World Poetry Day 2014

Mar 21, 2014 in 0 thoughts

Hello all, and Happy World Poetry Day! I'm sorry I haven't been updating my blog lately, but exams are approaching, and my files/folders have been growing taller and larger... I'll get back to frequent updates once exams are over!

Poetry is a really nice way to express oneself. Unlike prose, it's much shorter, meaning that one has to be very economical with words. Some poets still tend to write long pieces, but others opt to make their works shorter. Poetry is something I have loved for a while, and studying it for A Levels has made be love it even more. I wanted to share something I wrote for this day, but unfortunately didn't have time to finish it (though you can read a poem called I Lit A Fire In You that I wrote last year). In lieu of that, here's a rather interesting poem that made me rather excited because of its unique structure.

First Love: A Quiz
by A. E. Stallings

He came up to me:
a. in his souped-up Camaro
b. to talk to my skinny best friend
c. and bumped my glass of wine so I wore the
ferrous stain on my sleeve
d. from the ground, in a lead chariot drawn by
a team of stallions black as crude oil and
breathing sulfur: at his heart, he sported a
tiny golden arrow.

He offered me:
a. a ride
b. dinner and a movie, with a wink at the
cliché
c. an excuse not to go back alone to the
apartment with its sink of dirty knives
d. a narcissus with a hundred dazzling petals
that breathed a sweetness as cloying as
decay.

I went with him because:
a. even his friends told me to beware
b. I had nothing to lose except my virginity
c. he placed his hand in the small of my back
and I felt the tread of honeybees
d. he was my uncle, the one who lived in the
half-finished basement, and he took me by
the hair

The place he took me to:
a. was dark as my shut eyes
b. and where I ate biter seed and became ripe
c. and from which my mother would never take me
wholly back, though she wept and walked the
earth and made the bearded ears of barley
wither on their stalks and the blasted
flowers drop from their sepals
d. is called by some men hell and others love
e. all of the above

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Jan 31, 2014 in , , 0 thoughts

It is now officially the Year of the Horse! Wishing everyone a very joyful and prosperous year ahead, along with good health.

I've been spending the Chinese New Year with my parents, just having some much-need quiet time for just us (and Hazel, of course). It's quite nice. :)

This whole month has been pretty crazy... I got very sick the first week (an ER visit was involved), but now I'm completely fine, so I'm really thankful for that. Then, in the first week, I received some absolutely miraculous news... I'm not going to say what it is quite yet, but it's amazing, and let's just say that it took a while for it to sink in at first.

My AS results came out last week, and I'm quite happy about how it turned out, haha. It means I can move on to A2 without stressing out about AS anymore! My SAT Subject Tests also came out, finally, and I'm relatively pleased. The wait and the crazy studying was worth it. :)

January 2014 has been a good month as a whole, so here's to the rest of 2014!

2013 In Review

Dec 31, 2013 in , , 0 thoughts

2013 has been an exciting, different year for me, filled with lots of ups, and plenty of downs, and as it draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to take a look at all the things I have done this year.

January. I started college this month, meaning that I actually had human classmates again. I made some awesome new friends, of course, and discovered I like Economics...

February. A relatively calm month, though I did get to celebrate Chinese New Year with my relatives, and brought Hazel on her first every road trip (during which a little girl ran up to me, poked her, then ran away again).

March. My team's Street Kids issue was published, much to my delight. A lot of work went into this one in not a very long period of time, so I'm glad it turned out well. I also had a term exam in March, which went quite decently, haha. I was so worried everything would fall out of my head, but most things stayed in there. After the exam, I had a burst of inspiration for writing, and fell into a state of pleasant melancholy, which felt really, really good.

April. Started all of my classes (some didn't start in January), which was rather hectic. I was really excited to start Literature In English! We started with the most depressing texts of the bunch, though, and that was during the few weeks it kept raining... Classes were spectre-gray in a good way, if that is possible. I also learned the the opposite of a hyperbole is not an underbole (my lecturer gave me a very interesting look when I suggested that), but a meiosis. Another exciting thing that happened was the Young Writers Awards Ceremony 2013! I had a lot of fun seeing my friends again, haha, and to top it off, I did win a few awards. :) Some time during this busy month, I found the time to read Looking For Alaska, which was absolutely spectacular. I still wonder how I hadn't stumbled upon a spoiler before, though.

