Saturday, May 17, 2008

Why do we blog? Pt. 2

Listening to: 'DVNO' by Justice [†]

[Pt. 1's here, BTW]

Healio commented on my last post about blogging, and while I doubt he's psychic in any way ;-), he managed to touch on something that's been running through my mind a lot lately. He suggested three methods of solving a problem, which I shall list for you now -
  1. confront it
  2. ignore it
  3. talk to a friend about it
Now personally, I disagree with the second my opinion, sweeping things under the carpet only makes things worse. But I accept that this is common path for many. I think blogging is actually a subset of option three. You're getting things out of your system and if you're lucky, someone will read it and comment. The advantage is that (hopefully) the person commenting is removed from the situation, so emotions aren't involved. Of course the success of this method depends on the blogger depicting the situation accurately without embellishments and bias, but the same applies when talking to a friend, so no biggie.

So...why bother? Why bother with all this secretive stuff when you could just vent to a friend (or a tree, apparently)? Well yeah, lot of sense in that, but it doesn't necessarily work for me. Why? Well this brings me to the other part of haelio's comment -
"If no one can understand what your problem is then they can't help you."
Now this would be an issue if I were asking for help, but I'm not. I don't want you to help, I just want you to listen (or rather, the only way you can help is if you just listen). And this is where talking to friends rarely does me any good...'cos most try to help.

Now I know this makes me seem like a really ungrateful person but hear me out, please. There are times when I do need help, and I'll gladly accept it. Here's an example. A few months back, I lamented the lack of a hobby, and a friend lent me his guitar. See, that was me asking for help and accepting it when it was given, and being very grateful for it. But then there are other times, when I'm in a bad mood (call it hormones, call it depression, call it whatever you want), and I just need a hug. What do I get instead? "you need to stop thinking like this" / "you're just feeling sorry for yourself" / "you're fussing for nothing"...hardly the reception I was hoping for, wouldn't you say? There are a few friends who do listen, but they're literally many many miles away, which makes communicating rather difficult at times. So this blog has become my friend. The one who listens and doesn't pass judgement. The one who listens and doesn't treat it as a problem that needs solving, but more a state of mind that needs to pass. The one who listens and doesn't make me feel like I'm a burden.

So this is why I blog. My pseudonym exists purely as a means of escapism, and hence I haven't been unduly concerned about it, until now. I understand and accept that Darwin's reasons for maintaining anonymity are different in this case (and yes I do remember the incident! :D ) but at the end of the day, the anonymity exists so that we can all avoid awkward confrontations.

As for my blogworthy unbloggables, well they're still blogworthy, and they're still unbloggable...but I managed to catch SoulSister today and boy did I let my guts rip (while she probably did her best to stay awake, poor thing)!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The (see-through) veil of anonymity

Listening to: 'Breathe In' by Frou Frou [Details]

It occurred to me in the shower this morning (because we all know that the shower is where all inspiration is born) that there is blogworthy stuff on my mind, that I haven't blogged about. And in the very next thought wave, it occurred to me that some people (who are very dear to me) would consider the content of this potential post to be rather contentious. So I am left in a quandary: do I tell the truth and shame the devil...something I generally advocate, or do I follow my grandmother's advice: "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing"...? A few years back, I would've chosen the former without batting an eyelid, and I managed to find proof of this in a heated post from over two years ago:
People seem to have an issue with the fact that I call a spade a spade. Well, what else am I supposed to call the damn thing, a spoon? I don't mince my words, and when I have issues with things and can't speak up about it...I explode. This blog gives me an outlet for some of the things I can't speak about, but there are those things that are too sensitive even for here, regardless of the anonymity that this blog allows. Brutally honest, maybe. But honesty above all else. If people can't take the truth, they're more flawed than they think.
Ouch. And BTW wow, how I've aged!

Now I know I'm not the only one who has faced this dilemma. Out of the few blogs that I have followed closely, the majority have closed shop...with most bloggers lamenting the decline of the anonymity I mentioned above...the very feature that persuaded them to blog in the first place. The last few crusaders tend to be (and I hope they won't mind me saying this) rather paranoid about safeguarding their offline identity, and they go to great lengths to mask their sensitive posts in order to make them publishable.

The thing is, I don't believe anonymity can truly be maintained in a blog. We divulge too much about ourselves - our location, our nationality, our vocation, our physique - it wouldn't be that difficult for a diligent stalker to find out who we really are. And it would be very difficult to blog about ourselves without divulging the above information. That said, our greatest fault (as I see it) is this - we tell our loved ones about our blog. Now this is great, in terms of "at least someone reads my blog"...they will probably be the most avid readers of our blogs, out of sheer loyalty. But if you have a spat with a loved one (and good friends and family always have fights), you're screwed. So we censor ourselves for the sake of our relationships.

A small compromise, perhaps...but it kinda defeats the purpose of the blog, doesn't it? I let off steam on this blog, so that I don't have to do it in public. This is my blog, my rules. If you don't like what you read, bugger off. But it's not that simple. No one wants to hurt their loved ones, even when they're causing us grief.

