The Past


righty-o. i might be entering the discussion a little late, considering the brouhaha back in february this year about whether the ASEAN scholarships, particularly the pre-university ones, are scams or true golden opportunities. i think, though, that this is the time that most of you prospective scholars will be sitting for entrance test, or receiving offer letters and thus debating what to do with them. i’d love to write a detailed piece about the ASEAN pre-university scholarship from my point of view, tips, advice, the works.

and i will. unfortunately, i have to finish middlemarch by tomorrow and i have a major essay to write on ian mcewan’s (fantastic) atonement, so i really don’t have the couple of hours i expect it will take to write all of what i’d like to write…so don’t be surprised if it takes til next weekend for something to appear on this blog about the scholarship.

then again, the more i think about it, the more i want to get to writing about my experience as soon as possible. so here’s a little encomium-like postamajig. (i’m like that. lazy. impulsive. and occasionally impassioned, when i’m not being lazy, and when impulse drives me that way.)

if you’re one of those prospective scholars, and are really on the fence about accepting it or not – then let me give you a sort of warning about it. to me, it’s the perfect example of extremes. polarity. it’s unbelievable fun, but unbelievable work; it gets you almost drunk with enthusiasm, and also leaves you utterly, braindead tired. most people go into it hesitant, wondering, a little nervous, suspicious of how much the singaporean education system lives up to its reputation of rigid rote-learning and yeah, elitism. by the end of the month, some will be loving it, literally having the time of their lives, squeezing what seems to them like every ounce of excitement there can be had out of every second they have. there won’t be enough hours in the day to do all you can and want to do. there won’t be enough space in your phone’s address book for all the people you’ve met. and some will be hating it, feeling utterly alienated, a stranger in the crowd, amazingly exhausted, and painfully homesick. and some will do both – love, and hate, anticipate and dread the next day. some will give up. some will stay.

i know quite a few people who gave up. only ‘direct scholars’ do it though, which are people like me and probably like you who came or will go to singapore from high school somewhere else. i don’t know how happy these people are, wherever they’ve gone, whatever they chose to do instead of sticking with the ASEAN way. i think i experienced everything i described up there in that longish paragraph, and i did almost give up in the first year and go home, but then i thought: it is monstrously hard work, but it is unbelievable fun, and i’d rather be slogging through work some days to get to those amazing fun days, pushing the limits both ways, than to settle into some dull haze of inbetweenness. so i stuck through it, and though i have LOTS i can say about those 2 years, basically the outcome was that i now look back on it as the most fulfilling, most satisfying, the most damn fun period of my life. those friends i made are likely to be sitting beside me on identical rocking chairs when we’re all white-haired octogenarians in some distant future that we scholars have helped create. and if we didn’t create it – hell, we still ended up with 2 years of fantastic memories.

if you think you’ve got the competitive streak in you, then you won’t be wasting your time with the ASEAN scholarship. go ahead and take it. unbiased opinion, that. i’m not even in singapore right now, and i didn’t even get 3As. but i’m glad i accepted the damn thing.

*psst* besides, all you need is a little luck and quick wits, and you can actually do fairly well without mugging too hard. (mugging = studying. you’ll learn the lingo when you get to singapore.) πŸ˜‰ */psst*

i’ll talk about money and the details of schoolwork and so on in another post. middlemarch beckons, and i do have to supplement some of that luck and quick wit with a little real reading.

meanwhile: if you’re another ASEAN scholar stopping by, do tell me if your experience agrees with mine, or if it objects hotly and viciously, and feels a need to connect bare live wires with wet skin. my skin.

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…news here.

I’m…shocked. Sad. Shocked. I’m not sure which. His was probably the first real ‘epic’ fantasy series I’d read, Eddings and Brooks aside, and decidedly the very first series I was actively ‘following’…he was always so confident and optimistic in his blog, it seemed like if anyone was going to overcome this disease, he was. I loved his writing (The Wheel of Time series) regardless of how they might’ve slowed down later on in the series, and I think I somehow expected him to trump all our expectations with a totally blowoffyafeet last novel, the now unfinished A Memory of Light.