May. The month of ~the switch. I swapped Accounting for History due to medical reasons, and I must say that the switch was a very interesting experience. It made me realize that sometimes, the things we take for granted, not necessarily because we don't appreciate them, but because we think it's steady. Starting History late also gave me a new-found love and passion for it because I had to immerse myself so completely that it consumed all of my extra time. I also wrote I Lit A Fire In You, which is still my favorite poem that I have written all year.

June. I finally took the SAT, which lasted an interesting number of hours (the place was so empty that I could literally scream in joy when it was over). I posted a rather long SAT vocabulary list here, just in case you would like to take a look.

July. This was quite an uneventful month, though I did finally finish all of my MQA/MPW courses, and I was quite happy about that, haha.

August. A more relaxed month due to the Hari Raya break, though I did have lots of essays to write. I went to an event that gave me hope, and inspired me to do something I didn't think was possible before. Plus, I made a wonderful new friend out of it.

September. Two words: trial exams. September began my exam season that just ended less than two weeks ago. Considering that I never had more than two, maybe three weeks of solid exams at a time, I take surviving it as an accomplishment, haha. The exams themselves were fine, though not particularly exciting.

October. First actual exams, plus a rather exciting something that I'd rather not talk about just yet. I also took my History exam, concluding a 5-month-long romance.

November. More exams. My AS exams finished the day before my seventeenth birthday!

December. Took another two exams that I crammed for, starting almost from scratch, haha. Can't say it was very enjoyable, but it was definitely interesting, and I don't regret it. I finally finished all of my exams, and started working on something else that I finally finished literally two minutes ago. My cousins came from Hong Kong, and we had a lovely time together; I'm also meeting another set from Australia later today, haha.

With that, I bid 2013 adieu. It has been an interesting year, and I definitely accomplished my goal of doing something (very) unexpected, along with making new friends. I started going to "normal" school this year, which in itself was an interesting experience, haha. All in all, it has been an amazing year, but I'm hoping and praying for a much better 2014.

No More Exams (for 2013)

Dec 23, 2013 in , 0 thoughts

Hello again. I just finished my last exam on Saturday (the ~season began in September for me), so I'm rather deliriously happy, haha. I went to eat some Japanese food right after that, then wandered around with my parents and a very big grin on my face. The next order of business was to completely devour a book I bought back in... March, I think. I'd actually read its sequel last year, not knowing there were two books, haha. It was so wonderful, getting to read and read and read without any qualms or thoughts of oh! I shouldn't read this because I have an exam next week.

I still have lots of things to do before the year is over though, including numerous essays for something... Thankfully, the main ones are done.

My cousins from overseas are coming this week (regretfully at different times - we haven't seen each other at the same time since we were about half our current heights), so I'm looking forward to seeing them, haha.

I'll try to make another post soon to round up the year (and a rather eventful one it has been)!

Act Your Own Age - Or Not

Dec 5, 2013 in , , , , , 0 thoughts


“Act your own age,” we’re sometimes told. But no one tells us what that means exactly. So then, is there a guide saying what it means to be 10, 12, 16, or 18-years-old, or any other age? The answer to that, of course, is no.

In a very loose sense, there are certain markers: we start secondary school at 13, get our licenses at 17, and so on. But how we feel, act, and think is beyond the confines of a number assigned to us each year. Our age does not define our psyche, though the situations that certain years bring may influence us, and there is nothing to dictate to us how we are supposed to be as people at different ages in life.

And indeed, that’s a good thing. Society – or perhaps our desire and even need to be accepted into it – already places too many standards for us. There are restrictions on how we act at home, in school, and even with friends, though perhaps some would say that there are less with really good friends. With the many social rules there are, there is then no need, or should be no need, for further restrictions in how we act during certain years.

Of course, people will always tell us to “act our own age” until they can come up with a better retort – it’s a convenient line to pull out whenever it feels like someone is acting immature or perhaps even too mature. But remember that there really is no such thing as that, and if we have not received all our freedoms, we at least have received the freedom to think and act a few years around our real age. It’s part of our rights as human beings to think freely, and sometimes, that doesn’t have to mean of thinking about big or new ideas, though of course this is an option. Sometimes though, it just means like acting like a little kid once in a while, or feeling like we’re a good couple of years older. No one really feels like a different person when they wake up on New Years’ or their birthday anyway, so why then should we allow age to control us?

Pray for the Philippines

Nov 16, 2013 in 0 thoughts

It's been about a week since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, and yet a lot of those who have been affected by it are still haven't a hard time getting the help they need, and likewise, the help that's being sent also has a hard time reaching them. If you want to help you can donate (link to UNICEF), or even if you can't send financial help, please do send a prayer for them.

