Monday, December 3, 2012

Tying the Loose Ends

I am insanely aware of how long this blog has been neglected, but while this blog seems to be dying and probably will be dead, be assured that I am not.

I am in the UK, well and absolutely enjoying myself. So happy that sometimes it makes me sad to think that I'll graduate next year. But (shhh...) let's not talk about that.

At the moment, my life revolves around Concrete, the student newspaper, consuming chocolate while doing coursework, finding some spare time to read and making loads of online accounts when procrastinating.

I'm not even joking. I now have a Twitter account, a new Portfolio, Linkedin account, Goodreads account and am seriously contemplating a new blog to replace this, even after I once promised myself that this one won't be abandoned. Sometimes it just has to be that way.

Part of it is due to my inability to make the layout look as good as I want it to be. And I already have a general idea. It just wouldn't work. More importantly, I've looked through all the posts I'd written, blushing at how I used to fiddle with fonts and colours. And the content. I had a different style of writing then. Not that it's any less me; it's just a different version.

I don't want to stop blogging, 'cause I love it. I can't bring myself to update this particular site, yet I have no intention of deleting this. Too many memories.

You can probably tell where this is going. I'm going to tie up the loose bits here (because I can't leave things hanging or it will bother me), pack up and head off to a whole new blogging adventure. It'll be a fresh new start. I'll be happy and contented. And you'll be glad that I'm that way too, I hope.

Until then.
 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lasagna. And updates.

Apologies for the hiatus. My bad.
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Lasagna for family
It's been quite a busy month, much busier than I expected, and I realised how incredibly soft the couch was each time I sat myself down after a long day.

But I'm back and ready to start updating everything again!

Here are some of the highlights for now (as I am sure you are busy too):

1. I've completed my internship at The Star! It was a really an enriching experience, and I learnt a lot from it. I met a lot of different people from all over PJ and KL whom I wouldn't have met otherwise.

2. I've completed 30-hours of Basic Sign Language class. It's unfortunate that I can't continue with the next level. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with what I've been taught and progress with it after my studies.

3. I missed the Camp Nanowrimo target by 16,100 words, sadly. Time did not allow for too much to be done within a short period of time. I think I did pretty well for my first try though. Next time it'd be better.

Also, today is my last day in Malaysia and in less than 24 hours I will be flying off to UK again. Once I settle in, I'll write out some longer posts. 

Till then, say cheese (with tomato and beef; I made lasagna)!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Busy month ahead

Oreo Cheesecake by rachlyf
Oreo Cheesecake, a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.
PS. Baked this for Joyce's birthday.
August is looking like a busy month but that makes it all the more exciting. Better to be out there doing stimulating things than to be talking to voices in your head. Especially if those voices love cake. But I digress.

1. I'm going to be an intern at The Star, an English-language tabloid newspaper in Malaysia.

2. I've planned out most of what I want to write for my first attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo. Half-expecting to break down mid-way (as seemed the common case) but those voices in my head are still convincing me otherwise.

3. I've been taking classes for Basic Sign Language with Mei Shan. I jumped at the opportunity the moment she asked. Why? (Popular question) It's something I've wanted to check off my list for a long time. Learning languages is an absolute joy and it's fascinating when people communicate in signs and gestures that make all the sense in the world once you understand them.

That's all in the meantime. Now for a Snickers bar.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Leaning

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa, taken in January 2012
Lately I've been trying to keep myself occupied. It's my natural defence against things that annoy or upset me. It's something I realized last year when there were a lot of news to deal with and half the time I thought about what I needed to do so that my work won't be affected. In other words, working to avoid not working.

Some people tell me it's good being productive under unfortunate circumstances. Some people say it's strength. I sense that it is a little unhealthy to treat certain emotions like brats, shut them out and tell them, "Not now. I've got work to do." 

Things don't work out the way you want them to. I understand that. Doesn't mean I approve of it. Over the last few days the world slapped me in the face several times, which got me working on certain things in a mildly obsessive fashion. 

It really is about time I slap back.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pre-NaNoWrimo Muse

I will soon be taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a creative writing project where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The website validates the number of words at the end of the month and that determines whether or not you've won. In case you're wondering, it is something people undertake as a personal project. Check it out here.

