My Pursuit of Van Gogh: The True Story

Life is remarkably circular. Sometimes life works in ways you can’t even predict. Fifteen years ago, I encountered a story that little did I know will touch my heart in the most unexpected way.

In the early 00’s, encyclopaedias were still our default search engine as the ultimate source of information. Thick, hard-bound books shelved in glass cabinets, catalogued alphabetically according to the sets where it belongs. One day, it was one of those times I was hanging out with a life-long buddy at the library during lunch break when this person handed me an infamous story about a famed artist of the nineteenth century who cut off his ear and shot himself. My 12-year old naive, innocent and Catholic-oriented self was undeniably shocked. Back then, I looked up at these magnificent people from the past as glorious beings who ever walked on earth; Faultless, infallible and immaculate. A quintessence of an ideal human being.

“How could one of the most famous and influential post-impressionist painter lived such a life?”

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Image source: Holland.com

It was the time I was still obstinate and intolerant to the imperfections of life. The story was incomprehensible for me to accept and digest. From then on, I only focused on his works and refused to read about his life. It was simply unsuitable to take a young mind’s innocence and corrupt it with the dark intentions of human beings. So I thought.

Over the years, it has been my personal goal to expand my views and be more open-minded as possible. I allowed to put myself on someone’s shoes in every subject matter, remove all prejudice, breakdown every cultural norm and understand the root of such belief, behaviour and mindset. Since then, it has been my ultimate goal in life: To understand everyone and everything. Everything is a though word and impossible to achieve, but hey, we got to set the bar to the highest level.

One and a half decades later, I’ve pretty much achieved my goal in every subject that crosses my path. By removing personal preferences and inhibitions, I am able to dissect every detail of a fact, opinion or argument. It’s a very liberating thing to do. It’s the perfect time to go back to one story that I tried dancing around for quite a long time.

Life took its turn and presented me with the opportunity to revisit an old friend I’ve kept buried in my memory. The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in partnership with Art Exhibitions Australia and independent art historian Sjraar van Heugten curated Van Gogh and the Seasons as one of its international exhibitions for 2017.

“Hey! It’s Van Gogh. Not to be missed for sure!” I thought. It’s true. It was a wonderful once in a life time experience to see such an exhibit that focused on the four seasons of his works. The storytelling of the exhibit was impeccable. One, if only he will allow to immerse himself to the experience, will clearly feel the connection with Van Gogh’s personal life; How he came to be as one of the most renowned artists of all time.

 

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Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story by Bernadette Murphy

After going through the exhibit, I exited into the souvenir shop without the intention of purchasing any merchandise. There was a large coffee table book, most likely 12″ x 12″ in size detailing the entire exhibit which I personally find above my budget to own. Everyone seems to have bought it. Besides, it was an exclusive publication for this particular exhibit. My best friend bought one, being a huge Van Gogh fan that she is. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of impressionist paintings so I gave it a pass. While browsing through the books section, I saw two copies of Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story by Bernadette Murphy in paperback neatly placed on a table, seemed untouched. The title is very catchy, I scanned a bit, read a few pages and left.

Days later, the book seems to be calling out for me. NGV was conveniently located two blocks away from my workplace so I went back to the souvenir shop during my lunch break. I went back to the table where I last saw it but to my surprise, there’s none left. I saw an elderly man, around 70 years of age, intently reading the only copy of the book in sight. I wanted to wait for him so I can grab it for myself but he seemed so serious and wouldn’t put it down any time soon.

I asked the first staff I could find but I was told that it was completely sold out! I couldn’t accept it. “She seems like one of those staff who are lazy to get some stock.” The person I happen to asked must be a newbie. So I looked for the most easily swayed staff, younger than me, someone who looks like he doesn’t want to upset anyone, from the minority group, and asked again. I explained to him how badly I wanted the book. I know that I can purchase it online, but sometimes, you just want it right now.  I waited for some time and he came out with a bunch of new stocks. I was delighted and thanked him repeatedly. I got two copies and sent one to my best friend who lives in Sydney.

I started reading it as soon as I got the book. I couldn’t just put it down. The investigative, story-telling narration style was so captivating. The enigma of the book piqued my curiosity and I was completely sold. The story revolved around the pursuit to identify “Rachel”, the allegedly prostitute which Van Gogh offered his ear after cutting it off one night of December 1888. There were a lot of times while reading the book, my mind was impatient and furious, “Who the f*** is ‘Rachel’?!” But of course, I knew that her identity will only be revealed in the end. I didn’t want to skip anything! Every detail is vital to the story. I’m a lazy reader and I’ve got to say that not a part of this book bored me neither gave me a reason to give up.

Van Gogh’s mental breakdowns – why, when and where it happened – were all essential in understanding the ultimate act of insanity that went down to his story and eventually to history.

This book revealed so much from what I have expected. Bernadette Murphy took seven laborious years gathering information and ID-ing every single resident of Arles in every situation. She traveled in every place mentioned in the book to see first hand and imagine what it was like to live during Van Gogh’s time. Her effort in completing this book is truly amazing. This book explains the different medical diagnoses of the painter and uncovered the truths behind the sensationalised newspaper prints during his time. It also allowed us to see and feel the ultimate bond between two brothers despite the financial hardship they went through.

After all these years, I have finally able to embrace his story in perfect timing. It’s utterly overwhelming to have finished the book with a tragic end (as we all know) but it leaves a heartwarming experience that will forever linger in the soul.

 

 

How Quora Awakened My Curiosity Again

I.

Some of the best things in life are those that comes at the most unexpected times.

