New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t particularly fancy New Year’s Resolutions, since they often end up becoming empty promises to oneself – a sad reminder at each passing of a year of one’s failures. Keeping in mind that such resolutions are merely idealistic fantasies of a future which, more often than not, will never be realised, the following is my list of New Year’s Resolutions:

Read all the books you buy.

Borrow books, don’t buy. Your shelf’s overflowing with books and the library exists for a reason.

Drink one, and only one, cup of coffee a day. You’ll be glad for it when you’re not lying witless in bed before an early class the next morning.

Write more.

Write better.

Eat better. And I don’t just mean eat more healthily. Indulge yourself in expensive foods – after all, food is all the luxury you can afford.

Drink better wine.

Exercise. You’re not fourteen anymore.

Be more assertive. “Don’t take shit, tell that bastard off” (Susan Sontag).

Become Susan Sontag.


The Remnants of the Year

And so, through disappointment and debacles, we’ve arrived at the last day of the year. Yet, contrary to my previous post, the past year hasn’t been completely disastrous – waxing poetic over events of my unfulfilling history has only compelled a certain self-piteous tendency.

No, it wasn’t all bad.
It was just tiresome, perhaps.

The first half of the year was lethargic. It dragged on monotonously, with the routine of retail work compounding and drumming in the chagrin of constant rejection. The only consolation was, perhaps, a salary that made indulging myself easier.
Still I had my friends. We met up often then for coffee, films, museum trips so countless it is now hard to distinguish specific events. But that feels like the distant past now, ever since the lure of greater prospects had scattered them thousands of miles away. With walls of time between us, our lives fall out of sync. Even skyping’s becoming difficult.

The second half of my year was much less drowsy than hectic. I started college, survived what would’ve been two years’ worth of workload in high school in three months, and completed my first semester with first class grades earned through anxiety and amnesiac nights.
And I moved out.
For all the excitement and hesitation surrounding the notion of Moving Out, I have to say that it’s rather overrated. Or perhaps I cheated on the process – for one, my residential college’s fully catered, such that food woes are completely off my mind. Not to mention that I live just an hour away from home, a distance which affords me the luxury of being able to visit my family every weekend.

I suppose I’m taking well towards college life, a fortunate revelation for such a lifestyle would dominate my coming years, though I haven’t emerged from the year without wear. Am I just a tad cynical now, and slightly exhausted – regardless, I’m exiting the year with a new discipline and tenacity, nervous and eager to uncover what lies ahead.

The Year in Retrospect

So I woke today despite all reluctance, amidst a drizzle that kept my bedroom cooled at the perfect temperature to remain snug under wool covers*, and dragged myself to my desk a metre away for the  Utmost Important Task of registering for classes next semester – only to find out that registration hasn’t opened for me since I’ve yet to (or maybe simply forgot to) declare my major.

Not to mention that a class I had intended to take was reserved for majors only, which meant I had to reschedule the timetable I’ve painstakingly planned for weeks. Then again, I ought to be less surprised at such follies of my own considering that I booked the wrong tickets for my family’s return flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, an admittedly expensive mistake.

*wool covers in 28 degree (Celcius) weather – yes I’m privy to hypochondriac tendencies

Should I be more melancholic a person, I might have characterised the past year as a mistake. For like all mistakes, antecedent events of the year can mostly be reminisced upon with regret and a tinge of bitterness, and they plead to be rewritten, if not removed permanently from one’s consciousness.

I am sorry to have to inform you about your rejection. 
The year began with a letter from Oxford stoically pronouncing that they were “sorry” about having to reject my application. But really, were they sorry about having to turn down a sub-par candidate? I knew, upon exiting my interview, that only an error of judgement or a miracle would result in the alternative outcome of my admittance. Still, I spent the following month telling myself otherwise, though nothing could detract from the fact that my interview was an undeniable wreck – forgetting the origins of Gothic literature was one thing but discounting my personal sentiments about Ruskin’s essay for fear of offending my interviewers? Horrendous. I essentially self-censored my way to a rejection.
Perhaps the tutor who wrote my letter (or his secretary) wasn’t genuinely sorry about my rejection. Perhaps he meant, in literal terms, that he was sorry about having to go through the tedious process of writing to an applicant who hardly deserved the twenty seconds it took for him to fill in the appropriate details in a generic letter template.

