Train of thoughts, or thoughts of trains?

[Another piece of old writing, this time from Winter ’16. Here goes.]

Winter had descended upon Toronto, leaving the branches bare and any grass remaining in a brownish- greyish- rare sight. As a result, I can’t tell if the grass is greener on the other side of the pond.

Go Train

The GO Trains, however, are a delightful shade of green that cut across the chilly view out of my window as I roll ever so slowly towards Burlington, where I will transfer to a bus that will take me to the Niagara Falls
What a calming sight
Perhaps being on a mostly- empty train also helped create a calming atmosphere. Doubt there would be much to feel calm about when loads of other people want to head to Niagara with you and you’re just wondering how crowded it would be once you get there.
There is something about trains and rail traveling that calms me. Perhaps it is the wide windows that unfolds an endless scroll of scenery in a movie-like fashion, ranging from puffy clouds, perfectly reflective buildings in cities, barns, and even the occasional school and its playing fields. Perhaps it is the predictability of it; a relatively predictable schedule and speed, that makes it possible to read, take a stroll, and of course, write. 


Generalising Names

Generalising Names

[Found an old piece of writing I made whilst waiting to board my plane at Heathrow, 20th June 2016. It’s interesting to see how my tangent spiralled off entirely. This piece was scribbled on a tiny notebook I was carrying along with Harper Lee’s newly published Go Set a Watchman I had picked up in the WHSmith an hour ago. I have also now found out that Harper Lee is a pen name but nonetheless it was a middle name given to a woman that I would have assumed was a man. Many edits could’ve been done with the writing but it has mostly been kept the same.]


English names are gender-neutral to me, I associate names with people I know.

Alex had strictly been a name for boys until I met a girl named Alex. The same for Jamie. I still see the girl named Jamie as an exception to the rule, although I’ve known her for years.

Names in Chinese are less repeated, even if they sound the same the characters are often different. That said, my name – both Given and Family name, is bizarrely common.

Such oxymoron, make a sweeping claim yourself and then immediately finding the exception in yourself. I’d make a terrible scientist.

Names, returning to names. English names are gender-neutral to me in the sense that I have difficulty deducing from the name someone’s gender. And almost overwhelmingly I catch myself assuming a name is male somehow.

Harper Lee, author of  To Kill a Mocking Bird, I for a long time assumed was male. I wonder if she is an exception, or if I am culturally imprinted to assume authors are male unless told otherwise.

Review: A Valentine’s Accusation

Review: A Valentine’s Accusation

“It’s your alarm babe, get up before I push you out of bed”

Romantic isn’t it, the morning after Valentine’s day at 6am and this is the first thing he says to me. 

As if a threat, he turns around and tugs on the single duvet we share on my single bed. I am once again reminded that this bed was never made for two, but we make do.

I pull on the duvet and hug Pooh closer, not yet awake enough to comprehend what day it is and why I had set an alarm for 6am. Then the thought hits me. Ah, it’s essay due-day.

Pooh is true love, look how he’s welcoming me to bed

Cruel, I think to myself, should’t I deserve a cuddle in bed with my boyfriend on the morning after Valentine’s day? Why, I hear you ask yourself, does one deserve a lie-in on the day AFTER Valentine’s day, surely that’s a thing you do on Valentine’s DAY?! 

–Let’s rewind to 5am on the 14th of February, 2017.–

(I have also scrolled up again and highlighted the narrative bits that makes up usual blogs in a darker colour than my rambles in grey. I often regret that my mind goes off tangents so often but I have been told it makes for good conversation? And there I went again… *highlights ramble in grey*)

Ah yes, I had an early start on Tuesday too. This attempt was less successful though, and resulted in a dose-off between 6 and 7:45. So perhaps my current level of tiredness and inability to have a lie-in in bed is payback, or karma, for being lazy on Tuesday. 

Tuesday was scheduled as a morning of reading about “Power” for my HAP seminar later that day. I struggled through a book that was really a compilation of articles that each chipped into the discussion on power in 12th century Europe.

This struggle was intensified as a result of the persistent lack of wifi in my room, I somehow felt transported back to the 12th century where the will for one to study was limited by the resources available. Especially when you’re a woman.

The book which was edited by Thomas Bisson had a chapter/article that discussed Woman and Power, which essentially boiled down to the fact that a woman’s power relied on the men in her life. The most interesting and shocking discovery I made was that they earned love and respect from their sons through care, ensuring that they had a voice at old age.

I am once again reminded that my access to schooling and equal opportunities (or near-equal…) in the 21st century is quite a blessing. Then I am reminded of my current location, an all-girls college that had been stormed by celebrating undergraduate students when a vote to include women as full members of university was defeated. 

Eventually my thoughts stopped drifting and I made it through 9 of the 13 articles in the book in addition to the introduction and conclusion and called it a day. Lunch was left-overs from the night before – a stir-fry noodle with bacon, broccoli, onions and mushroom. Mmm.

I was really too excited for leftovers but I guess I have made significant progress from either eating-out or walking to college buttery for every meal to making soup noodles, to making stir-fries that not included meat but also vegetables. Am I a responsible adult yet? Perhaps the leftovers could have been considered as meal prep, then my excitement and sense of accomplishment would be better justified. But a voice inside me says I’m just stretching it a bit too far now. 

