So that’s it. I’ve just told my editor I’m not staying.

My friends think I’m stupid for doing that, since it’s my first job and they think I should suck it up and stick it out.

I did agonise about leaving for weeks, wondering if I should really take up my editor’s offer to extend my contract for three more months before deciding. It’s not a bad job, and the hours are forgiving (10am to 7pm, which gives me time to swim in the morning). My editor isn’t an unreasonable boss, either, just occasionally frustrated when I make the same mistakes.

But the environment is, dare I say it, sterile, and the workload heavy and never-ending. I barely have time for water cooler breaks, much less lunch. If I take time out to eat, I’d never be able to finish my work on time and I’d have to stay on longer in the office. I don’t want to be one of those people who stay in the office the entire day and go home just to sleep. Even if it’s my first job and I need to pay my dues, this is not how I want to live. I’m in my twenties!

My dad told me to ask myself what I really REALLY want. To be happy at a job, or to to do well at a job but come home tired and stressed out every day. He asked me if I head to work with a sense of dread every day, and I realise that the good mood I start out with at the start of the day (I hum, I prance, and I just made myself sound like an idiot) is slowly but surely chipped away at by the end of the day.

Some days, just when I feel like I am in control of my work and can actually do this, I’m tossed a new assignment that I have no idea how to tackle. And with concurrent assignments I feel like I can’t keep track of everything that needs to be done or covered; there’s always something I forget or miss out, and that’s the case for every assignment I’ve had so far. There’s only so many mistakes you can make before you majorly piss someone off, and I know no matter how hard I try I will make more mistakes because I can’t multitask THAT well.

Anyway, the bottomline is, I don’t know what I want yet in terms of a full-time career (well, I do, but the one I have in mind isn’t practical – according to my dad, it’s just a HOBBY), but I know what I don’t want. I’m not a journalist, never have been – I’m not curious, I don’t probe, I’m not meticulous, I couldn’t care less about details. I just like to write. I don’t know where my love for writing (fiction) will take me, but I know that journalism is not something I want to do for long. It’ll only be a matter of time before I leave.

On an unrelated note, it’s been raining non-stop since 1am last night, which means it’s been raining for 12 hours straight. I’ve been waiting since 8am to go for a swim, which means I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR FIVE WHOLE HOURS. I am soooo restless it’s killing me! I tried pacing, I tried lifting weights, I tried dancing (or in my case, just jiggling about like an idiot), but nothing seems to work. I NEED TO SWIM. This need is gnawing away at my insides; I feel so trapped. Yes, I’m crazy, but this shouldn’t come as news to you.

I’m trying to write (at page 234 of FIFTEEN MINUTES now), but I just get so distracted. If only I could swim.

Lots to update today. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Blogger has gone nuts. I can’t upload pictures because the toolbar is gone. So for now, you’re subjected to my wordy rambling.

1. My dad and I went to watch NDP 09 on Sunday! This year, it was held at Marina Bay, which, I must say, is a vast improvement from NDPs at the Stadium. It was next to the sea, so it was much more cooling and airy. They had nicer seats too, more spacious, and there was a nicer view of Shenton Way and Fullerton Hotel.

I wasn’t expected to be wowed by the military display, to be honest. It all seems a little braggy, to showcase all your military might at one event. But now, at the hormonal age of 18, I find that army guys – and seamen, and pilots, and policemen, and practically any guy in a well-starched uniform – are hot. Artillery and ammunition don’t hold my interest at all. The last time I watched it, I thought the parade was rather boring, because all they did was march around.

But, like I said, it was a lot more captivating this time around, maybe because I find that the uniforms look better on guys as I grow older (wink). All in all, it was an impressive display. And those boys are HOT. Wow, so that’s where all the cute guys are hiding: in camp! All tanned and toned….

Moving on.

The spirit at Marina Bay was amazing. All through the Parade (and the one hour plus of waiting beforehand), I was close to tears and could cry at the drop of a hat. I just felt so proud to be there, to be Singaporean, amongst my own people, hearing pockets of conversation (littered with Singlish) around me. We were a sea of red, displaying national pride, rooting through our funpacks and exclaiming, “Wah! Got Khong Guan biscuits! And NeWater!” Me? I had fun waving the flag and watching it ripple in the late afternoon breeze, while my dad went shutter-crazy.

