New Book Blog

Hey guys, it’s been awhile!

Just wanted to let you known that I’ve created a separate blog for all book-related stuff. If you’re interested, here’s the link. If you’re not, that’s alright too.ūüôā

I know I haven’t been on here in ages, but that’s really because loads of things have been happening in real life – which is good (and bad)!

Among other things, I’ve found an internship, begun learning how to drive, am taking French classes, and am dealing with horrible clients. I’ll definitely be putting up a post shortly, but otherwise, till we meet again.

Away with you, Mr. Creep!

I began working at a technological company just over a month ago.¬†It was sudden and totally unexpected – I had failed 5 job interviews before this one. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the relaxed office culture and the really nice individuals who populate the little rectangular room we call our workplace…all except for one.

In order to preserve his dignity, I shan’t name him. All I can tell you is that he’s a fellow intern. However, while my responsibilities lie in content-creation and marketing, he’s part of the engineering team. I really don’t know how it works elsewhere, but here, engineering is still pretty much a male-dominated field of study. Furthermore, many men here still unfortunately believe that¬†women are avenues of male sexual pleasure. This is just one factor that contributes to¬†my general discomfort around this particular coworker.

This guy, let’s just call him Mr. Creep to make things easier,¬†really just gives me the heebie jeebies. In all honesty, it began on the very first day. His smiling gaze lingered for just a second too long when he shook my hand, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, I’m a very awkward person, and it could be me interpreting things wrongly, right?

Wrong. He began going out of his way just to have a – let me make this clear –¬†one-sided conversation with me. The first thing he asked me how I did for my exams. Turns out we’re from the same university. Feeling slightly invaded, I gave him a non-committal shrug and said, “It was okay.”He then proceeded to tell me how he, on the other hand, did quite badly. He’s been visiting my seat when the coworker beside me leaves to discuss some issues with some other colleagues, telling me, “I’m bored.” Well, what do you want me to do? Sing a song for you? I’ve had other coworkers coming to say that, but they don’t give me the vibe he’s giving me. It feels as if he wants something from me – attention or otherwise – and even his shadow is enough to make me shudder.

It doesn’t sound quite so horrible until you factor in the touch.¬†I can’t pinpoint when it began, but he started¬†giving me shoulder pats. Before I acknowledged the heebie jeebies, I tried to have functional workplace conversations with this guy. Yeah, I have quite a lot of work to do, because we’re having a product launch next week. Instead of backing off, he puts his hand on my shoulder and says “Good luck with that.” Whoa. He sees me waiting for some other coworkers outside the office during lunch,¬†he puts his hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye, and says “Hi.” Whoa. Everyday before he leaves, he walks over to my seat,¬†puts his hand on my shoulder until I turn around and acknowledge his presence (which I usually do with a flinch) before saying¬†“Bye.” Whoa.¬†I’m gonna sound like a prude here, but that’s just not acceptable in¬†my world.

This has been keeping up for, let me see…5 weeks. It’s just not serious enough to warrant a complaint. He didn’t touch me in any inappropriate places, but the shoulder pats, and more recently, arm pats, are enough to make me dread going to the office.

I know some people are being friendly through touch, and I’ve been receptive to shoulder rubs by my super nice manager at the diner I work in, but Mr. Creep doesn’t¬†touch anyone else. It’s only me. It freaks the shit out of me. I even thought I saw him snap a picture of me with his phone out of the corner of my eye, but couldn’t confront him because I didn’t hear a click.

It’s come to the point that I’m ready to confront him the next time he puts his hand anywhere near¬†any part of my body. I’m just wondering if it’s appropriate to do so. I really need some help here! Have you¬†met another version of Mr. Creep at your workplace? How did you deal with this? Or what would you suggest I do?

Book Review: Gooseberries – Anton Chekhov

GooseberriesGooseberries by Anton Chekhov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel that the three stories warrant separate reviews. Also, because the point of these stories is not the twist at the end, I will not be censoring details. However, if you’re allergic to spoilers, I would advise you to stop here.