Mmm leftover, I mean meal-prep, stirfry

The afternoon was spent trying to understand the Qing Empire in the 19th century, whether the internal problems had outweighed the significance of external pressures, for my essay due the next day. Pages were turned, notes were written, tea was sipped and the sun shone on me.

It was certainly a century marked by turmoil, one that is therefore both loved and hated by history students alike. Loved because of the insight and action that happened, hated because it ultimately means a more difficult topic to fully grasp. I particularly enjoyed the topic as it connected various bits of Qing history that I had not realised I acquired throughout my life. Through conversations during family car trips, in novels about time travelling, and on tv when the Emperors always (and this frustrates me for so many different reasons, most of all the obstruction of actual historical knowledge in favour of young love) struggles to win the love of the one girl he loves that is sadly not included in his mighty concubine. Oh man, oh, man. Men.

Ignore my messy windowpane, thanks, I’m trying to show how productive I was by taking this photo

My productive afternoon, however, didn’t last long. I ultimately succumbed to chewing on chocolate he had brought the previous night and staring at the roses that currently reside amongst my table of mess that had acquired the status of messy-beyond-redemption awarded by me. Which really says something…

Rose (n.) pl. roses. Red flowers that currently occupy my vase

Ah yes, in addition to pushing me out of bed this morning he had been an absolute fool by bringing roses and chocolate on the 13th February. The man is a myth. Ok fine, I am not complaining about the chocolates because who does? Ok fine, maybe also not complaining about the roses because they are a beautiful addition to my room and does somehow indicate I am capable of this whole adult-in-uni business (although I didn’t actually buy the roses, nor the vase, nor filled the vase up with water so the roses would stay alive for longer…Aaaanyways…) The man is bearable I’d say.

So tidying my room was in order. I blame the messiness that resided on my floor on two main causes: my duty as JCR Secretary and the missing bookshelf. As JCR Secretary I receive society post on behalf of them and then distribute them to the appropriate individual’s pigeon-hole (pidge). The catch is that no one ever claims their mail… So I am left with piles of letters that are addressed to random societies that have probably forgotten to change their mailing address after the president changed or graduated from one year to another. The most interesting post I have received repeatedly is addressed to the Cambridge University Teddy Bear. Out of curiosity and attempt to return this post to the rightful owner I have opened the letter once and it contained a bank statement from Met, indicating that there was £0 in the account and that there were no money due for payment. This continues to puzzle me. Perhaps it is a prank, or an entertainment for JCR Secretaries to come. The missing bookshelf is, well, missing. I had chosen to squat in my room after my First Year as it was a nice corner room with plenty of space and sunlight, and furniture that suited my needs. Except the bookshelf was missing when I came back, in addition to a wooden chair. Sad times. Therefore, as a history student with many binders and papers and books, I am left with no bookshelf. I have found corners in the room that are currently designated as bookshelves, and things just about fit, but this had been my excuse to leave piles of paper on the floor.

Yes, I did say excuse. Because they really are, excuses. I complain about the letters that arrive but I had run for JCR Secretary out of my own will, even wrote a manifesto and made a speech about it. So my room being messy because of my duties as JCR Secretary is an excuse. I complain about the lack of bookshelf but now everything has fitted into my designated spots so why did I have to leave mess around the room beforehand? I am hardly adult enough, is my conclusion.

Tidy bed, tidy Pooh. Update to come


Tidying had just come to an end, with a significantly improved but still in need of a hoover room. It was time to take a stroll towards my HAP seminar. 5-6:30pm, 90minutes of presenting and discussing ‘Power’ was probably not everyone’s favourite way to spend a Valentine’s evening. The hour-and-half spent in the Pightle Dining Room, yea it really is just a large dining room with a small door connecting it to the kitchen, did leave me with a clearer understanding of what ‘Power’ is and how it mattered in historical writing. But not really. I think I will skip that question in the exams. I returned to my room just in time to re-comb my hair and change into something slightly more attractive when my Valentine arrived for the grand Valentine’s dinner.

No, not really.

We each had a ready-meal and was accompanied by Sir David Attenborough explaining starving lions hunting giraffes in Africa. Thrilling, isn’t it. ‘David has a good voice and enunciates well’ he said in response to my complaint that there was no subtitles. Thanks for the support, a true romantic he is. Although the ready-meals were really delicious and hassle-free, would recommend for all other lazy souls like yours truly, the true highlight of the night still has to be credited to the Planet Earth team. We shared a great laugh at the team in Madagascar, if I remember correctly, chasing swarms in deserts for the perfect shot. Would recommend.

Attempt at instagrammable readymeals. Success? Failure?

Then it was back to work. More reading. More note-taking. More tea sipping. No more sunshine though. The rest is pretty much repetitive. Made it to bed at about midnight with an alarm set at 6am so I could wake up, plan the essay, and finish writing it and send by 12pm.

That brings us back to this morning. My alarm sounded at 6, and with hardly enough sleep I had rolled over and pretended it didn’t exist. At which point he said “It’s your alarm babe, get up before I push you out of bed”.

Caring and supportive really, but I had an urge to kick him out of bed at the moment. Then I realised I had an essay to do. Oh well, what can one say. It’s no longer Valentine’s and I’m a student. That wraps up my ramble for now I guess.

Till next time.

>>Update: Essay came down to 3500 words, a new record really. Shall put this here as a memory of my glory days.<<