What is more important for superhero characters: their status as icons, or their status as commodities?

What is more important for superhero characters: their status as icons, or their status as commodities?

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This question was asked in the GEH1067 module, iteration AY17/18 Sem 2 under Dr Ian Gordon.


What is more important for superhero characters: their status as icons, or their status as commodities?
The question asked suggests that there is a binary, that superheroes have to be seen either as icons or as commodities. Much of the discussion and scholarship suggests, complete with examples, that they can never be one without the other. Having taken all that into account, I would argue that superheroes will be icons only in certain contexts and time periods but they will be commodities all the time. Furthermore, their statuses as icons in a particular time allows those who make them commodities to use them. For this essay I define icons as persons worthy of veneration and characters as persons in plays, novels or films.

To begin with, Bart Beaty discusses the need for ‘audience strategies’. This suggests that audiences are connected to the characters and to each other through their shared love for the characters. They view these characters as icons, declare their adoration for these icons and through their participation in these profit-making ventures, allow for these characters to be commodified for them. Examples include the creation of the cinematic universe (Beaty 319, 321) where audiences find affinities with characters through narratives like the Iron Man, and Thor origin stories as well as develop an understanding of characters’ interpersonal relationships. These stories as Beaty also suggests, have ‘easter eggs’ (322) which audiences pick up on and this helps them to connect movies together in the cinematic universe. This creation of characters as icons to the audience aids in the icons’ commodification as ‘audiences can join at any time’ and can ‘grow easily’ (Beaty 320), meaning that box office profits as well as accompanying merchandize sales would increase for the producers accordingly.

Secondly, this argument would help to explain the natural transition of superheroes from comic book medium to television and eventually to film. The creation of the cinematic universe could be even argued to have its roots in transmedial storytelling that began in the 1920s with cross-industrial collaborations (Freeman 220). Superman’s narrative was argued by Matthew Freeman to be intentionally created to be too large to stay in one medium that other mediums had to be co-opted in to assist in the production and broadcasting of it (Beaty 217). The end goal was that the profits accrued would not accrue only to one company but to many. Therefore, the creation of the ‘iconic’ narrative of Superman was eventually for the purposes of it being a commodity that was so large its outreach could be expanded immensely for consequent exponential profits.

To add on to that, some may argue that Superman is indeed iconic but I would rather posit that he was a product, a literal commodity of his time, similar to Captain America and other characters. The argument is also further emphasised when one sees that the demand of audience for characters is determined by contextual and historical problems. Superman was popular during the war because he was an icon of what America was fighting for (Freeman 220, 221-226). But he as an icon, together with the medium he was portrayed on, declined because they were only commodities. Once the war was over, the commodity of comic books as motivation was less necessary and neither was the war-time superhero. How iconic he was depended very much on whether he was useful as a commodity in that particular time. Similarly, Captain America was created at a time when the enemy fought was an ideological one, Communism. This fight was graphically portrayed in the Captain America vs Hydra clashes where the stereotypical propagators of this ideology, the ‘Russians’ were always depicted as the villains. This helped increase the popularity of the character as an icon, a bastion of democracy in contrast to Communist symbols and thereby increase demand for the movie. It also being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America functions as an icon with his own backstory as well as a character in the grander scheme of Marvel’s profit-making world.

In conclusion, the transition from comic book to television as well as the creation of a narrative world of the cinematic universes where characters were crafted and built as icons allowed audiences to gain affinities and connections with these icons and this affinity was very much based on the contexts of the time. Having audience fixed on these iconic characters allowed for the capitalist propagation of these icons as commodities. Finally, their popularity was not determined by how iconic they were but more so how much good were they as products of their time.

 

Works Cited

Bart Beaty (2016) Superhero fan service: Audience strategies in the contemporary interlinked Hollywood blockbuster, The Information Society, 32:5, 318-325,  DOI:10.1080/01972243.2016.1212616

Matthew Freeman (2014) Up, Up and Across: Superman, the Second World War and the Historical Development of Transmedia Storytelling, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 35:2, 215-239, DOI: 10.1080/01439685.2014.941564

Randy Duncan and Matthew J. Smith, eds. Icons of the American Comic Book: From Captain America to Wonder Woman. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2013. Select chapters.


 

Pic credits: https://jlonnett.deviantart.com/art/Avengers-Banner-245648755
Essay grade: A+
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Why is my name Esther?

Why is my name Esther?

(This post was originally an essay assignment for Introduction to Sociology in NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, module taken in AY17/18 Sem 2 under Dr George Radics. This assignment was really fun and interesting to do so I decided to post it here for keepsake and because well, it’s about me)

The essay question requires one to find out the origins of their name and decide what has influenced one’s parents in giving them the name, also to question whether the individual’s life keeps to or goes against the values that the name suggests.


