Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day-Long Trip: Book Mania Continued!

I had always thought that Aussie weather forecast is damn accurate. Nope. I was wrong. It was predicted that there would be increasing showers today. Well, a few drizzles wouldn’t constitute ‘increasing showers’, would it?

But thank goodness for that, because finally I was able to embark on the trip to Fremantle. My housemate, JM (not Jiamun, but close!) woke me up this morning, saying that if I were to agree to go to Fremantle with her, she would skip volunteering at Bentley Park (an aged care facility). I looked out of my window, and thought: ‘Gee, I could hardly sleep last night. I really wanted some rest.’

But the thought of exploring more second-hand bookshops excited me so much that I decided to forego some beauty sleep (yes, I looked myself in the mirror when I was in Cotton On – my eyes were horrible swollen and puffy). Anyway, both of us took a bus to Fremantle and during the 45-minute journey, we talked. Well, she did most of the talking.

Fremantle is really a beautiful city, with well-preserved old buildings and wonderful atmosphere in the air. Really, in terms of shopping, it even beats the city of Perth itself. Oh, there are a couple of old churches and sculptures. They look so wonderful that I regretted not taking photos.
My housemate went on a little shopping spree at first (deviating from our original plan of buying books). We spent quite some time in Cotton On, due to the fact I urged her to try on the clothes she intended to buy. Who would simply buy anything without trying them on first? What if the colour doesn’t look good on her? Or what if the size is completely wrong?

After shopping, we walked around, looking for any bookshops in the vicinity. I remembered seeing a jovial old man singing some country songs on his guitar. Boy, was he good! I wished I had the time to listen to more of his songs. Fremantle is like that. There are a lot of live performances being played up for the tourists. In fact, some shops are only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – special for tourists!

We went to two Elizabeth’s Secondhand Bookshop in Fremantle today. It is weird to have two branches of the same bookshop operating so near to each other. Then again, dear old TI has several Mastan Ghani restaurants and two Gulam Rasul restaurants – and TI is not that huge to begin with. Anyway, Elizabeth’s has quite good selections, generally speaking. I bought two books – The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I picked the first because Jik Jane told me before about Carol Goodman’s books and I thought this one could be good too. Then the second is simply a random pick – I remembered reading about this book getting a particular literary award.

After two Elizabeth’s bookshops, we headed over to Bill Campbell’s Secondhand Bookshop. As I stepped into the place, I got very good vibes from it. The shop is small, but has that very personal feeling. It has that welcoming feeling lacking in most bookshops. The books are arranged in the shelves up to the ceiling (not that the ceiling is very high but still high enough for me not to reach it). It has a wide range of books – philosophical, crime, political, children’s books etc. The prices vary, but most are tagged at half of its original price. I bought four books there (it really is a book haven for me) – The Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney and The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. The first two novels are still in great shape; like they are still brand new but the other two have that worn, used look. I can’t promise myself to like all the books I bought, but hopefully I made the right choices.

I was feeling immensely happy but lugging around six novels could be a pain. We took a train back to the city and from there, we went to the State Library Shop (my second trip this week). I bought another book (Teacher Man by Frank McCourt – yay, I got all three of his books!) while my housemate bought four novels (I think).

From the State Library, we went to Northbridge where my housemate bought groceries for today’s dinner – tofu, kueyteow and some veggies. Then, we walked to Woolworth’s to meet Amy, my other housemate who was working at a juice bar. I was very tired because I had been walking the whole day. It is amazing how my housemate have the energy to keep on going like that and she walks faster than me too. I sluggishly tagged along, which was a pathetic sight.
Amy made juices for me and JM. I drank something with lots of berries in it. At first taste, it was horrible because it reminded me of the flavoured medicated syrup I used to take when I was little. I know medicated syrups are flavoured to make the medication less revolting for youngsters, but honestly those formulations just destroyed my first impression of the natural flavours that exist in our fruits! Okay, I got used to the fact that I was drinking a cool berry drink after a while. In fact, it was very refreshing that I got my energy back. Oh yeah, while I was there at Amy’s juice bar, we noticed a bunch of people in heavy makeup strolling into the mall. They went into some gift shops and took pictures of themselves. Amy said they were models (probably on some reality TV show). Ah, that explained the glamorous clothes and thick mascara. I saw them initially at the train station, but was too tired and too dense to notice that they were models.

After leaving Amy to chat with one of her customers (an old man – probably bored out of his wits), we went back home by bus. That is all for my trip today.

PS: And yes, lil bro... I know I bought more books today. In case you were wondering, my room still has got space for me to sleep in. Thank you very much for your concern.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Mania

Yanqi, you are right.

