unoriginal

Now and then, when I meet new people, and talk to them for a while, I am reminded of someone I already know. This doesn’t happen with every new person I meet, but I’ve been noticing it happening more and more. I’m not sure if this is just because I’ve already met enough people that everyone has some sort of similarity to someone else, or because I’m just taking more notice of small details in how people communicate — both their speech and body language.

In general, it’s not usually (or ever?) an exact match between the new person and the person I already know. It’s more of a vague impression that this person acts similarly to the other person in some way. It could be the slightest thing — difficult to pinpoint and describe — but it is enough to make me think of someone else.

It might be as simple as their inflection or tone of voice when they talk about something in particular. It could be an air of confidence or nervousness or some other emotion in their words and the way they carry themselves. Perhaps it’s even just the way they tilt their head or move their hands when they speak.

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and the haiku-writing continues…

Looks like July has become the month of haiku-writing for me. I’m really enjoying this, and it really makes me smile to be able to look back on the haikus and the little memories they contain. I’ve tried the 100 Happy Days Challenge before, and I’ve kept daily gratitude journals before, but I think those things always focussed on the obvious joys (e.g. went to a concert, hung out with a friend, had dinner at this place, watched a movie, had a sleep in, etc)

And some days I had to search for little things to be happy/grateful about, but I also feel like it got repetitive after a while too.

It’s only two weeks into this daily haiku thing, so maybe it’s a bit too early to judge, but it feels like this challenge is making me look outside myself more, to seek wonder more so than happiness. I’m sure there’s a scientific paper somewhere that says wonder is an important feeling/sensation that all people should try to experience as much as possible.

But I think the other thing that sets this apart from other gratitude projects, is that instead of just taking and captioning a photo, or simply recalling every good thing that happened that day — instead of these relatively quick processes, haiku requires you to take inspiration, and then mould that to fit your finite syllables. In this process, you might have to shuffle words around, find alternative ways of describing something, and really focus on the most important aspects that you want to convey.

In short, there’s a lot involved! But it’s still pretty simple, and I maintain that anyone with a basic grasp of language can do it. Continue reading

scrap (paper) memories

I have a lot of random childhood memories that spring to mind at the oddest moments.

The other day, at work, when I was throwing a scrap of paper into the bin and, it not being suitably aerodynamic for the course I had intended it to take, it fell somewhere beside the bin. (You can just tell this is going to be an absolutely riveting post, hey?) In this moment, as I contemplated the pros and cons of picking it up versus leaving it there (for the time being, at least), I randomly recalled this event from my childhood:

I was either nine or ten years old – because this happened in grade five (at least, I think this happened in grade five) – and I was sitting in my classroom, with the rest of the class, while the teacher lectured us about keeping the place clean, and common decency in general.   Continue reading

rime & reason

Whenever I think about primary school, grade five is the year that stands out the most. Grade four was pretty good, too, I suppose, but I remember a lot from grade five. These aren’t necessarily educational things or what we actually learnt about, but just random memories. I remember that we played “sky ball” a lot, we did a lot of multiplication grids, we took turns being the “reading monitor” whenever we had quiet reading time, and it was the first time that we had a classroom with a whiteboard instead of a blackboard.

Something else that is quite prominent in my memory of that year of my childhood is that we had this sort of “guest teacher” who would come in for maybe an hour each week, for several weeks of the year, and he would teach us poetry. Every lesson, he would hand out copies of poems, and he’d tell us about the stories behind the words and the poets. I don’t remember exactly what he looks like (his image is a bit blurred in my memory, but I think he was a jolly old man who was a bit round in the face and waist) but he had the sort of voice made for poems and storytelling. Whether the poem was solemn, lively, suspenseful or morose – he told it perfectly.

When we were kids, my sister and I owned this big illustrated book of children’s poems (you know, the sort of big hardcover book with nice glossy pages), so this was certainly not my first exposure to poetry. I’m pretty sure that I liked poetry before this guy came along, but when I think of poetry – and the power of poetry – I think of those lessons in fifth grade.

It was back then that I first learnt about “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Of course, he didn’t teach us the full poem – just an excerpt, which happened to include the following verse:

Water, water every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

This happens to be, for reasons beyond my grasp, my most favourite poem verse, and the only one that I can recite by heart. Some of you may have noticed that the title of my previous post was inspired by this verse.

