Monday, August 21, 2017

To do or not to do, that's the question

It’s only Week 5 of the semester … and I honestly feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the placement of tutorials. Or maybe I’ve arrived at the stage where I’m forced out of my comfort zone. You know it spells disaster for a perfectionist when she feels inept and incapable of doing anything right. Nope, I’m not whining - just stating an obvious fact about me. I’d rather divert the complaints into the hauntingly emotional songs that I love. It’s not just that; I’m easily agitated and annoyed to the point where I’m not keen in spending more time on campus (unless it’s necessary, such as group projects/meetings or extra classes to catch up on the course content).


The recent holiday exposed a lot of uncertainties in my future plans that I’ll need to resolve asap. I’m having second thoughts about staying back for a postgraduate in creative writing. Someone will be happier than the shining lights if I do. More chances of spending time together. But my heart wants to leave. It wants to let the brain recover from the continuous pressures that I’ve subjected it to. At the rate I’m going, I don’t even know if I want to continue with the creative writing degree. No matter how much I love creative arts, stress will impede the creative flow. Looking at my current state of mind, I don’t think being a barrister could be a viable option either. I mean, the advocacy that I did as part of the course last semester left me wailing under the weather. Imagine if it has to be done on a professional basis. Barristers have to persuade the judge with their arguments that are referenced to statutes and case law. Something that I’m not a 100% confident in. You see, the last I debated with an acquaintance - in English class - in Taylor’s, emotions were thrown into the mix. I understand that it’ll be good to continue with the chambering, but the lights are dimming on it. It’s not helping my case that I’ve a couple more months before final year rolls around. And scaring me with the prospects of entering the workforce in a foreign place.

Should I be relieved? Yes and no. I can’t wait to be done, that’s for sure. My studies have definitely caused some personality changes. But in the event that things don’t go as planned, what am I to do? Rot under the sun and curse my luck? I’m a firm believer in that action will lead to changes. Not complaints. Just not sure if it’s true anymore.

Should I be apprehensive? A resounding yes. A lot is at stakes now. Miss one step - and it won’t just be me landing on my face in tears. (Okay, that could be an overstatement, but it is a possibility.) It’ll be my GPA who’ll accompany me this time. I must’ve buried my intelligence and common sense somewhere in the Malaysian soil before my university studies. Otherwise, I wouldn’t feel like I’m a stupid child running head first into an obstacle. A sign that I’m not in the right environment?


Believe it or not, the fact that I’ve crammed my Tuesdays with tutorials has upped my stress levels. It’s on the verge of testing my patience. I’m okay with the chosen courses, but it’s the timing that I’ve an issue with now. If someone warned me right after Administrative Law that things will slide at a rapid level and test my patience to the maximum, I’d have heeded the advice and approach penultimate year with caution. Can’t cry over spilt milk, can I? The only way around it to take the bull by its horns and ride with it.

From the way I look at it, this arrangement has led me to jump head-first into a sinkhole and a divine arrangement in more ways than one. Us breathing the same air again is not a mere coincidence - when it’s happened before and repeatedly. Truth be told, I think we’re exhausted from seeing each other’s faces all the time. It’ll be a matter of time before we snap each other’s necks in irritation. No wonder they said to be careful with what you wish for - because the opposite can happen instead.

And it did, sigh.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Case of Curious Coincidences (Part 6)

The topics of ethical issues in a fair trial was the choice that they wanted for the class presentation.. Because it was a complicated topic that required countless research, the other groups dropped this in favor of other ones. This allowed Crystal and Ryan to work as a team with another two students on this.

Once their presentation was done and dealt with, she breathed a sigh of relief and returned to her seat. She felt the nerves strangling her throat and shaking her alive towards the end of her piece, as if she could’ve engaged with her materials in a confident manner. It was after the tutor announced that the seminar was done for the weeks that she slid to the front and gathered the handouts that her peers left behind. It would’ve gone to waste if she didn't bring it home with her as rough papers.

Her breath caught in her throat when she spied Ryan loitering outside the smaller lecture theatre. He was waiting for someone. It’s just that she didn't know who. She rearranged the folder that she carried like a baby and tried to pass him unnoticed. Dealing with him on academic matters was alright, but she ensured that she was out of his way whenever they were out of class. She rationalised that it was probably a friend he waited for and lowered her head, not wanting him to notice her. It was their final week of classes and he was probably relieved that he’d see the back of her for the semester.

“Crystal!”

She stopped in her tracks when she heard her name. With a deep breath, she turned to face him with a smile. “Hey, Ryan.”

“Thank you so much for making the presentation a success. You were the last presenter and the execution rested solely on your shoulders.”

“Thanks. You weren’t too shabby either. In fact, you did better than myself.”

“You think so?”

She nodded. She finally saw him for who he was in that instant. Behind all the facade and seriousness was someone friendly and warm. The air of tension that wrapped him melted into one of easiness, as if they were friends since young. The notion that he called her name was indicative of it. It dawned on her that he allowed her to see another side of him - one that only his close friends know - without the presence of their friends. He wore a grin that not even a scouring pad could wipe off. His eyes were softer and friendlier although it was in the direction of the staircase behind her. “Let’s make a move.”

“Sure.” As they walked down together, he continued speaking. “There’s something I am curious on.”

“Okay?”

“What made you bolt out of the lecture all of a sudden? You looked as if someone dipped you in hot sauce.”

She sighed. Although he didn’t explicitly refer to a certain week of lectures, she knew which one he referred to. It was the only time that they sat in close distance, almost side by side. She moved a couple of seats away from her original one when it was occupied by a straggler. He sat towards the back row and in the middle seat. She never expected him to have noticed her quick departure. By this time, they arrived at the ground floor foyer, where he continued to wait for her response.

He sensed her hesitance and in a crowded area like this, she would never spill. “It’s okay,” he whispered, “if you don’t want to talk about it.”

She saw the concern etched in his eyes, but she never spoke of it. Not even to Trace. “It reminded me of a touchy situation,” she simply replied. “I’ve a brunch date to catch, Good luck for the exams and I’ll see you around.”

“Thanks. You too.”

She nodded again and took her leave.

As Ryan watched her rushing out of the building faster than lightning, he couldn’t help but shake his head. The more he thought that he finally understood her, the more she never failed to amaze him with another side of her. Although her Instagram and Twitter accounts illustrated nothing negative in her life, she flinched when he innocently scraped the surface of a scab. It must’ve been something bad or she wouldn’t have signed and paled.

He had to give her the credit. He never could decipher her true thoughts in their limited time working together. It was as if he was looking at his reflection in the mirror, which only fuelled his desire to know the Crystal off-campus. He craved to know her core courses next semester because he wanted to be in the same presentation group as her. There was no motive there; in fact, it served as mutual benefit due to their familiarity with each other’s work ethics.

*

His lips curled into a smile when he saw her sitting on the table near the locked doors of the exhibition hall six weeks later. Papers were strewn around her with a folder in front of her. She frowned with annoyance and stress at the prospect of a difficult paper. Although she looked like she wanted to be left alone, he gambled with the risk and headed in her direction.

“Excuse me, Crystal. Can I have a word with you?”

Crystal looked up at the voice in front of her. “Yeah, I guess. Let me push the papers -”

“It’s fine, i’ll be quick. Are you taking any core courses next semester?”

“Wow. You really can’t wait.” A half-smile emerged on her face. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no. I’m doing my electives abroad.”

A flash of sadness swept through his face. “Oh, okay. Where, if I may ask?”

“Edmonton, Canada.”

“That’s half a world away! You should have considered Auckland.”

That was my first choice, she thought. You made a decision for me without me even having a chance to say anything. “Well,” she answered. “I did, but …. I figured since it was only for a semester, it’s alright to live a little on the dangerous side. Hence the choice of Edmonton. Why, are you going to Auckland?”

Her answer threw him off-guard. “I -”

“It’s okay, Ryan. I overheard your conversation with your friend. You’re going there next year.”

“I didn't expect our conversation to be that loud."

She forced a laugh. "It's hard not to ignore when it's so close to your ears."

He sighed. "In that case, I think I better let you return to your revision. Keep in touch via Facebook, yeah?”

“Will do.”

“Good luck for the paper!”

“Thanks.” She smiled. “All the best!”

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Welcome back!

Hello guys, I’m back!

Never will I consider an early morning flight again. I understand that it might be much cheaper (the difference is minimal; what’s more important is the timing that you purchase it), but I'm just not an avid lover of it. It took me longer than expected - my entire weekend!!! - to recuperate from the sleep deprivation and time difference. Imagine that I almost missed my first tutorial because of this!