It surprises and awakens something inside you.

When I discovered Quora back in 2015, I never expected to enjoy the site as much as I do now. I’ve often encountered people mentioning it before when I was randomly reading through blogs after blogs, forums after forums and social media sites after another. At first I was hesitant to join another site. All of us have countless memberships we’ve already signed up for and I reached to the point where I didn’t want to join anymore at all. But then I got curious and when curiosity strikes, nothing can stop it from killing the cat. A day came when I decided to give it a try.

It was a period in time where I got obsessed in reading about the most popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, based from George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel A Song of Ice and Fire. My Quora newsfeed was filled with back stories, fan theories, speculations, predictions and interpretations both of the novel and TV series. Honestly, my feed was only about that!

Reading about it day and night, that’s when I encountered the first Quoran I truly admire, Kelsey L. Hayes. She provides in-depth analyses and interpretations of every part of ASOIAF. She even understands how GRR Martin’s mind works, which is incredible. I’ve never seen someone who had so much depth of knowledge and who possesses such deep understanding on a literary work.

The realization of her character as a person changed my view on a certain aspect of the world. I began to question myself, “What have I been doing all this time?”

I realized that there are a lot of amazing people to meet and interact with; There are so many things to read about; Things to have in-depth knowledge of; Things that will expand and provide thorough understanding on a variety of subject matters.

I got excited.

Really excited.

For the first time in a long time, I was inspired again. My ultimate goal in life has been revisited and re-evaluated. It has been right all along – My search for knowledge and broad understanding of everything in this world. That is still my ultimate goal and Quora is one avenue for that.

II.

It reminds me of an important episode in my life a decade back.

When I was still a sophomore in high school, I discovered a book at home that awakened my true curiosity and it triggered the formation of who I am today. I can still vividly remember that particular night: There was a major blackout in the city on a weekday. We only relied on our emergency lights to guide us and illuminate our paths as we fumble in the dark. I still don’t know what’s gotten into me but somehow, I grabbed this 3-inch A4-size hard bound book, published in 1975, and started browsing instead of playing my portable Nintendo like an ordinary teenager of that time.

The book smelled like it hasn’t been flipped for ages. The pages were turning yellow but still thick and crisp. It was a special edition Readers Digest that we picked up from my grandma’s house a few years back. The book’s content covers from ancient history up until humanity’s prediction of the future. It is filled with interesting, factual, mysterious and trivial information such as crop circles, peculiar diseases, the case of Mary Celeste, the two Titanics, and the bizarre story of a young girl (which I’ll never ever forget). Despite relying on a dim light I managed to read it for hours. I just couldn’t put it down.

Years passed and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read it cover to cover x number of times.

Since that night, I went to bed with a realization and understanding of what my interests are and it explained a lot why I enjoy documentaries and other science and history-related books/movies/TV shows. Thus, my interest with Mythbusters, Ancient Aliens and Fringe Science.

I met myself. As if for the first time.

It was absolute bliss.

Every time I read or watch something about a topic I’m interested in, I feel like a little kid going all thrilled over a piece of candy.

III.

Throughout the years after, my attention and focus somehow diverted to college and everything Advertising-related. A few interests were added along the way. I found myself reading about different religions, philosophy, sociology, psychology and surprisingly literature.

I spent my lunch breaks browsing in our college library, seated in the least explored corners closest to the bookshelf of choice, and getting annoyed at anyone reaching within a 5-metre radius.

I found people I can share and discuss ideas with both in real life and online.

It was a period of awakening.

Reading about all these subject matters opened doors to a whole new view of the world. It was the kind of realization with no point of return.

My own paradigm shift.

I embraced the change and a lot of the knowledge I acquired. Things that used to be important to me seems to have become insignificant. Irrelevant to my everyday life. I found them shallow and childish.

I simply lost interest.

Up until today, I can’t manage to go back, peek and enjoy a little of things that used to be my source of entertainment.

It was the point where I accepted that I’ve clearly outgrown them.

IV.

After college, as a new graduate who just entered the real world, work seemed to be the only thing that mattered. Work seems like how a minor subject acted as if it’s a major one back in the day. In short, it consumed all the time I had, which in all honesty, wasn’t the best choice at all.

I consider that as my dark ages.

My judgements at that time have been clouded by an artificial form of lifestyle. Masked happiness, materialism and high-end way of living. PR was the only thing that mattered. What’s inside has been neglected.

When I quit and focused all my time studying again, this time, a diploma course focused in arts, I looked back to prior and questioned how I lived my life for that short period of time. It wasn’t the corporate life I imagined it to be.

Corporate Sellout. 

That’s what my friends in the creative industry used to refer people who have chosen to be part of the corporate world when clearly they have future in an industry with more intellectual freedom and creative expression.

Apparently, giving up what you believe in and performing tasks you consider unethical for some temporary monetary gain hurts ones character.

Where was the substance?

It was another turning point in life and a chapter to be closed.

V.

If passion is lost, then what’s the point of living?

Fast forward to present day, Quora is a site that continuously inspires me to create and enrich myself. It constantly awakens my curiosity, provides valuable information with a right balance of satisfying entertainment and helps focus on the important things in life. Most importantly, answering on Quora challenges writing, comprehension and researching skills. It’s a site with the right balance of learning and creating without any unnecessary stress.

From the site’s analytics, my knowledge, based on my answers, encompasses Haute Horlogerie and surprise, surprise, Melbourne, Australia. Apart from basic questions about watches, I get a lot of requests about migrating to Australia; Most likely because of my unbiased and subjective answers in regards to the topic.

