Supercell Apocalypse

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Candle-lights in my bedroom. Fell asleep to this.

Dear Seafarer,

Right now, I am thinking about rotting meat. Ounces and ounces of raw meat. Frozen fishball packets. Cut up bits of tofu. Half-eaten porridge. Mushrooms. All festering within the creeping warmth of an inactive refrigerator.

Forty-eight hours without electricity.

Did you know, Seafarer? A hailstorm has hit Brisbane. To quote a friend’s words, “Thirty minutes, and the city is broken.”

Uprooted trees have fallen within pedestrian paths and roads. Dead, wet branches and leaves are strewn all over the place. Powerlines have tumbled. Windows have been shattered, smashed in by hailstones the size of golfballs. Cars were getting submerged. I’ve read news reports of roofs getting blown off, people getting trapped within houses.

I recall being at home when the storm hit. There was a strange feeling stirring inside of me, when I realized that this was no ordinary storm. It was an almost childish sort of excitement. I saw trees go horizontal, bearing the full brunt of the storm. Downstairs, I heard my housemate yell that a tree had fallen, blocking the entire entrance of our residential area, and closing us in. I heard crashing and clattering. Hailstones cut through the house netting.

From the window within my room, I felt like I had glimpsed apocalypse. I was made aware of how small I was, pitted against the titanic force of the nature. It takes less than a minute to fell a fully grown tree, to rip off towering powerlines. It could equally take less than a minute for lightning to strike me, and that would be it. I would be gone before I had time to register what happened.  I was nothing. I was a tiny, insignificant human, daring to occupy the matrix of this expansive, powerful universe, daring to be alive.

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The BioSciences Library at 2 a.m. People plugged into their laptops, playing Dota or some video game of sorts.

The second reflection I came to was how dependent society had become, upon the advancement of technology and electricity. One of my immediate concerns was the fact that I would lose Internet connection. It would mean losing access to a huge part of my world. Throughout the years, I have somehow assimilated myself into multiple cyber homes; Tumblr, Facebook, Gmail, Google+, Youtube, 8tracks, Livejournal, Wordpress. I have also branched out into multiple social channels; a piece of myself on Whatsapp, a piece of myself on Skype, a piece of myself on Messenger. Having the Internet was akin to having a lifeline. Before I knew it, it became as natural as breathing to be constantly “logged on”. Did it mean that the “real world” had melded and reconstructed into the “cyber world”, and the two were no longer mutually exclusive? Or did it mean that I had forgotten how to live in the “real world”?

When was the last time I did something with my hands? Wrote in a journal? Doodled with a pen? Picked up a book and read, for hours on end without stopping? Sat within the stillness of nature without reaching for my phone? Such a time seemed like a faraway dream. And in all irony, here I am again, connected to the Internet in the university library at 1.50 am, reflecting upon my dependence upon the Internet, using…well, Internet connection. I jest, at myself.

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Camping out in university with my adorable housies. We brought the electric kettle, bottles, and a boatload of things to charge. I brought my cough medicine, a mug, honey, and sachets of tea. Going all out like refugees.

The third reflection I had was how astoundingly blessed I am. I have been given so much. I’ve been given an opportunity to further my education in this beautiful country. I’ve been living within a beautiful home, with access to electricity, food, water. I’ve been surrounded by good people. I never have to worry about going hungry, or about having to struggle to pay rent, or thinking about where to spend the night. Even in times of emergency (like this one), the Universe, God, has been kind to me.  It is as if Mother Nature has shown enough of her wrath to be appeased, and has now allowed her maternal instincts to surface again. In the aftermath of the storm, a mellow, gentle weather sweeps through Brisbane. The sun burns with just enough intensity. There are just enough clouds in the sky. The wind balances out the heat. Nights are cool. There has been no need for fans. Accessible shopping malls are still up and running. I may not be able to cook, but I’m still well fed (too well fed!). The tree blocking our pathway was cleared much earlier than expected. Little things like that.

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Filling up all the water bottles we can afford to fill.

