Bull

Blah, I don't think I believe in the nonsense I'm writing for this paper >.<

Meh

After a shitty and depressive last week, and a plodding but OK weekend, I feel completely grounded down and tired today. Every damn thing is tedious. I have to finish my readings for tomorrow's History of American Education Class (ok, but not exactly exciting reading), do a reading response for that, while jugging a theory paper due on Wednesday for my Peace Education and Human Rights class (that makes me feel like I'm squeezing blood of a rock while simultaneously pounding my head against a brick wall). Meanwhile I just finished eating dinner and cleaned up - steamed mince pork and egg - that took forever to cook because apparently the voltage on my Singapore-bought rice cooker is not happy with the voltage of my US-based power outlet. I just feel incredibly ground down by everything, and I'm still unsure of what exactly I'm doing/my potential place as an ostensibly contributing member of society.

Then again, I noticed today that one of my classmates in my Crusades class had changed his facebook profile picture from one of him and his fiancee to a nondescript one, and in class I noticed his wedding band was gone. I guess there are always other people dealing with far, far more shit.

The Main Issue

I think the reason I get so upset about this whole Educational/Development thing is because I really really really loathe rhetoric, politics and people arguing about unrealistic things. I like straight facts, practicality, unemotional things (because after all, we're talking about real lives! In the same time frame we're talking about these things!). I find myself profoundly frustrated about this whole affair, and all I want to do is withdraw into the relative calmness of History where we're not talking about real suffering and current problems. PAH.

Life Questions

I woke up this morning, and felt depressed. I have not felt this depressed in a long time, and not even when Joaquin broke up with me, because that was a certain sort of sadness but not one that felt critical to my entire being (I exaggerate, I hope). See, since I've entered TC I've always questioned whether I'm in the right place. I'm happy here alright, but is it the best place for me? It boils down again to me wondering whether I made the right decision: to pursue History or to pursue Education? The reason I didn't chose History was because I felt the path was harder and it might be harder for me to find a job. Practical, economic, scaredy-cat reasons. So I turned to Education instead, thinking of it as a route where I could apply my passion and love, and do the most for the world around me.

Now however as I struggle with my readings for TC and wonder if there's a point to all of this, I wonder how happy I'd really be doing research for NGOs, when I'd much rather be scrabbling around a dusty archive and creating the knowledge that people will study. I am afraid, and scared that I will not be happy. That I am paying all this money, and putting in all this effort, only to end up unhappy at the end. That I will not be following my dream, that I will sorely regret it, that I will not live up to my fullest potential.

So for most of today I just lay in bed. Zoning out. Occasionally drifting in and out of sleep. Neglecting all the goddamned work I have to do. I feel like tearing out of frustration, because the solution could be so easy, for it all lies within me. Yet, I am unable to yank an answer out. And all I can do is pray for wisdom and comfort.

All from my Crusades professor asking me in passing, after class had ended, How Was I Finding TC?

"I don't know, I wonder if I have made the wrong choice."

Class Readings and Questions

Yesterday I met Arjun in Princeton (after not having seen him for a good handful of years). After we had lunch and tea, I crossed the road to the Princeton public library to try and finish my readings for my class on the First Crusade. On the ground level at the back of the library I found a table with just one other person sitting at it, asked for permission to sit down, and dragged out my readings - Canon 2 of the Council of Clermont (1095) and the Goal of the Eastern Crusade: "To liberate Jerusalem" or "To liberate the Church of God"? and Pope Urban II's Council of Piacenza to name a few. I felt lethargic and zoned out after hanging out with Arjun, plus we had drank some pretty unsatisfactory Thai Iced Tea that now made me feel sick. The writer's argument was subtle, and I kept reading the same lines over and over again, trying to wrap my mind about what exactly he was trying to say. Around me I could see people napping, and I wanted to join in too. I read the same lines over and over.

