Saturday, December 17, 2011

Purpose

I woke up from my sleep today with almost nothing to wake up for. My professor emailed me last night asking me to return a paper, and my pHd supervisor has asked me for my lab book. Save for these two items to bring over to school, I have absolutely nothing else to do. For the past 11 weeks of the autumn term, I've been so caught up with my research project, carrying out experiments, preparing for my presentation and writing up my report that I've excluded myself from my friends and the ongoings around me. My entire life for the past 11 weeks has been confined in a laboratory, with a project I initially hated, then grew to love and take ownership of. It has been an amazing journey, I had a great partner, who contributed his all to our work and was passionate during our presentation. I had a great professor, whose excitement for science actually rubbed off me! Our research group consisted of amazing pHd students too, who week after week, gave us lots of encouragement and support through their constructive comments and suggestions. Yesterday, my partner and I barely met our deadline, just 2 minutes away from the exact submission time. We were breathless and excited. Closure was there for us. That was all we required.

It felt so strange today, waking up and knowing that there is no more research project for me to worry about. An emptiness surrounded me. I dragged myself out of my bed, took a long and hot shower and just indulged in the time I finally have for myself. Time alone is all I want.
Suddenly, the urgency of my handsome supervisor needing his paper back hit me square in the face. I braved myself out of the hot shower and made my way to school. God has been really good to me. In fact, I actually have another coursework deadline to chase, but my partner has finished it up. Needless to say, that contributed to my blissful sleep last night.

A friend has asked me to join him and a few others to celebrate the end of term, but I made some excuse to avoid joining them. Finally, I have time to breathe and I'm not going to give it up today.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Brr(right)... Be Bright!

Cold was the day, so cold that my poor stomach was hungry all day, from morning to night. I've been loading myself with carbs the entire day, so insatiable was my appetite that I finished my poor lovely roomates' cereal! (He's such a kind spirit, but I pity him because he has to bear with such a greedy sister :P ) Thank you kor, if you're reading this! 

Anyways, this country is constantly cold even when it's not winter. Four years of bracing myself through the chill has not taught my receptors to be more resistant to the weather here. My skin cracks, the strands of my hair repel each other from similar electrostatic charges whenever I apply friction to them, my lips bleed, my eyes become blood shot from all the late nights dedicated to chasing coursework deadlines and I feel like a piece of meat. Yet, this is a living a privileged life, there is only this much to complain about. All these small things that will cease to be significant as time passes by, when I've found my greater purpose, which I still strongly believe in. 

Me busy now? My life, hard? Let a mother with five children show me the meaning of busy. Let a bony rickshaw puller on the hot streets of home tell me what hard is. Or the cleaning lady who sweeps the compounds of the school in which her child attends. Or the stock-up guy who sprains his ankle while unloading heavy packages from the warehouse for the retailer. How very much detached are our lives, how arrogant a spin my mind has taken from the hardships I've seen with my very eyes. All the blessings I've received I do not deserve. All goodness comes from God. Once in a while, when I sigh and fret way too much, He comes by and gives me a slight slap on the face to remind me how fortunate I am, just to be feeling a little bit of cold. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Busy

I have always taken pride in myself as a person who tries very hard to keep her rants to herself. Sometimes, I get a little stressed out when the people around me complain all the time, so I have tried to minimize the similar effect that I could impose on others by choosing to be silent with my pains. Lately however, the buziness of my life has just become a central part of me and whenever someone asks me how I am, my standard reply would be: "I'm so busy". 

Don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean that I have succumbed to the complaining nature of most university students. It's just that I have adopted a very honest approach to the standard "How's it going?" question. Truth be told, I almost abhor this question because I never really know how to respond to it. A sweet friend once told me the funny story of how she google-ed for replies to this question and now reflecting back on that, I could see myself attempting the very same thing. This question is a stunner bur for now, I don't have the time for pleasantries, because plain old honesty works just alright. In fact, it can't be such a bad thing afterall, because then I get to bore people with the wonderful stories of my baby- my wonderful research work! 

Work is mounting on me and me being the single-tasker sort of person, cannot juggle being a social butterfly and a student at the same time. Okay, so nowadays I have a sour reticent persona surrounding me, but so what? I cannot and will not entertain everyone around me just as I had in the past because I simply have no means and resources to do so. So some people might see me as an anti-social hibernating greedy bear, or a hermit, or a shy girl but I honestly do not give two pence to what they think. Think away, comment away, annoy me all you want. I am too tired to please anyone else. Being selfish nowadays have given me more time freedom and I am enjoying it. Please don't judge me my friends, sometimes, a person just needs more time to herself for her own good. Increasingly, I have noticed the value of making selective conversations. Speaking with friends who are more honest towards me, whether or not that honesty comes from how detached they are from my life, gives me more comfort. I cherish the opportunities to be with them, even for a few minutes, away from the usual company who sometimes suffocate me with all sorts of preconceived notions. 

So very much like me, minus the shoes.  Picture Credit
For a short while now, I'm building a moat around myself. It's not a very positive thing, but I'm at a point in life now where I just need more time to myself for the things that matter more.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Places

I woke up this morning with a sequence of different places playing through my mind: Oxford Street, Blue Kitchen , Hyde Park, Lab 319 and I felt strangely uplifted. The world is not confined to only Lab 319!

Time freedom (specifically the privilege of waking up whenever you want, without the urge to rush off to the workplace or to appear on time for an appointment) and the lack of early morning peer pressure tangoed with a film roll of pretty London memories can do wonders to a person.

There is something great out there, just waiting to be found. 

Picture Credit

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quirky

Circuit, Thighs when you sit (3) = "Lap"

I found this to be brilliantly hillarious!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Mountain

Last Wednesday, a wise guy told me that once I am done with university, I'd find myself at the top of a mountain. However, when I start working, I'd be at the feet of another mountain and I'd have to start climbing all over again. I'm not even at the top of any mountain now, but I've already split myself up into a few persons and these are already running in search of new mountains to climb now.

I'm tired of all this mountaineering business.

Had a little champagne last night at my departmental cocktail party and slept like a babe. Can't be bothered for anything today, simply can't be asked. :(

Swamped.......

Monday, November 14, 2011

Keju

Picture Credit

I've finally read the all famous 'Who Moved My Cheese?'. K lent me his book and I finished it in just under an hour. The content of the book surprised me as I have always imagined it to be a book on economics, before I realized that I had it confused with Freakanomics. 

The book can be categorized as a self-help one, with the aim of motivating its readers towards accepting change as something positive in their lives and reacting appropriately to it. It starts out with a group of school friends at their reunion, with one member sharing his cheese story with the rest. 2 mice and 2 human beings live in a maze and they've found a huge cheese station in which they thrive and live in. As time passed by, the supply of cheese in this station depletes and is gone before the 2 humans know it. The 2 mice on the other hand, foresaw what was inevitable and had already ventured out into the maze in search of a new cheese haven and found it long before the humans reacted to it. 

More like a modern day parable, this short story is amazingly versatile. The cheese itself can be a symbol of money, a job, relationships or anything else of importance to a living soul. Who doesn't love the comfort of living in a predictable space? When unpleasant change takes us off our feet by surprise, more often than not, we fret, blame others and are resistant to it. This story invites us to take change as an adventure! 

Here are some of the things I'd like to remember from this story (credits to the author Dr. Spencer Johnson): 

1. Change happens (they keep moving the cheese)
2. Anticipate change (get ready for the cheese to move)
3. Monitor change (smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old)
4. Adapt to change quickly (the quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese)
5. Change (move with the cheese)
6. Enjoy change! (savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese)
7. Be ready to change quickly and enjoy cheese again and again (they keep moving the cheese)

Also, there was a sharp line in the book which says that there is a distinction between activity and productivity. This sentence practically shouted to me from the book, probably because I'm in the middle of an extremely tedious and time-consuming research project. 