To some people in some parts of the world, having no electricity, water, or Internet is a reality. It is a situation that they face day to day. To some people, it is a constant struggle for food, for a home. To some people, a thirty minute storm and a half-wrecked city would be the least of their worries. Forty-eight hours of no electricity and I already feel the pinch. How would I fare, if I were thrown into war-torn, impoverished countries? In my weakened, spoilt state, I would possibly not last a day. The thought that I could have everything taken away from me within an instant, and be left grappling for survival is one which haunts me from time to time, especially during situations like these. I am blessed. I repeat. I am so, so fortunate.

Seafarer, if you were here with me, we could watch a broken city heal. Until electric surges once again through the streets and the suburbs, there really isn’t much we can do, but wait. In the meantime, let’s bring out the boardgames, the playing cards, the food, the wine. We’ll gather around in candle-lit circles and tell ghost stories deep into the night. We’ll go stargazing. We’ll have the kind of conversations that make us forget about our dying phone batteries. And when the electricity comes back on, we’ll all have a good laugh (or cry) about it, and be thankful that we made it through the storm, because when it comes down to it, we are an annoyingly resilient bunch, and life moves on.

Take care, Seafarer. Stay safe.

-E-

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I’m in trouble again

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My first kiss was taken by a lanky medical student with a penchant for alcohol, logic puzzles, and food. He had beautiful smooth hands, small eyes that smiled when he smiled, and a forehead that creased when he frowned or laughed. An overall boyish face, gently lined with age and perhaps overnight partying and too much alcohol and sex. He had an exceptionally sharp mind which he claims not to use (though I suspect that isn’t entirely true), an infuriatingly smug confidence about him, a cool and calm manner of speaking, of walking. You can tell that he lives life in his own pace. Perhaps he has an inner universe with an clockwork of its own. Perhaps sunsets in the real world equate to sunrises in his mind. Does what he wants, when he wants, without a care in the world. Parties all night and still passes medical school exams. Pummels through my carefully constructed barriers with the slightest touch. Infuriating. Absolutely infuriating. I could…I could… I could kiss him.

And I did.

Or rather, he did, first. In his room, with butter-coloured brick walls, and a broken guitar by the corner, and an ivory coloured rosary on the table, and a sparse bookshelf with smatterings of medical books and bottles of coffee and alcohol. Pinned on his bed, under the slowly turning ceiling fan.

“I’m going to kiss you,” he whispered.

I wondered if he was drunk. A split second had passed. He gripped my chin. I closed my eyes. Felt his lips. Soft. Then his tongue, intertwining with mine. The weight of his body. Wet sounds.

And I thought,

“Oh, he tastes like nothing.”

And then the realisation. This was it. This was my girly dream, my sexual awakening, my loneliness, my aching, my desire, my passion, my fantasy, my lips, my body, and just maybe, my heart; two decades of accumulating emotions and tension; all dissolving into one, fleeting, thoughtless moment.

It was anti-climatic, almost. Nothing that I had imagined, or how I fantasized that it would happen (under rainy bus-stops, in empty sun-spilled corridors), but just as sweet.

I had replayed this scenario so many times in my head, it is almost laughable how quickly it happened.

My heart didn’t jump out of my chest. Nothing of that sort.

No fireworks. No sparks. Just the quiet realization that I had fallen into a precious moment, and I sank into it like a stone into quicksand.

“You learn fast,” he whispers again, and he moves to kiss my forehead. And then more.

He probably doesn’t care about me. But here I am, dissolving anyway. 

At 3 a.m, I wriggled out from beside him, straightened my clothes, and went to the university sports field. Sat by the bleachers. The water sprinklers were on. I watched the sky turn an indigo blue, the kind you see before dawn. Just sat there, for the longest time.

This is dangerous. And here I am, in trouble again.

5 things I enjoy about SWOTVAC Week

*Blog will go on hiatus until after exams. 

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Dear Seafarer,

It is SWOTVAC week (Revision Week). I wasn’t able to write yesterday, but I’ll make up for it now. Without further ado, here are some things I like about SWOTVAC, and possibly my last post for a while until exams are over.

1. The Bubble of Focus

During the SWOTVAC week, the university is condensed into a bubble of focus. You walk into libraries knowing that everyone is fighting the same battlefield. We are all soldiers, sharpening our own tools for war. You see students poring over notes, with their headphones plugged in, listening to lectures. You see students hunched over desks, scribbling, highlighting, reviewing. The tension is palpable. The concentration is so thick you could slice through it. If we could hear our own minds, perhaps it would be a constant sparking of electric, as our synapses communicate information back and forth. Multiply by a thousand other students in the same boat, and you’d get a rich, crackling symphony of brain activity.