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The ultimate question is, “Who are my top picks of Quorans to follow?”

To be honest, I cannot consider myself to have explored the site to its maximum potential. I’m still enjoying the tip of the iceberg and little by little savouring my way down to its depth.

So far, the top Quorans on my list are as follows:

  • Richard Muller – A physicist at University of California: Berkeley, author of “Now, The Physics of Time”. Apart from science related answers, he also writes about interesting personal stories that comes with an important life advice.
  • Robert Frost – Works at NASA. Obviously answers a lot of interesting NASA, science and astronomy-related questions.
  • Franklin Veaux – Writes mature relationship advice and an author of a book and site on polyamory, “More Than Two”.
  • Kelsey L. Hayes – Provides in-depth analyses and interpretations of the entire A Song of Ice and Fire novel and Game Of Thrones TV show.
  • CJ Lee – Provides in-depth analyses and interpretations, quotes page references and movie parts of the entire Harry Potter franchise.
  • Jake Williams – Very opinionated and his writing has a satirical nature.
  • McKayla Kennedy – Answers a variety of topics and it’s always rational and mature.
  • Josh Fechter – Gives insightful advices regarding startups.
  • Jordan Yates – Answers a lot of questions about everything.
  • Dan Holliday – He claims to be an “agnostic-atheist-humanist-materialist-utilitarian” Pretty much what he writes about apart from personal experiences that he shares.

————

I have yet to discover more interesting Quorans. There are so many more topics to cover and to read about. Hopefully, a lifetime would be enough to satisfy ones intellectual cravings.

Joe Wright’s Brilliant Eye for Composition: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

There’s no questioning Joe Wright’s incredible talent in directing films. If you’ve seen at least Pride and Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Anna Karenina (2012) and Pan (2015), it’s impossible not to notice his keen eye for artistic details for scriptwriting, character development, scene interpretation, dramatic lighting, shot composition and spatial awareness.

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This is the main reason why this is one of my all-time favourite films despite its historical inaccuracy and lack of faithfulness to the original book by Jane Austen. It’s more of an artistic interpretation rather than simply a film adaptation of a classic. If one prefers a perfect dramatisation of the book, BBC has done a great job in producing Pride & Prejudice (1995), a six-episode British TV drama. But hey, Joe didn’t direct this movie in order to create a duplicate film and that what makes his’ outstanding. I’ve pointed out a few commendable skills and aesthetics I admire about Joe:

Joe’s cinematography is like a love letter to the English landscapes. He has always wanted the character’s proximity to landscape and nature as close as possible especially Elizabeth who was shooting for the stars with her risk of being with Mr. Darcy. He finds it heroic for the lead character to have her feet on the ground and end up achieving her pursuit for romantic interest.

This is one of those films with multiple point of views were taken into consideration. Everyone has become a spectator and a victim at some point. I believe that Joe has consciously included voyeurism as an artistic approach in order to deeply understand what the character’s are going through and how they perceive the events in their surroundings.

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Joe as a director is very meticulous, he has admitted his like to minutiae, his obsession to details of everyday life, and I think it’s commendable to be this particular for a film. The trivial things he included makes the entire film deeper and more meaningful as you watch it over and over again. The rustic and plainness feel of the Bennet’s everyday things, the simplicity of their house decors, the kinds of food they serve on their table, and the differences in the gestures of different societal classes, all reveals a lot about who they really are.

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In terms of characters and their developments, he has portrayed their individualities, choice of words, expressions, familiarity in relationships, familial habits and the evolution of their character’s costume design.

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I will just leave this quote right here which perfectly describe how the costume design has been created for this film:

“I find empire line dresses are very ugly, so I did some research. Although the novel was published in 1813, Jane Austen wrote her first draft of “Pride and Prejudice”, then called “First Impressions”, around 1797. So we used the fashions of the earlier period, where the waist on dresses was lower and more flattering. When Caroline Bingley appears, she would obviously be wearing the latest creation. But Mrs. Bennet’s dresses are earlier than 1797, and Lady Catherine’s are even earlier, because those two would have best clothes from previous years in their wardrobe.“

(Joe Wright, Director)

Costumes are one of the best, easily spotted, telling things in a movie but often to differentiate between characters. In Pride and Prejudice (2005), it’s used to show the evolution of a character. It was mind blowing when I first noticed it years ago and it stuck to me until today.

Throughout the film, Mr. Darcy has evolved from a proud, snobbish and reserved gentleman, to apologetic, humbling and expressive fellow towards Elizabeth. His expressions and body gestures have drastically changed too. He started to smile and be more courageous in being open as an individual and his clothes reveal this change. From his uptight collar in the beginning, to his unbuttoned and loose shirt in the end.

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Joe has also portrayed how a common family like the Bennet’s would normally act on everyday life. Their unrefined table manners completely shows the difference between classes in society but also shows the deep familiarity between family members who care about each other.

Hands are also one of the most important tellings signs in the film. Physical contact was kept to a minimum and Joe has taken in great consideration the importance of showing hand gestures to portray the meaning and expressions of each character involved. It’s astounding how electrifying every scene has been portrayed shooting different emotions at play.

 The dance scene that is one of the most important scenes in the entire film. This is where the conflict has arises. In a time where physical contact can only happen through the dance, dancing is a very intimate activity between a couple. It’s sensual, electric and full of charge in a short time period of dancing in a very formal structure. The sexual chemistry between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth was present and very much alive while exchanging sarcastic remarks. There were so many factors at play in this scene and unconsciously, their relationship leaped from merely acquaintances to troubled couple-in-the-making while doubting their own prejudice against each other.

