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.