12315123A frantic, cathartic first draft. Subject to review.

I want to be funny. I want to be ironic. I want this post to have a punchline somewhere. I’m in such a goddamn world of hurt right now, I wish I could just laugh it off and know that shit’s going to be okay.

I moved back to campus three days ago with the intention of returning to a place I’ve always found vexing in one way or another. Be it that I’m surrounded by people my age, or the free availability of good work environments, or perhaps just wanting to get an early start to what was no doubt going to be a very tumultuous year. I thought it was going to be a positive change. Continue reading

Moving Out

Can’t stay here anymore, cooped up in an apartment, doing nothing.

There’s no real driving force for anything in my life. Friends and acquaintances, people I’ve sat down with and talked with non-stop for hours, they have dreams, passions. The guy that got recruited by Harvard before he even left high school, because he was the best squash player in the country. Across all age groups. Trained through congenital kidney failure, compartment syndrome, still managed straight As at school. He’s Jesus to me and every other guy running a self-improvement blog on the Internet.

Or the girl I got stuck on since I met her during the first week of university orientation. Smart, funny, reasonably good-looking. Told me she gets up every morning and goes to class because she wants to learn, because it’s genuinely fun for her to crack open a textbook and absorb the finer details of Saccharomyces or some shit. I run into her on campus all the time, stop and talk for a minute or two, reminded why I leave the apartment instead of completing all my courses behind a bedroom door.

Class starts in just under two weeks. All of the existentialist angst that’s been brewing during the break will disappear like mist under the sun. I’m going to be among people; real, corporeal human beings living their lives around me. Continue reading

The Pain Period – Days 5 to 6 – 16-17th November 2016

I came pretty close to slipping today. Shit, less than a week in and I’m almost off track.

If I were to judge my actions strictly by the temporal obligations fulfilled, then yeah, I did kind of fall off the wagon. But, I thought about things, and some adjustments need to be made, changes in course that will make sure that I keep on the right track.

The way I measure each day is by how many hours I spend on three things: academics, exercise, and music. 10, 0.5 and 1 hour(s) for the first, second and third category, respectively. I don’t think that this is excessive, I mean, Jesus, at one point I spent daily 14-hours stretches on WoW, and I played that shit for years. I have iron will and unbreakable concentration when it comes to things I’m compelled to do.

At the start of each day, for academics and guitar, I’m supposed to write down what sections I’m going to finish studying, revising or practicing during that time, so that I don’t spend 4 hours on some small topic or detail that probably won’t be asked in the exam (today’s example was whether the LH surge during the female menstrual cycle was elicited by just high levels of estrogen or the secretion of 17-hydroxyprogesterone by the follicular cells*, I must’ve spent 30 minutes reading every relevant Wikipedia article). I have a bad habit of getting bogged down in detail: I feel some weird sense of being patronized when a textbook omits detail for the sake of being concise and accommodating the anticipated age, knowledge and intelligence of the reader. Soon enough I’ll be wading through specialist literature that’s way too advanced for me to understand right way, so I’ll waste more time trying to decipher that, typically give up, and then grudgingly attribute the reason to why something occurs as ‘it just does’ and move on.

Unfortunately, I rarely plan anything in detail. Continue reading

The Pain Period – End of Day 3 – November 15th, 2013

Short post, haven’t got much time.

Managed to complete everything yesterday. Well, nearly everything. The timer was running while I was both studying and doing things conducive to studying. Like the post-workout wank that would keep my mind off my ex as things got tough during the last three-hour stretch of memorising anatomy. I didn’t write off the time I spent doing that because it was ‘in the right spirit’, or something. It wasn’t like I was actively rebelling and saying ‘fuck it, who gives a shit, I’m going to procrastinate instead.’ It wasn’t giving up, it was pacing myself.

What I noticed, though, was uncanny: after the first hour or two (which fucking sucked), everything just fell into place. I get into it. At first, my mind squirmed; I felt tired and fatigued and all I wanted to do is to keep my earphones in, put my head down on the desk and listen to Karl Pilkington rag on about how a stapler could evolve into a crocodile or some shit. Thereafter, though, it just came naturally. I don’t have to will myself to keep going, I don’t have to drag myself kicking and screaming into another half-hour of study. It just happens.

