Archive for October, 2007

A very bad habit and Corbijn’s Control

October 30, 2007

Every time I find myself submerged with work, I do either of two things: surf the net like mad or go to the movies. Today I did both. I spent a good bit of the day checking out people’s blogs, online forums, wiki, rotten tomatoes, IMDB and Facebook. I also searched for other postgrad programs that I might consider doing in the future (haha). I combed the www for certain ‘dream jobs’ as well.

Tonight I also saw Control, the black and white biopic of Joy Division’s vocalist Ian Curtis (directed by Anton Corbijn). He committed suicide at 23 (sometime in 1980). I wasn’t born yet at the time the band got big, but I do know of a couple of Joy Division (which later on became New Order) songs.

My verdict: Control was painfully beautiful. Corbijn reportedly decided to shoot the film entirely in black and white to reflect the atmosphere of Joy Division and the mood of the era. Each scene mirrored Ian Curtis’ tortured soul, and his music is now replete with even more meaning as we see how his personal torment and grief compelled him to pen such melancholic lyrics (when asked whether Joy Division’s music is beautiful, Curtis replied that “Some of it is…but some of it is not meant to be beautiful”). The haunting words and melody of ‘Love will tear us apart’ are still playing in my head as I type this.

What’s your Friday song?

October 19, 2007

…mine’s still the eternal classic Friday I’m In Love by The Cure, of course.  It’s been my Friday anthem since high school, and back then, Fridays = Galleria Day with friends (Sigh, to be sixteen again…). The minute I set foot in the mall after we’ve been let off from school, the opening riffs of the song automatically start playing in my head.

Back in college, Fridays meant hanging out with orgmates after class and/or seeing films at the UP Film Centre. When I started working, Fridays meant after-work dinners and drinks with friends. Nowadays my Fridays mean no uni, since Friday’s the only weekday when I don’t have class.

With or without romantic interests in my life, that song will forever be My Friday Song. It sucks that I might have to share it with probably a quarter of the people on this planet, but the fact remains that it is still my Friday-pick-me-upper. I wish I could just acquire the rights to the song so I can charge everyone royalties everytime they’d play my song on Fridays.

Incidentally, my flatmate’s Friday song is Lauren Wood’s Fallen. What’s yours?

Units of time

October 18, 2007

I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully dishevelled: four units. It’s amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I’d ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?

***It’s amazing that I still haven’t been expelled from uni. I’m unbelievably lazy; I also just happen to be a master procrastinator, crammer and time-waster (How’s that for a triple threat?). In fact, I often forget that the reason I’m here is that I’m a student who ought to be studying. Seems I’m doing everything but THAT. Given how much time I squander on a daily basis, I surprise myself that I still manage to fit uni stuff into my schedule, as a secondary activity to conjouring fantasies and staring at walls.

My life is made up of units of time. Buying CDs – two units. Eating lunch – three units. Exercising – two units. All in all, I had a very full life. It’s just that it didn’t mean anything.

***Yup, I’ve led an extremely full life as well – full yet meaningless. Almost a quarter of a century old but I’ve got nothing to show for it. Where did my units of time go again?

Defeating the curve

October 18, 2007

This entry is not about battling scoliosis or the evils of the oppressive bell curve grading system. On the contrary, it’s about wrestling with culture shock, based on my 10-month tumultuous residence in this island-continent.

I remember in my Intercultural Communication class last semester we had an in-depth academic discussion about the culture shock phenomenon. What I particularly remember is that certain scholars have come up with models to represent the various phases of cultural adaptation one undergoes during a long-term stay overseas, and two of the more famous ones are the U and the W curves. I’ve had a few drinks tonight and so I am not too keen on getting into the nitty-gritty details of it, but for the uninitiated, clicking on the links should provide a fairly good explanation of things.

Friends who know me rather too well are aware that at several stages of my stay here I have found myself on the verge of giving up, for various excruciating reasons. There have been quite a few instances when I thought I was already on the higher levels of the curve, but every so often I’d be crestfallen since I’d repeatedly find myself plunging back to the its very abyss. A few months back someone asked me how I was doing, and the immortal opening lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities came to mind: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. To my mind then it was always more of the latter than the former though.

As I write this I believe it is of no consequence anymore whether I am currently at the apex or the depths of the curve. Life is far too short and too exquisite to waste agonising about that. All I know is that I’m working towards achieving some semblance of normalcy and contentment again, and that I am friggin’ bigger than any curve.

Things to do before I can par-tay

October 17, 2007

Most of my uni work’s done, but I’ve still got shitloads of assignments to go before I can finally heave a ginormous sigh of relief:

1. a 1,500 word case study paper on the EU and the Washington Consensus, and a 3,000 word essay on World Bank and IMF reform for my International Political Economy class. Combined, these two assessments translate to 80% of my mark, and that is a very scary thought, especially since I am not particularly fond of this class.

2. a short exam and an oral presentation for my Communication & Power Paradigms class.

3. a final exam for International Law

4. another final exam for International Institutions

I’ve taped a list of uni assessments for all of my classes near my desk, and each time I hand in an essay or finish with a presentation, I make a tick next to the corresponding assignment. Once my list is all ticked off, I vow to go to the beach 🙂

My to watch list & Cine Europa

October 17, 2007

Looking forward to seeing these in the next two weeks:

A Mighty Heart (I didn’t know that Michael Winterbottom directed this!)