People ask me why anyone would inflict it on themselves. I admit that being someone who had always been daunted by the idea of writing 1667 words a day, I'd imagine getting through NaNoWriMo would feel pretty awesome.

Plus, it will be my first time in August. When I first heard about it, it only ran in November. That is without doubt the worst time for university students to be thinking about writing novels. I wasn't keen on adding 50,000 more words on top of what I already had to write for my degree. I would have had to give up on one eventually and it would never have been the latter. Earlier last month, I was told that there are now NaNoWriMos in June and August. How could I refuse!

Also, today I did more research for my project. One of the documentaries on it made me tear up. Got me both horrified and excited. 


It's a good thing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Symptoms include -

When I got back from the UK, I was frazzled and in a bad state. On the 3rd of July, I'd been lugging my suitcase up and down the stairs and trains of London to get to Gatwick Airport. Somehow it didn't sound as bad at first. Learning things the hard way really knocks sense into your head.

Before I go on, you should know that I'm not good with flights. It seems to worsen each time, as if it's this dark passenger that ages with me. Symptoms include migraines, being incapable of proper speech, lack of sleep and a facial expression that says, "Please don't ask me to direct you to your transfer terminal in an airport I've never even seen."

Well, no one catches the last symptom, really. I still help them whilst in my stupor.

Disclaimer: This photo does not belong to me, 
The first flight to Dubai was uneventful, which was good news for me. And the service was great. I remember thinking, "Well it's worth it I guess." (Famous last words.) The second flight home was not as pleasant. It's probably because the flight's terribly long, although I don't quite understand why last year's 20-hour flight wasn't as bad as this 16-hour flight.

Upon reaching KLIA, I approached the payphones to make a call; all were out of order. I walked around to check the rest. After inspecting 3 rows of unfixed payphones, I found 2 phones that worked. Got my bags, got outside and totally emptied my insides out. Way to detox, eh?

At least my jetlag's gone. No more staring at blank walls at 4am, or having no appetite until 2am or having a facial expression in the morning that says, "Please don't ask me to 'just force yourself to sleep'. It doesn't work that way."

Monday, July 2, 2012

No one

Over the few weeks leading up to the 30th of June, I have been packing up my things and storing them in the houses of several friends all over Norwich. And of course my housemates and I had to do a huge clean up on the final few days. After it was all over, we wondered whether the house is way cleaner than when we first moved in. It certainly looked that way. 


I am bunking with a friend until tomorrow, which is when I will be going down to London and back to Malaysia on two 8-hour flights. I'll have a book of short stories, a writing pad, air sick pills and lots of in-flight movies to accompany me.


No one enjoys being locked in a pressurized container for extended periods of time.

Friday, June 29, 2012

21

I turned 21 on Monday. I'm not sure how I feel about that. 21 - it's one of those much celebrated years signifying freedom. Or responsibility. Somewhere in between. To be honest, turning 21 feels like turning 20. It hasn't kicked in yet. I didn't initially have plans but a friend convinced me to make some.

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Frankie and Benny's
The day before, we had our first and final restaurant meal as housemates (admittedly without Ezra who had already left) at Frankie and Benny's. Jess also made me a cake before she left that day. 

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Mambo Jambo
Went for a Mexican meal with Malaysian friends on the 25th of June. I had my first taste of jalapeƱos and they were surprisingly not as hot as I imagined them to be. There was a lot of ice cream too.

At the end of it all, all I can say to those who sent a wish my way or celebrated my 21st with me is I really appreciate it, guys. Thank you. It'll be a fantastic year. Now that... I can feel.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Many Masks

The Many Masks by rachlyf
The Many Masks, a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.

One of the essays I wrote about in my Shakespeare exam was on festivity. It was a concept we studied about in class, one that explored how carnivals were associated to general disorderliness.

While I was reading up on it, many times I associated it to a prominent aspect of Italy - the Venetian masks. Made from paper mache, beautifully crafted, decked in stalls and sold in the markets of Florence.