 

C Wright Mills believes that the Sociological Imagination can help people to link what is happening or has happened in their lives to the larger picture of society and history. This would help them understand their own experiences when they locate themselves in this period (Mills, 21), as well as comprehend the values upheld and issues plaguing their society. He recommends this so that people do not confuse personal troubles with societal issues, both which are inherently linked but distinct. In this light, I posit that my parents named me ‘Esther’ in hope that I would be a powerful woman whose decisions were based on the conservative Christian values, leading me to display utmost loyalty for my community and its upheld values which I argue to be true to my life currently. In this essay, what would be discussed would be my parents’ background and beliefs, a brief history behind the name ‘Esther’ as well as how the historical significance of the name links to present day context with regard to my personal experiences. Mills asks three questions in his piece which acts as a guide to understanding the link between the society of Queen Esther, the society my parents were brought up in and eventually the society I currently situate myself in

The society my parents grew up in was harsh, traditional and one in which they had to fend for their survival. My father had a rough childhood, watching his father go from riches to rags when he was disowned by his parents as he chose to become a soldier in WWII. My grandfather’s children were left to fend for themselves and in the process my dad came to Singapore to make a living. My mother grew up with a single parent and left her education early on to support the family. They left their families and past connections, they were very much on their own, free from the traditional Chinese values. Instead, both chose to uphold deep conservative Christian values that they were taught since young, shaping their world view and mine too, in time to come. They got married and lived (till now) in a very tight knit Christian community. During a church sermon from the book of Esther (from the Bible) that they realized they wanted to name me after Queen Esther of old.

Esther was an orphan, originally known as Hadassah (Jewish equivalent), but named as Esther (Persian equivalent), brought up by her cousin, a devout Jew. According to the Biblical story, the then king of the Persian Empire, Ahasuerus, had divorced his wife Vashti for insubordination and was looking for a new queen. A beauty contest was held which Esther won and she became the new queen, winning the heart of the king both in looks as well as in wisdom. However, she was strictly charged by her cousin not to reveal her identity that she was a Jew. Years later, the most high-ranking court official, Haman, was jealous of the Jews as they were prospering and he wanted to commit genocide by royal decree, attempting to blackmail the king into giving the ring of his approval. Esther then revealed who she was to her husband, risking her life as she went in to the king unannounced, and begged him to not let the decree pass. In this act she saved herself and her people from genocide.

With regard to Mills’ first question (Mills, 22), the social order of Queen Esther’s time and mine do not differ much. She was from a minority group – the Jews, religious, traditional and community-oriented, who were considered inferior to the Persians as they were foreigners and of a different culture. My parents believed that the Christian values they espoused were in contrast to the ‘then-becoming-liberal’ values of the times. Therefore, the values I was brought up in were community over self, filial piety and the Bible as the final authority.

This societies of the Jews and the Christians differ but have many similarities as well. Besides the latter having roots from the former, both societies are often less individualistic and view the greater good of the community as more important. There is an element of collective consciousness in both Jewish and highly conservative Christian societies especially in the former, in which generations pass down the shared values of community and loyalty. These societies defend their culture from dilution at all costs. My parents who situate themselves in such a tight knit Christian community are compelled to appreciate the transition from a localized traditional society to an increasingly global and technology driven one, thus the values from various parts of the world become spread and inevitably, dilution to the traditional culture happens

It is in this light that I agree with Mills that ‘…it is the uneasiness itself that is the trouble; it is the indifference that is the issue’ (Mills, 25). Considering the link between the historical narrative and the present day, the dilemma comes for me as did it for Esther of old when her personal troubles were tough to be dealt with in the light of the ongoing issues of the time. She was one of a minority having to stand up for what she believed in at risk of death, for the sake of her people. Yet she hesitated to do so until she was prompted because she was afraid to disrupt comfortable life in the palace as the issues outside did not directly concern her. For me, I have to find my identity in the midst of the barrage of both public issues such as the increasing emphasis on individualism especially with the millennial generation’s cries and the private issues of conservative values and loyalty to the community over the self. As the cries of secular society become greater and greater through the voice of the social media and the atmosphere of intellectual education in the tertiary institutions, the question is whether my current possession of the sociological imagination will help me better understand my place and create an identity with it or remain in a state of uneasiness.

