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The amount of time you can spend on the Internet in one sitting is absurd. Being on vacation may contribute to a certain extent but I can spend hours reading blogs, watching a zillion videos on YouTube, or clicking aimlessly on Facebook. Facebook is the worst because you have no idea what you’ll find on there.It’s like a black hole where all things meant for procrastination cumulate and expands. But it’s basically my lifeline.

Considering my record, a No-Computer-Week seemed like the perfect torture challenge but I couldn’t find a way to ease up on my attachment. Coincidentally, my laptop overheated and crashed for the 3rd time last week forcing me to reluctantly send it in for servicing. I wanted to hold on to it but over-heating was a slight understatement. It was like carrying a portable burner and laptop in one. So I mean, under any circumstances that can’t be good.

Basically that’s how my week sans Internet began. The first habit I immediately noticed was that I tend to turn my computer on first thing in the morning. I wake up, reach over my desk to switch on the power button and go through my morning routine as my laptop loads. It innocently starts with me checking my e-mails, flipping through the news, and just as I think I’m done, I wander into the danger zone. I start replying to posts on Facebook, commenting on pictures, and before I know it, I’m clicking links that lead me to other pages and it just gets out of control. My first morning was slightly uncomfortable. Confusing, maybe even. I didn’t really know where to start my day so I decided to begin with the far overdo task of cleaning my room. By that afternoon my clothes were hung, my desk beautifully organized, and my bathroom spotless. I then curled up with a book for an hour or two—looking up at my computer-less desk every now and then. It’s so shameful how bothered I was without it. Out of boredom I also hit the gym. I miraculously went to bed at around 11pm and was proud how productive I’d been. As the week went on, I found that I was getting less and less agitated at the absence of my laptop and instead felt refreshed and more relaxed. I was working out every morning, went to sleep earlier, and best of all had a clean room (double bonus for me)! Someone should seriously give me a gold star.

So the week came to an end, and I was called to go pick up my beloved computer and I was hit by a random spur of inspiration.

Last week had been something new for me and I definitely wouldn’t have gone through with it on my own terms. At the same time, I felt like I’d spent an entire week doing something of substance, I guess would be the best way to put it, and (though completely unintentional) I fulfilled a goal.

I feel ya, Kid

Therefore, I was inspired to do a health challenge each month. At the start of the month, I’m going to set a goal, and see how far I can go with it. I’m not a health nut or anything but I try to eat healthy, sleep, and exercise as much as my busy schedule allows me. And I’m sure many people can relate that it’s one of those things that don’t always come naturally. Check out my list for 2012 and stay tuned for my first post this week! 🙂

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One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to read a book each week for the rest of the year. Writing about it will hopefully keep me motivated to read more! Feel free to recommend a book you love!

I’ve been waiting for The Red Queen (part of the Cousin’s War trilogy) because it hasn’t been in stock for a while and it FINALLY came this week. I bought what seemed like the last copy on the shelf, so lucky me! I was excited to start reading it but was already in the middle of The Hunger Games so I decided to put it on hold for just a bit.

I realize that with the movie coming out soon, The Hunger Games is being recommended left and right but I have to say, at the risk of sounding redundant, it is SO worth it. It’s not even just that. This book was probably one of the most exciting reading experiences I’ve ever had since Harry Potter – which says so much because I absolutely fell in love with the entire series. I was so captivated that it was almost physically impossible to stop. I mean, this book has been with me everywhere. Towards the end, it got to the point where I was reading as our car stopped at red lights.

I think what made this book really exciting for me was the fact that my imagination took off in a matter of just a few pages in. It was like being with the characters and feeling the action. I’m looking forward to the movie but have to admit that the trailer didn’t do much for me. I did watch it right after finishing the book, which could be why the impact wasn’t quite as strong. Nonetheless I’m definitely excited to see it and will also be picking up the next two books of the trilogy.

