Saturday, December 31, 2005

I haven't blogged since reaching Singapore, partly because my brother managed to make the broadband connection at home all wonky, and also because I've been caught up with a dozen other things. But honestly it's a lovely feeling- being busy catching up with people you haven't seen in a couple of months, getting the chance to touch base with them, just hanging out and doing quirky things you can only do with good pals. Like meeting up with the canoers (haha!) and collectively devouring five slices of cake (six, if you count Vania's chocolate cake which we surreptiously tried to pass off as one of the cafe's offerings) at Secret Recipe in record time, or hanging out with my dearest buddy at Far East Plaza and agonizing over haircuts (we have to go check out those deep-fried Mars Bars too), and going to church at the new location in the Singapore Expo, which was pretty sweet. One week left to do all the things I haven't done yet, as well as stuff my face with all the food I haven't tasted yet. Then it's back to the wintry cold of Michigan and picking my way through the icy slush. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Phew. It does feel good not having to worry about exams and studying... Well, at least until next year, where I'll be unceremoniously flung back into the whole hullabaloo of college classes, crew practice, studying at the law quad, and having to figure out German homework. I'm done for now, though, which is a relief. Isn't it amazing how time passes so fast? I'm one-eighth through with undergraduate college life in the States. I know the three-and-a-half years I have left seem like a pretty long time, but it isn't, really. Especially since in reality we only spend a total of eight or so months in active study- well, in classes, at least- I've realized that going to classes doesn't necessarily constitute engaging your mind in purposeful learning, but of course it's an extremely good idea to do so and I thoroughly advise everyone to do that. Hahaha.

The hallway of my dorm is pretty quiet now- the kids who live on my floor as well as the one below all belong to the Honors College, and we had our last paper for Great Books today- so everyone's pretty much disappeared back home to spend Christmas with their families. I'm looking forward to leaving in a couple of hours! I must say that the past two weeks have probably passed slower than the rest of the four months put together. It's the excitement of the impending return to Singapore, coupled with the studying for exams and the erg practices, which seem to make time drag on for an eternity. I've been subjecting my body to torture over the past few days, because of the 20-hour plane ride home, in which I will be rendered largely immobile, especially so if there is a large American seated next to me. And Northwest Airlines isn't exactly reputed for comfort, its food, or its inflight entertainment, for that matter. It will be a LONG plane ride. Yeah so anyway I've been training like crazy the past few days since I figure I can get rest on the plane- haha it's really sort of funny how my priorities are, I rank training right up with studying for exams. Both are equally important. Most people'd forgo training when it comes to the crunch, say, the day before the exam, or perhaps even a couple of days before. But I couldn't let myself do that, and so, even before Great Books exam this morning, I was out of the door, heels pounding the ice and snow, on my 7-mile run. I don't know why and how I got this hardcore, but let's just say it's intensely fulfilling. Hahaha.

Anyway all I can think about now is how I can possibly get my suitcase to shut. Hmmm. You'll have to excuse me while I go figure it out. See you guys in Singapore soon! I'm still using my Singapore handphone number- the 9476---- one, so just drop me a line, a SMS or something! I'll be back on 24th Dec sometime just past midnight, so I'll be able to enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas in Singapore. Peace out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Great Books exam tomorrow- my final paper, but look what I've had to wade through. Boy will I be glad when it's over.

The Iliad
The Odyssey


The Histories


The History of the Peloponnesian War

The Acharnians
The Clouds

The Medea
The Bacchae


Blast those darned Greeks.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I'm staring at my suitcase as I type this and honestly I'm starting to get worried that I won't have enough space for everything. You might wonder, "What? She's only coming back to Singapore for 15 days and she's fretting over not being able to pack everything into her suitcase?" You see, I think I overdid the food bit. Half my suitcase's filled with food (Krispy Kremes, Two-Bite Brownies, about a thousand Hershey's bars) and other things that I've been dispatched to bring back for people, and I'm quite sure I might run into a little trouble when I attempt to shut my suitcase. Oh dear, I'm not looking forward to having to close it at all. And I can just imagine the look on the faces of the baggage handlers as they run my suitcase through the x-ray machine and notice the faint outlines of two dozen circular objects with holes in their centers, amidst other dubious shapes. Extra-large washers? I think not. More like Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts.

Anyway so if any one wants to try Krispy Kremes, please stake your claim right now. Apparently they're the best doughnuts on the face of this earth. And since half my baggage space is devoted to eatables you can't find in Singapore, you'd better jump at the chance to try these! God I just hope I can somehow find space for my clothes. -faints.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

One of my favorite songs of all time- the words are starkly simple, yet beautiful.

I've been down and
I'm wondering why
These little black clouds
Keep walking around
With me
With me

It wastes time
And I'd rather be high
Think I'll walk me outside
And buy a rainbow smile
But be free
They're all free

So maybe tomorrow
I'll find my way home
So maybe tomorrow
I'll find my way home

I look around at a beautiful life
Been the upperside of down
Been the inside of out
But we breathe
We breathe

I wanna breeze and an open mind
I wanna swim in the ocean
Wanna take my time
For me
All me

So maybe tomorrow
I'll find my way home
So maybe tomorrow
I'll find my way home

Stereophonics :: Maybe Tomorrow

Come to think of it, I'll be home soon.
Can't wait.

Friday, December 16, 2005

okay so now I'm officially halfway through exams after Polsci 140 today! Thanks for your prayers (You know who you are. You don't know how much the constant support means to me.) A short take on how the exam went- it was a two-hour long paper, but people were allowed to leave once one hour was up if they'd finished. For the life of me I can't fathom how so many people left after an hour, because I spent an hour and forty-five minutes on the paper, and when I looked up from my last essay I realized that there was scarcely anyone left in the auditorium (which had been almost fully occupied at the beginning of the exam). Of course only the conscientious people stayed till the very end. Hahaha. Anyway, I felt that the paper was possibly the best exam I'd ever sat for- honestly, I had a most enjoyable time answering all the questions and I don't think I could have prepared for it any better than I already had. Only that it was slightly disconcerting when I realized that half an hour into the exam, some people had already started on their long essay (the final component) while I was still in the midst of my compare-and-contrast-political-terms component. I'm really glad I took this class- Introduction to Comparative Politics- in fact, when I first registered for classes I chose Polsci 101 (Introduction to Political Theory), only to realize that, 1. the final exam for the class fell during the exact same time slot as my Great Books final, and I wouldn't be able to take that lest I had a Time-Turner, and 2. Political Theory was unbelievably boring- full of Socratic musings and ancient writings and things I had absolutely no interest in whatever. So I switched to Polsci 140 and from the looks of it I think it was a good decision. It even might be the field of political science I eventually end up majoring in.

Anyway for those of you who want me to order things online and've only just informed me- I'm sorry but I don't think the items you plan to order will arrive in time for me to be able to bring them back, because shipping during the holiday season (especially Christmas time) is insane and there isn't a hope of them arriving by next Wednesday latest. So maybe next time lah. Let me know earlier or something. But if you want food or items that I can procure easily (AND CHEAPLY) then you can try to let me know, but of course I have a selective memory when it comes to such issues- so if I don't oblige you please don't be too offended. (Just pretend I forgot. Even though I most probably didn't. Hahaha.)

And I know Michigan merchandise is awesome (here's a little bit of trivia- the Michigan 'M' is the best-selling and most-recognized college icon in the USA-- Ha I wonder what happened to the prestige of the Ivies? Who even knows (or cares, for that matter), what the Harvard badge looks like? Or the Yale one? Hmmmm?) but it's sort of expensive especially when you take into consideration the exchange rate so please lah, don't be too demanding okay? Thanks. Of course, if you want a Michigan Crew shirt, reason being that you are my No. 1 fan, I'll be more than happy to oblige you and you can even have an autographed photo of me. Otherwise, forget it. Hahaha.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today marked the last day of classes for the Fall 2005 term, as well as the final day of organized crew practice (well, until we return from winter break. It's nowhere near over yet. Hahaha). My legs were stubbornly uncooperative today, probably owing to the thrashing I gave them yesterday, what with the Romanian deadlifts and Bulgarian squats (I have a fetish for Russian-themed exercises), and seeing that it was 7.5km Medley day, I realized it probably hadn't been an exceptionally brilliant idea to have done all those yesterday. Enough about practice. After practice we traipsed down to Candace's (one of our assistant coaches, a fourth-year senior, I think) place for soups in bread bowls kindly sponsored by our coach, salads, hummus, guacamole, and a range of delectable desserts. I didn't stay for long though, returned to South Quad around 7pm and the relative isolation of my room. It's nice to be in a quiet place sometimes. My teammates are so noisy it's funny. There's a girl called Britta- she's awesome, just that in her friend's words, she has "personality enough for SIX people". Which is perhaps a true measure of her... well, Presence. Once I was at the basement of South Quad and heard a familiar voice thundering from four floors up. Sure enough, it was Britta. When she opens her mouth to speak at the dinner table in the cafeteria, everyone within a ten-meter radius instinctively turns to look at her. That girl is fantastic. Hahaha.