Again, Joe used voyeurism in order for the audience to intrude at this particular intimate moment between the couple. The camera angle didn’t change all throughout the dance and was carefully following Elizabeth as she twirls and moves around the hall. Following the first few sequences, the intensity of the scene became more tensed as the music increased its volume and intensity. Their witty and sarcastic remarks grew more fierce as they exchange sharper gaze against each other. And finally, the intensity reached its peak as the confrontation between the two stopped them from continuing the dance. The particular camera angle and technique has lead to inspire the entire movie of Anna Karenina (2012).

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This film overall is circular. It’s definitely not one of those films that has an open ending. It completely starts and ends with a sunrise as it open and closes the chapter of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.

Joe’s comprehensive take in composition of the entire film is both admirable and commendable. His great deal in aesthetic and obsession with details in every angle and every aspect are very impressive. I hope he makes more films as thoughtful as this and he needs more recognition in his field. I can’t wait to watch his upcoming film The Darkest Hour (2017) which will be released this year.

*Source: All images were taken from my favourite Tumblr blog Pemberley-state-of-mind.tumblr.com

My Only Loyal Trait – INTJ

“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)

This is one of the most notable universal lessons I learned early in life. Everything changes. We have to accept and continuously adapt to this inevitable phenomenon.

Palmistry

Contrary to popular belief in palmistry, the lines on our palms changes at least every three months. This can only mean that there’s a high probability that our ‘predictable’ future can change anytime soon. Advantageous for those who didn’t like their palm reading results.

When I was in uni, I met a professor who does palm reading. She read my life and fate as a short one, both ended right in the middle of my palm. Before I heard her reading, for some reason, I’ve always believed I wouldn’t go past 30, the main factor why I didn’t pursue to be a specialist doctor despite wanting to be one since I was 4 years old. Her reading, confirming my short life, just added as another reason for me to live my life to the fullest. I started learning everything I wanted to learn and do everything I want within my capabilities.

Years later, after a life-changing event, a milestone any person can be proud of, my life and fate lines have been doubled. I haven’t reached my 30th year yet but my palm drastically changed its reading. It’s evident how another set of lines started.

Even life within our palms changes.

The Stars

Some people might argue that our star signs can never change since it was the time we were born. Technically it’s true, but our ancestors, the Babylonians, were trying to divide the sky into equal parts leaving out one of the thirteen zodiac signs to match their ancient calendar. The sky has been recently re-assessed by NASA and the thirteenth zodiac has been officially added again. Ophiuchus, the unfortunate one to be left out centuries ago, has made its come back and shifted the rest of the time periods of the other zodiac signs. The result: No one was happy. Probably aside from those who have always thought they never belong to any of the 12 zodiac signs.

I’m totally antagonistic towards this change, from being considered a Gemini, an air sign with two personalities, I’m now considered a Taurus, an earth sign and regarded as the most reliable of all.

Brain Dominance

Another mind-boggling change in my life is the dominant part of the brain. After being re-assessed over and over, it shifted from one to the other for the past two decades.

As a toddler, I used my right hand for quite some time until I became left-handed. My activities growing up revolved around utilising my creativity – dancing, playing the piano, painting, drawing and swimming. In spite my love for perfection and mentally fitting shapes into random objects, I’ve always been considered a creative rather than an analytical kid.

In high school, I found it enjoyable to play Damath, a math checkers board game, and competitive chess. I played badminton for leisure but was surprised that I can use both hands to hold the racket. It was advantageous for me to use both hands during the game. Throughout this time, I still danced and painted once in a while but I stopped playing any musical instruments. Before graduation, we have been assessed to find out which career would suit our skills best. Obviously, I’ve been advised to take an art-related degree.

By the time I’m halfway through my bachelor’s degree, my hobbies totally changed. I stopped any art-related activities such as dancing and drawing. I lost interest with anime, manga and console games. I focused more on my studies and I found my interest in business, marketing, history and languages. The school assessed all of us to find out which part of our brain is dominant to help us self-assess the right path to take after graduation. To my surprise, I was one of the rare students who have balanced dominance for both parts of the brain.

Fast forward to today, based on my interests, hobbies and career skills, I am confident to say that my left brain is currently the dominant part. I found myself learning languages, studying East Asian History, and became technical with precision instruments.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Our palms, the stars and the dominance of our brains may betray us but for me, my MBTI personality is the only consistent one that defines me in my life.

It has been 15 years since I took my first Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test and it has been that long since I’ve been consistently assessed as INTJ.

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The description of this personality perfectly describes who I am. It’s a good read for anyone who are interested in getting to know me because my poor skill in socializing wouldn’t even let anyone get past the “Hi-Hello” stage.

Recently, I took some online test that I got the link from one of my favourite bloggers just for fun. To my surprise, it’s quite accurate since my results is still the same. I took one after another from other sites and the results are always INTJ. It was hard to believe at first since I am perfectly aware that I drastically changed at least for the past decade. My hobbies, activities and belief were totally different, even my approach in life have improved, yet my results still show the same.

According to www.16personalities.com, the most recent test I took, INTJ is described as the Architect Personality.

Apparently, it forms just two percent of the population and women with INTJ type only belong to 0.8% of the population. I have always known that I’m different, always pursuing to be different. I dislike being considered as one of a large group but I still believe that INTJ is too much an honour for me. This is the personality for most villains because of their outstanding intellect and cleverness.