I was actually thinking about whether I should write this since it’s slightly unprecedented for me to finish two books in a week. But I finished The Hunger Games at such an alarming speed, that I actually had time to finish The Red Queen as well. The story line is essentially the same as The White Queen but the War of the Roses is from the view of the House of Lancaster instead of the House of York. (see The White Queen) The main character, Margret Beaufort believes she is chosen by God and is destined to become someone extroardinary. She often compares herself to Joan of Arc and sees visions of her while she prays. However, after her first marriage at 12 and giving birth to a Lancaster heir, she  struggles to take control of her life and have people acknowledge her as more than an ordinary girl. Before reading this, I was so sure that I would remain on the York side and continue to be resentful of the hardship Queen Elizabeth had to endure; yet, I found that I was able to connect much more to Margret in The Red Queen. There was a level of closeness and real empathy which I couldn’t quite reach for the York House.

If anything, both books were amazing, but The Red Queen, was the better book for me. Next on my list, the final book of the Cousin’s War trilogy, The Lady of the Rivers!

What have you been reading? 🙂

I guess at one point in our lives, we go through the “grown-up” phase. Like the time when littler me walked around the house in my mom’s heels, while wearing her expensive jewelry and carrying her designer bags trying to convince everyone I was a “very important person” with a “very important job.” My real phase started when I was in middle school though. There was a group of high school girls sitting at the back of my bus and every morning on our way to school they would always do each other’s make-up while talking about boys and the next parties and occasionally complaining about their unbearable AP classes. I would enviously look back secretly wishing for the day I could wear make-up, talk about boys, and, well, carry around big binders. My extensive knowledge of high school life was disappointingly useless as the actual day arrived but that’s beside the point. The phase gradually faded out and a few years later I came to a point where I asked myself for the first time: “What’s the rush?”

Maybe it’s because I’m turning 20 in just a few months or maybe it’s from being back home, but I’ve been doing some reflecting. My mother always says that when we’re younger, we want to grow up faster, but when we’re older, we want to be young again. If asked, I’d always say that I wouldn’t do anything differently in my life but sometimes I wonder why I didn’t enjoy more of my time just being a kid. Why I tried pleasing people who didn’t care and took people who did care for granted. I wonder why I argued with my mother so much and why I gave up doing things I liked. There were times I chose my friends over family, didn’t apologize for my wrongdoings, or held endless grudges instead of letting go and moving on. Sometime between then and now, I started taking for granted that I would see my parents when I came home from school, that they would bail me out of trouble or that we’d always have time to hang out later.

My grandmother passed away almost 3 years ago, and being at her funeral took away the fantasy that my parents were never going to pass away. It’s a ridiculous, unrealistic notion to think that they’re going to live forever, but it was the first family funeral and it was like real life had slapped me in the face.

Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and focus entirely on the things that revolve around us. It’s easy to forget to thank the people who’ve been there unconditionally and it’s easy to assume there’s going to be tomorrow. It’s impossible to live a perfect life and we learn important lessons along the way. But to take a moment and let the people in your life know you love them, appreciate them and cherish them is something we should all learn sooner than later because to miss that chance would be the biggest mistake of all.

I’ve yet to get a driver’s license. I mean, being a student in Tokyo, you basically live on trains. The average person who lives in Japan their whole life probably spends about half of it getting crammed in a train. Unless you’d rather splurge most of your hard-earned cash taking cabs. The astronomical cost of simply sitting in a car and getting a ride could give you an anxiety attack.

Besides, a car isn’t really necessary in Singapore either. Public transportations and taxis are all extremely cheap and a good thirty minute walk will mostly likely take you to your destination anyway.

Supposedly, there’s a … challenge in getting a license here. It takes a myriad of ridiculous written exams, driving tests and some kind of theory class. So even if I did anticipate learning how to drive, I’d need months and months before I’m even qualified. Supposedly. Being told this, you’d think that everyone driving around is some kind of wizard for even being able to get their hands on a wheel.

