Now Reading: Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre The Book

Don’t even get me started on how long it took me to pick this up from the shelf. Four years. Four years of idiocy. I’ll tell you why later.

How I met my book

I would say that this was a truly impulsive buy. Not the “OMG it’s so pretty I need it” buy, but the Borders-is-closing-I-need-to-use-up-all-the-value-in-the-gift-card buy. There were literally pyramids of Jane Eyre all around the store. I gotta give it to them. That was a great sales ploy. While browsing, all I felt was that not owning one of those would be a great mistake. And I don’t even like movie covers.

Never gonna give you up

Confession: I’ve given up on books. I have a little bag sitting somewhere, waiting for a book exchange (which almost never happens this side of the world).

This one was different. It looked imposing, but I just couldn’t let it go. I’d read Wuthering Heights when I was fifteen and honestly, I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. I think a part of me was afraid that Jane Eyre would be the same (because, you know, sisters). But deep down somewhere (please don’t ask where), I knew I would enjoy it. What I didn’t know was just how much I would.

The Film

I think I finally got around to watching the film a few months back. I really, really loved the way the story was told. I was drawn into the film and into Jane’s life and I wanted to know from the start what had made her so upset. Ah of course, Rochester did help out a bit…okay, it was more than a bit. ^^’ Now before I start going on about the actors, let’s get back to the book. I’ll definitely be writing a standalone post for the film, which I thought was just beautiful.

The Book

I was surprised at how easily the story flows. I was so afraid that it would kill my love of reading, but I really needn’t have worried. The narrator, Jane herself, is honest and unassuming. It was really easy to slip into her skin. It was refreshing to be able to trust the narrator after having been led through a host of unreliable narrators throughout the semester. Of course, the narcissistic reason would be that I could identify strongly with her.

Jane’s recollection of her childhood was exceptionally poignant. I remembered my own “red room” and the excruciating pain of being unfairly punished. I understand Jane’s restlessness, her inability to be satified with her current situation in life; there’s always more out there.

Also, my mediocre French came into use for the very first time! Qui savait? (My French is so bad I had to Google Translate this *claps*)

And the icing on the cake? That was Rochester. I just…just… Okay, remember how I fell in love with Mr Darcy a few years back? This is not going to do any favours for gender equality, but Mr Darcy was a good man, through and through. Rochester, though. He’s bitter, sarcastic, moody…and holy potatoes, I’m really drawn to him. I’ve just finished Volume I, so I know the drama hasn’t truly begun, but really, I guess I’m pretty much leaving Darcy for the bad boy.

I guess that’s all I have on the book at this moment. I’ll be back with the film write-up and more talk on the rest of the book.

Au revoir!

Dastardly Teeth

Please, not the dentist.

I’ve had a deep fear of those masked figures ever since I was dragged to one when I was five for a half-detached milk-tooth. I had my first dental injection right there. It was also my first dental experience. The next ten or so times were no better. Every single time I went to the dentist, they’d always seemed to find that one tooth or another was shaking and had to be removed for convenience’s sake. Imagine my relief when the last of my milk teeth were violently extracted from their warm, bloody sockets.

Until five years ago when my wisdom teeth managed to find their way through my hardy gums – and decided to use flaps of gums to tuck themselves in nicely at that (no wonder they call them wisdom teeth). Having heard multiple horror stories of painful surgeries from my friends, I gave them free reign in my mouth, thinking that loads of good brushing and tooth-picking and mouth-washing would help them stay happy and keep me from going back to the devil’s lair they call the dentist. Alas, it was not to be. It began hurting a few months back and I crawled reluctantly into the dentist’s chair only to find that probably half of the two bottom wisdom teeth had rotted away. The dentist and hygienists were really nice, but the way they were talking to me, I felt like all my smiles had turned out as grimaces.

And so I was scheduled for surgery last night. I was unnaturally calm… right up till the moment I sat on that wretched chair. I swallowed my painkillers diligently and allowed those rubber fingers to creep around my mouth. First, it was some deceptively sweet pink gel. Next came the syringe with horrendously huge handles. I kept my eyes on the ceiling where they had a television set mounted as the needle pierced my gums repeatedly while the dentist searched for the right spot to release the tranquilizer. Honestly, it wasn’t all that painful. The most disconcerting thing about the entire thing was that I had no control over what was happening to me. When I thought it was all over, more came. I think I had at least 8 jabs. When it was done, I felt like my jaw was coming alive. Something was creeping all along it, squirming and shifting against my bone. Now that I think about it, it’s like those sci-fi movies where the protagonist gets injected with some substance and his muscles bulge and shift around as he morphs into a superhero. If you’re wondering, I still can’t live without my glasses.

