05 September 2014 @ 11:38 pm

Dear teachers who've taught me over the years, thank you. From drawing me out of my shyness, to encouraging my love for writing and literature, and inspiring a lifelong love for music and choir, I would surely be a lesser person without their guidance.

I was always a very quiet child. In kindergarten I cried when my parents dropped me off at school. I can still remember the utmost horror I felt at having been left at a place full of people I don’t know, clinging to my mother’s hand desperately until a teacher came. She had me sit on her lap during reading time, until I stopped crying, which sounds incredibly bratty and I was such a baby for a 6 year old, but you’ve got to understand that I was a really really really shy kid.

The first time I put my hand up in class was when she was discussing what do we want to be when we grow up. The flash card showed a fire engine. I waited till the last moment. ‘who wants to be a fire fighter? Ok next -’ and I put my hand up, but she already switched the card, and it showed a garbage truck. All the other children laughed at me because I wanted to be a rubbish collector. She chided them and said that there’s nothing wrong being a rubbish collector, and praised me for being brave enough to raise my hand. Later, she gave me a sticker, which I treasured for a long time. I’ve forgotten her name, but she was the first teacher that helped me to be brave (despite the fact that I was misunderstood :P)

In Primary 2, my form teacher Mrs Wong had long black hair and she tied it in a knot to show us, but told us not to try it at home because our hair wasn’t long enough to do that. She remembered me all the way to p6 and always greeted me with the loveliest of hugs, and once when I was sick she came to my house (which was just behind the school) to visit me and gave me a card from the class. She taught me compassion not by telling us to be so, but through showing her warmth and kindness herself.

In Primary 6, I was still the quiet kid in class. 'She needs to speak up more’ all my report cards said. Mrs Clara Tan was the first person that gave me opportunities to speak up. She made me the monitress which is the first leadership position I was given - I'm probably the most docile monitress in history. She also encouraged my interest in writing and english.

In lower secondary, my english teacher Ms Ilan really made me love writing. For every narrative essay she’d write positive comments at the bottom and encouraged me to write more. In upper secondary my lit teacher Ms Ow was super sarcastic and funny and made literature lessons so fun. I went on to take lit in jc because of these two teachers, and have always loved literature.

In JC I was so lucky to have such dedicated teachers that really helped us through the A levels. I remember staying back after school everyday in J2 to disturb all my teachers for consultations. Lit classes with Ms Chan, Mr Guru and Ms lim were especially fun, but I might be biased because it is my favourite subject hehe. We were such a strange class and our PD tutor Mr Ang just made it even more crazy in GP class with his hilarious sarcasm. Just before the As the teachers gave us motivational gifts, and we heard that they were competing in the staffroom to see who has the nicest gifts for their students. :3 aww.

So I know a bunch of my friends are gonna be teachers/are already teachers. This sounds cheesy but i'm so proud of my classmates from JC who are gonna be teachers (you know who you are!). I know they're just gonna be the coolest teachers ever. I hope y'all will continue to inspire encourage and change the lives of your students like how my teachers did for me, if not for all your students, even just helping one shy, quiet student would be enough :)

I'll end this post with a few excerpts from old blog posts from secondary and jc days. My blog is filled with gold, srsly. ;D

February 17, 2007, 22:33
i've always wondered if teachers worry about their popularity.
especially if you're a secondary school teacher, you are under alot of critique.
because in primary school, i don't remember complaining that much about teachers.
and in JC, i don't think the students will be that bothered by teachers then.
and most importantly, secondary school students are in their prime of being a tonky wonky teen.

so anyway, if you're a teacher, and you're reading this, [although i sincerely hope you are not one >.<] this would be good advice to you. especially if you're a new teacher. in a secondary school.

relief teachers or new teachers always do the same stuff that makes them cry because we're too rowdy, so here are the 'do nots':
-do not appear unconfident of yourself.
-do not appear soft spoken. or be one.
-do not recite from the textbook
-do not ask us to play interactive games applying to the subject, although you were taught to be innovative in your lessons in teaching school.
-do not make us do group work unnecessarily; believe me, we don't learn anything.
-do not appear affected by cutting remarks
-do not appear flustered when there is a technical breakdown of the visualiser or computer
-do not attend to single groups of people only
-do not discontinue the lesson when the class is noisy with the threat that you're not teaching anymore
-do not ignore our idiosyncrasies - a.k.a throwing fishballs, fishcakes, wantons from the wanton mee stall across the classroom, and laughing like crazy
-don't succumb to our bargains


but there are some teachers who managed to win our attention, and what they were able to do was:
-manage our idiosyncrasies [like when we call you by your first name; mr keith!!]
-able to make the class roar with laughter and end up with stomach aches
-able to make two periods seem like a half period
-able to make a boring subject really interesting [vowel practices during english! XD!]
-able to make us get what you are teaching
-able to control the class, but be really nice

able to make the lesson really interesting really. and you must have an interesting personality. i know that being a teacher is just being a person who teaches, and you're not exactly going all out for the most popular teacher award, but you know how boring school is. and how life is so short. and how some of you teachers out there love to read student's blogs.