But I almost got hit today. Crossing a pedestrian walk.

You can see how it can be confusing as people here seem to view this as a road decoration more than an actual symbol. If you’re in the city, there is no way you won’t encounter a jaywalker. Out of the five you nearly run into, one is at least bound to be an old lady/man or a group of screaming teens. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush. Funniest part is that there is most likely a crosswalk just 10 meters down, but they’d prefer to jump out of the bushes, out of nowhere, and proceed to take the death walk. You can imagine, being in the back seat of a taxi accelerating towards a frail lady crossing the street. Fences were actually put up along the roads to prevent further occurrences. Yet, it seems some people would rather go through the trouble of climbing over them and dodging every other car as they run for their lives. A concrete wall could be placed and people would probably instead drill their way through.

To me, there are three kinds of drivers in Singapore: foreigners, Singaporeans, and taxi drivers.

Foreigners politely (and safely) let you cross the road. They come to a full break and do a little wave as if to say, “Go ahead, I won’t run you over.”

Singaporeans are slightly impatient. They’ll let you cross, while inching closer and closer and as soon as it seems you’re out of the way, they’ll whiz past.

Taxi drivers. I could do an entire monologue on them. It’s like risking your life to even try. One step off the curb while these bad boys go by and you need to check, double check even, that your foot is still attached to your leg. They do not inch closer as you cross; they come at you full-speed like a bull chasing a flag. Spot a taxi meters away as you make your way across and start to panic because they may catch up before you reach the other side.

Being in a taxi is a whole other experience. Ironically, consider yourself lucky if you get the chatty ones. Usually, they’re calm enough to take notice of the living beings around them. It’s the intensely quiet ones who seem fixated on the road you should be worried about. Looking out the car, checking to make sure every person you fly by is alive, not quite as fun.

So yeah, I was almost hit by a cab. I’m pretty sure he was yelling a million profanities as if it were my fault. Yes your honor, I take full responsibility for crossing the road as the green man was flashing in my face. I started to bring out my fight face but he had the advantage of being in a car and all. And seriously, I wouldn’t want my headstone to read Beloved Daughter. Run over by Taxi.

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to read a book each week for the rest of the year. Writing about it will hopefully keep me motivated to read more! Feel free to recommend a book you love!

In order to understand why this book means so much to me, you first have to understand my fascination with Anne Frank. I was probably about 13 when I got my copy of The Diary of a Young Girl. I’d also started writing a diary around then so when I read this book there were so many emotions and reflections on life that I could relate to. Since then, it’s held a special place on my night stand and I always come back to it every year.

Her writing is so raw and personal that it touches you in a way that is so different from any other book. As you reach the end, you feel like you’ve encountered a friend like no other and with all the deep thought and maturity it’s easy to forget that she was only 13 when she started writing. As the years went by, she began to self-reflect and wrote about the things she’d learned in her daily life; it’s almost as if you’re growing up with her.

The parts that affected me the most are when she wrote about her future, like having a family, hoping to travel and becoming a writer or journalist. Even though she was living day by day in constant fear and hiding, she was optimistic and never once dreamed of throwing her life away. You just know that she was kind of girl who would do anything to make her dreams come true.

She constantly wrote about how no one knew the real Anne and that her diary was the only one she could confide in. Reading her diary is almost like sharing a special secret with her.

Boy or girl, young or old, I feel like The Diary of a Young Girl would inspire anyone and definitely stay close to your heart for a long time.

What have you been reading? 🙂

Picture Says it All

It seems I’ve finally gotten over this ridiculous cold that stuck around for over a week. I’m still a little sniffly but I’ve gotten some fresh air and spent a good whole day not sleeping. There’s only so much I can get done from the comfort of my own bed and bumming around at home.

