Photos taken in Hangzhou, September 2014

In Year 7, our English teacher gave us an exercise to do in every lesson - she would pick a word, theme, or phrase, and everyone would spend five minutes writing anything about the word, theme, or phrase that she picked. Doing it was a chore, but reading back on those pieces of writing amuses me.

Lately, I've been reminiscing a bit. I still haven't gotten over my old workplace. They went to Hawaii last week, and this week, the office was evacuated because of the terrifying siege in Martin Place. I made contacted with my former manager for the first time in a few months, just to check up on how it was for them, and was grateful that she was grateful that I had made contact. Photos of their Hawaii trip have started coming up on Facebook, and I added another girl whom I hadn't had as a Friend before. It gets me a bit down to see that the company is moving on without me, that friendships at the place are getting closer when I've all but nearly broken off all contact. It really does made me feel a bit depressed that my life seems like it's at a stand still - two and a half months without a solid job and nothing to prove for the 'downtime' that I've had. Your perception of time gets so skewed when there is seemingly nothing to do. Often, I find myself wishing I had a time machine so I could go back and do things differently, with the hindsight that if I didn't do things differently, I would be in my situation now. Not that I regret the past two months; I sort of don't feel anything towards how I've spent it which is perhaps even worse.


Yellow light

In my last post, I was writing about how my two weeks in China felt like so long. But the two-ish months between then and now seem like an eternity. So much has happened.

Firstly, I went through my last day at my old workplace. It was very difficult, and things started feeling real. I started packing and saying my goodbyes to friends. I left my family (this was difficult and very stressful/nerve-wracking for many reasons). I'm in Melbourne now, I've been living in a nice room in a lovely apartment for about one and a half months now. I've felt pretty good about everything during that time, and very recently, things have started looking up a bit more.

1. I had a preliminary group interview at an Apple Store which I very much enjoyed. They got back to me a bit later to invite me to the next stage of interviews.

2. I also had an interview for a telefundraising company. They got back to me today and offered me the position. I'm not sure how to feel about this one because it's not a great deal, but at least it's something and I get two weeks off around Christmas/ New Year.

3. I also got an invitation to go to an interview as a part of my RMIT application. I am trying not to be worried about this one. I have no idea what kind of things I will talk about. I'm definitely anticipating it, but also very nervous about it.

I was up in Sydney for a few days last week and I was talking to A about how I should prepare for the interview. She recommended that I take some drawings with me, take my zines (as it shows that I can collate and present my work), and read up on architects I admire. I told her I'm not that familiar with architects, and she told me to refer to the Pritzker Prize book that she gave me for my birthday...

This afternoon, I've been reading up a bit, trying to navigate where I currently stand in relation towards urban and architectural ideas. I read an issue of Assemble Papers that I picked up at a discussion panel at the MPavilion for more conceptual articles about urbanism and architecture, and I also read and skimmed through The Pritzker Architecture Prize: The First Twenty Years to familiarise myself with profilic architects and their works of the late 20th century.

I don't really want to discuss all the architects featured in the book, just one, Tadao Ando. The manipulation of light in interior spaces, the exposed concrete, and calmness and subtlety of the spaces that he creates; these all resonate with me, perhaps because that is what I'm like as a person and/or because I'm aesthetically drawn to the photos. It was mentioned in the foreword that the Pritzker jurors are very critical about photographs of nominated architects' works. I guess I am also very critical to my partiality to Ando's works - the photographs of his works seem very Tumblr-esque, white-cube-cliché; I am very keen to experience them in their physicality, to feel the coolness of the concrete, for my eyes to see through the immaculately filtered light.

Antje Verena, Buou, C. Zeballos / ArchDaily


This is what growing up feels like.

This post is kind of a continuation of my last post, entitled Closure. Now that I'm back from China, the process of closure has really started. I'm working on (and stressing about) the pre-selection kit exercise for my RMIT architecture application, yesterday I had the most elaborate birthday party I've ever had (a simple picnic - I never celebrate my birthday really), and I can't stop the tears when my mind latches on to the thought of the day that I will be driven to the airport for my one way Jetstar/Tiger ticket to Melbourne.