and when you actually do get our attention and get us really interested, that would be great for you, because we would get great grades, and your appraisal would have glittery golden sparkles on the borders while your colleagues have slightly bedraggled appraisals that looked as if it had been thrown across the classroom at someone's head.

so basically, its not impossible to become a protagonist in secondary school, even if you wear BRIGHT yellow shirts, have weird accents and denies having them
laughs at your own jokes, reads out random stuff from fangying's science notebook
speaks broken english, is older than the rest of the school population, uses the overhead projector too often, carries a ruler that he bangs around, causing it to shatter and leave the ruler looking like a shortened stake,
catches people for their socks, shoes, skirt, nails, hair, glasses, nametag, shirt, pants, too low-pants, too high skirts, too many hair pins, too little hair pins, too short ponytail, terrorises the lower secondary, wears black...
screeches in a high voice, has a naggy voice, is agitated when we don't know simple facts, says - "you understand or not! yes or not?!" wears different socks with velcro strapped slippers
talks about her boyfriend all the time, pmses, talks about girly stuff
make jokes about people, loves to show off his singing, teaches history which is boring

oh the list goes on and on.


October 15, 2009, 20:16
OH MAI GAAAWD! Today was pretty interesting. before morning assembly i was watching the 'commotion' over mr. toh's weird shirt which was laughed at by the other teachers. i could hardly keep a straight face when ms chan was talking to me after morning assembly because before that i overheard ms chan's comparison of the shirt to 'mentos'. XD LOLMUCH.

then ms chan surprised us with a laminated note for each of us - and then if it wasn't already pretty sweet, she went to the back of the stage room and revealed the two bags of awesome goodness she hid there! it's a little paper bag filled with goodiez. sneha was FAWNING all over the paper bag but not it's contents. XD

AND AND AND ms chan gave the very responsible and albeit silly literature rep A.K.A YOURS TRULY a Borders voucher! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! <3 THANKS MS CHAN! it's so nice of her! i mean i feel so touched that i'm honoured with a gift. :3 the Borders element to it is an added bonus. ZOMG THIS TOTALLY CALLS FOR A TRIP TO PARKWAY BORDERS. <3 and go Paperchase crazeh! BOOKZ AND MOAR. AWESUM.

...but maybe after As. :(

oh and ms chan revealed the story why she doesn't wear her green dress anymore - because it blended in with the green doors of the classrooms when they repainted them. XD and then Jaswin(was it you Jaswin?) reminded her of the slip of paper she gave us in our first class dictating the rules of her class that included bringing our journals everyday - but the rule sort of dwindled away...unnoticed..and ms chan observed how it 'seemed like it was only yesterday'(yes, cliched phrase) that she gave us that slip of paper.

JC LIFE HAS BEEN SO AWESOME. and it's officially ending tomorrow. unofficially i'm still going back to school next week, but there are no more timetabled classes and morning assemblies. just on my own now, studying to the last moments.

I enjoyed it so much. I actually liked going to school. except for some days. my classmates are a unique bunch of people and the only class i've been in with five left handers (including me) and thankfully very artsy-fartsy and all around people that i relate to. then there was choir where i learned so much about singing, music and people. and my subjects in general really made me see the world in such a clearer light.

i'll leave the lovey-dovey, thankyou and i wuv-all-my-classmates post for tomorrow. and tomorrow will be an awesome day because we have a parteh after farewell assembly!! WOOHOO. definitely bringing my camera. toodles for now!
06 August 2014 @ 05:08 pm

In my photos, Hong Kong is like a dystopian dream, in every frame are textured surfaces, strewn boxes, unsympathetic streetscapes. Yet the people we met were warm and friendly, even when we weren't conversing in half-past Mandarin and Cantonese, some approached us with friendly words (not in the scamming way though!). their pace of life seems less hectic than what hong kong appears to be on the surface, at least less stressful than what we were used to at home. On Sunday we discovered most shops to be closed, locals lazily stroll across small lanes, some sans shirts due to the summer weather, and tourists wander up and down streets, confused.

Looking up from the street, I constantly spy pockets of green dotting the charmingly haphazard facades Hong Kong is so fondly remembered by. Where there is space, little sitting areas screened by plants stick out, though that privacy is immediately taken away by the overhead passes and mid-levels escalator that wind through the buildings. Like a photographer's conveyor belt, these elevated circulation strips provided another fascinating view of the Hong Kong streetscape. It made me wonder if we could view a city at different levels, would we finally fully understand it?