The dentist then walks away as he allows the painkillers to do their work. Then, the terrible thing happened. I began convulsing in the chair. I had zero control over my body. My arms went numb. My mind was lucid, but I couldn’t stop myself from rattling the chair. They sat me up and gave me some warm water to drink. I couldn’t even hold the cup – that was how bad I was shaking. At some point of time, someone asked me if I wanted something sweet and presented me with a cup of Coke (which I secretly enjoyed).

Needless to say, I got booted out of the clinic without having my teeth dug out. The dentist concluded that I was too scared to last the entire 90 minutes of operation. If he’d continued, he said, I would have fainted part of the way through. Slightly miffed that I got poked around the gums for nothing, I mostly had fun the entire night trying to speak with my mouth and tongue numb and jabbing myself in the gums with a toothpick for the fun of it. For the record, it did hurt on the right side, so my guess is that the anesthetic found it’s way into my bloodstream instead of the holy mandibular nerve. I’ve never had such a severe panic attack, so I don’t think it was fear that caused all that grotesque twitching and jerking.

So now I’m recovering not from huge gashes, but from bruises in the lower back of my mouth caused by those needles. It’s not too painful, but you know that annoying dull ache whenever you press on a bruise? Yeah, that’s how it feels every single time I chew. I have two-and-a-half weeks before the next round of injections. Hopefully this time, those damned teeth will finally bid the others goodbye. They’re too smart to be in my mouth anyway.

The Calm Before the Storm

Storm is coming.

Storm is coming.

It’s been almost unbearably hot over here. The only consolation to the horrendous heat is the probability of a thunderstorm later in the day. It still hasn’t poured, but the silence and stillness in the air, coupled with the rising clouds, makes nature all the more terrifying – and magnificent. I don’t want to drag on like a romantic poet, so I’ll leave you guys with that and silently anticipate my storm.

Twenty-One

Slightly more than two weeks ago, I crossed the threshold into what one usually calls “adulthood”.

Truth be told, apart from being vaguely aware of my new age, I don’t feel any different from my twenty-year-old self. Except the increasing fatigue, which of course, is to be attributed to my old age. I’m sure that when I eventually do the “good ol’ days” thing a few years down the road, I’ll notice something different. For now, I’m just trying really hard to come to terms with the non-meeting of my expectations (aren’t we supposed to automatically turn into wise old people spewing wise words everyday?).

Of course, with the usual birthday post, since I’m really unable to provide any sage advice, I’ll look forward to the years ahead.

  1. Try to read all those books sitting on the shelf, unread.
  2. Go on a short holiday. Since Southeast Asia will be far too hot come summer, why not travel down south? 😉
  3. Get a job. Number 2 will be impossible if this doesn’t happen.
  4. Try to speak more in class.
  5. Write more.
  6. Meet more people.
  7. Try not to take on too many people’s problems.
  8. Exercise regularly.
  9. Eat better.
  10. Sleep better.

It’s a rough plan, but I’ll be drawing everything out in more detail offline, on paper, because I really love paper (sorry, trees!).

Alrighty. It’s back to schoolwork and the upcoming exams for me. I hope you guys are doing great. 🍸 (don’t worry, it’s only a glass of earl grey)

On Categorizing People – and The Self

There are always some strange people majoring in literature in university – and loving it. Let us call these people the Idealists. On the other hand, there are those who are here to conquer the silly dreamers with their fighting spirit. By fight, I mean to go to the professor or teaching assistant’s (TA) office during most of their spare time and writing their perfectly argued essays with the leftover. Shall we call them the Realists?

Oh, when is your birthday? March? Well, that makes you an Aries. Aries are aggressive go-getters.

What is your Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)?

And so on…

I am guilty of indulging in these sorts of people-categorizing. In fact, when one of my former schools imposed the MBTI test on us, I became fixated on it. I loved the reassurance the boxing-in gave me. I’d felt so out of place before, but I finally knew that I was not alone in this world. The thing is – and I’m really grateful for it – I’d met so many rational people whilst I was studying science. There was a point in time when our entire class was obsessed with MBTI typing. I guess it’s human nature to want to find a faction we can belong to and personality is the source of each and every human being. Hence, typing becomes our hobby (or at least some of ours). I feel silly now to say this, but I treated MBTI like a source of comfort…until one of my closest friends texted me saying that it was unreliable. She’d been having great difficulties finding her “type” and had gone on to research more on the seemingly effective way to break people apart (ha ha). I’m going to smash all the ideals that you have, fellow idealist, but she is right (I was upset for a very long time, mind you).

