Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Ten Jobs for the Taking if I've Fucked up my HSC

10. Cock fight commentator
09. Party clown
08. Kissing booth operator
07. The guy who writes those woeful jokes on the back of chip packets
06. Janitor at Fairfield Chase
05. Joke-writer for Christmas crackers
04. Rewind guy at the video store
03. Proactiv model
02. Waterboy for the Australian National Lacrosse Team
01. Author of fortune cookie messages, based in Brooklyn, New York

See? It ain't so bad.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Have No Drive to Drive

On Wednesday, January 14, 2009, I turned 16. I could have taken my Learner's driving test on that day if I wanted to. "I'll wait two weeks or so until I try for my L's," I thought to myself. I just felt as though I needed that breathing space of two weeks before I tackled something such as driving.

It is Tuesday, December 14, 2010, and I still do not have my L's. I mean, it's not like I took the test and failed. I haven't even taken the test, period. If it's any consolation, I've taken the practice test numerous times, and have passed on most occasions. Now, for many teens, learning to drive is an exciting process - something they have craved since their junior years. A vehicle is generally associated with freedom. Most teens enjoy the prospect of driving because it gives their social lives some much-needed leverage. The thought of being able to drive to a place by oneself - a place where one wants to be, is tantalising to many teens. If a young adult has his/her own personal car, then that prospect is even more appealing. The adolescent mindset is one that generally has a focus on parental exclusion. Most teens don't want to be seen with Mum and Dad. They want to express individual will, and frequently associate with friends.

For whatever reason/s, those motivations have not come over me. I just haven't had the desire to learn to drive. OK...I was kinda lying when I said for whatever reason/s. I can think of a few specific reasons why I haven't gone for my L's yet. I will go through each reason in the form of an elaborated list.

1. A bad experience as a child - When I was approximately 9 years old, my dad had to get an old, faulty car to a smash repairs place (or something like that) at the end of my street. So, it was decided that my dad and brother would push start the car while I would control the steering and acceleration. Yes, it was illegal. Anyway, I lost control of the car, nearly caused an accident, and crashed into the gutter. Thankfully, no one was harmed. My dad and brother yelled at me, and I ran off home, frightened and confused. To this day, that experience remains quite vivid.
2. Growing up in a matriarchal household - If you didn't know, my parents divorced in 2003. For the past seven years, I've lived with my mum and my brother. My mum has never driven in her life - she doesn't have a licence, and has a self-confessed 'phobia of cars and driving'. Thus, for my adolescent years, I haven't had a father figure to 'show me the ropes', or to encourage me to drive. It seems that most teens these days learn to drive with their father. Of course, there's my brother, who is a good source of support, but in my opinion, he cannot be a direct substitute for a father. My brother has always been a good driver, and actually has an interest in cars, however I believe that he lacks the 'wisdom' or the 'experience' of a parent driver.
3. My brother teaching me - Speaking of my brother, he is the one who'll be teaching me to drive when I eventually get my L's. As I said, he is a good driver, and I have complete trust in him. It's just that I'm worried about how he'd react if I made a mistake (and I WILL make mistakes). In the past, he has told me off for very minor mistakes that I've made. He is quite impatient at times, and I would feel as if I was under too much pressure by learning under him. The fact of the matter is, I will be learning under him. I would actually prefer him to teach me than some driving instructor.
4. Fear of failure/question of difficulty - OK, this reason is slightly stupid, but I'm concerned that driving a car may actually be difficult. Of course, my bad experience as a child contributes to me having this feeling. I often think "Surely, driving cannot be difficult. Just look at how many people are on the road. Look at how many people my age are learning to drive. If the majority of people can drive, then surely, I can do it too." Despite thinking that, I still have my doubts. I want to learn to drive using an automatic transmission car. I honestly don't think I have the coordination or reflexes to drive a manual car. Since there are no automatic cars at my house, that makes things kinda difficult.

Well, those are my reasons for not yet attaining my Learner's licence. Now, many people, including some of my friends, are continually giving me a hard time over the fact that I still don't have my L's. I have laughed off many of their comments, but sometimes I find them to be quite annoying. There's a running joke between two of my friends - Lucas and Nicholas. They have told me numerous times that if I haven't got my L's by the time I am 18, they will pay for my L's test and drive me to the nearest RTA on my birthday. For some reason, I think it may come to that stage, sadly. Anyway, the bottom line of this blog is that you shouldn't make judgements about people without knowing the full story. It's not that I'm lazy. People don't remain lazy for this long. I happen to have numerous psychological reasons for my decision, which I have explained in this blog, and so you shouldn't just dismiss my decision as one based purely on laziness. Think before you speak, and allow me to go at my own pace.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010


OK, let me just cut to the chase and tell you all that I haven't had the motivation to blog as of late. The last time that I blogged was November the 25th. Since then, I haven't had any impulses or desires to spill my thoughts on this site. Nothing has happened that has triggered a creative buzzer within me. My friend Lucas has told me that since graduating from school, he has lost some of his creativity. For example, he doesn't play his bass as often. Maybe the same thing has happened to me. Perhaps I'm still adjusting to post-HSC life. I feel like I'm letting my readers down by not blogging that much anymore. Sure; the previous sentence sounds a bit egotistic...but I only included it because people have genuinely complimented me on my posts. Some people have told me that they read my blogs before they go to bed, almost like a ritual. Others say my blogs provide them with relaxation. Anyway, enough about the compliments. I originally set up this site with the intention of blogging daily. That lasted for almost two weeks, but I realised that I was forcing myself to blog, rather than allowing my mind to unravel itself naturally. I was struggling to come up with good topics. It felt like I was writing in essay form in each post. That formula seemed to be a success, as far as blogs go, but it soon became tedious for me. My next decision was to blog about four times a week, but I didn't even have the motivation for you have discovered. So now, I've decided that I will blog when I feel like blogging. I'm not imposing any rules on myself. That way, there is no pressure to blog, nor is there any guilt over not blogging. In a way, this is a positive thing, because I may produce a blog when you least expect it. I don't know about you guys, but I'm a big fan of surprises. Based on my blog frequency as of late, this entry will come as a surprise.