😦

A more fitting title I can’t imagine. Like Pat said, thanks for the experience, and the memories. And that extends to more than the books. Without The Wheel of Time, I’d never have gone on to explore the genre as much as I have.

Note: Robert Jordan’s page at Wikipedia has been updated, if you’d like to go and find out more about what he wrote other than The Wheel of Time.

I’m a die-hard SNES fan, I’ll admit it. Given a choice between playing ‘Kingdom Hearts 3‘ and Yoshi’s Island I’ll happily plug in my dust-free (because I play it too often for dust to get anywhere near it, so there) Super Nintendo system and grab the wired controller. Now that the clever inventors of emulation gaming have produced emulators like the SNES9X and the almighty ZSNES, I get to play all the games that lost the chance to get in my cartridge cupboard along with the games that I already have, just with the added ‘cheat’ function of rewinding and fast-forwarding – and 10 savestates! Yippee!

Money is definitely a limiting factor when it comes to keeping up with the gaming world nowadays, for me anyway, as your average student struggling on financial aid away from home. Sure, you can rent games, but when you happen to be a great fan of long RPGs you usually chip anywhere from 50 to 80 hours into discovering every last secret and getting to the last dungeon of optional side quests like the Ancient Cave (*shudder* I still haven’t gotten there yet); renting usually ends up more expensive than purchasing, or ends up with an F for your next assignment and panda eyes as your new fashion statement. So I (more…)

i’m redoing my math paper. came back 7ish today because the mock exam ended around there, and i stayed back to pick up my forecasted results (sealed envelopes…curse them all!), and walked back to the hostel… and somewhere along the way i went from the usual self-disgust and ergh kind of feeling one gets after disastrous exams, to a rather …uncharacteristic decision to redo the entire math paper soon as i got back! which somehow dragged til now. anyway here’s a rather … lively… account of what’s been keeping me up late nights.

* R HP:Critical MV:Fresh – Inusha: Scratched > flee
PANIC! You couldn’t escape!

flee
* R HP:Critical MV:Fresh – Inusha: Scratched >
You try to pierce *Inusha*, but he deflects the blow.
*someone* pounds your body.
You are mortally wounded, and will die soon, if not aided.

HP:Incapacitated MV:Fresh > You’re in pretty bad shape, unable to do anything!

HP:Incapacitated MV:Fresh > HP:Incapacitated MV:Fresh > flee
You are dead! Sorry…
Ouch! You lose a level.
Circle of Light
High amidst the heavens, the Circle of Light is the hallowed ground of the
friends of the Light. From here, some of the major destinations around the
world can be reached, as shown by a large sign. A permanent fountain in the
center of the Circle gives a soothing backdrop to ponder mortal matters.

New characters should LOOK NAMES, TELL GUARDIAN KIT and LOOK NOTICE.
To find exit locations you should LOOK EXITS.
It is strongly recommended that new players look at our website
at wotmud.org, before starting out, for the rules, maps, and more.
[ obvious exits: D ]
The News Board is mounted on the wall here.
The waters of a blue-veined marble fountain pour forth here.
A kind-faced figure stands here.
Your heartbeat calms down more as you feel less panicked.

^^ me is a fool noob. ah well. the mysteries of death are constantly explored on wotmud. :p for me that is. i keep making the stupidest mistakes – thank heavens for the established ‘we learn from our mistakes’ motto. i don’t want to have to champion that anymore than i already am. πŸ™‚

Truly i am forgetful. Of all the things I have babbled aimlessly about, in what seems to resemble the artistic but rather idiotic stream-of-consciousness style of prose writing, I have never once explained this own artistic piece’s title! (i mean the blog.)

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,

My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!