The next best thing in the book was the idea of picturing ourselves in an exciting new state in the future, however uncertain that may be. Being out there in the maze is indeed better than staying in the old cheese station and rotting away.  The power of attitude and optimism comes into play here in that we should always look for a better future and be uplifted about our prospects. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In remembrance of 11.11.1918

Here is a beautiful poem to commemorate a bloody past:

In Flanders' Fields
John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.


To the brave souls who've fought for peace, may God bless you and your families.

On another note, I was so exhausted yesterday from the disbelief I had in myself. I should learn how to trust myself more and be more spontaneously articulate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stumped

I'm stumped. Please please pleaseeeee pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..........  :( :(
I know now..I finally know

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Escape

Being with the same group of people for an extended (prolonged) amount of time could sometimes lead to an uneasy feeling of discomfort and instigate a need for some form of escapade. Reasons for this could be anything ranging from a sense of not belonging- thus feeling unwanted by one's peers, unhappiness around certain people which translates into suppression of thoughts and actions to suit others, the want for better company, the need to be in a comfortable place with familiar people and what not. A plethora of factors, but all leading to an enormous expanding bubble of air in one's trachea, pushing upwards and disallowing the passage of air into one's lungs. Lest the sphere breaks loose, one dies.  

Today a long time friend called me to ask if I was free on one of the weekend's this month. He told me he wanted to run away from where he is right now. I could totally relate to him but I felt that his call was imposing on me. There is no way that I could accommodate him, not just because I'm living a busy life, but even more so because I just rejected the request of another close girlfriend to spend one of her weekends with me. Don't get the impression that I'm a selfish loner, I'm just taking the time to sort out my priorities in life. I love my girlfriend so very much and would wish her to be by my side right this moment, but sometimes, the demands of life take precedence over us and we just have to cave in to them. I am missing her so much now. I'm not going to run, I'm just going to stay put and find the center point of my life, refocus, purify and streamline. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fresh

Yesterday I went for a day's pilgrimage to The Friars, Aylesford. Being a Catholic all my life, the fact that I've never been on any retreat whatsoever beats me. Sometimes, I've even shunned retreats as a gimmick to find God in just a day, because I wanted to believe that we can find God anytime we need Him, as long as we try. 

I had to get out of bed at 7.50 am to get ready as our troop were designated to leave More House at 9.00am. It was a little foreign for me, getting on a trip with a group consisting mostly of strangers that I've never spoken to, the majority of which were French, as I later found out. I slept during most of the journey while our dedicated priest took us all safely to Kent. 

The day was meant to be a day filled with prayer. We started with the rosary along the Rosary Walk. The Joyful mysteries were used for meditation, something I found odd, because I usually pray the Glorious mysteries on weekend. Perhaps there is a flaw in my patterns? Different priests from different universities gave a short reflection on each mystery. The walk and prayer were both refreshing but our group missed the first mystery and voice projection in the early morning in the midst of about 200 students was not as smooth, so I failed to attain a sense of peace and fulfillment. The recitation of the Hail Mary from the front to the back of the group were not in tandem , so I even got a bit frustrated at myself and the people around me. 

After the rosary, we were invited to mingle around and visit the teashop, lake and surrounding landscape. I followed Sandra, Alexis, Theo, Alphie and Cornelius to the teashop. There was a brief catch up with Margaret and we also got to take random shots with Sister Mary from London Met and some of her students. The next item on the agenda was Mass, celebrated by the Archbishop Vincent Nichols. The atmosphere reminded me of Mass in St. John's Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps it was the colour scheme, or the contemporary wood art, or the people I was seated with. Whatever it was, it had a good effect on me. Alphie spotted two ladybugs and we played around with those for a bit. I read somewhere that they are a symbol of good luck and if they land on you, they'll whisper your true love's name to you. Gibberish? Sometimes, superstitions can be beautiful too. The theme of the first reading was about Wisdom and in his homily, the archbishop called on us students to revert back to Her in our daily lives. Just a few weeks ago, in a homily at More House, a point about the secular way of living such that we make our own decisions about right and wrong was made. I can make a connection here between these considerations. Although we cannot help but tailor our actions according to the time and space and situations in which we work in, only Wisdom can direct us towards not compromising our own faith. The defense, banking or more specifically, wine or tobacco related industries are examples of the places which could bring up dilemmas for Catholic employees. I've not found myself in a state of confusion as a result of profession just yet but one day if it arises, I should know where to seek advice from. 

Lunch was supposed to be a picnic anywhere on the grounds except for in the chapel. The More House/Imperial flocked together for a happy lunch in a warm place. Melissa made great brownies and I remember seeing a fascinating assortment of lunch items from everyone else consisting of egg salad sandwiches, bananas, milk digestives, cereal bars, apples, baguettes, cakes, clementines and even fried noodles. 

At 2.15pm, everyone reconvened to the chapel for a talk on vocation. The monk who gave it mentioned one thing which struck me as interesting. He said that we could either choose to be married, or take up the Holy Order or choose to be single. The last state is not something we drift into, but rather it is a state that we choose. For now, I could see no other reasons for decidedly choosing to be single other than a high sense of anti-intrusiveness, a great appreciation of privacy/freedom and the tremendous sense of self-sufficiency. Next, two readings were shared with us: the first was about Elijah finding God in a gentle breeze, not in the strong wind, earthquake etc and the second was about the Anunciation. The theme of our pilgrimage was "Prayer: Silence, Word & Response", and I found these two readings to be in perfect allignment with it. We were given time to be alone before the final Adoration and Benediction, with the choice of going for Confession. Sandra and I got into the queue for the confessionals but never got to them because it took too long and we didn't want to be late for the Adoration. Nevertheless, the moments I spent examining my conscience were one of the most profound for me throughout the day. I felt a gush of a gentle breeze in my mind's eye, similar to that experienced by Elijah, as I acknowledged the wrongdoings that have stemmed from my tiring quest in pursuing my ambitions. I then knew that although I came on this pilgrimage with the hope that my whole day would be filled with peach and I only truly got one moment of honest calm, that one moment was all that mattered. 

Back in the chapel during the adoration, two ladybugs landed on my jeans on my left leg. Perhaps God is trying to tell me just how lucky I already am. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Daniel

Thank you Dan for protecting me today. It might have just been a small little deed carried out without much thought or feeling, but you saved me from the frequently occurring discomfort that I've had to face up to.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Easy

Way out, or way on. That is how I would describe my ways. I always look for an easy path to run away from my problems or drag myself on through life. I shun challenges, appear reticent and passive to my surroundings, in so much that I disgust myself. Looking back at my old self, I see a happy spirit, hopping from flower to flower happily with much gusto and delight, laughter and light. That was a carefree past but I am an adult now, accountable for my own actions and thoughts. I have decided that no one should intimidate me anymore, or cast a lowly eye on me, for I am a child of the darkness and shadows, one who has been thrown into an abyss momentarily, before being brought out again, albeit charred. These days are covered in the shadows of existential confusion. A kind soul has shown me much care, but I see past all those. As if from a detached position whereby I am a lonely figure-decked in a beret and boring checkered dress coat, I watch the unfolding of a sad story of longing before my very eyes because I know the ending. There I stand, still and silent, staring at a scene in black and white. Stupid and hopeless, raw and inexperienced. You've not been where I have been. The film is rolling still but an all encompassing tragic has separated our worlds. Mine is black and white but you still have all the colours of the rainbow. Bless you. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Overflowing

Picture Credit

In all three years of me being a parishioner at More House, today was the day which saw the most people attend Mass in one sitting. There was not enough space and more chairs had to be brought in to accommodate everyone mid-way through Mass. More rows had to be added and some late comers had to sit just by the doors. I was overjoyed to see how successful Alphie, Alexis and the rest was in getting everyone to come through their efforts at promoting the Catholic Society at Fresher's Fair. Although I am not an active member of the society, a warm feeling crept up to me, to see how enthusiastic everyone was at celebrating Mass and being a community. Today's bidding prayers also called upon the Lord to reach out to those who feel lonely and isolated. Sometimes, even when we're surrounded by people, we could still feel an emptiness inside, and at this stage in life, I, more than anyone else, should be able to relate to that desolate feeling. More often than not, I will be in a crowd, but feel insignificant and lost. I thank God for the lovely ways in which He uses to reach out to people like me. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oops

Usually I keep things to myself, buried deep down in the recesses of my mind. Ideas, feelings and opinions which could bring harm to other people if voiced out. Most of the time, I rather not discuss these and find it hard to express myself when there is no need to. By nature, I am quiet and reserved. Increasingly so, now more than ever, I've been having difficulties engaging with some people around me. I find their presence suffocating and an uncomfortable sense of all-encompassing negativity hovers above my head, reminding me about all my inadequacies.

