Christmas ’09

So this Christmas was surprisingly good! I woke up yesterday and gave Mum the necklace and earrings I picked out for her. I think she liked them because she didn’t protest as much as I thought she would. I played Children of Mana and passed the game (though it was so repetetive I’m not sure it was worth the time). We all went to Charlie’s (the hospital) for Mass because Dad was in charge of music there, then headed to Spencer Village for lunch! When I got home I played Final Fantasy VIII and FINALLY (lol) defeated a Malboro in combat. Hardest enemies in the game, way harder than any boss I’ve played against yet. This allowed me to summon the Doomtrain (YES!), and I finally upgraded Squall’s gunblade to the Lion Heart. And my goodness, what a beautiful blade that is. I also travelled into the Centra Ruins and lured out the Tonberry King by killing 18 of his brethren! I felt awful, like the Collecter from Pokémon the Movie 2000 flushing out Lugia, but we’ll be good friends by the end of the game I’m sure.

Dinner with my relatives was really good. I’m still wary of some of them- they can be a little mean, or competetive, or stubborn or all of the above, but for the most part I really enjoyed the company. Alexander is getting increasingly cool by the day, and I spent most of the night with him. The kid’s a genius at chopsticks, for real. I’ve never played against anyone with such talent before, and it’s the only game we played that I lost (beside his ridiculously stupid riddles). You know? Now that I say the word riddle all these awesome ones come to mind which I WISH for the life of me I had told him last night. Ah well, next time. I also found that I really enjoyed karaoke! That was a surprise and a half. Once you get past a room full of people listening to you, it feels great holding a microphone and singing, so long as you know the song and it’s in your range. Or Alex’s, which is an incredible six octaves. Cathedral choir boy, pah. Anyway, good times, lots of fun and delicious food.

To sets of quotes to close.


Thinking up questions for a history test based on World War II which we had been studying for three months.
Jacob Brennan: … What was Adolf’s last name?


“I am Odin...”
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“To him who doth vanquish me,
I grant my august powers.”
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“Come hither, knight-errant, and
test thy prowess.”
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“Two knights, but one victor.
The heavens shall decide.”
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“Thou must use thy wits to find me.
I bid thee make haste, for time waits not.”
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“Behold, thy doom is near.
Perhaps thou art not worthy.”
---------------------------------
“The heavens hath decreed thy fate.
PERISH BY MY SWORD!”
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Liberation

I quit my job at Coles last Thursday. After much whining and pussyfooting around, I left after realising I didn’t enjoy the job as much as I thought I did because the store manager who remained was always pushing for faster, and was a little mean. I did see him smile for the first time though! But that decided it: I was out. And I handed in my resignation the next day, and that, hopefully, will be the end of things!

What have I been doing since then? Mainly Final Fantasy VIII! Knights of Columbus it’s good to be able to sit down and play a game for hours on end, it really, really is. In fact, this past week or so I’ve been putting about five or six hours a day into videogames. And it ROCKS. You’d think I’d get bored after an hour or two, but I don’t! I just keep playing and playing, taking occasional breaks to eat and rest my eyes. It’s seriously the most rewarding lifestyle I’ve experienced in recent years. But you know what’s even better? I get to spend time with Bethwyn, too! She just had her wisdom teeth out so I’ve been over her house looking after her, getting her stuff and helping prepare meals etc. Lately, whenever I’m not looking after her, I’m playing her Xbox360. And what a console that is. I started playing Fable the day before yesterday and 12 hours later I’m pretty sure I’m nearly done. It’s a great game, and I’m wondering if I can get my hands on the sequel. I’m also looking forward to playing Mass Effect if/when I finish.

What a delightful time I’ve been having lately. Oh! And everyone! Please get in touch with me whenever you’re free and want to hang out- chances are I’d love to.

