Sentimental.

I started listening to Kodaline’s “Follow Your Fire” repeatedly lately, and it’s a beautiful song about reminiscing that young love and thinking abut them, wondering where they are and if they’re happy.

We all have that one person (or maybe more) that you still think about from time to time, usually triggered by a song, or a place – that just takes you back to that time and place that you shared something special.

For someone as sentimental as me who can’t even bear to throw away old letters from old friends and lovers, and a girl who would cry after listening to a sad, sappy music – ah yes, you bet that the lyrics gets me like a little girl longing for a candy.

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How to unleash your creativity

I’m saying this as if I’m an expert, but trust me, I’m not.

I’m still very much lost and I struggle with ‘writer’s block’ all the freaking time, as you can see from a sporadic schedule and huge gaps in timeline of my writing and blogging over the years.

But I’ve been writing for as long as I could remember – as a kid, publishing my own internal newsletters and creating stories as we draw and play games; as a teenager, writing short stories and sending them to local tabloids and magazines, and of course throughout my adult life – aspiring to be a journalist one day and writing as much as I could to expand my portfolio.

But there are times when we just get stuck in a rut and no matter how long you sit, trying to write something, you just don’t know what to do.

So here are just some of the things that I force myself to do just to try getting something out of this weird little bubble..

Try and write about anything and everything.

Even when it sounds stupid, and even when you don’t think anybody would want to read them. Sometimes, you just gotta get out of the rut and write something. You don’t have to publish them – you can just keep it for your own archive. But the fact that you’ve written a complete piece – counts for something.

Recall your past experience

“Isn’t everything autobiographical?”

Just like what Jesse said in Before Sunset, when he was answering a question on his book signing at the beginning of the movie.

The only person who could share about what you have gone through – is you. So don’t be afraid to go back and recall your past experience – whether it’s something funny, memorable, sad, heartbreaking, or even random moments that you wouldn’t think important.

And usually, when you start to relieve your past experience, you can go to the next point..

Learn something new

As you write and relive your experiences, sometimes you would find yourself discovering a lesson that you didn’t think of before – and isn’t that amazing? To me, writing it down on paper helps with giving me clarity and better perspective on things. I can stop myself in between – and ponder on things, before I learn something new that I could then, add on to my story.

Read more books, and watch more shows

Of course, if you never expose yourself to anything new, you would never experience anything new either. And you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your couch to experience something new. Write about the book you just read, or the show you just saw. While at it, you could also share about how those stories relate to you personally, or how that makes you feel. And that is something original!

Get yourself in a new environment

Sometimes, it’s good to take yourself out and go to another place that is different. I remember loving going to the library when I was still in school. Not to just study for exams or do my assignments, but just to sit there and write, or read a book. The quiet, peaceful environment, surrounded by the smell of books just does something, doesn’t it?

Do you have more tips? Do share them with me too, I’d love to know!

One Havoc Night in Batam!

It was one of those times when we were just randomly talking about going away for a short trip, and the next thing we knew.. whoa! We were going to Batam!

Okay, maybe not exactly like that.

We have been talking about it for weeks but we were procrastinating until the very last day when we had to be like HEY GUYS ARE STILL GOING THIS WEEKEND OR WHAT? It’s like.. 2 days away!

Anyway, I always say, what matters is the result, not the process.

Oh wait, isn’t it the other way around? Don’t people say ‘it’s not the destination; it’s the journey that matters’? Wait, WHAT?!

Ah, I’m getting distracted.

Where was I? Ah yes, I was talking about how much of procrastinators we were.. But who knew, on a Sunday morning the three of us showed up bleary eyed at the train station while saying, “I need coffee.”

It was a great, albeit short getaway! I felt like we were just boarding the ferry and just like that, it was time to head back. Well, I guess, time flies when you’re having fun, right?

We came back with many stories; mostly funny.

Uhm, yes mostly.

The not so funny (read: horrible, awkward) moment happened during a foot massage in one of the random massage places we chose opposite the mall.

