give & receive

I can’t remember the last time I went into the post office in this country. Was this my first time then? Possibly. But I have sent letters before without the need to go into one. I would buy stamps at a stationery shop and push the envelopes into a red post box, hoping they would arrive at their respective destinations.

I was here not to send a post. As a 22-year-old, I am now eligible to vote for the next election, and so I needed to register my name. The procedure should be easy enough. All I needed to do was take a ticket, wait for my turn, and go to the counter to give my ID card.

Now, where is the ticket machine? It should be on my left as I walk in, according to my brother who had registered the day before. There was a group of people standing on the left. On the right side of the office were rows of red chairs that were mostly occupied. It is always as busy as this, they say.

It turned out that the 2-foot ticket machine was behind that group of people. I was only made aware of it when a stranger in a blue shirt pointed towards it after surmising that I was searching for it. He might have probably thought I wasn’t from that area not to know where the machine was!

Press A for posts, parcel, and post-related inquiries.

Press B for bill payment and other services.

The unique thing about the post office here is that it is not just a post office. It also acts as an office for paying bills, renewing driving licenses, registering as a voter, and probably a few other things I am not aware of. I personally find it weird, but I guess it is somewhat convenient if you don’t consider the waiting time.

My ticket number was 1238. The calling number was 1191. Great. I must wait.

I settled myself on a seat in the last row. I had expected this so I was glad I brought along Northanger Abbey.

I was engrossed in reading within the first 15 minutes when a man called to my attention. I was at that moment between dreaming and awake that it took a few blinks to realise what was happening. That same man in the blue shirt murmured something whilst handing out his ticket to me. I then made sense of the situation. He wanted me to have his ticket, which was numbered 1218. I asked him whether he was certain about this and he said yes. I said thank you and he left the post office.

Lord only knew how happy I felt! It was like receiving a gift that I had not expected. I looked at the number on the ticket again. And I looked up to see the current calling number. 18 more. Better than 38. Bless that kind man.

But now I have a dilemma. What do I do with my original ticket? Do I keep it? Do I throw it away? Do I give it to another person?

It’s one thing to receive but it’s another to give. I couldn’t focus on Catherine Morland and her desperation of finding a dancing partner. I was desperate to give away my ticket!

I pretended to continue reading but all the while I was strategising. I thought that perhaps I should wait for a new customer to come in and press the ticket machine and I shall see which button they chose. If it were B, I would not hesitate to approach.

That seemed like a good plan. A tall man came in and went to the ticket machine. His figure blocked my view and I couldn’t tell which one he chose. He then held up the ticket to his face rather too quickly and didn’t put his hand back down. Darn it.

The next person was shorter and he didn’t block the machine from my view so I could perfectly see that he pressed B. I could also see the first to digits on the ticket he held less discreetly. He looked at his number and he looked up at the calling number. He did that a couple more times just like the tall man previously did. Both showed a face of irritation or dissatisfaction.

When the short man walked a little closer to where I was sitting, I eagerly said, in my mother tongue, “Excuse me, sir, would you like my ticket?” I then explained what had happened and that he could have my original ticket. He nodded with a smile and took the ticket. He seemed pleased.

I proceeded with pretending to read until the number 1218 was called. The whole wait took about half an hour, which was better than the usual one-hour wait, minimum.

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Persuasion by Jane Austen —Anne’s Providence

persuasion-by-jane-austenPersuasion follows Anne Elliot, one of Austen’s quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and most open to change. A woman of no importance, she manoeuvres in her restricted circumstances in the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of adventure, and the making of new fortunes and alliances, as did her long-time love Captain Wentworth. Providence brought the two together once again and we see how persuasion that once separated them rekindled their relationship.

 

Anne the maiden

The novel centres around Anne who seemed to be everyone’s favourite or at least, a useful person. She has such a kind heart and pleasant demeanour. Her strong opinions and will developed as she aged. This is what I like most about her: she realised her mistake in the past and she did not wallow in sadness or resentment. Instead, she thought of the positive side of the situation and improved her character as time passed. 