 

References

Mills, C. Wright (1997 [1959]) ‘The Promise’ (from The Sociological Imagination) in Henslin, James M. (Ed.) Down to Earth Sociology: Introductory Readings. 9th Edition. New York. Free Press (pp.19-26)

 

You don’t know what hurt is

You don’t know what hurt is

You don’t know what hurt is until the words that come out of your mouth are like knives and they cut someone’s heart, sometimes lightly, sometimes more painfully. You don’t know it is painful because you aren’t capable of being at that level of depth to know how the pain only starts coming out when you go into the nuances of things. It’s the little actions you do, the words you say which I’m not sure if you mean, I could brush it off as insensitive for all I care. But the point is, I want to stop trying. I want to stop trying to act like I care. I want to stop trying to tell you how much I care for you when all you do is not treat me like I exist. I am your own flesh and blood but all you do is disregard my person, my words, my actions and everything that I have done that was only for your own good. You not just disrespect but you despise what I say. I am not the most spiritual, right, just, fair or mature. But I from my experiences and whatever little understanding I possess will tell you that this is how I think life should be when it comes to her and I and I am here, begging for you to lend me a ear. All that has happened in the past two years have only been pain and more pain, disillusion, discomfort and slowly it has descended into resignation, not bitterness, but just, a numb ache of grief that you know that you did not lose something, but that you didn’t have what you always thought you had. When I come to you I try my best to make things work between us. The years of separation have been long, in the process of time I ever asked God when I was 14, why God Why WHY did you take him away from me. But then I realised it was not God, but it was you, you chose to go pursue a greater mission than just a happy family, you chose to go because you believed. Or so I believed. When I was 17 I came to terms with understanding that loving God was the foremost thing in our lives and that nothing could and should come between us and God. There and then I respected you and I knew why you did what you do. Now I’m 22 and I find out the thing that perhaps no child should ever figure out, for they would be so much happier if they never ever came to understand the pain of disenfranchisement and disillusionment. The stab to the heart that comes when you find out that maybe you did not have a deep believe in what you did after all, that you were only a fair-weather person, that when tough times came you did not stick to those convictions your child assumed you had because you did never ever have them at all. When the going gets tough the tough is supposed to get going, but you know what, you stopped going because you never had a foundation. You and your other half are one and the same. Five years ago I asked her a question I asked why are you doing what you are doing, why did you choose to love God why did you choose to live your life as such. She did not have an answer. I will tell you now that I will have an answer, I will never be like her so help me God, I will give an answer for the hope that I believe in, for my sister, for my daughter and son, for those out there who question why I believe in this God who made me, who loved me. This answer you did not give me and I had to go the hard way to dig it out for myself. Sure you say, every child must seek their path, must seek faith on their own, must seek to know Whom they believe in. But let me tell you that as a parent, the both of you, listen to me right now. You should have had so many conversations as a father, as a mother, as friends. You did not have those with us. We went the hard way to find out all these things. If it were not for the family of God there would have been no answer there would have been no light. It was a path I took, a lonely path that included holding my family together, holding myself together, holding all of you as you fought every day, not in words, not even in body language, but in your minds, how you all claimed to be faithful to one cause, how you claimed to believe in the same essential set of principles but when it came down to the wire you did not do so. I am not saying that I would be able to do so 20 years down the road. I do not know what the path ahead is, but I am going to tell you now that at 22, I have a clear vision of what I want to do, Who I wish to follow and the people I want to be around. If you three cannot sort yourselves out, you can have time, you can have all the time in the world you ever need, but here it is, from me to you: I’m tired, I’m so tired of trying. Please understand an iota of this pain. It’s more than physical mental emotional psychological, its spiritual. It’s wearisome to play this family game. If you want to play it by all means do so, but I want to have no more part in it. You figure your own way out, you don’t come to me with your problems, listen to me pour my love and help out and then disregard every single word I say and walk away. Why then come to me and ask, why guilt trip me into not being a helpful ‘good girl’ in the family. Why is your definition so pathetically parochial, selfish, self centred and family centred? Why can’t you open your eyes to understand the world, to understand pastoral and deeper nuanced issues. Why???

Planning a 21st for 60 pax under $500

Planning a 21st for 60 pax under $500

This is a long long overdue post, it was supposed to be posted on May 26, 2017 but I’m not sure why it wasn’t posted. But here it is now.
This post was written because it is possible to host a 21st without breaking the bank. Some figures first: Number of people invited = 60 People who showed up = 56 Food + Cake + desserts = $490 Venue = $20 Decor (balloons, leaves, everything misc) = $40 TOTAL SPENT = $550 for 56 people.
The hardest part of running this 21st party was knowing that I was paying in full for it. It almost drove me crazy how to pull off a celebration on my own dead bank account. So starting the planning in January.