The guy masseur tried to massage me in inappropriate places and I was super horrified to the point that I just didn’t know how to react.

Wait, is this PUNKED? Am I on candid camera? This can’t be real life?

I have had many foot massages with guy masseur but this was the first time such situation happened. It was also my sore luck that I was separated from my 2 friends as there were no more spots in the public area so I had to sit inside a private room.

THANKS, LUCK!

Other than having massage (which we had 3), we mostly ate and being typical tourists, we ate A&W and being typical Tina, I had KFC. Hooray.

At night we went to karaoke and sang our hearts out! My 2 friends happily did their own Jay Chou concert and we attempted to sing some Big Bang songs. Ambitious.

I’m pretty sure we butchered the Korean songs.. WHY IS KOREAN PRONUNCIATION SO COMPLICATED?!

URISARANGHAJIMARAYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

From dancing, singing, yelling, rapping to full-on dorking out, it was already 11pm by the time we finished and we finally checked-in to our hotel.

Funnily, even at my own country, I was still being haunted by Chinese language as the hotel concierge asked me if I could help him translate what this Chinese tourist was saying to him.

“Sorry I don’t speak Chinese,” was all I could say – my most-repeated line ever.

Before we knew it, the next day came and we were on our way back to the ferry terminal. Another funny thing happened at the baggage check.

As people were lining up and dropping their bags at the conveyor belt, I noticed that there was no one even looking at the monitor! These people were actually putting their bags down for nothing, bruhhh. I somehow found the whole thing really funny, I started laughing hysterically.

Also during the immigration queue, someone actually stood on the line where there was NO officer working at that counter.

A guard came over and tapped him on the shoulder, “Why are you standing here? Nobody’s there.” 

Cue: laugh guys, LAUGH. It’s funny right?

Why is the trip so short?!

Ehm.. because it is? After all, it’s just 1 night!

(Stop with the internal dialogue Tina.)

Expectation vs Reality ;)

At the end of the work day on Friday, my colleagues would pose me this question, “So, what are you going to do this weekend?” In fact, that’s probably the first thing they would ask on a Monday morning as well, and I always wish I could reply them with a list of the amazing things I did over the weekend which would leave them speechless.

This is what I would like to happen:

“Oh, you know, I just flew to Bangkok for a shopping spree. It was FAB! You have to see how many pairs of shoes I bought!”

Or

“Funny you should ask! On Saturday I went to Breadstreet Kitchen and dined with Gordon Ramsay.. He cooked the dishes personally for us, we had champagne.. ah it was lovely!”

I’m sure THAT would make a wonderful story. But instead, this is what actually happens on most occasions:

“Er. Nothing, really. Slept the whole weekend away.”

Or

“Oh, you know, really glamorous, thanks. I stayed home, ate instant noodles while watching reruns of Gilmore Girls..”

Nope. Not glamorous at all.

Intern Life: Part Deux

Hello guys! Welcome back to the life-as-an-intern series. In the first episode, my boss turned out to be a sexual predator, and I ordered a brainless chicken. If you miss it, read it here.

Well, I had another internship right after that. In fact, I quit my previous internship early so that I could start another internship. WHY, you ask?

HAVE YOU BEEN PAYING ATTENTION AT ALL, PEOPLE?!

But hey, I was quite efficient, right? Grab life by its horn! Grab every opportunity! Don’t simply wait, but make things happen!

Ah, indeed was the epitome of all that since I was already interviewing for another internship while I was still in one. This other internship was for a PR role in a boutique PR agency. It was a typical boutique setting – the office was located in one of those shop houses along Dhoby Ghaut.

I remember the interview quite clearly though. I did not think I would get the role because I was talking and laughing too much. Perhaps it was my way to mask my nervousness. I recall the interviewer asked me something, and I made a reference about a celebrity being dead.

Don’t ask.

