AFIs

In the past month, I have had many conversations on the past year. Inevitably, most of it has been about work. The sessions ans chats with friends, colleagues and bosses has caused me to be introspective to a fault this past month. It has also been compounded by many afternoons spent alone at home with Lola (the male rabbit) and household chores.

The list of AFIs directed to me is not long but it is diverse. The one that stands out: “Anna, you need to be more competitive.” Till today, I struggle wtih a sound interpretation of that statement and how to make it actionable in my life.

Personally, I’ve decided to add something to the list too. “Be comfortable as an adult.” Adult-ing is difficult and ever so often I have tried to escape it by being wilful and whiney. I’ve stayed away from the most stressful situations amd downplayed my responsibility in “big” situations. It’s time to stop, I think, to stop and grow up.

Hello, it’s been awhile.

Last used this space when I was a student in London. Am I here again because I am nostalgic for my time there? It’s a rainy afternoon here in Singapore…perhaps that is it.

Since then.

I started on a profession that I had been preparing for since I was 15 years old. it’s strange to me that I remember one moment so well. i knew when i decided to be a teacher — we were working on a research project to do with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and I felt so fulfilled by the project, the mentorship and the work — 

I got married, moved out into a home of my own. we’ve been together since we were 17 years old. we feel old and young at the same time; we test each other every day but we sooth each other even more. 

I grew into my skin. this is my biggest achievement i think, to grow in confidence and to speak for what i believe in. 

This space lay dormant as I ran away from such personal, public, online space. It’s too scary to put myself out there where people (strangers) can catch me for things I say, grammatical errors and unglamorous photos. Facebook and Instagram reminded me that my fasts from the online world are for nought because I am hopelessly attached to them when the daily grind is on.

So I’ll turn this space into a corner for self-expression and note-taking. We’ll see where this goes.

-It’s the school holidays- 

My Favourite Part of the Song II

On the roof, that’s the only place I know 
Look at the city, baby 
Where you just have to wish to make it so 
Let’s go up on the roof 

And at night the stars they put on a show for free 
And, darling, you can share it all with me 
That’s what I said 
Keep on telling you 

That right smack dab in the middle of town 
I found a paradise that’s troubleproof 
And if this old world starts a getting you down 

There’s room enough for two 
Up on the roof…

– James Taylor “Up on the Roof” 

My Favourite Part of the Song

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place.
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face.
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you.”
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”..

“That you liked Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape. 
You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape.”

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape.”

– Rupert Holmes “Escape” (The Pina Colada Song) 

Accepting that I’m an intellectual

Being on the Masters programme has been a very fun journey so far. It has not always been easy but it is also not so tough that I feel a strong urge to quit. In fact, I’m enjoying the various challenges that have been set for me or that I’ve set for myself.

It’s not easy setting yourself goals that are difficult. It is tempting to kop out and simply do less reading or fluff through seminars. However, I’ve found that when you accept challenges for yourself, the courage to go through with it bubbles up from somewhere inside of you.

At at recent workshop on how to get started on the dissertation, the speaker encouraged everyone in the room to start thinking of ourselves as intellectuals. That took me by surprise. I have not thought of myself in that way before! By that way I mean the type of person who is always thinking deeping, always speaking deeply and constantly questioning and being critical of everything and everyone. Perhaps I had a misconception of what it means to be an intellectual.

I think being an intellectual means always thinking and not being lazy by accepting simple truths. The harder part about being an intellectual is voicing out one’s thoughts or writing it down. Writing and speaking are part of the thought creation process and without doing either action, it is difficult to make sense of the various ideas and images in our heads.

So, in a way, I’m reluctantly accepting that I’m an intellectual. This does not mean that I have exceptional thoughts. But I am committed to thinking, speaking my thoughts and writing them out.

At the end of the workshop, the speaker as the class, “So, when is the thinking supposed to start?”

And the class confidently said, “Now!”

He replied, “No, the thinking has already begun.”

Taking Stock

Received a text a few days ago from a friend who needed to cancel on our afternoon appointment. He used the phrase, “time is just going so fast” to explain why he could not make it to London in time. 

Of course, I understood that his travel plans were delayed and therefore he wouldn’t be able to make it to the city in time. 

The phrase stuck with me and I myself have started to use it in various situations. 

“Hey! How’s your essay going? 

“It’s alright, it’s just that time is going so fast and there is so much still left to do!” 

 

“Can you believe that we’ve only got 4 more weeks of term left? Time is going so fast!” 

 

“Huh?!…what is going on? TIME IS GOING SO FAST!” 

 

We’re all making plans for Christmas, ang moh New Year, Chinese New Year etc. Didn’t make plans for Diwali here in London, though, it didn’t seem like a very big thing (which is strange, no?). 

 

Thought Catalog had an article about things we should stop doing in our 20s. It’s a good list of suggestions. Along the same lines, I’d like to take stock of some things I’ve started to do in my 20s that I would like to keep doing for a long time more: 

1) Take long walks by myself. This was something I started when I was in Champaign-Urbana especially during the Fall when weather was good and college town was quiet. 

2) Talk to strangers. I actually learnt this from T (who naturally does this all the time). Most of the time it’s just commenting on something interesting/strange/nice to someone who probably thinks I’m crazy (in Singapore) or just friendly (everywhere else). 

3) Living alone. Again, this started in Urbana-Champaign and I’m living more of that experience here in London. It’s good to be alone, not lonely. 

4) Learning something new. Film class in Urbana-Champaign. Film class in SOAS. Speed-reading in Urbana-Champaign (nerd alert). Aikido in London. 

 

I’m sure there’s more stuff I’d like to add to the list. Maybe when they pop up, I’ll revisit this space to keep a record. 

Mainly, this is a reminder to myself that when I stop being afraid, I have a great capacity to surprise yourself, in a good way. 

 

Living next to a train station.

I’ve gotten used to living here in London. In fact, I find myself feeling more and more comfortable around the city. I even manage to find my way around – mixing up the tube, bus and walking, somemore – without getting too lost. My parents would be so proud of me. Hell, I’m proud of me. 

Being older does make this experience different, in a good way. Often I find myself comparing this experience (so far) to when I was in Illinois. Gosh, I miss those 4 months that I was in Illinois…mainly because of classes and the friends I made. Being in London has been different but good. In a way, I can really feel myself growing here. 

Argh. Can’t believe I just thought that but it seems appropriate. 

Lots of reading, thinking and just being here. 

I miss my family. I miss them a lot more than I thought I would. Perhaps not as much as BCM but still, heh. 

Back to reading. On another note, this is the most relaxing reading/recess week I’ve ever had in my whole life.