I personally don’t have any issues with the hours spent on the flight (well, only the narrowed space) because I know how to entertain myself. My peeve lies with selfish passengers who either forgot their manners or treat the seat like they own it. Paying for it doesn’t mean buying it. The passenger seated in front of me decided to invade my space by reclining his seat to the maximum. This conduct almost knocked me on the head because I was using the tray for my notepad, grr. Like dude, I understand that you want to catch your beauty sleep, but … limits! You wouldn’t like it if I confront you on this, so please spare a thought for neighbor behind you on your next flight.

If there’s something that I’ve learnt from my frequent travels, it’s never to drink beer or wine without food. The alcohol percentage went straight to my brain and knocked me out cold… to the point where I sprained my neck while I slept. I didn’t even know it happened until the cabin lights shone at me. (It didn’t help; the effects were worsened the minute I left the airport. To cut a long story short, I slept. And slept until mid-afternoon.)

The short time spent abroad was alright. Three weeks is not enough for a relaxing holiday. I don’t do well when I’m cooped up in boredom. I won’t say that it melted all of the stress in my cells. In fact, I dreaded the return flight for reasons I can’t divulge. You could probably say that I want to run from my responsibilities. There’s too much on my plate this semester (no thanks to workload and familiar faces) and I don’t know if I’ve the patience to deal with everything. I intentionally skipped the first week of lectures due to this… and I wasn’t even bothered by it. It was enough to minimize the scope of the stress levels, I guess. I’ve to think thrice about following my heart when it comes to traveling. It’s not fun at all…

So, here’s to hoping that the semester treats me well and I don’t land on my face!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Layered Dream

Okay, this was a dream that occurred a couple of weeks, but I forgot to write about this because my head caved in from the stress of exam results. A lot rode on my performance on the paper… and it led me to alternate between fear and relief. Fear of failing. Relief at being done with another semester.

I dreamt that the three of us were in a room, attending either a lecture or a tutorial. There were no specific indicators on the location. The person who spoke wore glasses… and resembled a lecturer. My sister and I were seated together in the middle row. As he rambled on the weekly course contents and nature of the topics with the speed of a bullet train, I struggled to transcribe each word that was thrown at us. My heart froze when I spied the caricature of someone familiar behind us.

It wasn’t until the break time that I gained the courage to turn my back and sustained a loss of speech. It was him. The person I never expected to meet again. Even my sister repeated that it was impossible. He leaned against the swivel chair and adopted a relaxed aura as his focus was on something else. He looked exceptionally carefree. This revelation made me uneasy as I didn’t want to be in such close proximity as him. Whatever crap I did on the screen, he’d be able to notice.

In the next scene, I loitered in a shaded area as other people minded their business with grocery shopping. A wave of awkwardness washed over me when my phone pierced the simultaneous conversations with its cries. I had left it with the cashier to borrow her phone charger while I killed time. I muttered my excuse and apologies for the interruption. My eyes furrowed when it was a notification, informing me that a friend shared ‘something from the past’. What past, I didn't know. I didn’t have the privacy or time to take a peek at it.

Although the person’s identity was revealed in the dream, I’ll not name him on the public sphere to accord some protection to him. As I later found out, it was indeed a premonition of what was to come. The stranger is in the same stream of core course as me and we’re bound to cross paths again. I had my suspicions late last year… but I guess it is what it is now. Plus, he’ll only know about it on the day itself.

For the second scene, I’d like to think that it's a case of randomness. Knowing how notifications work, you’re only informed if you’ve been tagged or if it concerns you. ‘Something from the past’ could be anything from the sun to the moon… unless it’s years in the future when we’re reflecting on our past and friendship. If that’s the case, then maybe it’s the group hangouts that he might be missing. Again, it’s vaguer than a tinted window for me to interpret.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Case of Curious Coincidences (Part 5)

The new year may’ve been celebrated with the beautiful display of fireworks and resolutions, but it brought more challenges for Crystal to conquer. Not only was she emotionally drained from the intensity of working and studying, her academic timetable was in tatters. Accommodating her job, classes, and social time required her to devote more time than she desired on campus.

Her heart sank three feet further into her stomach and she buried her face in her hands at the revelation that Fate threw her and Ryan into the same tutorial yet again. It wasn’t the respite she hoped for because it strained and wore her patience out to have dealt with him for the entire year. Sure, she went to extreme lengths to convince herself that Ryan didn’t harbor any grudges against her. His erratic approach towards her was the result of his temperament and the continuous stress of excellence instead. But what was she fearful of? Her application for a study tour was approved and she’d be setting sail to the far east - to the snowy grounds of Edmonton next semester.

“Screw the bugger for choosing Auckland,” she had whinged once to Tracy. “He’s making me jealous with all of those pictures of Queen Street and Mount Victoria in Devonport.”

“You could still continue with your plan of studying a semester in AUT, though.” Tracy raised an eyebrow. “It’s not as if you’re doing in at the same time or campus as Ryan.”

“Come to think of it, I think I’ll be adventurous and head off to Canada instead while experiencing my first and only white Christmas.”

With a cheery smile that lit up the sombre aura of the room, Crystal made herself comfortable as she waited for the rest of the students and tutor to float into the area. Breathing the same air as Ryan for the umpteenth time made her nervous because there was a chance history would repeat itself. She sighed, recollecting that this was the same location for their morning class last year and how his guts almost spilled on the carpeted floor when he saw her neutral expression as he entered.

Snap out of it, a little voice reminded her. Just be yourself.

Little did Crystal expect the cards that Ryan would throw in the fire.

What made the class experience worse for Ryan was the fact that all of the students were required to present a topic of their choice from the course content. He was alright with class presentations, but his friend, who promised to join him in this course, withdrew at the eleventh hour for another subject. His friend’s decision left him in a dilemma because he didn’t have an alternative subject to enroll in and he didn’t know anyone - or so he thought. He breathed a sigh of relief when he spied Crystal minding her own business in the class. She must’ve been fixated on something because she hadn’t heard his entrance. He secretly observed her conduct for the first half of the class time and satisfied that she, like him, was a stranger to their peers, he swallowed his pride and went against his wishes. He gingerly approached her and asked whether she’d be willing to collaborate with him for the presentation as they were already familiar with each other’s work ethics.

His request must’ve shocked her into silence because he saw her eyes dilated with a mixture of shock and surprise.

“I guess it’s alright.” Crystal found her voice. “It’d make our lives easier if we work together again and there wouldn’t be any glitches.”

“Awesome! What topic would you like to do? I’ll leave the choice to you.”

“I’m alright with anything. Do you have something on mind?”

He rattled a couple of options. “Then again, it’s dependent on what the other groups have chosen.”

“We’ll see how it plays out. Who knows if we’d be lucky to nail the first option?”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

7/6/17

It's a wrap for me - or at least I'd like to think so.

Now that I've a limited form of freedom, it will allow me to tackle and digest the disappointing piece of news from home. Approaching it from a third party's standpoint would be better for my emotions, but there's too much at stake for me not to care. I can hear my heart cracking whenever I find myself thinking of it - with regrets, unfortunately. It almost knocked me off my feet when it first landed on my doormat, but I chose to mask the shock with the exam revisions (for my benefit). It's the season - where revision week has the ability to drown everyone in extra doses of stress. And I don't need heavier shoulders, so to speak.

I don't know how I performed on the paper. It's been a while since I've approached an exam with a resigned fate, so I don't know how I should react. I've either caught myself shaking with panic or crying to death the moment they allowed us out of the exam hall. For this particular paper, all I felt was ... relief. I didn't have any pre-exam stress (where I soiled my cheeks and exam paper with tears) either. Inasmuch as I need to let the body and brain take a couple of days off, I have to deal with it soon, sigh. I’ve hung on by a thread since the end of the semester. My concentration and patience were stretched to the breaking point by unwelcome distractions at ungodly hours. It’s a wonder how I managed to stay awake with about only 2-3 hours of sleep until after I was done with the exam. Oh well, it is what it is. It’s all done and dusted. Time to temporarily abandon my social media accounts and do my own thing until next semester.

Just as and when I am penning this post, a flashback from my sojourn in Taipei has returned to visit me. I can’t remember the street names, but we ventured far from the hotel to land ourselves in the subway stalls and a large shopping mall.

I’ve scheduled a couple of posts in my absence. I’ll try to visit and leave comments on your blogs - but this is dependent on the space in my schedule.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Borrowed Time

Time is slipping through my fingers. I can feel it. Being with these two lovely amigos will always remind me that we’re hanging out on borrowed time. Depending on how I play with my deck of cards, there is a chance that we’ll have limited face-to-face contact in the future. It makes me sigh whenever I think of that day. I don’t know what would happen or how things would be, but I don’t want them to send me off with raw, rimmed eyes. Including me. Trust me, it would be embarrassing when the flight passenger next to me taps me on the forearm with a tissue.