They played some National Day clips made by students. You know, the one where the bunch of kids are supposed to create an art-piece about National Day, and this special little boy made a collage of a hand, which the teacher initially didn’t understand, until she looked in the mirror and realised it was a fist over her heart. Yeah, along with that were others. One was where this NS boy was tearing parking coupons in the car with his dad.

“Time? 2.21.”

“2.30,” said his dad.

The boy points at the carpark attendance, upon which his father gets out of the car and squabbles with the ‘auntie’. And then he launched into his rendition of the pledge with regard to the coupon-parking system. And let me tell you, 2700 people laughing is really infectious.

Another clip was where they asked kids what their aspirations were. There were the usual: lawyer, doctor, pilot, nurse, teacher, etc. And then this last boy was like, “When I grow up, I want to be the president of Singapore.” And this bunch of aunties behind me went, “Wahhhh.” I wonder how our leaders felt when they watched that. Hopeful? Assured?

Somehow, I teared up at that. Because it’s promising, knowing how many youths out there love their country, and understand how much it has done for them. The country doesn’t owe us a living, but it has given most of us Gen Y a comfortable life, thus far. It’s just gratifying, knowing there are people my age out there who realise that, and know where their loyalties lie. And are proud of that. Like a journalist said in the Monday paper (Home section), patriotism is not uncool. Why should we be ashamed of what we root for? I love Singapore, and I’m not ashamed to proclaim it.

And watching those boys in the parade made me proud of them too, especially of those who constantly put their lives on the line to protect us, to protect our country, and the ones they love. They deserve our respect. Because they are driven to do that, why?

Following that was a clip of Singaporeans (students, etc) abroad, wishing Singapore a happy Independence Day. I teared up because they still call Singapore home. Those people who set their alarm clocks and woke up especially for the Pledge Moment, those people who picked up the phone so they could recite the pledge with their family at 8.22pm, those families that congregated on that day to place their hands over their hearts and meant what they said. They make me proud of them. Like they say, you can take the person out of Singapore, but you can never take the Singaporean out of the person. No point denying who we really are, Chinese, Singaporean… We are what we are, and nothing we do can change that; so we might as well embrace it. And be proud of our identity.

It was an honour being at NDP 09. I’d like to thank mypaper for giving me and my dad a chance to be there to celebrate our nation’s 44 years of freedom, equality, justice and success. May Singapore continue to prosper in the years ahead, and be blessed with a non-corrupt, forward-looking government, as well as informed individuals who make the right decision in voting. Happy 44th Independence Day.

2. My entire family (well, apart from a few members, who were busy) came down on Saturday. And just looking at my cousin, Jasmine, made me feel bad about myself all over again. I think I’ve mentioned before how, since we were young, she’s always been prettier and more outgoing than me, and all my aunts love her. She’s in SMU now, taking a major in Accountancy. And she’s just as pretty, just as confident, meshes just as well with my aunts, etc. I don’t know why I’m bringing this up. Never mind. Moving on.

3. Went to the Bird Park with daddy on Monday, since there was this 1-for-1 promotion. I’ve always preferred the zoo to the Bird Park, if only because it is bigger, and offers more attractions. Birds are more boring than animals, in my humble opinion. The only ones worth seeing are the raptors and Birds of Paradise. And even then, they were all trapped in cages with grills so thick you can barely see anything. In the zoo, there are pumas and leopards and snakes and meerkats and tigers and HORSES! Lovely, graceful, beautiful, friendly horses. But it was still a good day, all in all. Dad and I later met his friend (they’ve been friends since secondary school) for steamboat dinner at Beach Road (YUM). And that concludes Monday.

4. Just came back from school. Lecture at 10 am, was slightly late for it, because a) jam in Orchard Rd, where my dad had to pass by on his way to work (he drops me off at Tiong Bahru Station, which is near his office at Havelock Rd), and b) I got off the bus at the wrong stop, and had to wait for the next bus. Thankfully, this senior directed me to LT 11, and when he found out I was a freshie, he said, ‘Welcome to NUS.’ Which was nice. Some seniors are lame enough to screw with you and direct you to the other end of where you’re supposed to go.

