Taylor Swift (2006)

I have been a Swiftie since 2009 and I am very proud of her success. I do love all of her albums, especially Fearless and Speak Now, and of course her new song with Zayn, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”. But I must admit – nothing beats her debut album. There is just something so innocent, so relatable about it that evenย Red and 1989 can never replace.

Anyone can notice that her work has gradually shifted from country to pop. I miss the simpler, less modern, classically varied instrumentals of her first album back in 2006. The melody of the songs in Taylor Swiftย is more pleasing to the ear compared to the repetitive, digitally-enhanced notes in 1989. Regarding theย lyrics, Taylor is famed for dissing her exes in her music, but the content of her debut album is not confined to failed relationships and problematic boyfriends. “Teardrops On My Guitar”ย is the epitome of a teenage girl’s unrequited love (which I once related so well to), “Our Song” illustrates the pure, puppy love at adolescent age, “Mary’s Song” is the ultimate ideal a girl can have about her love life, “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” is dedicated to her best friend (Abigail Anderson) appreciating their friendship, etc.

I acknowledge the fact that Taylor has gone through so much and must have matured a great deal throughout this decade, hence has formed a new set of opinions on dating. Her style reflects her change. Taylor has always been honest in her composing and I still appreciate the effort she invests in her music. From Taylor Swift to 1989, we have all grown with Taylor and witnessed the events in her life through her music. She deserves the hype and the love, but I cannot deny that I miss the old Taylor Swift songs.



I don’t usually do “emotional” but this is an exception.ย 

This post is dedicated to my mom’s uncle-in-law. (I met him 4 years ago while visiting my mom’s aunt in Jakarta.) I still remember what he looked like – white-haired, kind-looking, wearing glasses and dressed in a striped button-up shirt. He always carried around with him his camera and an iPad (he loved taking photographs and editing; I remember him showing my family some stills of a dance festival – with a graceful performer wearing a fiery orange dress in front of a black backdrop. My granduncle-in-law added some visual effects to enhance the whole picture, it was phenomenal). So this granduncle behaved exactly the way he looked, he was a friendly, gentle creature. But he was also a little sarcastic and had a slightly know-it-all attitude. While we were waiting for the van to pick us up at the airport, he told me to drink more water because my skin was dry (and because I looked downright unpleasant. I was scowling – owing to the scorching, tourist-unfriendly weather and the unfamiliar touch of Indonesia.) My, my attitude was awfully immature. I transferred my glare from some innocent local onto him and just reacted badly to his statement, all because of my foul mood. That was the first regretful moment I had about him. Honestly, the next few days were a blur. I stayed at his house for a week and went with him to Bali and Borobudur. I was glued to The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series for the whole journey and barely paid attention to him. Even during the four-hour-long car rides I used them to drown in Up All Night and other songs from the same album. My whole vibe was so indifferent and not-there that I still feel ashamed of myself. I can’t really remember how the remaining days passed but soon enough I had to leave Jakarta for Hong Kong. I remember saying goodbye to this granduncle (he was editing photos on his computer). I thanked him for his hospitality while feeling guilt gnawing at my bones on the inside for my spoilt, bratty demeanour. (I was also guilty because he had been so nice throughout my stay.) My regret of not knowing him better and making the most out of the trip unsettled me for the rest of my journey home. But of course as time progresses, we tend to forget our guilt. Days, months and years passed – I just hear about this granduncle every now and then from my mom, who hears from my grandaunt. It was okay because I have decided once I finished my public examination this year, I would visit Indonesia in summer and patch things up with him. But fate had other plans. Early this month, I heard from my mom that my granduncle had cancer. It worsened quickly, right now it’s either at stage three or has even developed to stage four (because mom said he is going to leave soon). The worst thing is that my granduncle’s son was set to be married this May, yet his father is probably going to pass away in April. I keep questioning why fate can be so cruel, because I know my granduncle is (or was) a good man. Call me selfish, but I feel worse because I couldn’t repair my relationship with him before his demise (sorry I know he is still alive but you get what I mean). This is my greatest regret in life. I typed this out not just to get my feelings out of my system, but also to remind you all that treasuring the people around you, especially family, is so important. You may not always see eye to eye with them, you may have conflicts, but nothing is worse than missing the opportunity to reconcile with them before it is too late. So go figure things out, reflect. Don’t let yourself regret not knowing a relative well, or let the chance slip through your fingers. If you had made things right earlier, then you wouldn’t have to ask yourself the “what-if”s or say the “I would have if I had known”s. Granduncle-in-law, I just want you to know that I am sorry. And if you are given a second chance at life, I would be there to be your friend and your family.