I've entitled this entry Phases, referring to an aspect of my mentality. That is, when I discover something new (e.g. blogging), I become attached to it. I may become attached to it for a few weeks, perhaps two months. Sometimes, the 'phase' only lasts for a few days. I think that every human being goes through their own 'phases'. I'm sure that a lot of you have gone through a phase where you've watched The Simpsons every day of the week for a considerable amount of time. Then you may not have watched the show for six months, only to resume watching it for another four weeks. Earlier this year, I went through a one-week phase of being addicted to crosswords, after watching the documentary Wordplay (a gripping film, may I add). I still do the occasional crossword, but I am no longer in a phase where I'm addicted to crosswords. One significant phase that I am currently in is listening to the music of Crowded House and Neil Finn. For those who don't know, Neil Finn is the frontman of Crowded House. I've been listening to their music consistently for at least three months now. I've been familiar with the band for ten years, probably. But only now have I become addicted to their music. They are practically the only band I listen to's almost disturbing, in a way. For the record, Crowded House is my favourite band, and Neil Finn is my favourite singer-songwriter.

So, now that I've provided you with a couple of examples of 'phases', you may be able to understand why I haven't been blogging too often lately. The period when I was blogging daily was just a phase. Sure, I enjoyed it, but the reality is that it didn't feel natural. The excitement of blogging has left me, however the enjoyment of it still remains. Yes; there is a difference. Blogging no longer feels like new terrain for me. In saying that, I'm not a seasoned veteran, either. I've just gotten over that first hump. I now know what it feels like to blog, hence I don't get a thrill from writing blogs anymore. That's all for now...I can't tell you when I'll produce my next blog. You'll find that out, soon enough.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rozelle Tram Depot

The abandoned Rozelle Tram Depot at Glebe is one of those places that you would have entered as a child with an ear-to-ear grin, begging your parents to stay for 'just five minutes more'; the type of place that makes your eyes light up. I was lucky enough to go there today with two of my mates - Lucas and Nicholas.

This particular tram depot is the largest of its kind in Sydney. At peak capacity, it ran approximately 200 trams from1918, to its closure in 1958. Since the depot was abandoned, it has become a haven for the homeless, a hot spot for vandals, and most astonishingly, a virtual sanctuary for street artists. There are still five trams in the depot, as well a bus. All of these vehicles have been heavily vandalised, however, this vandalism is undoubtedly quite stylish and aesthetically-pleasing. Take a look at what I mean:

OK...maybe the trams aren't that aesthetically-pleasing on the inside, but from the outside, they are quite something. But it isn't just the trams that stand out in this amazing place. There is graffiti all over the place - not just crappy tags, but some impressive pieces of art. 

I was initially worried that it would be hard to get into the depot. It is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club, so I thought that there may have been security, or that all entrances would be blocked. That was not the case, and entry was as simple as walking through a set of massive gates. There is even graffiti on the building's exterior. Lucas and I were awestruck when we entered through the gates. Nicholas didn't really care that much. Lucas loves street art and photography, so this place was a goldmine for him. As for me, I also like street art, and I also enjoy exploring what I like to call 'hidden relics' of society. I've always enjoyed exploring unfamiliar places with interesting histories. There are spray cans scattered around the floor, as well as plenty of broken glass (windows from trams/the bus and the building itself). Some areas are moist and have plant life, whilst some areas are dangerous to walk on, due to missing, creaky or broken floorboards. What makes this place so exciting to explore (besides the art) is the vast amount of rooms it has, or the size of it as a whole. What's strange is that the toilets/shower block actually smells bad. It's quite creepy around that area. Believe it or not, there's still a bar of soap lying in one of the soap-holders! It isn't difficult to judge that the tram depot has been lived in, or is currently being lived in by squatters. There are food wrappers, empty bottles, clothes, mattresses...EVEN PORN! 

Lucas, Nicholas and I weren't the only ones inside the tram depot today. There was a group of people in there who were filming a video. It turns out that the video was being filmed for Oprah Winfrey, and will be shown to her when she visits Australia next month. It is hoped that Oprah can promote the Rozelle Tram Depot as a place of heritage and community, and stop the local council from building apartments on the land. How do I know this? Because I was asked to say a few words about the place. The woman who approached me to be in the video seemed very friendly and down-to-earth, so I was more than happy to help her out. Lucas declined a role in the video because he didn't want his face or name on TV, and Nicholas refused to participate because he actually wants the apartments to be built on the site. So, I gave the Rozelle Tram Depot a decent plug, and it was all honest, too. I really do like the place.

Once we had thoroughly explored the place, Lucas, Nicholas and I decided to bid it farewell. We took some 'souvenirs' with us, which were empty spray cans. A woman who was passing by with a baby in a pram asked us " [Have you] been vandalising the place, as usual?" Lucas told her that we were just taking photos, which is the truth. I didn't like that woman. She had an elitist mentality, probably because she lives in an affluent part of Sydney. I walked along a rock ledge to get past a padlocked set of gates (not the ones we entered through), and when I landed on the concrete, I hurt my toes, and yelled out "FUCK!" I found this to be funny, because the woman and her toddler were still very close to us. Hilarious.

After spending a couple of hours today at the Rozelle Tram Depot, I can definitely tell you that it is a spectacular place. It's tucked away, and not often heard about, but don't let that deter you from checking it out. If you have an interest in street art, Sydney's heritage sites, or just like exploring wide open spaces, then I recommend this place to you. I may even be going back there as soon as next week! I took 53 photos today, and you can see them on my Facebook ( Lucas took over 200 photos! Some are already up, but the entire set will be up by tomorrow.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Year 12 Formal and Pat's After-party

"I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad goodby, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."

~ Holden Caulfield (protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye)

Thursday, November 18, 2010. What a memorable night that was! As memorable as it was, it seemed to go by so quickly, which is generally the case with such nights. As I said my final goodbyes to some people last night, it really dawned on me that I may never see those people again. I don't think I truly realised this while I was at school, but I will indeed miss the vast majority of the Class of 2010 at Patrician Brothers' College Fairfield.

So...where do I begin? Firstly, I'll tell you all what my formal attire consisted of. My shirt was aqua, which wasn't a popular choice of colour amongst the grade. I chose that shirt because aqua/turquoise is my favourite colour. The rest of my attire was black. Black trousers, black jacket, black skinny tie and black shoes. Oh, and a black belt [if you care to know]. Black socks [if you REALLY care to know].

