Archive for August, 2009

Memoir

August 30, 2009

I have somewhat decided that I want to write a memoir. I realised that after I have finished my thesis, and even after I told Rob a few times that I had enough of writing during the last lag of my race against time to complete the thesis, I still constantly find myself thinking more and more about writing and how much I enjoy and miss it.

I’m sure you’re wondering now that if I so miss and enjoy writing why am I not updating my blog more often? Frankly, I have nothing interesting to blog about. My life now is mundane. The most exciting thing that happens to me each day is talking with Rob during the afternoons.

I am not a great writer. It takes a lot of talent to write something that everyone can understand and relate to. I have much to learn. The reason for writing this memoir is simple. Everyone has a story and I want to tell mine, since I have the time now anyway. I hope to write something that can touch lives, even if it’s just one.

A lot of this memoir will come from this blog since I have shared many experiences of my life on here. I’m not sure if I will ever finish it but then again how can anyone ever finish writing the story of their life? I have a few ideas on how to start and I just need to bounce those ideas around before I officially start.

I don’t expect to get it published or anything like that. It’s just something I want to do for myself.  I can’t promise I will finish it but I keep having this intense desire to start writing one lately. I’m not too sure whether I will share it with the world (as in, in this blog) though. I suppose I need to be very confident with what I write to feel comfortable enough to publish it on the blog. We shall see.

Happy Merdeka everyone! :D

About me page etc.

August 25, 2009

I finally updated my “About Me” page. It’s nothing spectacular nor significant but I finally added more content to it compared to the previous 3 liner. I will probably change it from time to time depending on the mood I’m in but for now it’s good enough for me.

Currently I am totally loving the song “She is love” by Parachute.

I’m also reading a book called “Wild Swans” by Jung Chang. Technically I’m supposed to be done reading it by now as it was one of the books my supervisor requested I read before writing my thesis. Eager to learn, I went out and bought the book for about RM40! Unfortunately, I just never finished it.

Frankly I’m surprised I didn’t finish the book because it is really interesting. I suppose the part that discouraged me from reading it in the first place was the fact that it’s about 700 pages long and 2 inches thick. At the time, reading wasn’t my most favourite thing to do. Wild Swans is basically a memoir about three generations of women in China during the 20th century. Upon finishing the first two chapters, I realised why I was asked to read this book in the first place. I wished I had read it. I guess it’s never too late.

Speaking of the thesis, I have to print 6 copies of the abso-f*cking-lutely final copy to give to the university so that they can bound it in hard cover. It’s going to cost me Rm48 per copy and I’m doing 6. Of the six, four are required by the university (pftttt!) and the remaining 2 are for my personal use. One for my own safe-keeping and another as a gift to Rob. Initially I wanted to give a copy to the supervisor but I learned the other day that one of the 4 copies required is actually for the supervisor.

My laser printer is almost out of ink so I need to get a new cartridge. I’m quite impressed how long the first cartridge lasted me, considering I bought it back in 2006/2007 I think. Definitely got my money’s worth. A new cartridge is going to cost over RM200 and add the RM288 (RM48 x 6) for binding. I see my moolah (a total of RM488) flying off into oblivion. ~le sigh~

I  am hoping to get everything done by Friday and hopefully get one or two of my friends to help me lugged all 6 copies to the university. Any takers? I’ll buy lunch even! I already have a couple names in mind so if I call you, please feel exceptionally special ok? :D

Sometime last week I watched P.S. I love you and it is a TEAR JERKER! I cried so many times. The last time I cried that many times watching a movie was A Walk to Remember. I have to say it is one of the best movies I have ever watched. Now I really wanna get the book! I hope the book is better than the movie. Yes, I know the movie is from a book but funny enough I always like to watch the movie first THEN read the book. A Walk to Remember was a good movie and the book was great, even though they changed the storyline a bit in the movie. Unfortunately someone borrowed that book and never returned it and I don’t remember who it was. :(

I think I have rambled enough for the day. I shall go continue reading Wild Swans.

Au revoir~

Random stuff

August 24, 2009

So I have finally graduated over a week ago.