While pouring over my reading, I heard a strange whisper sound come from my right. As I turned to look, my mind registered the noise, "Are you in college here?" I realised it was the guy sitting to my right, who had been tapping away on his macbook and making small noises here and there as he worked. We ended up having a great chat (with stage whispers and lowered tones) for quite some time and he told me he was working on a business proposal for a wearable medical monitor akin to those fitness bands that are in vogue now. He seemed decent, intelligent and nice. Then he asked, "Would you be interested in having dinner with an old man?" His face had flushed as the question left his mouth.

For you see, he had mentioned his age earlier. He was 62 (but he didn't look it). He was divorced, and had two sons. The oldest one was 29, and the youngest 22. I calculated in my mind: he was 38 when I was born. He was older than my parents. He could technically be my grandfather. But we'd had a genuinely nice conversation, and he did not give off creepy vibes at all. So I smiled and said yes, That Would Be Nice, and we exchanged numbers. Then he left, and I tried to refocus my racing heart on my reading.

The whole encounter made (and is still making!) me think about what it was about him that I found nice, and what things it implied about me. That I was tired of young oafs and all they entailed? That the idea of a quiet, simple courtship sounded appealing and non threatening, never mind that he could be my grandfather? That I didn't mind hitching my wagon onto someone who would most definitely die years before my time, if it meant some normalcy? Goodness knows. I know I'm thinking too much about things, but I find it curious that I am in such a situation.

Life, is indeed terribly surprising.

As a side note, he texted soon after he left, asking me out for tea. I told him (in truth) that I was woefully busy with work this weekend, and probably would not be able to meet up. Who knows if anything else will happen?

Too Much Sleep

I'm doing it again, I'm sleeping waaaaay too much. Too much to the point that it gets bad because I feel all lethargic and half awake. Problem is when I wake up for the first time, usually around 8am, I think about what I need to do for the day - and it's usually not terribly exciting at all - and so I lie there and zone out. Then I fall back to sleep and wake up again at either 10:30am or 11am and I feel funny all over because I've gone and slept too much, and now I don't feel refreshed at all. Gosh.

---

I'm back at the Helfriches' again, for the second week in a row. There's something comforting about this place as I suppose as even though it's not my home, it is a home I'm familiar with. There are people and cats around, so I don't feel lonely, and there's lots of space for me to stretch out around. This week I even brought over boxes of tea that I ordered online from Stash Tea, enabling me to enjoy a proper morning cuppa (no more tastes-of-paper-tea bag-tea!). I should be content, I should be happy, but I cannot help but feel that something is missing.

Last night I skyped my Mama. About a week ago, my Dad bought her an ipad, probably to cheer her up after her knee replacement operation. Since then she's been trying to get it to work. Yesterday night on my parent's prompting, I called her. What was alarming and unusual however, was that after she asked if I was OK, she started crying. I could hear her voice crack and hear her choke up, and that made me feel more sad than anything on earth. It made me want to shout "SCREW THIS" and hop on a plane back to Singapore, and snuggle up to her again. After all, it isn't like I've figured out exactly what I'm doing here.

Unlike my undergrad where I knew I was meant to be, doing masters is a whole different kettle of fish. I feel less certain about what I'm doing, and more scared about what this means for my future working life. I keep thinking about what I've chosen, and if its close enough to what I want to achieve in life. But then of course I've led to the question of what it IS I want to achieve in life. Ideally it's a career where I can both do policy/academic research, and still teach a few classes, which sounds an awful lot like academia. And I want to work in a terribly specific field too - using past historical conflicts as a basis to teach students/THE WORLD about peace and avoidance of war. Aye aye aye. Am I barking up the wrong tree?

In other news, I have a dehydrated headache now.

Skin Tones

Realised just now in the shower that my skin appears to be 3 different tones. The lightest tone is in spots of my body where the sun has never shone, an intermediary one from when I went to the beach with my parents in May (swimsuit tan lines still visible and all), and the darkest shade from my adventures of the past 3 weeks in Romania (probably very slightly only) and NYC (probably the biggest contributor).