So my very first lecture for this semester is Nature of Language, taught by this Japanese lecturer, Mie Hiramoto, who grew up in the city of Hiroshima, which explained why she was super-paranoid and went through the Civil Defence Emergency booklet with us for 15 minutes. Another half an hour was spent highlighting the bone of contention, punctuality. And another 15 minutes on administrative stuff, like grading, plagiarism, etc. We only began our lecture 1 hour later. It was all phonemes and morphemes. We skimmed through what we were about to learn. It is the first lecture of the semester, after all.

5. Went for my swim straight after I came back home. Saw the cute guy, and another one. I wonder how old they are. They seem perhaps a year older than me, but don’t they have school or something? Anyway, why am I complaining? Thank you for being there today, eye candies!

Tomorrow’s lecture will be Cultural Studies, which, hopefully, will be less dry than today’s. Right now, I’m dying to have an orange.

A much less hazy day today, which put me right in the mood to swim more than usual. Yesterday’s weather was pretty darn horrible. I woke up to find everything outside the window blurry, and a distinct smell of burning trees in the air. I was ready to call it a day after 32 laps, but pressed on for 4 more, and ended up nursing a very dry throat afterwards.

Anyway, weather aside, I just got back from reading Gerlynn’s blog, which was entertaining as usual. Her comment about my playing the national anthem as my wedding march (because, as you know, I’m more patriotic than the average Singaporean teenager – people just don’t realise how lucky they are to be living in this country) reminded me of a random call I received yesterday afternoon. Because my essay entry won me a pair of tickets to NDP 09 in the competition held by mypaper, this journalist, Victoria Barker, called me up yesterday for a brief interview of sorts.

Here’s how it went:

VB: Hi, Joyce. My name is Victoria Barker and I’m from mypaper. You are aware that you’ve won a pair of tickets to the NDP?

And blahdiddyblahblah.

VB: So who will you be going with?

Me: My dad.

VB: Is this your first time there with your dad?

Me: Yes, it is. (Wondered if I should elaborate, but could come up with nothing else.)

VB: So it’ll be a sort of bonding session for you two?

Me: Totally. (Decided that I had to get over these short answers.)

VB: Do you know about the Pledge thing?

Me: Yes. (But wondering why 8:22pm)

VB: So what does the pledge mean to you?

Me: (paused for a moment while my brain scrambled for a coherent answer) well, mainly, I think it’s a promise.

(static)

VB: Hello??

(problem resolved)

Me: Is this clearer now?

VB: Yes, it’s much better. Go on.

Me: As I was saying, to me, the pledge is a promise. Because when I was younger, I didn’t understand the significance of reciting the pledge everyday. But as I grew older and learnt about Singapore’s history through Social Studies, despite what everyone says about it being propaganda, I, on the contrary, came to better appreciate everything our government has done for us. So to me, the pledge is a promise they make to us, and we to them.

And then she asked me for my age, occupation and where I was studying at the mo, and thanked me for my time.

It was a good thing it was a phone call and not a face-to-face interview, because I was going so red and sweating buckets like I always do when people pay close attention to what I say. I remember my Oral exams in school. I’d be trying to mop up my sweat discreetly and maintain eye contact with the examiner, hoping she would pass off my blushing as a reaction to the weather.

I finally remember what my last point was. Swimming really clears your head. Mmm, swimming. Can’t get enough of it.

Anyway. I borrowed this really amazingly helpful book from the library the evening before. It’s Creating Characters: A Writer’s Reference to the Personality Traits that Bring Fictional People to Life by Howard Lauther. And can I just say that it is incredibly useful if you want to create real, three-dimensional characters. It’s got practically every aspect covered: internal/external traits, what the character wants/needs/not want/does not need/fears/believes, his strengths/weaknesses/habits/background/self-assessment/type (and they list out every possible type from A to Z)/job/ and even nickname; it asks what plot drivers will affect the character and whether he will face a non-human adversary.

I wish I could own the book. Thank you, Howard Lauther, for writing it.