Anthropology final today was pretty uneventful, considering that I finished studying for it on Saturday. One down, three more to go- the next is Political Science on Friday. I'm about halfway done with revision for polsci, and having quite a bit of fun with it since it's a really interesting subject and a class I'm entirely glad I took this semester. Anyway you guys back home- if you have anything you'd like me to possibly procure for you, do let me know. Sam, I remember your jellybellies so don't worry about that. And please remember that after all I am still a poor student studying in a foreign land and not very rich in any sense of the word so please do not ply me with extravagant requests. On the same note, baggage space is limited, so moderation in both aspects will be very much appreciated.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I'm sorry for the post below- of late I've been blogging about pretty cheery things or issues that revolve around decidedly benign topics like school or rowing or life in general. But sometimes it just hits me like a sack of bricks and there I go all over again. Whatever man.

Every so often your MSN icon pops up on my screen and I can barely restrain myself from letting my fingers run over the touchpad, towards the link that I wish would lead me to you. Sometimes I can't help myself and in doing so it opens up a window- in more ways than one, a window of possibilities, that could have been, that might never be. And it's always the same- a blank window, me racking my brain to think of something new I could possibly use to strike up a conversation, always wishing that you'd talk to me again, feeling almost as though I'd give anything for that to happen. But I've resigned myself to the inescapable reality that you'll never be the one who initiates the conversation, it's as though I've faded from your life into nothingness, almost like I never was there in the first place. Sometimes I do manage to weakly tap out an abstract sentence or two- perhaps something like how's it going or how have you been or a similarly meagre attempt at striking up a semblance of a conversation. And then I wait with bated breath for your response; sometimes it never comes, which I'm almost glad of; because when (if) it comes, it's something largely monosyllabic- a terse response, a non-committal answer, something that arises out of obligation. And when that happens, as I know it always will, I'll reply with a superficially cheery answer or a response that tries its best to be enthusiastic- and that'd be the end of it till the next time that familiar icon pops up on my screen and wreaks havoc in my heart all over again.

And I think to myself, hah that's funny, where did the letters and the phone calls and the emails go to?

Then, I remember that we never had those in the first place.

"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love."

--Neil Gaiman

Sometimes I wonder- how did we ever fall so far?

Cynical, jaded, faithless, disappointed, disillusioned, used
If I could take back all my sweat, my tears, my sex, my joy
I would
My time, my love, my effort, passion, dedication
In case of mistaken identity I gave these things to you
If I sound angry, bitter, sad, infatuated,
It's the truth
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, just a few
Stages of acceptance that it's really over
It's just so complicated and
I'm stupid for believing in you

I had your back, I held you up,
I told you you were good enough
It was not reciprocated,
You kept affection and yourself apart
You fed your love to me
Like crumbs to pigeons in the park
Sometimes I think you're satisfied
To see me begging like a dog
I wasn't armoured, you were king,
I gave my everything
Because sometimes you showed me
Just a hint of you and then
For just a moment I romanticised the notion
I can take away the torment,
I can love you like they never did

Darren Hayes :: Unlovable

Bloody hell. Why do I still love you?
HAHAHA sorry lah very hungry can? LOL!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We played basketball for yesterday's cross-training session in the afternoon; it was exhilaratingly fun, especially after not having played a proper game in such a long time. And my teammates are pretty good basketball players, a couple of them played for varsity in high school- one or two'd be ready to take on the guys any time- and even those that weren't on the basketball team back in school, they were still good! It's a far cry from back home where precious few girls (excepting the basketballers) can actually play basketball with some semblance of the real thing. On the whole, it was a fantastic workout and a great game and a much-appreciated respite from erging.

Anyway I just spent my entire Thursday night doing absolutely nothing and my finals start next week so perhaps I should begin worrying now. Okay whatever lah I'll make sure I mug anthropology real hard tomorrow to make up for it. Gotta chiong like mad already! (Speaking of chionging, it's pretty funny how I have to resist the temptation to use words like these when talking to my American friends, especially my teammates. Like you know how we always used to use "chiong" in canoeing, for instance when Jiao4 Lian4 gives us 8 x 500m pieces at, say, 80% intensity, then we'll go "let's chiong the last 500m!" or something to that effect. So the other day I was on the erg between pieces and I was talking to one of my teammates, I can't remember who, but she was on the erg besides mine. And the program that particular day was short but painfully intense. I think we were almost done, probably at the last couple of sets, so during the rest period I turned to her and said "Good job! Now we just gotta chion--, errr, I mean, now we've just got to pull really hard for the last few minutes!" Good thing I didn't say "chiong"; I think it's a word that'll probably sound strangely awkward and jarring to American ears. Hahaha.)

The other day as I was walking to practice with Jay Chou's Ye Qu plugged into my ears, my coach happened to pop out of her office and she went "What are you listening to?" Well I couldn't very possibly tell her Jay Chou, since she'd have no inkling who he was anyway, so I just replied "Chinese music". (Makes it sound like I'm listening to classical Chinese opera or something of that sort). So now apparently I've been delegated the task of making an "Asian Music Mix" for erging to. My goodness. If anyone's got any fast-paced or remotely energetic Asian songs, please send them to me. For the life of me, I can barely think of any. Haha.

Bloody hell the South Quad fire alarm went off just as I finished the above paragraph and so I've just returned from my sojourn downstairs clad in my sleeping pants, t-shirt and jacket. And it didn't go off as the result of a fire drill or anything remotely legitimate- it went off to signal the start of the annual Snowball Fight between South and West Quad (it's an event that takes place during the first heavy snowfall of winter, where the residents of both dorms will congregate in the piercing cold and hurl snowballs, or, if you're slightly deranged and sadistic, lumps of ice, at each other across the street). Gah! I debated staying in my room but decided against it because I somehow know that the one time I remain in my room in deliberate ignorance of a fire alarm will be the one time it's a genuine alarm. So I went downstairs and mooshed around in the snow a bit and found Michela who was similarly pissed by the whole affair since she'd been asleep since 10.30pm. We crept back into South Quad after the alarmingly obese security officers switched the alarm off and so here I am typing this when the rest of my dorm is out mucking about in the snow and generally getting wet and soggy. As you can probably tell, I'm not much of a fan when it comes to snow. I much prefer sleep, thank you very much. Aiiight it's time for bed now.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

phoooooooey my GTBOOKS paper is killing me! I'm caught in that odd sort of situation where you've got a ton of ideas yet nothing to say at the very same time, which is a distinctly uncomfortable place to be in right now. Those of you who like tragedy and lots of gloom, the play The Medea will probably be your cup of tea. I'll take a brief moment to give you a better idea of what it's about. It isn't boring, I promise.

It involves a jilted woman (Medea), her children, a Golden Fleece, the woman's gormless husband (Jason) and a young princess (Glauce) he intends to marry after the divorce is finalized, the princess' father (Creon), a visiting king who happens to be infertile (Aegeus), and of course the obligatory Chorus which is made up of a dozen or so women who don't really do anything of much significance besides bursting abruptly into song at the most unexpected of intervals. Anyway so Medea is jilted by Jason even after she's helped him gain the Golden Fleece (I really don't see the beauty of a Golden Fleece, but apparently some people like that sort of thing) and gone through all sorts of trials and tribulations. And she's a really vengeful woman, you see, so she plots to kill her children (so they can't carry on the patriarchal line) as well as the lovely young thing her husband has deserted her for. But she has a problem- she doesn't know where to seek asylum after carrying out her grisly mission. Suddenly, however, Aegeus appears out of nowhere (bad move here, Euripides- it's the equivalent of ending your story with waking from a dream when you can't think of an alternative plausible ending) and Medea promises him drugs to cure his infertility in return for her seeking asylum in Athens. So he agrees, and she is happy, and off she goes to kill everyone. And her creativity in murder is laudable- she has her children carry gifts of a diadem and a dress to Glauce, so that nothing is suspect. Glauce gleefully dons the diadem and dress (Ooohh! Clothes for my wedding! How nice!) and sashays up and down along the length of the hall. But all of a sudden she starts frothing at the mouth and her skin starts peeling off, and... I can't begin to describe it, but essentially it's not a pretty sight. Oh no it isn't. And Creon has absolutely no idea what's happening and rushes to save her and in the process the poison welds him to her as well and they die in the most tragic of embraces. And after that Medea kills her children and Jason rushes out but it's far too late for him to do anything- she's already hovering ten feet above him in the air in- get this, a chariot drawn by dragons- and she gives a tinkling laugh, waves goodbye to him with the most merry of expressions, and gallops away.

So you sort of get the idea. I can just see Euripides starting to slowly rotate in his grave at my retelling of his beloved play, but whatever. Anyway below are the opening two paragraphs of my essay. I've got to get back to finishing this paper now. Enjoy!

Moral ambiguity is a hallmark of Greek tragedy, and Euripides leaves the audience to ponder the dilemma between rationality and reason as explored in The Medea. The main character of the play, Medea, is entirely antithetical to the ancient Greek ideal of the heroic protagonist; she is female, a sorceress, and a foreigner, all of which are characteristics that work towards creating a perception of her which is inadvertently clouded by traditional bias. She synthesizes the traits that typically characterize passion and reason, in the process defying stereotypes and evoking dilemma. By transcending the rational through allowing her actions to be guided by base emotions, she reacquaints the audience with the harsh, inescapable realities of human violence. The fundamental question that Euripides evokes through the complex portrayal of Medea and her motivations stem from the correlation between sympathy for her and condemnation of her actions, culminating in the creation of dilemma- just exactly what measure of her deeds can be attributed to logical reason and thus lawfully condoned?