After typing this, I will get ready and I will get out of my room and I will go somewhere there are people and study. 

Room 729

Towards the end of last week I received an email from the Residential Office offering me alternative accommodation at a different dormitory for US$7,900 a term. Needless to say I turned them down, as it meant paying US$1,500 a month vs. US$1,000 a month for my present (but totally unideal) room. So today (when I came back after fleeing to New Jersey again for the weekend), I started unpacking properly. Now there is only an unpacked box and luggage at one side of my room, a vast improvement from before when there were more unpacked luggages.

Other differences compared to last week:
1) The kitchen taps no longer function - I had to go to the supermarket to buy a gallon jug of water because I refused to use the taps in the toilet to fill up my water jug
2) 'New' cushion for my chair - appropriated from the Helfrich household to spare my bum from aches on the hard desk chair
3) Weather is now much more pleasant and cool - hooray for Fall approaching!
4) Changed the backgrounds on my phone - took me several tries to get the right background
5) Reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith - versus The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris 

Some things the same as last week:
1) Feeling homesick and lonely
2) Walking blocks because I feel homesick and lonely
3) Reading books which make me think of my present circumstances
4) Easting stupidly overpriced (at least in my opinion) Asian food for dinner
5) Skyping family because I feel homesick and lonely

I know I should totally seize the opportunity to get out! and make friends! but I honestly don't know how to do the last one. And I do go out. Today I explored Broadway (from W. 123rd to W. 101st), and popped into every single Duane Reade on the way (3? 4? I forget) to search for a particular make up brand because I had nothing else better to do. Only thing is, with every happy person I saw socialising on the street, I wanted to run up to them with a CV typed up of my best Friend Attributes and beg them to adopt me. Or hold up a sign saying "BEFRIEND ME! I'M PRETTY AWESOME!". 

I'm so not a fan of big unfriendly cities.

A Round up of Romanian Castles

Tonight, I will spend my first night in my dorm room. I feel uncomfortable because I don't know anyone around me, have no idea how to meet anyone (knock on doors?), am still stuck on the male side of the dorm (which means I can't fully unpack in case a female room opens), and am missing rubbish like pillows and shampoo because the bloody mail room is closed (work on Sundays goddamn it!). Meanwhile I find my anxiety going through the roof (ahaha, of course) as I start to panic and do my best to avoid Bad Dark Thoughts and be Optimistic Instead.

I really just feel like running all the way back to my Aunt's place in New Jersey.

-----

Romania has 5 main touristy castles/fortresses: Bran Castle (most closely associated with the Dracula legend), Peles Castle (beautiful, but more like a palace), Rasnov Fortress, Corvin Castle and Fargaras Fortress. Of these, the first 2 are most well known, and the last two, the least well known, which doesn't make much sense.

Bran Castle
- The number #1 tourist attraction in Romania, and extremely touristy
- Very very crowded
- Restored, but very bare
- Minimal English historical write ups available

Peles Castle
- Very beautifully decorated, and very dramatic
- Set in a lovely forested area
- Open only select days and timings
- Historically used only as a summer home, so not much historical significance
- No English write ups at all (cause it wasn't open!)

Rasnov Fortress
- Largely unrestored, and accessible either by walking up the hill or by taking a tractor-train ride
- Almost zero historical information in English
- Filled with touristy shops - it was more like a bazaar

Corvin Castle
- In the midst of being restored
- Poor surroundings, it's in the middle of a rotting industrial zone (???)
- Very spectacular and breathtaking, it rises out like a formidable behemoth, with it's wooden bridge and all
- Again, minimal English write up, majority of it was in Romanian

Fargaras Fortress
- Not a very popular tourist attraction, and massively underrated
- Had the best English write ups, museum, and restoration
- Amazing, well fortified, visitors are able to walk all over with almost no restrictions
- Least crowded and most comfortable of all the castles and fortresses
- Even houses the local library, so it serves a purpose in the community

In sum, of all of the castles and fortresses we visited, I loved and enjoyed Fargaras the most.