Despite this year not having any predefined formal structure (e.g. semesters and holidays), in hindsight, I can easily categorise the timeline of the nine-and-a-half months of 2014 that have passed.

January - I was in the second half of my big trip to Europe.
February - Job-hunting, feeling motivated.
March - Fundraising job for the environmental charity.
April to May - Job-hunting, feeling very disheartened and desperate.
May to August - My current sales/admin job at the company.
August to Sept - Holiday, went to China.
Sept to Oct - Death row (closing things up, tying up loose ends, writing my will, preparing to move).

Before I left for China, I gave my boss a tentative last day of work, and I will have to confirm it for her by this Friday. I have a specific date in mind that I want to fly down, but I have only made is public to one person and I am dreading telling my family. I thought the guilty feeling of taking a long trip or moving away from your family was just me, but I was, in a way, comforted to see that a lot of other people on Google feel the same way.

The two weeks that I spent in China felt like so long, but they were really good. It's felt like so long since I've been to work, and I am not hugely dreading going back, but I am far from excited. I am hoping these last three weeks of work will fly by. But even so, I will be very sad to leave, I think.



I'm leaving for China for two weeks on Friday, and then three weeks after that, I'm set to move to Melbourne in early-mid October (no date set, just asap after the 4th October). I felt relieved and excited about going to China because it would be two weeks away from work, but lately, the feeling of trying to create closure with Sydney friends and with mending my health has compounded, especially today with seeing my endo for the second last time ever after having him treat me through good times and bad for the past eight-and-a-half years. I felt like the appointment this afternoon was one of the best I ever had with him - he was on time, we chatted a bit about personal things (me moving and going back to study, him talking about going to medical school with Dr. Karl and also disappearing off the face of the earth for one week every year to avoid naggy GPs), and then also talked a bit about my iron and suspected absorption problem which he strongly advised me to check out sooner rather than later. I only have one appointment left with him and my thyroid levels have been just in the okay for the past few appointments, so not too bad, but not great. I definitely am feeling a similar feeling to the weeks leading up to my departure for Europe last year - sentimental, rushed, regretful.


Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.

I haven't used my blogger feed since I was blogging on blogspot regularly from 2008 until about 2012, so the blogs that I have on my reading list are like a time capsule of things I was interested in (or thought I was interested in) years ago. Flicking through them just now, it was kind of melancholic seeing people who I used to keep up with on blogspot whose last posts were two, three, four years ago.

I have been thinking about this post every since browsing through a friend's travel label on her blog in the morning before work, and coming across her 2013 travel recap post. In regards to her week-long trip to the Whitsundays, she wrote something like "I came back so relaxed that I felt dizzy looking at a computer screen," and it further consolidated what I knew - that I really really really needed a nature day. And so I left for work at 8am feeling even more pooped and miserable for that which I desperately wanted but hadn't the time or the weather to achieve.

I started a 9 to 5:30 office job at the end of May, and it has definitely been at least since then that I have been craving a day sitting at the beach or going hiking. During my big trip around Europe, I tried to go on a nature day at least every week, or in every city that I visited, even if it was just spending a day hanging out in an urban park (not that pleasant in the winter time though, alas). Upon coming back home, I vowed that I would spend more time in the mountains/forests/beaches in and around Sydney, but quite amazingly, I haven't at all. During my lunchbreaks lately, I've been sitting on the northeastern side of the Botanical Gardens, which is the quieter side and easy for me to get to from the office at work. Of course this is only pays off when it is warm and sunny, and I feel like urban parks aren't cutting it for me.

At the beginning of 2013, my older sister and I went on a road trip to Melbourne and then along the Great Ocean Road. I've been thinking a lot about this road trip lately, and how much I want to do it again. We stayed in rental apartments and cottages only for one night each before going onto the next town a few hours away. It was a week or truly taking our time. Some of the places we stayed in were quite spectacular and I am kicking my 2013 self for not taking more pictures during that week in general.