What’s with Wentworth

He was there and he was gone and now he has come again. Captain Wentworth was, to me, a mysterious figure at the start. Who is this man who has plagued Anne’s mind? What are his good qualities? What is so special about him? He is but a sailor who has acquired his fortune through the wars. Apart from his charm and humble manners, I don’t think I quite understood how well he deserved Anne. Anne’s character is justified in being an intelligent woman. I don’t think the author explored much of Wentworth’s character in relation to Anne. As much as I adore his personality, and not to mention his eloquent writing, I cannot fully commit to admiring him.

Pompous pride

I absolutely loathe Anne’s family members. Everyone — her father, her sisters and her cousin — has a certain “Elliot pride”, as they say in the book. I understand their high position in society, what with her father, a Sir Walter Elliot, being a baronet. But that does not mean they should be so odiously conceited. Unfortunately, with fortune comes pride. That kind of attitude seems to still be prevalent in today’s day and age, but I hope that it is not common. I don’t mind a rich person as long as they are kind and charitable. 

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Overall

I find that I understand this novel better reading it as a 22-year-old as opposed to a 16-year-old. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I relate to Anne particularly with regards to her having a different mind than others in her social circle. My image of Captain Wentworth is one of Rupert Penry-Jones who played the character in the 2007 film adaptation. He played the character well and I was besotted. Even so, I feel his character development in the book quite lacking in depth. Perhaps it was because all of his feelings were explained at once at the end and not gradually. The ending was rather abrupt, but I guess poor Jane Austen amidst her illness could not conjure a more satisfactory ending. Nevertheless, I rate this novel quite generously mostly due to Anne’s compassion and also the author’s beautiful writing. 


img_0309Title: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Limited

Language: English

Pages: 210

Rating: 4 violas

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On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher — love after life

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This story follows Evie Snow, who dies at 82, on a journey of unburdening her soul of three secrets that she has kept from her family in order to move forward and open the door to heaven.

 

Class & Wealth

Evie Snow comes from a rich family that puts importance in title and wealth. This sounds kind of like it is set in the Georgian or Victorian era but there are modern elements in the story so the time frame is quite unclear. But the author once said that this was intentional.

Evie had somehow grew up not caring about such social standings. Her mother wanted her to marry Jim Summers who was from another wealthy family. Jim was Evie’s best friend, and although Jim had loved Evie more than a friend, he had never expected more from Evie.

The turning point was the year when Evie made a deal with her mother that if she can’t keep a stable job within a year, she would have to marry Jim. Within that year, she met and fell in love with Vincent Winters. Both of them got along well and I think it’s mostly because both of them yearning to achieve some form of freedom.

 

Love & Sacrifice

This novel showed me that love can force you into making difficult choices. It was heartbreaking reading what hard choices Evie had to pick but I respect her so much for being so selfless. Besides her love with Vincent, there was also familial love with her younger brother. At least not all of her family members were as cruel as the queen bee.

 

Magical Realism

I absolutely loved the description of how Evie’s afterlife seemed like. The author definitely has a brilliant sense of imagination and translated that very well into words. It wasn’t difficult to picture it in my mind and I was quite pleased with such authentic descriptions.

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Overall

It was a fast read for me and I quite enjoyed the story. However, the theme is rather too simple for my taste, like the theme of class and wealth. That is rather unoriginal. But I suppose in a way it is still a current issue in some parts of the world and I commend the author for raising the issue. The book also highlights the gender spectrum in a seamless way. This is a good fiction book debut for the author and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.


Title: On the Other Side

Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Language: English

Pages: 345

Rating: 3.5 violas

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rationalising laziness

I haven’t been very productive on my social media these past few weeks, if you hadn’t noticed already. There are video clips to edit and post, there are pictures to be sorted into albums, and there are stories to be written. And yet, I have done none of those to an accomplished degree.

So I’ve decided that enough is enough and I need to get back on track for the sake of my sanity. I shall start with the very reasons why I have been inactive. This is my attempt to get out of the writing slump. Let’s hope this works.