*pushes rhetoric aside* I love poetry. Being a literature student may not mean a literature enthusiast or literature scholar, but i am the former two and aspire to be the third, at least. *clears throat* at any rate i snitched the phrase from Theodore Roethke’s poem ‘Child on Top of a Greenhouse’; one that i chanced upon when i was reading some top 100 selected poem book or something like that (:p i’m not too good with remembering details i don’t want to, am i?) and just had to stop to read it a second time. I love the childish wonder in ‘everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!’ I kind of imagine Roethke, who probably wasn’t younger than a crusty old (by a member of the youth’s point of view, yes, crusty, and yes, old) man leaping up and down exclaiming in indistinct wild excitement and amazement, pointing like Little Frieda at the Moon. It’s amusing, and endearing, and oooh so warm and cuddly all at once, this poem. It’s kind of how i like to picture the world – full of amusement, little comforts and sweet delights and amazements, and how the older you grow the more you turn your attention away from the half-grown chrysanthemums and the wind in your britches and instead worry about falling, when clearly one should be more interested in flying, than falling!
…and in a way, i suppose those chrysanthemums can represent us children the naive – only half grown, full of vitality and brimming with childish conviction… defiance of the world and what adults perceive as necessary woes and cares.

There now; beautiful little piece, isn’t it?
I first brushed against Roethke in Practical Criticism class last year – an assignment, on his rather morose and bleakly humourous ‘Geranium’. Which i misinterpreted, but loved wholly anyway. Let me define love when i’m less tired.
That linky there on ‘Geranium’ opens up the poem Geranium, all credit to the site and Roethke for the poem; you can quite easily call up ‘My Papa’s Waltz’ from the same page, which is another peculiarly poignant and so-much-more poem that caught my fancy. πŸ™‚

power to the poems.

…well everyone starts from somewhere, don’t they? i’m not quite in the mood for one of those excessively bubbly, happy-face greetings and introductions, and neither am i in the clears-throat-ladies-and-geeeeentleman! kind of speech, so heck, let me just randomly chat about, err, random things.

*laughs* first off i might as well make it clearly known that my life has no one plane of dimension. *wink* by that i mean i live in and out and around several universes – real life, the virtual, dreams and imagined epic stories, and pixelated video game miniscreen worlds. Most recent traipse into the non-real is probably wotmud.org. Go Wheel of Time! i mean, you always get the impression of a huge amount of effort going in to the writing of any Wheel of Time novel, and as the books get along toward the end of the series, it just gets more and more intricate and detailed, so that oooh they HAD to make a game out of it. ^^ several, in fact. i’ve skimmed around on the net, occasionally visited their websites, but only a few have really stuck in my mind… WotMud IV, being one of them. and the prime obsession of this period of my life. Mirrors of the Wheel looked interesting, it’s primarily a RP (roleplaying) mud, with the Aiel race incorporated; Sea of Storms was entirely and totally and end-of-story RP (waaaait aminute, selfcontradiction detected…RP is a story in itself, after all), Kinslayer seemed a little small but coming along just nicely, and while these are all MUDs, there was one MMORPG, but so far it’s limited only to a pvp kind of atmosphere – attack people, pick up equipment, sell equipment, dabble in resource buying and stocks, ah you get the drift. For someone as obsessed with books and plots as i am, you know i’m not gonna talk long about it. Anyway the name of that one is Game of Stones. Developing. Keep an eye on all of these, they’re all developing with an almost scary singleminded purposeness – to match the purposefulness of the readers in indulging themselves in Randland and surrounds.

Now if you don’t know what The Wheel of Time is all about, you should calmly close this window and get a few slips of that paper they call money, bus pass, keys, and head to the bookshop. Pick up the rather large tome you find authored by a certain Robert Jordan in the fantasy section, whip out that money, and buy it on the spot. Then go find an mrt to sit on and read while touring Singapore, AND touring internally the complex and so interwoven! world of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. (whew, breather. adverts aren’t easy to string out every so often.)

^^ There’re 11 novels from the main series so far, and dear old RJ has sworn the next, A Memory of Light, will end the series. That is, the series as it is with Rand the Dragon Reborn, Perrin the Wolfbrother, and Mat the Eternal DiceMaster. And other, accessory characters. I’m not doing it much justice here, but it really is one of the most detailed fantasy books i’ve ever read. The background, the history, the atmosphere, the hustle and bustle of the virtual cities in the books; a fairly engaging and complex plot driven by (stereotyped, yes, but isn’t most fantasy based on stereotype? The Hero, the Magical Advisor, the Hero’s Maiden(s), the Powerful Item, blahblah) entertaining characters – well anyway, it all makes up a rather convenient world to roleplay in.