Euripides masterfully exploits a trick of the sophistic movement by evoking conflicting sentiments in the audience concerning Medea’s actions. Initially, the audience is inclined to sympathize with her over the blatant injustice she has been dealt by Jason, and also because she is subject to marginalization due to her position in society. However, as the play progresses, the audience is gradually introduced to the darker, horrific realities of the situation; where Medea’s deeds can no longer be attributed purely to the irrationality caused by the accompanying emotional upheaval following Jason’s actions. Rather, they are borne out of her macabre, vengeful desire for retribution that is only assuaged upon the massacre of Creon, Glauce, and perhaps most disturbing of all, her children. Herein lies the inherent ambiguity which obscures the play; the fine line between condoning and condemning actions borne out of emotion is increasingly difficult to define as the plot unfolds. At the very end of the play, amidst the fading reverberations of horror, the audience is forced to contemplate the rationale behind Medea’s deed and whether the wrongs dealt to her were deserving of the gruesome recourse she unleashed in her fury. The audience is gradually subsumed into the swirling morass of retribution as the plot progresses, swayed by the cunning ingenuity and conviction of Medea; only waking to the unpleasant realization at the end that perhaps the boundaries for justice have been trespassed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

wow damn shagged today, and lots of things to do by the end of the week to boot. my last great books 191 paper- it's far more difficult to get this one done (and by done, i mean with standard) than the previous one, perhaps because my expectations are relatively high following the A+ on that paper which was not entirely unexpected (because i worked for it, you limeys) HAHA. My brain is full of random ideas but i've to take the time to sieve them through and it's not happening yet. and i've got a German roleplay on thursday and lines to dutifully memorize for my part, which is also nowhere near happening yet. and for crew practice today we had a forty-minute continuous swing row which is probably the worst sort of practice you can hit me with. it's bloody boring and i can't help but to be acutely aware of the clock ticking down on my ergometer. isn't it fascinating how it takes no effort at all to space out in class, but on the ergometer every second drags by like it's attached to a lead weight? the good thing about today is that i registered for my classes next semester- so i'll be taking German 102, Great Books 192, Communications 101 and Comm Lab 111, as well as Political Science 160. i'm pretty pleased with my schedule (although its 17 credits) so that works out fine. okay sorry i just had to rant a little about my busy busy life, i suppose i'm ok now. hahaha not quite, but almost!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's been a long day but it's finally winding to an end, but of course that similarly implies that half my weekend is gone, which isn't a very pretty thought either. As typically expected, I proceeded to pummel myself in the morning with an erg workout at 8.30am, followed by weights at the CCRB at 10, and finishing it off with a 7-mile run at the Nichols Arb with Heidi (one of my teammates). It's the first time I've been to the Arb- for those of you unacquainted with U-M terminology, Arb is short for the Nichols Arboretum, a beautiful expanse of rolling hills and breathtaking scenery flanking the Huron River; in the heart of Ann Arbor, and very much a part of the college campus. After the run, we went for lunch at Stockwell where she stays, and feasted on Cream of Wheat (Cream of Wheat is the next best thing to oatmeal, I assure you) and had an altogether splendid time since we are both large fans of those two foods. Anyway after that I went back to my room and spent four hours agonizing over my polsci paper- but I've finally managed to get it out of the way and I hope I get a decent grade for that. Looking forward to dinner with Julie at the Real Seafood Co. along Main Street tomorrow- it's been eons since I had a decent slab of fish; the fish here is either overcooked, dry and flaky, or there simply isn't any to subject to such harsh cooking methods at all. It's going to be quite expensive but I guess it'll be worth it! Finals are coming up in a matter of days- exactly ten days to my first final, which is Anthropology. Oh well, honestly I'm not too worried about the exams, which is somewhat strange since I've always been a bundle of nerves when it comes to final exams. Hopefully that bodes well for my grades!

Friday, December 02, 2005

HEY Y'ALL! OMG can't believe how long it's been since we last met- and yes, porn star (2nd from right, for the uninformed), I miss you so! :)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My hair is in dire need of assistance! Gah. Well, I suppose I can wait a little while longer. Haha. It's been dreadfully uncooperative recently- either it's pancake-flat against my head, or it stands up in a thousand directions at once, both of which are mildly disturbing especially when I wake up in the morning and have more pressing things to do besides fussing over my hair, like getting to practice on time.

The snow has started falling again- it started this afternoon, just when one of my teammates and I were returning from our 6.5 mile run for cross-training today. I know it probably strikes you as insane that we'd choose to run outside in sub-zero temperatures; but actually it's a blast. It was a great run and definitely a nice change from erging (since when do we ever do anything else besides erging). I'd initially planned on nailing my back with lifting today, but for some reason my back was shot today, and anyway we have team lifting sessions on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so I figured I'd take a day off. Gotta listen to my body sometimes, I've discovered! It's so hard to find a happy medium between pushing yourself hard and overtraining. You've got to be careful not to overtrain.

This has been a pretty busy week for me, so I'm glad it's finally over (well, almost)! At least classes are done for the week, so now all that's left is the final draft of my anthropology paper which is due tomorrow, the argument-evidence page (you know how much I detest doing outlines for essays- I'd much rather just knock something out straightaway instead of doing a detailed plan. But whatever, as long as it helps me get a better grade in the end! I've got an 8-10 page political science paper due Monday as well, so I believe that's what tomorrow and perhaps a little of tonight will be primarily devoted to.

And to top it all off with the proverbial cherry on top, our coach wants us to finish our week off with a bang; which means that it's a Level 1 workout tomorrow, which is absolutely awesome/ awful, depending on how you want to look at it. Philip, if you're reading this (I know you are, you gym freak, haha), this might be really useful to incorporate into your program. This is the definition of a Level 1 workout: Level 1 workouts are the backbone of our training. These workouts are performed at intensities of 95-105% of competitive 2k pace. They are extremely demanding (pfffffft! Understatement of the Century!) and require significant recovery to realize their full benefits. Thus, we will only perform Level 1 workouts once a week/ once every other week. The basic format is to row short intervals with active recovery (vs. passive recovery= complete inactivity). Typical Level 1 workouts include 8 x 500m; 4 x 1k.

Tomorrow's workout is 4 x 1k on 10 minute centers @ 2k pace; which essentially means that we're given a total of 10 minutes to row a 1km piece at our 2k pace, and take the remainder of whatever time's left to recover actively (which often means just tugging half-heartedly at the chain since you're already rather bushed from the earlier sprint), and you repeat this 3 more times. It doesn't seem all that bad when you think about it now, because it's only 4km, which is really short compared to the mileage we normally clock per erg session (around 12km or so every afternoon practice), so inclusive of warmup (which I estimate will be around 20 minutes ~ 4km), it'll be only 8km for tomorrow. But 8km at 2k pace is insane- my 2k split is 2:01min/500m. I hope I don't turn a startling shade of blue from the duress of tomorrow's workout. No wonder my coach adds a cryptic "ROW BLUE" at the end of some of the training material she gives us. I should've known it implied something more than just a display of school loyalty through the college colors.

Well, folks, if you need some inspiration, read the words in the picture below. It's a portion of a handout titled "Introduction to Novice Training Plan", given to us by our coach. This specific part is called "Qualities of a Champion". Doesn't the title alone psyche you up? Haha! This is the quintessential guide to Clean Living! And when I say Clean Living, I don't mean living in a state of depravity either- though life right now personally demands a lot from me, sometimes almost more than what I'd readily give, it's the rewards in the end, the ultimate outcome, that makes everything worthwhile. So there you go.

(and did you notice the "ROW BLUE" at the end?) -groan-

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving was awesome, as you can see from the sumptuous spread of food on the dining table. And that most definitely wasn't all; there was more (just that it's not in the picture), together with FOUR kinds of dessert- bourbon-orange pecan pie with bourbon whipped cream, sweet potato and coconut cheesecake, chocolate torte, and of course pumpkin pie. Enough to make even a person with a cloyingly sweet tooth pass out from an overdose of sugar. But it was a great experience, and I did have a good deal of fun. Oh by the way, as you can tell from the picture, my hair is absolutely awful! I need to do something about it soon. Been wearing a beanie in a desperate bid to conceal the disaster that is atop my head.

I met Thomas in the gym just now- he was there making penance for the sins of the previous four days. Apparently, he'd been to New York over Thanksgiving break, with a couple of the other UMich freshmen; where they (over)indulged in a wild shopping and eating frenzy. He related to me, with great relish, how they had "three breakfasts and three lunches and three dinners" each day, and proceeded to tell me where they went, but was promptly arrested by guilt in mid-speech and left me hanging abruptly by the calf raise machine for the bench press station to knock out a couple of reps in atonement.

Anyway so the fun is over (at least for the next three to four weeks or so), and it's back to humdrum campus life. Everyone's gearing up for finals which begin on 15 Dec and last all the way through to 22 Dec, before Fall term is officially over and we have another brief respite (Winter break!). U-M has one of the shortest winter breaks ever- it lasts all of one-and-a-half weeks, which is something I'm rather indignant about. Granted, we have another ten days off during spring break in end-February, but who's going to go anywhere then? They might as well give us a longer winter break and be done with it. Just about the only good thing is that we end school by the end of April, so that means I'll be able to return to Singapore pretty early for summer vacation. (And revert back to being a soldier with camo cream and the works, for all of ten weeks at the very least).