I do need help from my housemate after all. I know I complained about her in my previous post, but I can’t be more grateful to her now than before.

Why? When boredom descends and she has a stack of The Princess Diaries books, I couldn’t help myself from knocking on her door instead.

She took out a box full of novels (half of them in Chinese) and motioned me to pick whichever book I would like to borrow. And so, in my unkempt room, half of my housemate’s book collection is strewn everywhere – bed, table, chair, rack etc.


My book mania started middle of last week. I went to the library to borrow a few books on Thursday. The night before, I checked out Curtin’s library catalogue online and to my surprise, it does have quite a substantial amount of fiction novels. I ended up borrowing “The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, “The Rain Before It Falls” by Jonathan Coe and lastly, “Writing fiction: creative and critical approaches” by Amanda Boulter. I looked high and low for “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini (same person who wrote “The Kite Runner”) and “The White Tiger: a novel” by Aravind Adiga. Both of them are currently on loan. Grrr.

Then, today I went to the city with WH. WH went on job-hunting in Northbridge while I went on book-hunting. Thanks to my housemate for that wonderful tip of hers, now I know that the State Library sells pre-read library books at LOW prices. *Note: Prices vary depending on genre.*

Most novels are being sold at 2 dollars! Very, very low prices... I know but I have to contend with my books having “The Library Board of WA” labels and library cards being permanently stuck to their front covers forever. I went into the bookshop, and was very surprised that all the books are very new. Sure, they have the ‘used’ look but they still look quite good to me. I had such a tough time looking for the books I want to read, because there were so many on the shelves that I just don’t know what to choose. Most of them are cheesy adult romance... eew. The names of the authors hardly ring any bells, save for a few like Danielle Steel or Stephen King (more eew).

Then, I saw “The Rice Mother” by Rani Manicka (a Malaysian author). Woah, it was the very same book I wanted to buy at MPH 2 years back but I couldn’t bring myself to do so because it costs RM69.90. And now it costs 2 dollars. With the current exchange rate, it would cost me RM5.60. What a bargain! I grabbed that and kept on browsing. And things were looking up ever since. I saw 3 other books that appealed to me and hopefully, they are worth my money.

3 other books I picked at the shop are:

1) ‘Silent Playgrounds’ by Danuta Reah. (‘A terrifying novel of psychological suspense’, says the front cover. I hope it lives up to my expectation!)

2) ‘The Nature of Blood’ by Caryl Phillips (‘An unforgettable novel about loss and persecution, about courage and betrayal, and about the pain yet absolute necessity of human memory’, the book proclaims boldly.)

3) An embroidery book. (Go ahead and laugh - I have a penchant to buy craft-sy stuff ala Martha Stewart).

All four books cost me RM26.60. Hehe, not bad at all, huh?

Since WH already went for job-hunting on her own, I went window-shopping alone – for the very first time. It was an unnerving experience. I had to keep on lookout for my personal safety. This means taking care not to bump into anyone, or hanging on tightly onto my bag. And also keep reminding myself of where I should go to next.

I went into Angus & Robertson bookstore on Murray Street. Boy, it was huge! It has an extensive range of books. Kids and adolescent stuffs are a floor below but the ground floor has all the latest books. The store displayed all top 100 books as voted by readers, taking up the space of several shelves. What a clever marketing tool. I almost wanted to grab one novel when I stopped to look at the price. 20-over dollars for a book, which is equivalent to half of my grocery bill for a week! Convert that figure to RM, I would have to say goodbye to approximately RM100! And I thought MPH is sucking up people’s blood. Turns out Aussie bookstores are much BIGGER blood-suckers. I ended up not buying anything, except for a couple of cute greeting cards.

So, note to self: Buy second-hand books in Aussie; new books in Malaysia.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot: A Review

Everyone knows about the movies, but have they read the books?

I have read only 3 books out of 10 in the series, but surely my right as a reader to review the series is justified, right? After all, I have read the first two books and then, the last volume (out of curiosity!).

Written in journal form, reading the Princess Diaries is like reading someone's inner thoughts. Okay, Mia's to be exact. The Princess Diaries starts innocently enough. Helen Thermopolis, celebrated artist, gave her 14 year-old daughter, Amelia (to be known as Mia from here on) a diary because the poor teenage girl has issues. Of course she has issues! Mia is a freak in her school, with her untameable hair and height that makes her stands out like a lamp post.

Boy, does she has more issues when her father, Philippe Renaldo, told her that she is in actuality a Genovian princess and that she has become heir apparent because her father is rendered infertile due to testicular cancer. It doesn't help when she is already failing Algebra, her mom is dating her Algebra teacher, she has to take princess lessons from Grandmere - her crazy royal grandmother from Genovia.