There are certain archetypes that people fit into, but in reality, they are vastly different, even if they share the same personality types. One thing I got from entering a humanities course is that there are so many idealists floating about, believing in it so much. Some of them even try so hard to fit into a certain type that it becomes destructive for them. I was like that once and I still harbour some hope that certain things might work for me if I follow the advice pages written specifically for my “type”, but I’ve come to see how complex each of us are and how things work so differently for each of us that I can’t help feeling that these categorizations should stop. Or at least be taken less seriously.

Note that I’d also segregated the science and humanities students up there. Rational versus idealistic; realistic versus moralistic. The main problem with putting people into boxes is that many stereotypes come with them and because people feel a sense of belonging to these categories, they naturally want to feel more included in them, which leads to a dissociation with the world and other people in it. This applies more to the idealist than the realist, because realists aren’t affected by this nonsense, which is very ironic because this is a categorization in itself. I generally don’t think it’s a good idea when people begin saying I should behave like this, because people of my type behave like this. It’s exactly like saying I should behave like this because the my countrymen and women behave like this. It’s frustrating, yet one can see the comfort this sort of behaviour brings to the outliers in society.

It is also dangerous to do so, because a firm believe in these “types” can render one insensitive to the nuances in another’s behaviour. One assumes that a person behaves this way because of his “type” and doesn’t consider the circumstances and environmental factors that could’ve caused him to act that way. This creates a gap between people who’ve already generated enough misunderstandings among themselves.

It’s probably because I didn’t hang around idealists when I was growing up that I came to feel this way. I can never understand Astrology like my friends here do. They were puzzled when I told them I was an Aries, because I just don’t behave like one. Aries are usually business-minded people who love to get things done. They also love fashion and are outwardly aggressive. Some are beginning to be cautious around me because I might be secretly aggressive. I wonder how an astrological sign can be used to describe probably millions of people who were born within that 4-week period, but I think I’m being harsh on them. It’s due to my background and upbringing that I’m skeptical of these things – a background most of my friends now didn’t have.

It’s hard for me to believe in these things anymore, but I’m putting myself under great restraint to stop my dear sweet idealist friends with a very direct “it’s inaccurate” that was thrown at me from a very rational friend (who is still close to me). If I lose control, don’t mind me. It’s just the Aries in me acting.

P.S. Guess my MBTI type and tell me more about you and yours! *glances around nervously* I love these things. 😉

When Money Is Everything

A friend told me the other day that she’d read an article about why university degrees are useless – especially in fields where the job isn’t exactly well-paying in the first place.

Well, I did try convincing my parents not to put me in university. But I couldn’t help feeling bad for them. They certainly don’t deserve a daughter who couldn’t be talked out of an English degree. I know how much they’d thought raising four children would allow them to retire comfortably, with a big house, a Mercedes and a beautiful garden. At the rate we’re going, they might have to settle with a tiny flat, the public bus and a potted sunflower to talk to.

They’ve been working towards that goal their entire lives. A good life means being able to watch the television (or for the modern parent, to scroll through Facebook and believe every single “advisory” their friends post) and keep busy with the garden. I feel horrible denying them of that right and the right of seeing their children living the high life. Their friends’ kids are all accomplished people. Most of them have medical degrees or are working towards one. Or else, there’s always the lawyer and the engineer who would be the next big name on the local papers. How embarrassed must they feel, having to tell all those people that their daughter is majoring in English? And that she’s loving her university life?

My relationship status: It's complicated with this book.

My relationship status: It’s complicated with this book.

It’s almost unholy. In Asia, if you’re enjoying what you’re studying, you’re most likely going to end up poor. It’s all about the suffering, yo. Seriously, suffering is the new black here (people compete to see who got the least sleep). If we suffer first, we’ll end up rich. I’ve gotten so much advice on how I should choose the most practical major, because what I learn in school will not matter when I’m looking for a job. The point is to get a good, well-paying job.

I cannot emphasise the misery I’d felt while I was pursuing a life in the sciences (which I found isn’t to be well-paying as well). It definitely worked for some, but it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t see myself doing anything related to that and it bothered me every night while I lay in my bed dreading the upcoming lab sessions. People in the field came to talk to us. Our lecturers shared their passion with us. They definitely had more than twenty dollars in their pocket. What can I do with more than $10,000 a month?