After a day of working at the designer department of Robinsons (Centrepoint), I’ve decided to quit.

I’m not spoilt (unlike what my dad said). It’s just, I can’t do it, all right? I can’t stand standing for seven hours straight, doing absolutely nothing apart from arranging clothes and steam-ironing them (and that’s the only cool bit, learning how to use a steam-iron for the first time) and behaving so ingratiatingly to the uppity customers who expect the world just because they are able to pay a couple of hundreds for a dress. Um, no thank you. I don’t have to serve you, sweetheart, so I didn’t. I just hung about between the racks, making sure the clothes were arranged from the smallest to the largest size, and occasionally text-messaging even though that wasn’t allowed. I’m not gunning for the Employee of the Year, anyway, so.

Right, so once again, I’m jobless. It wouldn’t be such a problem if my story (short or novel-length) proposals worked out. But as it is, they haven’t. So right now, I’m unemployed and broke. Okay, not broke, since I still have my allowance and savings… Wait, did that just make me sound a teensy bit spoilt? Nah.

The weather’s quite a bummer. I mean, I LOVE RAIN, don’t get me wrong. It’s one of Nature’s true beauty, but I can only appreciate it after I’ve gone for my swim. I need to swim!!!! I need to feel the cool water on my skin, hear my regulated breathing, feel the thumping of my heart muffled under the water. I am aching for it, aching to swim.

I had a crying fit again on Friday night. Just thinking about, you know, our purpose on this earth. It’s all so meaningless it’s enough to depress anyone. Because if you think about it, why exactly are we here? Maybe we don’t really have a purpose. Maybe we have as much reason to be on this earth as ants do, or birds. Them birds that go around looking for food and staying away from predators and keeping competitors at bay. Maybe we think we have a reason to be alive – to leave behind a legacy, perhaps, or make the world a better place – but our lives, like everything else, are transient. We stay on this earth for, say, 80 or so years (maybe less?) and then die, just like everything else. Whatever legacy we leave behind – however great – will be forgotten or our achievements will have their importance diminished. For all that we’ve done, the next generation will probably come along and screw everything up again. We always think we’re really smart and just because we’re the most evolved, we must lead more meaningful lives than, say, baboons or flamingoes, but do we really? So what if we earn more money? Or can count? Or own a boat and know how to steer it? In death, all are equal, after all. In death, we’re all reduced to our vessels, stripped of our secrets, possessions, and worldly connections. What does everything matter? And then it made me sad how detached I was, and how I could actually understand why perfectly sane people went crazy just stewing in their own heads.

There. Don’t you feel depressed already?

It’s always in the middle of the night that I think about stuff like this. Nighttime always makes me so emotional – not to mention hopelessly cynical. I cried so hard I had to sit up for half an hour to unblock my nose.

It must be PMS…

Isn’t swimming just the most wonderful sport ever? I just love the coolness of the water, the way it ripples past you when you swim, and the feel of your muscles when you pull the water back. Mmm, delishhh. Plus, it totally clears your mind. When I swim, I don’t have to think about anything but how good the water feels against my skin. I’m so addicted to it.

Anyway, I just caught X Men Origins with my dad yesterday evening after work. I wasn’t really keen on watching it initially, because there wasn’t much eye candy and the entire show was about Wolverine. I mean, I love Hugh Jackman – he’s charismatic, he’s a good actor, he seems like a great guy, how he dotes on his daughter, and he’s very down-to-earth – but he’s a little out of my age range, you know? But dad’s paying, so whatever. It turned out good, actually. Hugh did well, as usual. He displayed a gamut of raw emotions, but didn’t overdo it. Plus, because he’s so beefy, he looks credible as Wolverine, the strongest mutant ever (until the Wade-reincarnation came along, that is, but more on that later).

So as I watched the movie, out comes Ryan Reynolds, who was the main character in the romcom Definitely, Maybe (also starring Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher and some other girl, whatever). When I first saw him, I didn’t think he was all that cute. Like, a grade B+ maybe? (Jensen’s A+, by the way – no on else is.) But you should really check out Reynolds’ biceps in Origins. It’s insane. It was those biceps that caught my eye first – I was like, omg, check out those arms of his! – and then he did that crazy twirling thing with his precious swords and killed of a whole room of bodyguards. And I’m sold. Ryan Reynolds is officially hot in my book.