Before the formal, I went to Lucas' house for a 'meet-up'. Here, I met up with Lucas, Diego, Marbo, Mendoza, Garreffa, Jordan and Nicholas. We took a few photos and had a pre-formal beer. A nice way to break the ice...if there was any at all. Jordan drove himself to the formal in his Mazda ute. You've gotta admire the guy's honest and unpretentious choice. Mendoza got driven by his mum...I think. Everyone else but Marbo and I went in a Chevy that Lucas hired (at least I think it was a Chevy. I'm hopeless when it comes to cars).My brother drove Marbo and I to the formal in his V8 Holden Commodore. His friend, Daniel Grech, tagged along in the passenger seat. My brother did speed a little...because he likes to show off, but it suited the occasion. He did a small burnout around the corner from the venue of the formal (Conca D'oro at Riverwood). Surprisingly, he beat the Chevy to the venue, even though the Chevy left ten minutes earlier.

The venue itself wasn't as nice as I was expecting. The exterior is too dull, although I didn't really have a problem with the location of the venue, like some others did. Some people didn't like how it is surrounded by shops, but I liked it, in a way. It gave the night a real suburban touch. I felt that it was too dim inside the venue, that more lighting would have been nice. Also, as many others expressed to me, the place was a bit too crammed. I felt constricted in my surroundings at times. I was on table 4 with Marbo, Lucas, Rahul, Aquilina, Garreffa, Nicholas, Mendoza and his girlfriend Tanika. There was some slight controversy with the seating arrangements, with Mr Walker telling me I had to move tables. I showed him something that I didn't show enough of during my days at school - defiance.

The food that was served to us was a bit of a mixed bag. There were two entrees available, although we couldn't choose which one we got (just like all the courses on the night, but that's understandable). I got this:

I had no idea what it was when it was put in front of me. Mendoza said it was a Caesar salad. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought, although it became too messy towards the end. The other entree was something that looked like bruschetta. It didn't look that nice at all. The main course was rather nice. I was given the stuffed chicken with potatoes and beans.

The other option was veal. For dessert, I was given a chocolate mousse tart. It wasn't that great - the pastry was too hard, and the mousse had an air of artificiality to it. 

The other option looked like a cheesecake of some sort (perhaps lemon, caramel or vanilla). Not everyone ate their dessert, since they were too busy on the dancefloor. Oh, as for the dinner roll, it was rather hard - perhaps the hardest dinner roll I've ever eaten. A part of me died when someone (I think it was Lucas) took my glass halfway through the night, so that I didn't have anything to drink from for the rest of the night.

My level of social interaction wasn't the greatest last night, but I was far from being reclusive. At first, I felt socially awkward. I wasn't willing to get onto the dancefloor; I was sitting at my table - keeping quiet. I was thinking "Boy, this is gonna be a long night." As the night grew older, I found myself more willing to enjoy myself. So, I made my way onto the dancefloor, and at first, stayed near my friends. After all, I remember how eager I was to dance at my Year 10 formal, and so I didn't get why I initially felt reluctant to dance last night. I was actually surprised that no-one dragged me onto the dancefloor when one of Kesha's songs or Like a G6 came on. Cresta gave me a piece of his wisdom when I told him I was hopeless at dancing. He said "Don't worry about it. The way I see it, people may think you look stupid, but they aren't aware that they are doing the same thing." So, I moved my arms and tapped my feet like everyone else, despite not liking the music. But hey, even I will admit that there are certain occasions where up-tempo music is required. But you know what? Last night wasn't about the music; it was about celebration, and feeling good. I didn't care for what I heard, but I cared for the way it made me feel. When ABBA's Dancing Queen came on, some of the boys, including myself, formed a circle around Miss Penna - we dedicated it to her. It was a memorable moment. However, the highlight of the night for me was singing along to Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. It provided a chance for Dom Quaranta and I to show our love for proper music. I was sweating all over, and shouting rather than singing, but I was having the most fun I'd had in a while. A truly euphoric moment. When the formal was over, my ears were ringing, and my voice was rather raspy. I didn't actually stay around to say goodbye to people, although Mr Morizzi shook my hand when I was on my way out. This surprised me, as we never really spoke that much.

Lucas' dad provided a lift for Lucas, Marbo, Diego and I to Pat's after-party. We stopped at Lucas' house first, where Lucas and I got changed into some casual gear. I had taken casual clothes to Lucas' house when I went there earlier for the meet-up. My first thought when I arrived at Pat's house was "Fuck, what a steep driveway." My alcohol consumption was very limited, as usual. Just one Corona, and a small sip of some strong vodka that Garreffa had. I felt pretty talkative and open at this after-party. I didn't feel shy or awkward, like I do at most other social gatherings. I felt like what one should feel like at a party. Hanging with Jake Cartwright for most of the night was a funny experience, especially because he kept denying that he was drunk. To his defence, he wasn't smashed. But, he was a bit tipsy. I had a good chat with Fadie, Dean and Garreffa about modern music, and how it compares to older music. I gave Brandon Tran a hug, because I may never see him again. He told me to keep up my blogs...don't worry mate - I will! I had two Red Bulls. I discovered that everything is funnier when it is sung, a theory shared by Diego. I told Joe Ida that he featured in one of my dreams the other night. Antonio said that he would try alcohol for the first time ever...but I don't think that he did. Dean was...kinda flirtatious with someone of the opposite sex (perhaps I said too much). Mendoza popped a tyre. Cresta went to go and check it out, but stacked it while jumping over Pat's fence. In Pat's basement, I mistook a bra for two surgical masks that were stuck together - embarrassing.

Marbo, Lucas, Diego and I left the party at 2:30 A.M. When I got home, everything seemed so silent. I usually stay up until 2:30 - 4:00 each night, but it never feels that quiet, or as lonely. And then I thought, the silence and the loneliness was so apparent because my night had been one of social interaction and noise. The music at the formal, the casual chit-chat at the after-party - those were the things that amplified my life for several hours last night and early this morning. Once I was home, I had no-one to talk to. My mum and brother had gone to sleep, and so I was left alone with a mind full of bittersweet thoughts, and a pair of ears that were ringing. I put on the graduation DVD that was given out at the formal, and I smiled at some of the things that I saw/read. I went to bed at 5:30 A.M.

