60 of 100 Happy Days: Remarkable

I wasn’t so sure about the book at first as it started off a little dry. But it’s starting to pick up the pace. I dare admit it’s growing on me.

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I’m beginning to see the significance of the title, Remarkable Creatures, from the unlocking of religious concerns and scientific discourses with the discovery of Jurassic fossils, to the gender politics of the 19th century. Both the fossils and the women who discovered them – remarkable.

Now that I’ve found out that Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot are real, historical figures, I’m also kind of looking forward to reading up more about them. After I finish the book.

It’s always a thrill to come across ideas on the whim. Makes me want to write essays. Is that odd?

39 of 100 Happy Day: Sugar high at Shakespeare Boulangerie & Pattisierre

Having desserts is always a treat. And when you have Groupon vouchers to have loads of cakes and macaroons, a bit of sugar-high is bound to kick in before we even start.

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Shakespeare Boulangerie & Pattisierre rests at edge of Jalan SS15/7, Subang. There seemed to be strangely no Shakespeare references nevertheless it is a good place to relax and have hi-tea.
The good thing about coming in a group is getting to try a myraid of flavours. I thought the Chocolate Heaven tasted amazing, as well as the Profiteroles with Mousse.

By the time we started on the 10 macaroons, I was getting a little jumpy from the increased glucose in my bloodveins. I would say that some settled better with me than others. The Milo and Hazelnut ones, especially, mostly because they weren’t as sweet and we were choke full of sugar.

Still it is quite a lovely place to be indulge and have company. For the amount of food you saw it would have cost the five of us RM81.70 but with the deal it was only RM36.40. That’s without purchasing drinks but water is provided.

Anyway we had a good day and hopefully the week ahead will be just as sweet!

26 of 100 Happy Days: Luck and Excess

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Sometimes you get the feeling that you’re getting it easy. Makes you wonder if it is karma or just sheer dumb luck. Why does one person get a higher education while the other owns a newspaper for a roof? How your life could have turned out so differently?

Saying that ‘You make your own luck’ doesn’t really cut it at times. At some point it works on its own accord.

It’s one of those thoughts that run through my head randomly. But I figured the best thing to do is to not take that for granted, and help someone else get lucky one day.

Well, I guess you can make luck.

PS. Seafood galore for company dinner. I’ve had the good fortune of having lots of good food recently. A luck thing, I am guessing.

New Year Gifts To Myself

It’s the end of the year and often that calls for New Year resolutions. I don’t delude myself with the notion that things will suddenly be different with the turn of a calendar page. But I admit to writing down resolutions. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t. It doesn’t matter, because at least I can work towards something during another fairly unchanging year. 

I also realise that the main points on my list are quite general, differentiated only by my own interpretations of how I’d work it out. So if you haven’t made your list yet, perhaps these might give you a rough idea?

1. Not surpassing limits

Reaching for the skies, by all means, but not doing an Icarus. Lately I read about a young copywriter who died after working under stress and continuously for 30 hours. It felt all the more real because of how many parallels we shared. My first aim is to avoid bad stress and say ‘no’ if I absolutely need to.

2. Finishing what I start

Although I am fond of closures, there are some things I have not been able to finish due to other obligations. I was doing well in NaPoWriMo and NaNoWriMo until the busy spells kicked in during the final week. So yes – I’ll join these two writing sprees and hopefully come out of them alive. 

3. Keeping in touch and connecting more often

If one doesn’t make the effort, who will? Random heys, postcards, letters, Skype, Facebook, reunions, you name it.

4. Picking up a skill

It’s good to learn something new. Keeps life fresh and colourful. I was told, on the subject of financial planning, that 10%of one’s monthly salary should go towards education, not necessarily a degree, so long as you learn something. I’m thinking of intermediate Sign Language classes, beginner French lessons or getting a guitar. I haven’t decided. 

5. Kicking out negative thoughts

Depreciating thoughts need to be put in a box and burned. Letting them eat you up from the inside can be the most painful thing to get through (I know). So a shift in self-perception would be good. I’ve already started by keeping a journal, being more emotionally honest (instead of being the bottled up poker face I used to be), trusting my instincts and doing things that give me a warm fuzzy feeling, but there’s always more to work on.

So there you have it. I end here with a hearty ‘Happy New Year’, which will happen in about an hour. And I’ll see you in 2014.

The Things I’d Brought Back From Three Years In The UK

On the 10th of October, I packed the past three years of my life into boxes and bags, and took a 13-hour flight from the UK to Malaysia. Leaving was emotional, as if half my heart had sprouted roots, refused to leave. Then somehow as I starting unpacking, I realised just how much I had brought home with me.