The Vampire Diaries

To me,ย The Vampire Diaries is much more than just a TV show. I started watching this epic series a few years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. Don’t judge a book by its cover – TVD is not Twilight. It does not revolve only around vampirism and other mystical/mythical entities OR a sappy, unconvincing romantic relationship, but it emphasizes on the complexities of human emotion and character development. Its clever plot twists and unpredicatable storyline also make this show remarkable.

Despite the popular saying that the show is no longer entertaining after Nina Dobrev’s departure from the cast in Season 6, I beg to differ. There was finally a break in Season 7 and 8 from Delena (Damon and Elena’s relationship) and TVDย went back to the mysterious, tense series that it should be. The absence of Delena gave room for developing other characters and their relationships (notably Steroline – Stefan and Caroline). The show also kind of went back on track, giving the relentless romance a temporary recess. (Don’t get me wrong, I ship Delena, but I think Seasons 5 and 6 were more like The Delena Diaries.)

If you ask me to list out the factors that make TVD so amazing: (excluding plot events because I don’t want to give spoilers)

  1. The cast
  2. The characters
  3. The mystical creatures
  4. The relationships
  5. The soundtrack
  6. The finale

1. The cast

I legit think that the cast of TVD were born to play their respective roles. From Nina Dobrev (Elena Gilbert, Katherine Pierce) to Matt Davis (Alaric Saltzman), all the actors/actresses nailedย the portrayal of the characters. Every episode reflects talented people who really feel their characters. Their compelling performance is the essence of the show. (Not to mention they are all gorgeous).

2. The characters

I would use one word to describe the characters in the show: intriguing.

Most of the characters have a enigmatic past, hidden powers or a dark side. On the other hand, some characters appear to be predictable and boring early on, but prove to be progressive as they develop positively throughout the series.

Katherine Pierce, Damon Salvatore and Caroline Forbes would be my favourite characters on TVD. (Along with Malachai Parker and Bonnie Bennett.)

Katherine Pierce/Katerina Petrova (Nina Dobrev)ย is the ultimate female villain. Yet, like some villains, she is a victim too. Katherine is manipulative, deceptive and selfish, but she does have a capacity to love. She is an indispensible character on the show, since her actions drive the plot.

The series also highlights the psychological development of Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), shaping him from the obsessive lover, troublesome brother to the selfless, driven individual. Damon has proven to be savage time and time again, yet he redeems himself and changes for the better. (He is also my favorite TV anti-hero because his sarcasm is on point.)

Caroline Forbes‘ย (Candice King)ย character development is the most progressive. She transforms from an insecure, petty and jealous girl to a strong, courageous and altruistic woman. (It is ironic how vampirism caused her 180 degrees inprovement whereas it corrupts other characters.) Caroline has indeed made mistakes and wrong decisions throughout the series, but she learns from them. Watching this character mature is inspiring, and her reaching the final moral destination makes one proud. As Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) rightly describes, Caroline is “strong and full of light”.

3. The mystical creatures

TVD is abundant with mythical creatures, including vampires, witches, werewolves, doppelgangers, hybrids, immortals, siphoners, heretics and even sirens. Each specie has its own powers and backstory. The show’s in-depth exploration of folklore makes it even more diversified and entertaining.