However, I got called back a few days later, telling me that I did get the internship and I was expected to start as soon as possible. It was quite awkward, I had to tell my current boss at that time that I had a personal issues and that I needed to cut the internship early. I think he was quite rude and mean about it – and I don’t know whether I should have, but I thought about what’s best for myself and that I could learn something more relevant to my study at the other PR company.

So I did it! I started interning at this company where I had quite a fun and fruitful working experience. My colleagues were very nice, they were definitely older and sometimes I felt quite ‘irrelevant’ being around them but they tried to guide and teach me along although they were in and out of the office for most times.

I had to do media monitoring every morning – which essentially meant flipping the newspapers and some online sites, checking if there were any mentions on any of our clients’ brands. I would then have to compile a report and send them to the clients’ every day. Other than that, I also helped out with whatever tasks my colleagues gave.

There were nothing to complain, really. I enjoyed myself, and the only memory I could think of while I was interning there was the fact that I just got into a long-distance relationship with my then-boyfriend and I remember talking to him on the phone every day at lunch time.

My colleagues were probably thinking I’m a total weirdo for always refusing to join them for lunch.

I’M SORRY, BUT I WAS YOUNG AND STUPID AND IN LOVE AND STILL SO HOPELESSLY ROMANTIC. WHAT COULD BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN TALKING TO YOUR BOYFRIEND EVERY LUNCH HOUR? (EVEN THOUGH I STILL TALKED TO HIM EVERY NIGHT TIME TOO..)

Ah, the things we do for love..

Anyway, another thing I recalled was, during this internship I wrote an opinion piece which ended up being featured in the local newspaper and I remember boasting about it to the bosses. It was actually quite lame – the way I boasted was as if I just won a Nobel Prize.

Very classy, Tina.

My writing journey.

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I have dreamed of being a writer ever since I was 7.

Lack of resources and (real) creativity, my sister and I used to publish our own “newsletter” when we were small, little kids.

What do 7 year old kids know about newsletter, and what could we possibly write about that was worthy enough to call it a ‘newsletter’, I have no idea.

We typed away in Notepad, or maybe it was an older program I couldn’t even remember and wrote stuffs about things that were happening around the house. I vividly remembered writing about how my driver farted.

Whoa. Real investigative journalism right there. Christiane Amanpour in the making!

We forced kindly asked our maids and driver to read it and it was very exciting. We published a new issue every week with stories as equally lame as the next.

I was quite an artsy kid; I’ve always loved language and arts growing up. English course never felt like an obligation to me, I loved learning new words, composing essays and talking in some language other than my mother tongue, and English was the first foreign language I studied. I wonder if I would share the same passion had my mom enrolled me in Chinese class instead. In my free time, I loved drawing and making stories too; I used to have this erasable drawing pad where my sister and I would draw on while creating storyline on the spot.

I loved drawing class at school, and I enjoyed designing letters and decorating pages. During my elementary years, my mom enrolled me in drawing course and I remembered being so excited, we learned things like how to combine colors and create more natural, flawless color transformation. It may sound silly, but I actually think even that drawing class has helped transform me into the kind of person I am today. In a way that I can’t really describe.

I started writing short stories for children’s magazines too. I remember writing so many stories (sometimes printed, sometimes handwritten) and putting them in envelopes, intending to send them to the magazine, but I don’t remember ever actually sending them. Maybe because I never really thought my stories would get featured, and I got embarrassed by the idea that someone else might actually read them.

As time went on, my passion of writing had both its ups and downs. There were periods when I intensely wrote in my diary every day. It was almost like an itch, as if I couldn’t feel contented if I haven’t come up with a post in a day. On the other hand, I had some hibernating moments too, vacuums in my life where I stopped writing altogether.

Especially when I started working and being caught up in this thing called ‘life’.

But thinking about it, even though I had my moments of intense productivity when it comes to writing, I always come back to it. After more than 20 years of writing on and off, I could still say that I loved writing so much and that I could express myself so much better in words.

