Some overdue photos of Kuta Beach

Travelogue

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Kuta had this online reputation for being some kind of party beach with notoriously drunk Australians… things I didn’t tell my parents until we landed in Bali. Luckily we did not encounter a single one of those aforementioned specimens, and with the power of TripAdvisor I had booked a pretty decent hotel (The Bene Hotel) just a stone’s throw away from Kuta Beach, which meant we could zip down to the shore as and when we liked. Kuta had some strong waves and many, many surf shops/schools which really tempted the brother and me, but we still chickened out. Next time, maybe?

A lot of things can change in a year… including myself. Time for some readjustments.

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The best way out is always through.

Scattered thoughts

Hello February. There is a New Yorker cartoon that perfectly encapsulated how long January felt:tumblr_p32qtodaIx1qav5oho1_1280.jpgJanuary felt extraordinarily long, primarily because it was the start of a new semester (the final semester – gasp) and friends who were off gallivanting for the past six months or so have returned to grace our shores. I’m not a hater, and I would like to think I am not a very petty person, but sometimes I am wrong, because it is pretty frustrating to hear exchange stories when you didn’t go on exchange. Most eye roll worthy bit would be because it was unusually cold in Singapore at the start of January, like 20 degrees celsius, clothes won’t dry, it’s constantly raining cold, but of course the people who spent months in Europe would think it was Summer Time and be all like “Pur-lease, this is cold? when I was in Jökulsárlón swimming in icebergs… hon hon hon baguette”. 

 

“It was fun before reality hit”

Things I did

A bunch of good, not so good, and terrible things that happened to me in the span of the last 24 hours:

  • I met up with two friends from high school (I make myself sound like a relic, but give me this, it’s been 4 years since we graduated). It was nice as I had not seen them in a very long time because of my own self-induced social isolation, but it did lead to some aggressiveness on their part as I did not initiate the dinner. But I rarely initiate plans with people, and I had to reassure them that it was a case of “it’s not you guys, it’s me” and how I really did not want to feel like I’m burdening people if they didn’t want to meet me. (I think) they understood, and was being very sweet to me, and promised me that they’ll ask me out more.
  • It was a night of bad alcoholic decisions on my part, because we went to a Japanese place with free flow drinks for ladies if you spent at least $10 each (which was not difficult to hit AT ALL, one piece of squid tentacle sashimi there probably cost 2 bazillion dollars). We wound up spending about $30 each on really lacklustre food that was extremely misrepresented in the menu pictures, but we did get free flow drinks that made it worth. Well, maybe not so worth for me, because I had a grand total of about 5 glasses of umeshu and shochu. The umeshu was the hardest hitter; it’s easy on the throat and its sweetness masked the alcohol until it was…… too late, and I found myself puking all the udon and yakiniku and whatever nonsense I had eaten over the lawn in front of the MRT station.
  • I thought I would be okay after vomiting everything out and I could make my way home sanely. But it turns out I am the sort of person who can’t walk after 5 glasses of Japanese alcohol, so all I managed to do was to walk down to the MRT station, fumble around before forcing myself to sit down on the first solid surface I could find, hysterically trying to grab onto my friends to stay upright. Between the two of them, they somehow managed to chivvy me back up to the main road where I watched them try to get me an Uber/Grab, before I just figured to flag down the first cab that whizzed by, said vague goodbyes to them, and found myself homebound.
  • It was only on the cab that I realised they had actually called an Uber on my phone (which was arriving in 2 minutes), so that’s another cancellation I had to pay for.
  • Got home, managed to take out my contacts and tossed them onto my bedroom floor, tossed myself into bed and slept off the terrible throbbing in my head.
  • Woke up and I realised amidst my drunken mess last night, I lost my cardholder and a bunch of cards in it. I called the MRT station, lodged a lost and found with the taxi company, but frankly I don’t have much hope.