Detailing her life as a school-going royal with a wacky family and even wackier friends, this series is wonderful! It is over-the-top but not pretentious. Mia doesn't pretend to be the nicest princess in the universe. She complains, lies, fights with her best friend and so much more. But all in all, she is just being a normal teenaged girl, who happens to be a princess.

This series is fun, crazy and exciting all rolled into one. Worth reading and rereading. Highly recommended!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: A Review

It is amazing how I could finish a book in less than 24 hours - all 451 pages of it, in generous medium-sized font. In sharp contrast, it took me days to read Twilight, and I haven’t even gotten to the climax yet.

Reading the review of the book made me think, “Oh, this is a mystery book.” And I made a mental note to myself to pick up this book the next time I pop into a bookstore. But I didn’t. Instead I went to the library to borrow it, hoping to save a few dollars. Boy, I will never regret reading “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.

It is human drama - empowerment of people, regardless of gender and race.

We have Aibileen and Minny, trying to tell their side of story of how is it like working as black domestic helpers for white families in 60s America. Subject to abuse, racism and their lives intertwining with those of their employers'. Aibileen, for example, loves all 17 white children she cared for in her years working as a maid, as deeply as she would love her own child.

Then, we have Skeeter, who works hard to compile the helpers' stories, mainly because she wants to carve a career for herself because she refuses to be just somebody's wife.

I wish I am articulate enough to say what this book is about... to sum it all up in simple but forceful words. I am afraid I love it too much to say anything about it. It is a good, compelling read. Kathryn Stockett writes so well, probably because she wrote this book for personal reasons. I was drawn into the stories of those women, laughing with them and even shedding a tear for them.

I once contemplated how should one pick which book to buy - the one we are most likely to read again or again OR a book that has all the praises lavished upon it but we are unlikely to pick it up again? I think I found an answer: buy the book that I would love to read over and over again, for a variety of reasons. And this book is it. =D

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How I Lost My Room and How It Came Back

That was the last straw. She told me she couldn’t study in her own room, telling me about her day in the library, how she was feeling sleepy and unmotivated to study. Without even asking me first, she said she would be coming over to my room to study. When she left and I closed the door, I was feeling frustrated. Enough is enough! Just because I let you into my room once in a while to listen to your problems doesn’t give you the golden right to enter my room as you like! I threw my pen onto the table in anger.

When she came over to my room and immediately placed her books on my already super messy table, I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

“Can you please not come over my room to study? I need to study alone too.”

With a slightly sheepish and embarrassed look on her face, she quickly left my room. I was feeling so frustrated and guilty at the same time – I cried. So many things are happening in my life, and I don’t need someone give me this type of trouble. Oh yeah, she just texted me saying that she was sorry for the trouble she caused and that she would do fine in her own room. Thank you, finally, for giving me some breathing space in my own room.

I appreciate the fact that she is my housemate. She is an easy-going girl, who shares all her stuff with us, the newbies. She even lends to us her first-year pharmacy stuff. Hey, I appreciate your help very much. And that is exactly why I would lend her my ear when she needed someone to talk to. When she was feeling unmotivated, I would advise her and console her. I don’t mind helping you but there is a certain limit as to what I can do for you.

First sign: She keeps coming over to my room to complain about her studies and to voice out her apprehension over her exams. Hey, I understand that she needs someone to talk to and that she turns to me makes me think I could really help her. But I was so wrong. Once or twice (after she had talked to me in my room), I had seen her complaining the very same thing to MI and other housemates. It made me think: “You just need someone to talk to so desperately that anyone will do. Geez”.

That was the first sign. Second sign was during study week. Everyone was busy studying. I was studying but taking lots of breaks in between. Even though I would be studying or chatting with my brother on MSN, she would still enter my room (just because I open my door) to talk to me. She would stay for an hour or so and then, my own time is gone just like that. She doesn’t understand that I don’t want to let her in. She doesn’t understand that when I open my door just a little to talk to people, it means I don’t want people to enter my room. She doesn’t understand that I would let people enter if I explicitly GIVE them the permission to enter. She comes into my room as she likes, imposing on my personal space and personal time.

Oh yeah, the danger bell started ringing when she told me about her experience last semester. She was so depressed over her finals that she went to her housemate’s room (incidentally, my room’s previous tenant) every single day during study week. I remember being utterly horrified. I was thinking to myself: “How could you disturb people like that? Didn’t your housemate need to study too?” Yeah, I should have realised that earlier - that my situation would be pretty much the same. I was STUPID for not realising the danger. SILLY for being so NAIVE!