A Student Again

In slightly over a week (a Wednesday I think), I will be starting life again as a new student, about 5 years after I first entered university as an undergraduate. As I think about this from the room I'm staying in with my parents in Sibiu, Romania, I cannot help but feel apprehensive and yet excited. For the past few days I've been travelling with my parents in Romania, and it's been great because I got to both see a nice new place and spend quality time with them. On the other hand now that our trip is drawing to an end (in just 3 more nights, counting this 1!), I'm starting to feel anxious again.

I'm feeling anxious because:
- Oh God I've got a chance again to make something bigger out of my life...
- But what if nothing comes out of it?
- Will I find long-lasting happiness out of this?
- What's my next path in life?
- I'm leaving my very very cosy comfort zone

My thoughts seemed a lot more beautifully drawn out when I was thinking in the shower. Then I came out and started typing away, my father saw me writing and started mocking me (as he always does) and someone turned on the TV. I guess one thing good about leaving home and them is I'll have more time and peace to think proper thoughts, provided I don't spend too much time brooding by myself.

12 Angry Men

Just finished watching 12 Angry Men while eating dinner, and it was amazing. With my brother alternating between curling up on the couch behind me and bouncing around, I spooned rice and chicken into my mouth with my eyes peeled to the screen. I love how the script was tight and the run time of the film was a manageable 1hr and 30mins, unlike many movies that are out in the market nowadays. One of the biggest problems I have with watching movies on my computer/not in a cinema is that I find myself getting restless and distracted by other things during slow parts, which was not the case for this film at all. Definitely recommend. 

I Must Nap Less

It's been almost a week since I've stopped working and I'm already bored. I've ended up spending almost every single afternoon napping and I'm all napped out, but I nap because I'm bored and feel sleepy in the warm afternoons when I'm huddled in my room and reading a book. I've already polished off Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, along with a graphic novel called Depresso. Today I even walked around the library in Clementi like an idiot because I had nothing else better to do, before realising I was just wasting mere seconds when I had whole hours to while away. Gosh.

In the past week I have: 
- Stopped work and said goodbye to all my classes
- Fucked up taking the bus twice (once missing a stop when I was with Gail and once boarding the wrong bus [!!!!!!!] while trying to rush to work on Sat - my last day of work)
- Watched two NT Live screenings at the Esplanade: Frankenstein and The Audience
- Mixed up the timings for Frankenstein (7pm, not 7:30pm!)
- Gone for a spa with Tiffany (fun and relaxing, but I need thinking of the baby cockroaches running around the jacuzzi now)
- Been to the Esplanade Library again to borrow more DVDs (12 Angry Men, I've Loved You For So Long and The Story of Adele H)
- Bought 5 books from Kinokuniya (or maybe it was 6?)
- Had 2 wisdom teeth extracted
- Watched I've Loved You for So Long and Barking Dogs Don't Bite
- Finished a cross stitch I was working on for my Mother's birthday present
- Visited the Gastroenterologist
- Accidentally got a quickie $10 haircut when I was looking for a proper hairdresser
- Bought clothes from Uniqlo
- Art Jammed with Shu Wen (she painted Paddington, me some random landscape)
- Had lunch with Mama at Imperial Jade
- Went to NTUC to buy last bit of food supplies
- Finished packing 2 boxes for shipping to my dorm
- Finished marking all the things for my Saturday classes
- Picked up the framed cross stitch to give to my Mum

In a little bit I'm going to leave to go deliver the worksheets to my ex-workplace in Buona Vista, and grab dinner with Ianthe afterwards. I suppose I'm bored because I never really know what to do with myself even when I have a just the slightest bit of down time, especially after having had my time sucked up by work for the last two years, which is quite bad really. Nevermind, it's only one more week till I leave with my family to travel in Romania. 


 

Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.