The truth is that I enjoyed the Year 10 formal more than the Year 12 formal; however, as far as nights go, last night was a bloody good one! If I was Holden Caulfield, I would not be disappointed, because I felt like I was saying goodbye to a place last night.

A special thanks to:
- Danny Nguyen and Andrew Chea, who took the images of the food used in this blog.
- Sebastien Khouri, for putting together the graduation DVD by himself.
- Joe Maganja, for getting me to and from places last night.
- The teachers who made last night possible, in particular, Mr Walker and Miss Penna.
- Every student from the grade who made my night so enjoyable. I'm gonna miss seeing your faces.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Some Things are Better Left Unsaid

“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.” - Winston Churchill

Lately, I've been doing a bit of self-assessment, and have come to the realisation that I frequently voice many strong beliefs and opinions. Some would say that having an opinion and voicing it is a good thing, while others feel that opinions should be kept to oneself, because letting them out may create tension. Personally, I don't mind sharing my personal views on things, however in the past, some people have taken some things I've said in the wrong way. A lot of these things are my attempts at humour. For those of you who have ever watched Good News Week, you would be familiar with the dark humour that the show fosters. Many of the jokes told on that show are said with the intention to shock, and are centred around current affairs, or things that shouldn't be joked about. Yet people still laugh. There's an old saying that goes "Comedy is tragedy plus time." What this means is that a tragedy can be made into a joke, as long as enough time has passed since the tragedy occurred. Most of the time, I don't allow an adequate amount of time to pass, and I will say something that may be controversial, even if it's about a recent tragedy. People may take offence to what I say, but I brace myself for all kinds of reactions before I say something controversial. You may have heard me make jokes about religion before...not only religion itself, but God, Jesus, etc. Let me just clarify that religion is not above criticism. Just because some people consider religion sacred, and integral to their daily lives, doesn't mean that every individual must treat it with reverence. Anyway, that's all I'll say about religion, because too much criticism of religion will create an uproar. It always does. Now, some would say that my words on religion were accurate, and that they should have been expressed. Others will say that I said too much, and that I should have kept those things to myself. Personally, I think I said just the right amount of words on religion. I knew where to draw the line.

The reason I say a lot of things that may seem 'harsh' is because I know that others are thinking it, but are too afraid to say it. I value the truth, so I'm always happy to provide 'the other side of the story'. I really don't like when things are sugarcoated. People will believe anything they read in a newspaper these days. They will blindly conform to the latest trends. I'm the voice in the crowd who says "It's not as sweet as it sounds" or "You are wrong, and this is why..." Some people may look at me differently because I say such things, but it's the real me, so I'm not gonna sacrifice my true self for their approval. Despite this, there are times when even I realise what's right to say and what isn't. For example, if a young child presented me with a drawing of a house, and asked me if I liked it, then I would say yes, even if the drawing looked horrible. Young children have very fragile emotions, so saying something like "No, it looks like utter shit" would completely devastate them.

When looking at the phrase "Some things are better left unsaid," we must establish what is meant by better. Generally, it's better in the sense that no-one gets offended, or that everything remains calm. Some people may be physically assaulted over just a few words. Indeed, there are numerous negative consequences that could transpire due to words being spoken. Conversely, what happens if we keep things bottled up inside of us? Brooding thoughts gnaw away at our consciousness. We become distracted from various activities because we cannot focus on anything but those pensive thoughts. Or, as I have learnt, we may erupt in a fit of rage, and spit out all of the things that we've been bottling up. Last of all, we are gifted with the right of free speech. It may be a cliched thing to say, but it's true nonetheless. We shouldn't hold back just because a few people might object.

Fundamentally, it is up to the individual to decide what he/she discloses and what he/she keeps bottled up. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Andrew's/Jimmy's Combined 18th Birthday Party

About twenty minutes ago, I arrived home from my third party of the year - Andrew Tran's and Jimmy Nguyen's combined 18th birthday party. On the whole, it was a fun night, but I couldn't tell you how it rated as a party, since it's not often that I go to parties.

When I was having a shower earlier today, I analysed the various situations that could arise at the party. For example, I thought about whether I would prefer to stand up or sit down at the party, and decided on ways to relieve any awkwardness and ease my way into conversations. I know that most of you don't think about this stuff before a party, but oh well...this is what socially inept people think about.

My ride to the party was supplied by Adrian Ossa's brother, with Adrian and Peter Jewo tagging along. Upon arrival, I was faced by two security guards, who needed to check if I was on the guest list. I showed one of the guards my name, and continued through to the backyard. My immediate impression of the backyard was that it had a real Western Suburbs homely feel to it - the type of backyard you'd love to run around as a little kid. I was torn between which group of people I should say hello to first, but eventually decided on Domenic Leonello and his mates, since Domenic was the first to call out my name. Then, I went over to Antonio, Ralph and Dean, who were preparing food on the barbecue. After a few more handshakes from people I knew, I began to feel comfortable with the atmosphere of the party.

The first proper conversation I had (and perhaps the only real conversation I had all night) was with Domenic. We are a lot closer than most people would suspect, and we share so many idiosyncrasies. We kept changing the conversation topic, depending on what came to mind. My night pretty much consisted of standing around (or sitting around as it got later), and chatting casually to others. There were a few times where I said nothing for five minutes...I find it hard to open up at parties. I got to meet Larisa and Brenda - two followers of my blog. They're nice girls; I felt comfortable around them. Brenda gave me the nickname of Santo, and remarked that I would mention her in my next blog...and well, I just did. Larisa claimed that I was "so serious," and I wanted to prove to her that I could have fun...that I was a normal person. Don't worry Larisa; your comments didn't offend me.

It was a pretty tame party, in the scheme of things. There were perhaps only three or four people who were totally out of it (off their faces). There were quite a few happy drunks, most notably Kyle Wilson and John Giang-Nguyen, who provided their fair share of entertainment. Nguyen Bui was great company on the guitar, and I was treated to the amazing singing of Larisa and Ralph. Andrew Tran ripped his pants. The kitchen floor was slippery. Artiene Tatian is naturally funny. The bathroom was practically always occupied, which made me think that people were using it to make out in. As is usual for me at parties, I kept my alcohol consumption to a very, very small amount. All I had was ONE beer, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I just don't get the hype over alcohol.

