, we saw the horror and resignation in his eyes. Me being me, I offered to help out on half of the assignment. I’ve no idea how my teammates coped, but I spent so many late nights refining my section that I had to peel myself away from it and take a breath.To cut a long story, I’m relieved that we survived the sudden dose of stress and lots of fine-tuning.

The remaining weeks of spring break weren’t smooth-sailing either. Since Corporate Law’s assignment was done and dusted, it was time for me to focus on the ones in ADR. A presentation and a final research essay. I’d like to think I was alright, but, in actual fact, it almost sent my anxiety level through the roof. I was so worried that I couldn’t do up to my standards and on time.

October

I almost lost my jaw when I read the course outlines and noticed that the rest of the assignments were due at around the same time. It was manageable with careful time management, but I wasn’t pleased either. I don’t like to hand up everything at the last minute. I like something that is transitional… like a build up to the final assignment. I don’t know what would’ve happened if the lecturer didn’t extend the deadline for one of the assignments, though.

The presentation that we had for ADR was alright. I can’t say that it was a success because we suffered a couple of minor hiccups along the way. We had our separate assignments to tackle concurrently, which actually divided my head into three different places. I felt that I let my team down in the way that I coordinated everything. I’m sure a better leader would’ve foreseen what was to come and prevented it before it occurred, but I guess it was what it was. For reasons that I won’t publicly reveal, I offered to swap with another teammate to play the role of a pregnant employee. Yes, you read that right. A pregnant employee. I didn’t sacrifice my reputation per se because I don’t know that many law students, which is a good thing in itself, plus it’s not very often that I’m able to delve into a little bit of acting. I know that something was wrong when I couldn’t address the audience until after the presentation was over. Seeing that the lecturer and audience didn’t dislike it, I guess it was alright in the end. I’m sure that with more practice and time, we’d have been able to refine our roles further and smoothen it to perfection. Maybe I’d have asked someone to record it without inciting the lecturer’s suspicion.

Time has flown faster than I expected, much to my benefit and fear. It meant that in three months or so, it’d be my final year and the prospect of entering the workplace wasn’t pleasing. But that is not to say that I want to be a student for life. It’s just impossible. There will be a day in time when I’ve to be financially independent and responsible. Things took a sharp turn towards the end of the semester, which caught me wondering whether I drove past the warning signs and crash-landed. I mean, I knew that the aura was different, but I chose to ignore it temporarily because I knew that I would not like the answer, should it be revealed.

Have I mentioned above that I had weird dreams about visiting someone in a clinic and furniture shopping? As I later learned, both carry its own meaning, but I didn’t spend the time recording the contents of the dream to interpret the subconscious messages that my brain wanted to send over.

November

I would still like to think that having a paper early in the examination period would allow me more time off, but as this semester has illustrated, it might not work in my favor all the time. The panic about the paper coupled with the inability to sleep the night before sent the stress straight into the deepest pit of my brain. I remembered that I groaned when I first looked at the exam schedule: the research essay was due first, followed by the submission of the take-home assignment, and the Corporate exam almost immediately.

No wonder my sister described the journey as the highway to hell.

To be honest, multitasking the exam revision with the take-home assignment should have been manageable, seeing that I had the experience in college. Yet, it wasn’t to be. I’d like to think that someone momentarily possessed my brain during the exam because I lost concentration, but it’s most likely due to negligence and exhaustion.

A sign that I’m slowly throwing in the towel? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not even sure myself.

Since the coast was unofficially clear for me, I decided to hide myself in the residence and only emerge from my hiding hole for necessary matters, such as grocery shopping and the like. It was a much-needed respite for me because I needed to give the heart and brain a break. Catching up with the usual bunch would have been alright, but seeing that we each have our own things to deal with, I figured that it was better this way. It was better to leave everyone be and meet up when we were feeling more refreshed and relaxed.

December

Although the academic results were released a day or two earlier than the projected date, it took me a while to have a look at it. You could say that I wasn’t confident enough, but the truth is that I knew everything would be revealed once I participated in the exam viewing. I chickened out at the eleventh hour and relied on the grades released on the portal instead. There wasn’t any way for me to find out who the market was. But whoever the person was, s/he must’ve been kind enough to give that surprising grade. This was the subject that I feared the most, especially after the tiny mishaps.