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving is akin to what we call Chinese New Year back in Singapore- two (or so) days filled with visiting family and friends, trips in the car down to the houses of different relatives, partaking of the smorgasbord of goodies each of the houses possesses, watching tv, playing card games- except that of course there isn't any hongbao to look forward to during Thanksgiving, which is definitely an extremely integral part of Chinese New Year. So the last two days I've basically been doing all of that stuff as an honorary member of Alex's family (or you could say, a piece of deadwood who tags along with them to their relatives' houses and gleefully indulges in the food and sprawls on the luxury of the carpeted floor until it's time to go home). We visited Alex's uncle's house yesterday which was simply amazing- a pretty new place, the decor was breathtaking; it's everything the dream American house could be. Large but not too sparse, a beautiful kitchen with the countertops you see in movies, a brick fireplace, a basement with a pool table, bar counter, rocking chairs, another fireplace, a large tv- and of course wonderful bathrooms. I don't know why, but the bathrooms were particularly intriguing. They were lovely.

So far this break has been a great one just to relax and unwind- we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the Michigan Theater (there's a Michigan Theater in South Haven as well). Tickets were unbelievably cheap- just $3.50 per person, and I must say that the theater wasn't too shoddy either. I think we're going to a fabulous Mexican place for lunch today, and perhaps go down to the pier for a walk (South Haven is located on the opposite side of Lake Michigan from Chicago, although the lake is so large that you can't see across it; it's just a vast expanse which should be called an ocean instead), and maybe ice-skate in the evening again (Ted, you're not a loser, don't worry- we'll go to Yost or something when I get back!). Haven't been to a gym in two days, but I've been doing circuits in the morning in my tiny room- well okay not really circuits, but like 4 sets of 30 tricep pushups and 30 standard pushups- and then 4 sets of 20 dips and wide hand pushups, and squats and all that stuff, so I hope I'm not in too bad shape by the time I get back. Anyway I've reasoned to myself that 3 days off can't be a bad thing especially since I've done enough shit to my body in the past week (on Monday I lifted weights in the wee hours of the morning, erged during lunch, and erged again before dinner- about 20km of erging total that day), so I probably need to recuperate right? Right. Okay whatever. Haha back to my political science now! I've got an insane amount of work due next week and the week after- phooey. Brought many books to Alex's place- managed to get quite a bit done, which is pretty good. Blog sometime soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It's Friday morning now, the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving yesterday was pretty eventful- filled with conviviality, fun, and of course loads of good food. I must say the Klugs are terribly gifted when it comes to culinary prowess- the Thanksgiving dinner was basically amazing. But luckily I exercised a degree of self-control that amazed even myself, and hopefully I can hang on for two more days without succumbing to the temptations of overconsumption. Went ice-skating for the very first time (okay I'm such a loser, I know) on Friday night, and it was a blast. Haven't fallen yet, for that matter, which was pretty good. Haha. Okay I'll be back sometime soon! Enjoy yourselves everyone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A view from the window of my room in South Quad.

Ann Arbor's covered in about two inches of snow today- the most snow I've seen since I've been here, and I'm pretty sure there's more to come- what a way to usher in Thanksgiving! Just about everyone's leaving the University for winter break; some are flying back to their hometowns, most have been dragging their suitcases downstairs in eager anticipation for their parents to pick them up for the long ride home. For me I'll be leaving for South Haven (a small town in Michigan, 2 1/2 hours away from Ann Arbor)- as I'll be spending Thanksgiving all the way till Sunday with one of my teammates from crew and her family, Alex. As a matter of fact I'll be leaving in a couple of minutes, so I just wanted to rush this post out to let you guys know that all's going well over here. Thanksgiving is such a big occasion here, I'm fortunate to be able to experience a traditional celebration with an American family. Alex has made big plans for the next couple of days- they include making me fatter than I already am with tempting Thanksgiving edibles (Oh dear.), ice-skating on the lake if it's frozen over, horse-riding (she owns 2 horses), learning how to throw an American football (I'm really looking forward to this). And for me I'm going to make sure we get our circuit workouts and cardio in (to prevent ballooning to obscene extremes and so that we don't die when we clumsily waddle back onto the ergs on Monday practice). Okay I've got to run now- take care everyone, and have yourself a great Thanksgiving as well! Just take a moment to stop and think about the things we should be thankful for- personally, I know I've got plenty to be grateful for. Alright I'll blog sometime soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hey I know many of you guys are probably up to your ears in mugging, in particular because it's the exam period for most universities now. So read this if you're feeling somewhat peckish and/or have a fetish for food that makes you moan with pleasure (you'll get what I mean when you click on that link). It's a pretty good diversion. Anyway that site is awesome, go back and check it out more if you've the time. I wish I could start a blog like that but in doing so I'd probably just end up ridiculously poor and disgustingly oversized so I don't believe I'll give it a try. Haha.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Despite the frosty weather and biting cold, I'll be making the trek down State Street, and then a right on East Hoover- together with the throngs of Michigan fans who, like me, are heading down to the Big House to witness what perhaps is the most anticipated matchup in college football- Michigan vs. Ohio State. I didn't think I'd be able to get a decently-priced ticket to the game, seeing that it's the most hyped game in the Big Ten, due to the fact that it showcases one of the longest-standing and most intense rivalries between two of the country's top footballing programs. It'll be broadcast nationwide on both ABC and ESPN, because it's just about the most important event happening this Saturday. But thankfully, somehow I found another Singaporean who was selling his ticket and I manged to get it for a pretty good price considering what others are generally selling theirs at (around USD$80-$100, if you're wondering). This will be only my second time attending a football game- the first was against Northern Illinois, which pales drastically in comparison to the clash of the titans that I'll be fortunate to witness tomorrow. It's time to Blue Out!

Here's the message that's been circulating throughout campus thanks primarily to
On Saturday, in addition to wearing all BLUE, bring some loose change and an unopened water bottle into the Stadium. "Clear, sealed, plastic water bottles" are specifically permitted items. Once inside, drink the water (it's good for you), put the coins in the bottle, and cap the bottle. On EVERY single Ohio State offensive possession, shake the bottle like crazy with 20,000 other students to create the loudest Big House environment in history! Collectively, we can and will affect the outcome of this game.

With the nation's collective attention focused on Ann Arbor, Michigan, this weekend- we have the opportunity to showcase the extremely positive experience we know and love as MICHIGAN FOOTBALL SATURDAYS. Let's do so with the respect and class that we often say characterizes our fine institution. Wake up early. Dress in ALL BLUE. Congregate in anticipation. Arrive at the game early. Hold on to your bottle for the entire game (no ND repeats) and shake it like crazy. Cheer, rattle, and Hail loudly the entire game. Celebrate!



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What can I blog about today? I don't know. Today marked the start of Winter practice proper- which I know is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever been through in my life. I hope I'm ready for it. Erg practice was disappointing this afternoon- I know by relative standards I probably don't have a reason to feel that way, but this time it's so much more than just splits or times or anything that can be logically measured. It's about the threshold of pain and tolerance and mental tenacity.

We were given a Level One workout to do today (A Level One workout is a workout that's performed at intensities of 95%-105% of competitive 2k pace, so, as expected, they are extremely demanding and require significant recovery to realize their full benefits)- in essence, it's interval training; extremely high intensities over short distances, with very short rest periods, usually roughly equal to the time you take to pull the distance. The workout comprised 8 x 500m at a split approximately 10 seconds below our split for the latest 6k trial we did, which would mean that my split for the 500m pieces would have to be around a 2:01min/500m.

First five pieces went pretty well- my times ranged from between 1:56 to 1:59 per 500m piece. But the last three pieces were plainly awful, where my splits went up to 2:04 even. It was extremely frustrating because I'd start each 500m piece pretty decently, sustaining a 1:56min split, but when it all came down to the last 250m, or about 35-40 strokes, I'd just lose it entirely and the numbers'd just leap by about a whole 10 seconds to 2:06min or something equally inexcusable and I'd never be able to get it back down to where I was prior to that.

Maybe my stroke rate was too high- I've to compensate for my height by pulling at a faster stroke rate; for many of the pieces I was pulling at 35 strokes per minute, and my rate went up to 40 once, which is just about insane and something I recommend you try if you'd like to experience a sensation akin to what a fish out of water goes through; and so it was hard to sustain that speed. But of course I can have excuses and more excuses and they won't hide the fact that perhaps I could have pushed harder, just that I didn't. Dying at the last 250m for the last 3 pieces was plainly inexcusable, and I'm totally on myself for that now. I just hope the next practice will be better.

Philip left a comment here that it was far better to burn out than to fade away. I agree entirely with that, notwithstanding the fact that at the rate I'm going I think I will just about burn out someday. Like today. Take a look at my schedule for the day.