Happy Deepavali!

Nov 1, 2013 in 0 thoughts

Wishing all of my friends who celebrate it a very happy Festival of Lights! :)

PS:


Caffeinated

Oct 24, 2013 in , , , 0 thoughts

Since a lot of people like me seem to need coffee just to get through most days, I thought it was awesome that the editorial team wanted to take up an issue dedicated to it, and got to contribute an article. Hope you like it, or that you at least learn something new!


Freedom of Speech (and the Concept of Agreeing to Disagree)

Oct 16, 2013 in , 0 thoughts

In conjunction with Blog Action Day, I will be writing today on this year's issue, human rights.

There are 30 articles listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN, and whilst they are all extremely important in protecting human lives and ensuring equality, the right to freedom of speech is one that is especially important. It is also one that, despite having supposedly been granted in many countries a long time ago, still often comes up in debate, and is an issue that echos especially with many Malaysians these last few days. There is a constant inflow of stories on violations of this basic right - even in the U.S., generally considered one of the most open countries, people, especially students, experience such violations. Then, of course, are cases where certain terms are banned, and issues forbidden from public discussion.

The reason given for such prohibitions is generally that they serve to protect public order, and in some instances, that can be true. However, abuse of anything can lead to public discontent - a person who flaunts his riches can aggravate others, but no one bans the accumulation of wealth. There is also a great difference between when something should not be done, and when something cannot be done. To put it simply, just because it seems strange to put noodles in milk and eat it does not mean that the action should be banned. Just because one group of people believe that something should not be done or that a view is wrong does not mean that everyone else should be banned from expression such views.

Acceptance of the basic human right of freedom of speech is essential to ensure a peaceful and progressive society. If Copernicus and Galileo were forbidden from expressing their view that our solar system is heliocentric and does not revolve around Earth, as commonly believed in their time, where would we be in science? We certainly wouldn't be where we are today, and it would be hard for human consciousness to progress as well, especially if conservatives had their way and refused to allow the spread of new ideas and ways of thinking.

Extending the freedom of speech to all does not mean that everyone has to approve of others' opinions. Everyone should be entitled to have their own views on the world, and it is only inevitable that everyone thinks differently, or we might as well be computer-programmed. Even if we strongly disagree with others, we can still agree to disagree - the world world be in chaos if everybody tried to censor dissenting views or even go as far as to impose their own views on others. The point is not whether what we say or think is right, or if we agree with others - the point is that everyone must have the right to express their views.


"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
- Evelyn Beatrice Hall (usually credited to Voltaire)

Power

Oct 10, 2013 in , , , 0 thoughts


Power is a very complex thing. It is something that many lust after and even kill for; it is something that a good leader can wield splendidly for the better good, or a dangerous force that a wrongly-motivated person can use to bring great destruction. History has long made this clear; power in the hands of a strong ruler can solidify empires, whilst, when hereditary autocracy brings it to someone who is weak and unable to use this power to lead his people, great nations can fall to pieces. It has happened over and over again, and occurred in late-18th-century France, and early-20th-century Russia, when detached rulers who lived extravagantly and refused to reform their nations for the better turned their traditionally loyal subjects against their own regimes.

In the modern world of democracy and voting, power lies much more in the people. A misinformed or ignorant public can cause the rise of a terrible regime, whilst an educated people can empower a regime that will lead the nation forward. Likewise, a people who refuse to accept their differences can create chaos, whilst a people willing to work together will foster a peaceful environment.

Individuals, too, have much power in them. A disagreement amongst a few men in top positions can cause the entire U.S. government to grind to a halt and shut down, thus affecting not just their own nation, but the entire world economy, and millions of lives. In the smaller scale of a court, the jury must come to a unanimous decision before the verdict is read. A single person who believes a man is innocent when the rest believe him guilty can, at best, lengthen the process; at worst, this could mean that a dangerous criminal is acquitted.

Whilst we may not yet have the power to change the world on a large scale, we can still change the world around us, as our actions have consequences. We have the power to decide whether we wish to see the glass as half-full or half-empty; to choose whether we want to be a motivating factor, or the negative force that brings people down. We can decide whether we wish to give something our all now for a cause that will benefit everyone, or regret it in the future.
Power, then, lies not just in the hands of monarchs and state heads, but also in individuals like us, and, as Uncle Ben said in Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility.