What I want to be

After two and a half years of uni, I have finally decided what I want to be. I want to be a writer.

Declaring it publicly is much cooler than saying it to yourself. And now, I’ll try to fulfill my dreams because I have made the choice.

I want to write.

The decision is not an easy one to make, especially when you know that you are not that good. But good is relative. I’m already a writer, it’s just up to me to become a better one.

The realisation came to me two days ago when I was interning at the hospital. Torn between psychology and media for all these years, I vowed to make the decision after I finished my internship. Now, I know. Psychology, with all its charm, is just not for me.

Maybe one day, I can be the next JK Rowling.

When it all started

Choosing to study Bachelor of Arts is a pure accident. Or I should really say, a pure gut-feeling. While having been admitted to Bachelor of Biomedicine in Melbourne University, one day before the application closed I decided to switch to Bachelor of Arts, thinking that this way, I would be able to pursue my interest in the media, as well as keeping my science background to live in Psychology.

I wasn’t thinking of writing, though. I have never thought of writing. The reason why I chose media is because I used to give a good presentation. I’ve done a few public speeches, including my senior high graduation speech, and I feel like studying PR, work in a television company, and become a presenter.

The reason why I decided to do a double major with Psychology, is basically because I’m interested in humans. I have always been an emotional being, and studying Psychology, in my opinion, would enable me to know humans better.

To some extent, it’s true.

Then, I fall in love with blogging, and I found out that I actually can write. Joining Meld and becoming its journalist / columnist is one of the best choices that I’ve ever made in life, and from there I learned a lot of things, more than university could ever teach me.

I told my friend the other day that even though I am doing some journalism classes in uni, it feels like because I’ve learned how to write in Meld and thus I’m able to do the pieces for uni, and not the other way around. Clearly, without Meld, I wouldn’t even pass my journalism subjects.

From here, to there

Of course, from now on, it would be a rocky path. But it would make me happy. I don’t even realise how many hours I’ve spent on deluging the news, browsing on writing articles on my iPad every night, and trying to improve my blog every day. My significant other is right. He told me that I have always been more passionate about writing, yet doubting myself for the fear of falling.

But what is life without a few risks, aye?

Now what?

There is one point that I would like to say: the years I’ve spent learning everything else are not wasted at all.

Why, you may ask?

Because I need to know for sure. Without really trying everything (learning science, psychology, marketing, and even business), I wouldn’t be as confident as now to declare that I want to pursue a career in writing. They are all merely telling me that those things are not what I want to do for life. My path lies somewhere else.

And as much as I love Psychology, I am not the type to work in an office, diligently editing research papers and organise a bunch of others. I hate the paperworks. Clinical work, even as awesome as it may sound, is just not me. One on one consultation using some theories that are too complicated to be understood is just not my style. As a writer, it’s always been my job to simplify things, not making them more complex.

I still have to finish uni, of course. But as I’ve decided which path to take, my learning would be more focused, and hopefully, more fruitful.

My biggest dreams:

1. Write a novel that would be adapted into a movie

2. Become a well-known columnist (not journalist)

3. Open a cafe that publishes a monthly broadsheet

4. Live a great story, and write it down

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Escape from Camp 14 (Book Reivew)

Run out of books to read? Check out my review on Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. Published on Meld Magazine.

ESCAPE from Camp 14 is a chilling true tale of one man’s escape from the only home he’d ever known – a North Korean political prison camp. 

ESCAPE FROM CAMP 14
By Blaine Harden
Pan Macmillan, $29.99

Shin’s first memory was an execution.

He was four-years-old at the time, too young to understand what was happening right in front of his eyes. He remembered the guards taking aim, firing their rifles three times.

Ten years after that first execution, Shin was back at the site where it happened – handcuffed and blindfolded – and he believed it was his time to die.

When a guard removed his blindfold, he saw the gallows and wooden poles.

But it was not Shin’s execution day – he was merely there to be a spectator. He watched as his mother and older brother were dragged to the site – one hung, the other shot dead by three guards.

As he watched them die, Shin didn’t feel sad, guilty, or even remorse. He was angry. He was angry with his mother and brother for planning an escape without him. And for leaving him to be beaten up by the guards as a result.

Fifteen years later and a free man, Shin admitted he was responsible for their executions.

Photo: Rick van Helden

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden tells the horrifying true story of Shin Dong-hyuk’s life in a North Korean political prison camp. Shin eventually escaped, finding his way to China, South Korea, and finally to the States. But before all that, he grew up in a remarkably different world – a world no could imagine still existed in the 21st century.