I suppose I wasn’t completely wasted because I can still remember what happened last night, but damn, I got so buzzed, it was painful. I distinctly recall one point in the night when I wondered how I was going to get myself home – but I managed.

the lives of others

Thinking about things

An often unadvertised side effect of law school is the feeling of inadequacy. Everyone knows it’s difficult, it’s a heck load of reading, but no one really told you you will wind up feeling shitty about yourself and extremely jealous of others. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle where the academic plankton of the cohort feels the strain and burden of scrapping passes in order to qualify for the bar (passing it is a different story entirely), the average student fears he should be doing more to catch up with his more illustrious peers, and the cream of the crop wondering if giving up all the other things in life was really worth it for those A grades. Rinse, repeat.

Yesterday, my professor invited a trio of lawyers to come speak to us in class on some issues pertaining to corporate crime prosecution. What struck me wasn’t so much the content (which was fascinating, but not the point of this post), but the profiles of those lawyers. Not just them, but all the other lawyers I’ve met, be it at internships, talks, pervasive online stalking… they seemed, and probably actually are, disgustingly successful in their careers. Stellar education credentials only boosted by years of impeccable lawyering work, they had all their shit together, gathered in fistfuls as they put bad people in jail, sought bajillions of monetary damages for their clients, et al. I shudder to think what inconspicuous contributions I can make to this world upon graduating next year.

Maybe you’re thinking I’m being melodramatic and harbouring illusions of grandeur by comparing my (only tentative, possibly non-existent, probably lacklustre, hopefully not disastrous) future legal career with these heavyweights. Maybe instead of the moon, I should be aiming for the stars. So I tried that, but it was even more depressing. I have schoolmates bringing home championship trophies like I bring home a McDonalds takeout. Schoolmates writing for academic journals. Schoolmates making it onto dean’s lists. And me? I forgot about the existence of my Chinese Contract Law assignment until the day before its deadline. I’m a gigantic mess and I know it. It’s not helpful being so self-aware.

Then I get bitter and sad when I think about other things, such as how I could actually be in Mannheim, Germany exactly right now, instead of sitting in this study room trying to hunt for a legal principle on copyright subsistence that does not, for the love of God, seem to exist. Then I get angry at myself for letting my brain wander off that far into the abyss when I have so, so many other things to be worried about. Like this research point that I can’t seem to address properly. Or my second learning journal for the creative thinking module I’m taking, that’s due end of this week. It’s Thursday already. Oh dear.

on finding comfort in others

Thinking about things

I am a firm believer in the concept that we are in full control of our emotional responses to external stimuli – nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent, and etc. – so whenever I am feeling down in the dumps I try to get over it by telling myself to get over it. Because you can’t really change the circumstances that have already happened, nor can you change other people’s behaviour, so why not take the easy way out which is to change your own mentality?

Well, fuck that for today, because I got really pissed at someone. My abject levels of annoyance might have been irrational and oversensitive, but I would like to retain some shreds of credibility with my own emotions and try to reconcile what I felt with why I felt it.

Said someone had mentioned something offensive to me, in an attempt at what I can only assume was humour. The actual word used was “disgusting”. I did not find it the least bit funny, and it stung for a bit, because maybe deep (okay maybe not so deep) down, I felt I was disgusting too. Having someone else tell me just dug it to the surface and possibly cemented it. But how could I blame that person? It’s not like that person knew about how I felt about myself, nor did that person have a stellar track record in being the nicest person to me and I had more often than not brushed off all past ill-feelings with “oh, she’s just like that”. But there’s a limit to each and every tolerance, and here, one stupid remark was the tipping point.

So I did the next best thing, which was to turn to another friend for comfort.

Friend: maybe just don’t be too close to her already?

Me: what a rumble to my pathetically small circle of friends

It was comfort I am so glad I found, because there is nothing sweeter than understanding and commiseration from a fellow human. It was wonderful and it numbed all my earlier aggrieved sensations. I asked that friend whether she would have found it offensive (she did) and whether she thought I was overreacting (she didn’t). Ultimately, I was still human and I craved approval. It was everything I needed to recover, and I will eventually.

I don’t want to sound like a big baby, but the original comment still prickled like a bad insect sting, and I may not be able to have a proper conversation with that person again. But I suppose it was a nice change to push the blame on someone else other than my own lack of emotional finesse.