Why such a somber note, you may ask. The reason is this. In my years of undergraduate studies, it’s hard to find true friends who will have your best interests. I’ve hidden beneath the rigid facade to avoid landing on my face. These two lovely amigos strove in their own ways to ensure that I don’t fall back on my mask. We have an implied agreement to bask in each other’s presence as a group of three - and this involves all topics under the sun.

It is with this in mind that we arranged for a burger date. Yes, you read that right. A burger date, but with three stressed and sleep deprived musketeers in the middle of exam revisions. I was a tad bit hesitant on this because their exams were much earlier than mine, but we went ahead with it since we had our separate after-exams plans. As we entered the cafe, my brain had a laugh when we snatched each other’s floor and said the same thing at the same time. It’s like we read each other’s mind and I thought I heard my sister’s faint chuckle at the coincidence. I remembered the awkwardness that descended upon me. It was a moment of silence before he answered my question, but I narrowly and gently pried my way out of answering it. I guess I was thankful that I didn’t turn cherry red, thanks. I don’t need to be a walking tomato in front of them again, lol.

I know I craved for burgers. I’ll be happier if someone transported me to Big Hug instead. But I’ll be satisfied with what I have. A cheeseburger. Truth be told, I struggled to finish the one on my plate - and we’re talking about a burger the size of my palm - when my hand stole French fries and a basket of sweet potato fritters. Okay, not steal per se. More like pinched. Call it habitual. I love French fries but things did not turn out well the last time I ate an entire box of it. God knows what he thought, but moments after I pinched a couple of fries, he offered us - my sister and I - his plate. I suspected it’s because he was aware that both of us have no qualms about eating it.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re catching up over lunch or on campus. It is always with these two that I laugh the hardest. I laugh until I whimper with tears… and it’ll be tough for me to maintain a straight face. A mere glance at either one of them is enough to send my stomach rolling with glee. I don’t know why; a sense of warmth is what I feel with these two. It’s like i feel the most relaxed with them. Sweet like oranges, they are but what I admire the most about them is their spines of steel.

This is something that I will miss, regardless of whether the day of my departure arrives.

If I play my deck of cards with the right amount of accuracy, time, and luck, I might be able to maintain the frequency of our hangouts. Heck, we could have those Friday dinners after work monthly!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

6/21/17

I dreamt that I was revising for an exam while having lunch at a cafe. I chose the table facing the wall for better concentration and I don’t have to look at faces. Scattered around me was my textbook, a folder of notes, and sticky tabs. An acquaintance from Criminal Law came over and scared the lights out of me when he slid on the empty chair next to me. He pulled my leg with a joke, which caused me to lightly slap on his shoulder instead. I then placed my head on his shoulder as I welcomed the temporary distraction. The camera then panned to someone else - a female whose jaw slammed to the floor in shock at our conduct.

He then wrote my address on a half-completed envelope that bore my name. I have to admit that he had a beautiful handwriting, much better than mine. It was after this that he excused himself and departed the cafe with his pal. 

My Mom waited outside the cafe and asked why I wasn’t in college for the revision. I replied that I decided to kill two birds with one stone - I was hungry and didn’t want to waste the time returning to the building. Plus, I couldn’t study in the air of stress radiated by the frazzled students. I asked her to pick me up from the cafe because it was closer to the place where she was and easier to exit the bottleneck suburb of ours. 

It was later that evening when I decided to indulge in my favourite TV drama. The plot for that episode included a couple with a boy. I presumed that they were a family as they were discussing about something. Their dog was sitting on the chair like a regal next to the mother. A girl burst out of the bush in ninja style with the goal of delivering the fatal blow to the dog, but instead stabbed the mother in the neck. The boy chased the girl away in horror. The dad asked what happened when he noticed the deathly silence. The mother looks at the boy with despair as she tried to stop the bleeding by applying pressure on the wound. 

For the first part of the dream, I’m baffled as to why I dreamt of that specific person. I mean, the way he took the chair was indicative of him, but the context does not make full sense. We’re not friends in real life. I don’t think we’re even acquaintances either. It is possible from the online interpretation that I’m seeking consolation from someone. This is possible because I didn’t obtain a distinction for one of the courses, but I’m not disappointed. Just resigned to my fate. Alternatively, it might mean that I need someone to hear me out after I received an unexpected news from home.

Me laughing in the dream can be defined in two manners. One is the elaboration that it could be a sign of chest-deep stress for either myself or a close friend. Alternatively, it could be me looking for an outlet to express the pent-up sufferings.

Seeing the envelope, I believe, might have been the result of my anticipation in real life… or the fear of knowing the truth.

For the second part of the dream, I don't think I want to decipher the context of the dream or interpret it. It is onerous and leans towards the dark side of things.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Case of Curious Coincidences (Part 4)

Although there was nothing different with Crystal in the way she carried herself, Ryan couldn’t help but suspect that something changed within her. It was as if her confidence grew over the summer break, making her prettier than the sunset. Her hair was also cropped to a length that fell below her ears. When she walked past him on her way out after the tutorial ended, he observed that a smile crept on her lips at something on her phone.

He kept his breathing steady as he exited moments later. Her conduct made him jealous, even worse than when he saw her in chatters with their mutual course mate last year. It was eating him that she barely cracked a smile in his presence yet her face was now coated with exuberance. Her demeanor confused him more than he wanted to admit. He thought that the summer break was long enough for him to simmer over his impression of her. Sure, he admired her professionalism and her honesty. Unbeknowst to her, he arrived at this conclusion that she knew how to wriggle her hips and have fun outside campus after stalking her Instagram and Twitter accounts for an insight into her life. A particular picture posted to her Instagram a couple of weeks ago - before the commencement of a new semester - irked him to the point of annoyance. There was nothing to incriminate either one of them but he felt himself turning green with envy. It was a framed photograph of her and another guy - whom Brendan reckoned was a friend from college or a university peer - at a Christmas event. Each of them held a glass of alcohol and had their hand on each other’s waists while they grinned for the camera. What was worse, for him, was that there wasn’t any accompanying caption to distinguish if these two were lovebirds or close friends. No matter how much it irritated him, he wasn’t a buddy of hers.

When Tracy caught up with her over the weekend, Crystal looked as if someone dragged her through the lower levels of Hell and back to Earth in one day.

“How was the first week of classes?”

“Ugh, Trace, I don’t know.” Crystal shook her head. “Don’t even get me started.”

Tracy raised an eyebrow as she sipped her long black. “Why, what happened?”

“Do you know who I bumped into in one of my tutorials? Ryan. We’ve even collaborated for a group presentation again.”

“You don’t sound enthusiastic about it. If you analyze it from a different perspective, it’s good that you two are working together for another time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’ll increase his chances of being closer to you, if that’s his ultimate wish, but there’s a sense of familiarity and trust between you two. You don’t have to chase him down North Terrace with a hammer, shooting requests for him to pull his weight. He wouldn’t have to do the same either.”

Crystal sighed.

“Tell me something. How’s the fellow’s conduct? Still the same? Or, has he changed?”

“Well, based on what I’ve noticed today, he’s… softer now. He seems approachable, like he’s lowered his guard towards me. His eyes are friendlier and no longer suspicious of my presence.” Crystal gulped her flat white. “So yeah, I guess that means there’s a change.”

“Only time will tell, my dear.”

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

6/6/17

I dreamt that it was a full house for one of my classes. It was not a language course, but some of the students spoke in Japanese and the rest in attendance did their own thing. I was bumped to the front not because I was earlier, but because I was later than usual and my seat was snapped up. I knew that I was too close to the whiteboard for comfort, but there was not much I could do. Another friend sat diagonally opposite me. She entered the class from the front and was able to snatch her seat before someone else took it. The room was reminiscent of the one where we had the MQE classes in Taylor's.

I received a phone call from the hospital later that day about my paternal grandmother's condition taking a turn for the worse. I messaged the boyfriend and we rushed there as soon as we pulled ourselves out of tutorials. The moment we arrived at the spot that she wanted us to meet her, I knew that she was in a touch and go situation. I had to make the mental preparations to say goodbye. She smiled weakly at us when we approached her. Her sun-kissed complexion was replaced by a shade paler than the white walls. Her eye socket were hollow. She was in a wheelchair looking at the garden outside the hospital. Next to her was an IV drip. It was a downward spiral from now onwards.

She asked him to come closer to her and when he did, he took her hands in his. My breath caught in my throat when I saw this action. She whispered her thanks for his presence in my life and believed I was in good hands. He swore that he'll cherish me like raspberries. The three of us cried our hearts out at this piece of news. It cemented the prospects of me losing my beloved grandmother.