I actually used to write poems – mostly about sunsets or rainy days or birds flying or something similar – and I would sometimes just sit down and write verse after verse. More commonly, however, I reckon I’d just be looking out the window, or day-dreaming, and then I’d just start composing an impromptu poem. It was like my thoughts just naturally morphed into verse, as naturally as ducks flying in formation.

I don’t write poems any more, of course. I probably haven’t written poetry since high school. And I don’t read poetry either (sorry to all those bloggers out there who write poetry – as soon as I recognise your post is a poem, I skip right over it).

So what has changed?

This might seem quite immature but, in my opinion, good poems should rhyme. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your imagery is, or how emotionally evocative your words are, if it doesn’t rhyme, I probably can’t read it without rolling my eyes (at least a little bit). Haikus I kind of get, but they’re probably the only exception. My theory is that as I grew up and was introduced to non-rhyming poetry, I kind of got put off by its ubiquity, and eventually rhyming poems didn’t appeal to me either.

Also, I don’t know anyone who likes/writes/reads poetry, so maybe it’s just “uncool” in my crowd, and somewhere along the line I subconsciously decided to lose interest in it.

Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t hate poems. I just don’t really like them either. I think they have their place in special occasions – to give solace at funerals, express love at weddings, or provide encouragement through hardships – but they’re not an every day thing; they don’t come naturally to me any more.

(To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know where this post was going to go… I just randomly felt like writing about my relationship with poetry… Feel free to share some of your own favourite poems, but, you know, I probably won’t read them unless you really sell them to me.)

twenty-eleven memories

Ok, I thought I’d do a proper recap of this last year (as opposed to my last entry which doesn’t really tell anyone anything). To make this task a bit easier, I thought I’d just list (in no particular order) 11 significant events of 2011. Not sure if anyone’s had this idea before (probably have) but I think I’ll try to use this for future pre-New-Year’s blog posts, too. That is, I’ll list 12 memories for 2012 and so on. Sort of gives incentive to make each year better than the last (but when the numbers get too big e.g. 2020 (if I’m still blogging then), I’ll probably go back to 10).

  1. Pharmacy Ball and Grad Dinner – Two awesome nights to celebrate four awesome years of Pharmacy. Had so much fun and was good to see everyone all dressed up!
  2. Graduation – Such a big milestone. Hardly need to explain why graduating is on this list.
  3. January floods – Not really a good memory as such, but living through that (although my area was pretty much unaffected) and seeing everyone pull together afterwards was really incredible. Hopefully this won’t be something that happens again any time soon.
  4. Last lectures and tutorials – This isn’t really about the classes being special or whatever. It’s more about my nerdy side and just liking the learning styles this year, particularly the kids’ medicines taste testing, experiencing what it’s like to have conditions like cerebral palsy, etc, and even just working through case studies.
  5. Melbourne trip – First time travelling interstate with friends rather than family. Had a blast. Waiting for the next trip.
  6. Hospital placement – Learnt a lot about what goes on in hospitals and what different team members do. Renewed my interest in hospital pharmacy (although will stick with community for now and the foreseeable future).
  7. Driving to the Sunshine Coast for the first time by myself – Had to do this for work. Longest drive I’ve ever done and the fastest I’ve ever driven. Was quite daunting but was good experience for someone who doesn’t drive much at all.
  8. Day out at Wellington Point – Such a laidback day/night. We should totally do this again some time (with or without the fishing).
  9. Starting full-time work and internship – Although I’m sad about having less free time and not being able to hang out with people as much, I do like having more money – I mean, I do like work and I’ve actually been able/allowed to expand my role/jobs (sterile compounding, quality release thing (still not sure of official title here), BPSH where I got to do ordering, etc).
  10. Staff Footy night and Christmas party – Two separate nights/events. Was good to see everyone in a more casual/laidback environment. Am lucky to work with some pretty awesome people!
  11. Getting reacquainted – Going to different universities, doing different degrees, etc has meant that I don’t see/talk to certain people as much as in high school, but I’ve tried to make a bit more of an effort to get people together or to attend stuff that other people organise, and I think I have had more of a chance to catch up with people compared to, for example, last year (or have I?). Will have to try harder next year, I guess.

never again

I was reminiscing the other night

When it finally just occurred to me.

Can’t believe I took so long to realise

The sad truth that now seems so obvious.

All the little things often overlooked

Were what made these last five years what they were

And they are to be … never again.