Gambit, played by Taylor Kitsch, is okay. For all the drooling and anticipation from the girls at Seventeen, Cleo, and First magazines, I’d expected a little more. Taylor looks like a cross between James Franco and Ben Barnes. Which is cute if you’re into them. But I’m not. But he was okay as Gambit.

Okay. Enough horniness.

After the SMRT interview last week, I didn’t get the job after all. I’m fine with it, really. But that means I’d have to work at Robinsons during its May sale (from the 7th to the 27th). And suddenly I don’t feel like working there at all.

Maybe the bottomline is just that I don’t want to work.

Come on, I have stuff to do! I just don’t get paid.

And this, my friends, takes us back to the proverbial root of all evil. Isn’t barter trading so much simpler? We wouldn’t have any financial crisis at all. And I’d be able to write in peace until 3 August without being forced (okay, exaggeration here, since dad didn’t force me to) go out and serve people to get paid 5 bucks per hour.

I guess I’ve gone long enough without an update.

So here is some good news. For me, at least. About three – or is it four? – agents have asked to look at my manuscript because my query interested them. I’m not getting my hopes up yet, of course. So many agents have expressed interest initially before realising that my writing style was not ‘the best fit’ for them.

The waiting bit is the part I can’t stand. We’re expected to give the agents about 4-6 weeks for them to read our manscripts, see. And only a week has passed since I last sent out my manuscript. *FINGERS CROSSED*

On another note, Bedful of Moonlight is taking shape! That’s good news, because I’d been on a hiatus from it (about three weeks maybe?) and writing short stories in the meantime. What can I say. The well runs dry sometimes, and I could think of nothing to get my story moving along. But those swimming sessions are strangely therapeutic. When you get lost in your thoughts, you hardly even notice you’re swimming. It’s funny.

I’m not revealing anything yet, but let’s just say that Caleb’s family becomes a lot more complicated than before.

And I’ve decided. After Bedful of Moonlight, I’m going to write one last story that takes place in the estate of Wroughton. I’ll call it the Wroughton Series, where three unrelated stories (with the exception of a few cameos) take place there. And then, depending on if I have anymore stories I can tell that takes place in there, I’ll probably move on to other stuff. Another story, another setting.

Also, I’m taking part in the Golden Point Award 2009, organised by SPH and NAC. It costs 16 bucks to take part in it. I just hope it’ll be worth my money, and time, and effort, and ink, and paper.

Updates sound so boring. I prefer internal monologues, or verbal vomit (as I prefer to call it), don’t you?

Oh by the way, I’ve picked out my books to exchange on the 25th. I just riffed through my cartons and cartons of old books yesterday (dust bunnies everywhere, jeez) and unearthed all those books from so many years ago that I even forgot I had. Tales from Fairyland? Mr Meddle’s Mischief? Snowball the Pony? Seven O’Clock Tales? Those are classic, man. Enid Blyton was such a huge part of my childhood. You’re high if you think I’m giving them away.

I am, however, going to give away some Picoult and some Charmed. (Okay, wait, on second thoughts, I don’t think I’ll give them away after all – come on, you don’t expect me to give them all away, even though I don’t read them now! They symbolise a milestone in my life.) And Can You Keep A Secret, and The Au Pairs, and The Bergdorf Blondes (the dumbest book I have ever read – no offence, Plum Sykes), and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole or something like that (you know, the diaries of some British teenage boy who keeps measuring his dick and obsesses about his girlfriend’s tits? Dude, talk about boring. I so do not want to know what the hell a guy thinks about his body and everybody else’s. But to be fair, this was the only book in the series I’ve actually ever read, so he mightn’t have been so obsessive anymore), and some Sabrina the Teenage Witch (okay, STOP laughing) and The OC (I know I was in love with it when I was fifteen or so, but oh well, guess it was just another phase).

Swimming now, sweethearts. TTYL 🙂 But before I leave, here’s some hotness for the day.