So what do I do? I've seen posts being password-protected, and written in code...all presumably effective methods of speaking out without hitting out. In an ideal world, I'd be able to construct a post that expresses everything I feel inside without giving absolutely any clue as to the true nature of the situation...but I know I'm not eloquent enough for that.

I think for the time being, I will censor myself. At least until my eloquence improves exponentially, or I figure out another way to rid my mind of these demons.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yeah...I can fly.

Listening to: 'Back In Black' by AC/DC [Back In Black]

Oh. My. God. The movie finished two hours ago and I'm still buzzing. It's been a while since a movie had that effect on me. I'm hoping that blogging will quieten me down so I can get to bed, but I suppose playing 'Back In Black' on repeat isn't really helping!

I generally love superhero movies. Apart from the shite that was Fantastic Four (I refuse to watch the sequel). I'm sorry...granted, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans are both extremely easy on the eye, but they can't act for shit. And what a waste of Julian McMahon?! But back to the good stuff. Yes I love superhero movies. I grew up watching the Superman movies, and absolutely love the Spidey and X-Men trilogies. But tonight it's all about Tony Stark...a.k.a. Iron Man.

I won't give any spoilers 'cos I think everyone should go and see it for themselves, but I'll comment on a few things:

To say that Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is sexy would be a huge understatement. Something about him - the attitude, the intelligence, the body - oozes sex appeal. He is the quintessential bad boy. Luscious!

The next best thing about the the suit. Yes I am an engineer, so excuse me while I drool. I just sat there going "omg it's so cool"...I'm sure the guy next to me thought I was nuts.

Oh and Gwenyth Paltrow is so pretty. Big up the skinny girls, y'all!

The dialogue was good, the jokes were witty and worked well thanks to the excellent delivery, and the CGI was seamless. The romance was frustrating for a chick-flick lover such as myself, but the quantity was just right to keep interest up for the sequel (which will be in can I wait that long?!?!). And the music was well-suited. All in all, I can't really find anything wrong with the movie. Although maybe that's 'cos I was too busy drooling to notice ;-)

Right. I think I have sufficiently calmed down. I shall now hit the sack, and hopefully dream about Dr Christian Troy and Tony Stark fighting over me who is the most delectable quadragenarian in Hollywood. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wing is the new William Hung

Listening to: Radio 1

Who remembers William Hung? Or rather, who doesn't remember him? American Idol's most famous non-talent by far, he shot to fame by performing an absolutely atrocious version of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs". You can check out the original audition here. America loved him a hell of a lot more than Simon did, though...and he ended up with this -

Well now Radio 1's Scott Mills has decided to champion another would-be idol - New Zealand's Wing. She performed on the Introducing Stage at Radio 1's Big Weekend a couple of days ago. If you can't be bothered navigating to these links, here's a video clip for you to savour -

Sigh. I hope you enjoyed that. My sides hurt. And while I'm on the topic of Scott it normal to have a crush on a voice?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I need to defrag* my brain

Listening to: 'Stop This Train' by John Mayer [Continuum]

I'll start off with a disclaimer: My sincere apologies to any PhD students who have not started to even think about writing up yet, regardless of whether or not they should've done so by now. I am in this position not by choice, or due to extraordinary organisational powers...on the contrary, this post is a result of me being way behind in what I'm supposed to be doing, and frantically trying to salvage my degree. There, you have been warned.

14 pages, 2859 words. Is this adequate? Am I going to run over tremendously? Am I going to have to invent stuff to write about? I doubt the latter, considering the fact that I'm only about half way through my first experimental chapter. Well 'half way' in a quantitative manner, not so much in an orderly manner. Yes, it's all over the place. About a quarter of the results, quarter of the discussion, and all of the methodology least that's where I think I stand right now. I'll probably decide tomorrow that everything I've written is bollocks and requires complete rewriting (oh god I hope I don't think that tomorrow). See if you ask me about my project (and I'll try not to explain it here, out of respect for those who are not chemists or engineers, and not least because I'm slightly possessive about my research: I am not about to get scooped), I can explain it in a way that you'll hopefully understand - structured, lucid and concise. Awesome, huh? Not really. The only reason I can do this is because I know that I know more about it than you do. You're not about to turn around and tell me that there's no meaning to my life project.

Writing a thesis, on the other hand, is completely different. I have no clue who will read my thesis, simply because it's rather I have to assume that whoever reads it already knows everything there is to know about my project, but wants me to explain it anyway. And if I miss anything out, I'll have hell to pay in my viva. So it appears my task is to explain everything relevant to my project, and still keep it structured, lucid and (somewhat) concise. Which wouldn't be so bad, if not for the fact that I keep remembering random crap that should've been included 10 paragraphs earlier.

The sooner I get this chapter done, the sooner I can get on with experiments and the sooner I can convince my supervisor that I am worth his time. In order to get this chapter done, I need to put everything in my head down on paper (or hard drive). Sigh, if only my head weren't in such a mess.