I’m going to be a literature major, a writer, and an academic.
Knowing that it would be impossible for me to gain an external source of funding, with my ridiculous plans to do a course in “archaeology and anthropology”, my acceptances to UCL and Durham amounted to nothing and my idyllic plan to read both subjects in Britain was no longer viable.
The eight-month break between the end of the A Levels and my first semester at college, however, allowed me to return to my childhood love of reading. Freed from the obligations of school, I powered through extensive reading lists made whilst at junior college, of books I haven’t had the time to devote myself to until recently. I got through the classics – Joyce, Austen, Eliot, Woolf; the real classics – The Odyssey, Iliad; and collections of fantasy novels that have gathered dust on my bookshelf. But most importantly, I began to discover modern women essayists and memoirists whose careers (and lives) I swore to emulate:
I’m going to be a literature major at college, before becoming a writer and academic, just like Susan Sontag and Marilynne Robinson.

Or perhaps I won’t.
I began re-reading the works of Sontag and Robinson when winter break began. While the same words evoked the same awe and admiration as before, there was a new, inexplicable sense of intimidation. How could I even fathom myself writing with such intelligence and sensibility?
Sure I made straight As in my first semester of college with essays that my tutors were quick to compliment, yet as evidenced in one of my admissions essays, “should I choose to follow in the footsteps of…women whose illustrious careers…I have long admired, I shall require more than a first-class degree to be able to articulate with their characteristic precision and eloquence.”
I don’t know if I’m able to do that, and even if I can, what about the crippling Imposter Syndrome?

Brideshead Revisited.
In Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder aspires to a life that he can never have – a sort of strange, curious life that intrigues and repulses him at the same time. With a similar ambition, I stare into the life that a year ago I was so convinced I’d have today, grasping at faded details of this vision in my attempt to experience it.

After a couple drinks, I now can’t remember how or even fathom why my parents decided to take the family to the public garden and conservatories on Christmas day – though I did manage to capture some of these gems while I was there.

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The best friends and I went to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens earlier today to celebrate the end of semester and all three of us left the theatre with massive grins on our faces. To avoid spoilers, all I’ll say about the movie was that it was utterly satisfying – the cast was loveable, the script was splendid, and the score, as one would expect, was perfect.

J. J. Abrams did good.

Christmas cards

I know I’m slightly late since holiday order-by dates on redbubble are almost over in the U.S. (I’m not too sure about other territories, you’d have to check the website) but I’ve just made these two pieces as greeting cards for my friends, so I decided to put them up for sale, in case anyone’s interested in cat/bird themed Christmas gifts.

(Not to mention it’s not too early to start buying Christmas gifts for next year.)

The links to these designs are as follows: X X


Since the end of my finals, I’ve been away for two weeks. We’ve just arrived home, all everyone wants to do is sleep but there’s a massive lot of unpacking to do, and everyone’s just slightly grouchy. Alas, I’m blogging amidst the chaos because the things I have scattered on the floor of my room are slightly too overwhelming.

Still, I’ll do some unpacking of digital memories – or the unsurmountable amounts of photos I’ve taken over the past couple weeks.

The vacation began with a Star Wars invasion at the airport and continued to be so throughout our first day in Hong Kong. Thus explains the Star Wars pictures interspersed between all the other food and landscape photographs.

The next two days were spent at Disneyland. Commence the outburst of colours and unabashed childish joy.

Till next time, Disney, you magical, beautiful, and wondrous place.
Day four of the food hunt – I’m pretty sure we had more than five meals that day. My mom was insistent on seeking and trying out all the famous foods we could find. My personal accomplishment, however, was finding a Studio Ghibli store and a Moomin boutique cafe.
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Oh yes, we found these beautiful cheese tarts from Japan at the SOGO near our hotel, and they only taste like the most heavenly creatures in your mouth. 

Flew to Penang to spend the next week and a half – still stuffing myself with the most divine of foods. Alas, our waistbands felt much tighter this morning than when we headed for the airport two weeks ago.