My room is my own private space. My place to study, sleep and play. Sorry to say that I am a very private person and I don’t like just anybody stepping into my space without permission. Just because I said I like to study with other people (aka study room environment), she immediately assumed that her presence in my room would help me a lot in my studies. She thought that it was mutualism and that both of us will benefit. Sorry, I don’t think so. I was feeling so uncomfortable in my own room and that is the worst kind of feeling in the world – the feeling that my only private space in this house is gone.

And it doesn’t help the fact that she only seem to target me. Previously it was MI. But she cleverly put up a note on her door to ward off potential disturbance. And that she reads things aloud too. Probably that was the reason why MI wasn’t the target anymore and I becomes her current target.

Sorry to say that I realise that she is selfish in her own way. She thinks her troubles are greater than mine and that alone, gives her the right to impose on my private space and time. She doesn’t care if I was talking to my dad on the phone, or chatting with my friends online. She would think of all these as unimportant. Just because I am using the computer doesn’t mean I am free okay? And even when I have to prepare for exams the next day, she would still come into my room, saying how horrible her test was and how she has no confidence at all.

Thank god I mustered some courage (or should I say I was at my limit) to tell her off (albeit in a meek voice)... I was probably close to tears at that point too...

Finally, I have my own room back.

PS: Thanks Daddy, Ah Boy and Moimoi for hearing me out these past few days about this particular problem.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Hey Yanqi, remember the question that you got for your uni interview.. about this philosopher from ancient China who dreamt that he was a butterfly?

Yeah, I got a similar dream... no, I wasn't a butterfly though. It was something very depressing. It was so real I cried - both in my dream and in reality.

I cried because I thought it really happened. But as I was lying on in my bed, I remembered that everything was fine. Silly me.

I dreamt the same thing twice. The first time was sometime far back (I couldn't remember) and the second time today.

Maybe the philosopher's right after all... how is one supposed to know if our life is a dream or a reality?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thank You Guys

To Yan Qi, Lee Kuan, Jia Mun, Li Vern and Shu Ning, thanks for all the comments, advice and most importantly, the support you guys gave me. I appreciate them all. =)
Will work harder for subsequent exams, tests etc. If I ever slack, you guys can slap me okay? I need HUGE doses of reality sometimes.

A commentary on my life today:

I was feeling depressed from the Chem paper. And this morning, after sending a depressing SMS to my dad, he called. Maybe I shouldn't worry about things too much. Ended up worrying my dad (not to mention, friends too) =( .

And today's Bio paper is bad. Bad, as in there are tonnes of jargons I had seen before but I couldn't remember what they meant. Since it is Bio, I crapped the whole way through. Not to mention that my lecturer is being generous - there were 'true or false' questions, fill-in-the-blanks etc.

Hopefully I could pass that one. But the danger of failing Chem and Bio is still looming over my head though. Now that I think about it, maybe I should utilise the holidays to cram-study for supplementary exams. Hmm.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. Will be trying to cram all the Pharmaceutics facts into my poor brain.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Failure and Homesickness

If only I work harder, I wouldn't have flunked the Chem exam just now. So many questions left undone. And when it was all over, I looked at it in disbelief. No relief whatsoever. Just a moment of disbelief. Sitting for an exam is a surreal experience. Just you and the paper and the time ticking away. You are oblivious to everything around you; it is the moment where your brain needs to prove its worth. And predictably, mine failed me.

And to think I took a 45-minute nap before the exam. I slept underneath the quilt comfortably and was lulled into deep slumber.

I remembered feeling cold and the surface underneath me was hard.

I slept on my side, with my hands as pillow.

It felt like home.

For a single minute, I thought I was home, sleeping on the cold marble floor.

Expecting someone to wake me up, expecting to see the familiar scenes.

But, no. I am just in my room, several thousand miles away (figuratively speaking).

For a moment, I nearly cried.

I want to go home...


Having a panic attack right now.

Probably a combination of tuna with cheese and coffee gave rise to this effect.

Maybe it is the exam.

Yeah, definitely the EXAM.

Seriously cursing myself for being so lackasaidal (don't know if I spell this right... but hell, even my lecturers get confused between "verses" and "versus"... so there).

Goodbye, this world. You would be better and prettier without me...

Sayonara by,
Dead Meat

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Moimoi & Guess

My housemate came back from a shopping spree this evening. Apparently, there was a sale at Guess! Everything was 50% off for today! OMG! If she told me earlier, I could have gone to the city and buy some cool items for my family... it’s Guess, you know? Guess! Argh!