I was more perplexed than annoyed when I woke up from the dream.  Both sets of grandparents are on their permanent voyage, so it is either the brain entertaining itself or my subconscious living out the scenes from my Creative Writing assignment.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Movie Night Essentials - with Pure Flix

In today’s demanding and hectic world, there is nothing more comfortable than a perfect movie to unwind after a stressful day at the office or on campus. Trust me, even I’m tempted to snuggle on a couch to watch my favorite movie after the advocacy and research essays. Alas, the priorities of life and other important matters like studies are in the way.

Together with Pure Flix, we have curated the top three movie night essentials (and movies of choice) that I believe everyone must have for a relaxing experience.



In addition to the aforementioned checklist, I have a couple more recommendations that you could incorporate for your next movie night.

I know that I’ve included popcorn in the checklist, but please allow me the opportunity to elaborate on this. You don’t necessarily need to cave into the norm and have popcorn only. You can have a variety of finger food or munchies on the coffee table, depending on the number of people watching the movie with you. It can even be a bowl of mixed nuts or a plate of biscuits or cookies. What’s the use of food when there are no drinks available, right? On top of the snacks, you can treat yourself to a glass of bubbles or, if you have under 18s around, free-flowing fizzy drinks.

A pair of comfortable attire is another important item that you need. Unlike the cinemas, where you need to be in a neat attire to be admitted into the showing rooms, the beauty of watching movies at home is that you can be carefree about your apparel of choice. It doesn’t matter whether your go-to cozy clothes just happen to be a pair of pajamas, onesie, or T-shirt and shorts. My personal favorite is actually pajamas – although it’s more commonly associated with night and sleep – because it relaxes me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching movies at home, the ‘right’ apparel plays a significant role in your viewing experience.

As this post was done in collaboration with Pure Flix, Pure Flix will like to reward all of you, my readers in North America, with a free one-month trial for their family-friendly streaming services. Head on over to their website for more information. For more information, feel free to flick them an email here.

Friday, May 26, 2017

I'm drowning in silence

Warning: this might come across as an emotional post, so continue reading at your own discretion.



Let’s just put it this way – I am tired.

I’m tired of everything around me.

I’m exhausting of feigning that life is devoid of any hiccups and those what nots.

No amount of words can describe my current frustration. It doesn’t help that it has clouded my clarity with traces of anger. I chose to slow down the pace in my academic journey after Taylor’s to prioritise my health because healthcare is expensive in Australia and my usual TCM practitioner is back home. It’s not like I can afford to take the flight out the moment I’m under the weather – my parents will give me an earful for it. I’m regretting this decision with a stab to the heart. I’m no longer the high achiever that I once was although the prospects of me landing a job solely rests on my GPA. It’s adding more stress into the mix – and I don’t need any extra – since I’ve reduced my social life to a bare minimum to focus on me-time and ensure that my head doesn’t cave in from the pressure around me.

If there’s one thing, I guess I’m still fortunate that I can mask my truest thoughts under the façade that I wear. You’ll find it ironic; whenever I’m in a crowd, I can laugh along with others or even slide a comical response and make the other party burst into a smile or laughter – all when I’m feeling like crap inside.

The crazy schedule that I forced my body to adapt to the sudden pile of workload has messed with my head. My psyche has created a form of self-comfort, in which I’m running from the chores of life and living my life in an alternate universe. I’m catching every word of the songs that I listen to like it’s a lifeline, like it’s air to me. I won’t throw in the towel because that’s not my style. I don’t surrender without a fight, but it sure as hell feels like I’m fighting a losing battle with my mind and heart. I know that I’m working with the other half of me buried somewhere in KL or Perth, I’m not sure. And I hate knowing that I could’ve been a better student who knows what in the world she’s doing.

Have I overestimated my capabilities or have I signed myself up for a long stay in the pressure cooker?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Broken Dream

Although it's a creative piece that I wrote during my time in Taylor's, I feel that certain stanzas of it are applicable to my current state of mind.



It hurts when you don't look back,
Not even to say a word of Goodbye.
I am standing under the rain;
The raindrops are piercing my heart
Through and through.
I can feel its sharp blade against it.
It is slicing the core of my soul,
Coating my emotions with blood.
Is that still rain clouding my vision?
Or are those tears blinding me,
Shielding me from the reality of dreams?

Dropping my knees onto the ground,
I hide my face.
I cannot deal with it anymore.
Dreams are supposed to brighten my life,
And not strangle me like a noose.

Like a candle in the dark,
It defines you.
Your entrance brings nothing but radiance.
It paints smiles on my face.
Your departure is melting all of my happiness.
You are transitioning me from a warm-blooded mortal
Into an icy cold human.
An emotionless person with nothing to care about,
It is who I am becoming.
The heartwarming grin that I am known for;
No, it's no longer there.
What is replacing it is the freezing glare
That burns into the bones.

I am looking out the window,
Looking back on the changes in my life.
Is this part of the dream I had?
Sadly, it is far from it.
No amount of words can describe it.
Dreams? What dreams are there?
Like the shattering of the snowball,
That is how my dreams have become,
Nothing but pieces of artificial flurry bits,
Floating around an enclosed area.
A lifeless person that I now am,
I am dead in my heart.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Unexplained Change

If this is what most practicing barristers will have to endure in their line of work, consider it my luck that I'm exposed to the amount of paperwork and preparation now - rather than while in the workforce. The original intention is to be a criminal law barrister after I've slogged for a number of years, but that possibility is vanishing in the same fashion as my confidence of nailing a credit for the mooting.

I know that something's changed yet I can't pinpoint the difference. I've been the type of child who loves the challenges of presentation in college, but my heart races whenever I need to do it in university. Some of the college friends have frowned at the negative changes. In their eyes, they've assumed that I'm a confident person with persistence. Now, if you give me a chance to remain behind the scenes, I'll take it in a heartbeat.

Maybe it's just me adjusting to the environment?



The practice moot was alright, but the amount of research that we needed to conduct for the written submission almost spun me in circles. There was a sense of peace when I laid the foundations for our team. It was as if, don't worry, I'll emerge from this scathed, but I'll survive - or maybe it's because the chunk that I had was the easiest to argue.

That can't be said of the second one - and part one of our graded moot. I'm not sure why, but I lost my coherence shortly before the other team concluded their arguments. It spelt trouble for me when the papers in my hand shook with fury. It also didn't help that a shovel emptied the contents of my brain too.

Could it have been anxiety attacks?

Could it have been nerves spanning from the lack of preparation?

Could it have been something else?

All questions with not an obvious answer in sight.

It faded for a split second when I addressed the de facto bench (on a side note, here's a shout out to the person who presided over our mooting: thanks for the attempt to soothe the nerves. I say 'attempt' because I was losing it internally). It was at the second half - when the questions were peppered in my direction - that my brain threw in the towel and rebelled. There was no panic per se, but more like a desire to hide in a corner of a dark room and breathe. Most folks who've worked with me in group assignments know that it's not a positive occurrence when my eyes shine as bright as the stars. I'm sure that it would've been evident from my body language when we exited the room that I didn't perform as well as I should (and craved). I mean, who exits the place shaking her head with a sigh unless there's defeat or disappointment?

It was with great effort that I pushed the emotional thoughts away - hell if I'm going to let those folks have a glance of the inner workings of my mind, especially when there's a chance that we could be on opposite teams for the final mooting. Thanks, but no, thanks. I instead focused on the fact that I did my best and there's nothing more that I could do about it, except to hope that whoever marked my oral will exercise some discretion instead of slaughtering me into pieces like a butcher. My mooting partner eventually told me that it was obvious to one of the tutors that I wasn't elated at all from his facial expression.

Oh well, the finishing line is in sight - and time to focus on nailing this. If I'm able to maintain my calmness - or at least project to everyone that I am confident, things should improve for the better. I don't have time to allow myself some breathing space because it's a wild ride there - and as long as I don't fall on my face from the high demands/expectations of myself, I'll be fine. Fingers crossed.

I really should consider joining Adelaide's version of KLPAC to strengthen the confidence and eradicate (or at least reduce) the fear of public speaking, but time is as precious as glassware to me. You wouldn't want to see how I behave when I don't have enough me-time. Trust me on that because I don't thrive under pressure.

The bright side is that winter break is in less than 4 weeks. Assuming that I don’t fall under the weather from sleep deprivation and stress, I think I’ll have to reduce the frequency of my social media use and learn simple breathing techniques on the side.

Maybe that'll help to prepare me for the intensity of Semester 2.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5/16/17

Start afresh?

A quick refresher?

It was in the middle of his tutorial when the screen of his S4 flashed twice beneath his pile of papers in the span of fifteen minutes. He stole a glance at it when his tutor’s back faced the students as he wrote something on the whiteboard. It was a message from Katrina on Messenger, demanding that he return her call as soon as possible as it was an emergency.