The Kiss
I think I loved this story most of all. It tells of an awkward officer’s first experience of a woman’s kiss and how it consumes his life for a couple of months. There is definitely an element of the “epiphany” here, in which there is a moment of striking revelation when the character, Ryabovich is suddenly awakened to the true nature of the kiss and his daydreaming. I couldn’t help feeling terribly sorry for the poor man, unlucky in life and in love, but I felt even worse knowing that he’d had dreams of an imaginary lover and a life with her, and that they were shattered in the end as he realised how stupid he was for cherishing those ideas, because he’d known deep down that it was not possible for him to ever live that sort of life.

The Two Volodyas
Sophia Lvovna lives in denial, telling herself that she loves her husband, Big Volodya, while she secretly desires the love of her childhood friend, Little Volodya. When she meets old-friend-turned-nun, Olga, she is frightened by the idea that salvation from a horrendously meaningless life is only possible through troika rides and through religion. However, towards, the end, Chekhov reveals the true nature of Olga’s practice, and we realise how there really is no escape from the suffering we all call life.

This story is mainly an old man’s angst-filled rant about his brother’s pursuit of a peaceful pastoral life. I think it would especially resonate with modern society because we’re stuck trying to better our lives and leave the noise and bustle of city life. In contrast with the old days in which the rich could afford to live in town, nowadays, it’s the poor who are unable to escape. Ivan Ivanych condemns his brother’s way of life, especially with regards to the gooseberries Nikolay so desired to be planted in his estate. He thought the gooseberries hard and sour even as Nikolay lauded their taste. Ivan realises that society is a big illusion of tranquility and happiness. We only feel peace and quiet because those who are suffering to make things work for us do not or are unable to speak up. Even as Ivan criticises this practice, the narrator lets slip a subtle remark that the men’s “wide, cool beds” had been made by Alyokhin’s beautiful servant, Pelageya. Their comfort inevitably came at the expense of another’s labour.

To read or not to read?
Yes, if you enjoy James Joyce’s The Dubliners (which I did). However, Chekhov’s characters are a lot more distanced from us compared to Joyce’s. It’s hard to find someone you can completely sympathise with, but the characters are as human as could possibly be, and Chekhov, who, according to my professor, loves all his characters, depicts them in all their glory (and craziness).

View all my reviews

Happy 2016

Feels good to be back. And my! WordPress has updated their drafting page. Gone with the Arial, thank goodness.

I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere for three whole months, and you know what? I don’t feel horrible at all. In fact, I was busy living my life, writing papers, working at the diner, tutoring kids and feeling a hell lot like I’ve finally gotten my shit together. I have to admit that it feels really, really good.

What does this spell for The Strange Introvert? I can’t possibly exterminate this blog and pretend it never existed. This blog was where I chose to reveal both the best and worst sides of myself. Pardon the typical New Year’s Day sentimentality. I just feel like I want to start something new. I’ll keep this blog as a sacred haven for whenever I need a rant or when I feel especially self-righteous or self-indulgent (c’mon, I have my faults). However, going against what I’d just said, I’d realised during my absence (from the emails that WordPress sends me) that this wasn’t such a safe place after all. When I was busy working on my real life, some visitors dropped by and threw paint at me. If I were asked to specify the colour of the paint, I’d say Rude & Sexist.

As a dramatically sensitive individual, I was hurt pretty badly. Up till then, all the comments I’d gotten were positive and caring. I was deluded into believing that the internet would be better than real life. These comments changed my perceptions entirely. I have never been called a “whore” in my life. However, I was called a “whore” for a post I wrote when I was an angsty seventeen-year-old. Okay, I thought, how do I react to this? Sticking to being the dramatically sensitive individual, my body’s instinctual reaction was creating this hollow feeling in my chest. I felt my soul pulling inward, away from the flesh, into this hollow. For a week, every idle waking moment was filled with either me thinking about said comment or me chiding myself for giving two shits about it. Eventually (after a few harrowing nights), rationality spoke from deep within. Who knew I possessed such abilities?

  1. “Whore”is a derogatory term for a prostitute. I am not a prostitute.
  2. The web should be free for all.¬†He should have respected my opinions, but I can’t blame him for having opinions on how women should behave. All I can do is just to make sure we won’t ever be friends.
  3. The web is free for all. Hence, anybody can say anything on any blog without repercussions. Unless you choose to insult the head of state or something of the like.
  4. It is a personal insult. When in doubt, target the writer, not the writing. Yep, sounds like the most intelligent approach.