I’d be more well-dressed I guess. I’d eat at cafes more often and go on trips once a year. But I’ll be miserable for the remainder of it. Which isn’t so worth it, given that a woman’s average lifespan is 85 years (in Singapore). The retirement age here is 62, which means I’ll be working for 38 years with 23 years of time to do what I truly want to do (and not have the energy to actually do it). I really don’t think that it’s worth it… and that’s when people come in and say, “You’re consoling yourself.”

I’m sorry to all the advocates of human suffering out there, but I’d much rather be spending the bulk of my life (and my youth) enjoying myself than being the rich old woman with a casino loyalty card just because she’s lonely and doesn’t have anywhere to use up her money.

It’s true, I may run out of cash during my retirement. But if all else fails, there’s always rat poison (strangely enough, this seems to be the go-to method for the elderly). I just have to be sure that I buy it when I still can afford it. 😉

Bad Things Come To Those Who Wait

Being ambitious never led to anything good for me.

First, it was exam anxiety. Next, it was IBS. Since then, I’ve lowered my expectations of myself and sought to live a quieter, unstated life. When the “I should do something about myself” part of me emerged again earlier last month and because I was in a hyperactive state of mind, I promised my readers I would do a daily post for a week. We all know how that turned out.

Here are my excuses for not having met the goals I’d set up for myself.

  1. School.
  2. Presentations.
  3. My laptop crashed. Yes, it died with essay deadlines looming in the horizon.
  4. I stubbed my toe on the side of the pavement and lost some blood (it was the second-highest volume of blood spilled in my entire life) along with various good feelings about myself.

School’s let up now that it’s recess week and I’ve completed 2/3 presentations. I’m also tapping away on a brand new laptop (RIP, Hades. You’ll always be my first love) and my toe looks almost as good as new now, save for a hole at the side of my nail that looks like it might never regenerate.

It was terrible. But it could have been worse. Not achieving what I’d set out to do tore me up pretty badly, but I guess it’s a lesson for me to learn not to release tentative plans to the world without first ensuring that I had something to fall back on.

Ode to Love – Day 4: Letters

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Love letters and bad poetry are synonymous with Valentine’s Day. Instead of scarring anyone for life with one of my own, here’s one, nestled within a song (not my own, thank goodness).

I don’t know why, but whenever this song comes on, I feel an urge to keep blinking and swallowing. Might have to get it checked someday…
P.S. I’m sorry I didn’t come up with anything yesterday. I got pretty swamped with school stuff. The missing Day 3 among the titles will torture me forever, I promise.

Ode to Love – Day 2: Rejection

Boy: hey
Me: hello!
Boy: let’s play a game
Me: haha OK
*proceeds to surf the net while waiting*
30 mins later…
Ahh damn.
Boy:
where are you? 😦
T_T
why are you ignoring me? 😦
play with me
T_T
where are you?
Me:
sorry! I got carried away on the net!
So sorry!
Boy: oh
Me: I’m really sorry…

The following day

Boy: hey
Me: uh hey
Boy: I have something to tell you
Me: ohh okay
Boy is typing…
*switches window*
Beep
Boy: I like you but I wish we could be friends…
Boy is offline.

Hey Boy, thanks so much for telling me how you feel. However, I’m gonna have to be honest with you. I like you as a friend, nothing more. Please don’t take this personally. You are a nice and sensitive person and I’m really glad that we are friends. The right girl will come for you someday. Please understand. And yes, let’s remain friends. 🙂

Message from Boy
Hey, thanks for being honest with me. 🙂 I won’t take this personally. See you around. 🙂

That was pretty much the end.

Ode to Love – Day 1: Heartbreak

What better to start with than bad poetry? Here’s one written by yours truly.

I know how hard it is

To love one of an inferior construct

“What’s here?” she asked –

Cutting between us –

“Love,” you replied

Love.

Il m’a dit

– Tu es la fille plus laid que j’ai jamais vu

We’d exchanged memories, secrets

Of our past

But there was always

A chasm between us

Hands that could not touch

Tu es la fille plus laid

La fille plus laid

Shame.

When we brushed against each other at

The train station the other day

I saw you turn

Je t’aime

Non, je t’aimais

I kept my gaze resolutely in front

Of me.

*Note: Due to the lack of power sockets at my university, I am unfortunately not able to pop online all the time. Hence, scheduled posts. However, I will endeavour to peek in through the WordPress mobile app whenever I can, in case anything disastrous happens. Keep writing! 🙂