I'm pretty sure we only barely scratched the surface during our little weekend trip. Here are some of many photos I took while we traversed streets in-between our loosely planned itinerary of where to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner in the city of amazing food. With the very helpful 3G phone provided by the hotel, wifi-sharing to our own iphones on google maps, we still managed to loose our way now and then, taking lesser-known paths up hills...but the sights and charming little indie shops we stumbled upon was worth the aching feet.

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15 July 2014 @ 03:14 am

Shot with 55-200mm and 35mm lens, music by Birocratic.
14 July 2014 @ 10:16 pm

Hey there! I've bought a new lens! It's the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, a relatively affordable prime lens that yields relatively beautiful images.

Of course I could have gotten the 35mm f1.4, or even an FX lens, in prep for an upgrade to an FX format camera in the distant future, which meant better bokeh, less lens distortion and vignetting; but I'm working with my intern pay budget here. Not that i'm unhappy with my 35mm - after bringing it out for 5 days, I'm just in awe of the potential of this lens. It brings out a depth and life to my photos that i've never seen before, and it makes me so excited about photography again.

Apart from gigs, which I shoot with my 55-200mm in P mode, I take all my photos with the 18-55mm kit lens. And being a lazy arse, I shoot them all in auto no flash mode. Not even P mode. I know. I admit entirely to being a photoshop whore. It's a blasphemy, I shouldn't even call myself a photographer. But after getting the 35 and researching about shooting with prime lens, I've experimented with M, A and P mode, mostly because getting a prime lens is all about the bokeh, right? XD

The nice thing about buying my first lens after having been into photography for quite awhile (the 55-200 came with the camera as a package-y thing) is knowing my shooting style and what kind of shots I usually take. I wanted a prime because I knew it would force me to stop being a scared and lazy arse and actually move in closer to get shots. I chose the 35 over the 50 because i'm mainly an architecture-focused photographer, and i'd like to give photos more of the context around the subject. But I realised having a DX camera meant that the crop factor makes my 35mm lens more of a 50mm...I think. The world of photography is quite confusing and full of self-righteous people on the internet who hates noobs like me.

Nevertheless, here are the very first batch of test shots over 5 days with the lens. There were missed photos because I was a shit photographer and it focused on something else other than the subject, and I got shouted at for the first time doing street photog ('OI!不可以拍AUNTIE AH!') because with a prime lens, however quick you are, it's gonna be a case of having a camera pointed right in their face because you can't zoom. But hey, it all comes with the experience.

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10 April 2014 @ 05:51 am

[gif credit]

So last year on my birthday, when everyone was going crazy about this crazy fox video and sharing it all over the world and playing it on every sound-emitting device known to mankind - WHY DIDN'T ANYONE MENTION THAT:


Now before you say - goddamnit, didn't you watch those interviews or read stuff online??? I will tell you that nope, I did not. I'm a hipster - I hate jumping on the bandwagon when something on the internet explodes, especially when people only tell you - 'omg there's is this stupid song on youtube IT'S THE NEW FRIDAY SONG'. So that was essentially my impression of it - a really bad pop song written by idiots who are serious about it.

By the time I caved in to watch the whole video, it was only because my sister wanted to let my mum and dad listen to it in the car - and thus encased in an iron prison I watched it. And yeah we laughed. I remember thinking to myself - 'but why?! He has a really good voice. And sort of cute...but why?!!?'

It didn't really help that in December last year, 4 months after the song was released (on my birthday. Yes I know I mentioned that already.) I bought a fox-print pullover which was a sort of rip-off Kituné Maison's fox print stuff which are really cute but expensive. My pullover was however, much more affordable, and I proudly wore it everywhere BUT AS YOU MIGHT HAVE ALREADY GUESSED, ALL I GOT WAS - 'OMG YOUR SHIRT! WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY!'


I also painted a fox wearing a top hat and suit with an empty speech bubble on a canvas tote bag earlier in the year when I had a sleepover with friends and we decorated tote bags. That bag also drew similar comments. I also had found this really cute photo of a fox smiling which I used it as my twitter dp, which also drew similar comments. I just really like foxes okay?!

So as with a huge majority of people, I was sick of that song. Until last week.

It's actually final submissions next week, so I'm not sure why i'm actually wasting my time typing this. (coughprocrastinatingcough) but last week while trying to get through work, I found myself watching a bunch of Jimmy Fallon videos on youtube, namely those where parents made their kids cry like brats. Then, for some reason, I clicked on the video of Ylvis performing on the show.

My first reaction was - 'well ok he's cute though'. Then two of them appeared on the same screen and I was like - WAIT, THERE'S TWO OF THEM? If this is any sort of valid excuse for being so utterly ignorant, I had only watched the video 1 or 2 times before ok. plz.