All in all, the conclusion I came to was that I was stupid to even have been bothered by such comments. So yes, I’m keeping the baby, and seven blessings to those who stop by to say hello (I really love that). Seven shite blessings to those who not only mistake my occupation, but demean sex workers. I am going to continue writing what I want on my blog without worrying about what some anonymous men might think of my ideas.

So yeah, I’m gonna be changing my blogging direction until further notice, concentrating on a new tumblr log I’ve created to talk about books, because that’s one of the main concerns of my Life Right Now. I’ll still be back now and then, but these visits won’t be as frequent as when I was seventeen and angsty.

Happy New Year!


My First Rock Concert aka The Last of the Humanities Graduate

Of course I’d love to tell you about attending my very first rock concert. But they say that’s not important, so let me express my views on Japan’s decision to do away with humanities and social science subjects at their universities instead.

Yes, it was expensive. But it was worth it. Totally worth it. Am I talking about the concert or my university education? I don’t know. You decide.

I had a whole lot of fun, but it wasn’t easy. No regrets, however. There were people to contend with – condescending people, judgmental people, nasty people. But there were good ones too. Nice people, enthusiastic people, crazy good people. Some of them were there for the sake of being there. Some genuinely wanted to be there. Some were half-hearted, some went all out. It didn’t matter though. We were all there.

It’s difficult to find people with whom you share a solidarity, but once found, that feeling is just indescribable. Somehow though, be it fate or mere chance, you’re drawn together and the sparks that result from this meeting explode into the air. The resulting power is enough to influence many others around you to let go of their inhibitions and embrace the moment, even love it. Sometimes, the reaction might even create memories that could last you a lifetime.

Doing what you love and loving what you do are mantras that have been abandoned in favour of those proclaiming hardship and suffering – for ‘better’ lives. We aren’t even allowed to be passionate about something anymore. We have to work for the greater good. Individual happiness falls far behind collective progress, so much so that we feel sorry¬†for feeling strongly. Paradoxically, we’re working as hard as we are, just so that we can preserve ‘good’ memories. We buy good phones with good video-recording capabilities so that we can revel in the good ol’ days. We are afraid to lose out. However, once we’re recording events¬†behind the screen, we’re already losing out on the first-hand experience. Emotions are already being dialled-down.

I suppose this is what we’ve been taught ever since we were born. We’ve been taught to fear losing out on the ability to keep happiness about us¬†and to fear intense feelings of sadness or anger. We don’t realise that we’re actually subconsciously fearful every time something very good happens to us. By worrying and letting our insecurities take over whenever we’re happy, we’re forgoing our chance of feeling intensely happy as well. We’ve been¬†programmed to fear¬†losing out – emotionally, and in turn, economically.

And that is exactly why we whip out our phones at rock concerts, just so we can keep feeling a secondhand¬†excitement we felt while we were there, never mind that we didn’t¬†jump around (and scream) as much as we would’ve liked to. And that is exactly why we’re engaging in a mass massacre of humanities students, just so we can concentrate our resources and our manpower on furthering our country’s economic progress and ensuring stable, mildly-satisfactory lives, never mind that we would have less diverse, less emotional experiences.

Seriously though, how can anyone stand perfectly still with an iPhone in her hand when everyone else is screaming “WHOA-OH LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER”?!

More updates on that one coming up.


In Search of Solitude

With the semester now running in full gear,¬†I find myself exhausted. Yep, it’s Week 3 and everyone is supposed to be emerging from their reveries and plunging back into commuting and queueing for food and getting through 9.30 a.m. classes without falling asleep, but I’m already looking forward to our recess week – one week of unadulterated bliss. No wait, we have essays due right after. Damn.

I’m no longer living on campus, because truth be told, I just wasn’t bold enough to put myself out there and socialise. It’s fine for me, because now I get to eat at home and sleep on my bed (which is infinitely softer, by the way), but I do find myself wanting to get away from my family a lot more.