“What happened?” Brendan barked over the phone, conscious of the time flying past him. At quarter past the hour, the tutor announced that there will be a ten-minute break for students to stretch their legs or catch a quick trip to the toilet.

“Winnie was involved in a car crash on her return drive from an excursion in Clare. The attending physician wouldn’t tell much except that they’re trying to stabilize her condition. You better get your sorry soul to the A&E when you’re done. From the doctor’s tone, things aren’t rosy.”

A lump caught in Brendan’s throat when he saw Winnie in the ICU an hour later. He couldn’t recognize the lifeless body on the bed and if Katrina wasn’t there with him, he wouldn’t have believed that it was Winnie there. He observed that Winnie wore a neck brace, which indicated that she broke her neck, and an oxygen mask that obscured half of her oval-shaped face. Her head was bandaged. Wires that were glued to her led to the machines around her. One was to maintain her vitals and the other was the IV drip, but he failed to identify the rest.

Although there was silence around them, Katrina sensed his need to be with Winnie - alone - and squeezed his shoulder before she eased out of the room. As she sat on the row of orange chairs outside the ICU, she reflected on her history with Winnie. Instead of the jealousy towards her for the perfection that she had in her life, she now felt fear and worry for the poor girl. The accident was a stark reminder that life’s too short to hold grudges over something petty, like boys and relationships.

*

He was jogging on the walkway of Riverside Terrace when someone familiar stopped him in his tracks. It was a girl seated on the bench, staring into the scenery ahead of her. There were houses at the other end of the river and Nature’s disappearing hue reflected the colors of the building, creating a sombre yet beautiful shade. The wind picked up speed and blew her long chestnut brown hair in various directions. There was no one but the two of them there and in the silence, he swore he heard her sobs.

“Winnie?” He squinted, as if it’d help him identify the person at the bench. “Is that you?”

“Hey, Brendan.” She rose to her full height before facing him. Although she looked more relaxed, as if all the earthly burdens have been lifted off her shoulders, her eyes flicked with the trepidation of uncertainty. “There’s something I’ve to tell you.”

His heart raced. “What is it?”

She walked closer towards him and embraced him. “Please forgive me,” she whispered. “I can’t stay any longer as I’m tired of fighting.”

“No, no, no, that’s not going to happen.” Brendan pushed her back and glanced at her in the eye, denying the inevitable. “You’ll be fine. We’ll get through this together.”

Her voice was a tad bit above a whisper. “I’d always love you, but I’m tired of fighting a losing battle and I don’t want to drag you down with me either.”

“What do you mean?” His voice cracked as he pleaded. “Please stay.”

“I’m sorry.” She laid her lips on his before she disappeared into the distance without turning back once. She didn’t want him to see the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.

He longed to have her in his arms once again but his legs were frozen. He couldn’t run, what more move.

And with that, he shot up from his sleep and panted with horror. He reached out for the bedside lamp and, moments later, caught his reflection in the wall mirror. Not only was he slicked with sweat, his eyes was double its size. He immediately touched his cheeks, which were soiled with something sticky and wet. It was tears. Little did he know that he dreamt of Winnie’s departure and cried over it. Shortly after Winnie paid him a visit, she succumbed to her injuries. The warmth of the white lights greeted her as her body drifted to a quieter and serene place, where she’d feel nothing but love and peace.

Months later, it still strained his willpower to focus on his studies without sparing a thought on life’s cruel hand. Although her death was an accident, he blamed himself for not being there to protect her from harm’s way - even if it meant laying his own life in exchange for her. If God allowed him to make an exchange, Brendan knew that he would’ve prayed for Winnie’s revival at the expense of his life. It was more than once that he desired to seek the help of the university counsellor to cope with the sudden shock on top of the academics but stopped short of entering their office. Unlike Katrina, who eventually sought the help of a psychiatrist, he couldn’t form the words to describe his grief and chose to deal with Winnie’s death in his own time and pace.

He yanked an A6 picture from his wallet; it was them posing in front of a Christmas tree at Forrest Chase - the same one that Winnie fiddled with at Adelaide Airport while waiting to board the flight to Perth. The flashbacks of their happier moments stabbed him with such force that it tore his soul apart. Why couldn’t them three the best pals forever? Why did life have to intervene and complicate the friendships?

Monday, May 15, 2017

05/15/17

I dreamt that the three of us were supposed to board a flight, but all of the passengers were booted out due to something that occurred on the plane. The pilot announced that all of the checked-in luggage would be transferred to another aircraft, which was waiting nearby. Everyone was diverted there, but in order to board that plane, we had to go through another route. With little direction given by the pilot, we were lost and found ourselves at the boarding gate once again. Since it wasn’t anyone but the airport’s fault, I spoke to one of the on-ground airport employees about it and to see whether he’d be able to resolve the matter for us.

He understood our predicament and allowed us to use the reserved routes for employees to get to the waiting plane. He even hailed one of the vehicles to bring us there because it would be faster for us. He realized that because no one informed the passengers about the new location, it was a waste of time for everyone to head there by foot.

I’m aware that I won’t need the assistance of the online dream interpretation because I know what’s bothering me lately. The idea of having concurrent assignments has weighed me down tremendously until I fell under the weather. The moment the oral assignment for the mooting was done and dealt with, I noticed that my condition significantly improved, sigh. It is also another indication that my subconscious wants (or needs, I’m not sure) a break from the academic stress.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

5/6/2017

Although this occurred a few days ago, I’m still baffled by a specific event in the dream. I dreamt that I grew up in a normal family, but save for an absent paternal figure. He wasn’t a guiding influence since I was a little girl. It was on one fine afternoon when I walked into the kitchen and found a snail moving slowly on the door screen. I didn’t give it much thought, except to leave it alone on its journey to somewhere. I was surprised that it didn’t freak the lights out of me like it does in reality.

Seeing that it was the holiday season, we headed somewhere for a holiday. I can’t remember how or why, but we went out for a meal with my biological father. He seemed elated to see me and to know about the daughter he didn’t know he had. He even promised to drive us from our hotel (although we were familiar with the routes in that particular town). When we approached his car (it was a Mercedes), I noticed that there was a shirt stuck in the engine compartment and raised his attention to it.

Later that night, we gathered at the table with laughter permeating the air. My Mom was reticent but chipping in whenever and wherever needed. I believe that she wanted to analyze him and his conduct with him.

I can’t remember what I did, but I had a brief brush with the law. He stepped in to interfere (possibly to convince the police officer to drop the misdemeanor charges) instead of allowing me to face the music.

Any thoughts for the interpretation? I found it weird that I, as a law student, would have a dream in which I landed on the wrong side of the law.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

4/25/2017

"If it's meant to be, it will be."

The words that her cousin, Mia, constantly advised her with rang in her ears as she walked with the family members behind the van driving out of the funeral parlor. Victoria's eyes were rimmed red, but she trained herself to maintain her composure for her kin's sake as she remained silent. Looking at everyone in front and behind of her, all she could hear was them wailing at the premature loss of an upcoming doctor in their family.

She needed to stay strong, needed to keep the unit in unison in this grieving period.

"Isn't life unfair?" Mia loosened her hair with her fingers and rolled her eyes during happier moments with Victoria. "I've seen my fair share of relationships and friendships being torn like flimsy pieces of paper because one party played out the other."

Victoria raised an eyebrow. "And you're only what? Nineteen?"

Mia was one of the brightest youngsters of the entire clan, even more intelligent than Victoria, and bound for Cambridge to fulfill her ambition of becoming an oncology specialist. She desired to make an impact to the medical world by contributing to the continuing research for a cure to cancer after watching her sister's health debilitated from the illness. Balancing her intelligence was her cute beauty. She had round blue eyes that radiated warmth and cheekbones that illumined her elegance.

Three months to the dark day, she wanted to organize a separate farewell with her peers from high school and matriculation at different moments since they were flying to parts unknown and maintaining contact was tougher than first imagined. Her close mates from matriculation unanimously agreed to meet up at a serene family-owned cafe for a farewell lunch.

Just as she was leaving her client's workplace after a business appointment with her, Victoria caught sight of the stray dog digging with its paw and nuzzling something hidden in the bushes. Her years as a dog owner sharpened her knowledge and understanding of the canine friends; it heightened her curiosity and suspicions concurrently. She sneaked behind the dog and gaped at the gruesome discovery: a badly mangled and bloody body lying in the ditch with the head almost twisted off from the rest of the body.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

4/18/17

The dream began in medias res, where it was at a crowded bus stop with passengers headed in various directions. It wasn’t a disorderly crowd, but it wasn’t an organized one either. People were scattered around each other like a fight was about to ensue. The poor warden was at the front attempting to keep everyone under control. I missed mine because it was packed like a can of sardines and the bus conductor wasn’t accepting more passengers. I was also torn between saying adieu to the person I was with (his identity was undisclosed – something in me knew that it’s a guy with jet-black straight hair) and staying back with him. I unwillingly called off the conversation because it was getting late at night and I wanted to head home to crash.