1. Weights with the team at 6:30-7:45am in our gorgeous state-of-the-art Michigan Varsity Athletics weights room (the machines are all blue in line with Michigan colors; it's spacious, and in no way whatsoever crowded with the stupid hairy grunting men you see just about everywhere else; at the end of every workout, we enter our information into the computers in the gym, which then generate our weights programs for the subsequent session, which is way cool)
2. Take Commuter North down to North Campus with Katie McKee for our German 101 class that begins at 8am, a 15-minute bus ride.
3. Leave German class 5 minutes earlier to rush down on the Bursley-Baits bus to the Modern Languages Building for my Great Books Lecture at 9am.
4. Try my darndest to stay awake for Great Books, and much to my surprise, manage to, but subsequently subside into a peaceful slumber during Anthropology Lecture despite the highly entertaining professor and the topic of the day being Sexuality and Gender (you would've thought anyone'd stay awake during such a lecture).
5. Weights by myself at the CCRB (accompanied by the aforementioned obligatory stupid hairy grunting men) at 11.30am.
6. Lunch! I love Lunch! At South Quad at 1.15pm.
7. Great Books discussion at 2pm where we go over "History of the Peloponnesian War" by Thucydides, which is entirely out of my element, but whatever.
8. Go back to South Quad and get some PoliSci reading in till 4:10pm.
9. Head down to the IM Building for afternoon ergometer practice at 4:30pm, and duly perish.
10. Dinner! I magically resurrect from the dead and discover untapped sources of energy at the very mention of Dinner! Yumyumyumyum. At South Quad at 6:30pm.
11. Back to homework and more PoliSci readings at 7.30pm, interspersed with blogging and emails at random intervals, all the way till bedtime at 11pm.
12. Wake up tomorrow at 6am (HOPEFULLY I manage to drag my lazy ass out of bed) and trudge to the CCRB in the gloomy wetness (40% chance of snow tomorrow, eeuurrgghhhh), and do my own enforced erg workout.

And spend Wednesday in a manner similar to how I've just finished my Tuesday. Haha. Oh but tomorrow is excellent though, because it's Thanksgiving dinner at all the dorm dining halls- I shall list the menu for you to drool over:
Cranberry Punch
Grilled Pork Chops
Roast Turkey
Roasted Vegetable Strudel
Seafood Primevera
Bread Dressing
Whipped Potatoes
Whole Green Beans
Whole Kernel Corn
Dinner Rolls
Apple Cranberry Pie
Mocha Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie (Golly! I've always wanted to try Pie! This is amazing!)
Whipped Topping
Okay tomorrow seems like it's gonna be a great day. Dinner will be my motivation for tomorrow's cross-training workout in the afternoon.

Here's a quote to mull over, given to me by my dearest coxswain Julie as a word of encouragement. I hope it works for you- yes, you, dear reader, who's lasted long enough through my rantings to see this. I'm going to use it to keep me going. Stay strong! I know things might not be going the best they could possibly be- but hang in there and always remember that you are destined for greater things.
Our greatest glory consists not in never falling,
but in rising every time we fall.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 11, 2005


To those of you who think I must be plainly out of my mind when I chose calloused palms, waking up at godforsaken hours, the unmistakable whoosh of the erg flywheel, and the clang of weight plates, over the uneventful life of the typical college kid- studying (or at least pretending to) on weekdays, and painting the town red on weekends, read on. I just found this article in the archives of the Michigan Daily (our university newspaper)- and it puts across, very succinctly, what life for me is all about right now.

Blue teaches incoming freshmen about rowing and life

By Ari Fink and Bethany Herrema, For the Daily
September 14, 2005

“What’s an erg? Are we going to capsize? What do you mean, ‘set’ the boat?”

These are all questions novice rowing coach Vita Scaglione fields annually in her second year coaching at Michigan. In just seven months, she molds a group of athletes — most of whom have never touched an oar — into a Division I crew.

In the summer months, each Michigan female freshman and sophomore receives a letter in the mail from the crew team stating that, if she is 5-foot-7 or taller, she should try out. (Note from Yours Truly-who-is-all-of-5-foot-2-inches-tall-on-a-good-day: Even if she isn't, she is still most welcome to try out. Hahaha.) Coming in, many potential rowers aren’t aware of the commitment, athleticism, strength and mental fortitude that are required of a rower.

While most Michigan students are sleeping, the rowers are sweating. As if living in the dorm isn’t hard enough, the rowers must find a way to go to sleep while the halls are still bustling and drag themselves out of their cozy beds before the sun even rises. The young rowers arrive at the Intramural Sports Building at 5:45 a.m. and train on the Ergometers (indoor rowing machine or the aforementioned erg) or head to to the water at Belleville Lake, which is a 15-minute drive from campus. After a grueling day of classes, the rowers practice again in the afternoon. Even on Saturday, the varsity rowers come into the erg room at 7 a.m. to complete a 6k fitness test (A "Fitness Test" sounds far too mild and nondescript to adequately describe the physical and mental duress each and every one of us undergoes during the length of the 6k. Try rowing till you turn green and your eyeballs pop out of their sockets and you are incapable of behaving in a manner expected of humans for ten minutes following the row and you'll know what I mean).

In just a few short weeks, the rowers must acquire the knowledge necessary to row a boat. Some of the necessary skills include feathering the oar — twisting it after a stroke is completed on the recovery — pulling the oar into their marks, and most importantly, catching and releasing the water together. In short, a group of college freshmen and sophomores must balance taking classes, studying, making friends and exhausting their bodies on a daily basis.

Women’s rowing is one of the only sports where an incoming student can be part of a varsity team without any prior experience. It takes a special kind of athlete to learn something completely foreign to her and to put in the time and effort necessary to succeed.

“It’s not necessarily the rowing that I love, but rather the kinds of people the sport attracts,” Scaglione said.

In addition to dealing with a heavier workload in class, the rowers are also getting a crash course on the water. It won’t take long for the athletes to figure out and learn to hate the erg, or to realize that they won’t in fact capsize — unless they hit a log, which happened last year. But, rowing is a sport of constantly perfecting and re-perfecting the body and mind. In school, in life and in rowing the questions never cease.


Call me insane, tell me I'll never match up against the Americans, say I'm just killing myself, stare me in the eye and try to break me down, do whatever you want. This, precisely, is why I do what I do, and I want to be able to say that I have absolutely no regrets, at the end of it all.
L-R: Bow, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Stroke, Coxswain

In The Beginning...

And after God had created the earth and all the things that were in it, God created man and woman. They followed His command and were fruitful and multiplied.

Then God looked down upon the human race and sought out four strong humans: tall, lean, well-muscled, but not too bright. (hahaha!) These four God called "the engine room".

God looked further and found two smaller but strong humans with focus and a well-developed sense of balance. These two God called "the bow pair". (I am a permanent fixture in the bow seat- due to the fact that you can't find anyone smaller than me, and also because I apparently have a "well-developed sense of balance". Those of you who have seen me wobble in a K1 will have other thoughts, though.)

God sought a human who was steely-eyed, determined, a competitor who would never say "die". This human God called "the stroke".

One more human God found. An individual who had all the qualities of "the stroke" but one who could also follow and send a strong rhythm and will to those who in turn followed him. This individual God called simply "seven".

Now God faced the biggest challenge. God must find an individual who could control and lead these eight exemplary human beings. One who was cocky and confident with a loud voice and dominant bearing. God found no such human being, so God came to earth and took on the role of the coxswain.

And the eight human beings declared that the coxswain had a "God-complex".

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


6km ergometer timed trial on Saturday! It's a monthly affair, and not something I particularly look forward to. I've to start worrying about it now. Oh dear. In my first timed trial, my 500m split was 2:12.8 min, with a total time of 26:33.7 min. Looking to better that in any way I possibly can- rowing is just like running, it's hard to knock off even a couple of seconds. People often have this warped misconception that it shouldn't be too difficult to knock a few seconds off their split, which will result in slashing their total time considerably. BUT IT'S BLOODY HARD, take my word for it! There's one hell of a difference between rowing at 1:58min/500m and 2:06min/500m- if you don't believe it, go try it for yourself. Lol.

The following song is an awesome number by Michael Jackson- I believe it hails from his 80s collection when he was in his heyday, untainted by paedophilic allegations lol. It's from an incredible mix done by one of my teammates, Keirsten- and our coach plays it often during morning erg sessions to help us take our mind off the task at hand (not that we lose focus, mind you; it just helps to have something to listen to, and the rhythm helps a lot when it comes to erging). Go check it out (legally, of course). If not, ask me for it. Hahahaha.

She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
I said don’t mind, but what do you mean I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round
She said I am the one who will dance on the floor in the round

She told me her name was Billie Jean, as she caused a scene
Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

People always told me be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
And mother always told me be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

For forty days and forty nights
The law was on her side
But who can stand when she’s in demand
Her schemes and plans
’cause we danced on the floor in the round
So take my strong advice, just remember to always think twice
Do think twice

She told my baby,we where dancing still 3:00
Then she looked at me, she showed me a photo
My baby cried, ’cause his eyes were like mine
’cause we danced on the floor in the round

People always told me be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
She came and stood right by me
Then the smell of sweet perfume
This happened much too soon
She called me to her room

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
Michael Jackson :: Billie Jean

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

If you gave just one reason why
My heart just might let go
Maybe one day I will fall in love again
But for now I'll just leave my heart in two

Jordan Knight :: Broken By You

Monday, November 07, 2005

Rain outside my window pouring down
What now
You're gone
My fault
I'm sorry

Feeling like a fool 'cause I let you down
Now it's
Too late
To turn it around

I'm sorry for the tears I made you cry
I guess this time, it really is goodbye

You made it clear when you said
"I just don't love you no more"

Craig David
I Just Don't Love You No More (I'm Sorry)