Today I returned the graduation gown and in exchanged I was given my master degree certificate. Upon looking at the piece of paper in my hand, the first thought that went through my mind was “So this is what the hype was all about? Over 3 years of my life for this?” Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I have regrets or anything of the sorts.

I guess I’ve always pictured the moment of holding that certificate for the first time to be of greater significance and that I may feel some sense of pride and achievement but I don’t. I don’t feel anything special about it. Strange isn’t it?

The white envelope now sits on a chair and I haven’t bothered to look at it since this morning when I was asked by the staff at the graduate centre to check it. I guess I’m just wondering what I would be up to now had I not take up this extra 3 years of study. Would I be more established in my career right now? Or would I still be in the same job/position by now? I know, I know. I think too much.

Come to think of it there’s not much I can do other than think. I do have a lot of spare time at the moment. I’m still waiting for more interview calls. BLEH!

Before I forget, I not have a Favicon! If you don’t know what it is, it’s that pinkish S picture next to my URL in the address bar. If you don’t see it, try clearing your cache and reload the blog. Hopefully it’ll be there. It updates slower on Internet Explorer but it showed up relatively soon in Firefox after Rob loaded it up for me. If you still don’t see it, let me show you a picture.

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I have to say that I am very pleased with it. It’s just so, well, me.

Still toying on the idea of locking up the blog to registered users. I have the plugin in my WordPress and I can pretty much activate it whenever I want to. Hmmmm…decisions decisions…what to do what to do.

Guess I’ll decide later. I’m going to catch up on some sleep.

Graduating

August 11, 2009

*Long post. Took a couple days to write. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.*

Alas, I will be graduating on Saturday…

I found out last week and when I saw the email with the subject of “Konvokesyen 2009” my heart stopped for a few seconds and then it started to beat faster and faster as I read through the contents of the email. I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I still sit here and wonder if this is all a dream and that at any given time I will wake up and it would have all been my mind playing tricks on me.

This is a short version of my experience…

In December 2005, I signed up for a Masters Degree while Rob was here visiting. After he left, it took me quite a while to get off my ass and started my research. It was supposed to be a 2 year ordeal program and I was scheduled to graduate by 2008. In the span of a couple years, I have re-written and edited draft after draft of my six-chapter thesis.

The process goes like this. I finish a chapter, email it to my supervisor. He then takes about a month or sometimes up to 3 months to read and then email me his feedback on what edits/corrections to be made while I worked on the subsequent chapter. Initially it was a challenge I enjoyed. I secretly enjoyed the fact that I was acquiring all this knowledge about my area of study even though sometimes it didn’t fit in my thesis.

I learned about things from Marxism to Chinese history, from theories of dialectic materialism to revisionism, read texts written from the 18th and 19th century and many more. All this would not have been possible had I not taken up this Masters Degree.

In 2008, I was denied graduation  because the process was lengthy and required more time. I now assume that my supervisor thought I wasn’t ready to bring my thesis to a panel that would accept it and let me graduate. I was devastated. Nonetheless, 2008 turned into a good year when I was able to spend 5 and a half weeks with Rob.

He knew I was sad about not graduating and so he suggested I go over for summer during July-August. I knew that he wanted to get me away from being at home around graduation time (which is always in August). For that, I am thankful. The entire time I was there with him, I didn’t think much about graduation. I wholeheartedly had one of the best 5 and a half weeks of my life there.

I came back home with renewed determination, hope and faith. I was refreshed and I knew I was going to finish what I started. I worked hard because I was determined to graduate in August 2009.

Fast forward to the last couple months…

Even though I had personal issues to deal with, I still managed to keep myself focused. I was in constant contact with my thesis supervisor and he assured me over and over again that I would make it to graduation this year. I, on the other hand, was sceptical at first but after so much assurance from him, I was sure I was going to graduate this year. I would cordially say I am graduating this year when family and/or friends enquire about my studies.

Anyway, after 4 drafts on each chapter later, I submitted my final draft for evaluation in early June as instructed by my supervisor. In fact, my supervisor mentioned that he was going to push the university to publish my thesis as a book.