I love to smile and laugh and not hurt the feelings of others but nowadays, paranoia has crept up beside me and wrapped me up in it's tangle that I feel as if my very friends are happy to see my misfortunes. Doubt arises whenever they speak to me regarding certain issues and I feel as if my existence brings no use to them. I just watched Eat. Pray. Love yesterday, a movie about the female protagonist who feels as if she has no meaning to her life and who searches ardently for her 'word'. She leaves her unfulfilling marriage, gets infatuated with a younger man, leaves him after their flame dies off and goes to Italy, India and Indonesia. She finally finds love in the third country after eating her heart out and meditating respectively, in the two prior countries. Finally, she finds out that her word is 'crossing over'. She is privileged to be financially able to travel around the world in her journey of self discovery. What about the majority of us who have not that option?
What other means do we have to embark on an adventure of the soul? 

Some of us don't need a change of view to discover ourselves. Some of us already have a yearning in our souls, a wish, a hope. Every individual seeks something different and I am no different. I think I already know what my word is but effecting it is proving difficult. Not living it at the moment makes me slightly frustrated. I need to make more ripples, or maybe just one. The still pond in my heart needs awakening.

__________________________________________________________________________________

On another note, I did something silly today. I openly (and loudly) announced to my friend that a boy was handsome in a language I thought he wouldn't be able to understand, which I found out on the spot that he did when he asked me if I was speaking that language because it was native to his dad. I was soon a human with a tomato for a head. It must have been one of the most embarrassing moments of my life and I wish to record this down so I'll have an interesting tale to share when people ask me about the silly things I did.

I'm also very prone to giving very honest replies to questions that put me on the spot. Perhaps a little more tact would serve me good. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Resemblances

Boy's arrogance at his mastery in card games and his playing at substandard ability to let girl win soon after him or even before. A strange reminder of some shady unappreciated scenario from of old, a blurred picture in a mind once comforted by the webs of security which in the end turned out to have torn sections in it under a brittle tight pole, as thin as a hairline. Would peace come more easily if it weren't for the memories? 

Picture Credit
    

Friday, September 30, 2011

To Remember

The following post is something I wish to remember, written to me by a friend:

its been beautiful while it lasted

its been a beautiful summer. im not too sure if you would agree but i think it has been beautiful for me in so many ways. you have articulate some interesting observations and definitely kept more to yourself. through your reclusive yet bubbly personality, through the uninhibited laughter with your friends, through your love of giving your best (but not always ideal) to others, i think you have given me a lot.

just before i start listing the lessons for my own memory's sake, i like to say that if there is anything i know for sure, it has to be my ability to understand the goodness of people. few people irk me very badly and if they actually manage to do so, i don't hesitate in condemning them to the core. while this sounds extreme, everyone dislikes some others to a limited degree and perhaps i just take it very seriously and harshly. not too sure if you share such sentiments but while you were recounting one of your experiences, i did feel that come through your speech. i think that is where our similarities start and also ends. it is ironic how two vastly different chraracters can speak to each other to such a degree though.

-----------------

to start this lengthy prose, i'll make a statement: you have great friends, i don't.

that is a statement you deeply abhor and i understand why, i hope to explain it now. where i used to have much doubt for me what to do where a loved one, close friend voiced objection to my actions. i now have no hesistiation in making compromises because i close my heart and minds off to people. 99% of the time im not asking for opinions, im asking for approval and if i am asking for opinions, im demanding agreement or slight tweaks to areas im not confident about. it is fortunate though that over time people make me see the light though and mold me a little more around the edges. what used to be plain hatred and disdain for those whom ive deemed as 'failures' or 'enemies' is a little less after this summer.

however, i think the single biggest discovery that you taught about myself is that i should never have placed a value to friendships. by attaching values, expectations and ideas to each one of them, i fail to see the intrinsic value of a person and instead only realize the extrinsic value of their actions. to this end, i'll make an effort to try to see people differently.

-----------------

the second statement i wish to make is: i know that i enable many people to live their goals through me. with my ability and determination i have managed to overcome and prove to more than one person that the upper limit of your achievements is really indeed your dreams.

this is the origins of why i cannot fail. i repeat, its really not arrogance but its because when i fall, the dreams of others fall with me. overtime, i have built up an aura of invincibility, where i fall, i simply pick myself up and go onto something even bigger and then make it work. failure is taboo because expectations only grow and whenever i fall, to let people down is not an option. rather the only method to move forward is to stitch myself up and keep on going. there wasn't going to be a rest just because of a fall, a stumble is simply a call for to work harder.

i fear failure for the fear that with me goes the dreams of others. where my sister used to be my inspiration, today i am her strength and its not just her because four other young people whom i taught before have told me that they aspire to be my heights. my parents, my exteneded family, everyone is watching where i am going. no one was going to ask for my feelings and i acknowledge that they have every right to ignore it because my worth is in my achievements.

to this end, i'll make sure that achievements will always be not an end but a means for me. thanks for letting me know that i was inspirational because each time someone tells me that i find a little more courage to go on. with those words, i carry more weight but also gain more strength and conviction that what i am doing is correct.
-----------------

the last statement i will make is: i know that it matters a lot to some girls that when you're in a relationship its forever. to me though there really isn't a forever because i don't even know where i will be in six months.

unlike most singaporeans who blame others for their failures. i blame myself squarely and myself solely for not being able to commit. like you, i've been very badly hurt by the people i have come to love. no disappointment, no failure has ever dogged my life because i was able to work everything through with determination. not for my lovers though, they have hurt me more than anyone has ever had. disappointed me so thoroughly i occasionally feel that they're my enemies. at the end of the day, i am cut-up by them to say the least.

its amazing how i messed up so many relationships even though i can manage every professional connection so well. often i think that everyone suffers because of my commitments, my dreams and all of that stuff about me, me and me. which is why i find that the message you send across very resounding, you tell me that : i don't have enough space in me for another person.

here and now, i have not learnt enough about myself to fully get over the fact that love is something that is rarely recipocated and is indeed more of fate, luck and faith. to love is to not expect and maybe it also means to be hurt sometimes by those whom you trust so much. i dislike all things that have to do with chance but i will embrace the love still and throw a gambit for one more chance with her.

to this end, i pledge to attempt my best to understand grace (not you) even though she has disappointed me so many times and if she really isn't the one, then i want to make sure i don't let the right person in my mind slip me by because there may not be another love of my life out there again. it certainly sounds mushy but if it works out, then it does and if it doesn't, with a big heartache, many tears and a long night, i'll tell myself that it is really time to move on and bring love to other parts of the world because the special one in my eyes is not worth it.

-----------------

its been a fruitful summer and the memories will always remain with me. though they may not be mentioned as often as my adventures in ghana. summer has always been a big time for me to grow and become in my own person. thank you for being there and i will always remember the girl who always bore so much on her shoulders she never spoke.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Small Things

There is an experiment which tests whether a person has the tendency to focus on the finer details in life or see the bigger picture instead. In this test, a letter in an enourmous font is displayed to a subject. The catch is, the letter is made up of hundreds of tiny different letters. The subject is then asked what he or she sees. If they are of a meticulous character, they would usually notice the finer letters first. If they don't usually zero in on the details, they would see the bigger letter. I remember the first time I was tested, I noticed both so I guess the test results can be pretty subjective. 