From a social perspective, I didn't do a lot of talking, and didn't talk to anyone I didn't know. I mean, I spoke to a few people that I didn't know, but it only lasted for a few seconds, and didn't count as conversation. I didn't feel as awkward around girls tonight as I usually that's a plus. I'm just not a party person. I don't like party music, and can hardly recognise any songs that are played at today's parties. I don't see parties as a place to 'chat up chicks'. I hardly drink any alcohol, and seeing people who are really drunk disturbs me. In saying that, I like going to parties because it's a chance to have a night out, and a chance to interact with people I feel comfortable talking to. All of the things that I dislike about parties are cancelled out by what I call the 'party trade-off'. That is, I do not have the right to complain about what goes on at a party, because someone was nice enough to invite me to it in the first place. If I was to hold a party, there wouldn't be dance music playing out of loudspeakers. Hell, there may not even be music at all! But the party trade-off gives the host control over what goes on at the party. The guests should respect the host's choices because they wouldn't be at the party if it wasn't for the host/s inviting them.

My brother, who came from the nearby Santo's Pizzeria, picked me up from the party. A few of his mates bet him that he wouldn't find his way to the house, located in Togil Street, Canley Vale. Just to prove his mates wrong, my brother quickly passed by Santo's on the way home, where his friends were seated out the front. He yelled out to them "I'm going home now, but I just wanted to say I FOUND IT!" He left the scene in style by chucking a burnout. He does that from time to time.

Oh well. Another night dissolving into nothing but memories.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Enough is Enough

Remember those Formspring trolls that I blogged about a few weeks ago? Well, they won't be getting to me anymore. Today, after much consideration, I set my Formspring to protected. This means that only people who follow me on Formspring can view my page and/or ask me questions. If you wish to follow me, I must first approve your request. My followers still have the opportunity to ask me anonymous questions, but it's likely I will guess their identities anyway. I know what you're thinking - this is an extreme measure, and it defeats the purpose of and sucks the fun out of Formspring. Well, my last day with a public Formspring wasn't fun at all. I was bombarded with comments from a guy who attacked me over various opinions I had made in this blog. Some of his points were valid, but he was abusing the privilege of anonymity. Here's an example of something I received:

I am going to start a blog soon, possibly after HSC. It's main objective will be to critique the shit out of you, be warned. Your days on the internet are numbered buddy.

Also, I received a bunch of comments that were downright stupid, such as: 

 i'm feeling so fly like a g6, like a g6, like a g6. Do you feel like a g6?

I mean, why would someone ask the above question? What does he/she get out of it? In fact, I received a lot of song lyrics today. Some lyrics were intended to comfort me, while others just had no relevance to me at all. It was becoming evident that my Formspring was no longer a place where I could go to answer genuine questions about myself. It had transformed into a cesspit of nonsensical statements and insults. The anonymity pissed me off the most. The trolls would be nothing without their guise of anonymity. Whenever I asked a troll to reveal him/herself, they wouldn't do it. Fucking cowards. What is more astonishing is that even the nice people, the ones who complimented me, wouldn't reveal themselves. I mean, is contemporary society that fake? All of this crap made me feel like shit, and I started to doubt if I was even a good person. I just don't get it. I've always been a nice guy. If I show disrespect to someone, it's only because they show me disrespect first. I couldn't help but think "Why me?"
My Formspring is undoubtedly the most popular one amongst my circle of friends and acquaintances. I receive and answer at least 80 questions/comments a day, on average. I believe I receive so many questions because I respond quickly. I practically spend my whole day on the computer (that's no exaggeration, sadly), and receive an email notification whenever a new question is asked. I think I appeal to trolls because I fight back. If a troll posts something that insults me, I won't simply make a joke about having sex with the troll's mother, but I will defend myself and make it clear to the troll that he/she has offended me. It would often tire me out having to answer up to twelve questions at a time, especially when the questions were of little substance, or if they were merely insults.

So I decided that enough was enough. I couldn't take it anymore. It wasn't enough for me to simply delete the posts by the trolls, because I would still read over their comments regardless. Also, I wasn't so sure if blocking their IP addresses would be effective. So, after responding to 2127 questions/comments on my Formspring, I decided that I had to alter my privacy settings. The trolls can no longer have their fun, and I will get some peace. Sure, my Formspring may now become barren, but I couldn't handle any more emotional pain. Yes, the trolls were getting to me. I'm very sorry to those who used my Formspring properly, and asked me insightful questions. I am extremely grateful for your support and participation, but you must understand the toll that this was taking on me. I am also sorry to those who enjoyed reading my responses in general. 

Moments after I had set my profile to private, I checked to see if I had received any new questions, to no avail. You see, answering so many questions made me develop an addiction to Formspring. It became a daily routine for constantly check my Formspring and respond to questions/comments by the minute. It sounds like a pathetic addiction, but then again, I live the life of a hermit, and don't have much better to do. I'm confident that I'll adapt to my new settings in a short while, and will be able to fight my impulses to check my Formspring. What I'm thinking of doing is to have one day of the week where I open my Formspring to anyone, just to make things more exciting. What do you guys think? Could you perhaps suggest any alternative to making my profile protected? What is the best way to make Formspring an enjoyable website without having to put up with trolls? All suggestions will be appreciated.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Commemoration of the One Year Anniversary of the 'Liturgy of the Light'

It's hard to believe that this time last year, the Class of 2010 at Patrician Brothers' College Fairfield were on their Year 11 Retreat, packed into a community hall at the Elanora Conference Centre at Elanora Heights, in what was a most reverent occasion - the Liturgy of the Light. It baffles me to think that it has been a year already. In a sense, it's a depressing, though much-needed reminder, of how time is continually fleeting. I still regard that liturgy as the moment in my life that has come closest to being perfect. I hope that everyone from the Year 12 cohort took something from it. Personally, I didn't participate in the 'forgiveness' part of the ceremony. Instead, I used the occasion to give thanks to people who had touched me in some way, whether it be over the course of the retreat, or throughout my schooling in general. For many involved, the occasion would have provided much spiritual fulfilment. Those who know me enough would know that I am not a religious person, and that my faith is quite weak. Did the liturgy improve my faith? Not one bit. What it did do though, is reassure me that life is a beautiful thing. Living...breathing...feeling...experiencing. It's just great to be alive, and to have been part of such a profound moment. If that moment was to be recreated, it just wouldn't be the same. There was a certain atmosphere of togetherness and mutuality in the room that night, one that, in my opinion, should not be imitated in the future. has been a year, and I realise that not everyone's promises from that night have managed to stay intact. That's life...shit happens. What's important is that you remember the way you felt on that night, and pat yourself on the back for having the courage to make such bold promises in the first place.