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I’d brought back the concrete walls of UEA and the cobblestone roads of Norwich. I’d brought back the line of ducklings in the river, the swan on the Lake, the sparkle of every firework erupting in the skies.

I’d brought back the three-legged cat, a Battlestar Gallactica Marathon, that funny moment just before a friend slipped on the ice. In my mind’s eye there is a castle upon a snowy hill, an arcade by the seaside and a country house on a landscape that stretched for miles.

Being locked in a lecture theatre when I went in to play the piano. Getting lost from following the silhouettes of too many churches. Watching the sun set and rise in the library (a beautiful and tragic scenery). A picnic in the Plantation Gardens. Smoky barbecues.

Listening to Of Monsters and Men in a corridor of the Union House. Watching plays in the drama studio. Watching musicals. The Woman in Black. Museums. Ice-skating and tobogganing. Playing Quidditch.

There are the wafts of the Wafflehouse goodies and the frothy Cromer waves. Pigs-in-a-blanket, Yorkshire puddings and mince pies. The caramelised apple of Brighton. A pancake dinner. Italian pasta in Florence. S’mores by a student accommodation. The crack of the crème brûlée the same way Amélie does in Paris. The ‘best’ fish and chips. A cup of tea (milk and two sugars, please).

I’d brought back a series of firsts. My first concert. That first time reciting my poems in an open-mic. A first Christmas dinner. London Fashion Weekend. The first time watching two friends walk down the aisle.

Seeing another issue of the student newspaper in print each fortnight. Cooking enough to feed a hundred. Mortarboards in the air. First internship, second internship, third and fourth. The dinner get-togethers. The takeaways.

A level of confidence I’d not felt before. A bigger pair of eyes and an open heart. The realisation that the world is much smaller than I last remembered it. The many, many faces.

I listed these in my head as the taxi drove me away, as I waited for the plane to take off (half an hour later than it was supposed to). Now I realised that I have carried all the memories and faces home and have no doubt that I will carry them with me wherever I go.

I can only wonder if, after three years abroad, I have left anything behind.

A Bit of Friday the 13th Luck

Friday the 13th was a surprisingly lucky day for me.

Following a phone interview a couple of weeks back, I am glad to say that I got a reply. I was offered a two-week work experience. I’ve not been involved in academic publishing yet, so it is incredibly exciting. Later that afternoon I headed to Leicester for a birthday weekend and had a lovely time.

Students are also flocking to universities once again. Familiar faces are reappearing in London, which is relieving news for my socially deprived self. It is probably the same in Norwich. Needless to say, UEA’s 50th anniversary celebration is already on my calendar. What sweetens the deal is the fact that I have accumulated so many points from the East Coast rewards scheme that I have two free tickets for the trip. Whoop whoop!

Apart from that, all is swell. My research is going well. And I’ll update when there is more to tell! (A friend told me in Leicester that ‘that which rhymes must be true’, hence the wishful thinking.)

Reviving an Old Project

Life has been going by slowly but I am doing my best to stay positive. In the meantime I have been fulfilling those promises of ‘yea, we should meet up soon’.

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I have also rediscovered an old project that I had set aside last year. And a way to revive it. I went to the British Library earlier this week and got myself a Reader’s Pass, which granted me access to the collections at the library.

The procedures to get hold of the books are strict, but that meant copies remain pristine. Before even getting to any room, you must show that you have a Reader’s Pass and that there are only pencils (no pens) and notebooks in a clear plastic bag. The only way to get the books is to place requests on their website at least an hour before collection at the main desks on each floor. There is also no removing books from the building. Everything feels systematic.

There is an avenue of research embedded in the pages. Can’t believe I didn’t think of becoming familiar with the library before. Doing research is exactly what I need to pursue this project.

And with this I’m hoping I’d be another step closer to producing a story of note. Keep Anika Noni Rose’s Almost There on hold for just a little longer.

Don’t Be Afraid of Going Left, and Thoughts on Idealism

Last month I was at Angel Station in London and I came across this signboard with a quote. I later learnt that it’s a daily creative initiative done by the staff at that particular station, and there’s even a website dedicated to it called Thoughts of Angels (I think it is sweet). I wish I’d snapped a photo of the one I saw that day but like everyone else I was caught in that hamster wheel of the city, going down escalators and up again. And down and up again. Anyway, the quote went something like this:

‘Don’t be afraid of going left. Because even when you are left, you are right.’

Aside from the wittiness of it being ‘uniquely Underground’, it’s thought-provoking. Not that I am saying that this rings absolutely true in every case, but when it comes to working for what you want, it’s a lovely little thought to ponder about.