The most stand-out nature day that I've had in the more recent past is without a doubt my first Marseille nature day. I bought a day ticket for 5 euro, got the train to Rond-Point du Prado, caught a bus to Luminy (from memory I think this was the 21), went to the toilet and got lunch at Universite d'Aix Marseille (free toilets yay!). From there, I pretty much just walked south-ish and way off the main tracks until I could see the sea. I am pretty sure it was the Belvedere de Sugiton that I ended up at, over looking Morgiou. But I can't say for certain.

Marseille in general was so enriching. The weather was spectacular for winter, reaching maybe 15 degrees C, warm enough so that after about an hour of walking, I could take off my jacket and jumper and be out in just a t-shirt. There were so many small and mid-sized galleries around the city that it was like a treat around every corner that I could go into and browse. Lots of craft/ vintage clothing/ artisan boutiques as well. In hindsight, it has a very Melbourne-vibe to it but much grittier (in a good way) and with much more interesting topography, situated right on the edge of the Mediterranean and with many hills to make for a much more difficult walking experience. Definitely a walking city though, but it would be worth it buying a day ticket and catching buses and trams to experience the city street-level. Marseille during golden hour is devastatingly beautiful.

Added 16 Aug: OH, and I forgot to mention that originally I was looking at a small city in or near the French Alps wayyyy before I considered Marseille. I only chose Marseille after finding and booking a one-bed room for 15 Euro a night - far cheaper and more comfortable than staying in a hostel! Staying in Thibaut's apartment was one of the highlights of my time in Marseille, so I had to come back to this post to include it. The fact that I was so intent on going to the mountains and it was only some trivial (at the time) decision lead me to the sea amazes me! If I travelled to Marseille on my own in the future, I would definitely look up Thibaut's place again.

Lots of photos below.


Make progress

THE GAP by Ira Glass from frohlocke on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany: at this stage, I am only ever going to like a percentage of the things I create. Maybe 5% will be loved, 30% will be acceptable, while the remaining 65% will be sub-par/ mediocre/ stupid, talentless girl. This epiphany lead to a resolution: if I'm only going to like a minority of what I create, then statistically, if I create more, I'll like a greater volume of my work. If I can identify what of my work I like and what I find tacky/unoriginal/poorly executed, I can try to better it, or avoid doing it, thus improving the quality of my overall body of work.

I think my epiphany and the above video reach the same conclusion, just in two kinda different ways. It's important to remember that you're not perfect, and it's okay not to be perfect. With dissatisfaction, there is opportunity to self-evaluate and grow into or grow away from the gap. Try new things, and work on yourself often and regularly.


Other people's stories

I made a goodreads account last week, and golly gosh; combining my obsession for compiling lists and my love for numerically quantifying any kind of progress, goodreads has me hooked. Given it being almost May, as well as my book-per-year rate of one to two for the past three years, I set myself a (personally) challenging but very achieveable goal of reading 30 books this year. Come to think of it, by now that's probably like... one book per week.

My first book of 2014 (finished a third of the way through the year) was Light Years by Tammar Stein. It was one of my favourite books as a pre-teen reader. The first time I picked it up was at my major local library. I may be fooling myself thinking it was on the Premier's Reading Challenge, but more likely, I picked up the newly wrapped hardcover, flicked through it, and judged that it was going to be somewhat relatable and easy to read.

Light Years is the first full-length novel by Stein. The narrative follows Maya, a young woman, from her post- high school, post- military service life in Israel, to her settling into college in the United States. Throughout her year at college, she picks apart the feelings she holds towards her past; the grief she feels towards her boyfriend, and the guilt she feels about having provoked the suicide bomber whose attack killed him.

My second book, finished at 3:26am this morning, was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I was assigned this book in high school. My class had to read it in Year 12 as a part of Module A, area of study: belonging. Predictably enough, it's always after you've completed that class when you feel the itch to read the book again. I bought this book early last year, tried to get into it a few times since then, and finally, three days ago, I picked it up, opened it, and allowed myself to be sucked in.