4. The relationships

The relationships in TVD are complex and compelling. The dynamics of a romantic relationship are emphasized in Forwood (Caroline and Tyler Lockwood’s relationship); the unbreakable bond of brotherhood is shown through Defan (Damon and Stefan Salvatore); the fierce love in a parent-child relationship is reflected in Caroliz (Caroline and Elizabeth Forbes). The changes and the endings of relationships in the show are usually what fling open the viewers’ tear ducts. Witnessing the pains and joys of the characters is an emotional rollercoaster ride.

5. The soundtrack

Music plays a subtle yet major role in the series. I personally think that Julie Plec has selected the best soundtrack that can ever be chosen for each and every episode. Some of my top picks are Cut – Plumb, Hunger – Ross Copperman, Don’t Deserve You – Plumb. The songs help build the fitting atmosphere for many scenes, reinforcing the emotions expressed by the characters.

6. The finale

I initially doubted the series finale, thinking how on earth can closure be achieved within 45 minutes when the previous episode has so many loose ends? I was wrong. The finale is epic. It has both the fast-paced plot of Season 2 and the heartwrenching nostalgia of Season 1. The multiple references to the beginning and the original cast members are very heartwarming, too. The finale has both action and emotion, I would not have hoped for TVD to endย any other way.


8 seasons

171 episodes

It truly has been one hell of a ride.

A Dose of Encouragement

Competitions are so subjective. I mean seriously, except for Math competitions where 1 + 1 will definitely equate to 2. But in other competitions, say essay-writing, singing, solo verse speaking, and even debating, your fate completely rests in the hands of a few judges. We must not forget that judges are human beings, they have their biases and preferences. Perhaps they don’t like the outfit you are wearing, perhaps they don’t like your accent, or perhaps they just don’t like you for some random reason, whereas they just happen to like a candidate. I have endured enough competitions to understand this point, but don’t let this trump your spirit. Whether you end up as the winner or the runner-up or just a participant, you must have gained something from it. The fact that you have completed this nerve-racking journey is rewarding and fulfilling enough. So learn not to mope because of the results, but celebrate your spiritual accomplishment. Keep your chin up and look forward to the next challenge in life! One more thing, look into the mirror and tell yourself: “You did it.”

Guilty as Charged (4)

I guess it’s truly inevitable – the human capacity for jealousy and spite. Whenever I had these feelings, I would feel ashamed. I tried to redeem myself multiple times, but the vices would just worm their way back into my head.

Guilty as Charged (3)

We have been close friends for many years, but lately I feel like there is a splinter buried somewhere in our friendship. I don’t know how to fix it because I don’t even know where it is.

Guilty as Charged (2)

I guess I have always been a bit jealous of you because you make everything seem so easy; from your sweet appearance to your approachable personality and from your academic excellence to the fact that everyone loves you. I know we are all unique and special in our own way, but sometimes I wonder if God does have His biases.

Companions ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ

My best friend once criticized me for treating my pets better than her… She wasn’t wrong ๐Ÿ™Š. I was raised to love animals, living with cats and parrots throughout my childhood ๐Ÿฑ. I wouldn’t call them my pets, since the creatures I have around me now are more than that – they are my friends, my confidants and my loyal companions โค๏ธ. At a young age, I witnessed the passing of Timber, Jimmy, Marky, Marky’s kittens, Blackie, Copper (the labrador), Hello, Tortie and Charlie (the corgi), their deaths formed the darkest parts of my memories. Yet, I must treasure the time I have with the ones still here and preserve them all in photographs ๐Ÿ’™.

From left to right: Muffin, Tiger, Millie ๐Ÿ’›

Boy Boy the labrador ๐Ÿ’›

Snoopy the golden retriever ๐Ÿ’›

Lucy the mini shepherd ๐Ÿ’›

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