The warden was able to fit all of us into the shuttle bus that arrived at the central station. It was at that place where we had to take the ones we were supposed to board earlier. I ran from the car park to the nearby stop to catch mine. I noticed that there was a lady with flowing locks skating in front of me while she held a Chinese lantern. When I surveyed my surroundings, the buildings were decorated with the same type of lanterns with geishas who guarded it like German Shepherds.

To say goodbye will be indicative of me parting ways with something or someone, none of which I’m sure now. The person’s identity throws my suspicions out of the whack because I initially thought it was one of my Adelaidean friends. My subconscious could, however, be hinting at a college friend or peer – the ones whom are pals, not acquaintances. The online interpretation also suggested that it means I’m moving on from the worries that have burdened me.

The scene where I was part of the crowd could be illustrative of my desire for some time out, according to the online interpretation. In reality, I wish that I can carve some time out and hide in a place that is far away from familiar places and people. I’ve grown tired of the mountain’s worth of mess that I have to handle and resolve.

The part where I’m surrounded by Chinese lanterns might be a signal that I’ll attain the peace that I’ve yearned for soon. In addition, it might also mean that I’ve found the light that will guide me out of this path of confusion and darkness. As of late, I’ve not been academically confident and felt that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, as I’ve insinuated in one of the previous posts.

In another dream, I dreamt that someone – an older-looking female driver – drove the car with me in the front passenger seat as we fled the scene during the onset of a hurricane. I remembered that we sealed the house windows with tape and wood and ensured that all the windows were shut before we left. We saw the hurricane lashing its fury on the roads as we drove on. It was quiet on the road with an aura of a ghost town. The winds picked up speed and we heard its desperate cries inside the car. One of our cell phones that were kept in the white three-tier drawers rang, but we ignored it. I didn’t want to reach out to the back and destroy the masking tape that sealed the drawers.

I’ve only one interpretation: I must’ve been watching or reading too much about the severity of Tropical Cyclone Debbie that recently caused damage in Queensland. An online interpretation gave me the definition along the lines of danger, rollercoaster emotions, and the feeling of helplessness.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

4/11/17

Start afresh?

A quick refresher?

When their conversation arrived at its natural end a couple of hours later, she embraced him with a hug that threw him aback. She bit her lip and closed her eyes, unwilling for the tears to betray her thoughts at this moment. She didn’t want him to leave yet it was for their own good if she remained out of Adelaide. He reciprocated with a harder squeeze as he realised that there was a chance he’d never see her again. His T-shirt was soiled at the shoulder area and he immediately released her from his grip, only to notice that her eyes were rimmed raw.

“Oh my God, Winnie.” He wiped the salty solution off her face. “Are you alright?”

She couldn’t look at him in the eye like how a guilty and nervous defendant would avoid facing the presiding judge.

“It’s me.” He turned her to face him. “It’s okay, you can tell me anything.”

“I’m sorry, Brendan. If we’re in another world, the circumstances may be different… and it wouldn’t be arduous for us.”

“Don’t, Winnie. Don’t feel bad. I should be the one to apologise. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you in times of need. With that being said, I hope that you could at least grant one of my wishes.”

“What is it?”

“Don’t lose contact with me ever - no matter what.”

Winnie nodded.



Brendan’s mind whizzed as he digested and reflected on Winnie’s confession in the privacy of his hotel room on Hay Street. He didn’t know where to begin. Half of what she said was eerily accurate. His life would always be in Adelaide - that was where his roots were. He never craved or imagined of moving interstate for anything. She was correct; it’d be unfair and selfish for him to ask her to ditch her life in Perth for him. It was evident in her body language and her approach that her support system was here. But he didn't want to lose her either. He couldn't envision a future without her. He longed for her to be the first person - apart from his family - to celebrate life’s special moments with him. He cherished the food explorations with her and enjoyed driving her around town during the semester breaks. To hear and see her laughing out loud was his greatest wish and there was nothing in the world he’d exchange that for. He wanted to keep her worries at bay whenever she was in his presence like two carefree souls sailing on a yacht on the Tasman Sea.

Give her some time, his brain whispered. Give yourself some time. If you two are meant to be, time will be the connecting factor.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I'm still here, but I'm hiding behind the curtains

I can’t, for the life of me, believe that my darling baby has slipped into a heat-induced coma. I don’t know what happened to my Sony Vaio, but it crashed when I wanted to tackle the final bits of my Politics of Law research proposal. Thank God I had the nerve to keep a copy in Dropbox and Google Drive – or you’ll see me bursting into tears.

Am I allowed to whine about the late nights spent on the workload? The required amount of time and dedication this semester is more than I initially expected, but I guess it is what it is. I can’t complain much because we’re all in the same boat, gasping for air while struggling to stay afloat like a fish above water. This is especially true for us students who’ve to tackle at least 2 3 hour tutorials for electives. Gone were the days when we could chill until Week 3 of the academic calendar before panicking for dear life. It feels like time has slipped through the cracks of our fingers and propelling us to tackle our fears faster than we would like to.

I should be peppering the final details for these two assignments (although one’s not due until the end of the month. I’m sweating in fear over this one because by the time I’m able to polish it, it’ll be a day before submission… and I like to leave the assignment to sleep for a week before I return with a fresh pair of eyes). I don’t usually stay awake past midnight yet I’m suffering from a serious case of procrastination. I know that somewhere in the depths of my heart, I’m able to unearth the determination to complete the assignments tonight, but I can’t form coherent sentences that will make sense to the lecturer when s/he grades it.



Amidst the boiling temperature of the pressure cooker, the three of us managed to catch up over waffles. Although the arranged location was hidden in one of the laneways, it wasn’t as arduous as I initially thought because of its famous neighbor … and we ran into each other en-route. There was a slight problem that we didn’t foresee: neither one of us expected that the clouds will draw for us a chilly, cocoa-inducing day when we agreed on a day.

Something happened midway during our meal and it set the three of us on a trail of laughter. While my sister managed to recover on time, I bit my tongue to keep myself from rolling on the floor in laughter. I saw the gleam in the good friend’s eyes that if we started laughing out loud, we’d be dead from the lack of breath. The good mood from our outing evaporated the moment my eyes caught the blinking stars in the night sky. It has left me with a heavy heart from time to time because of those twelve words: “So, we should lie on the lawns and watch the starry night.”

Bam.

Inasmuch as I want to burn this miniscule memory of my life, it’s all in the past and there’s no point in crying over spilt milk. I can only send my wishes to the wind and pray that it will deliver it to the intended recipients.



At the rate that I’m speeding on, I’ve to pray that the upcoming mid-semester break will provide something along the lines of a brief respite for me to catch up on sleep and backdated readings. I’m drowning under the pile of tutorial notes that I have to gather to assist me with the assignments (it’s another three, off-memory). It is also on this ground that I want to apologise for my continual absence in the blogosphere - academics have taken a large chunk of time and I'm taking the little breathing space that remained to clear the stress with a spatula.

Gosh, maybe I overestimated my capabilities. The reason why I said that is because I’m highly tempted to scream my lungs out into the pillow to mask the volume. Lord, please save my soul from the torments that I’ve placed myself in.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3/14/17

Start afresh?

A quick refresher?

She was as serious as hell when she claimed that Coffee Club Harbour Town was quieter at this time of the day. Save for a couple of diners scattered inside and outside the coffeehouse, there wasn’t a crowd at the area. Not knowing what to do and not desiring to block the entrance, he waited at the corner of the coffeehouse.

“Hello, Brendan,” a voice behind him greeted.

Neither was it strong nor loud. It was coated with the right amount of warmth and friendliness yet he detected traces of caution in it. It was definitely her.

He turned at the familiar tone.

She donned a floral flair dress with a pair of matching brown wedges. Her shoulder-length hair was trimmed into a shorter bob. She glanced at him with a smile. “Winnie?”

“Let’s go inside. I’m not delivering your corpse, if you die from the heat, to Katrina.”

Ouch, the wounds from her sarcasm was deeper than that of a knife, he thought, but quickly recovered from it. Katrina must’ve stabbed her with such offence that it left Winnie with a sour tongue.

Winnie ensured that they were tucked away at the far end of Coffee Club, where it was quieter, cooler, and full of view, before she skated the surface while waiting for their coffee.

“I don’t mean to murder you with sarcasm, Brendan, but it’s in my blood now. It’s the only way that I can protect myself from people who bleed me dry for their benefit.” She was less standoffish with the traces of old Winnie resurfacing. “To receive your text that you’re in Perth all of a sudden definitely knocked me off. I didn’t know how to welcome or treat you now that we’ve been out of contact for almost half a year. The best way would be to retain the sarcasm while I observe you to see if you’ve changed or if you’re still the same Brendan Carrington that I know. So, tell me, why the long flight to nail me to the ground?”

“I needed to see you. No, let me correct that. I wanted to know the reasons behind your departure. I wanted to reason it out with you…,” he whispered, “and you’ve left hearts broken in its wake.”

She suppressed a smile and raised an eyebrow instead. That was so Brendan: honest, straight to the point, and refusing to beat around the bush. “I didn’t know I was sorely missed in Adelaide. But yes, I’ll spill the reasons like the rain.”

The barista came to deliver their coffees: a regular flat white for Winnie and an iced lemon tea for Brendan. If there was something that remained the same in her absence, it was Brendan’s habit before sinking into his cup of tea. She watched as he tore two satchels of sugar and dissolved it into the liquid with a quick stir.

“What?”

“It’s like when we always went out for a drink or two, you’d dump sugar inside your drink and comment that the amount of saccharine was perfect when you’ve arranged an appointment with diabetes.” Her face fell at the memory and she stared into her flat white. “I’m sorry for leaving.”

“Why did you have to leave then?”

“You and Katrina.”

Brendan’s eyes widened. “What?!”



Winnie sighed. “Brendan, are you naive or oblivious? You’re not a Sagittarius, so you shouldn’t be oblivious. You would’ve been stupid not to have noticed Katrina’s mischievous twinkle at you whenever she spoke. Or the fact that she glanced at you like a love struck puppy. Her eyes glared with such fury that it was capable of murder whenever you hugged me but not her. Also, only a fool couldn't see your preferential treatment towards me. If there’s one thing you haven’t known about the girl, she is observant - even for the finest detail. That’s what makes her a good debater and law student. She sees through the cracks and manipulates it to her advantage. Your eyes dilated with passion whenever you glanced at me. Your green eyes, while exotic, does not work in your favour in times like that. Katrina and I are able to get away easily because you can’t see our dilated eyes unless we’re under the sun. Your face could’ve brightened the somber Adelaidean winter whenever you showed up at my favourite places, the ones that Katrina didn’t know I love. Not to mention, your reaction whenever I laughed until I flushed with embarrassment… Should I continue?”

Brendan nodded.

“It was as if you longed for me to be elated in your company and not worry about matters, no matter how serious they were. Correct me if I’m wrong, but now that I’m out of the picture, has she been continuously texting you to hang out after classes? Or asking you to check out certain videos about love songs and romance novels?”

What Winnie described was almost the accurate description of Katrina’s behaviour towards him. Ever since she left, courage possessed Katrina with the bravery to message Brendan over serious and petty things like the ones Winnie mentioned. It was rubbing off him in the wrong light and he felt that she clung to him like he was her somebody.

“How did you know?”

“I’ve known that girl longer than you, my friend. She was in the same classes as me throughout high school and we’re distantly related through our mothers. I’ve never remained more than cordial with her because she is competitive. Anyway, it was easy to guess. Someone can become desperate when he or she wants the attention of their crush. Plus, you’ve no idea what she said to me during one of the family gatherings lately. She growled that you’re all hers and I should give my blessings instead of standing in the way. She even accused me of brainwashing you to dislike her! I mean, that isn’t true. You’re who you are and I can’t answer why you aren’t as close to her than to me. You’d never been able to see it because she’s clever. She knows how to separate work from family drama and jealousy.”

“How did you know that I liked you? I was as discreet as I could be. I always resisted the urge to embrace you unless it was to greet you after months of not seeing each other. I’ve never glanced or stared at your direction in class or bought you drinks when we were together either. I tried my hardest not to give you the eyebrow flash when you rocked in with your presentation outfit. I purposely didn’t compliment you on your haircut either.” Brendan gulped half of his iced lemon tea. “But you’ve reasonable cause to suspect because it’s all true. I like you and still do, which is why your unexplained departure slapped me the hardest.”

Winnie sipped her flat white, contented with the silence while buying time for her response. She never expected Brendan to come clean because she didn’t want to believe the signs in front of her. “The truth is I like you, Brendan,” she admitted. “But there’s too much for us to overcome. As I’ve mentioned much earlier, Perth is my home. I don’t want to be pitted against you, Katrina, and home after graduation. Long-distance relationship is not something I can deal with. If I hooked up with you, I’d lose Katrina as a friend. What’s worse is we’ll be sworn archrivals. If Katrina is your girlfriend, I’d lose you as a friend. Imagine the three of us heading out and hanging together. I’d be the lamp post that’s infringing on the lovebirds’ private moment. That’s reason number two.”

“But -”

“Let me finish. Reason number three is my ex-boyfriend. For whatever reason, the bloody idiot decided to pursue his education with his new flame in Adelaide. To make it worse, they are in our uni but under a different faculty. That’s my former best friend, whom he cheated on me with. I know you’ll argue that you’re different than Tobias, but it brings back raw memories. My heart still faintly skips whenever something reminds me of him or of our time together although it’s been three years since our breakup. Throw that on top of watching you and Katrina as a couple if that occurs. What I’m insinuating is I don’t know if I can overcome the scars and love you wholeheartedly. It makes it harder for me to trust you as a lover while focusing on my grades.”

Her eyes lost its radiant soul and on the verge of burning itself with a salty solution. It took an amount of self-control for Brendan not to take her into his embrace and comfort her. “You’ve to be kidding me, Winnie! You should’ve told me about this!” At least you wouldn’t have to suffer in silence and I’d have ensured that your ex learnt his lesson for not appreciating your sweet presence!” His voice softened. “My relationship with Katrina is and has always been platonic, we know that. The foundation that our friendship is built on is powerful enough to endure the storm from a future relationship, should it ever occur…”

“I didn’t need you to rock up to him and bleed the soul out of him either, Brendan, although the thought is much appreciated. I’m not worth enough for you to land yourself a meeting with the disciplinary board. As far as it mattered, I’m a stranger to them… just a fellow peer from uni. I strive hard to stay away from events that involve his favourite pastimes because I’d run into him there. You’re a law student, Brendan. You can’t afford to have a record of anything that might clip your chances of being the awesome lawyer I know you are.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t know about this.”

“Don’t be stupid, Brendan. You’re a native who has his life planned out for him in Adelaide. Me? Adelaide was an education sojourn for me. My life is in Perth. I know you love me and you wanted me to stay, but I don’t want you to be screwed over by someone who’s not staying there for good. Soon, you’d start hating me for playing you like a harp. So, no, thanks, it’s not something I want to risk, especially since you’ve been so good to me.” She gripped his hand. “I appreciate it that you miss me, but leaving was the only plausible choice. Please forgive me, Brendan, for being the love you can never have.”

“I won’t hate you. How could I hate someone whom I love, Winnie?”

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A pressure cooker's worth of schedule

Studies.

I’m relieved that I’m on the halfway mark in more ways than one. We’re talking about a four-year degree and an additional year of legal training. That’s if I decide to practice as a barrister, but the chances are likely. I mean, why stop at the bachelor level when I can improve the shape of my career? That decision also makes me feel … riper than I should. When I take a step back and look at all of my friends, most of them are now in their final year and looking forward to their graduation next year whereas a bunch of us (including me) won’t be officially be done until two years after.

Oh, well.

Something must be wrong with me to realize that I’m feeling more at home with Creative Writing when it’s one of the electives attached to my degree. I can’t exactly change time, can I? I’m not going to change my degree pathway at this stage. If I wanted to, as I’ve mentioned before, I’d have done it, much to the exuberance of my good friend. I read in between the lines that he’d have loved to be accorded with the opportunity of us graduating together from his choice of words, but it is what it is. I don’t know whether he’ll show up at my convocation to send me off with so much of a goodbye because we’ve never broached on this topic. It’ll be awesome to see him there, but I won’t blame him if he can’t attend due to reasons unknown to us now. I guess we’ll only know when the time arrives.

This particular elective that I chose on a whim has the remnants of Writer’s Craft, which is a positive and negative thing because it’s unlocked the chain of memories that I thought I buried in the depths of my heart. I still hear the sound of my own heart cracking in the dead silence whenever I catch myself reminiscing on my time in that class. A part of me still harbors the belief that if I hadn’t enrolled at the time that I did, I would’ve saved myself from all of the troubles that ensued with it. It’s not that I’m wishing those batch of classmates away - that’s not true because I couldn’t ask for a better batch - but more along the lines of two people. It’s always in the serenity of the chilly evening air that their images float with lucidity in my psyche. One I’ve stabbed with the sharpest end of a sword and the other sending his prayers of happiness to the skies with the wish that I’ll receive it. (It is with regrets that I don't know when it will come.)