*Not geeky enough to know what defrag is?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What am I good for?

Listening to: 'Delayed Devotion' by Duffy [Rockferry]

...absolutely nothing, it seems (with apologies to Edwin Starr).

Cambridge is the perfect place to develop a 'small fish big pond' mentality, and it seems I have mastered it in my ~6 years here. I'm such a pro that I'm not even sure I'm a fish any more...I feel more like an unwilling urchin in transparent fish clothing. Whether it's brains, looks, wealth or luck...I always find myself on the outside looking in. Don't get me wrong, on a global scale I'm not doing too bad...but in my current environment, it's a different story. I've blogged about this inadequacy before, and I'm sad to say that nothing has changed in the year that's passed. If at all, it's just got worse.

I must be a masochist. I keep putting myself in positions where I hope I will be pleasantly surprised, even though I know it's highly unlikely. And then when it turns out just the way I thought it would (or even worse), I get upset. Well duh, PR...what did you expect?! Serves you right for hoping. To all the optimists who think I shouldn't lose hope or faith or whatever the hell you wanna call it, see THIS is what happens when I try to be optimistic. It all goes tits up in my face. Still want me to have hope?

And to those of you who are about to comment on how I'm being a self-centred bitch and just feeling sorry for myself, take a look at the title of this blog: it reads "time for some 'me' time". I think that gives me the right to feel sorry for myself if the necessity arises, don't you?

I suppose I owe you a cheery end to this miserable post. Here's Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker doing their version of the inspiration for the title of this post.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I ♥ Rob Thomas (and the boys too, of course)

Listening to: 'You're So Real' by Matchbox Twenty [More Than You Think You Are]

Oh. My. God.

So, surprising as it may seem, until 19:30 yesterday, I was a gig virgin. Those of you who read my posts regularly will probably note that my music taste is rather varied, to say the least, so you would think I'd find at least one concert worth attending. Which is partly true. The Goo Goo Dolls were in Cambridge last year and I could've gone...but the tickets were 'standing' and I wasn't sure how my spine would handle the boisterous crowds, so I bailed. KT Tunstall played at the Roundhouse in November, but my life was in a total mess around that time and I didn't get around to buying a ticket...and by the time I realised she was to play in Cambridge, tickets had sold out. Another reason is that I'm quite reluctant to spend money on unessential things.

So when my friend said she had an extra ticket to see Matchbox Twenty at Wembley and asked if I'd like to join, I was in a quandary. £30 is a lot of money for me. Going to London on a Thursday night and coming back late in the night does not bode well for getting work done on Friday. Even though the doctor said my spine was A-OK, I don't think he was taking into consideration the exuberance of Matchbox Twenty fans in the 'standing' area of Wembley Arena. BUT...this was Matchbox Twenty. The same Matchbox Twenty whose three albums were sitting in my CD box. The same Matchbox Twenty whose songs (both singles and album tracks) I could recite word for word on a good day. The same Matchbox Twenty who were fronted by a most delectable Rob Thomas; lyrical maestro with possibly the sexiest voice in the Alternative scene. So I said yes. And last evening, with two friends in tow, I popped my gig cherry to the sounds of Matchbox Twenty.

And weren't they amazing. OK I should first mention Headway, the supporting act. Clearly influenced by the likes of MB20 and The Calling, but British (they're from Nottingham). And pretty good, might I add. I had listened to their stuff on and I liked what I heard...they were as good live. Which says a lot, I think. Too many bands have perfect studio albums and crappy live performances. These guys are promising.

So once they were done, the lights came on and my friends informed me that now we would have the agonising wait until the stars were ready to show. We utilised the time to weave our way through the crowd to get a better view of the stage, taking care not to get stuck behind the many 6-footers who seemed to think they were made out of glass. I mean c'mon! I'm 5'3" - it's not like I'm gonna block your view if I stand in front of you. And then of course there were the couples who obviously thought that a rock concert was the perfect setting for full-on gropage. Seriously dudes, if you're gonna spend the entire evening exchanging saliva, the least you could do is get out of the way! There should be some kind of fan-o-meter that only lets hardcore fans to the front, leaving the snoggers to their own devices. Sigh.

But yes, we managed to find suitable viewing spots before the lights dimmed. My heart started pounding as I realised that Rob Thomas was soon gonna be standing on that stage in front of me. And then they arrived. Oh. My. God. The crowd went wild - I know it sounds clich├ęd but it's true. We screamed. I took a million (mostly blurry) photos. We waved our hands in the air and sang along to every single song they played. For one and a half hours, I screamed my lungs out and stomped around like a crazy fool, all the time thinking "omg he's just there in front of me". Such adrenalin I have never known.

And then it ended. And I was still buzzing (heck I'm still buzzing!). We made our 3hr journey back to Cambridge, and then I cycled home and crawled into bed.

This morning, I woke up with proof that it was not a dream...dreams don't leave your voice hoarse and muscles aching! And here's more of the few non-blurry pics from last night.