Thanks Quan for the song. It's awesome! Everyone go download this song now! Even though it is sad... But whatever.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I can't remember the last time that we kissed goodbye
All our "I love yous" were just not enough to survive
Something your eyes never told me
But it's only now too plain to see
Brilliant disguise when you hold me
And I'm free
I've been thinking and here's what I've come to conclude
Sometimes the distance is more than two people can use
But how could I have known girl
It was time and not space you would need
Darling tonight I could hold you and you would know
But would you believe
There's a light in your eyes that I used to see
There's a place in your heart where I used to be
Was I wrong to assume that you were waiting for me
There's a light in your eyes
Did you leave that light burning for me
Cards and phone calls and photograph pictures of you
Constant reminder of all the things you get used to
Is there a chance in hell or heaven
That there's still something here to build on
Or do you just pick up the pieces after they fall
But after all
There's a light in your eyes that I used to see
And a song in the words that you spoke to me
Was I wrong to believe in your melody
There's a light in your eyes
Did you leave that light burning for me
Should I keep on waiting or does love keep on fading away
Fading away
It's been a while since I've seen you so how have you been
Did you get my letter I wrote you, but I did not send
I tried to call your old number
But the voice that I heard on the phone
I recognized but she told me the number was wrong
There's a light in my eyes but it's too bright to see
And a pain in my heart where you used to be
Guess I was wrong to assume that you were waiting here for me
There's a light in your eyes
Did you leave that light burning for me
Light in Your Eyes :: Blessed Union of Souls

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I spent my Saturday evening with Kelsey and we had a wonderful time. We did an insane back workout together. We are both hardcore and that's awesome. Originally we'd planned to go to The Real Seafood Co. restaurant along Main Street, a pretty high-end eating establishment, as I was in the mood for seafood. Hey, that rhymes! Haha. I've been having my eye on the swordfish all along. But when we got there we were told that we'd have to wait forty minutes for a table and you all know how much I detest waiting, so we decided to look for something else instead. So we walked to Seva, a restaurant reputed to have the best vegetarian food in Ann Arbor, only to be notified that we'd have to wait thirty-five minutes for a table this time round. Kind of miffed, we walked a little distance and came across Earthern Jar, this Indian vegetarian place that sells food by the pound, buffet-style, that I'd been meaning to try for a good while now but somehow never got around to doing so. It's a homely little outlet, which barely can fit twenty people; and every day there are an assortment of Indian-themed dishes (the owner's an Indian from Punjab) which you can mix and match- after that you weigh your food on a scale and pay accordingly to how much you've ordered. It's a pretty interesting concept and we both thought the food was exceptionally brilliant. Homely, authentic, healthy Indian fare. Curries, korma, lentils, pulses, Basmati rice, the like; both of us had a hard time choosing what we wanted and trying not to overload our dangerously sagging plates. We ended our meal with a lovely banana pudding and I must say the evening was sublime. It was good spending time with Kelsey- it amazes me just how alike we are- the interests we share, our motivations, our personalities; right down to the fact that we're both real small- and while that can be discouraging when it comes to crew, it has the opposite effect on us by instead making us push ourselves harder. I can truly say that I've found a real friend in her. Look, I first met her in the gym! Even before crew tryouts or anything. And everyone who knows me should know that people I meet in the gym definitely already share something substantial in common with me. It's awesome.

I love spending time with people and being busy because it takes my mind off the harsh possibility that maybe, just maybe

you don't love me anymore.

Cause all of the stars are fading away
Just try not to worry you'll see them some day
Take what you need and be on your way
And stop crying your heart out
We're racing Eastern Michigan University (EMU, lol) tomorrow, and I'm glad I'm going to be able to race since I've finally been given the green light by the NCAA. Honestly, I was anticipating only being cleared a couple of weeks from now, so it is a pleasant surprise to receive news of the fact that they've finally sorted out everything. The only bad thing is that tomorrow's race is at Belleville Lake, our homeground (homewaters, whatever) so I don't get to travel to someplace exotic which is sort of sad, and I don't get twenty-five dollars in food money which is even more upsetting. But it's okay, at least we won't have to travel for a long time just to race for all of ten minutes, and we don't have to de-rig the boats and load the trailers for the journey. Anyway, since we were racing tomorrow, I expected today's practice to be something geared towards preparing us for our scrimmage tomorrow. So I think we all got an unexpected surprise when our coach, Vita, told us that we weren't going down to the boathouse since it was too blustery out. Instead, she packed us all into the vans we normally drive to practice, gave us a list of directions which we followed, and we ended up at a gravel lot 6 miles from campus, on the edge of a forested trail. And then she announced that we were going for, of all things, a hike. Well, yes, so we duly went for a hike. When I stepped onto the trail and into the cover of the trees, I was struck by how much it resembled Pasir Laba (just much prettier with the leaves turning shades of red and yellow) and the areas on which we had our compass and orienteering course in both Sierra and Air Wing. Just that this time it was so much easier to traipse over the leaves without a helmet and field pack and SBO and rifle and ET stick (how can I possibly forget my ET stick? The very bane of my existence). And it did bring back a strange yearning to be back in the woods with camouflage paint streaked across my face, in my number four, carrying my M-16, and just becoming a soldier again. When we finally emerged from the woods at the end of our hike, just before we turned around and started the trek back to our vans, we ended at a beautiful ridge overlooking a lake, flanked by trees with a kaleidoscope of colors and the occasional house on the opposite bank. It was breathtakingly beautiful, coupled with the fact that it was almost evening and the sun was fading into the backdrop as we stood and marveled at the beauty of nature. It's the little opportunities like these that reinforce how fortunate I am to be here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

the beauty of the setting sun in a parking lot.

So you sailed away
Into a grey sky morning
Now I'm here to stay
Love can be so boring

Nothing's quite the same now
I just say your name now

But it's not so bad
You're only the best I ever had
You don't want me back
You're just the best I ever had

So you stole my world
Now I'm just a phony
Remembering the girl
Leaves me down and lonely

Send it in a letter
Make yourself feel better

But it's not so bad
You're only the best I ever had
You don't need me back
You're just the best I ever had

And it may take some time to
Patch me up inside
But I can't take it so I
Run away and hide
And I may find in time that
You were always right
You're always right

So you sailed away
Into a grey sky morning
Now I'm here to stay
Love can be so boring

What was it you wanted
Could it be I'm haunted

But it's not so bad
You're only the best I ever had
I don't want you back
You're just the best I ever had
The best I ever had
The best I ever

Best I Ever Had :: Vertical Horizon

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Here is an update as to the effectiveness of my insane leg workout yesterday. My legs have never ever ached so much in my life before today. It's particularly bad especially just when I get up after I've been sitting down for an extended period of time, and I'm reduced to an unsteady totter for a couple of meters before I can finally lapse into something that seems more like an ordinary walk. Anyway it was satisfying albeit in a masochistic way so I was pleased with that.

This week has been pretty good because I received my political science midterm results which I was exceedingly pleased with, achieved new gains in my workouts (okay I sound like a bodybuilder wannabe here, mind you I am NOT), managed to pick myself up from the slump I was in last week with regards to ergometer practice results, and a couple of other little instances that contributed to my overall cheeriness. One thing I'm really touched by is how so many of my crew teammates have offered to have me over to their homes to spend Thanksgiving with them. Thanksgiving is celebrated with much enthusiasm and meaning over here in the States- it's a typical family affair with good food and fellowship, and I'm looking forward to experiencing a traditional American Thanksgiving celebration. Just that now I've to decide whose offer to accept, and everyone's so nice that it's hard for me to do that. The hospitality of the girls on my team are amazing. Actually it's so much more than that- they're incredible people with a whole spectrum of personalities, ranging from the quirky to the ditzy to the too-nice-until-I-can't-take-it-any-more to the aggressive chiongsters to the motherly to the plain-gone-in-the-head kind. It's a motley crew of 20-odd rowers and 6 coxies, and these people are probably the main reason behind why I'm enjoying myself so much in Michigan. Training is tough but rewarding, and to know that you aren't alone in pushing yourself to all these insane extremes helps a lot. Honestly, I don't think I'd be able to accomplish half as much if I were to do all this by myself. That's the great thing about having a team to rely on.

don't look no farther
baby im back yeah
i'm here to cater to you
anything that you want me to do, i'll do it
cause i'll be your lover
i'll be your best friend
tell me what i gotta do
tell me what i gotta do and i'll do it
baby i'm back :: Akon

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm not particularly in the habit of talking about my workouts in my blog, but I think I just did an insane leg workout today. You see, I've recently decided to revamp my lifting workouts since I thought I was stagnating after sticking to my tried-and-tested regimen of 4 sets of 15 reps each since goodness-knows-when. So anyway I found a delightful (and respectably acclaimed) magazine with the heading "Our Best Workout Guide Ever- 57 All-New Routines for Fast Results" (I know you must be thinking it's Men's Health, but No, it is NOT Men's Health, neither is it the Bodybuilding Journal, nor Muscle Mania, nor Arnold's Fitness Guide, or anything vaguely reminiscent of large scowling men with biceps the size of grapefruits). Oh, speaking about grapefruits- I am eating a grapefruit now, by the way- and- oh dear, I've just managed to catapult a large spoonful of pink flesh onto my table after overenthusiastically trying to pry the stubborn peel apart. Crap. Anyway, as I was saying, the name of the publication is of no consequence. The workout started off great. After the first exercise, hack squat, was completed, I still felt mighty energetic and I began to debate the effectiveness of the workout. But not for long, because my doubts vanished as fast as they had come- midway through the third exercise of squat jumps. I almost perished during the walking lunges following those, and I vividly remember thinking to myself in the midst of that exercise that I was newly convinced that leg workouts required the most pain tolerance out of all. I never really did leg workouts in the past, because we never seemed to place much emphasis on them back in the RJ canoeing days; running was about all we did. Okay, leg workouts are crazy. There is a certain logic behind this. You see- for example, if you do a really challenging arm workout, the most that'll happen after you've completed it will be that your arms now dangle lifelessly from your shoulders and just about the only bad thing resulting from that is that you'll have to ask other people to open doors for you and do other things requiring hand motion. But if you do an insane leg workout, you won't be able to get to the door, much less ask someone to open it for you. Crumpling into a limp heap is very much of a possibility in this case. Okay, but pain is pleasure so I think that's awesome. Hahaha.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