Also, I think there is nothing more beautiful than the look of pure focus on someone’s face.

Concentrate. Concentrate. Let nothing sway you (and you look hot, so keep at it).

2. People get comfortable.

I know this sounds strange but I really like observing what people wear during SWOTVAC Week. There is a sense of getting comfortable, for a long night of studying. No glamour, no fuss. Girls come in bare-faced, loose clothing, glasses, hair pulled back messily (or not). Men come in…as they usually do. Flip-flops. Hoodies. Pajamas. The occasional onesie. You see people with their feet propped up on chairs. You see someone curled up on the common area couch, with their notes on their face, and you instantly understand. You see a tired student with rings under his/her eyes and you silently applaud them for having fought a long, hard battle. Nobody cares about how they look, how you look. We’re here to get our geek on, and we understand if you aren’t dressed to the nines, or looking like your usual radiant self.

Although you do have a small margin of people looking as fresh as morning dew no matter what time of the day it is, or whatever it is they’re wearing, or how much sleep they lack, and you cry silently on the inside.

3. Empathy, free candy, and eating whatever the heck you want 

SWOTVAC is definitely a week for getting free stuff. Yesterday a guy came up to me and my friends and offered us a bowl of chocolate and candies. The Law Society’s Equity board recently came up with “Tim-Tam Tuesday”, where you get access to…Tim-Tams, set upon a silver platter in a corner of the library. My lovely church friends came up with “exam packs”, lovingly packaged with yoghurt bars, Freddos, Mars bars, jelly, M&Ms, cookies, and a personalized message. Sometimes, you get random homecooked food. It’s awesome.

You snack on food you might never touch otherwise; chocolate, bags of chips, energy drinks, Pockies, sugared peanuts. You drink more coffee than you probably should have. Although you might feel a little bad, at the back of your mind, you justify it with the fact that you’re “studying”. Brain cells are a ravenous bunch that need constant nourishment. Who am I to say no to that?, you tell yourself, as you reach for another packet of chips at 3 a.m. A guy passes you a chocolate, and between the fat accumulating within your thighs and a short, temporary lust for all things sweet and indulgent, you choose chocolate. And damn you, it feels good.

4. Going home at twilight

This is something I personally enjoy. There is something lovely about walking back, exhausted, after a productive study session at the library. I broke daylight once, trying to complete an assignment. It was the first time I watched the sky fade slowly into brightness. If I could stand it, I would do it again.

The world is different at night. The university is illuminated with mellow, golden light. I do secret twirls in corridors and halls, and nobody notices. I walk through roads with my head towards the sky, and I don’t worry about running into cars ( not at 3 a.m, at least). The sun doesn’t burn into my skin. At 4 a.m, the birds start to twitter sweetly.

Also, have I told you about the stars? Every now and then, you should look up, and be reminded of the beautiful vastness of the universe. I marvel at the strange and humbling thought that I have somehow been brought to existence, and that a big, powerful world like this has gently sustained a million, tiny breathing particles like myself.

5. Almost there

We are all transversing on a timeline towards an unknown somewhere. For some of us, this might be our first major university-level exams. Or maybe it might be a second chance to prove ourself after a failed semester. Or maybe we are already at the end of our degrees, and this might be the very last time we’d be sitting formally for an exam, in an academic setting. Whatever it is, we are transitioning, going one step closer towards something above and beyond. This coming exam marks another milestone of our lives. It has been a long, hard semester. Through the complaining, the stress, the penduluming grades, the tedious assignments, we are almost there. Not quite, but close. It’s coming.

To me, the anticipation of it can be just as sweet. Perhaps even sweeter than the moment itself. And we can look forward to the planned vacations, the little projects we want to do, all those Netflix movies we want to watch, all those books we want to read. Whatever it is, or whether or not you actually do it, you know that rest will never feel as sweet and as justified as the one that comes right after your final exams of the year.

Until then, let’s hold on and enjoy the ride.

Have a happy SWOTVAC, everyone! Best of luck for your exams, wherever you are.

I should probably get back to studying myself.

Take care, Seafarer.