This personality is “often a challenge to find like-minded individuals who are able to keep up with their relentless intellectualism and chess-like maneuvering. People with the Architect personality type are imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but they do not squander their energy.” -INTJ (16 personalities)

I love to read. But I’ve never considered myself as a bookworm. I’m actually pretty lazy when it comes to reading but I still prefer to do so because of my curiosity. As a matter of fact, no one in my life has ever referred me as a “bookworm”  contrary to the description of INTJ early in life. I’ve been referred to as “weird” and I got a lot of facial expressions O_o because of my interest in things most kids weren’t interested in.

With a natural thirst for knowledge that shows itself early in life, Architects are often given the title of “bookworm” as children. While this may be intended as an insult by their peers, they more than likely identify with it and are even proud of it, greatly enjoying their broad and deep body of knowledge. Architects enjoy sharing what they know as well, confident in their mastery of their chosen subjects, but they prefer to design and execute a brilliant plan within their field rather than share opinions on “uninteresting” distractions like gossip.

I can’t describe how perfectly fitting this description is to me. Undeniably, it’s the epitome of an INTJ but not enough to be considered quintessential:

A paradox to most observers, Architects are able to live by glaring contradictions that nonetheless make perfect sense – at least from a purely rational perspective. For example, Architects are simultaneously the most starry-eyed idealists and the bitterest of cynics, a seemingly impossible conflict. But this is because Architect personalities tend to believe that with effort, intelligence and consideration, nothing is impossible, while at the same time they believe that people are too lazy, short-sighted or self-serving to actually achieve those fantastic results. Yet that cynical view of reality is unlikely to stop an interested Architect from achieving a result they believe to be relevant.

Architect (INTJ) personality

“In Matters Of Principle, Stand Like a Rock”

It is said that Architects radiate self-confidence and an aura of mystery. One of the things I’m proud of is maintaining that aura to people I come in contact with. Revealing the mystery for me is losing the essence of everything I stand up for.

I once told my mum that in every new job I got into, I have to rebuild everything for the better. It’s like doing an overhaul in the existing systems in place and an in-depth reading on INTJ’s personality makes sense everything to me:

At times it will seem that Architects are bent on deconstructing and rebuilding every idea and system they come into contact with, employing a sense of perfectionism and even morality to this work. Anyone who doesn’t have the talent to keep up with Architects’ processes, or worse yet, doesn’t see the point of them, is likely to immediately and permanently lose their respect.

I’m not a perfectionist but I want systems in place to be strictly followed. My laziness helps a lot with my skill in innovating and creating new processes to make everything easy-breezy.

Another interesting trait that gets me into trouble is my smart-ass way of questioning authority. I’m definitely not a rebel but I believe that I can only properly follow rules and limitations if it makes sense to me. If not, it should be open for re-evaluation. I believe that we shouldn’t follow them blindly just because they are in place. They are after all, regarded as “human laws” created by humans ourselves. What makes the creators right, and us wrong if we begin questioning them?

Rules, limitations and traditions are anathema to the Architect personality type – everything should be open to questioning and reevaluation, and if they see a way, Architects will often act unilaterally to enact their technically superior, sometimes insensitive, and almost always unorthodox methods and ideas. This isn’t to be misunderstood as impulsiveness – Architects will strive to remain rational no matter how attractive the end goal may be, and every idea, whether generated internally or soaked in from the outside world, must pass the ruthless and ever-present “Is this going to work?” filter. This mechanism is applied at all times, to all things and all people, and this is often where Architect personalities run into trouble.

I have always regarded myself as anti-social or one with lack of social skills and this is the reason why:

Architects are brilliant and confident in bodies of knowledge they have taken the time to understand, but unfortunately the social contract is unlikely to be one of those subjects. White lies and small talk are hard enough as it is for a type that craves truth and depth, but Architects may go so far as to see many social conventions as downright stupid. Ironically, it is often best for them to remain where they are comfortable – out of the spotlight – where the natural confidence prevalent in Architects as they work with the familiar can serve as its own beacon, attracting people, romantically or otherwise, of similar temperament and interests.

I don’t consider myself brilliant, but I’m definitely proud of the bodies of knowledge I studied well. I can’t tolerate other people trying to outsmart me in situations where I knew that I know the subject better than they do. Most of the time I just shut up and end the conversation to continue my peace. Other times, when the other party is persistent in trying to make me accept my defeat in this social competition, I just have to join the game and gracefully win in the end.

My friend and colleague recently told me that I’m quite skilled in subtly making people feel stupid, shamed or inessential. But from my end, I consider it as a poorly executed curiosity that I inappropriately communicated across the other party.

Architects are defined by their tendency to move through life as though it were a giant chess board, pieces constantly shifting with consideration and intelligence, always assessing new tactics, strategies and contingency plans, constantly outmaneuvering their peers in order to maintain control of a situation while maximizing their freedom to move about. This isn’t meant to suggest that Architects act without conscience, but to many other types, Architects’ distaste for acting on emotion can make it seem that way, and it explains why many fictional villains (and misunderstood heroes) are modeled on this personality type.

I’m not aware that I move like a chess-board piece, but I’m definitely trying to control situations and maximizing my freedom most of the time. And another thing is that logic is mostly favoured when making a decision and never an emotion. Emotion fades, logic remains forever.

This post is the closest thing anyone can get about getting to know who I am.

> Read more about INTJ personality here <<

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” -Harlan Ellison

A Morning Walk

The darkest hour of the day has just retreated and sunlight starts to pierce through the clear sky. It is dawn, wind is chilling, streets are still empty and thousands of stars can still be vividly seen shining in the midnight blue sky. The woman in her mid-20s observes the celestial bodies with melancholy as she stands in the cold pavement of the unfamiliar metropolitan. The cold slowly envelopes her fragile body wrapped in black trench as her eyes focus on the brightest star.