My jaw dropped when he brought this up to me. ME? An author of a book? Crazy, isn’t it? I was ecstatic(!) yet somehow didn’t think to announce it to the world because I’ve begun my journey down cynicism and wondered if it would ever happen. Nonetheless, Rob and I had fun with the whole author thing as he commented that if the book sold great (not that it would) I would be his sugarmama. =))

Meanwhile, because of bureaucracy and incompetence, my thesis was not read by any of the examiners until a week later. My supervisor literally had to jump in and personally forwarded my thesis to both internal and external examiners for evaluation.

Two weeks later, I gotten my evaluation. Both passed me BUT the external examiner me requested that I added parts here and there to make the thesis more comprehensive. The internal examiner was more critical on my referencing style and requested that I cite my sources more frequently. I understand that to a certain extent. What pissed me off was that after every paragraph he drew a line and wrote “Source?” on it. Now my gripe was (and still is), “Does he expect a source after EVERY sentence?” You know what, I don’t think I should get into that now. It would make this an even longer post.

Once again, I met up with my supervisor and showed him the evaluation I got from the examiners. He then proceeded to tell me that since there was THAT much to clean up and edit, I should consider the fact that I won’t make it to graduation this year. Apparently he didn’t expect this magnitude of a feedback. I then asked “If I get this done in a week, what are the odds of graduating?” He answered “I can’t promise anything. You can try but I can’t promise anything. Don’t kill yourself over it. Just take your time and do what you need to.”  To which I just said “I don’t care if I don’t graduate anymore. I want to get this done and over with. I want to get on with my life.”

At that point I was so angry and I channelled it into more determination. I wanted to finish the damn thesis within a week, submit it for final evaluation and get it out of my life once and for all. For a week I slept an average of 4-5 hours every night and worked really hard on it. To my amazement I really did finish all the necessary edits in 6 days. I submitted what I hoped would be my FINAL copy and waited.

I had no expectations. During the 6 days I worked on it, I pretty much had the thought of not graduating implanted in my head. I dealt with it, albeit not so well, but I did. I braved myself to face the many people who had expected me to graduate this year and started hinting the news of not graduating.

To my surprise I will be graduating this coming Saturday as I mentioned earlier.  The first person I told was Rob and later that day I told my parents.  Aside from them, I didn’t tell anyone about it until a few days later. I was scared that someone was going to call me up and said it was all a mistake on their part, that the email was not intended for me. That goes to show just how much of an impact the journey of writing this thesis had on me.

I don’t know if I can blame entirely the university for this but it really has not been the experience I hoped it to be. From denying my right to JUST apply for a scholarship to rude staff, from incompetence and lack of research material, I pretty much backhanded the university when I did a survey conducted by the Ministry of Higher Education.

This has been a long journey, with much blood, sweat and tears. Mostly a lot of tears, to be completely honest.

I am relieved that I will be graduating but I am indifferent about it. I don’t really feel like celebrating, mainly because I am still in fear, fearing that it will all come crashing down again. It feels like a defeated victory. Mostly I am just glad for the people who are happy for me because they deserve it.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true but how does one define “stronger” in this sense? Am I stronger now? Yes, to a certain extent. I am stronger in the sense that I am more cynical.  That is the strength that I have acquired from taking on this degree. Even though I am looking at the graduation gown hanging on my door, I am still questioning whether this is really happening? I still have my doubts and I am questioning my faith in some things.

Perhaps ten years from now I will look back and smile and think about what a great challenge this was and how it affected my life.

For now, I am done with school. I want to get on with my life.

Long Grove

August 6, 2009

Long Grove is a little town just northwest of Chicago and about 20 mins drive from where we were staying. It is a very charming place, mainly consisting of historic buildings. I didn’t get to look around as much as I wanted to during my winter visit so we went again during my summer visit. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

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Long Grove has a lot of old-fashion shops that sell antiques, hand-made crafts, chocolates etc.

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Home made ice cream. YUM!

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DROOL  =P~    Handmade chocolates which cost like USD3 per piece!

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There is a park with a gazebo in Long Grove that I think would make a great location for a wedding ceremony.

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Probably carved by teenagers in love

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Over a year ago I was with Rob. It’s strange how fast a year passes by and yet with all the things that has happened in the past year, I feel as if it has been like 5 years.

Even though we talk everyday, I still really miss you Robbie.   :((

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