What you just read are the only spontaneous thoughts that you will come across in tonight's blog. I'm composing this blog to give anyone who was involved in the liturgy a chance to reflect on the occasion, seeing as it has been a year tonight. Below, I will post an original poem of mine, Absolution?, which I wrote for an English assignment earlier this year. For this assignment, I had to compose a creative piece based on a memory of mine that bears great significance. I chose to document the Liturgy of the Light. Personally, I think it could have been improved, but the teacher who marked it spoke highly of it. I will also post two songs that were playing in the background during the liturgy: The Living Years by Mike + The Mechanics, and Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own by U2. I instantly downloaded those songs when I arrived home from the retreat. This is just a suggestion, but if you are part of the Class of 2010 at Pats, and have your Year 12 Graduation candle, perhaps you could light it while you read the poem and listen to the songs.


We came in from the cold,
not knowing we would leave
with tears in our eyes.

Our faces were made visible
by the flicker of candlelight,
which enticed our eyes to the centre of the room.

                                                       A tragic revelation
removed all triviality from the occasion,
and it was then I felt the tears building up inside of me.
But I used my strength to hold them back,
because I sensed that I would need them later on.

We were invited –
not forced, to make amends for past wrongs.
Ashes would mark the start of a new beginning.
Bono’s voice permeated across the room,
singing ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own’,
as boys zigzagged through chairs, looking for old foes.
I had no scores to settle with anyone in the room,
so I sat, and I waited to be approached.
Nobody came to me.

Was my slate really clean?
                Or had I done something unforgivable?
I suspected the former, and felt a gratifying reassurance.

But the night was not over,
and it was time to recognise the good people:
the ones who made us smile,
who supported us when we felt like crumbling,
who made our stay at this retreat that bit more comfortable.
So I rose from my seat,
and panned the room for the ones who illuminated my pallid life.

My first true friend – he received an ash.
My quasi-cynical friend – he received one too –
I even gave one to the boy who asked “How are you?”
while I was making tea earlier in the evening.
In total, I must have marked over a dozen students and teachers,
every single instance brimming with a deep-rooted appreciation.

Two paper crosses would hold our special intentions,
so I waited in line behind my fellow friends.
A momentary stumble did not
distract my mind from the solemnity of the occasion,
and it was now my turn to put pen to paper.
I wrote both of their names:
Barbara and Peter,
and imagined their radiant smiles beaming down on me –
creating cracks in the roof,
in an effort to reach me.

When I was seated,
I looked across the room,
and saw my reflection in the tearful eyes
of innocence and youth.
Tears streamed down my face –
a deluge of sympathy, regret,
                                       and optimism.
Blackened foreheads told the stories
of tortured souls
who had been pushed around,
or berated for their independent beliefs.
I looked at the ones whose
foreheads presented more ash than bare skin,
and I was moved,
moved because I had understood them all along.

As people left the room in stunned silence,
those who remained
drew closer to the sacred space –
for warmth, inclusion,
or serenity,
for the space was a picturesque island in itself –
our intentions like messages in bottles:
released, yet still secure.

Pairs of boys,
strewn around the space,
comforted each other
with a gentle embrace.
I marked one pair with ashes –
their faces were portraits of grief.
They could have stayed by that light forever,
but time was a thief.

Prayer signalled the end of
this memorable night.
I embarrassed myself –
not knowing the correct order
of prayers in the Rosary.
I was a victim of my upbringing.
But this embarrassment lived only in me,
for those surrounding me
carried on as if nothing went wrong.
They knew better than to scoff or jeer –
this night had changed them.

When I felt content
with what I had seen in the room,
and with what I had learnt about my peers,
I stood up
and bowed in front of the sacred space,
keeping the peace intact.

I walked out of the room,
into the bitter arms of the October night.

All of my friends had by now
retreated to their cabins,
eager to rest their weary heads.
One of them came to check on me,
like the paranoid ewe,
in search of her lost lamb.
His mission was cut short,
as our paths intertwined;
I felt guilt digging his ugly claws
into my back,
because my friend –
he shouldn’t have been that kind.
I had put him through too much
in recent times.

He guided me back to the cabin we shared –
not a word was spoken.
I walked through the door
to a warm welcome.
                             A hug,
then my affirmation that I am
“a spiritual person, not a religious person,”
followed by sleep.

That night –
it has nestled itself
into a tranquil pocket
of my mind.
It often wakes up
making me smile,
and sigh –
is a verisimilitude
in itself.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

If Only One Thing Had Happened Differently

Last Wednesday, following my Modern History exam, I went to McDonald's with some friends. After finishing my meal, I had five minutes to get to the station to catch my bus home. So I said bye to my friends and made my way to the station. Along my path was a pedestrian crossing, and as always, I waited until the light turned green, and then I crossed the road. When I got to the other side of the crossing, I could see that my bus was at the station, and that passengers were boarding, so I quickened my pace in order to catch it before it left. While I was running, I could have sworn that the bus was going to leave without me, because it looked like the last passenger had boarded. I made it to the bus after all, much to my delight. When I stepped on to the bus, there was still one man receiving his change from the driver. After I showed my bus pass, the driver accelerated, and I realised that I owed my place on that bus to the man who had boarded it before me. If he hadn't caught the bus, then the driver would have left before I made it. Or, if he had paid using the correct fare, the driver wouldn't have taken the time to give him change. When I arrived home, I was feeling the heat, and realised that I would still have been at the station in the blistering heat, waiting for a bus, if that man hadn't caught the bus before me. It got me thinking about how our actions, no matter how insignificant we may think them to be, can impact on the lives of others, for better or for worse. It only takes ONE action to act as the catalyst in a convoluted chain of events.