Anyhow, I am happy to believe that I am a person who is highly sensitive to the smaller details in life. I believe I have high emotional intelligence despite being shy. In my silence, the ideas, facial expressions, speech, actions and body language of other people hardly escape my sieve of scrutiny and often contribute towards my perception of them. Truth in itself is such a difficult thing to prove and I can never have the right to say that the way I see other people reflect any sort of absolute fact. However, I can attest to the many times in which the thoughts I form about other people are reinforced by the unfolding of events involving them that I predicted would happen in the future. My lack of surprise at the way they behave or the choices they make after knowing them for sometime has made me pride myself on this ability to form opinions, not judgements on those around me. It can be frustrating at times because I am too sensitive towards the small details in life. The specific type of words or accessory used; change in the way a person speaks; behaviour of a friend amidst a new crowd; choice of new hairstyle or nail polish; trends in actions and what not. Is this a very feminine characteristic? My level of sensitivity has in the past proved detrimental to my own well being in the sense that my emotions behave very elastically in relation to it. The devil is in the details, quite true literally, to me that is.  

Last summer, I complained to Moo's mum that I had the misfortune of working under a very sensitive lady supervisor who took most things to heart and was unable to perform more professionally. In retrospect, I behaved in exactly the same way when she did things to victimize me when I should have just realized that some events are just passing, even the bad ones. These happenings can just stay happenings if I willed them to, merely insignificant little happenings which had to occur to fill in the gaps between the more significant experiences in life. We are free to choose the extent to which we want an event to impact us. I should have known that at the end of the day, I'll still be fine anyways and there are zillions of positive things to look forward to. Optimism is a choice, it has always been. 

Before I detract any further, I would like to remember the wise comments from Moo's mum. She told me that it is natural for a woman to be extra sensitive as opposed to her male counterpart. Even in this modern age, women in general still find it hard to make their presence known in any male dominated industry. Often, they are still viewed as the gentler gender, considered to be lacking in aggression and technicality. Women in positions of power often had to fight their way to the spot which they hold today, making them tougher and more judgmental, sometimes even defensive of their juniors. My reception towards these ideas was good and I had to agree to a large extent. However, I also see it as a matter of survival of the fittest, which applies to both male and female. A tiny voice inside of me whispered that the boss I had could have been threatened by my presence, as well as the other juniors, so she did not do her best in imparting her knowledge to me and tried to exert her superiority over us all. Again, I am not judging her, but I am trying to analyze the way in which she treated me. Understandably, anyone would act in a similar manner if they maintained at the forefront of their interests, their own selves. However, I'd still like to point out my opinion that women are usually more sensitive by nature. It is a good weapon in itself. 

One weekend last year, I was sketching some pictures. I started out with the face of the main subject, her nose, eyes, mouth and ears. I then proceeded to form her dress, buttons, pleats of her skirt and the patterns on her shoes. Next, I shaded the creases and folds. Mr. Superman, one of my hosts that weekend, saw the fashion in which I drew and said to me that it reminded him of his style a long time ago, before he switched to sketching outlines of the bigger and whole picture first, before zeroing in on the details. He draws beautifully by the way. 

A skewed human being I am. I always look at the small things first before taking a step back and getting a fuller view of a sight, situation or perspective. I still do possess a balance, albeit a lopsided one. But who is to say that a perfect symmetry is the optimum, or any end of the spectrum? I can sway my little see saw anyway I deem fit, until I get that just-right feeling. At any rate, I do enjoy being the way I am right now as I am working towards a more relaxed and less intense attitude. I have strong reactions towards the things I perceive, but increasingly so, I am trying to label events as just things that build on my experience and distinguish between those that need more reacting to and those that don't. My discernment and optimism are heading towards the right direction for now, as I sip on my lovely mug of green tea. It is a good day, and many more are coming my way. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kick-ass Attitude

Some parts from the book above caught my attention. The author, in description of athletes, depicted them as individuals who have no self doubt nor hesitation, only a one-view confidence of themselves, which is useful in achieving their goals. The book's protagonist also mentioned how he knew about his ability to choose how he felt in response to any situation. He argued how his choice of reaction reflects how he really felt about something.

I contemplated on these ideas and am drawn towards believing how important attitude is in determining someone's quality of life. The famous saying of the fictional character from How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson comes to mind: "When I feel sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True Story."

Everytime we fall, or when things don't play out according to our plan, it is very hard not to fret and complain and blame everyone else except ourselves. Slightly more rational people might instead focus on their own flaws. It is normal to sit down and launch our rants for sometime, but it should never be prolonged. However bad we feel, we are always lucky and have blessings to count. Optimism goes a long way and it generates energy in our bodies. Similarly, a smile and the courage to fight keeps our bodies healthy and in check.

I want to put a smile on your faces my dear ones. I want you all to hug me under the sunshine in a tightness that would break away all my insecurities of the past. We live in the hope of a happy tomorrow because we have people in our lives to love, the source of our hopes. The ones that I love have always had that number 1 spot in my little heart and no matter how much they dissapoint me, they'll always deserve to be loved because they loved me first and I am what I am today because they unconditionally loved me in the start. :)

Incoherent as I may seem, my thoughts actually stem from a very simple desire which is to experience calm. Sometimes I wonder whether I am still at the bottom of Maslow's triangle, trying hard to resurface to another level. At least I am kicking hard to do that, and that is cause to smile for. Dead people don't kick :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Desperation


This weekend, I met someone whose desperation frightened me so much. This person recently broke off communications with a girl he likes and he seems to be using me as a cushion to that heartbreak. Honestly, I do not have the capacity to be his buffer because I have matters of my own that I would like to attend to. He has been offering me all sorts of assistance and has been hogging up a lot of my time. In all fairness, he at least cheered me up during my down moments but I am so afraid of his deep emotional needs. He comes to look for me ever so often, texts me constantly and has asked me to play sports with him in such a compelling way that I feel like slapping him. 

He admitted to me that he is trying so hard to find a girl companion, who will be there just by his side. He speaks about girls 90% of the time and another 10% of the time, he would be telling me technical geeky stuff which I do not understand in the slightest. He tries so hard to get a girlfriend and in the past, has actually just approached random girls, asking for their numbers. He is a lonely person seeking companionship. I am lonely at times, but the loneliness comforts me and helps me reflect on myself. I am not actively seeking for a life partner and appreciate the solace in my life, preferring it rather than crowds and the pressure of building intelligent conversations with other people. 

Today, he freaked me out to the max. I told him I am not keen on jogging or playing badminton with him because I am just not in the mood, and when he pestered me to, I was so angry that I think it showed. Things immediately became awkward after that. Understandably, he is a lonely person and just wants some company, but I am obviously not the person to remedy that. I have my own wounds to heal, my own ideas in life and dreams to chase. I do not have a good opinion on a guy who spends so much time and thought on the sole purpose of finding a girl. Sorry to say this, but there are more important things in life at the moment. There are battles to fight for, people to fight for, people who mean everything to me in this world. A desperate  guy simply has no space in my life. I am fuming with anger right now. Some people need to get their priorities straight.

For too long, I've been fighting my own personal battles. I've been fighting so hard, so vigorously, with so much to shoulder. The people I fight for don't even care enough about me when I need them the most. Today, as I made the 100th trip to my new flat with my things, I realized that I've been working so hard to prove to myself that I am strong. I've shown a fair amount of strength so far, I didn't realize. I have reason to be proud of myself. I'm weary now, but I am glad that I've shown courage. I don't have it lucky as most people around me who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. I hiked, walked and climbed when others could just sail past. But God is always here with me, He holds my hands tight and wipes away my tears. He sends me companions who support me through the thick times. He wipes my tears away. He lets me rest my head on His shoulder. He covers me with a blanket on a cold night. He takes the tears away. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Restless Night

There are thoughts boiling inside of me, spilling out from my eyes, nostrils, ears and I suspect from the pores of my skin too. They warp around me, squeeze me so hard and suffocate me, but just before they draw away the last beat of my heart, they start to display an incoherent, chaotic dance right in front of my eyes.