[gif credit]
Well that was reason enough to stop watching, but no one - NO ONE - watches only one video on youtube. So I ended up finding out that:

1. Ylvis has a freaking television show where they pull pranks on people and do the MOST HILARIOUS things. The only other time I laugh hysterically while watching something would be SMAP (interestingly, also another talented bunch of singer/comedian/pretty).


[gif credit] [gif credit]
(third guy in gif is Calle, who is tremendously funny as well with those two)

3. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A JOKE AND NOT A SERIOUS SONG. That changes everything. Because my first reaction of it when I watched it in the car with my sister was that it was funny. But because they did mean it as a joke anyway, those people who were saying 'omg what is this world coming to, I have lost faith in humanity and their ability to music' just...sound silly. (Those people = me?)

I mean, how can people go crazy about this one song, but not go crazy about their existing 10 years worth of comedy? Even when they were invited on american tv shows, not a single clip from I Kveld Med Ylvis, the tv show the song was made for, was shown.

And then now, after it has all died down, I recently shared a video on le dreaded Facebook (this is a topic for another time for how much posting to Facebook irks me these days) of Ylvis prank calling a hotel. NADA. Not one person was interested. It made me quite sad because I replayed that video 3-4 times and it made me laugh every time. I'm pretty sure some people don't even know who Ylvis is, but when you say 'erm the fox guys?' they'll be like 'OOOOOHHH HAHA THEM'.

And this makes my hipster-tendencies react strangely. I mean, firstly, if they were obscure, I'd be like - ok whatevs, you don't know what you're missing out on. But they're aren't obscure. At least their ONE SONG isn't. Therefore I feel like - hey! now I have an interest in something coinciding with everyone else in the world for once and i'm standing here, with my arms wide open, ready to receive the throng of mutual agreement, but i'm left hanging. Alone. Well, except for the pleasant Ylvis fandom on tumblr and youtube who put up really good subtitles and make excellent gifs that made me lol throughout my commute to school on monday.


also Bård Yylvisåker's face is like - I don't even. HIS FENCE. I MEANT FACE.

[gif credit]
Thank you. I will now step off the soapbox and stop listening to the fox vocal track only on repeat. for now. (Bård's voice breaking while shouting WA-PA-PA-PA-PA-PA-POW and Vegard's maniacal CHA-CHA-CHA-CHA-CHA-CHA-CHOW ALWAYS cracks me up.)

Bye. Back to work. ;_;
10 March 2014 @ 05:34 am

I should really be trying to finish up work for studio later since it's 5am and i'm nowhere near finishing; but my head's been swimming with the brilliance that is Olafur Arnalds' music since his concert a bunch of hours ago. And I thought this was a concert i'd really want to look back at my blog and read what I felt after watching it.

A few weeks ago, I woke up crying from a particularly vivid dream. It was one of those rare ones that stayed with me for the rest of the day. When I decided to start on work, I opened the youtube page to look for something to listen to, and there embedded in the suggested videos was Olafur Arnald's living room songs. I possibly cried enough tears to fill a bottle that day, listening to his music.

At the risk of sounding like I have borderline personality disorder, I feel that happiness doesn’t come without a bit of sadness. It is bittersweet - like knowing a loved one might leave any moment, but the happiness is all the more stronger in moments shared and never taking them for granted. Or that day after harrowing exams. Or finally getting the timing for your poached eggs just right. Happiness alone is like a saturated fairground of cheerful song and lights. Happiness with that tinge of sadness is being immersed in a warm outdoor thermal spring bath in the dead of winter, surrounded by snow capped mountains with the frost against your face but not feeling cold. Which is exactly how I feel about Olafur Arnalds' music.

It was then on twitter, after tweeting about how emo I was and how nice his songs were, that I was informed he was coming to perform in Singapore a few weeks later. The best thing was, it was sold out. I went back on twitter to rage about how even more emo I was about the entire situation. Thankfully, there was a waiting list, and I was contacted the week after that I've got a ticket!

My fellow awkward chum Evelyn was going as well (but she bo jio from the start. tsk. XD), so I wasn't alone! It's also thanks to her that we got to sit in the front row because she came a little earlier. woohoo!

The 1 hour set felt like a lifetime. Not because it was boring, but I expected the hour to fly by, like other shorter gigs i've been to. But every nuance and moment in each song spoke of a thousand images, feelings, and other, such inexplicable things that it felt like time had stopped. I remember vaguely thinking to myself if his music was magical enough to stop time - as cliche as it sounds.

If I was alone, I would have cried at some parts. But social propriety states that crying is not allowed in public and within sight of performers. and I didn't want to move. I had my hands held together in a rested-clap position, nails digging into other hand. I uncrossed my legs so that they wouldn't get numb, and thus I didn't need to fidget every 5 minutes. I felt like if I moved I would spoil the moment. That was how intense I felt as an audience member - but clearly some people couldn't stifle their coughs, chair creaks, or fight the urge of gravity by letting their stuff fall to the ground at inappropriate moments.