You can pretty much deduce the ending from that sentence, although if you’re thinking of betrayal, you’re dead wrong.

Nope, it’s nothing to that degree.



The other friend’s right; I’ve signed myself up for a round of torture with the amount of coursework. I can’t whinge because I knew about the intensity almost as soon as the enrollment was open. It is with clarity that I remember his kind advice to swap things around (two of the electives with the core subject next year, like what I did for the first semester as a sophomore)... but let’s just say that I overestimated my capabilities and academic schedule. I thought I’d be able to ride this semester out like I did for the last one. Don’t get me wrong; I love the subjects that I chose. Otherwise, why was I stubborn for it? It bleeds me dry inasmuch as it resuscitates me with interest.

He didn’t bat his eyelids when I told him that I stuck to my choice. It was as if he saw it coming. You see, we managed to catch up in the first week over coffee - away from campus - and a tad bit of laughter to lighten the mood of what will be an adventurous penultimate year. Both of us are waist-deep in our respective matters and it's hard to waddle without growing weary over our grades.

Speaking of electives, I’m sure that the History mate will face-palm himself when he hears that I’m doing one related to philosophy. He embraces it with more passion than myself and it was as plain as day that I didn’t fancy learning about it. When we learned about the Enlightenment and the Salon, where all of the philosophers - including Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Kant, to name a few - exchanged ideas with each other over tea, he flourished like a bird in the sky, even more so than me. Me, I swam under the enormous pressures of understanding each concept that each philosopher brought to the table.

Oh, well. *shrugs*

Sunday, March 5, 2017

3/5/2017

I dreamt that there were a bunch of us huddled in an elevator while waiting to exit at our intended floor. We laughed out loud over something that one of the girls mentioned when the only male friend broke into coughing fits. I didn’t know what happened to him, so I patted his back to help him clear his throat. It wasn’t until he coughed out a thick liquid onto his white napkin that a death-defying silence fell upon us.

Blood.

He sensed our horror and tried to soothe us that it was nothing big, but not me because I knew what it meant.

I bolted out of the place and cried my eye sockets out when my suspicions were proven true in the form of a pathologist’s report. Lung cancer. And the poor chap looked miserable and pale in the span of a week. It was like the revelation bled any form of life from him.

I blocked the sight of him and his news out of my mind when we entered a premium-looking immigration complex. One of the immigration ministers was en-route to his office after a smoking break. A shopping mall was its neighbor, which allowed the applicants the means and method to kill some time - if required to - or satiate their thirst/hunger. She caught up with my childhood friend and his younger sister when I pretended to immerse myself with the range of perfume that this particular shop carried. Although the mere smell of it sends me running for the hills in a sneezing attack, I had already decided to purchase a bottle of fragrance for the gravely-ill friend, whose birthday was just around the corner. I didn’t want to face any mutual friends while I came to terms with the bleak prognosis.

To be honest, this dream has leaned towards the weirder side. I mean, this is the second time that the childhood friend has appeared in my dream. It has to mean something, right? Otherwise, why has he decided to make himself known in my dream? And with his sister this time?

Let’s blow the scenes into a frame by frame analysis then.

The lung cancer prognosis could mean that a friendship’s about to prematurely electrocuted. The premium-looking immigration complex might indicate my desire to visit Pavilion and sink my face into Kurtos Spiroll. Not wanting to acknowledge the childhood friend could be my intention to distance myself from everyone whom I know. I’ve never bought a bottle of fragrance and will not do so for at least a long while, but it might be a symbol of the early birthday gift that I intend to pass to the finance friend.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Past Memories



Bic Runga’s sweet voice swimming through my bloodstream through her amazing songs - such as Sway and Get Some Sleep - is something that I need after an intense start to the academic week. I’m not sure what transpired in the wee hours of the morning, but I woke up with a vampire’s makeup and feeling trashy as I made my way to the classes and tutorials. I could barely keep my eyes open in the middle of International Humanitarian Law without the access to caffeine.

It’s always moments like this when I listen to songs like this that I’m heavily reminiscent about the memories in New Zealand. Ah, the time when we snuggled in that ancient green Toyota Corolla and drove down the highway to Palmerston North for an overnight rest in Papa Carrie’s acquaintance’s house (if memory serves me right, I still have the little gift that she purchased for me.) before landing in our final destination. The capital city. Wellington.

I’m hoping for the day when I’ve enough dough to take the flight there and breathe the fresh Kiwi air after more than a decade away from the country.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Let's go?

Hello again, folks!

How was everyone’s Chinese New Year? I hope it was much better than mine. Mine was expectedly quiet, seeing that it’s my penultimate year in a foreign land with a different spirit for the festivity. I’ve learnt not to expect the annual lion dances or fireworks (unless it coincides with other events) because it’s not ingrained in the Australian culture in the same manner that it does for Malaysia, which is why I’m always caught aback whenever I hear the drums.

If memory serves me well, you’ll know that the festival season is around the corner when the shopping mall or grocery stores are alive with the mandarin oranges or the festivity-themed songs. Your neighbors will set the firecrackers or fireworks off on the street, sending you into a temporary cardiac arrest or reaching out for your thickest headphones.

Nothing of that sort occurred here.

To be honest, I didn’t even know that it was Chinese New Year until I received the festive greetings from friends on WhatsApp and one of the sales assistant at the Asian grocery store that I patronize frequently informed me about it. Talk about being kept in the dark, lol. I guess that’s the beauty of not traveling during the festivity. Unlike the rest of my compatriots, I chose to spend it here instead of back home for reasons that I’ll rather shove under the carpet. I think the only fruitful thing I did was watch the much-anticipated Australia Open 2017 finals between Federer and Nadal over a plate of Magharita pizza at the tail-end of the heatwave.

It was down to business with the start of the orientation training. We gathered on the lawns outside Elder Hall like piranha fish giddy with delight over human delicacies to meet the students who were assigned to our care for the important day. I wouldn’t blame the commencing students for the overwhelming nerves because we’ve all experienced it as freshmen. It took me an entire year - yeah, I know - before I found my footin and regained my confidence as a sophomore. Let me tell you that it’s not the orientation day that will paralyze you with fear (although I didn’t attend mine. I mean, I was there on campus but it was a different atmosphere altogether). It’s the first day of tutorials that has the potential of you breaking into a film of perspiration - unless you’re the lucky one to have friends/cliques from college in the same degree and seminars as you.

Anyway.



After the necessary introductions and small talk, we listened in on a speech presented by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor before we disembarked on a campus tour. You’d think that I’d have made my way to the O-week activities since I was there, but I gave it an entire miss. I wasn’t feeling the spirit of it. It’s one thing to attend it with familiar faces but it’s another to be there on your own.

That’s not to say that I can’t attend events on my own. Heck, I’ve done it before.

My penultimate year officially starts tomorrow with the Creative Writing lecture. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I’m either out of my mind or crazy for not pursuing a double degree. I’ve thought about that as a freshman in Taylor’s … but let’s just say that I’ll have gone for it in a different world. It’s not a piece of cake to endure the intensity of a double degree because you’re talking about 4 courses every semester for at least 5 years.

I don’t know what to expect although I’ve been doing this for the last two years. I mean, each year throws you off-balance with its weird twists and turns. I’ve also peppered the foundations that will lead me to the next stage of my life with seeds of hope. I’m not going to jinx it by speaking of it, but I hope that things will turn out for the best and it’ll at least bring out some joy. I don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling alone and isolated in crowds. Like I’ve tuned everyone out and the only sound I hear is the one of my beating heart.

Which is not a good thing, if you ask me.

Which is also a good thing that the physical exhaustion masquerades it. I’ve always taken my time to flag a ride to the same destination as everyone else (if it makes any sense?). I don’t do things just because everyone else of my age is doing it. Take driving license for example. Most of my friends rushed to enroll in driving lessons the moment they were legal to do so and are now proud owners who are independent, at least in the travel sense. Me, I’m still license-less because you could say I’m a rebel. I still don’t see the need to fork out the money for it, especially since I’m abroad now. I’m not familiar with the roads here and I’ll have to read the RTA from cover to cover before I decide on taking my license in Adelaide. (I can imagine my good friend groaning at that thought because he’s been pushing me out of that due to the financial costs involved. Sorry, mate.) Another reason is because I’m not sure where my heart takes me for work. I don’t want to be in the midst of learning it and suddenly move to - let’s say - Brisbane for work and throw everything in a limbo. It’ll be a different Road Transport Department and God knows how much unnecessary paperwork I might have to endure.

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?
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