I've been struggling for so long to find depth within me. Forevermore, I've been a shallow person and I've always been so sick of that. My simplicity and the limits of my expressiveness have always been a deterrent for me to share a part of myself with other people. Apart from that, I have trust issues and am so easily dissapointed by the people who don't pay enough attention to me. Recently, I've been increasingly dissapointed by a friend I've known for a long time. I've made a mental note to myself not to trust him because his ambition knows no bounds. He has evolved into a very competitive and sly person, much to my surprise.

Do I see a reflection of myself in him and that is why I'm afraid?

Sleep, please come and take me away.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Twice Means a Sign

My complete lack of useful activity today led me to go blog-traipsing. Hence I found myself reading the entries of two very outstanding young ladies, pretty and intelligent, models to be looked up to. Interestingly, both of their most recent blog entries mentioned the exact same scenario of a student's deterioration of confidence as he or she progresses into a more competitive environment, either in college or university. Needless to say, I and many more other people must have gone through this process. Used to being the sole centerpiece cherry on the cake, a lot of us now perceive ourselves to be just average- one of the many buried raisins in a Christmas fruitcake. Our sweetness is felt in almost every bite and we're definitely not the coveted ingredient sought in the dessert. Our presence is essential, but far from amazing. Once the shining stars of the early communities we come from, we now blend in the crowd, and sometimes go unnoticed. 

Alas, how sad it is for those of us who belong in that group yet fail to realize how very unique each of us still are. Self worth is only what we make it to be. Life is not all about winning all the time, being the most popular or capable person, nor is it about being and staying number one. Life is about being happy. If we cannot be happy for those competitive reasons, let those reasons cease to be the prerequisites of happiness. We can choose to be happy just by doing something we love. Show compassion to other people, contribute to society, act, dance, sing, write and love. Self worth starts with loving one self first, not in a selfish manner, but in a way that acknowledges what God has given to oneself and uses it for a good purpose. 

I went to sleep feeling depressed last night and woke up on the wrong side of bed. The clouds threw a gloom all over London today and the rain came down interminably until a few minutes ago. Beautiful music is playing through my ears. The skies are blue now, aeroplanes can be see outside my window. I am smiling. I know God loves me still. No matter where I am in life, or how noticeable I am in society, He cares not, He judges not. For that, simply for that, I smile. 

Picture Credit


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Locked Out

Today in my rush out to church for Mass, I left both my mobile phone and house keys at home. How silly of me. So I walked all the way to university to use Facebook to contact my housemates. Thankfully, lovely A was about to come to college as well so we met up and she passed me the keys. I tagged along with her to look for her missing Ipod Touch and off on a hunt for a cobbler afterwards. We didn't manage to find both but A spotted a GBP10 steak lunch offer at a very cute French restaurant on Gloucester Road so we both went in. I was not planning to order anything but in the end, I was just tempted beyond measure. I had a lousy burger yesterday when I really was craving for a good piece of meat so what-the-heck! I ordered a medium rare and boy it was GOOD!! Love A, she's a darling :)

Addendum to Yesterday

Finally, at about 9.30pm, I got to make my way to meet up with D1 and D2 at D1's new place. It was a lovely flat, spacious with lots of storage rooms around the house, and very near my place too!

The two Ds were laughing about some kind of joke they shared with Tuna, which made me very curious so I couldn't help but interrogate them endlessly. Finally, we got into a skype video call with Tuna and Rabbit, and the two Ds brought out a little booklet for me. This little booklet comprised of birthday messages from my family, closest friends from college and varsity pals. Most of the messages in the book came with quirky pictures of my well wishers holding huge cards with my name on it, in all sorts of funny poses. I love it so much. All the jokes were just a smokescreen apparently, to just divert my attention. 

I left about 1.30 am and when I got home, I cried, just as I said I would to Tuna and Rabbit. I was so touched with the effort they put in. The best and most sincere birthday present ever, just made its way to me and I feel so blessed by God for having such wonderful friends. The day was irritable, yes, but only so it could end very very nicely.

Thank you Father! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Annoyed

Selfish people get annoyed more easily because they always think about themselves first, which is why I was so annoyed today. I know it is my fault but still, let me just be really bad this one time and record the details here:

1. A friend could not give me a proper decision as to what our plan was today so I spent a lot of time texting my friends and trying to coordinate our plans together. I also wasted my time waiting for my indecisive friend who finally showed up, still undecided about his plans.
2. I felt as if I was responsible for entertaining another friend (B) who came to join us shortly after while the previous friend (A) just strolled around the shopping mall doing whatever he liked.
3. Friend A didn't mind making Friends C and D wait for us at Gloucester Road station, where they were waiting for almost an hour.
4. We ended up eating burger, which I didn't like at all and it was 'supposed' to be a birthday celebration for me and Friend B.
5. I felt as if I was dragged about all day, towards a goal of celebrating my birthday and B's in the end. The fact is, I didn't enjoy it at all. I spent a day of waiting, dealing with indecisiveness and eating a dinner I disliked.

However, there were highlights from today, especially seeing how happy Friend B was with his shopping and dinner. I'm glad he enjoyed himself! That really salvaged my day.

Anyways, I feel really lost now. I wished I was with family, people who really appreciate me, and not drag me around, hoping that I would plan my own birthday celebration.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Question Marks

are swirling around my head. You came, you talked, you made me smile, you took a burden off my chest. I know now. It's all about understanding you. Understanding what a prick you are, but that you're not a prick entirely. You don't have to know that I am a good person too. You just don't have that much impact in my life and I am not supposed to care so much. The trick is in accepting how things don't have to even out between the both of us. You can live with your ego. I can live with your insults. My tears helped. Your kind half just recently soothed my anger, made me smile again.

I hate you.

But I thank you.

I'm Not Me

Not being able to look at myself in the mirror and proudly proclaim that I like what I see has pierced me. What is the point of trying to be nice to other people when they don't appreciate you, take stabs at the product of your kindness and exult themselves while having total disregard for your feelings? Why can't I stand up for myself, stop others from patronizing me, instead of running away at the slightest jest? At least today I tried to hurl an insult back, but I could not live up to it, because there was a counter-attack. I am sorry. I only insulted you because you insulted me first.

You have done so many things to demean me but why do I still smile and let it pass? It's not because I decide to stomach it because you're my friend. I can't even regard you as a friend, you're too forward and honest and rude and full of yourself. Then I realize I'm so full of myself as well that it hurts so very much. Meeting you has thought me how similar I am to you, not in terms of confidence, but at least in the sense that we both do have good opinions of ourselves.

You have faults, you blind chauvinist pig, don't you see? Your pride hurts other people, your refusal to ask nicely annoys me to the core, your inability to blame yourself for your own darn fault is disgusting, your blunt way of not appreciating the things I do for you makes me feel sick, your insults are too sharp for my ears, your calculating ways surpasses even my own, you're a lot of the things I hate about myself amalgamated with even more self-conceit, sickening confidence and a false sense of glory. I've never admired yet hated a person at the same time as I have you. You make me smile but you also make me cry. I hate you. You're a judge. I'm  just a kind soul, that's all I am. Don't you dare judge me. There is a golden core inside of me that yes, it's personal darn well it is. You don't deserve to know that gold even exists, you'll never get to see it because you're so blinded with your own sense of philanthropy and belief that no one else out there can match up to you. You pig head. I hate you.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cherished Moments

1. My boss realizes he has no stirrer or spoon for his coffee and reaches out to use a 30cm ruler from the table as a means to create a better coffee mixture to my utter shock. He goes on to say, "I firmly believe that people, children especially, don't eat enough dirt these days to build their immune system. We can just live on dirt alone did you know?"

I proceeded to mention something I saw from TV from the ex's place whence a woman was featured as surviving on soil alone. To this, my boss animatedly nodded and said with a cheeky smile, " My daughter came home once, with snail shells all around her mouth ( I was gasping loudly then when I realized the direct implication of what he just said!). French people do it all the time, it's just that they cook their snails."