Here's a scene from the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button that encapsulates this concept quite explicitly:

In this scene, Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) remarks "Sometimes we're on a collision course, and we just don't know it." This is very true. It's not as if the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were aware of the fate that they would meet that day. They would have woken up in the morning, had breakfast, kissed their spouses and children, and walked out the door for another routine day. Little did they know that they would never return home to their families. Even more applicable to this notion of fate is the decision made by the people who caught the planes that were to be hijacked. Perhaps some people would have been alive today if they didn't desire an earlier flight. It's not their fault though; our world should be one where people feel safe to catch any plane. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world. Our world is infested with some despicable beings, who I find it difficult to label as human.

We also hear Benjamin describe life as a series of intersecting lives and incidents, out of anyone's control. The truth is that we can in fact have control over our lives, however, there is only so much that we alone can determine. For example, I have control over whether I want to go to the video store. However, I do not have control over whether the DVD I desire is available or not. Perhaps it was hired ten minutes before I got there, and maybe I would have made it in time if it weren't for a car accident disturbing the flow of traffic. When I think of intersecting lives, I imagine what the world would be like if everyone just stayed in bed for a day. Would civilisation collapse? Perhaps, a little. I also think about who my parents are. I am the son of Henry and Sue Savona, but it could have been different. I often think how lucky I am to be a human being. I could have been born as an animal...something as insignificant as a fly, or even a gnat.

When I consider this notion of intersecting lives and incidents, and the inner complexities of life, I am also reminded of Neil Finn's song Anytime. Finn wrote the song after witnessing his beloved dog almost get run over by a bus. Here are the complete lyrics to this beautiful song:

I see a dog upon the road
Running hard to catch a cat
My car is pulling to a halt
The truck behind me doesn't know
Everything is in the balance
Of a moment I can't control
And your sympathetic strings
Are like the stirrings in my soul

I could go at anytime
There's nothing safe about this life
I could go at anytime

Find the meaning of the act
Remember how it goes
Every time you take the water
You swim against the flow
The world is all around us
The days are flying past
And fear is so contagious
But I'm not afraid to laugh

I could go at anytime
There's nothing safe about this life
I could go at anytime

Anytime (come without warning)
Anytime (it could be so easy)
A walk in the park (or maybe when I'm sleeping)
Anytime (see the clouds come over)
Rain or shine (I make you so unhappy)
Let's make it right

I feel like I'm in love
With a stranger I'll never know
Although you're still a mystery
I'm so glad I'm not alone

I could go at anytime
There's nothing safe about this life
Make it so easy to fly in the night
I could go at anytime
I could go at anytime

This song is essentially about the fragility of life, and how we often take our lives for granted. I'm sure that many of you assume that you'll live to be at least 70. Personally, I hope that I will make that age, but I know that it's no certainty. Any of us could die tomorrow due to some freak accident. Of course, that would be horrible, and in no way do I mean to trivialise such an occurrence. I just want you all to know that it's the truth, no matter how harsh it may be. Look at someone like Steve Irwin. I still remember how shocked I was the moment I learnt of his death. He worked with animals for a great portion of his life, and in a bitter irony, it was through one ill-fated encounter with a stingray that he died. It's no wonder they say 'truth is stranger than fiction'. When Finn sings, "...fear is so contagious, but I'm not afraid to laugh," he is referring to how life is so short in the scheme of things, and hence we should make the most of it. We shouldn't count down the days, or the years, to our death, but instead revel in the beauty that life has to offer.

As I draw to a close on this blog, I'd just like to clarify that I do not believe in destiny or fate. I believe in living in the moment, completely aware of our surroundings, and how they can impact on us. I don't believe that things happen for a reason, instead believing that life is one huge game of chance and circumstance, where one tiny instance can change the entire course of things. The irony in my reasoning is as follows: what if that one tiny instance was destined to occur?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

100 Random [and Possibly Amusing] Facts About Myself

1. Before I sat down to type this, I had a slice of chocolate cake.
2. This sounds disgusting, but I occasionally bite my toe nails!
3. I have stepped inside a wrestling ring.
4. One of my cousins, Dallas Weston, played in the NSWRL/ARL/NRL from 1993 to 2000. He played for both the North Sydney Bears (9 games) and the Parramatta Eels (68 games). He only scored a total of 3 tries in his career. Meh.
5. My favourite five-letter word in the English language is ennui, which is synonymous with boredom.
6. I once collected a few snails and kept them as pets. They died within a couple of days, and I mourned their death. No fucking joke!
7. The first movie that I remember seeing at the cinemas is Bride of Chucky, which was released in Australia in 1999, when I was 5 years old. Oh yeah, I was brought up on horrors, and I loved it that way!
8. My favourite McDonald's burger is the Double Quarter Pounder.
9. The first NRL game that I remember going to was Parramatta vs. South Sydney in Round 26, 1999. It was the 29th of August, which was a Sunday. The Eels won 34 to 16.
10. I once uploaded a video of myself doing a Borat impression to YouTube. It's not there anymore.
11. My favourite actor is Kevin Spacey. My favourite actress would probably be Kate Winslet.
12. My favourite director is Stanley Kubrick, although David Fincher isn't far behind.
13. I have a birthmark, about the same size as two adjacent 10-cent coins, to the right of my belly button.
14. My middle name is James.
15. I have never tried a prawn, and I don't intend to, either.
16. My favourite three-letter word in the English language is wry, meaning humorously sarcastic or mocking.
17. I have a Miniature Fox Terrier named Boyo, and a cat (unsure of breed) named...OK, she doesn't really have a fixed name, although my mum calls her Prissy or Priscilla.
18. I think that The Hangover is an extremely overrated film.
19. I can cross my eyes on command.
20. I have never seen snow in person, only in images and on TV.
21. I have never been on an aeroplane.
22. I hate the feeling of sand between my toes.
23. As a child, my favourite cartoon series was probably Scooby-Doo.
24. I'm going to make a cup of tea right now. Excuse me; I won't be long.
25. Favourite time period of the week is Friday night, around 7:00 P.M. onwards.
26. My favourite song by The Beatles is either Hey Jude or Yesterday - can't split them.
27. I have never seen a complete episode of Friends. I have only ever seen ONE episode of Seinfeld (thought these two facts should be condensed into one).
28. I have never read a single Harry Potter novel, or seen a single Harry Potter film.
29. Favourite spread to put on toast is Vegemite. You either love it or hate it, and I love it!
30. I talk to myself A LOT!
31. My favourite novel is probably High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
32. I like going into a cinema early, because I secretly enjoy watching the trailers! Oh well, not a secret anymore.
33. When DVDs first came out, I was obsessed with watching the special features of every DVD movie I watched.
34. I haven't vomited since I was about 6 or 7 years old.
35. I have never had a nosebleed in my life, and I don't understand how someone's nose can just start bleeding out of nowhere.
36. I cried when I found out that the Easter Bunny wasn't real.
37. I occasionally listen to Love Song Dedications on Mix 106.5.
38. To cure hiccups, I usually eat a teaspoon of sugar.
39. I occasionally turn light switches on using my nose.
40. I have been known to laugh during my sleep, and I have woken up in tears a few times, due to a depressing dream.
41. I can't stand black licorice.
42. My favourite episode of The Simpsons  is probably Team Homer (AKA, the Pin Pals episode).
43. When I was younger, I would say that I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. I would still pounce on the opportunity if it arose.
44. At 6:00 P.M. on weeknights, I watch Letters and Numbers on SBS. It's addictive viewing.
45. My date of birth is January 14, 1993.
46. If I could invite any three people (alive or dead) to dinner, I would invite Oscar Wilde, Neil Finn and Stephen Fry.
47. I have an appreciation for the natural world and serenity.
48. I can spell surnames that most other people have trouble spelling, such as Tarasiewicz.
49. My favourite teacher that I've ever had is Ms. Durand (Year 10 English).
50. I haven't eaten fairy floss in years, and could really do with some right now!
51. My favourite railway station on the CityRail service is Circular Quay. 
52. I brush my teeth in the shower.