At the end of the day, maybe having a passion about something doesn’t necessarily mean you have to feel so strongly about it all the time.

For the past years, I thought to myself that sure, it would be so sweet if I could write for a living. In fact, I’ve been to both spectrum: from being ‘I’ll be the next Carrie Bradshaw’ to ‘Who am I kidding? I’ve no real writing experience, who would hire me? And even if they would, who cares about what I think of guys in skinny jeans’?

However, I’ve come to realise that the act of writing itself is therapeutic enough that I would merely be content with doing it when I feel like it. Somehow it feels more liberating and comforting to me.

But at the end of the day, I’m still the same person who loves writing and talking nonsense about everything under the sun. And sure, the things that I write wouldn’t change the state of living in Africa, or cure Cancer, but I believe that I do have a voice and an opinion that at least could entertain a person or two.

Myself is one. If you are reading this – then thank you, you are the second and last person and I want to give you a big hug.

Now, I’m just going to enjoy the process of writing when I can – whether it’s here, or at work where I luckily have a lot of opportunities to write as a PR person. I’ve gotten to do some awesome freelance gigs in the past as well, and I just recently wrote a chapter for a book project and heck, I don’t know if I’m going to ever finish writing a book but I’m helluva going to try and it’s going to be a lot of fun attempting to do so!

Anyway, I think I’m babbling and it sounds like I’m ready to propose to writing seeing how much I’ve been gushing about it in the past 15 minutes.

But I’m just going to end this with… happiness is a choice. I can choose to be grateful for the things I’ve accomplished and what I’m still able to do, or feeling like a total failure because I’m not a writer and I don’t have my own column and I’m not even in the media industry and I’m not where I thought I would be…

Whichever you feel, it’s a decision that is entirely yours.

Full time dabbler.

In the days that I doubted my own capabilities, when I wondered whether I’m doing what I’m supposed to, God lent me a hand through helpful advice from people around me.

The truth is, only a handful of people can be truly certain of their dreams. Sometimes, we don’t even know our own aspirations, or our life’s greatest purpose aside from the generic need “to be happy”. I’m definitely one of those people. I’m one of the people who sometimes find myself in a meaningless job with no motivation or satisfaction. I’m one of those people who sometimes lay awake at night wondering if I’m gonna spend the rest of my life feeling like this.

I envy people who have extraordinary skills, like my good friend Elsa who is a piano maestro, or those who can confidently say, “ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved singing, so this is what I want to do for the rest of my llife.” Or even those folks who can fix computers, talk gadgets, play video games and become really, really good at it. Wouldn’t it be easy if each one of us is blessed with one extraordinary skill?

My problem is that I dabble on every little things all over the place, and I end up not getting really good at anything. I took organ class, art and drawing class, cooking lessons, did scouts throughout my school years; tried diving and rock climbing, learned Chinese, and other nonsense but always stopped halfway because… I didn’t think they were for me. I stopped doing things before I even got the chance to see if I were gonna be any good at them.

I’ve always known I have a short attention span, but this is just ridiculous. I think out of everything that I have tried doing, the only few things that stuck with me ’til now is how much I like writing, traveling and sharing my experience. But even those things I can’t do consistently and something always seems to get in the way.

In short, I think I’m someone who likes to always keep moving. Maybe not forward, more like sideways until I end up getting lost. And in those times, when I questioned myself whether ‘marketing’ is my forte (being in this line of work for 7 years now – which seems short in a span of a lifetime, but long when you come to think of those years spent of almost half your 20s), my sister said to me that it’s really okay to feel this way, But don’t just stop and admit defeat. Instead, continue dabble and figure out your true passion, While at it, try to do your best in marketing, or in whatever your line of work is. Because until you find something else that you can be really good at, who knows what you are capable of now?

Suddenly the song from Pocahontas crossed my mind:

How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know.

I think, eventually only a few people in the world were born with an extraordinary skill. I think most of them achieve them through hard work and dedication.