The lighting and video projections were done really well - minimal but very evocative, and weaved together seamlessly. When I wasn't looking at Olafur's stripey socks under the piano, I was watching the projections, wondering if that was a shadow of the singer Arnor, or a video.

I don't think any other concert i've been to have made me feel moved, inspired, and humbled by the music all at once. I was so in awe of the music I just heard, that I said to myself while in the autograph queue not to say anything stupid to Olafur or Arnor - in fact just don't say anything other than thank you and not spoil the image of Teh Musical God Olafur by saying something embarrassing which would have been met by awkward silence. (clearly I speak from experience.) I also feel so inspired to create new things myself, in various mediums of music, video and writing.

Apart from those omg-such-beauty-much-goosebumps moments, Olafur is so funny without even trying. I watched a few videos of his live performances on youtube, and he always makes people laugh - and he really just does. No one has expressed their opinions on the damn marina bay sands building so pointedly succinct. 'There is a boat...on top of three...buildings. And at night I got really scared when it started shooting lasers. I don't understand...fucking- is this normal? Do you people think this is normal?'

And then he complains about how hot it is in Singapore (it is bloody hot these days, sadly. Dry season and all.) and how he misses home where there's a snow storm...and how he 'can't be alive' in a place like this. I feel you bro. I feel like I need a creative sabbatical to some far off chilly place with landscapes and tiny cabins to create things from my head.

And then I come home, and start tweeting again, only to realise, that he wrote the music for Broadchurch. And then I start putting two and two together; no wonder there was that suggested video on youtube - because months ago I vaguely remember searching for the soundtrack for Broadchurch...And I feel like an idiot for being slow on the uptake.

Now, I have to return to work - though I might just kip off to sleep soon because sleep > work.

p.s.: give him a listen.

I've been watching a lot of Derren Brown lately. In fact, I think i've made it through all his major television shows in recent years, live theatre shows, and i'm just left with a few episodes from the earlier series. I'm quite an obsessive person. When something intrigues me, I pursue it without abandon. I have to know every single fact about the subject; how he did it, what other suits he has and where he lives. I'm joking. (No i'm not.)

I'd like to think that I have a major takeaway from everything I obsess about. From obsessing over Muse, I've educated myself in layman's physics, string theory, conspiracy theories and reciting the alphabet backwards. From obsessing over Mika, I took an interest in French, experimented with my wardrobe that led to much ostracising in my first year at uni, and thought - well if his brother is studying Architecture, it must be a cool thing to study.

Clearly sometimes the takeaways are a little...less positive. However it led me think - have I based my personality and my moral values on the admiration of prominent figures, whether celebrated or non-celebrated; resulting in a thought process like: 'he's OCD. Therefore it must be cool to be OCD. I shall now display OCD-like tendencies.'

Or, is it merely a case of already having such OCD-like tendencies, but having identified with an admired prominent figure who has the same OCD-like tendencies, my own are then amplified?

Which brings to mind the question: is it just a case of subject validation? Subject validation is the belief that two unrelated events are related due to an expectation that demands that relationship. While subject validation is mostly used to describe the phenomena of people's belief in horoscopes and tarot card readings, it does sort of apply here as well. Admired-person says 'I'm OCD'. I then, wanting to be associated with, and be similar to admired-person, look within myself and find existing OCD-like tendencies, like being neat. I then consciously or unconsciously amplify such characteristics to being overly-neat, just so that I can say 'I'm OCD' too.

A related phenomena, is the Barnum Effect. This was kindly supplied to me by Shaun over twitter, when I attempted to communicate my ponderings similar to above, in 140 characters. After reading it, and then going back obsessively to watch more Derren Brown, I found that it was also mentioned several times by the Brown himself, most prominently in a programme where he carried out the Barnum Effect experiment on three different groups of people from three different countries. He gave everyone the same personality test results, telling them that they were unique readings. They were told to rate the accuracy of the test. Most of them gave very high ratings.

Here's a sample of the personality reading from Forer's demonstration (which i nicked off wikipedia.)

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

It is shockingly, very accurate don't you think? But while these statements are specially crafted to be general and applicable to a wide range of people, it led me to think - aren't we all just really similar even though we think we're different and unique? Don't we all worry about the same things to different degrees, and hide embarrassing details of ourselves from other people, only to realise during an unexpected heart to heart talk with someone, that everyone finds it particularly satisfying to pick a huge booger from their nose?

Especially after watching Derren Brown display extraordinary cold readings (a technique of reading details of a person using statements similar to the Barnum Effect) of people from different audiences in different shows, we must be so plain and similar to the master conjuror on stage, like sheep waiting to be sheared bare.