However, sooner or later, when the caffeine starts wearing off and I’m staring at another, barely distinguishable block of text or reciting the myriad of answers to the questions on a single flashcard, I start losing focus. I’ll suddenly start thinking of my ex, or what I’m going to eat for my next meal, or whether I’m going to have enough money to survive the month, frivolous distractions that I don’t have time for. What’s frustrating is that it’s not as simple and clear cut as other problems with concentration such as turning on the TV or checking my texts or some shit, where you can just, you know, not do it. It’s insidious, it sneaks in undetected, and before you know it, you’ve spent ten minutes staring at the same sentence while contemplating the finer details of whom your ex might be fucking right now. Ok, it’s usually not that bad, typically it’s some inane shit such as recalling the WoW tanking rotations that were second nature to me not too long ago, but yeah, you get the idea.

Shit, I seem to be three pomodoros behind. Can’t really write off blog posts and journaling as being ‘done with the right intentions’, so I suppose I’ll get back to it.

The Pain Period – End of Day 2 – November 14th, 2013

Rhythm. I need rhythm.

Today didn’t proceed as planned. I got up, reset the alarm to get up two hours later, then drove over to my old man to try and find a solution to the Mac/Windows conundrum. Luckily, I could just copy over Boot Camp Assistant, which I ended up not using because I didn’t have the time nor will left to keep searching through countless posts on support forums, each exclaiming that their solution worked, a claim that was backed up by a handful of the other guys ecstatic enough to register an account to relay their gratitude.

There was an alternative: running Windows on a virtual machine. I finally made it work by running a pirated copy of Windows on a virtual machine using pirated VM software while listening to pirated music. There was even a disgruntled, passive aggressive “This copy of Windows is not genuine” message that marked the last bit of resistance that accompanied making illegally obtained software to play nice.

God bless the internet. Continue reading

The Pain Period – End of Day 1 – November 13th, 2013

Well, Fate has seen fit to not make it easy right off the bat.

I’m studying a STEM degree that currently involves modules likes biochemistry, physiology, genetics and anatomy. I’m going to be writing three final exams during the next two to three weeks, and considering my lofty academic goals, my shit needs to be watertight and squared away if I want to pull the kind of scores I need to be getting.

My study technique involves extensive use of Anki, a flashcard program that allows you to make your own paired questions and answers, which are then asked back to you using an algorithm that asks things you find easy less frequently and the harder, more complicated things more often, over and over, until you can recall and explain every bit of information without hesitation or difficulty.

This semester, my modus operandi consisted of pirating PDF versions of the prescribed textbooks (I managed to find all of them except one histology and one anatomy textbook, thank fuck) and then lugging around a laptop which half the time served as a study platform utilizing PDFs, Paint, Anki and Microsoft Word and the other as an excellent procrastinating tool.

I get the hardware from my father: he gives me his old laptops when he gets the new, top-of-the-range model that’s just come out. This meant that the last laptop I got was this huge Dell monstrosity that weighed a ton and had a power adapter literally the size of a fucking brick. I took it because it was as powerful as it was burdensome and had a 19″ screen, which would be useful in accommodating a textbook and a flashcard  program taking up respective halves of the screen.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, in the midst of my first exam, the cooling system just said ‘fuck it’ and gave out; it would overheat within minutes and switch off unless I ran it off battery power, where for some reason it kept going but inevitably overheated when I had to plug in the charger to prevent it from dying anyway. Since being unable to work for a day or two would severely compromise my exam result, I worked my way around it by staying at my apartment, laying the beast upside-down on my desk (i.e. with the vents facing upwards) and connecting an external mouse, keyboard and monitor. Fortunately, since this occurred just as classes ended, there was no need for me to be present on campus, and I could spend all day erryday hermit-style in my bedroom. I bought a shitload of frozen food (I usually eat on campus), tidied and organized the everloving fuck out of my room and continued my work like nothing happened. Unfortunately,  practically my entire life thus far was spent behind a closed door in front of a screen playing video games, so I was effectively placing myself in the same scenario as before with the exception of World of Warcraft or Call of Duty, which had now been replaced by endless slides querying me as to what exactly is the genetic configuration of a fetal primary oocyte during the end-stages of gestation. So it came as no surprise that within a few days I ignored my academic obligations, obtained Age of Empires 2 and C&C: Generals from my flatmate, and binged like a disgruntled divorcee.

Jesus christ, it’s 23:55 already. Continue reading