1) No Motivation

It seems that it’s easier to accomplish things when you have a ton of other things to do, as ironic as that sounds. I’d like to call it procrastination. I think I do well when I procrastinate. But then my compulsory work gets pushed aside, which brings me to…

2) Disorganised

I was never one to be so well-organised even though I might appear as such. I never kept a daily to-do journal and even if I did I tend to drop the habit within a week of starting. But I have kept diaries, as in writing-my-daily-thoughts diaries. I seemed to prefer that much more than the aforementioned. I guess it’s simply because it’s less work.

3) Lost Focus

I had written down a list of things I want to do but I suppose it became quite overwhelming and so the most comfortable thing to do was to ignore it. Plus, I’ve had the added pressure in getting a job so that I won’t have to live in the mercy of others. What a conundrum: to keep true to my values but finding it difficult to show companies or organisations my honesty and determination as I have next to nothing to offer, and ended up submitting to the usual mediocrity hoping for an easy income. Oh, the guilt!

4) Over-ambitious

I am an idealist and sometimes I forget to consider the realistic perspective. I have huge ideas and plans that seem impossible, and I have to keep reminding myself to consider each small step and not to jump ahead. For example, I have so many ideas for how my blog is going to develop — I have been thinking of including information on veganism, minimalism, sustainability, awesome books, and all that good stuff. But I forget that I am just one person and all of those needs proper research and time. This ties in to the fact that I have been disorganised. Don’t get me wrong, I am still excited in doing all of this but it can get quite overwhelming. 

5) Mercury Retrograde

This is a rather inconsequential reason but it might have been one of the causes, albeit indirect. So Mercury is in retrograde. This means that from Earth’s point of view, Mercury seems to be going backwards due to its orbiting the Sun quicker.

Imagine you’re running around a field and someone else catches up on you. You feel pressured. Then, you see that person rounding the corner and they are already on the other side. So it seems as though they are going in the opposite direction. That’s how Mercury is like in relation to Earth right now. This phenomenon, which happens about four times an Earth year, started on the 30th August and will end on the 22nd of September.

In astrology, the phrase “As above so too below” is uphold. Whatever happens in outer space affects the planets, and hence the creatures on Earth. Basically, there’s a shift in energy as Mercury moves past Earth and this affects all types of communication and actions. This may be why I have been unproductive and nothing seems to be going forward. 

But astronomists disagree with this and said that gravity from very distant bodies can’t possibly affect our lives. It just doesn’t make sense in the framework of physics. At least that’s what this article says.

I know that some people, despite this Mercury retrograde, are doing very well in their lives. Whether it’s true or not, at least to me it feels about right and so it’s in this list!

•••

So what do I do now?

1) INTRINSIC MOTIVATION

Remind myself of my goals and ambitions. Ask myself the WHYs, WHATs and HOWs. Why do I need to do this? What do I want to do with my life? How do I go about it? I need to build the intrinsic motivation so that I do not have to depend so much on external ones.

2) BULLET JOURNAL

I’ve been inspired to keep a bullet journal, like this one, but customised to my needs. I’ll properly start in October but for now I shall plan ahead. I need to do this, so no exceptions. If I still am not disciplined, I will only have to remember that I would be the one suffering.

3) FOCUS

With the bullet journal, I hope to keep my focus. I shall only do a few things a day and actually do them. Focus on one thing at a time. Schedule everything — from events to attend to blog posts. Set a deadline. An accountability partner would be ace.

4) EMBRACE THE PRESENT MOMENT

Too often I tend to look ahead without completing current tasks. I am trying so hard to not peel my eyes away from this screen. I think I’m succeeding. I just need to prioritise and be committed to the task at hand. Again the journal would help keep things organised.

•••

In conclusion, I just need to get rid of my negative attitude and get organised. To help me do so, I need intrinsic motivation, or at least a strong reason to move forward. A good support system would help tremendously, but I don’t have that yet. But I’ll keep searching, and I’ll just keep swimmin’!

Much love and light to you all ❤