A list of rather random things I’m thankful for

It’s thanksgiving season again, and while I’m not in americuh this year, I find that I’ve had a rather fruitful year. And as always, very many things to be thankful for. And because I like making lists, here’s mine. 

  1. Because work has taken up the bulk of my life, the first thing I’m thankful for is my great job. Honestly I do love my job. I complain about it a heck load cos I’m a complainer I think, and also clients are challenging, but I do love it. I am thankful that I’ve been able to apply myself in ways that I enjoy and fit my personality. I write a lot, mostly. And I think a lot about what works in the media environment. And I am creating content. I am thankful that I’m at a company that prizes its people and recognises them as individuals and for their effort. And last but not least, I am thankful for the friendships I’ve made at work. From bosses I share chilli wantons with, to people I want to be like in ten years, I think enjoying my work has a lot to do with the people I see every day. I am also thankful that my office is yet another great example of how female bosses and a female-dominated environment are great and not at all bitchy/catty/micro-managing/petty or any other accusations we often hear. Suck it, patriarchy. 
  2. Buses in an age of frequent train breakdowns. Also long bus rides. 
  3. The Humans of [insert country/group here] trend. I absolutely love all the stories we hear where we can either relate to or see a whole other reality we would never know. There’s just so much humanity in sharing stories, picking out the extraordinary in ordinary people, and that spreading of positivity that crosses national and other boundaries. 
  4. Having the means and appetite for travel. This year, I’ve been to Batam, Bali, Rawa Island, Vietnam, Myanmar and will be going to Sydney. Sounds like a long list, and every single trip has been a time of reflection and together-ness. Traveling is so great because you’re placed outside of yourself for a while, and we all need that. I’ve never needed a vacation more than I have this year when work was particularly bad, and relishing that sense of freedom is sweet. 
  5. Speaking of travelling, being able to travel with my best friend/photographer for six weeks. Believe me, that will transform any normal person’s extremely non model like inclinations. Traipsing around the edge of the world with one other person is pretty epic, and nothing could come close to it. 
  6. Pride & Prejudice. I will never tire of it. I forgot just how entertaining and funny the book was, until I was re-reading it recently. So, thanks Jane Austen. 
  7. The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes. Exactly. The MCU. I’m thankful for the intricate tapestry of stories created by the amazing writers in the Marvel world. Though you know what I’m not thankful for? Joss Whedon’s strange idea that the most interesting Black Widow storyline is about who she makes out with. I am however excessively thankful for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s the Pacific Rim of 2014. 
  8. Pacific Rim, the pinnacle of 2013. 
  9. Whatever forces (capitalism mostly?) that impelled the Burmese military to finally hold free and fair (mostly) elections. 
  10. But not so thankful for capitalism itself. 
  11. The view of Marina Bay Sands when cirque du soleil is in town. I mean, amazing. 
  12. Code Name Verity. I think about this book a lot. 
  13. Healthy and cheap eating options. I wish healthy eating and environmentally responsible behaviour were more affordable, especially for the less privileged. 
  14. Greater diversity in representation. One of my favourite things in the world. 
  15. Michael B. Jordan. I mean, right. 
  16. NGOs and social enterprises. Let’s give a shoutout to these guys. The more I work in a corporate setting, the more I want to work in a non-profit. 
  17. Mobile technology. Say what you will about mobile phone addiction, but mobile technology is one great way for communities across Southeast Asia to uplift their living standards and bridge the digital divide. It’s also how I’m typing this post on a moving train. 
  18. Parents. How great are they. 
  19. Muscle aches and the strange sense of satisfaction and tendency to complain-boast about them. I love a good muscle ache. 
  20. And because I’m a sap, I’m thankful for all the people who care about me enough to scold me for not taking care of myself, nag at me, help me do things I don’t wanna do, be patient with me, forgive me, and listen to me. Though I may not always know it, I do, I do so ardently thank you. 

The universe is wonderful and weird and I would never have an exhaustive list to be thankful for, ever. 

Happy thanksgiving loves. 