During the 12th century, masquerades were a part of the festive culture of Venice. People dressed up in disguises and wore masks during Carnival or other holidays. Social ranks dissolved, hidden, equalized during that period of Carnival. Only during that period. Otherwise people must act normal, look normal, and adhere to law and order.

I have one. Haven't found a reason to wear it yet but it'd be nice to have one when I do.

Florence was lovely. I want to go travelling again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Westlife Concert

Westlife is one of my favourite bands. Watched the Uptown Girl video when it first started playing on the telly as a child; now when their songs are on, I'm actually bopping to the tunes in my head. It'd been a dream to watch their concert.

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Melissa and I at the 02 arena
They are retiring later this month and this was their final concert tour ever. Am I using this as an opportunity? Of course. Hey, what can you expect from a student? Last year they went to UEA a few days after my flight was due. It bugged me that I could have met them earlier. But I digress.

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Singing Seasons in the Sun
At least it worked out in the end. I do so enjoy most of their songs, but I was happy that they sang World of Our Own.

That's another thing off my list. 

Credits to Melissa Ling for allowing me to use her photos. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Naturally

Natural History Musuem by rachlyf
Natural History Musuem, a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.

I'm done with my exams and hopefully that will be the last of it. The sensation of never having enough time doesn't really sit well with me.

At the moment I'm spending time with people in Norwich, enjoying my final weeks under this roof, applying for internships, settling bills and packing up. Oh how I despise packing up - but at least half of it is gone.

I'm also watching a number of TV series, including Game of Thrones and Revenge. Will finish the former quite soon.

Next plan: Play the theme song on the piano. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Almost at the End of Year Two

Justice League Monopoly by rachlyf
Justice League Monopoly, a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.

Most friends are done with their exams. Some lazing about. Some leaving. Some left. It's the end of the year for them. It's not officially over for me until next Friday.

And because I'm feeling more and more guilty with each word I type, I'll list this down and make this as quick as possible.

1. I'll be going home this summer. As in, Malaysian home.
2. I'm feeling good about my second Creative Writing piece.
3. I am determined to get an internship. By hook, crook but most probably by the book. Cringe-worthy? I'm a little tired.
4. TV Sitcoms are the bane of my life.
5. Our Monopoly Game lasted 6 hours.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Malaysian Meal

Malaysian Meal by rachlyf
Malaysian Meal, a photo by rachlyf on Flickr.
International student away from home? Bet you have a stash of food packets or spice mixes tucked away somewhere. Little reminders of home that usually end up unused for months. No? You're probably not too fond of cooking, are you?

It had been a while since I last cooked Malaysian food. I have lots of spice mixes, but the only time I seem to be able to find any use for them is if (a) I have the same dishes for the next few days; perfect for exam period, or (b) I cook for a big group of people.

When Charlene, John, Michael and Derald came over the other day, we had chicken curry (spicy as spicy should be), fried long beans with carrots, stir-fry beef and "bak kut teh" (also known as pork ribs and tea soup). All served with rice. Also, John baked a raspberry cheesecake for dessert.

Speaking of Malaysian food, I've decided to fly back for the summer. There will be a lot of that when I'm home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring, at last

Spring at UEA
Spring at UEA
It's a lovely, warm day outside. The area by the lake is carpeted by greens and dotted with yellows. There is an indistinct pathway around the field in which I cannot, for the life of me, seem to find. So I must wobble through the tall grasses until the cleared pathway inadvertently appears. Beautiful weather all prepared for students to have barbecues (which has been ticked off the list), walks and picnics. 

As friends start and finish their exams, those taking the second-year Shakespeare module purse their lips and wonder whether it is worth having over a month's break in between exams. Since, you know, we clearly use that whole time to study.

Besides, it's a lovely, warm day outside. Too inviting. Too tempting. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

London-by-the-Sea

As cosmopolitan as London is, I'm not too fond of the city. The theatres and restaurants are no doubt plentiful, but I cannot walk down the streets without having to thread through large crowds or stand in the Underground trains without feeling stuffy.

When I read that Brighton is nicknamed London-by-the-Sea, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Surely not like London? Still, I've gotten nothing but good reviews on the place and that's why Rachel and I chose to go there for our Easter break.