“If I Died Tonight”

A torrential flood of blog posts! Oh unhappy reader! I can’t imagine anyone wants to read an essay in their spare time, but I feel compelled to write at least a while on a poem I once wrote.


"If I Died Tonight"

Inspired by "If I died tonight", a poem by Willow Wisp. 13/10/2006.

If I died tonight,
Would you regret not telling me?

If I vanished tomorrow,
Would you seize today?
If the Reaper got impatient,
Would you stand in his way?

If I died tonight,
Would you regret not hearing me?

If I told you when my funeral was,
Would you believe my lie?
If I told you when it was going to happen,
Would you believe I’d die?

If I died tonight,
Would you regret not knowing me?

Are you too proud to shed a tear
Over my spilt milk?
If my dying wish were to pay respect,
Would you run away and bilk?

If I died tonight,
Would you regret not saving me?

If you had the chance to save me,
How much would you risk to try?
If I gave you the chance to stop me,
Would you still be so shy?

If I died tonight,
Would you regret not killing me?

Because you are.


"If I Died Tonight" is a poem reflecting another. Its topic and style imitated the original poem by Willow Wisp with its own twist: a barrage of accussatory questions directed at an unknown person, assumingly someone the author knows in his personal life. It is possible he intended the questions to be asked to a specific person, the then reader. Like the poem on which it was based, "If I Died Tonight" is a cry for notice and a threnody at neither being seen, heard nor saved.

With the exception of the final line, the poem intersperses two line stanzas with four line stanzas. The two line stanzas share the common traits of asking [the reader] if they would regret not noticing the persona. They start by questioning if [the reader] regrets not telling the author something, then hearing, then knowing, then saving until eventually he states that [the reader] is killing him. The comma which divides the first from second line gives brief reprieve so each question is slightly more isolated. Combined with the break in the number of lines per stanza, it is these questions which stand out the most in the poem, and their repetition creates a driving rhythm of its own mimicking the increasing desperation of the persona.

Stanza two is the first of the four-line stanzas, and opens by questioning whether [the reader] would protect the persona from death if s/he had the chance. This is the ultimate question of the poem repeated in each stanza with different words.

Stanza four is interesting because the persona apparently tells [the reader] a lie. This indicates to me that he has no true intention of dying without being noticed, but as the pleas for attention become more severe he desperately seeks an answer from [the reader].

Stanza six puts a twist on the phrase "crying over spilt milk", usually referring to regretting a loss in the past. For the persona to identify the milk as his turns it into a symbol of his own life and its waste if he should die. He essentially questions whether [the reader] would feel regret at all, or if s/he would "run away and bilk", meaning swindle a way out or evade feeling grief.

To me stanza eight is more of a challenge than a question. Its suicidal implications place direct responsibility on [the reader] and demand to know what s/he would risk, if anything, to save the persona’s life. It is a cry to stop "be[ing] so shy", and when a human life is on the line, whether it is worth the discomfort of reaching out to another person if it means saving their life. To me this implies that the person the poem is directed at (if anyone) has stopped communicating in the author’s time of need.

The final three lines of the poem sum up the lamentation of the persona, and the consequences of being ignored when in need.

The author’s take on Wisp’s poem is a series of confrontational questions asked in desperation to a person who does not seem to notice. "If I Died Tonight" serves as a stark reminder of the importance of human connection- as social creatures, no one being is meant to be alone. The pain of isolation can itself be worse than death for a person to want to end it more than they want to live. The author well conveys the anguish of not being seen and serves to remind us all, as well as the person for which it might have been intended, to slow down enough to care for those around us and be there in their times of need. It might just save a life.

Frictional days

I’ve had a mighty fine day today! I woke up a little earlier than I would have liked because the sun was too bright to ignore. I’m starting to wish for Daylight Savings again, but just barely. I stumbled about trying to wake myself up more, had breakfast and resumed cleaning my room. The past two days have been a massive clean-fest for me: I’m going to give away most of the stuff on my shelves and in my drawers. Today I went through almost all the paperwork I’ve been keeping over the past eight years or so, and the stuff that I’m getting rid of equates to perhaps a 20cm stack of paper. It also reminded me that, somehow, my English has gone downhill since Year 10. That’s a little sad. I might start expanding my vocabulary with the help of a dictionary and freerice.com.