FOOOD!! There’s food which is pretty much the biggest headache. Usually caterers have a GST + delivery fee amounting to nearly $150, so I decided to go unconventional and not order from a caterer. Nowadays, Carousell can be used for everything, and being a very loyal user, I searched catering companies on that site. Of course there’s a risk right, how would you know if they’re legit? That’s what reviews are for. So I found this Malay lady named Bella with very decent reviews and even like screenshots/pictures of her cooking taken by customers, so I PMed her and dang, it’s really nice to order food this way. Why I really liked ordering from her was that I would order each dish separately. If you order from catering companies, you’d tell them the number of people coming and everything is standardised to be equal, so like there will be 40 eclairs, 40 shares of rice, noodles everything. This actually was something I didn’t want because I know that some food items would be more popular than others and so you’d wanna order more on that food item and less on some others. Bella charges BY DISH, so if you order a tray of rice, it’s charged differently from a pot of curry chicken/rendang, so each dish you can tell her how many pax it’s for. So I ordered more chicken, less beef, etc. This made life really easy for me. Her delivery charge is $25 and no GST. So LOOK HOW MUCH WAS SAVED YAY!! And cause I mistook the original number of people coming, I had to increase from 30 to 40 pax and she let me do it, THANK YOU BELLA, which really eased some of my pains.
Realising that I still didn’t have enough food, I decided to make sandwiches, tuna and egg mayo. Bread costs really little and it’s way more economic to make food than buy it. So we did it. Made tuna the night before, and boiled eggs the same morning and stuff, fed like 20 people/it was kinda like sides also.
Desserts – ordered cake from Batterlogy, I’m a super loyal fan to her macarons and desserts, please support her.
She delivered the cake to my party doorstep and it came in this amazingly gorgeous elegant box. Customer service and packaging 10/10. I didn’t take photo of the cake in the box, it was amazing. Check @batterlogy out on instagram!
For desserts check out @dilutedcoke on Instagram. She’s my friend’s cousin and once again, customer service 10/10 and dessert quality super nice, she even texted to apologize for burning/messing up some and compensated with 10 more macarons, I’m super grateful. I really regret not having pictures of the bakes. She gave me flower pots with miner scoops. That was the cutest thing ever, and I just asked her for flowerpot cupcakes I didn’t expect it to be so adorable. And it’s so reasonably priced and super nice, the mini cupcakes and small torched meringue little tarts.
DECOR 1. buy from daiso – I literally spent 10$ on leaves, so many leaves (mine was a garden party), and then brought small vases from my house with flower/some small blooms to decorate the place. 2. MistyDaydream – the one stop for all things party and decor.
Balloons are 2 bucks for a pack of 12, the huge helium foil balloons are really affordable also, table cloths are $3 for one. Bought bunting also and balloon pump + balloon glue –> all these can
be also recycled and kept for next time. 3. the top bunting on the photo backdrop was done by a friend, customized Bayern Munich themed :’). 4. I drew and created the standing frame on my table – I customize it btw, for 21sts/other parties/events, PM me for more information. here’s how everything looked. What’s not pictured is the side table with bunting and flower vase.
Venue: Book a friend’s condo function room, it’s not so far from everywhere like D’resort/Aloha Changi. (Sorry for those who like those places, no offence but I really don’t like how inaccessible it is). It’s also 0-30$ only. So yes. Save money on venues. Thank you Joel Wong for responding so readily and so so kindly to my SUPER last minute request. Without you the party would never have happened. 


FINALLY, This is a long overdue note of thanks.
  1. To the party planners and helpers. I would have never been able to pull this off without your help. To Rennes Lee for planning this with me from start to finish, from brainstorming ideas, convincing me that it was not about how fancy it was but about the friends (every time I forgot you reminded me), to helping me on the day to run everything. You literally showed up whenever you could and your presence whether on the phone or in person made everything better. To Jedidiah Huang I think you won MVP. You’re really amazing I can’t even say how much you did, like from the food/desserts to the day itself and more so, the thoughtfulness that went into everything. To Michelle Lim thank you for being so kind despite you had so much other things on your mind. Thank you for volunteering so willingly and for lending me your dog and for being there, I was so happy to see you, you have no idea. To Olivier Tan thank you for your quiet unassuming presence that helped to run everything, for responding to my SOS calls with composure and the other MVP is your mom please say many many thanks to her for me. To Mom and Kezia Yeoh thank you for helping me with the sandwiches, for showing up despite being busy, for sacrificing your time and money and energy. It means a lot to me.
  2. To Shao Kai Chng thank you for capturing the moments which allowed me to create a scrapbook of memories! Thank you for being so willing and doing it for so little, for being a friend in need.
  3. Thanks for the gifts and the words, friends, your presence, and warm smiles really warmed my heart. I actually cried when I realised the depth of thoughtfulness in some of the gifts. Like okay I provided the wishlist but there was so much love in that. Arggh I can’t. :’)
Little things

Little things

Yesterday, a lot of things got sorted out that haven’t been sorted out for a while. It’s been a while since things have been going my way and in this period I’ve learnt to be grateful for the little things that God has given me. I realised I’ve taken a lot of things for granted, like clear vision, easily obtainable modules, and motivation. It’s not until these things were taken away from me one by one that I figured I couldn’t live without them. It started with me getting sick on new years day and I’m still kinda sick… With health taken away I was basically consigned to the bed and even after the fever subsided I was miserably stuck with flu. Being sick is really terrible, besides sniffling everywhere and having a sore nose, you don’t have strength to do much stuff. Attending to the multiple errands of the day tired me out so easily that I was quite shocked at how one train ride and back left me half dead. Coupled with that, I was waiting for my glasses to be done cause genius clumsy me broke them woohoo and I was left with contact lens that weren’t astigmatism equipped so I sort of hobbled around, banging into objects here and there, being unable to see anything or anyone clearly for a whole week and a half. It was pretty miserably sniffling and being partially blind. To add on to that, I really wanted to run or gym but you can’t do so when you’re sick so it was just me pining for some activity beside binging on Netflix and running errands. Then I couldn’t actually decide on whether I should bid for 3ks or 4ks, the dilemma was between pulling up my cap with easier 1-3k mods or just diving headfirst into 4ks. I was well aware of the fact that my grades was absolutely crappy and the fear of not getting to year 4 haunted me. It was pretty crippling, my own expectations and the fear of everything plus being unable to see anything clearly gave me daily mild headaches that lasted for the whole day. Bidding came and I panicked and dropped my MPE mods, I swear I wasn’t thinking straight. I still have no idea what happened for the first 12 days of January. With motivation and morale at an all time low, it reached the point where I didn’t want to leave the bed, I was sleeping 14 hours a day. Today was the turning point. I got my specs and I talked to someone who told me to choose my battles, take a few steps back and decide on a goal and let everything align around it. She told me I gotta choose what I wanna pursue and drop the rest because trying to achieve everything will only give me stress. Also she made me set a new goal for 2018 and that is to discover for myself how to rest and rejuvenate. She said you can’t help others if you’re dead. So start by taking care of yourself. I realised three years into uni and I didn’t know how to do that. So I’m gonna statt learning that, slowly. For now, things are looking up. I’m quietly thankful.

2017 in review

2017 in review

photo_2017-12-15_14-34-57The journey
In January I discovered I could draw watercolour stuff. That sparked a journey of art, and commissions. I realised art was a way of expression and de-stressing and thus #distressdoodles developed. As it grew, so did my confidence in my own art.
The semester had great modules, I enjoyed particularly History of Film and Renaissance. I found joy in learning, especially in History of Film. As someone not accustomed to movie watching, it seemed like a strange thing to watch all 18 Marvel movies for a paper and in the end writing on something that was not part of the whole deal, Doctor Strange. The module gave me new perspectives to research on and also made me a Marvel fan, going deep down into places where I’d never ever have gone. At the same time, Renaissance brought me back to interesting places in the past, where I found developing a certain liking to Andrew Marvell and Christopher Marlowe. It was interesting. The GEM I did sent me to DC Universe where the presentation on Arrow allowed me to watch multiple seasons of it (heh), and even Visual Culture sent me to ArtScience Museum to figure out technology and art and write about space and time. Gilby’s 2201 gave me a certain foundation in doing the things I liked, Greek mythology and Genesis/John were familiar and yet new places for exploration and understanding. I spent so much time in research in all the places I found myself satisfied and contented in. I realised I didn’t want the semester to end.
My 21st was a happy and special time where I met friends who I hadn’t seen in a while, it was a day of warm hugs and smiles and laughter. I’m always thankful for those who made it possible, the RMJ gang who went extra miles for me and my family. I pushed it up a month earlier than my actual because it was the people that mattered, not so much the date.
Work came next over the summer and it was trying for me mentally. I used photography to cope with the pain and struggles that came my way as I faced old demons and also discovered new ways to help myself instead of always relying on people to pull me out of my down state. I also figured out what I liked and what I did not like, what I liked in work environments and what I did not like. I was forced to do certain things outside my comfort zone that tested my resilience and I’m thankful to God for grace. I wouldn’t have made it through without that. I’d like to thank God also for the people who made things easier when I found things hard, for those who were bros, for making me believe in loyalty, sincerity and love again. Thank you also for those in church who taught me how to survive this period and for aunty Reb who brought me around town to eat, who accompanied me when I was a scared little child.

July was the wildest month of the year. Bayern came to Singapore, I had multiple camps, Commencement 2017 and FASS Guardians. Bayern’s trip to Singapore was one heck of a week, it was crazy, I slept minimally but I had such a blast. I think those experiences couldn’t be captured with photos, watching them live for the first time in 11 years, meeting with friends and those who also were on the same side, as well as meeting the players and legends themselves. That was really amazing. I felt like I went to Munich.

Commencement 2017 was bittersweet, I watched a whole batch of seniors that impacted my life so deeply, graduate and move on to the working world. I felt sad that they were leaving but happy that they made it out of the system finally on to paths and to things that they were happy in. Adulting is never easy and as the year continued and as the struggles continued, I’m thankful they are friends because I could be a part of their journeys and being able to be there for them sometimes made me really glad.
August opened a new semester and a new mini chapter in the book of uni life. Joining boxing and kayaking was physically and mentally a challenge for me. I started year 2 with the goal of serving and year 3 was to hand over. Looking over, I regret nothing. These two comms brought joy, and heartwarming feelings. I think it was just a special feeling to be refreshed with such sincere friends surrounding me. I looked forward to seeing them every week, they were the breaks from the mundaneness that the semester brought. The semester was tiring, the modules were exhausting and to be honest, boring, except soci theory and writing which opened a new world for me. This sem I met a prof that kinda changed my perspective on a lot of things. Two profs actually. One inspired me to try things I wouldn’t have done and encouraged me so much I started to believe that it was possible to do something I thought impossible. The other prof made me face my fears of writing and approach it with new lenses and a tad more bravery. Both of them carried me through the semester with somewhat more confidence especially at a point in university where I thought I couldn’t go on anymore.
In November I discovered Operation Broken Wing and a new world of social work x fitness. I look forward to more on this journey and I am so thankful Lionel approached me to join the team in the capacity I could 🙂

 


In short, 

here’s some thoughts on the things I tracked for myself in this year

  1. Fitness journey – I started to run this year, from not running to actually writing 5km without stopping that’s a pretty decent result. Also maintaining at 45 kg and ending the year at 45 is an achievement for me. I picked up and balanced weights and functional dynamic training alongside boxing and kayaking. I have been pretty active this year despite all that was happening so that’s really good.
  2. Confidence and mental state – I nearly lost it many times this year, it doesn’t help that it’s getting harder and harder sometimes to keep my sanity with everything that crumbles and threatens to crumble around me. But thank God for church, for His grace and for all those who kept me in check and kept checking on me to make sure I took care of myself. To all those who dropped little encouragements here and there, you are loved, you never know how your comment may have been just so needful.
  3. Discovering what I was good at and being okay with the fact that I was gonna be stuck in something I’m not good at. I think I found out I chose the wrong major. When I started a sociology module and discovered I was good at it and also I found out that I was good in factual and evaluative thinking rather than what I was currently doing, it was a bitter pill to swallow, especially knowing that I wasted time and energy and mental strength all these years to convince myself of something that I knew wasn’t meant to be. It was painful to know that what I really loved, literature, I wasn’t gonna be good in, or even do a Masters in it, possibly. But I had to learn to come to terms with the fact that sometimes life doesn’t go the way I want it to and maybe that’s what God wanted me to learn all this while.
  4. Found a family in boxing and kayaking – it is a family. I haven’t had such happiness with circles in school especially when the academic year started on a not so pleasant note. As mentioned above in the ‘Journey’ section, it’s not often after you end your day exhausted, you will still go to find a group of people and spend time with them unless they really are special. These two bunches are special and I am blessed to have met them. Conversations and HTHTs as well as learning through common experiences are things I wouldn’t have traded for anything else, and here’s to all the bonds formed and to be formed, I’m excited.
  5. Becoming a senior myself and passing on and watching other people grow – year 3  was meant to be handover year. It was in a way, in that I taught people under me, whether or not from positions of power. I realised just knowing things and being able to get them done in the most efficient way does not make you a good leader, but teaching others and empowering them to do what you can do and more, that makes you a good leader. I learnt through failure and mistakes how I can help others grow and when I see them growing and thriving and being way better than I was, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me. I want to continue to coach and to help, in any capacity and make a difference in people’s lives.
  6. Somewhere in the middle of Y3S1 I transitioned from @distressdoodles to @esthertiq. More information regarding that can be found here, but for now, I am grateful that change happened, and also I did not break as I expected to, one breakdown a semester. This semester it was plain madness, there was madness in school, at home, everywhere, but God kept me sane through His Word, His love and those around me who were there for me.
  7. Dealing with loss. I lost friends this semester, for various reasons. I didn’t know how to be okay with it, I lost a DG that met every week, I gained another, but it would never be the same. I lost certain other friends and I still grieve over those friendships. Yet I know that life happens and somethings you do not go after them because everything does have a lifespan to it and sometimes life carries you on and you got to go with it. Yet whatever it is I am always grateful for experiences and people who have shaped my life in one way or another, for better or worse, I have matured and grown.

Lastly, here’s the thank you list that I’m gonna start to do yearly
God is at the top, always. I would have never made it without His abundant grace and strength poured out for me in so many ways, more than I ever would have imagined and believed. He helped those around me, and opened my eyes to understand that as well. Thank you God for holding me through the tears, fears and joy. I am blessed to know my Saviour is there, powerful and holding my life together.
  1. Deanna – thank you for being a brain dump, an essay proof reader, a fashion consultant, a feeder, and most of all, a sister.
  2. Oli- for being by my side, for hearing all my rants, every single day, for throwing chocolates at me, for showing polar bears in my face and for warm hugs
  3. Esther Ng and Naomi – you have no idea how much you both mean to me. Esther thank you for being a partner in school with me, for lunching with me, for those MRT conversations, for being honest to my face telling me things that are hurtful yet necessary. Ohms for being there. I cannot do uni without you both.
  4. Xiuwen – baobei!!!!! You were the miracle that happened, the friend and daughter I never imagined I’d have. I am so thankful you are in pubket and marketing comm with me. Thank you for being so compatible with my work style, for being a friend over everything else, for hearing my random comments and for trusting me with life’s problems, and for aimeeeee hahaha ❤ I really love you a whole load I hope you know that.
  5. Tham – broooo, thanks for being the other half of the boxing VPs. This sem was special cause you were part of it as well. HTHTs and honest transparent convos, I can’t ask for more. Connection is real brudder (*insert bad laughter here*)
  6. Rennes Michelle Jedi – babesss, this semester was tough but I am proud of you Michyyyy, and Rennes and Jedi. It was hard on all of us individually but thank you for being there for each other, especially for Michyy, and for Mich always caring for others before yourself. Im proud of you Renn and hope you enjoy disney. Jeds this sem kinda sucked a lot and you’re tired and all but I hope next sem will get better and that you’ll smile a lot more because you deserve it.
  7. Ivan – I did an insta dedication post for you, but you were the bro that made me believe in the fitness journey, and in loyalty and friendship, especially in a critical time where I didn’t know if I could believe in it again. You made it count and picked me up when it was really hard to. Thank you once again for showing me perspectives I’d never have seen on my own.
  8. Miss Nat – thank you thank you thank you, for everything. teacher, mentor and friend :). If I make it out of university alive you’re invited to my graduation in advance.
  9. Gaomin – thank you mom for speaking truth when I don’t wanna hear it the most, for telling me to rest, for being the pause button in my existence so I breath.
  10. Erinna – I love you a lot, for warm hugs, for your honesty, for the trust and for the friendship. Your presence brightens my days very much.
  11. Yenjie – thank you for sending me home, for the HTHTs, and for always going over and beyond for the club, for ZR and for myself. I am very thankful for you, really really thankful.
  12. Derek – thank you for being proud of me.

2018 goals 

  1. I want to grow in the understanding of the Bible, in love for others, and in compassion for those who do not have what I have, I am very blessed and I want to love like I’ve been loved.
  2. #roadto50kg – weight goal
  3. #roadto21.1km – fitness/training
  4. #estherpades – for adventures out of NUS, it’s university and beyond now
EN3263: Singapore Literature in Context

EN3263: Singapore Literature in Context

Module code & title: EN3263: Singapore Literature in Context

Grading:

25% close reading assignment
35% research essay
15% book review
15% 5 minute presentation on a selected singapore literature text from 2012-2017
10% class participation (yes he actually likes it a lot a lot when people talk, he asks questions)

Lecturer: Dr Philip J Holden

He’s a really kind professor, some have described him as a kind uncle. He’s the most conscientious professor in the literature department I’ve ever met besides Dr Yeoh. He creates a lesson plan on IVLE, linking all worksheets/slides/secondary readings and everything really, it’s quite astounding considering most professors don’t actually do that.

What it’s about: It’s a singapore literature module. You study Alfian Sa’at and other related authors, mainly from the Anthology of Singapore literature. You go through the history of Singapore and some of the controversial times/texts that our nation has seen. it opens your eyes to things in literature you haven’t seen before, and the discussions are enlightening.

Assignment workload: Reading of primary texts and weekly forum posts. Weekly forum posts are how he notes and starts class participation because he discusses the opinions that you posited on the forum posts. Anyway forum postings are good because you have to read the texts to post on the forum.

Thoughts about the tutor: –

Project workload & question/theme –

Readings: See above

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): It’s a lot of work though, many small components. But manageable.

Recommended if…You’re interesting in singlit. You should check it out.

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 3.5/5

 

EN2201: Backgrounds to Literature

EN2201: Backgrounds to Literature

Taken in AY16/17 Sem 2, (posting this late, but realised it was worth writing!)

Module code & title: EN2201: Backgrounds to Literature

Grading:

70% CA – made up of:
1. Midterm essay (20%)
2. Final essay (30%)
3. Class Participation (20%)
30% final exam (YES this module has finals!)

Lecturer: Dr Gilbert Yeoh (he’s the best!!)

Dr Yeoh gives you everything. Like he prints a course package for you and he has soooo many slides because every possible thing he wants you to learn for the module is smacked on it. His lectures are funny, sometimes information overload. The seminar is made up of a lecture for an hour and a half then a discussion segment. There’s a break in between those segments. He is open to controversial ideas and opinions. He wants originality in your essays which to be very honest can be tough given that he spoon feeds almost everything. But it is very interesting and he’s super kind and generous to always help/open for consults so please go for consults.

What it’s about: It’s a classics module. You study Homer’s Odyssey, Sophocles’ Oedipus and the books of Genesis and John from the Bible. Reason for these texts being that they are argued to be the earliest written texts in Western civilization and their themes are foundational for the writing and creation of Western literature. (therefore the title of the mod)

Assignment workload: READINGS. Many readings for a 2k module, but it is doable. Speak up in lectures, and you’ll do okay. Go through the tutorial question list at least, skim through it once before you come into the seminar.

Thoughts about the tutor: –

Project workload & question/theme –

Readings: See above

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): It’s an interesting paper, he’s not so much looking for originality as much as argument and your opinion so just state your opinion. Most people pick their favourite text and write on it.

Recommended if…You love Dr Yeoh (!!woo!!)

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 5/5

 

EN2275: Writing About Literature

EN2275: Writing About Literature

Module code & title: EN2275

Grading: FULLY CA
10% class part,
20% Summary
25% Essay 1
25% Essay 2
10% Final Portfolio/Reflection

Lecturer & tutor:
Dr Aparna Shukla

Dr Shukla created this module newly, hence being the first iteration a lot of things would be new and in incipient stages. Lectures could be draggy until you realise what the focus of the module is and that actually lectures are not as good as tutorials. Tutorials are more helpful because mostly students take this module with the idea that they want to improve on their writing and generally people improve in smaller groups because there’s more attention on the individual student so that’s the thing about her tutorials, they’re small and super helpful.

What it’s about: how to write. properly. You start with learning summaries and interpretation skills which seem lame until you realise you cannot actually do it properly. Then you learn how to think and write a clear proper introduction and you move on to the essay itself… She uses the topic of trauma to give us a platform to write.

Assignment workload: Not much work. One reading can be covered over the first 6 weeks. Then the second half is a film/text. There are secondary readings but they are as per needed (if you write the essay then you read that reading)

Thoughts about the tutor: –

Project workload & question/theme –

Readings: Barely any, really.

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): No exams. 3 assignments through the semester, all of which you can bring in and consult her. And you should. It’ll help tremendously

Recommended if…you are a literature major who needs to learn how to write properly.l

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 4/5

Expected grade: A-

Actual grade

SC3101: Social Thought and Social Theory

SC3101: Social Thought and Social Theory

Module code & title: SC3101 Social Thought and Social Theory

Grading: 10% Class Participation, 3 short papers (40%, each 13.3%), finals 50%

Lecturer & tutor:
Lecturer: Dr George Baylon Radics
Tutor: Jamie/Prof Radics

Prof Radics is wonderful. Have I ever mentioned how amazing he is? He’s patient, answers every email sent to him (with a whole host of explanations, sometimes), and is always ever ready for consultations despite his busy schedule. I appreciate his teaching style, as he incorporates examples relevant to the world and to us in his lectures.

Tutorials under him are great, he explains the questions in the tutorial worksheet and gets us to give and find out the answers complete with the page number so that not just us but everyone benefits. Furthermore, if the answers given are either too soft or unclear he will repeat and elaborate on it so everyone gets it.

What it’s about: the three main thinkers of sociology, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber – their perspectives with regard to society, economy and religion. It’s very factual and you get to go a step further to compare them to each other (if you wish). You also note the relevance to the contemporary society

Assignment workload: Readings mainly. One assignment per each third of the sem – week 3, 7, 10. Finals is a huge percentage

Thoughts about the tutor: – 

Project workload & question/theme – 

Readings: A lot, kind of was okay for me as I am a literature major. But for those not accustomed to readings this would be quite a killer. It’s not so much the length which is hard to get by but on top of that it is not easy to understand, especially Marx.

Exam (briefly format and difficulty): 50% weightage. The paper has section 1 and 2, section 1 is a compulsory analytical question worth 40% of the overall, 2 questions choose 1 to compare all three thinkers. Section 2 (60% of the paper) has 9 questions choose 3, shorter answer (I wrote 1-1.5 pages), more factual and less evaluative and opinion based. Not very tough, if you studied you can answer

Recommended if…you are a major in soci this is a compulsory module. Or if you’re interested in the theories and concepts behind social theory. It’s a theory module not an application module for you soci-interested people looking for application mods.

Rating (in terms of how much you enjoyed it) – 5/5

Expected grade: A-

Actual grade