Yes, this is another Easter adventure. Don't worry, it'll be the last of it. 

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Brighton is beautiful in its own way. It's probably called London-by-the-Sea because of how close it is to London...and the sea. That aside, it wasn't too "London-y". Lots of restaurants which become bars by the evening (finding dinner was slightly difficult) and there are many odd shops that sell antiques, vintage goods and unique trinkets. 

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It must be the sea breeze that renders it different from other cities. You know that scent you can't seem to dissect yet lets you know you're definitely near the shore? It has that tangy, fishy smell laced between particles of fresh air and salt. A faint stink of decay that evokes the pleasure of aquatic life. A paradox I can't explain.

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Fish and chip bars, ice cream stalls, candy shops, and a funfair make up Brighton Pier. It even has the token ferris wheel.
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Victoria Garden
Of course, we didn't just stay on the beach. 

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An artist at work
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Pan out
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An ice cream parlour
The ice cream in here is delicious. The place looks like somewhere people would hang out with their friends.

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We spotted the casino above in Brighton. I was pleasantly surprised. Thought it was a coincidence at first but I'd recognize that logo anywhere. 

For those who don't know, and to put it simply, Genting is the only Malaysian-based company with a license to run a casino in the country and owns a chain of resorts, a commercial theme park and one of the few proper arenas to house concerts. 

It's one of those places schools would annually, without fail, organize school trips for; the place people go for entertainment purposes. And you can never be sure if you're bored of it even after years.

I digress.

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Above: my favourite beach side scene of the lot.

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The Royal Pavilion
The following day we visited the Royal Pavilion. If you remember my Harry Potter Studio Tour post, there is a picture of an ice sculpture prop made for the Yule ball, which happened to have been inspired by this exact architecture. Coincidence that we visited Brighton right before the tour?

The interior design inside is quite remarkable. King George VI, who oversaw the building of his palace, had the most unconventional ideas with the designs. He was very interested in the oriental, and it's quite a grand palace. I love the exhibition dedicated to Princess Charlotte, the forgotten almost-queen. Imagine - had she not died, Queen Victoria would never have been born. 

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North Laines
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One of the curiouser and curiouser shops in Brighton. There are lots of Wonderland-related shops here (we actually walked pass a Mad Hatter's Hat Shop). Recently found out that it's because Lewis Carroll used to visit his sister regularly in Brighton.

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Down by the beach there is the Artists' Quarter where artists sell their paintings, as well as where fortune tellers offered their service. 

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Pebble Beach
We eventually ended up on the Pebble Beach anyway. It was all serene and peaceful, not too crowded since it wasn't summer yet, the air punctuated by that curious seaside pot-pourri.
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A New Issue


Long days in the office with the senior editors and section editors finally paid off. It was a lot of fun.
Another reason to pick up a copy of Concrete, UEA's Independent Student Newspaper.
And don't forget to check out Venue, the cultural pull-out. 

Or you can check it out here. Enjoy.

Looking forward to future issues!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sweeter Side of Life

"Oh. My..." That was my reaction when CSI and Rachel resolved to bring me to places in London that I supposedly could not afford to miss. Where now you say? 


A place choked full of chocolate. M&M's World. M&M's. Hardened droplets of happiness. Tasty rainbows. In one shop. With four levels. Full of sugary goodness. 

Did I mention the chocolate?


Joyce, you would love this place. 



There are two levels worth of these. 
Anyone reminded of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

So that's how you read it.
So I indulged in some desserts. My sweet tooth needed to be satisfied one way or another, and frankly given that it was the holidays, I couldn't find an excuse not to.  

Macaron Ice Cream
I had my first taste of macarons too. On rose flavoured ice cream. Meringue. Ganache. Melted in the mouth.  Like M&M's. Retreated into that happy place in my head whenever I have my sugar fix. Well, for a little while.

Did I mention the ice cream?

I leave you to drool in peace.


PS. My first paper is on this Friday and it's making my head turn into slush. I think a dessert should cure this. I ought to stop my rambling. And waffling. Mmm... Belgian waffles. Should be doing work. And revision. And having some sleep.

Did I mention that I want a dessert?