I’m good with seeing them everyday during the holidays, but when I’m busy and tired, I really much prefer to be left alone. I’ve always been the most comfortable when I’m all by myself and I really can’t see that part of me changing any time soon. It’s a pity, because I’ve been laden with a lot more responsibilities that involve meeting and interacting with people, be it with family or friends. I also really love studying (not exaggerating). However, put all these things together, and I’m left without the solitude I so require. I find myself literally crashing onto the bed and being oblivious to the world within the same minute.

When I started this blog nearly four years ago (gosh, I’m really getting old), I always hammered out my posts way past the witching hour. That was when I felt the most comfortable. That was when I realised that I needed copious amounts of solitude to keep myself sane, and I made sure I gave myself that time to relax… and watch tons of TV shows…

Unfortunately, my younger siblings have all reached the age where falling asleep before 2 a.m. is virtually impossible. As a result, I find myself accompanied by my sister’s presence late into the night. It would be alright if she could do her own thing and be very quiet about it. However, she loves talking and seeking affirmation from the people around her, and guess what? I’m just right there, reading the chapter on narratology. Come on, she’s just reading right? No big deal, it’s not like it’s math or something. WRONG. It’s a big deal to be disturbed, especially when I’m reading, be it for class or for leisure.¬†The last thing you’d want to do would be to talk to be at the end of the day when I haven’t been alone for the entire day. I get people talking to me even when I’m in the shower.

Well, why don’t you wake up early then? Well, I try, and I’ve managed to turn my body clock backwards somewhat. Only my parents are early risers and my dad needs his radio going as soon as he gets out of bed. I can hear the radio everywhere in the house.

What about school then? I’m sure you could find someplace quiet in school. This now, is my alternative. And this is where I’m writing this post now. Usually, I’m booked with appointments from friends needing my counsel, and boy, are those problems serious. I never would’ve expected to come across such serious issues in my life, but here you go, here’s your full college experience – as a pseudo-counsellor.

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby! All alone!

Of course, after all that is said, I’m still grateful that there are people in my life. I’m honoured to be able to help people with their problems. It keeps my mind off my own, for one. My friends are mostly really understanding (there’s always that one person…) about my workload and my inherent desire to finish my readings before class, but my family hasn’t accepted that being an English major isn’t just about sipping tea and reading books for fun.¬†I can’t just drop Robinson Crusoe¬†to¬†talk to you, because “it’s not really studying”. It is studying, and it is intense at times, not to mention horrendously boring.¬†No amount of caffeine can get me through Robinson Crusoe. That’s how good that book is.

Unfortunately, I’ve already lost my temper at my parents for interrupting my reading time, but I really don’t see things changing soon. They are ageing after all, and I find that they need so much more attention from us, especially now that we’re sort of grown up and because we don’t need their help as much as before. I don’t know how this relates to the reversal of roles, but in my case, it does.

Guess what I’ll have to do now is to be smart with apparition and disappear to a quiet spot whenever I so desire. Only I haven’t received my letter from Hogwarts. Yet. Ten years late and still hoping.

At least I know I’m still sane.

Freshman Year – A Look Back

It’s hard to believe that I’ve completed a year of university. Apart from the anticipation of moving on to newer, more interesting topics of study in my second year, I’m also filled with a little sadness at having lost the privilege to make stupid mistakes that comes with being a freshman.

I think I’ve mentioned quite a few times on this blog how I felt about university in general, and perhaps not surprisingly, I thought I’d found where I belonged. I’d never particularly enjoyed my schooling years, having been obliged to study and ace my exams, but here, I found the freedom to learn new things and explore topics which I’m truly interested in. I’m definitely still forced to take modules that I’ve dubbed “WOTS” (waste-of-times), but those are insignificant compared to the rest which I’ve given my heart to.

That said, I’ve also been deeply disillusioned by the university culture here. Most of the undergraduates here have been pushed to go to university by their parents, me included. Luckily for me, I found an area of study in which I could pour my heart and soul into (and possibly devote my life to), but for the majority of students here, university is just a means to an end – money and a stable career. I’d thought, with my stupid, innocent mind, that most humanities students would be a passionate lot, because we all know how terrible our prospects are in the job market. However, I realised, with dread and horror –¬†*cue dramatic, brassy music* – that most of my coursemates are singularly¬†obsessed with grades.