19th WSO (ADA) emblem

This is a special post for all the 19th WSO (ADA) boys from 59/05 AFST- hang in there, dudes! It's so good that I've managed to resume contact with some of you, after quite a while! It's been slightly more than two months since course started- whatever weapons systems you've been posted to, just give it your all, and chiong like crazy. I miss how we used to lobo in AFS, our afternoon basketball games, gym and pool sessions, loading up on protein powder after weights, doing office duty in ADA HQ, Loke and Ashwin running 30 rounds around the basketball court clad in PT attire and SBO (okay the very sight of that was unforgettably funny), scheming ways of getting out of AFS before 1730hrs, and getting tekan-ed for sleeping in our lobo room. We definitely must get together when I next return- it'll be great to catch up again, especially since I presume you all probably don't really see each other much anymore since you're all scattered among different camps. Unfortunately, I don't think infantryman BL Chia will be returning for X'mas, but it's okay, it'd be good enough to see you all. Heads up- it'll seem like no time at all till when you finally get commissioned! Take care, guys.

Just a few pictures from the farewell dinner we had at Cafe Cartel:

Life has been generally treating me pretty well over the past few days. After the mad rush of the week that's just ended, the busyness has dissipated a little, and finally I've found time to catch my breath again. Tuesday was the crazy day when we had practice at 6.15am till 7.35am in the morning, consisting of a 12km erg relay in pairs, where we'd alternate with our partners to do 500m pieces at various stroke rates. It was fun but pretty tiring (well I guess that was supposed to be the point, anyway. Haha), and we had to keep pumping the erg handles when our partners undid their foot straps and tumbled off the seats. It kind of reminded me of Ergocraze in 2004 and our 4 x 500m mixed relay in the heart of Orchard Road, at the Youth Park.
Shuyi, Philip, me, Leqi savoring the taste of victory. Hahahaha.

And after practice I had two consecutive tests in a row, a German test at the School of Music, and after that my Great Books midterm. Man I hope this never happens again. It's insane trying to get from South Campus to North Campus and then to Central in the space of two hours and three exams.

On Friday night our coach invited the entire novice rowing team over to her place for pizza and salad and just to chill out. It was about ten minutes by car from campus, some pretty newly-constructed condominium complex. An interesting thing I realised about condos here in the USA are that they're nowhere near my preconceived notions akin to condo complexes back in Singapore. You know how in Singapore, when you think of condos, places like the Bayshore spring to mind- tall buildings where units on higher floors command correspondingly high prices, four swimming pools, barbeque pits, clubhouses, saunas, gyms and all sorts of facilities? Well, the American concept of condominiums is vastly different. They're just, well, typical houses. Just rows and rows of identical large houses in a particular plot of land, and one house is subdivided into four (with four front doors, that sort of thing), and constitutes one unit. Each unit with its own little driveway and each house has a parking lot to accommodate perhaps about ten cars or so. No common recreational facilities or anything, not that it really matters. So it's quite different and I was quite surprised to have my entire perception of condominiums altered upon reaching her place. But the houses (well, condo units) were very nicely constructed, homely feeling with freshly mown lawns and I think it'd be a lovely place to stay. Lots of space. The entire team had a fantastic evening at our coach's place, sprawling on the living room floor and ingesting copious amounts of sausage-mushroom-and-pepperoni pizza, greens, chips smothered with guacamole, raw vegetables with hummus, the works. Someone whose identity I shall refrain from mentioning inhaled a grand total of seven-and-a-half slices of pizza and felt quite sick after. (She lives down the hallway from me, go figure. Hahahaha.) It was, on the whole, a most interesting evening, where I learnt that my coach's rabbit was house-trained (Have you ever encountered a rabbit that was capable of that? I haven't), and various other funny but entirely irrelevant titbits of information. And somehow, at the end of the evening, everyone came away with the enormously false idea that I was going to don a dominatrix costume for Halloween, which I tried desperately to dispel but to no avail. Hahaha this is absolutely crappy. And NO I am NOT being a DOMINATRIX for HALLOWEEN, so don't ask me about it. Hahaha.

Anyway I wonder, does anyone remember how I used to be crazy over Jordan Knight? The guy from New Kids On the Block (this is so 1980s, I'm sorry), who sang "Give It To You", incorporating his pelvis-thrusting gyrating moves into his awesome music video? If you're from NYGH and my classmate you'd probably recall this all too well. Hahahahaha. Well, out of curiosity I just revisited his webpage the other day and I realised he's performing at Michigan State this coming Friday. Specifically, the details are as follows:

Michigan State University
The Temple Club
500 East Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906
Friday November 4th

Lansing is all of a two-hour drive away, I think! So that pretty much rules out going there. But it'd have been cool seeing the man of my secondary school dreams live. Lol! Ludacris is coming to the UMich Hill Auditorium to perform live pretty soon, that's really kind of cool. And Nickel Creek just had a concert at Eastern Michigan a week ago. It's funny how everyone kicks up such a fuss when, like say, the Black-Eyed Peas visit Singapore for a one-night only performance, because it's so seldom that any superstar act comes to our shores. But when you're here in the USA it's so much easier to go to concerts by the big names because they always do extensive tours of North America (and inevitably end up on campuses sometimes, like Mr. Knight whom I'm still pissed I won't get to watch). Sometimes I wish I had a car! Oh well. Haha.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Speaking about American inefficiency, the NCAA Clearinghouse (a body of the NCAA that clears prospective college athletes before they're allowed to participate in collegiate athletics) seem to have misplaced the copies of my O and A level transcripts that I got RJC to courier over to Iowa, so I can't race in this weekend's regatta against Notre Dame and Michigan State at South Bend, Indiana. Disappointing, for sure, seeing that it's our team's first competition of any sort and I can't even travel with the team (as long as you're not cleared, you can't really do anything). Well, at least Fall races aren't important at all besides the fact that they're for gaining experience- it's the Spring ones that really count; the NCAA and Big Ten championships in April and May. But perhaps it's good in the sense that I'll finally have the weekend to catch up on my German homework and Anthropology readings- I've been focusing, a little too much, perhaps, on Comparative Politics and Great Books, somehow I figure those latter two are harder to catch up on once you fall behind so I'm pretty scared of that happening.

It's my roommate's birthday tomorrow and I've absolutely no idea what to get her. Oh dear. I have a blank greeting card on my table, though. How fortuituous! She's an incredibly nice person, I'll go get something for her tomorrow. Okay I think I've got to get some work done now- will blog sometime soon, perhaps tomorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Okay, here are some photos to whet your appetite before I get round to transferring the rest of the hundred-odd pictures onto my Flickr account. In case you're wondering why I took pictures of American girls flailing their arms about in ecstasy, I'll have you know that those are my teammates in Michigan Crew and they're having a parking lot Dance Party before afternoon practice! Man they totally crack me up, they're awesome. That's the reason you should come to the USA, in particular the U of M. You see things you never thought you'd ever see. Hahaha. The other three photos are from the snapshots I took while in Chicago- I'll load the rest when I've time, I promise. Right now I'm studying for my German test and Great Books midterm, (both, most fortuitously, are on Tuesday. That wouldn't be too bad, initially, just that they happen to be consecutive and are held at spectacularly different locations on campus). So I'll get back sometime after that. Till then, enjoy the eye candy! Lol.

Michela the Diva. God I've NEVER seen anyone dance the way she does. OMG she's fantastic I love her to bits. Lol! Posted by Picasa

Michela in intense focus as she negotiates a difficult dance move. "Hmmm... How do I get my fingers out from under my armpits?" -Hannah Posted by Picasa

Wilson and Alvin, with Six Flags in the background. Posted by Picasa

Hobos in the Chicago Subway, at Grand Ave Station. And in case you were wondering, no, Wilson isn't the reason I look so pissed. Haha! For once! Posted by Picasa

Me and my best buddy, an enormous Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Taken outside the Hershey's outlet in Chicago, along the Magnificent Mile. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I added some pictures below for the fun of it, since I've got over a hundred Chicago photos to add to Flickr, and I still haven't gotten round to doing that! It's pretty tedious, and I'm lazy, so there. Ha. Anyway, the top two photos are that of some of my teammates from Michigan Crew doing their thing in the Intramural parking lot just before we leave for practice- okay they are the most hilarious bunch of people I've ever known, and it's absolutely fantastic. You could just die laughing watching them in action in the parking lot dance parties- we blast music from the vans' stereo systems and watch them go entirely out of control. It's too funny to describe, I prefer to document it by taking photos instead of participating. Haha! And I added two Chicago photos for the heck of it too, will update my Flickr when I've time. Pretty busy over the weekend doing my readings. Tuesday's a crazy day for me- practice on the ergometers at 6.15am to 7.35am, after that I've to rush to North Campus for my German test which begins at 8am, and thereafter to the Modern Languages Building for my Great Books midterm which starts at 9.10am. Am I busy or what? Oh well. Guess I'll blog more after I finish negotiating those tricky tests!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Officer's Creed

I am an officer of the Singapore Armed Forces.