On the other hand, I managed to publish the ebook after taking my own sweet time and multiple plot changes. The original plot focused on the campus grounds of Taylor’s Lakeside with four students - three domestic students, one international student on exchange. Each of them were confused little brats in their own right and struggled to overcome their individual hardships in the chaotic world of university. The refined version involved me skimming a lot from the original draft and focusing on a different plot, so there you go.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

12/30/2017

I dreamt of a place that looked like a nearby pet cafe or a groomer’s, but there were lots of people and their dogs hanging out with their peers. I followed the sound of dogs happily barking and arrived at my final destination. There was a large area cordoned off to other humans to ensure that the dogs were allowed to play with each other in peace. Someone - a brunette who wore her hair in a ponytail - sat towards the corner and kept a watchful eye on them, ready to break up any fight that might ensue between the furkids. I observed as she returned her attention to my dog and gave him her love. My dog saw me standing there and refused to acknowledge me. I figured that it’ll be better if I leave him there since he loved the place too much.

In another scene, the three friends were together. It was getting late, so I went to grab something from the upstairs of my friend’s florist shop. I stumbled upon the crime scene of a gruesome murder. There were two bodies: one female and one male. The walls were stained with what looked like gushes of blood from stab wounds. I rushed down the stairs in a panicked mode and couldn’t quite explain what I saw to my friend.

That’s the problem of falling into a troubled sleep, I guess. I was only able to remember snippets of the dream, but it was enough for me to work with. My subconscious used the pet cafe to associate my desire to socialize with dogs and, hopefully, be comforted by their infectious friendliness. It knows that this is a foolproof method to make me happier than I currently am. Based on the online interpretation, the brunette in my dream is someone whom I highly respect and has the intuition and loyalty that I wish I have.

As for the crime scene, I’d say that something has murdered my emotions until I’m struggling to experience any positive feelings, i.e. happiness or joy. I hate the thing that has taken away my ability to experience life, hence the blood splatter.

Friday, December 29, 2017

12/29/2017

I dreamed that I was hanging out in someone’s house. It was a small unit with a beautiful design. The owner maximized the limited space with mirrors to create the illusion that it looked bigger than it actually was. An older lady - who was the owner of the house - was hanging out her laundry on the clothesline as I rushed past her. There was a fence at the back that led to another entrance of a hill. Over the entrance was a lake with a path created around it. A family of four was taking a slow stroll and admiring the scenery before them. Although I couldn’t see their faces, I knew that there were two children - a boy and a girl.

I was shopping for groceries in the evening when a male friend dragged me out of the building to the main road after I paid for my items. Behind him was an abandoned building. He confessed something, which led me to explore the place where we lived from south to north. I can’t remember what it was, but it must’ve been an urgent matter. Somewhere along our journey, we came across a crashed plane bearing the logo of the national airline. There was a burnt corpse lying right in front of the plane, which frightened me. I froze to the ground in my fear - although my friend pulled my arm, begging me to just move.

The online dream interpretation indicated that dreaming of a corpse could mean that my soul has withered to the point where I’m in a dark corner. As for the house and the hill, it could be the emotions and the subconscious making a mess out of each other at this time of the year.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Crying all alone under the stars

Note: the title post is part of the lyrics of 'Travelin' Soldier' by Dixie Chicks.

After a torturous semester, I now have updates - let’s make that two - for you guys.

#1: Now that I’m reflecting on the semester, there were some moments that I loved and disliked. The course that I wanted to enroll in was finally offered. I knew that it would be hectic, but I went for it with full confidence that it won’t get any worse than that. I mean, having three rest days to catch up on the backdated work and take a breather could have easily compensated me for the bullet train speed.

And worse, it did.

The first half of the semester drained me so much that I struggled to convince myself to attend the Corporate tutorials. The expression on his face was similar to the one that I saw in someone’s eyes before college graduation: a masked annoyance at the coincidence. I’m always able to suppress the fears or worries whenever I’m in class, but this safety blanket barely worked for Corporate. Let’s just say that my emotions and the lack of adequate diversion suddenly got in the way of the academic goals. I looked at the formative assessment with such confusion that I told myself not to hope for much for the overall grade. It was better to work for the best that I can get while expecting the unexpected.