Our similarities seem to lie in what we worry about, what we care about and what we want out of life. But what makes our actions so different? Why do we react so differently to such similar goals? If we're all so similar, why do we fuss over who do we choose as a life partner, or what race we are, or what accent we speak?

Is it because we just don't realise how similar we are, that we start to throw up all these differences between us, or are they actually real differences?

Maybe we're just so slightly similar in some ways that we can be manipulated by general statements and a man on stage in coat-tails, herding us around, making us believe that he can read our minds, and making me believe that we're all the same when we're actually not so?

After having typed all of the above and left the house quite perturbed that I couldn't draw a reasonable enough conclusion to the blogpost, I was left thinking about the subject on a train full of regular folk that make up the nation as we know it. What utter rubbish was I thinking? I thought. I'm surely hugely dissimilar to the woman sat opposite me with her arms propped up on her purple pvc tote bag, phone held in landscape position, mindlessly swiping her finger across the screen from left to right. How can I have the same thoughts as the guy sat next to me watching a korean drama on his laptop while deceptively wearing manly-clothes that say 'i-don't-watch-korean-dramas'?

But having come home, read a bit of the book I went out to purchase (and unavoidably spent my money on many other useless objects like a cat plush that was irresistibly cute.) and deciding to put an end to this naggingly self-absorbed, rambling, and pseudo-perspicacious effort at externalising the stream of consciousness that came to me quite readily while brushing my teeth when I woke up today, I lamely proclaim that we're all similar, but different.

This painfully reminds me of the incident in my first year of architecture where I, as a twinkly-eyed, innocent and overly-confident first year student, was nominated and accepted to be the presenter for the first group project we did. I thought it would be superly cool to start the presentation with the line - 'Expect the unexpected.'. Clearly that didn't go down too well with the very experienced tutors who have seen a lot of smoke and codswallop that students spew out at them over the years.

But we are. We are similar, but different. No this isn't a barnum statement (or is it? I'm planted a couple in the first part of this blogpost actually.). While we we have the same unconscious instincts in certain tense situations that make us susceptible to the illusionist on stage, or to the knowing psychologist/psychiatrist who jots down large, unreadable words in his official looking pad while you try to hold back your tears while looking his holiday photos behind him, we are different. We are definitely different. But in trying to fit in with the playground kids, the cool hipsters in school, the office lunch gang, the unnerving relatives you see once a year, we mould ourselves into predictable behaviour. We fall into giving predictable responses to our common fears and motivations. 'I want to be promoted' therefore 'I shall do more work'. 'I don't want to come off as a loser in front of this really clever person' therefore 'I shall throw at said person all the knowledge I have about quantum physics'.

The barnum statements, though seemingly fraudulent after being exposed as such, are not untruths. We're all introverts - to different extents. We're all confident - to different extents. I think the difference we can make in ourselves, and therefore in being different, is being aware of ourselves. To risk sounding like a loony or a terribly mis-informed person, and share our streams of consciousness - not on facebook statuses that irks everyone else except the author and their admirers, but on acceptable platforms such as blogs or a dogeared diary then shelved and left never to be read by anyone else. We should be aware of our strengths and weaknesses. I myself, like to think that i'm 70% introvert, 30% extrovert. While introversion is commonly misconstrued as a weakness, it is in fact a strength that I could, for example, harness and lend to developing more confidence as an extrovert. I'm not entirely sure how this works out, but in general, I hope you can follow my train of thought that being aware of our traits and that we are inherently similar beings, the way we approach life and react due this knowledge, is what makes us different. Then, charging ourselves with an outlook of positivity, and believe that we're able to be extraordinary, that we can take the step towards being different.

Which then now leads to another question of...'why is it so important to be different?'. A classic question of the modern day hipster. This will be left to be dealt with in another blog post, on another day when I have the luxury to casually ruminate on such things rather than worry about the important tasks of the day.
31 December 2013 @ 10:27 pm

I've got a feeling i've reflected much more about this year than any other year in my life so far. Mainly because of my year out, which I feel like i've been continually talking about in this blog, as well as to friends. So you could say 2013 for me was a year of reflection for me.

I may not have had much life experiences so far as a 22 year old - at least not as much as a wise old lady living in a remote mountain growing a 100 foot beard. But I think it's good to sit back and reflect on what has happened in your life from time to time - it sort of puts you in check.

Rather than reiterating the series of events that has led up to this moment - where i am sitting on a slightly damp wooden chair up on the rooftop, typing away like a pseudo-bohemian on a laptop, pausing every few sentences or so to get a bite of a slice of pear and check if I'm making any sense in my previous sentences - I will hazard to construct a cheesy sort-of personal self reflection that may or may not be read as self-gratuitous.

Which blogger never seems self-gratuitous to the reader anyway? Hmm. The smell of the neighbour's barbecue is really nice though.