Anyway, around 9:30 I felt awake enough to make the call. I rang up Jason at Coles and told him I was resigning. I’d been a little sick with anticipation for what he would say, but he didn’t seem to care! In fact, he didn’t even seem surprised. Desultorily, he asked me why, and I told him I wanted to spend more time with my girlfriend over the holidays what with the operation. "Okay. Bye then." End of convo. I think I may have been overvaluing myself- he didn’t seem to mind in the slightest, and that’s just fine by me. I drove down, handed in my resignation and said a few more goodbyes, and left! Hopefully for good, harr harr! Ohh sweet freedom. It really is rewarding having evenings again.

After that I kept cleaning. I spent hours reorganising my room and all the paperstuffs in it, and I’m mostly done. Just a drawer and a file to go, or so. It feels so liberating, having space in my room! And I’m working harder on my single mantlepiece philosophy.

I had lunch with my parents at a Malaysian restaurant they like (yay dosai!) and came home very much stuffed to play Final Fantasy VIII. At first I tried to reach the lower levels of one of the dungeons but realised that even if I got down in one piece, the boss would rip me to shreds and I’d have to start over anyway. So I ended up Ability Point farming on Cactuar Island for much longer than I thought it would take. 20 minutes to get several hundred AP sounded good! But I stayed there for two hours, running backwards and forwards culling desert cacti.  The end result? Mega-tanky Guardian Forces whose abilities made my characters AWESOME. I haven’t tried them at full power yet, but… my goodness, I can rain hellfire down upon my enemies now. I’m quite keen to continue progressing the storyline.

Lots more cleaning and satisfaction ensued. I ate a delicious dinner (I’m really working on my mindfulness eating! Food really does taste delicious if you take the time to enjoy it) and called Bethi for a delectable dessert- she is of course sweeter than any cake. Thence I played Guitar Hero 5, working my way through the songs. I’m almost halfway through the venues now! They each take about an hour to play all the songs, but Dad walked in while I was playing Sultans of Swing and he wanted to see the songlist. He kept making requests, and I was happy he wasn’t criticising GH, and it was a kind of bonding thing, so despite my cramping wrist and blurry, lagging eyes and sore right forearm, I played on into the night. When at last we stopped, he requested I play a level of Donkey Kong or Mario and, glad we were kind of spending time together, conceded that too. So much for my early night!

All in all, a most excellent day. Good luck to Bethi with her wisdom teeth operation tomorrow. I’ll see you soon <3

Letters to No One

In 2004, I had the idea of compiling a collection of letters to various people, objects and places in my life. It was a way of recognising the impact of the seemingly banal in my life, and a way to express anything I felt towards anyone/thing in a creative fashion. Since starting the journal, I have written only two letters, and this is one of them.


22nd Dec, 2005.
Dear Rock,

I am well-aware of the implications of writing to a rock. However, seeing as this is my second letter for the entirety of this journal started last year, I would say it’s justifiable.

So. Rock. What’s it like being you? I imagine you wouldn’t have an awful lot to do, and the only difference between day and night is the presence of the sun. A lot of people just say you sit there, but really, what is it to sit? The Australian pocket Oxford Dictionary says it means to support the body by resting the buttocks on the ground or on a seat etc. Firstly, I do not think you that the buttocks get much rest having at least half one’s body weight on them, and secondly, I don’t think you have any buttocks to sit on! A rock with buttocks- wouldn’t that be a sight. Regardless, so it is I argue that rocks cannot "sit around all day".