Born and raised in Camp 14, Shin believed he was a sinner, the son of parents who had betrayed his country. His father’s sin was being the brother of two North Koreans who had fled to South Korea. Shin’s sin was that he was his son.

Shin knew no love. Friendship and family relationships turned into betrayal over the never-ending quest for food. Children were beaten to death if they were caught stealing. Women disappeared if they got pregnant without permission, even if they were raped by soldiers.

Starvation was a daily routine. Shin’s happiest memories of his past were when his belly was full.

At 14, he found out his mother and older brother were planning to escape the prison camp. Brought up to respect and be loyal to the camp, Shin reported their escape plan to a guard – a move that would eventually lead to their executions, and his own torture.

Years later he met Park, a new prisoner who told him of the outside world. Shin began to hope. Together they plotted their escape. Park didn’t make it. Shin did.

Now, even after escaping, his past still haunts him.

“I escaped physically,” he says “I haven’t escaped psychologically.”

Reading Escape from Camp 14, it’s easy to understand why. Gripping as the memoir is, it unveils the darkest sides of humanity – how we are capable of treating one of our own worse than animals.

And as Blaine Harden writes, what is surprising is how little is being done about it.

“High school students in America debate why Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t bomb the rail lines to Hitler’s camps,” he says.

“Their children may ask, a generation from now, why the West stared at far clearer images of (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Il’s camps, and did nothing.”

For those who don’t know much about North Korea, Escape from Camp 14 is packed with enough information to give any reader a comprehensive understanding of its history .

The book is highly-recommended as it  tells “a story unlike any other” with its integrity shinging through on every page, to quote award-winning author Barbara Demick .

But just a warning: this is not a read for the faint-hearted.

Rebound: Only this isn’t basketball, it’s relationships

Published on Meld Magazine last week!

IT’S funny  just how heartless we can be when our hearts are broken. Marcella Purnama reflects on the pain of being a rebound and feeling like a distraction until someone better comes along.

The only thing sadder than being the “other” person in a relationship, is being someone’s rebound. And no – I’m not talking about basketball.

My first experience with being a rebound was in the short period between a farewell party for a friend leaving for Bali (a trip I didn’t end up going on for various reasons, but that’s a different story) and my end-of-school prom night.

The man in question had been my best friend since junior high – right up until he got together with this girl in senior high. Our friendship had crumbled.

But when he broke up with his girlfriend and prom night drew closer, we found ourselves reconciling at the goodbye party.

To my utter disbelief, he then left me a bouquet of roses, complete with a love poem, in front of my house on prom night shortly after – gifts I didn’t discover until the next morning.

While I didn’t really expect the roses or the poems, I knew something was up. I’d heard way too many stories of boys acting strangely after a breakup to take this as just a sweet gesture.

A few days later, he left on his end-of-school trip, leaving me alone with my confusion.

But it didn’t take long for the gossip mill and the miracle of technology to bring me the news: he’d gotten back together with his girlfriend.

Just in case you were wondering, and if you have been following my relationship columns, this is the guy in “My friend, you have been dumped“.

Suffice to say I was shocked. Never before had a guy acted amorously towards me, only to get back with another girl. But as far as first rebound experiences go, I’d say I got off easy. I mean I didn’t even become emotionally attached to him or anything.

But it was crazy to see what a guy can do during his relationship “mourning period”. And I did learn an important lesson from the whole thing  – if any of your friends of the opposite sex have just experienced a breakup, never, ever, and I mean, never, try to get close to them, even if it’s just out of genuine sympathy to cheer them up. Let their mates of the same sex do that.

Now if I had only taken my own advice…

My second rebound experience was completely different story. To say the least, it was a bit dramatic. Here’s the fairy tale version:

Once upon a time, there lived the gorgeous, stunning and feminine Princess B. Many handsome, young princes had approached her for her hand, but in the end, it was Prince A from a faraway land that got the honour of being her partner.

After being together for quite some time, Prince A knew in his heart that he wanted to be with her forever. One day, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. She said yes.

But not long after that, Princess B started to have second thoughts. She decided to flee from the impending nuptials. Feeling betrayed, Prince A jumped off the cliff into depression. With Princess B nowhere in sight, his friend, Commoner M, tried to heroically save him from the pit of gloom.

Suddenly, Prince A became unusually nice, giving Commoner M signals that he was interested. She picked up on these signals but while she was interested in Prince A, fate had a mind of her own. Commoner M chose not to show Prince A how she felt. Instead she disappeared and let the two royal highnesses got back together again – as she knew they would – but it hurt like hell to do it.

Well, I don’t even know what to say about that. Don’t play with fire or it will burn you, maybe?

I guess I should have learnt my lesson the first time around. Being someone else’s rebound can be really painful. You feel used and unwanted, like you’re just there to distract the person until someone better comes along.