One really huge thing i've learnt this year is that we should make opportunities happen rather than wait for opportunities to come. I remember getting really disillusioned about making my year out a 'success' by getting as much internships as possible, because nothing seemed to be working out. Jobs seemed to be presented to me, then taken away again. But on reflection, by reaching out to all those people and attempting to break out of my social-awkwardness and making my intentions known, I made an impression and was later called up for other jobs later in the year, some of which I had to painfully reject as it was during the uni semester. If I hadn't reached out to people and stayed in a rut, then nobody would have known I was keen to do work in production design/art department. If I hadn't tried, then nothing would have happened. Of course, I'm so grateful to everyone who has helped me and gave me those opportunities this year, despite the fact that I was entirely new to the profession.

Then there was that moment where I unintentionally expressed my interest to do publicity for the choir i'm in. (I'm sure everyone knows what choir that is and tbh i'm not typing the name here because I know all too well that my blog will appear on google when people search for the choir. publicity does her job yo. XD) I was nominated to be part of the executive committee, and was asked to be the treasurer and I was like 'OH NO I CAN'T' because I'm just horrible with numbers and will probably screw up the accounts. So I said 'umm I don't mind doing publicity, if you want me in the exco...'. My thought-process was: I didn't even expect to be nominated to be in the exco, not that I wanna be in it, but I don't mind helping y'know, if you want me to be in the exco then alright, but i can probably help best in publicity.

...Basically it was just me being neutral about being in an important position, as usual. I was never the leader or in any kind of committee in my life - well except for being a pseudo-publicity head for art club in secondary school, I say pseudo because I was always attending choir practices rather than art club activities. 8| Perhaps I do desire playing a larger role in things I care about, but I'm also inhibited by my own sense of not-wanting-to-say-the-wrong-things and not-wanting-to-be-an-embarrassment-to-myself-and-the-other-party and prefer being nominated for things rather than bursting through the door with dramatic arms singing - 'YES I'M AWESOME! PICK MEEEEEEE~!'

But of course my mindset always led to people misunderstanding me as 'quiet' and 'shy' - the pet peeve of all introverts. And so I was never offered any important positions, but mainly because I never made my intentions known.

Going back to the choir exco example, it was only later this year while chatting with my lovely choirmates that I realised I HAD given people the impression that I WANTED to do publicity. I was initially charged with a huge sense of oh-shit-i-am-an-embarrassment-to-myself-and-the-other-party but on reflection, I think it was good in a way, that I had inadvertently expressed my interest to do publicity. It's something that I enjoyed doing immensely this year. While I procrastinated on schoolwork, intern work, I would immediately jump straight into publicity work for the choir. I'm not sure if it's because it's an entirely new thing and it would get old eventually, or that I just really like refreshing social media pages and seeing the likes and views increase exponentially more than my own other internet-y things (like this blog.) - but I really enjoyed designing and creating publicity material for the online presence of the choir and the concert.

Just before I went for dinner with my family earlier, I chanced upon Derren Brown's Apocalypse, which is a high budget hidden camera programme focusing on a 22 year old guy who isn't motivated in life and is suddenly put in a constructed reality where the world has ended and there are zombies out there. After going through the experience and being made to make important decisions that displayed his courage, leadership and compassion, he emerges a better person. Sounds amazingly cheesy, and suspiciously hoax-y, but I could totally relate to the guy when I watched it. Most of my generation tend to take our parents and our cushy lifestyle for granted. We put things off, and don't find an aim in life. When things don't go our way, we blame others rather than reflecting on ourselves.

Taking a year out and reflecting on what I really want to do in the future, was refreshing for me. I feel like I understand myself better and know what I want out of life. I know never to take what I have for granted - though this has always been with me since many years ago, it's good to be reminded of this every now and then.

And now, a few last phrases that will mean more to me than you, dear reader. But perhaps they'll resonate with you as well.

Be less judging, more feeling. Be brave, and take those chances. Have faith in myself, and persevere. Treasure moments, and remember.

Happy new year! :)
17 December 2013 @ 01:44 pm

雨 / / y u , was created out of my love for the rain, especially the monsoon season that comes around every november-january in Singapore. It is probably our only semblance of a seasonable change to something colder in the festive season! The rain around this season also reminds me studying for finals at the end of the year, cooped up in my room, with only the steady pelting of rain falling as company.

The piano piece in this video was improvised one rainy midnight when the rain was falling outside. I recorded it with my phone, having no prior plans of using it for a video. A few weeks later when I was clearing my phone, I listened to it again, and thought it would be perfect for a video, and so I dug out clips I have of rain from my ext hard drive - which I had a lot of - and started piecing them together to the music.