It irks me, really. I’m here with the genuine desire to learn, both from the faculty and the students. The faculty is alright, but the students are just a cluster¬†of uninterested, uncommitted heads in a lecture hall. All they talk about, and all they love to talk about, are their essays. How many words have you written? seems to be the most common question circulating in the increasingly stale air in classrooms. I’m going to sound like I did when I was seventeen, but I. HATE. IT. It’s as if I’ve returned to primary school, where children who didn’t know better thought the only thing that mattered was the quantity of work they’ve churned out. I can’t emphasise just how many times I’ve wanted to escape from a classroom or lecture theatre just because the air around me has gotten so oppressive with questions about essay progresses that I was beginning to choke.

Don’t these 19 to 22-year-olds understand that essays are not being graded based on the number of words they’ve written? Do any of them understand passion? A genuine interest in their subject? I guess with questions like “What’s your GPA?” coming up more frequently than I’d like them to, I think not.

That was why I’d invested so much time in my French 4 class during my first semester and went back as an informal student last semester. My teacher was just the most amazing, intellectual person around, and he had no airs about him. He was very widely-read, his knowledge encompassing topics ranging from history to chemical engineering and he was more than happy to share his knowledge with us. This was what I’d pictured university to be. A place where people gather to learn from each other. Not to compare their scores.

I’ve expressed my desire to continue with postgraduate studies as early as within the first month of my starting university (hurrah for everlasting nerdhood), and I hope with all my heart that adult students are not hell-bent on assassinating others with their near-perfect GPA.

Let’s drink to a more challenging, less irritating sophomore year.|_|

P.S. Did I ever mention that I’ve developed a strange liking for beer? C’est terrible…

Take Me Around the World: Bangkok Day 2

June 9, 2015

Having ended our first day in the Thai capital by turning on the air-conditioner and snuggling under the covers, the blast of hot air that greeted us as we opened our door was grossly unwelcomed. Running out of ideas of things to do apart from engaging in intense haggling (all those time spent playing Neopets was worth it) with the vendors in Khao San Road, we headed to the tourist office. A tentative plan to visit the beach in Pattaya the following day became a concrete plan to zipline through the rainforest. We emerged slightly more than a hundred dollars poorer and a thousand times more excited for the days ahead.

Cradling a cup of ice-blended mangoes in our hands, we made the agonizing 15-minute trek to Panfa Leelard Pier where the khlong service runs. Calling it a river taxi service doesn’t seem to do it justice, because you begin to realise after five minutes on the boat, that the houses lining the water body all have their backs towards you. As a fellow tourist wrote on an online board, you more likely “dissolve” than drown if you happen to fall into the, well, smelly water. It didn’t matter much to us though, because we got to avoid the incessant jams at only 9 bahts and zoomed to our destination, Pratunam, in a matter minutes.


Row, row, row your boat, quickly down the canal

We were more than relieved to take shelter in Platinum Mall, the only course in our menu for the day. The air-conditioner was set at a comfortable 24 degrees Celsius, with digital thermometers reminding customers of it on every floor. There’s nothing much for me to say about this mall except that it’s huge. As with street-side stalls, haggling is also welcomed here. I walked away with some clothing items (they mostly sell clothes) for my family and myself, the catch of the day being two black sleeveless tie-dyed graphic tops from a tiny stall called Little Rock. If you’re into rock ‘n roll and black emo stuff, head to the 4th storey to check it out.

Also, if you love fat and stubby animals, owls in particular, then be sure to stop by one of the stalls right outside the mall. You’ll know what I mean when you see hundreds of fat cloth owls swinging about. You can get those little squishies alone, in pairs or in family sets and they throw in free name-writing to mark out each member of your family. When you finally get home, you can choose to show them off by hanging them on your front door, but because I’m paranoid that someone will steal them or record our names for evil purposes, I’m locking them in the house.

By this time, we decided we’d had enough of shopping and boarded the boat for home. The return journey was significantly splashier and smellier, but the experience of commuting via canals was worth the “dissolved” skin. After all, dirt can always be washed off, but nothing beats giving yourself the liberty to run around and get grimy.


A beautiful temple on our way back

Surgery Aftermath

I was sobbing from the pain barely an hour ago. I’m not going to lie. It hurt really badly. I consider myself to have a pretty high pain tolerance and I was rocking back and forth on the couch, crying uncontrollably.