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And another quote I would like to share with you is something from my new boss:
Never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.

So, dabble away and find your true talent.

Or at least, don’t ever stop trying.

5 Reasons why Daredevil is the best Marvel series on Netflix

Okay, it’s not like there are a lot of Marvel series in Netflix to begin with, but I digress.

Ever since I started watching Daredevil, I was immediately hooked. I look forward to every night to go home from work so that I can continue seeing this amazing, bloodshed, totally believable and the amazing performance by this cast.

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Pre-Daredevil, the only superheroes series I have gotten to love is Smallville.. and that was ages ago! Although, can you remember how hot young Tom Welling was?!

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(Oh hello there, you can save me anytime, Clark.)

I tried seeing Gotham and I did not like that at all. Flash or Arrow did not interest me even the slightest, so when I saw Daredevil popping up in my Netflix, I was skeptical at first.

Oh boy, I’m glad I gave it a try.

Anyway, 2 seasons later, we are in that period of terrible waiting time until the new season comes! And I can’t wait! Marvel released other series on Netflix: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

Tried seeing Jessica Jones because of the high rating and many positive recommendation from friends, but even that disappoints. I found Jessica Jones very draggy at times – and the characters involved are not as riveting (I mean, aside from herself and Kilgrave, what’s even the point of the other characters?) And after a while, her character just slightly bores me.

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(Doesn’t being an angry, reluctant, anti-hero tire you Jessica?)

Luke Cage was the same. It started out promising, but I felt that the plot was very ‘self-absorbed’. The series basically is just about him escaping his past and how it came back to haunt him. The villain was underwhelming. And the ending was very non-conclusive and satisfying as well.

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(Ok, you’re strong and bulletproof. I give you that, Luke.)

I’m currently seeing Iron Fist and my final verdict has yet to be decided. I’m only on episode 6, and so far it’s been alright. It started out very slow and draggy, but it’s getting better now. However, I don’t really enjoy even Danny Rand character – he’s very naive, too idealistic and childish. Surprisingly, I’m growing to like Wade – at least his character evolved and it’s interesting to see where he will end up. Joy seems like a useless character at this point – but I have a feeling she will play an important role in upcoming episodes. I’m waiting for a biggest twist.

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(Angsty bro?)

However, still, none of the other series could match the greatness of Daredevil and everything it brings! Hallelujah!

1. Awesome cast

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(Avocados at Law unite!)

Amazing ensemble, everyone just plays their shit out of their role! Nobody is out of character. Everyone is believable, their chemistry can be felt and each role plays a part. Charlie Cox is the perfect Matt Murdoch, I can’t think of anyone else excelling in this role as him. Even Karen – a character I dislike, is portrayed perfectly and annoyingly as it intended to. The supporting characters – Foggy, Claire, Ben, and everyone else is just as great.

2. Powerful, bloody and realistic fighting scenes

Oh shit, the fighting choreography here is just da bomb! Don’t you guys remember this iconic scene that’s completely 1-take?

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3. Amazing plot

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There are so many elements in the whole series that make it just so… whole and riveting. There’s Matt’s personal struggles and childhood stories, his relationship with Foggy, Karen, Claire, Stick, Elektra that is at times separate and with its own arch. Then again, on top of all those inter-personal conflicts and relationships, there’s a bigger story with Kingpin and The Hand. Aside from being Daredevil, we’re also shown Matt’s personal side as a lawyer and keeping everything together. It’s just so wholesome where everything ties in together.

4. Riveting villains (that you can’t help but root for – somehow?)

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Wilson Fisk and how he’s portrayed in the series is very terrifying. Amazing casting once again! Aside from being a sadistic, evil, manipulative and ruthless villain, we’re also shown a different side of him – his childhood and love interest. It’s refreshing to see a different side of someone, especially a villain. And in season 2, he’s totally back and still as powerful as ever, even in prison and I can’t wait to see him again in the next season!

5. Charlie Cox. Just Because.

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You. Are. Welcome.