On another day, from the corner of my eye I saw my boss use the same ruler to chop up his Krispy Kreme doughnut. The fact that I've used that very ruler a couple of times to do work gave me a little shudder both for myself and him but that didn't change the fact that I absolutely adore him.

2. I made some brownies to present to my colleagues on my last day. They were a bit too shallow as I used a pan that was too wide. My housemate made very bad remarks about it once they were done and today he even said they sucked badly. He even went on to say that he doesn't want me to bake anymore of them. Those remarks hurt and he added more salt to the pain by saying that his comments were constructive and when I retaliated by saying that I prefer to bake for my friends who appreciate my baking more, he said they only told me what I wanted to hear. Indeed, all those words hurt me but there was a grain of truth in his words. So far, he has criticized everything I made but today it just went overboard.

But where is the golden moment in this? It was yesterday when I told my boss about what my housemate said, to which he responded "He doesn't deserve to eat this. I give you 9/10. The brownie is chewy, the top is crispy, which I like. Just a bit too strong on the chocolate." I felt like hugging him. He scolded me for being too generous when I offered the baked goods to other people on the floor and tried to hide them away as another guy walked past our desk. He's adorable, and he appreciates what others do for him. He eats anything at all, as long as he sees your effort in it. Even if he was not entirely honest with me, he took care to appreciate me.

My housemate sort of made me feel obliged this morning to bake him something without even a word of please. I was enraged. Last night I already felt really bad from a comment WS made and my housemate just plucked the last straw out of me. I would have baked him something but ended up going for gelato with my senior instead. Sometimes, people just need more respect paid to them.

3. WS told me that whoever has me is a lucky guy. He hugged me and said that I should remember that I am a good girl. I almost cried.

4. VVNC embraced me and placed his cheek on mine on both sides to which I yelled jokingly, "Shave!! Shave!!". Boss hugged me and said, "You've been a pleasure to work with. You take instructions well and are keen to learn". I couldn't stop beaming, especially after he asked me to come visit next week.

5. I sang in a huge karaoke room, played drinking games, went to a club, drank champagne and got some spilled over me, tried to move (minimally) on the dance floor and got home at 3am, all in the same night, all firsts for me. I had a great time and to imagine what mom would say makes me laugh! I did not get drunk by the way but I've learnt that no matter how hard others persuade me, I should always say no if I'm not comfortable with something.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Magic

At 4am, I woke up and saw a couple of my friends back home on MSN. I told them I woke up from a horrible nightmare. One of them asked me whether it was Voldemort I dreamt of. I wish.

In the dream, there was a person on a racer bike, the slender, shiny and aerodynamic kind with a little baby at the back. I was not sure whether I was the rider or not as I viewed most of it from a third person view. The bike was speeding along a very narrow and winding tarred road in the middle of a white dandelion field. By speeding, I mean really really fast. My stomach churned whenever the bike took corners, which never succeeded in slowing it down; as with every corner, the rider increased his/her speed. There were warning signals which came in the form of a very foreboding gut, which I was sure both the rider and I felt but no heed was paid to it. Suddenly, an aeroplane came into the picture. Probably it was there because I recently watched a scene involving the vehicle in IRIS, a very popular Korean drama. Anyways, the rider never did slow down. In the end, the rider took a very dangerous corner along with the plane and my view never caught what happened. The rider zoomed past me so fast and dissapeared into my blind spot, with a strong gush of wind trailing behind. Everything changed to slow motion, the strands of dandelions bending ever so slightly to the left, as though bowing their heads in extreme sadness to the tragedy that has just come to pass. Although I never saw it, everything in the dream signalled the death of the little baby, how his/her head expanded in the crash and exploded. It didn't make sense at all, how that could even be possible but that was what my dream told me. 

Later, in a completely random scene in another dream, a coursemate of mine gave me a kiss on the forehead as a sign of care and comradeship. I didn't know what to make out of it. Dreams are there to confuse us, they can never be taken seriously. 

So after my chat, I went back to sleep. I woke up at 8.33am, did some room exercises and headed off for a jog. I then saw a 20 pounds note on the ground. To my dismay, I was appalled by my first thought. I am meant to meet up with Z and N later and I was already thinking of buying myself a huge fat meal and using the rest of the change from that lucky note to pay for my Harry Potter movie tonight. Another zero pence day to add to my repertoire!! 

How disgusting. Just a few seconds later, I realized how selfish those thoughts were. The note will be going to charity and no where else, just as it rightly should. Although I am selfish, I am grateful that God is still present in my heart, guiding me towards doing what is right and steering me away from temptations. 

Tonight, a whole decade of a magical experience will come to a close on the big screens. I'm catching the latest Harry Potter movie with my lovely coursemates in 3D and am feeling ever so excited! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

A tribute to my teachers

I'm blessed to have met VVNC as a teacher. This person has no obligation or motivation whatsoever to treat me with so much kindness and patience. Suddenly out of the blue, he is entrusted with a protege who takes everything too literally, is slow to understand jokes, asks stupid questions and only sucks more oxygen out of the room. Truth be told, this humble self is not even a protege; because with the level of skills she's got, she's just anyone from the high street. Deep down, I know how blessed I am, how God has brought me under the supervision of one of his angels on Earth. I could detect the genuineness of VVNC's character when:

1. He opened the door for me the first day I came to the office, brought me to  my seat, spammed me with office supplies and showed me the loo. When I was by myself later on in the week, I realized that not everyone would immediately show you the loo! So that was very thoughtful of him. 
2. He walked over the office to find me the correct colour printer when I printed from the wrong one.
3. He asked his colleagues from Amsterdam and Paris to send me notes or information to help me with my research over a conference call. He also ingrained in me a sense of self-worth by noting how important my paper was, when in fact I knew that it probably was just something assigned to me to fill up my time. But just because he took the effort to build my confidence, I had to do my work well. 
4. He sent me an email saying, '95% perfect!' on my silly draft. He also kept eyeing my monitor to make sure I was progressing with work and not slacking away. 
5. He put a smile on my face by saying how he's already loving my work that's not even remotely coherent. 
6. He asked if I wanted a coffee everytime he went out to get one. 
7. He ate all of my Min Chiang kueh when no one else wanted to. 
8. He pushed me slightly to the front so I could be closer to the sales people during their meeting when I was feeling too timid. I later met my colleague from Amsterdam too, who did the same thing to me. They must have noticed how scared I was. 
9. He sent me emails with all sorts of information that could assist me in my learning.
10. He asked someone to email me a spreadsheet with the names of clients all listed down, so I wouldn't have to do it all by myself all over again. 
11. He asked me if I would like to attend one of the conferences between a client and a professor. 
12. He told me about his life and his hopes and dreams, how he loves developing other people. He's a natural teacher, born as one I would say. 
13. He advised me not to be only motivated by money, because I'd never ever be truly happy. 
14. He copied me into an email this morning to tell me he'd have some flooding problems at home and would be late to work. Who else would bother doing that just for a temp? 

He didn't have to do any of these, surely. I don't know why God has been so kind to me. I met an amazing supervisor and VVNC. Both of them have done so much for me in such a little space of time, unconditionally. Their unselfishness leads me to believe that there is still hope in this harsh world. I've met too many people who only does things that would benefit them. Somehow, I find myself very much in that group of people. God is telling me to turn away from all that, to go back to where the human heart can thrive and beat for other people. Both VVNC and boss have done more than is required of them while I'm at their desk, for nothing extra. I'm just truly humbled by all of this.

I remember how last summer, it was weeks before I got internet access, and a work laptop. I was neglected and treated with condescension and at one point, even made into a scapegoat by my supervisor. Contrasting these two experiences, I am grateful that I have a chance to meet kinder people now.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Bear and the Bull

Friday's golden moment came when I, in a confused state, asked my boss to help me differentiate between the connotations exerted by the two animals in the title. He grabbed a bear puppet from his table and with huge round eyes, reminded me that the word "bear" exudes a negative outlook by saying, "Remember the bear!!!!", while orienteering it such that it looked like it was about to give me a fatal bear hug. Cuteness beyond measure!