A List of my Favourite Books

Here is a list of my favourite books, and little extracts of why I love and recommend them (some of which I wrote more than a year ago and some recent.)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Every time I read The Great Gatsby, I discover something new about the text that I’ve never seen before. It’s almost as if the text changes as I grow. Fitzgerald’s language is economical but so precise and distilled that it will leave an unutterable ache in your chest.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This book is really the first book I came to call my favourite, because it was not just a book about morality and courage, but independence and commitment to love. One of the truest heroines in fiction who held strongly to her beliefs and never wavered even when she was in love or in pain.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
It might seem a contradiction to love a revisionist tale that overturns many of Jane Eyre’s assumptions and conclusions, but I still love it so. It highlights the complexity of racial identity and the politics of enslavement. Rhys’ language is so potent that it fills me to the point of implosion. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The language in this book might be a little difficult, but oh man reading it is like going through a torrent. The characters are wild and untamed, but their love is passion at its rawest. But it’s not just a love story; it’s also a story of regeneration and redemption.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
TKAM is one of the cornerstones of American literature. It teaches you courage and wisdom, in the face of massive oppression and societal illusions masquerading as reality. And it remains important in a world where we still shout social constructions at the top of our lungs as truth.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
A brilliant love story (that has only been fueled by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) but I want to stress than Austen is not all chick lit. She’s really wise, and her wisdom is carried in the blindness or foolishness of some of her characters. She reminds us that we each have our own fatal flaws. Plus, she’s actually hilarious too. 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I don’t think I even realised how obsessed I was with the ideas in this book until recently. I love exploring this nonsensical world where everyone is mad, not only because it’s so fantastical but also because it holds a mirror up to reality.

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
There are quite a few problems with this series (and some with JKR’s non-canonical statements,) but man, never has a book series defined a generation so. I, like so many others, grew up with this series, and it taught me about bravery, friendship and love. I took it for granted then, but it was the existence of characters like Hermione that never made me doubt that I couldn’t do anything I wanted. 

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
This book is SO underrated I sometimes marvel at its lack of recognition. It’s written so beautifully that you just choke up with emotion that you had no idea existed in you. It’s about how people are able to survive tragedies in their own ways, and how greatness lies in kinship. 

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 
Oh gosh, you will not regret reading this book, except you might want to stab yourself in angst, or stab me, I’m not sure. But the angst is so worth it, because it resonates with any particular loss you have experienced in your life.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Trust me, the book > the movie. The web of fiction Gaiman has spun is so fantastic here. The characters are enchanting, even though the book is short.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green is the first and only author whose autograph I’ve got (so he’s got a real special place in my heart.) He’s quickly becoming not just one of my favourite authors but one of my favourite human beings. TFiOS is tragic and romantic, real and hilarious, and nothing short of amazing. I was so glad for the little infinity I was granted by this book.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Such a long book, but so worth it. It’s literally the kind of book where you inhabit another person’s life and thoughts completely, ranging from the interesting to the mundane. Discovering insights is then surprising and gorgeous. Ultimately, AK gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when its characters are flawed and terrible, but the novel shows us they are also big-hearted and full of love and capable of greatness.

Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
Actually, anything by Julian Barnes, please! But Flaubert’s Parrot was how I was introduced to this genius who always reminds me to question history, time and our various truths. Plus, there are some breathtaking quotes in this book.


3 tips for writers dealing with rejection


Three tips for coping with rejection:

  1. Laugh at your rejections.
  2. Learn from your rejections.
  3. Always have a new project underway, something that will give you hope no matter how many rejections come your way for the previous project.

You may take some consolation in knowing the rejection history of these writers and works:

Dune by Frank Herbert – 13 rejections

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 14 rejections

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis – 17 rejections

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – 18 rejections

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – 29 rejections

Carrie by Stephen King – over 30 rejections

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 38 rejections

A Time to Kill by John Grisham – 45 rejections

Louis L’Amour, author of over 100 western novels – over 300 rejections before publishing his first book

John Creasy, author of 564 mystery novels – 743 rejections before publishing his first book

Ray Bradbury, author of over 100 science fiction novels and stories – around 800 rejections before selling his first story

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – rejected so universally the author decided to self-publish the book

From rejection slip for George Orwell’s Animal Farm:

“It is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”

From rejection slip for Norman MacLean’s A River Runs Through It:

“These stories have trees in them.”

From rejection slip for article sent to the San Francisco Examiner to Rudyard Kipling:

“I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

From rejection slip for The Diary of Anne Frank:

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.”

Rejection slip for Dr. Seuss’s And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street:

“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

Rejection from a Chinese economic journal:

“We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity.”