“Strange. Really strange. I’m staring directly at the past. It’s a reminiscence of a baffling time that nobody could possibly imagine what it was like.”

The screeching of the passing tram breaks the silence and draws her back to reality from her deep thoughts. Her long wavy auburn hair dances with the breeze as she clutched her purse and starts walking towards up the road. It’s a bit of a stroll until she reaches her destination that she can’t even vaguely remember. The trees gestures with their outmost courtesy, branches waving and bowing as she passes by.

The intense aroma of different sorts of coffee linger in the area, inviting and awaking every passers by for a warm cup to grab. Around the corner of the laneway, a hole in the wall caught her attention. A rustic coffee shop with a huge wooden plank nailed just above the head reads “Expresso.” She pulled a bill from her pocket and ordered a latte. In a snap of a finger, the coffee is handed over to her. Or so it seems. She continues walking and crosses the road heading to the next block. The cup warms up her freezing hands as she slowly sips and savour the morning treat.

The coffee triggers a memory.  “How long have I been drinking coffee?” she asks. It has been ten years, “It was the time I decided to start taking risks.”

The vivid memories quickly flashes back in her mind. Her thoughts sucks her back to her senior year in college.

It was the time of the year of acceptance letters. The most awaited moment for every senior student. After receiving offers from the most prestigious universities in the country to take up the course of her childhood dream, she, suddenly, out of rationality, backed out. She was frightened. She got scared of the pre-destined path she’s about to take. She felt something is missing in her life. A spark. A challenge. A risk.

She decided not to accept any of the generous offers. Instead, she has chosen to pursue education on career paths she never even imagined herself doing. Everyone around her was surprised. Her unwavering dream, or so it seems, officially came to an end.

A decade later she finds herself looking back at the very first risk she did in her life. She sips from her cup and feel the energising liquid fills her empty stomach. It’s satisfying and comforting at the same time. Her thoughts linger with a What If.

“What if I pursued my childhood dream?”

She takes a deep breath and exhales generously. The best response she gives herself.

As she reaches the end of the block, a lengthy crosswalk leads to the next one. Her destination is nowhere yet near in sight. She pulls herself together, uplifting her evidently down spirit with all the melancholy that lingers in the early time of the day. There isn’t any stoplights around. Cars vs pedestrian, basic traffic rules apply in confidence that everyone obeys it despite the lack of signals. She braves the crosswalk and begins to cross, level-headed and fearful of the massive vehicles that are about to pass by. Her heart keeps beating fast, terrified and unsure of the outcome she’s taking. However, she feels excited, challenged and surprisingly alive.

In every step she takes, she puts herself in a balance between life and death. But it doesn’t stop her from pursuing such a risky path. She holds her purse tightly and advance like a determined chess piece making a move. Certain of the progression and aggressively faces the path yet to be taken. Vehicles of all sorts continue to pass by without hesitation and she continues to brave the crosswalk. As she gets through, she looks back and observes the path she has just taken.

She suddenly realises that for a decade, she has been spending her life taking the path of a crosswalk. The moment she started to take the risk, she has been continuously taking one risk followed by another. And she’s still not yet halfway through. It may not be an easy path, but undoubtedly, she knows that it’s the right path to take. The only way for her further development as a better person, a passionate individual and an interesting personality with a broadened understanding of the world.

Looking forward, she continues her stroll towards her destination. Boldly facing the direction of the wind. Sipping again from her cup, feeling the cold breeze brush against her pale skin, she obliviates all her worries, unnecessary What If and enjoys the rest of the risky journey ahead.

“Risks are definitely worth it.”

Calligraphy Kit for Beginners

Winter is almost over down under and I found myself learning calligraphy lately. The joy of challenging oneself to try on different art forms feels liberating. Calligraphy is definitely one of those art forms that I have neglected to pay attention to when growing up.

I have tried on different tools to learn and realised that the most important material does not lie on the quality of tools. The desire to learn, practice and motivation to improve are more important above all things.

To all those who would love to start practicing calligraphy, I put together the most basic kit you will need to start your journey. The Calligraphy Kit for Beginners can be purchased through my Etsy shop.

IMG_7740 (1)The Calligraphy Kit for Beginners includes the following:

  • 1 box of Calligraphy writing kit:
    • 1 calligraphy pen
    • 3 nibs
    • 1 brush
    • 1 bottle of black ink
    • calligraphy guide
  • 3pcs. A4 sheets with different calligraphy styles with grid lines
  • 10 pcs. A4 sheets of blank paper with calligraphy grid lines

IMG_7734 (1)IMG_7741 (1)IMG_7742 (1)

For those who already have a beginner’s writing kit, you can download my Printable Calligraphy Practice Sheet through my Etsy shop as well.

Happy writing!

Black Market Havoc and Mayhem

It was a good day to work in the office. Sunny and windy that uplifts every spirit of passersby on the street of the busy metropolitan.

Inside my walk-in cabinet in my fully-furnished apartment, I just had my morning bath and barely finished dressing up. It was a very exciting day. On the fortnight of our last meeting, I get to see my guy again. My best friend. My lover. More than a year later and we’re still excited to see each other. The spark never fades away and the feeling of twitter patting never fails to visit us.