I definitely pushed myself a little over the breaking point - until the ADR presentation took a beating. Although I survived the battle (in short, I passed everything), I didn’t emerge unscathed. My psyche feels such weighed down that I’m in need for any type of vacation that allows me a quiet environment to crash for 12 - 14+ hours. I’m also in need for some cardio exercise that will clear the congested brain in preparation for the final year’s crazy schedule.

#2: I’m sure you’d have seen snippets of it splashed on the blog and Twitter account, but let’s make this the official announcement, shall we? What took me 5 - 6 years of writing and two plot changes has finally arrived to this. What saw me swimming in memories and left me with an aching heart has also finally arrived to this.

Remember how I mentioned in a couple of posts ago that I’m tying up the loose ends for my e-book? Here’s the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760802 . Some elements of my time in college has been woven into certain parts of the plot, but in a fictional way. The plot involves a slight twinge of heartbreak, a dash of betrayal, and a splash of the unexpected.

I’m not going to reveal anything more than that, so if you’d like to read more (i.e. the blurb, short summary and a sample of the manuscript) or purchase the e-book in its entirety, head on over to the link - and let me know what you think about it.

Depending on how things go, I might continue moonlighting as a writer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

11/29/2017

I’m sure the dream had an introduction to it, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was about. What I can remember is that the dream began from the middle onwards.

I dreamt that we toured a place in the middle of the city. While my mother was in another part doing her own thing, I was on the first floor of a shop, browsing through the merchandises that they offered. It was divided into two smaller spaces with a wooden fence. The wooden fences were behind low two-tier shelves. While shoppers and employees could talk with each other over the fence, we had to use the main entrance if we wanted to go from space to space - or at least that was what one of the shop assistants mentioned to me when I inquired about the presence of the wooden fences. The camera then panned to the corner, where there was boxes arranged in a neat line, before I saw the traces of an escalator bringing the shoppers from ground floor to the first floor.

Somewhere along the way, I met an adult who had a toddler son sleeping in the back and a baby daughter in the car seat at the front. He offered me a ride and since it was someone whom I knew well, I decided to take up on his offer. He removed the car seat and I ended up carrying the infant in my arms. The infant slept peacefully and didn’t break into a screaming match. When my phone finally connected to his hotspot, the notification exploded in my face, but my attention was scaled in on the WhatsApp messages from my Mom. As the place where she was became a crime scene, she told me to meet her at the McD near there.

When we arrived there, she was talking to a female stranger before she climbed up the 4WD that the adult drove. She asked me to look at the infant child’s legs. One of the legs were swollen and red - as if the poor child suffered from water retention - but there were no traces of blood. She said to drive us to somewhere safe and she’d reveal the reason behind her questions and what had truly transpired there and then.

Well… I sense an ongoing theme here: someone else is behind the wheel with me being in the shotgun seat without any indication of the driver’s facial features. Although I can see from the outline that it is a male, that’s as many hints as I can get. The wooden fences. Fences should symbolise a barrier to something. You know, like dividing the main roads and pedestrian walkways. Garden plots. Applying to the context of the scene, maybe it’s the intention/warning not to let people any closer than they should be. Have intellectual conversations, but never allowing anyone to see the inner depths of my heart. Or was it influenced by that book’s protagonist? As for the boxes, it might be the fact that I am boxing up my emotions and thoughts for the fear of revealing too much about myself.

I’ll admit that the sleeping toddler son in the dream was so adorable - to the point where if it were to occur in real life, I’d have to stop myself from pinching the kiddo’s cheeks. This scene reminds me of something that happened when I was about 5. The context is fuzzy in my brain; I only remember that my godfather had fetched us from some place in Chinatown and my godbrother was asleep on the front passenger seat, which was reclined to 75% of its maximum. I don’t bond very well with infants in real life. In fact, I make sure that I keep an arm’s distance from them, especially whenever they are crying their hearts out. For me to be willing to carry an infant throughout the car journey, who still remained quiet in my arms, it has to mean something significant. This definitely stretches things, but I’m guessing that as I’m growing older, I’ll learn to tune out their cries? Or my thoughts towards children will change after I’m married? *holds head in hands*
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