So. which brings us to WotMud IV again. My favourite out of all of the Wheel of Time Muds, probably because of the way they don’t do ‘ hand-holding’, as they call it. No newbie schools, unrestricted player killing, a lot of FOFY stuff, and exploring to do. Cool. I love the independence of it all. I’ll natter on about it in another post though, save this space for other examples of the other dimensions this strange girl says she experiences. Virtual world number 2! Parallel England set in the early 1800s, where magic is a real art and is sought after as well as despised and feared (despised and admired from afar – doesn’t this sound like so many other things we take for granted? physical beauty. our uninhibited selves released. ), and where the class/caste system dominates most everything else. Fairies walk the fairy roads in the unseen side of England, and black slaves become kings. Cryptic? Read the book – it’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by the faire Susanna Clarke. muahaha i might give a review sometimes later, but not now, i’m *yawn* tired. But anyway i’ve been reading that for the past few weeks on and off, reeeeallly like the detail and especially the author’s narrative tone! That dry, sarcastic humour is almost synonymous with Britain nowadays and she seems to mock that in itself just by writing in it. *shakes head* how i marvel at these authors….10 years on a book is long, and yet too short to compile all THAT information!

I’ve been waiting on Robin Hobb’s newest trilogy to scare the memories of bad fantasy out of my head, but so far…meh. I read Soldier Son last year or so, but ended up being only half as absorbed as i was into her Farseer or Liveship trilogies – the main character, for one, was irritatingly smug and self-satisfied, with a penchant for taking the luxuries of life for granted. Least, that was my opinion. Feel free to declaim it. Nevare just didn’t match up to the flawed and melancholy reflectiveness of good ol’ Fitz. Melancholy brooders are just hilariously entertaining, and refreshingly honest about themselves; and in the face of that almost brutal self-integrity…i mean, don’t you start seeing your own flaws and failings? that reflective tone is so pervading. I read Assassin’s Quest and go into a stupor for days afterwards. It’s also the way Hobb’s books drown you, like the Skill River itself. It pulls you in and once you’re in you forget what’s it like to not be in the flow, and you just drink up, and drink up… *sigh* and when you surface to the real world, it’s just so much greyer and bleaker somehow. Hobb blunts the sharp edges of reality and merges them with her own imagination. Then it becomes part of our imaginations and part of OUR lives, and ohh….. *blush* am i sidetracking?

whatever. Talk to you later. I have so much to say and yet nothing of substance at all! Anyway more random planes and dimension doors and whatever: the alluring world of anime! and of zsnes emulation games! *chuckle* the last series i completed was Honey and Clover II. Fantastic series, all in all ; i loved HnC I because of the reality of it all (the reality of a fictitious world… ah never mind), and II was even better because it gave the series a kind of conclusion, and yet a reminded that life goes on far beyond that too. You know, closure and continuity. Part of why the ED single, Suneohair’s Split, so fits the HnC II – the inevitable split between us and friends, and yet the stronger still force of memory and hope binding us all. Yes, hope. Come to think of it, that’s what HnC is about too…. i should have said that when ee hiang asked what the series was about.
I hate even calling Honey and Clover a series… it has so much more continuity, it CAN’T have an end. So it’s a snapshot. A frame out of reality. *chuckle*. I’m tired.

Yes. Sleep. Ja ne, all.

….and certainly just an observer. It’s taking me awhile to get things sorted out in my life right now – just the little matters, homework, assignments, college applications, cleaning out my room, fishing around in the big big Net (gotta love that) for randomly interesting articles, and well, whatever else comes up. Tomorrow, or actually today considering the time, is my UMAT test sitting, and I’ve hardly practised any questions. And I’m already tired. Observation : Compulsive late sleeping is a major problem for me, as most of my friends know all too well. πŸ™‚ So just put up with the simplicity, both design and text, and let me aright all this mess…

πŸ™‚