I, a woman of the world of creativity and manipulation in communication fell in love with a man who is a financial genius.  I never really understood his world. Accounting, financing, marketing, business, management, stocks… stuff I find myself to be an alien every time I hear him speak about it. But despite our difference in career interests, we were more alike than anyone could imagine.

Suddenly, a grayish tint with silver sparks appeared right before my eyes and instantly he, in purple long sleeves with dark-colored tie and black slender pants, came out of thin air. It still surprised me even if it was his usual form of entrance. He’s kind of a warlock or some sort. Well, that’s something still I’m not sure how to define.

In my topless gold and blue knee-length cocktail dress and gold stilettos, he wore his rectangular spectacles and dragged me in an instant. Both of us disappeared from my apartment. This kind of act reminds me of Harry Potter’s floo powder that allows wizards to teleport by traveling in the floo network.

There was no time to wear my undergarments but I managed to grab my coat and inserted my tube golden top inside my bag. It was a lucky move.

It took us a few seconds to reach our destination. A huge condominium on a high-rise building, which he owns under some companies name is where he brought me. We would usually go there to be alone and do things as a couple so I assumed it would be the same for this day. I was standing in front of the large screen television and saw my reflection on it. My breasts were showing so I covered myself with my black furry coat and placed my bag on top of the desk. We talked for a while and decided to skip work for that day.

Surprisingly, an old officemate of our came by and to say hello in a short a tete-a-tete snack. It was Marsha, she was wearing a floor-reaching coat with illusions of elongated designs. On top flows her silky ash blonde hair that reaches her thighs. As usual, she was wearing her pretty toothpaste endorser smile as we talked over our short tea party.

As we were talking, I was nervous of dropping my hands from covering my body with my coat. It was hard to move and it feels very restrained. So I was relieved when she left and got the room for ourselves again. Eager to be in his arms, I dropped my coat and went straight to him. We both fell into the fluffy bed and I hugged him tightly as if we haven’t seen each other for months!

It felt different though. It was unusual for him to be unresponsive to my affection. As if he had something else in mind that he wanted to do. As soon as he opened his mouth to tell me that his relatives were coming, the door opened and they came in. I hid behind the walls and wore my golden tube top, fixed my long black hair and showed up.

I’ve forgotten that he bought the place not for us, but for them to have a meeting place of their classified interests. The condominium although is like a common hotel room, does have a large conference room with long table that could fit 20 people. It also has a labyrinth corridor that leads to their otherworldly place. i’ve never been there. But he told me stories about certain events. Though still I’m not an expert to define that world.

More than ten relatives came in and went directly to the conference room. Some were his cousins but mostly it was his aunts and uncles that arrived to deliver a shocking news. I don’t know what it is, but I guess it was terrible. They were all members of the Black Market, a community where they play their financial interests. At first, I thought it was just a place where illegal marketing occurs, but it was more complex than that. It’s more than a world for financial geniuses with a bit of sorcery. Way different in the world where I live in. It was pretty dark, scary, which is a dog-eat-dog world with battles of competing guilds constantly happening in every corner.

I didn’t participate in their meeting. It was way more classified than the previous stuff they had and gaining information would only do me harm. As soon as they were finished, they went to the Black Market and my boyfriend brought me with him. Finally, I’ve seen what it looks like. Their roads are as small as sidewalks but full of train tracks or rail roads. That’s where you can hover and transport yourself from one street to the next. Looking at their system, it’s not beyond the laws of physics at all. I regarded it as pure sorcery which no human can explain, but I was wrong. Their entire system as financial geniuses in a strange world is a work of geniuses in engineering.

As we travel along those tracks, I observed the stores and it felt I was in a place full of Borgin and Burkes. It’s like I was in Knockturn Alley. The one that sells dark magical objects forbidden to ordinary wizards. The atmosphere was really eerie and the people spookily stared at me as I passed by.

Finally we arrived in our destination which is different from his relatives. My boyfriend’s intention was to bargain something from a merchant, which he needs the most as of the moment. I have no idea what it was. But I went with him anyway. I sensed danger was on the way and it was one of the moments he would need me the most.

Soon after he successfully got what he needed, sirens from all over the place warned everyone of the current hazard in the Black Market. Floating men in black capes with merciless eyes quickly passed by us as if they were haunting delinquents. I tried to hide my fear but he quickly noticed it and held my hand.

We followed the creepy men to see what was going on but what we saw shocked us both. I placed my hand on his shoulder to comfort him so he wouldn’t break into his manly tears. I constantly whispered into his ears to be strong so we could get out there alive. As we tiptoed around the crime scene, our eyes were staring at the bodies on the floor. It was his relatives that we just met a few minutes ago. All lifeless on the ground. We tried to act normal to escape. I overheard that the floating men were still looking for other members of the same guild. “They need to be annihilated.” One said.

As we were finding our way out, he was silent, probably still digesting what happened or thinking of ways to avenge while I was deep in my thoughts figuring out how they were taken down in one blow. His relatives belong to one guild, Arkherna Guild. It was competing guild with the same interest that must be responsible for this. Through their knowledge, one guild could annihilate another in one attack. Must be some kind of technology that could shut down an entire system perhaps. I never knew what they do neither the others, but I know one thing is for sure, it’s never safe to be involved in the Black Market.

We were hovering for half an hour but still I can’t figure out why he was spared. I never asked him, but she spoke to me. He confided that he wasn’t a member yet. There was a delay in his membership and he was supposed to be one of them by now. For me it was a good thing, a relief. At least he’s saved. I don’t know how I can manage to live without him by my side. I hugged him tight to comfort him and at the same time, to appreciate his existence that moment. I can’t help but felt his sadness though, he was very close to his relatives. The way the Weasleys were close to each other. For him, it was always family first. I knew he was angry. He wanted to avenge them. It’s wrong but I can’t stop him anymore.

Soon after, we went back to the world I live in – The peaceful metropolitan under the clear blue skies. Far away from their dark abyss. Somehow it was relieving to feel safe once again, but never did I thought it wouldn’t last long. As we were walking on the streets, we noticed that three masked men from the Black Market were following us. They were probably from the other guild that was responsible for the death of his guild. We tried to escape running from one block to the other, parkouring from one wall to the next and climbing emergency ladders to lose them. But we reached a dead end when we entered a public room inside a hospital. We knew there was only one thing to do, to hid under the bed. It was very risky, but there were no other options left.

The men arrived and saw my hair flowing out. They were suspicious of it so my boyfriend managed to transform me into a tiny baby wrapped in pink blanket. He placed me on the bed where a woman lying there cuddled me for a while. The men left and searched somewhere else. But the woman really thought I was her baby! “You came here because you wanted me to be your mommy!” She said. So I quickly jumped off the bed and transformed back to my original self. My boyfriend was giggling behind me. His trolling was a success. But no time for more, we need to escape!

We ran and ran until we saw a legendary creature half-bird half-horse flying in the sky. It was a hippogriff piloted by one of his cousins. Right then and then, I knew, we are safe. We went to my home in the suburbs to get away from the chaos for a while. the creature landed on our balcony and we hopped off. His cousin was a lady. She left as soon as she dropped us home. She said that she needs to meet the rest of the relatives to plot too. We bid farewell and rested for the night.

On the living room, I lit the fireplace and made hot chocolates to warm us both. He sat on the couch deep in thoughts. It was hard for me to see him that way. Full of anger and sadness at the same time. I can’t think of anything else to relieve his emotional pain but to support his vengeance. I helped him think of plans to take down the other guild but I guess my ideas weren’t helping at all. I just stayed there by his side so he wouldn’t feel alone until we fell asleep on each other’s arms.

At midnight, when darkness was at its peak, the entire place was filled with terror. No different from the world of the Black Market.  We decided to come back unarmed to look for the other guild’s weaknesses. But instead, danger welcomed us. We were arrested as soon as we entered the place. Everyone was. It’s like the Nazi’s took over the entire society. The floating black men brought us to the dungeons where they keep the criminals behind special bars.

I guess everyone needs to undergo interrogation to find the rest of the members of the recently annihilated guild. As we were going down one dungeon after another, a whisper disturbed us. A voice full of wrath was calling his name. I followed the voice, it was disturbing. Soon enough, I discovered it was coming from the wall made of bricks. It was plain and doesn’t seem to be a hidden door or some sort. But strangely, a voice was coming out of it.

One of the floating black men hovered towards me and whipped his hand to the wall. Gradually, a room appeared and an offender hurriedly forced himself on to the bars, screaming in anger. He was reaching his hands towards him as he spoke in a language I never understood. My boyfriend went near him. Observing the way he stares at the offender, it can be concluded that he was his acquaintance before. They must have had a past which he never told me.

He reached his hand and touched the offender’s face. Right at that moment, time stopped for the three of us. Everyone in the Black Market was frozen in time. I, from afar, was watching them converse about a past they had. A past I wasn’t aware of. The offender was freed from the bars and my boyfriend was trapped in a bonfire made of corpses. He wasn’t burning though but in terrible pain. He was screaming. And the offender just stood there enjoying him suffer. I wanted to help, but my physical body is frozen. My mind isn’t.

The offender noticed this and went straight to me. “What strange woman you are. How are you not frozen in time like the others?”

My boyfriend broke free from the spell that bounded him from that bonfire. He thrust onto him and they fell on the ground. He quickly grabbed his purchase which he bargained the first time we went there. It was a powder of blue crest. He quickly sprinkled a handful onto the offender’s head and immediately melted its face. It was a dreadful attack. I couldn’t believe what I saw but I was thankful for it. Who knows what he could’ve done to me if he didn’t freed himself.

The time was still frozen from the others and we immediately escaped from the place. In one blink, we were back again in my apartment. He was unconscious when we arrived. Probably tired from suffering down there. I laid him to my bed and cleaned his face to freshen him up. I removed his spectacles, placed in on top of my night table as he slept like an innocent child. I was glad he was resting.

I sat there beside him and removed my stilettos. I looked at his face and tried to digest everything that happened. It was a lot to recall that only occurred in a span of a day. I learned a lot about him. What he does. Who he was dealing with. It was hard for him. A lot of pain. A lot of suffering. He never told me anything about it. But I wasn’t mad at him for that. I, too, had a secret to spare. Like him, I knew sorcery that I inherited from my ancestors. I never dealt with the Black Market though. I came from a different society. Heavenly, very light and purely peaceful. Our knowledge in sorcery is only being used to relieve all sorts of discomfort.

That moment, I wanted to use my ability on him.  So he doesn’t need to suffer anymore. I placed my hand on his forehead to wipe away his memory about the Black Market, his late relatives and everything else that would remind him of it. I want him to start a new life with me. Far away from the danger we faced. I spared his memory of his family though. And removed their memories as well about their relatives. It was wrong, but I have to save them. They don’t need to face the Black Market anymore. It wouldn’t do them any good at all. Hours later, they would all wake up without any traces of what happened. And for me to live a peaceful life as well, I decided to wipe away mine too.

Soon there was peace.

Serenity.

Reborn.