Control (92% rating at rottentomatoes)

Across the Universe

I haven’t been to the movies in ages, which is extremely uncharacteristic of me. I used to regularly see a movie every Tuesday night (cheap night here) but recently all my uni stuff has been getting in the way. I try to make up for it by watching films on SBS (free tv) whenever I can, and I average around 2-4 weekly.

I’ve already seen the Cine Europa 2007 schedule and I feel so sorry that I’ll be missing a lot of good films. I’ve been religiously attending Cine Europa screenings since high school and it’s just heartbreakingly sad that I won’t get to go this year. Lives of Others, Kolya and Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander are on this year’s lineup, along with a host of other excellent European arthouse flicks. I remember last year I saw Klassfesten (The Reunion) with friends and it was totally hilarious; the year before that I saw Bergman’s Trolosa (Faithless) and it was two and a half hours of pure cinematic genius.

Comfort food part deux

October 12, 2007

mars-bar.jpg

A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play

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It’s the way it shatters that matters

There’s always a fabulous party in my mouth every time I have these candy bars. Yes, it is possible to eat your stress away.

Here’s a good chocolate blog that I stumbled upon. Did you know that there are actually bacon chocolate bars? That is absofuckinglutely the greatest thing since sliced bread. Reminds me of those deleted scenes in Super Size Me where they featured deep-fried Twinkies and Three Musketeers bars which were coated in an uber rich batter.

Postscript: My friend Charlie alerted me to other funky chocolate flavours. Flambéd cognac? Chili chocolate? Infused tobacco?! Well, reviews say they’re divine.

The good life

October 7, 2007

My past few days were beset with copious amounts of stress since I had to struggle to finish two big papers which were due a day apart from each other. But by the sheer grace of God (and my wicked cramming skills), I’m happy to announce that I’ve already handed in both essays.

For some reason, I’ve been feeling relatively peaceful and calm as of late. For a minute there I was actually tempted to say ‘happy’; I wish to qualify however that in my present circumstances I am neither absolutely unhappy nor supremely happy, but suffice it to say that a strange feeling of contentment has taken over me.

Up till now I still can’t quite put my finger on what precipitated the sudden change of emotional state. One of my theories is that it’s probably because I was given a good number of hugs the past weekend by old friends whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. I also had the chance to have lengthy conversations with a couple of people with whom I share similar interests at our housewarming party a few days back. Plenty of tactile contact and good conversations do indeed help a forlorn soul. A lot.

In addition, realising that I have been the recipient of heaps of blessings significantly altered my formerly bleak view of the world. I just had to remind myself that I actually have it good down here. The scores of suffering people in Darfur and Burma, my brother’s friend whose dad had his mom killed, the quadriplegic in Spain who was lobbying for 30 years for an assisted suicide, the Russian girl who was trafficked to Sweden to be sexually exploited…just thinking about the lives of these characters that I’ve come across recently from reality and celluloid made me reconsider my personal definition of misery. There’s some element of schadenfreude in there, I know, but only to the extent that their stories reinforced the fact that I certainly do not have a monopoly of the world’s sadness. It also compelled me somehow to get out of self-pity mode pronto because (though it took aeons for me to realise this) I am one big friggin’ lucksack. Even if half the time I find myself so utterly fugly, poor, stupid and generally inadequate, without a doubt I am still better off than more than half the world’s population. And yeah, I think I’m also getting too old to whine and rant all the time. I figure it’s about time I channel my energies to more positive endeavours.

The loneliness bit isn’t so bad anymore. I remember someone said before that being literally by yourself most of the time shouldn’t be a bad thing at all, because once in a while you ought to make it a point to hear yourself think. Having been my own best mate and worst enemy the past few months has been an insanely mad, chaotic yet enriching experience thus far. And I guess I would have to reluctantly admit this, but I believe I have considerably grown, changed and evolved since I got here.

I feel no shortage of regret however that some friends from the past are, well…gone. Wherever you people are, please just know that it was nice knowing you and that I wish you well. And for those that I have yet to meet (in non-contrived situations, I hope), I am completely thrilled by the prospect of meeting you.

Hope this newfound wellspring of serenity/pseudo-happiness doesn’t dry up soon. If it does, I implore my good friends reading this to give me a good whack on the head.

We have it good, people. Well, yeah there are the requisite rough patches here and there but on the whole we have heaps of reasons to be sublimely thankful. Please tell me that I’m right.

An excellent film-watching week

October 7, 2007

Saw the following movies last week:

Donnie Darko

Lilya 4-ever

The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro)

Monsoon Wedding

P.S. All of them were mindblowingly good…more than satisfied my movie lust.

A rosy bride

October 1, 2007

Got this off one of my emails today:

…we’ve got the rest of our lives to hang out and make plans and lend each other books and watch movies and plays. It’ll be a blast, dude. And I Do Love You that Much, I’ll be there at your wedding. I’ll take you on a walk, and that’ll make you rosy, a rosy bride

Thank you. Guess it goes without saying that I miss you to death. Drinks are on me when we see each other again. And let’s take a long walk together…one foot in front of the other–through leaves, over bridges 🙂