53.I have only tried Red Rooster once in my life.
54. I listen to talkback radio (usually 2GB) during the night while I'm trying to get to sleep.
55. The first DVD I ever watched was the film Black Knight. The first DVD that I bought was Wrestlemania XIX.
56. Favourite TV programs as a child were Art Attack and Round the Twist.
57. I don't like lemon-flavoured soft drinks, such as Solo, however, I like lemon-lime flavoured soft drinks.
58. The worst film that I have ever seen is a low-budget independent film called Scarecrow.
59. Five things that I can reach right now: The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary, a Rubik's Cube, a pack of highlighters, my headphones and my school tie.
60. I collect tickets from NRL games that I attend, and movies that I watch at the cinema. The oldest NRL ticket I own is for an Eels vs. Knights game in 2005. The oldest movie ticket I own is for House of Wax in 2005.
61. I think that the scariest film of all time is The Exorcist (1973).
62. I just decided that I'll be watching Adventureland at 8:30 P.M. on Foxtel tonight.
63. I used to be a massive fan of professional wrestling. I've seen the WWE perform live twice.
64. I have never been to a concert...but I want to go to one.
65. I once called my Year 4 teacher, Mr Stewart, a cow by accident. It was hilarious.
66. I secretly follow horse-racing, although not for the whole year. It's probably because of my dad's avid interest in it. Once again, not a secret anymore.
67. My favourite colour is turquoise.
68. The most bizarre music video I have ever seen is for Peter Gabriel's song Sledgehammer.
69. I once auditioned for the Red Faces segment on Hey Hey It's Saturday. I was five years old (perhaps even four), and I sang two songs which my dad taught me. They were Young at Heart by Frank Sinatra and Camptown Races. I was turned down by the judges.
70. I just finished playing a game of online Scrabble, in which I beat my opponent 322 to 255.
71. My favourite album of all time is Crowded House's compilation album Recurring Dream: The Very Best Of Crowded House.
72. My favourite pizza place is Dom's Pizza Bar at Bossley Park.
73. I have a habit of cracking my knuckles.
74. I STAND UP to wipe.
75. Regular readers would know this, but for those who don't, my favourite band is Crowded House, and my favourite singer-songwriter is Neil Finn. I would kiss that man's feet if I was given the chance. What an amazing talent!
76. My favourite comedian is Carl Barron.
77. I have hairy toes.
78. I have an interest in the paranormal, and would like to visit some places in Australia that are regarded as 'haunted'.
79. I have a talent for impersonating people.
80. I have a specific order for washing my body parts in the shower.
81. I have a habit of alphabetising items.
82. I have a very limited number of clothes that I wear around my house.
83. If I do not appear on MSN for longer than a day, I'm probably dead.
84. The last thing I read was Oscar Wilde's short story The Selfish Giant.
85. I have licked a door knob before, out of sheer curiosity. I hated the taste.
86. I once accidentally swallowed a fly.
87. I walk with a slight limp in my right leg. That's because I injured my right leg when I was about 6 years old. I was playing with my brother on the trampoline in my backyard, but quite stupidly, I encouraged my brother to soap up the trampoline's surface. I accidentally did the splits, and it fucking hurt.
88. Smoking is a massive turn-off to me, and I look down on the habit in general.
89. I have never kissed a girl [romantically].
90. I think the best movies are the ones with very few locations, and with only about four central characters.
91. I have an irrational fear of caterpillars.
92. My newspaper of choice is The Daily/Sunday Telegraph.
93. I enjoy watching tennis.
94. I own something which I call the Jar of Grot. It is a jar which holds things such as two dead flies, the largest piece of ear wax I have ever taken out of my ear, and a few of my dog's claws which have fallen out. It serves no purpose, and it smells quite foul.
95. I have an interest in reading famous quotes. My favourites are from Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche.
96. I used to spell hatred as hatrid. See? Even I make spelling mistakes.
97. I really like milkshakes, thickshakes, or any other milk-orientated beverage.
98. I usually get paranoid when lending things to people, because I'm afraid they will be returned in bad condition. That said, I'm more prone to lending things nowadays than I used to be.
99. I have an interest in the JFK assassination and its various conspiracy theories.
100. I saved this one for last, because I think it's the most amazing fact of all - I have a cousin named Spartacus! No word of a lie, I'm being dead serious.

Well, this list took longer than I thought it would, but it was enjoyable to make, and I hope that you, in return, enjoy reading it.