After the dramatic turn of events the last time I was at the dentist’s, I was considerably shook up. However, because I’d had the injections, I knew what to expect. I saw somewhere that getting poked by a shard of potato chip is a lot more painful than the jabs and I have to agree with that. It was over within seconds and I was shooed into the waiting room to get numb.

Much to my horror, I only felt the left side of my face losing its sensation, just like the previous time. I raised my concerns to the dentist, but he brushed me off, reassuring me that he’d done thousands of surgeries like this. He began with the left side and frankly, I didn’t even know he’d cut open my gums. I think Ocean’s Eleven or Twelve or Thirteen was playing in the TV overhead, but all I could see were the faces of the dentist and the hygienist. After a couple of minutes of drilling came the twisting and cracking. There was a whole lot of pressure on that area, but zero pain.

Then he came over to the right side. Again, no feeling of sliced gums. I was relieved, but only slightly, as I could feel pain in my canine tooth as the dentist pushed on the drill. I think I was tranquilized two more times in the entire duration that he took to crack open that tooth. This one gave everyone a little more trouble, with the pain and all that. Eventually, I think the dentist decided to break it up in to many small pieces instead of tugging out the roots like he did on the other side. I didn’t even know he’d removed the tooth until I saw the thread. I’m going to be honest – the stitching hurt. But only slightly. The nerves are probably awry this side of my mouth. Before I knew it was over, I was sat up. The dentist shook my hand, congratulating me on a successful surgery. I think it took just over an hour.

I was so happy that it was over, I couldn’t stop talking. My siblings received probably the most enthusiastic greeting that they will ever receive from me. I had great fun “la la la-ing” with my numb mouth while my dad shot me strange looks. All in all, I was enjoying myself. I changed the gauze and took the 8 or so pills with milk diligently and headed for the shower.

Not long after I plonked myself on the couch, a throbbing feeling began in my left socket. My first response was a simple “ouch”. Trying not to be a wuss, I continued on with a computer game I was playing. Much to my chagrin, the throbbing increased in intensity. At one point, I decided I’d had enough and took the “add-on” painkillers the clinic gave me. I’m really glad I took them, or I’d still be sobbing like a five-year-old with a Pooh bear in my arms (thanks, sis).

I think Pooh and I are going to be on this couch for the next few hours. A few episodes of TV shows and some movies are on the cards (and the excuse to be a house blob for an entire week). Recovery begins.

Take Me Around The World: Bangkok Day 1


June 8, 2015

Ahh, hot and dusty Bangkok. What better way to escape the stifling routine? My friend and I arrived at Don Mueang International Airport at half-past twelve after a short flight from Singapore. Give or take 4 hours (can’t escape the traffic) and we’re at Khao San Road, the backpacker’s haven in Bangkok. Rows of shops line the street sides, vending (mostly) elephant print items. As we’re traveling with a 7 kg luggage restriction, we decided to get a smaller bag for our romps around the city. As of now, I own an elephant sling bag, a pair of elephant shorts and a pair of elephant pants. Just can’t get enough of them elephants. Bangkok is a pop of colours, though admittedly, it feels like yet another Southeast Asian city after awhile. The relatively low prices around make up for this though. The streets are bursting with tourists after the best bargains. The magic of third-world cities is, however, their street food. I haven’t had the opportunity to try some, but they’re definitely on my to-eat list. Hell, I even bought tons of diarrhea pills just in case.

After traipsing down the cluttered streets and discovering a supermarket/departmental store-ish place to get our toiletries, we headed back up Khao San Road for dinner. I always love a good green curry, but the one I tried at one of those cafes didn’t taste so good, unfortunately. I think they were probably catering to Western tastes with the peas and cauliflower, but the spiciness mixed with those vegetables really threw me off. I’d recommend the more rugged-looking stalls and vendors for a more authentic taste.

Bangkok in June, if you didn’t know, is really, really hot. I’ve never experienced that sort of heat in all my years living right on top of the Equator. If you’re as fair-skinned as me (and I’m pretty much bleached for a Southeast Asian), do remember your sunblock or your mustache (that part above your upper lip) will be the first to burn. I’m not kidding.