My duty is to lead,
to excel,
and to overcome.

I lead my men by example.
I answer for their training,
and discipline.

I must excel in everything I do.
I serve with pride,
and integrity.

I will overcome adversity with
and determination.

I dedicate my life to Singapore.


The Officer's Creed is breathtakingly simple but fully laden with meaning and expectation. In OCS it was most commonly associated with the mandatory water parades, which somewhat dulled our sensitivity to the true implications of the creed, seeing that we were too engorged with water to think about anything profound. But right now when I'm so far removed from the familiarity of home and everything it represents, this has somehow gained an entirely new dimension in my point of view. The words possess a motivational value that extend far beyond the military realm into other aspects of my life; whether it be training, classes or just about anything else. Just think about this example- "I will overcome adversity with courage, fortitude, and determination". It helps to reconcile me with my meaning and purpose whenever despair or disillusionment starts to creep in, and helps to assuage the doubt that may have accummulated due to this. I guess I subscribe to the belief that you are only as strong as you think you are. Recently I've been guilty of letting my guard down at times, not pushing myself as hard as I could have, tapering off when no one's around to keep me going. Sometimes it's so difficult to keep yourself motivated, especially when the odds are all stacked against you and you figure that you scarcely have a fighting chance in any situation, so there really doesn't seem to be any good you could possibly gain from imposing such unwonted stress upon yourself. But there always is something to live for, something to prove, and nothing you can't tackle once your mind is dead set on achieving it. It's all in the mind. I can't emphasize that enough, especially since I've started rowing in Michigan and discovered the mental aspect of training at an entirely new level. It's only when you're on the ergometer and midway through a workout piece that you start to play mind games, asking yourself why you're subjecting yourself to all this hard work and why you fought so hard to make it onto the team in the first place when all you've succeeded in doing is to set up more challenges for yourself. And it's at that precise moment where either one of two things happen- your resolve weakens, you figure that no one but yourself knows how hard you're pulling on the ergometer anyway since it's not visibly apparent, and you slack off. Or you grit your teeth, try to sustain your split timing one stroke at a time, get it down below a target rate, and push through the pain. I must admit I've been more inclined towards the former, but honestly what is the point of short-term gratification at the expense of prolonged gains and ultimate satisfaction? It's a tough choice to make, one that's even harder to stick to when you're blinded by the present and barely aware of the future.

"I will excel in everything I do."

Simply put, this is a stark ultimatum- it doesn't leave room for regret, for other alternatives, or for the easy way out. And I don't think I'd want anything less than that for myself.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Talking about photographs, I took a whole lot in Chicago, will upload them onto my Flickr account soon, after I get the polsci midterm out of the way tomorrow. There're cool shots of the Navy Pier, Sears Tower, the Cheesecake Factory (perhaps the best dessert place ever, Cafe Greco of Melbourne has been relegated to second place right now), and of Six Flags Great America Theme Park which we visited on Sunday. Oh and we were also so trigger-happy that we took a couple of pictures of the menu from Penang (this restaurant in Chicago Chinatown that sold, much to our delight, pretty authentic Malaysian-Singaporean fare like Hainanese chicken rice, roti prata, bubur hitam, oyster omelette (!)). We were all delirious with happiness over having local food after eons that we promptly made reservations for the next night immediately after finishing dinner on the first. And there were egg tarts in the bakeries in Chinatown, which we bought on the first night, intending to have them for breakfast the next day. But instead we went to the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) and neglected the egg tarts in the car, and one of the tarts displaced its custard filling onto another tart, which was quite strange really. But I don't think anyone cared, since egg tarts in themselves were treat enough.

We spent a pretty good time in Chicago, I must say it was definitely a most enjoyable experience with the boys, stuffing ourselves silly with gargantuan portions of cake at the Cheesecake Factory, waiting in line at Six Flags for an entire hour for a silly middling rollercoaster called the Ragin' Cajun which actually resembled more of a dodgy ride in an enormous teacup, travelling along the I-94 highway and running over a dead deer on our way back to Ann Arbor, which left a smattering of fur and blood on the tires. Which left Alvin pretty flustered especially after we mentioned that it was a distinct possibility that he could have run over a woman in a fur coat and have mistaken it for a large furry mammal, in the darkness.

Life is good. It's fabulous on the surface. New friends, time well spent, loads of things to do, road trips, experiences of a lifetime that come with having the opportunity to study overseas. But in the back of my mind there are always some things that gnaw away at my insides, things that I try to refrain from blogging about, issues that I find hard to discuss because of the simple fact that no one can give me an answer so it doesn't make a difference anyway. I can't even find a solution to my own problem. It's an awful feeling when you're so desperately hopeless and you wonder what you've done wrong and you would give just about anything in the world for things to be okay again.

i just pray that someday, somehow, you'll find the drive to love again.

Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much
I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before and it seems to have a vague
haunting mass appeal

But lately I'm beginning to find that I
should be the one behind the wheel

Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there

So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine and hold my own and drive

It's driven me before and it seems to be the way
that everyone else gets around
But lately I'm beginning to find that when
I drive myself my light is found

Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there

Would you choose water over wine
and hold the wheel and drive

Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings

I'll be there.
incubus :: drive

Friday, October 14, 2005

I'm pretty glad (no, wait, actually I'm overjoyed) that my first 6km timed trial on the ergometer is finally over! The whole team couldn't stop thinking about it over the last few days- now that we've got it over and done with (at least for this month), we can breathe easy and enjoy Fall Break till, well, next month. Haha. What blessed relief! I did pull better than I expected- managed a pretty decent average split time, finished the entire distance in 26:33 minutes. Well, there's always going to be plenty of room for improvement- I'm going to aim for a sub-26min timing, which means I'll have to knock off about 4 seconds from my 500m split timing- not easy, definitely, but I'm going to try my darndest if it kills me just to get there.
Michela explained the concept behind the reason why rowers should be tall and big pretty clearly yesterday- you have to pull your own weight, so if you're heavier you're naturally expected to have a faster erg timing since you should be exerting more force to transport yourself over a similar distance compared to a lighter person. So it's essentially a power-to-weight ratio thing. Kind of fascinating, don't you think? And

But I'm so hungry! Even though we had breakfast at West Quad after the trial- it was awesome. For me, Oatmeal = Awesome. Breakfast at West Quad's always pretty good, because there's great food like lemon poppyseed muffins, breakfast burritos with sausage (neither of which I indulge in, but just so you get an idea of the spread), and there's even an omelette station where you can ask for cooked-to-order omelettes. I should try that sometime, but usually I'm kind of full after 2 bowls of oatmeal, and I wouldn't pass on oatmeal, not for the world. Anyway, yeah. I am ridiculously hungry now, but I'll just hold out for a bit longer before I succumb to the South Quad dining hall in a couple of minutes.

I'll be going to Chicago for Fall Break! A couple of us are leaving tonight in a rented Ford Dodge, staying in a hostel in downtown Chicago for a night, exploring the city (Ooh! Urbanization! I haven't seen a building that goes beyond 20 storeys in an eternity!), and going on to the Six Flags Great America Theme Park on Sunday. I think that'll be pretty cool, all the rides seem rather exciting. Finally I've the chance to relax and unwind, after 2 months of adapting to the intensity of college life PLUS rowing. But I've still got to get my workouts in during the weekend- which probably means that I'll be lugging a pair of running shoes and gear to Chicago. Ah well. I'll never escape all this (not that I mind, anyway). Just had lunch, it was awesome. Mashed sweet potatoes are fantastic, the closest alternative I can get to yam paste here. So I had two bowlfuls. Haha I have this tendency to overload on things I really like (as you can probably tell from the oatmeal encounter). But I like it, and it's good for me, so whatever.

Political Science midterms are on Wednesday- I'll be holed up in my room mugging my ass off all of Monday and Tuesday, I bet. Luckily we've got a review sheet which helps to ease the pressure somewhat, because at least then we'll know what we have to focus on and what isn't so important. And my first German essay is due on Wednesday too. I think I should really start working on all this sometime soon. My back aches. I'm sort of tired. During lunch I was eating real slowly, which was pretty unusual. I think I'll take a nap sometime, maybe soon.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone who's helped me out in one way or another- you guys back in Singapore, it means a lot for me just to be able to talk to you and hear how life's going for you guys, and for me to tell you how things have been on my side, both the good and the bad. Thanks for the prayers and the support and encouragement. Being so far away from home, it's really heartening knowing that you guys are still around, and concerned about how I am, and take the trouble to find out how I'm doing, and stuff like that. And the SMSes (despite the fact that they cost 50cents to send from Singapore... USA-Singapore SMSes under the T-mobile network cost 15 US cents, so perhaps I'm getting a better deal than you, but don't let that discourage you from sending me messages, now)- it's always a pleasant surprise to get text messages from Singapore.

Okay, I'm off to pack my bag for Chicago, perhaps get some studying done, and go lift at the CCRB at around 3. I'm so hardcore, I can't even begin to comprehend myself. Oh well! A certain level of insanity makes life worthwhile. I suppose.