The Namesake starts off with a young Indian couple, Ashoke, an engineering student at MIT, and Ashima pregnant with the couple's first child. Like Maya, they are recent immigrants to the United States. They name their son Gogol, after the Russian writer, whose significance to Ashoke is deeper than an admiration. As Gogol enters school, the novel follows the unspoken conflicts that arise between the boy and his parents as Ashoke and Ashima conflict with the Americanisation of their son, and Gogol comes conflicts with the Indian/immigrant ways of parents. As Gogol moves onto college, graduate school, a job as a practicing architect, and relationships, the novel takes a slightly different tone as well; Gogol is apart from his parents, exposed to worlds that are untouched by the life-in-limbo that is having immigrant parents.

Four years on from Year 12, I am almost 22 now, and I recognise some of Ashoke and Ashima's habits and traits in my own parents. I identify with Gogol on an even greater level; consciously departing from the standards and expectations in education, relationships, behaviour, as set by our respective ethnic backgrounds. It's kind of shocking how turbulent these past four years have been and the speed at which things have changed and fallen into place. The Namesake acted a bit like a comb that guided me to separate the threads of the past four years to trace how things and how I have come to be now. Lahiri writes with such clarity and detail that the lives of these individuals are plausible and 100% relatable. This is a book that I look forward to rediscovering again and again.


In process/ This has been a spiel, hasn't it.

Recently, I've stopped timestamping all of the stuff I do in my sketchbook/journals and I've found that it has done wonders to my level of motivation. I've stopped worrying about how many pages I'm using, stopped feeling like I need to document everything, and I just let loose. I guess I'm just trying to do as much as possible, because the more I do, statistically, the more I'll like. Also, trying to change the way I use my sketchbooks. I can recognise that I've focused heavily on my sketchbooks, treating them as the centrepiece of my work. Now, I'm trying to think of my sketchbooks as just that - spaces for experimentation and trials and idea creation. I want my process to become less linear and branch out into different formats, i.e., not to be so afraid to depart from the 2-d off-white A5 page of my moleskines. I'm going to buy oil paints tomorrow and pick up some scrap plywood from the USyd Architecture building. I even, quite viciously, deconstructed a Year 11 scultpure I had hanging around, salvaged the wire I used for it, and, quite viciously, sawed apart the balsa base it was on. #reuse #recycle

It may have been something I read, or it may have been my mum who said it, but I am very much a dabbler in that I try out all these different things, but I'm not 'specialised' in anything. I want the fragmented ways that I use all these different materials to come together somehow into some sort of 'style'. Then again, a 'style' only comes with time, experience and perseverance. A while ago, I was thinking about how Picasso and Mondrian both started off with very conservative subjects and compositions, but of course, they are both known for their heavily abstracted paintings. I look forward to the day when (hopefully) I can look back at the stuff I made in my late teens/ early twenties and be able to trace the progression of my work.

Personally, I love very abstract, postmodern works, such as Sol Lewitt's wall drawings. I think what's interesting about it is not so much about the end product than it is about the formulaic process of installing it, and the very manner of it Being there (directly on a gallery wall, site-specific, inevitably temporary). I also think that Anish Kapoor is a genius. Recommended viewing: Oracle (black void in sandstone), Void (blue bowl shape mounted on wall), When I am Pregnant. These three in particular made me question my visual perception, and heightened the senses outside the traditional five as I tried to decipher this object (or absence of object) and how it could physically be so. Delightfully unsettling.

I was going to write about how I don't want to force abstraction in my work, because I think it works best when it comes more spontaneously and conceptually. But since I went on a tangent about installation and sculptural art, I think would love to explore space (not the starry kind) in my work. I wish I had the means and the conceptual ability to create large-scale sculptures, but then again, this post is really beginning to flop right now so I should concede that I failed to plan it and now have nothing end it