If only I were this cute

Anyway, I’m going to tell you a story. Before that though, one of the things you have to know about me is that I don’t have very many embarrassing moments. If we were ever to exchange stories, I’d be the bore who annoyingly says, “I don’t have any.” Then you’d be all skeptical and say “That’s not possible.” Then I’d say, “Well I just don’t get embarrassed easily.” And then you’d spend the day looking for opportunities to humiliate me while doing stupid things and I’d have a great time watching you make a fool out of yourself. Of course I’m kidding. But I’d probably either laugh at you or pretend to not know you. Either way it would mostly be fun for me.

I think the key (it’s important) to avoiding embarrassment is to be in the right mood at the right time. If you find that you can’t contain the adolescent in you, you can pretty much do anything insane and laugh off what would otherwise make you red in the face. I sound like a child, but you know what they say, be young at heart and be young forever. I really don’t know who says that but I say let’s just go with it.

Back to my story.

Like any other day, I was checking Facebook before school. It was my friend, Katie’s*, birthday so I wrote on her wall before meeting my friends in the library (yea, I’m sort of a nerd). As the 5 minute warning bell goes off and everyone starts packing their bags, for some reason I can’t even fathom, I decide to start wishing my friend, Brittney* ‘Happy Birthday.’ Obviously, she’s doesn’t respond and continues to walk ahead with the rest of the crowd. So naturally, I start yelling. “Hey! Katie! KATIE! Happy birthday!!” Let me first point out that this is a girl I’ve known for nearly 2 years. We’ve had classes together, we’ve been in the same clubs and we have many mutual friends. We are on first name, hug-when-we-see-each-other basis.

By then, I’ve drawn all this attention to myself.  I might as well have exploded fire works and sent in a singing quartet. I tap her vigorously on the arm and she turns around. I still haven’t caught on that I’m calling my friend by the wrong name. The are-you- an f-ing-idiot? look she gave me should have said it all but then she nicely says “It’s not my birthday. And my name is Brittney.” You can imagine the shock I felt as I soon began to realize that I’ve been, very publicly, calling a person who had moved thousands of miles away to a different school on a different continent. I literally had no words. The slowness of my processing astounded me.

It was like the time when I was in 4th grade and smacked my friend really hard in the butt with my bag. Except that it wasn’t my friend.

After all the commotion, all I could do of course was say, “Oh…. Right. Sorry.” and avoid all contact for the rest of the day. Or year.

I know

I can’t even imagine what I wou’ve done in such an awkward situation. Maybe I should study that back of my friends’ heads better.

*Names have been changed. To prevent further embarassment of course.

aka Valentine’s Day

But these would be special any day

February 14. Single people: signal to mope, groan, cry, bring out the ice-cream (in whichever order).

I’ll come clean and say that Valentine’s Day has never been of any significance to me. I don’t think it should not exist and I don’t mind not having a date this year. I’m just saying that even when I was in a relationship, I never saw what the big deal was. I never expected my boyfriend to suddenly drop a ton of cash and have something extravagant planned or to especially lavish me with love and affection on this very day. It’s kind of a given to be well treated and be told that I’m loved and appreciated. Besides, I love surprising my boyfriend when he least expects it and to give him gifts just because. And when February 14th comes rolling around, things just become a little overdone and predictable.

All that said, I walked around the mall the other day and for a change, didn’t feel indifferent about being engulfed by the overwhelming amount of pink and red heart balloons and big giant teddy bears. I guess more precisely, I was relieved.

It may sound silly, but when I think of all the hatred and anger in this world, having a reminder that there are still people falling in love gives me a chance to restore some faith in humanity.

Sure, it’s far over-commercialized but where there is so much chaos and uncertainty, I think it’s good to shine a light on a positive aspect of society, even if it’s for one day.

Before I finish off, I have to say that being single on Valentine’s Day is not the end of the world. Take the time to tell your family and friends you love them and most importantly, (the most cliché it gets) take the time to love yourself. Wake up with a smile and feel confident. I mean who knows, it could end better than you expected. 😉

‘till next time!

Something cute 🙂