But if I ended this article by just bemoaning the terrible experiences I’ve had being a rebound, I’d be a hypocrite.

I’ve been on the other side before.

I remember making someone my own rebound. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.

I was in junior high at that time and in puppy love with a senior. After a short courting period, he gradually made his exit. Someone else tried to court me shortly after, while I was still in my mourning period.

Guess what happened next?

But… my record of being someone’s rebound and making someone my rebound is still two to one – so I guess I’m forgiven, right?

Well, maybe not.

It’s crazy, really crazy, what we can do when we’re broken-hearted. But it’s even crazier for me to think that I can try to cheer my friends up who’ve been through the same ordeal, or try to distinguish between love and loneliness, when I’ve been guilty of being on the other side.

Have you ever been someone’s rebound? Have you ever made someone yours? Share your experiences with us below.

Men in Black 3 (2012)

mp’s rating: 6.8/10
acting: 7/10
plot: 6.5/10

effects: 7/10

Good story, great effects, top actors – Men in Black 3 has all the ingredients needed to produce such a blockbuster movie.

In Men in Black 3, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back… in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K’s life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him – secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind. – (C) Sony

The movie is humorous, funny, and let me say Josh Brolin is perfect in portraying the young agent K. It is entertaining, but somehow it also lacks a dear quality that distinguishes great movies and OK-only ones: impression. It doesn’t leave much impression.

I feel like it’s not the type of movie that would be watched twice, but more towards a kind of movie that’s there for a couple of good laughs, and then tossed aside.

Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin are great actors, of course. Josh Brolin’s voice and acting deeply resemble Tommy Lee Jones’, and thus make all the audience believe that they are really one person, with 40 years difference.

Worth the cinema trip? Definitely. Highly recommended to those of you who fancy the first and second MIB, and to all the others who want to be entertained.

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

mp’s rating: 7/10
plot: 7/10
acting: 7/10

Not having enough chick flicks dosage lately? You can rest assured that this one’s definitely worth the cinema trip!

Exactly one year after Tom Solomon meets Violet Barnes, he surprises her with a ring. By all accounts, Tom and Violet are destined for their happily ever after. However, this engaged couple just keep getting tripped up on the long walk down the aisle.

After Jason Segel’s great performance in How I Met Your Mother series, he has definitely made a big hit in this movie as well.

Knowing that every woman in the world would pretty much turn into a bridezilla after being engaged, The Five-Year Engagement tells a romantic comedy of the journey from popping the question to tying the knot.

Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) is stunning. With her slick British accent, (and a career as a psychologist in the movie), I have definitely put her on my great actresses list. As for Jason Segel, I have liked him from How I Met Your Mother, so it’s great to actually see him taking his talent to the box office.

The plot itself, I think, is great. While every couple wants their big day to become perfect, nothing would be. Wedding is not about having the perfect day, but rather making the best out of your bad days – it’s simply a matter of perspective.

So if you’re tired of accompanying your partners to movies like The Avengers, MIB 3, or Battleship, it’s now a good excuse (or revenge) to let him accompany you watching chick flicks.

The Avengers (2012)

Mp’s rating: 8/10
Plot: 7.5/10
Acting: 8/10
Effects: 8.5/10

I have finally watched The Avengers. I am almost ashamed to say that because I self-proclaimed myself as a hardcore movie fan, and I haven’t watched The Avengers until a month after it’s released? What a shame…

But I did enjoy every bit of it.

Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who’s who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster.

The movie has a lot to digest, especially if you are not familiar with each of the superhero. Each one has their own characteristics and their own story lines, so I recommend that you guys do your homework first before watching this movie because it will be much more fun if you have some background knowledge to start with.

The acting is great, the techniques and effects are super cool, and it is just so humorous and refreshing. I literally couldn’t stop laughing. A lot of it is inside jokes from the previous Marvel movies, but yeah, it’s good.

Plot wise, it is quite unpredictable. I’m not really a Marvel fan (my favourite superhero is…. Ehm… Wait… Nothing comes to mind…………….. Okay, I’ll cheat and start with elimination. It’s definitely not Superman. Not Thor. Captain America is not too bad. Not Fantastic Four. Not Ironman. Not Hulk. ….oh, maybe Batman? The Dark Night is just one of the best movies in 2011), but this movie has done its best to actually make a movie that has 10 different lead actors. It’s hard to produce good movies with 10 different lead actors.

If you haven’t watched this movie, it’s a definitely must-see. I know it’s not one of the best movies in 2012 (I am anticipating The Dark Night Rises may be), but it’s seriously super entertaining. Love it.