Anyway, exam is just around the corner and damn, these Guess people just had to hold a massive sale during exam period. Darn!

And I had a chat with Yuin-cheh. Wow, how I missed her! We can crap like nobody’s business. She would listen to my problems and my crazy thoughts. She would be the voice of reason in our conversations and I need that a lot.

Sometimes, I know I have silly thoughts stuck in my mind. I know they are impossible and irrational; I need a dose of reality. I don’t need a pat on my back that meant “Go for it, dude!” but more like a pair of sturdy hands to pull me back from falling.

Moimoi (I call Yuin-cheh by this name and vice-versa) did just that. Thank you for giving me a dose of reality.

Thank you for forcing me to study even though I would love to Facebook the whole time.

Thank you for listening to all my crappy talk even though you don’t want to.

Thank you for being a great sister and friend. =)

Now, if only I could repay you with an inexpensive and yet classy Guess tote! =P

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Current Favourite Song

Just So You Know by Jesse McCartney

I shouldn't love you
But I want to
I just can't turn away
I shouldn't see you
But I can't move
I can't look away

And I don't know
How to be fine when I'm not
Cause I don't know
How to make the feeling stop
Just so you know

This feeling's taking control of me
And I can't help it
I won't sit around
I can't let him win now
Thought you should know
I tried my best to let go of you
But I don't want to
I just gotta say it all before I go
Just so you know

It's getting hard to
Be around you
There's so much I can't say
Do you want me to hide the feelings?
And look the other way

And I don't know
How to be fine when I'm not
Cause I don't know
How to make the feeling stop
Just so you know

This feeling's taking control of me
And I can't help it
I won't sit around
I can't let him win now
Thought you should know
I tried my best to let go of you
But I don't want to
Just gotta say it all before I go. (Just so you know)

This emptiness is killing me
I'm wonderin' why I've waited so long
Looking back I realize
It was always there
Just never spoke of
I'm waiting here
Been waiting here

Just so you know
This feeling's taking control of me
And I can't help it
I won't sit around
I can't let him win now
Thought you should know
I tried my best to let go of you
But I don't want to
Just gotta say it all before I go
Just so you know
(Whoa, Just so you know,
Whoa, Thought you should know)

I tried my best to let go of you
But I don't want to
Just gotta say it all before I go
Just so you know

Just so you know

Note: I like the second verse of this song...'cause it is heartbreaking. Cool fact: Jesse McCartney co-wrote the hit song "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis. Apparently, he wrote this song because he missed his girlfriend so much during the time they were apart and was in so much pain. Awww...

Current Favourite Song

Note: This is random, I know. I am taking a break from studying Human Biology, so there. But I like this song very much. Sounds like two people talking but they are singing actually.

Say Goodbye by Jordan Knight & Deborah Gibson

YeahI've been so lost latelyI don't really understand, baby
Where did I go wrong?
I wanna talk to you
Please, call

Where do I begin with you,after all that we've been through
I don't think that it would be right,
If we got together so suddenly...

I wish that I could take back all the things that I said,
and replace them with simply I love you instead

You don't wanna say goodbye,
But you never really seem like you wanna try

But I only wanted you to stay,
then I let you just slip away

If you didn't listen to your heart inside,
Then it really doesn't matter what was on your mind,
and if you need me then tell me why...

Girl, I never meant to say goodbye
Mmm... Oh, yeah

I think about the past, baby
Why we couldn't make it last, lady?
I know you still have doubts,
But I'm gonna prove that we can work things out...

I wanna be sure that you know what you put me through,
And reveal that you intend to never let me down again...

It's clear to me and I can't ignore,
that I have to give you something I couldn't before...


I didn't think that we would come to this

Ooh, noYour eyes, your face, your smile is what I miss...

Why'd you wait so long to take me back

[Deborah & Jordan]It's all a simple misunderstanding...


Note: I love the part "If you didn't listen to your heart inside,Then it really doesn't matter what was on your mind". Quite meaningful. =) It seems to me that the couple broke up, but both didn't want to. And the last line of the song does imply that they are together in the end... Hooray~ Happy ending! XD

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First Uni Exam

... and I am slacking. Chemistry makes a lot of sense to me, but I can't remember what reacts with what to produce what. I love Human Biology a lot (for many, many reasons) but I don't have the motivation to study them. I stare at Pharmaceutics notes and jargons like "bioavailability" or "dosage form design" from Prof. Benson's lecture stare back at me.

It is now 4am in the morning, I am not sleepy. I should be studying but I am blogging. Screwed up priorities. Screwed up me.

I need a miracle to get me through this...