There's a reddish pebble in the clip, which was actually a test video for another idea I had to make a short animated film about this traveling pebble. Unfortunately...that idea has to wait. The pebble is from the Loch Ness in Scotland. One lovely summer's day last August, I stood on the banks of Loch Ness, and watched people skipping stones across the water. I looked down at the glistening pebbles, mostly grey and green, but this copper red pebble with a little groove caught my eye. The groove looks very much like an eye itself. So I took it home.

This is probably more of the human tendency to draw links to things where it is only pure coincidence, but When I put the pebble on the windowsill, it will start to rain. The day I decided to take my pebble out in the car to film it, it rained. So I now affectionally call it my rain stone. It might make another appearance if the short film idea eventually emerges.

There are other clips that aren't specifically rain, but glittering, light effects that I had gathered over the past year or so from shoots that I was involved in, or just moments that I caught on the go with my phone. Putting the clips and music together, I wanted to create a visual and aural moment in time that captures that special feeling when you're indoors on a quiet night, and the rain starts to fall.

Hopefully my sentiments were translated to you as you watched the video!
17 December 2013 @ 02:29 am

Hey there, faithful reader. A blogpost is due for all the things that has happened to me since my last major update where I unfolded the story of my exciting year out in the middle of university.

To continue where I left off - I started my first semester back in archi school as a third year, and survived! Phew. I had a really unique semester - after being away for a year, many things were different.

Firstly, this is what I presented for my final critique this semester in November:

It is a scheme for a food court integrated with a vegetable farm on the same plot of land. Our studio explored the ways we could shorten food chains and make food sources more transparent to the consumer via architectural and urban design.

Here's a morning shot of my model after I completed it overnight and finished it just in time as the sun rose; so I took it out to photograph it.

These are my lovely studiomates during mid-autumn festival! We brought lanterns and mooncakes to studio to chase away those studio blues. Coming back to uni and joining an entirely new cohort of people I don't know at all was quite scary, but I'm glad to have met such a cool bunch of people from my studio who made me feel less awkward as the weeks went by!

One of my required modules to take was Organisational Behaviour (OB) from the business school, where I had never taken any classes at because I have absolutely no interest in that subject. However I'm really glad I took this module, as I've learnt so much from it - not only in the organisational, professional sense, but also in self-reflexivity - being more aware of myself and interacting with others. It was somewhat a lesson in social constructs and behaviours, which I find really useful in professional and literary pursuits.

with my groupmates from OB and our tutor!

I also decided to take the Chamber Singers module from yong siew toh school of music, which was super fun! I always have a little skip in my step walking into the music school because I was partly fulfilling my dashed dreams of being a music student.

a photo from 2010 after my sister's convocation, I was sitting on the floor outside yst for some reason
...yup they finally let me in - well sort of. XD

The choir operated in a pretty different way from the choirs I've been in JC and secondary school; the first few sessions the entire choir plunged into the songs immediately by sight-singing the pieces, which was scarily awesome because I was used to having sectionals and being told how to sing each page. Being in Chamber made me learn how to be a more independent and responsible choral singer, and also it was my first time trying to blend with vibrato singers beside me o.o

When I was 16, I was completely taken in by the pursuit of music. I aspired to get a grade 8 in piano, and last year I finally completed that long awaited goal, passing the exam with distinctions! woooo~! And so rather than piano on weekends, this semester I was juggling archi and choir practices on weekends.

Actually, I wouldn't use the word 'juggling' to describe how I saw choir practices and uni work this semester. Instead of practices being a hinderance, I looked forward to practices every week where I could just forget the woes of design studio and be with a crazy bunch of people that made uni less stressful.

Together with this bunch of really amazing, dedicated and sweet people I met for the first time last september, our concert was sold out and we put up a really good performance. But more than that, when I stepped on stage with the choir I could only genuinely smile, because I was truly happy and excited to be part of this group of people, who have been working hard towards the concert for 10 months. By the second last song, I felt like I didn't want the concert to end. I feel really thankful to be able to be part of something like this.

Last Saturday we came back together to perform our concert pieces at the esplanade concourse, and I was sabotaged to be the emcee o.o so I dug out ye olde presentation skills acquired from my internship four years ago as a multimedia journalist. It's actually quite fun. heh!

I was also the publicity and welfare officer for the choir this year, which was a great opportunity. I have to thank the Jacob and Michelle for helping with the publicity work along the way, especially when uni started!

So far, my holidays now have been spread out between helping out a production designer with the technical drawings for a set build - which incidentally is the first thing i've drawn in autocad which will actually be built in real life which is pretty cool; carolling practices, carolling with the gang at various homes and hospitals, and planning out my personal art projects. (aka procrastinating)

For the last leg of 2013, it'll be more carolling and hopefully more creating (less procrastination). I've had a really blessed year. To all the new people i've met who have made my year meaningful - even in the smallest, unconscious ways - thank you for making my 2013 a year to remember.