To my surprise, the puppet was reversible. I realized that the puppet was in itself a banker's joke. If you happen to be well versed with financial world jargon,  you'd appreciate this adorable reversible puppet! I want one! 

The bear

The bull
My boss also happens to have a pink flamingo in his yard, which he said he stole from a dinner party and which rode with him on the tube back home. He's amazing. Period.

Oh, I did the coffee run today, with pleasure :D

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Deep Green Eyes (Or was it Hazel?)

6.50am: Enters office only after someone else scans in. Interns never get full access to anything. I am an alien to the research desks. It reminds me of the time when I was interning last summer. However, I did get new hardware and internet access and email AND stationery on my very first day thanks to my awesome boss and a very very nice colleague.

7.00am: Boss comes in, smiling happily. He switches on the microphones, and I start taking notes. ABF striked me as really interesting. Although the retail industry in the UK is suffering now, I am of the opinion that whoever owns shares in ABF should hold them because it is a hugely diversified company. It owns both Primark and British Sugars besides some other bread and even pharmaceutical companies. In dire times, consumers will look to what is cheap. Boss pointed out to me that I should be aware of how Primark is hugely affected by rising cotton prices and due to such low pricing, will have to suffer from squeezed profit margins. How long will it last before prices are forced to rise? Good point indeed, but I am still strongly inclined towards holding shares in ABF. I compared the price graphs against M&S and Sainsburys and it seems that ABF is doing much better than those two. Also, other highlights were about Imperial Tobacco  announcing a rise in cigarettes prices, the overall USA stock market doing well and something about new transportation regulations in Italy.

9.00am: Boss has a meeting with the Mid Cap Sales team and I get to tag along! Everyone is abuzz about Russia's new drinking law which will apply to beer, hence Carlsberg. Forecasts of tornados in the USA may adversely affect insurance companies. I learned later from my very very nice colleague (VVNC from now onwards) that the Russians drink mostly vodka. Good discovery. I also learned later at home that the Russian government has only just classified beer as alcohol recently and that the death rate from alcoholism is really high in the nation. Alcoholism has been labelled as a 'national disaster' by Kremlin.

10.00am: Boss realizes that I'm still confused about the role of our team. He asks VVNC to explain it to me later and takes me on an exciting tour of the building, 3rd floor. Amazing facilities! Place for investors to meet up with companies via conferences and meetings, presentations and such. Relationship building!! Coolness. I'm liking my boss more and more every minute.

10.30am: Boss is stressed about meeting his deadlines before he flies off to SA this Friday for a holiday with wife and kids. I try to help him find reported AUM values for institutional investors in 2 countries, and stay a bit past lunch just to make sure I didn't screw up his presentation. VVNC goes out for his lunch break, which according to him, was at a pub, and which according to boss, is not a joke. HAHA!

1.00pm: I head off to lunch. I was dying for a honey roast and egg sandwich but for the sake of being different, decided to go for a mexican chilli chicken. Bad choice. The sandwich sucked big time. Oh well..

2.00pm: I reach the office again. Met another intern with no access into the room. I knocked and boss let me in. VVNC joins shortly after. He wants to give me a lesson on our team and our project. I jumped up and went and during that session, I think I started to crush on him. He was such an excellent teacher! He used so many analogies to make me understand the role of our team. At times, I just stared into his eyes and beamed. He was so perfect, in every way, that I was slightly frustrated at myself for not realizing how much more awesome he was than I first perceived ( mind you, the first impression I got off him was already amazing). I felt like a stupid schoolgirl crushing on her tall and handsome maths guru. *slaps self*. I even wanted to take a picture of the diagram we drew together in the lesson but I guess it would have been too embarassing if I made a trip back to my seat just to take my handphone to snap that valuable memory. What if he realized I took my handphone without rubbing off everything from the board? Argh.. Anyways, another colleague admitted she had a crush on him today while I was there, and his reaction was hillarious! Curious bordering on amusement, but no self-conceit. What!

4.00pm: I start photocopying for the first time for my project. Some other colleague didn't want me to keep hold of the material I needed for too long hence the usual pitiful intern by the photocopier scenario. But I enjoyed it to the max. Read some report on Burberry while I was at it. It's cool to see how SWOT and Porter's 5 Forces model was used at the end of those reports. I must have taken too long at the machine that VVNC hops over just to check on me. Does such a nice person really exist? I'm speechless, it's just utterly unbelievable.  

5.00pm: I head out with my team for a social. My boss knows so much about Malaysia and he's such an amazing, fantastic person with lots of views about this world. He's also very familial but knows when to administer freedom to his children. Purely amazing person! I also met another intern today, who is drop dead gorgeous and is quintessentially an English rose. I just can't believe how beautiful she is every time I see her.

7.30pm: I reach home, have dinner and commence with some readings. Then I decided to write this blog entry. Interesting day.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Colours

Oh what a day it has been! I woke up at 4.30 am and rushed to my colleague's place at Great Portland Street to help her carry cupcakes to our enterprise venue, which we reached by taking the overground- a first for me, despite being a Londoner for three years already. We were greeted by an assortment of pastries for breakfast, none of which I took a particular liking to except the apple turnover. After a short team briefing, I was assigned the task of walking around the local area to garner in sales with a guy who worked on a presidential campaign in the past and another postgraduate who will be studying in Paris next year. What a happy trio we were, at least at the start! Task of the day for our team: Produce and sell lunch items to make the most profit for our charity!

Our sales team was really inefficient. We walked into schools and high rise banks only to get the receptionists smile at us and promise to paste up our menu on the announcement boards. It was all wrong to me. To me, it was glaringly obvious how wrong that strategy was. How can anyone pay attention to a piece of paper with a sticker logo of our charity and a handwritten contact number to pre-order lunch on the same day itself, due in a few hours time? Next, whenever we approached someone, two of my colleagues would suddenly launch their pitches at the same time, overburdening the listener with information. Also, one of them only mentioned the name of our employer (not a very smart thing to do as some people have horrible sentiments towards institutions of that sort) and only the lunch items, without any mention of our charity! I was quite surprised at his street skills. Then again, I did not have a better strategy but I was critical of his ways and tried to point out that what we were doing was completely and utterly useless. In the end, we had absolutely no results and just wasted our energy when we could have helped with the production line! It was my biggest regret of the day and I was very frustrated that my team was not able to see ourselves out from such a hopeless state of being. Perhaps our only consolation was in bumping into some BOA interns who were doing less interesting stuff. :P Just kidding..

When we got back to our venue at 10.15 am, I immediately volunteered my services to the production line. It was MUCH better use of resources. I never made so many sandwiches in my entire life! Our team made so many Ploughman's, Thai Sweet Chilli and Tuna sanwiches and baguettes along with fruit and tuna salad. Some of us went out into the streets to pull people in to buy our lunch menus. Others rushed around in Borris bikes, trying to get deliveries in at the right time. It was tension and excitement as the day's lunch period finally arrived. I have to say that our inventory management was swell! Towards the end, everyone launched themselves as salespersons, diving into stores and selling sandwiches cheaply. Some people were sympathetic! One guy asked me to take all his spare change on the counter for our charity. Another guy just handed 1 pound coins to me without wanting to buy anything. Another man just told me that he simply doesn't want to donate to charity. Another guy cheekily said he was fasting. Very interestingly, another person on the street just grabbed some sandwiches off our basket because he thought they were for free! These were the things we saw, our team of 4, one sweet Vietnamese lady, the political campaign guy, a hot Irish guy with a stern face but an amazing smile, and plain old me. Have I already mentioned how lucky I am to be inspired by all these people? Not one word of complaint from them the whole day. Not one ounce of reluctance from anyone when asked to perform any task (well, except from one other intern who didn't want to package anymore tuna baguettes because he was sick of doing it), which in my opinion, is rare as rare can be!