I’ve been talking to friends recently about ideal working environments and lifestyles. It’s really cool – there’s a lot of travelling involved, a yacht with oysters, an apartment in New York, a commissioning editor, an award-winning film maker and more. (Me? I believe I mentioned it in my bio).

Dreams and desires make for fascinating stories; I recommend listening to someone’s story today. And which is why I’m asking you too: If you can have it, no matter how far-fetched it may seem, what is your ideal way of making a living? How would you like to live your life?

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Why earn bread when you can earn cake?

So what if it’s not ‘practical’, ‘stable’ or ‘realistic’ – I think it’s always good to consider that sometimes and remind yourself about what you are working for. Perhaps it’ll tell you that you need to hop onto the next stepping stone in order to get there. Idealism, in moderation, is generally healthy for your growth.

Perhaps the next time you are going up and down escalators, you might wonder whether a hamster wheel is where you would like to be. Perhaps ‘staying right’ isn’t the best for you. Perhaps you will finally go left.

PS. My two weeks spent at Kyle Books was great. The publicity work meant that I got to experience what goes on within a different area of publishing. I’d only ever done editorial work before that so it was interesting to see how important it is to get the hype of the books out there by liaising with external publications. In the meantime, I’m doing my best to stay afloat in this never-subsiding pool of job seekers.

The One with the Last Minute Hurrah

More often than not, a dry spell on my blog means there’s prolonged anxiety and/or general annoyance to be dealt with. I’m glad to say that this week has started becoming a lot better. And with that I find no reason to delete this post and/or slam my head upon the desk.

It was by chance earlier this week that I was informed by the lovely Lucy about a last-minute opening for work experience at a publishing house. I leaped at it like a stage diver at a concert and thankfully did not hit the pavement. It went through successfully and I started the following day. While there was the matter of adapting to a new environment it has been good so far. Most of the tasks were different from what I did previously – there is more publicity work such as dealing with image requests and press clippings, but there was a range of things to do. One of them involves getting hunger pangs while proofreading recipes. And learning how to make poached eggs while I am at it.

I’m also looking forward to the coming weekends. There’ll be many familiar faces around who will probably remind me of why my sanity is intact. Well, no, really there are many people I miss to bits. And if sending random messages and spontaneous sound clips like a cat who has dragged in some poor animal as a peacekeeping gift isn’t an obvious sign, I don’t know what is.

Since there’s no better analogy to describe this, I’ll just go ahead and say that this week I feel as though I am crowd surfing. Thanks to brilliantly supportive people. And if I reach the end only to fall off I suppose I can be content with how fun it was.

The Week of the Weary and Weird

This week has been strange and rather exhausting. In more ways than one. But first off, perhaps I should talk about happy things such as my internship. My second and final week at John Blake Publishing was just as lovely as the last. And cliche as it sounds, I was honestly quite sad to leave. As it turned out, all those years I clocked in favours by proofreading multiple essays, personal statements and articles did me a whole lot of good. It is one of those crazy little things that I find absolutely enjoyable. And now I am on their list of freelancers! Wonder why it never crossed my mind to do this earlier.

I also realised this week that the road towards a job after graduation is a mixture of many things – including effort, dedication, experience and frankly that little bit of luck. My colleague did say something quite clever though. He said, ‘ I suppose you have to make your own luck,’ which I couldn’t help but agree.

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Then again, there’s only so much luck you can spin. Recently I have been led to learn that sometimes things just don’t work out. For reasons more than one. And that is if you don’t consider the series of unfortunate events that spring up just after as though there is some superstitious cosmic rule out there stating that bad things have to come in threes. Or fours. Pondering on why these happen doesn’t help, really. I just have to pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. Right, enough of all this vague nonsense that I cannot consciously elaborate in a public account!

WIth the extra time on my hands, I’m aiming to charge through job applications and do lots of writing (which I admit I have been neglecting) and maybe sight see London on a tight budget. Preferably free. Any suggestions? I visited Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove with Charlene today; it’s very ‘alternative’ there (I say this with caution). There’s this stall on Portabello Road that sells antique prints – ‘nothing modern’ – for roughly £10 each, and on the back of each print there are some information on when it was produced. I also tried to take a cheesy picture at Platform 9 and 3/4, King’s Cross Station, only to find that there was a queue. A very long queue, which I had no time for. And I found one of the London street pianos at St Pancras (the existence of which was brought to me by Lucy). Had I enough time I might have plucked up the courage to play the Game of Thrones theme song.

But that is for another day perhaps.

So I conclude my train of thoughts on a fairly optimistic note.  If luck won’t find me than I’ll have to mould it with my bare hands. And if that doesn’t happen you probably won’t hear from me for a while. Have a good day.