So if you do not sit around all day, what is it that you do? I bet you think you’re pretty hot stuff, huh? All though and big man like, yeah? fft, you’re so egocentric that you harden to prove it. Well let me tell you something Mr. Rock- you’re not! I could take you. Assuming you could die, that is.

I suppose breaking you in to smaller parts would just amass a larger army to throw at me. Maybe if I ground you to dust? Nah, I don’t think that would work either. I’d just end up having to fight a whole tonne of little rocks. Why, if I cant fight you by yourself, you must be a coward! Ha! You cowardly rock you. What a loser.

Anyways, I’ll stop taunting you now. i’m sure you’re very busy doing whatever it is to pass the time rocks do. Hm… Is it possible?

I do believe I’ve made an amazing connection, and thus figured out what rocks do all day. They stone!* In fact, they’re so good at it they spent their entire lives stoning! Ha! Brilliance.

So, you stony stoner *snugger*. I’ll leave you to get stoned and thus keep stoning shall I? Only kidding- it wasn’t really a question, and I’m going either way, Well, so long!

JMarshall

*Note: "Stone" is a Singaporean term to ‘sit’ – mope?- around and do nothing all day.

More quotes

I was going through my desk, clearing out (firstly) all the paper that I don’t need. It’s just clutter. I aspire, like Ajahn Brahm, to have one shelf, with one object on it, and when another object comes along to be able to throw the first one out. Over the next day or so I hope to empty my room of all the stuff I don’t need but cling onto. How much easier it would be to clean an empty house!

Anyway, I threw out most of the paper I was hoarding, but some of them are sweet memories from times gone past, and others are useful references. Some of the things which I am throwing out but want to keep a memory of are quotes I’d like to share with you.


"The Other Side of Dawn" – John Marsden.
"The old stories used to end with ‘They all lived happily ever after’. And you’d often hear parents saying: ‘I just want my kids to be happy.’
That’s crap, if you ask me. Life’s about a hell of a lot more than being happy. It’s about feeling the full range of stuff: happiness, madness, anger, grief, love, hate. If you try to shut one of those off, you shut them all off. I don’t want to be happy. I know I won’t live happily ever after. I want more than that, something richer. I want to go right up close to the beauty and ugliness. I want to see it all, know it all, understand it all. …That’s the best way I can lead a life that I can be proud to call my own. I want to experience everything it has to offer: LIFE!"


Answer of the Year award, Year 11 Economics.
Mr Osnain: State! What are the responsibilities of the state government? *points directly at David Graham*
David : *is nudged and looks up, startled* 18.5%!


Reality is an illusion.

Truth is perception.
Fantasies are real.
What is real?
What you say?
Or what I do?

-Reality is a construction. If anything is an illusion it is that there is a single, shared reality.

[How’s that for mindblowing? Even as an English Lit student I was asking some pretty big questions. Such an idealist.]

Margaret River ’09

I got back from Margaret River today! It was strange coming home. I’m slowly coming to terms with the feeling of emptiness left in the wake of a great holiday- it really does get you down when you think about how it’s over and there’s less to look forward to in life. But that’s stupid! Good times have been had, and they should be enjoyed and celebrated. Some of the highlights of the trip included:

  • Smashing coconuts with my bare hands. That’s right, plural. Ohh how bloody my knuckles were. It was even funnier when I had to tip salt on the wounds myself.
  • Absolutely dominating a game of monopoly by manipulating everyone into giving me the properties I wanted. I’d make a shrewd business man, but I felt so bad for it and donated money to free parking as a kind of guilt-relieving charity.
  • Driving: a great pleasure, if tiring after several hours.
  • Nickers buying the exact same drinks as me. Of all the possible combinations of alcohol, we both got original Baileys Irish Cream and Midori with lemonade.
  • Another truly epic game of hide and seek.
  • Fort Awesome.
  • Bubblegum fudge, which literally made me laugh with delight.

Look forward to pictures. They will rock.