At 1.45pm, sales were to stop. Period. We came back to our venue, with minimal levels of stock! Pure joy! Our facilitator invited us to lunch, a spread of food which in my humble opinion looked far less amazing than the ones we ourselves prepared :P. He shared some golden moments with us. The time when everyone dashed around looking desperately for a can opener (I learned later that some of my team mates actually tore open the can of tuna with his bare hands). And the other was when another Irish team member danced his 'kicking victory dance' when he was dead knackered at the end of the day after pulling in customer after customer. Golden indeed! It was even more amazing when our profit figure of about GBP583 was announced  by the accounting team. The sense of achievement that settled in our hearts is just indescribable!

When we gather back at our training centre with the rest of the interns, the winners were announced at a profit of GBP719. Although we were vouching for the first place, we ended up second. Honestly, everyone in our team were dissapointed. But the joy was in the brevity of that. We gave ourselves a good pat on our backs. We were AMAZING! We were a TEAM and we LEARNED a lot from today!

Enough said.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Apprentice

Day 4 of Training

This week has been a flurry of activities, a blur, a brush of colours on an empty canvas made swiftly by a paintbrush dipped in all seven semi circles of the rainbow. My coarse hands shook many different hands from all over the world, my little feet stepped into intimidating high rise buildings - I met so many inspiring young people who made me want to gasp in admiration at their caliber and maturity. This week has been a very humbling experience in a way that it has taught me just how little I know, how much more I can improve. I've taken a few minutes out from my incessant emailing of local businesses located around East London to raise funds for tomorrow. I know just how inefficient emails are but it is still worth a try. Our employer set a task for us interns to raise funds for a charity via selling of lunch items tomorrow, The Apprentice style- only difference is, no one gets fired. It's such an amazing opportunity to be in the middle of something like this, where everyone is so motivated to be the best. I've met so many AMAZING young people this week! I know, I know, I'm reiterating, but they really do inspire me. As part of the sales team, I'm one of the people in charge of roping in orders tomorrow, of which to be entirely honest, we didn't have much time to do. Training hours took a lot of valuable time away and we are really pressed for time but the outlook is positive! Two girls from my team have contacts in high-end offices around London and they've managed to get 25 orders in already for our charity.

As a parting note, one of the best things I've heard so far this week from one of our facilitators is: "You're allowed to wear jeans and sensible shoes on Friday". My feet are smiling now despite the obligation to wake up at 5.00am tomorrow to help my colleague carry beautifully decorated unwanted Hummingbird cupcakes to our venue first thing in the morning.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Unfamiliarity

There has always been a part of me that never grew up. That part of me that is a little girl, has always remained timid, shy and dependent, forever afraid of change. Today, as I moved my belongings to my friend's flat, the weight amassed over three years of being a student here in the UK burdened me. There were very kind people who helped, of which I am very grateful, but the fact that I received help frightens me. I've always had help, be it from kind housemates, thoughtful friends or a caring boyfriend. What would I do when I'm by myself? I suddenly realized that I'm by myself. Out of the three categories of help I often receive, I'm now down to two, and even from those two, who really are my friends? Do friends really have the capacity to care sincerely for you? These thoughts depress me. I am really alone after all, with only God to cling on for real.

The flight of stairs I took today while shifting my stuff up to the topmost floor continued winding up in an everlasting spiral in my pessimistic imagination. My ankle was sprained today and it's starting to swell. A Legoland of boxes at my friend's flat caused me to feel slightly claustrophobic. The dirty microwave in their kitchen made me sad. The thought of shifting my belongings in September to my new flat by myself initiated a bubble of despair in my stomach. See how trivial these thoughts are but yet how negatively I'm affected by them?

I blame it all on the unfamiliarity of the situation, the new life I'll be living in the next 10 weeks. Hard work, little sleep, new people, daily tube or bus rides, independence. I'm just me now, not defined by anyone else. Just me. And although that's liberating, it scares me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Done

3.30pm yesterday marked the end of the third year of my undergraduate degree. The moment the invigilator commanded for everyone to cease writing and to put our pens down, a wave of liberation traversed throughout the entire examination hall. How many smiles were there I wonder? 120 smiles perhaps? Some with teeth, some with dimples, some cheeky, some excited. That's artificial optimism. I forget how it is also possible to feel indifferent, tired, plain swamped. 

Smiles everywhere, soon translated into unacceptable chatter. Bubbles of excitement surfaced, spread like wildfire. Beloved lecturer (who never once raised his voice to the class) yelled for some quiet. Peace restored, only to the ear. Jumpy buttocks on the seats. Heels bobbed up and down. Papers collected, counted, boxed away. Glances made between comrades. Impatient effort to keep still. Invigilators raised the green flag for leave. A scraping of chairs. A stampede for the bags. A hoard of happy faces out of the door. Out Out! Freedom awaits! Friends tickle each other. Hands shaken. Hugs exchanged.

"Congratulations!". "Happy holidays!" "How did you find the paper?". "It's finally over!"

For some, the end meant no more waking up at 4am in a frenzy to squeeze more information into their cramped brains. For others, it signaled an end to their hermit lives in the library. Proper food afterwards, no more takeaways. 8 hours of sleep or more, finally. A haircut perhaps? A shave right after? 

Wonderful it was, the great sense of achievement that comes after 2 months of mugging. All the stress and bitter frustration, washed away in a sea of excitement. Life is so much more, and it was regained again, a few moments after 3.30 pm yesterday.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Near

My last paper is tomorrow. I'm another one down today and wasn't feeling like myself. I woke up slightly dreary and uninspired, eyes all saggy and swollen. I need to catch up on some beauty sleep, I'm getting old. How will I feel like tomorrow when it's all over and I have nothing urgent to fight for? I feel as if there is a finish line to cross tomorrow, but I'm not on a racing track, so my inertia can't even carry me further on into the fields, beyond the line. Rather, I meet a dead end to an alley. More on this  peculiarity later. It's back to work for now. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost Sunday

It is Pentecost Sunday today and Mass at More House was really beautiful. It is indeed a privilege to be able to receive Holy Communion again this week, but in addition to that sacred gift, the homily was enriching and the hymns today, especially the hymns, made me so happy. "Spirit of God" was sung today, my absolute favourite. I used to sing this all the time in college whenever I was too swamped with stress. The habit carried on during my holiday breaks even, that mom would have to bear with my horrible vocals at home. I can never do justice to this hymn. Nevertheless, I love it so much, and sing it so often, that mom mentioned to me recently how she'd think of me straightaway whenever it is sung at St. Michael's. I was glad to hear that and when I heard the hymn today, I was reminded of her and everyone at home. 

The lyrics to the hymn brings me way back into time, when strong winds used to sweep through the palm trees just behind my room. I could feel the Holy Spirit breathing, literally upon me and my friends. I would run upstairs in the night, to the balcony and watch how the trees shook wildly about. It would have been scary, or gruesome for most people, in that tiny shadowy corner, lit only by an orange worn out lamp - but it was my little peaceful space, that tiny spot. 

As called for by tradition, Sister Gabriel got the little children to hand out the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. 7 different gifts, and we get to pick just one from the baskets, in the form of cute bookmarks. If I remember rightly, for the past two years, I've amassed the gifts of "Counsel" and "Fortitude", so imagine my joy today at obtaining "Wisdom"! Praise God for His wonders!

After Mass, a little chat with Alexis revealed to me that she uses a film camera. How amazing and cool is that?! She's this really charming young lady who makes me wonder why I'm living such a selfish life sometimes. She completed a 10K marathon for CAFOD, a charity, in just under an hour! And what have I ever done for God?

P/S: I need a sanity check for blogging ever so frequently during the exams. 

Addendum: Someone just has to knock me in the head! I only just realized that today's Prayer of the Faithful was done in multiple languages, to honour our first reading in which the Apostles spoke in many different languages! How could I have been so ignorant? :) It's a beautiful day.