A lot of people assume, when they meet me, that English is not my first language.

Not because of the way I speak it (although yes, I do have an accent), but because of the fact that I am not from one of the ‘native-speaking’ countries*. Most often, they assume this based on my appearance (tanned skin, almond-shaped, dark eyes, dark hair), as well as my accent (many people think I’m Canadian – eh?).

It’s interesting because although I am confident in my English-speaking (and writing, and listening, and reading etc) ability, due to my awareness of this assumption that most people have of me here in Australia, I tend to trip up and get tongue-tied and speak funny at times when I feel under pressure.

For example, when I’m talking to customers at work and describing how a product works, I sometimes find myself getting the singular and plurals wrong, as well as mixing multiple tenses into my sentences. It’s so weird because I know it’s wrong, and at the time I do it, I catch myself immediately but my tongue just does not want to cooperate! I’ve said things like “Use this over two week” instead of saying “weeks”. What the eff?

It is annoying and infuritating to me because I am paranoid that the ladies I talk to are smiling benignly at me not because I am a pleasant and lovely salesperson but because they are humouring me since English is obviously not my first language and it’s a struggle for me to speak in “their language”. My imagination goes into overdrive as I conjure up their thoughts in my own head: perhaps she’s thinking of me “Aww, how sweet she got that wrong” or “My, she speaks so fluently! Fantastic!”

Let me just have a moment of total and utter vanity and self-promotion here (as I believe I am entitled) to announce for probably the millionth time to anyone who listens that I scored a 9.0 on my IELTS (International English Language Testing System), across the board. 9.0 on EVERY single thing. 9.0 is the maximum, the highest mark you could possibly get for the IELTS test.

When I showed this to my migration agent he was impressed and asked to take a copy of my certificate, as he hadn’t seen such a score “in about ten years”. In fact, he told me to frame it. So excuse me for tooting my own horn. Before he reacted that way, I didn’t think it was THAT big a deal. I mean, yes, I thought it was awesome and a big deal, but not THAT big a deal, y’know? So, I feel, belatedly, that I should bask, revel and boast about this since it’s kind of rare. Not terribly rare, but still rare and special.

Thank you. *Bows*

* Countries generally accepted as ‘native-speaking’: USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Canada and sometimes South Africa.


Blast from the Past

I have a question, folks…

How many of you look back at trysts from your past (and I don’t mean very long ago I’m talking as recently as the end of ’09, onwards) and feel.. wtf was I thinking? Who WAS I at that time to want to date THAT person? UGH!!

I was on Facebook and looking through my photos, friends list and friend’s friends, it made me think…

… why on earth did I give THAT guy the time of day?

I think it really depends on your frame of mind at the time… I can kind of trace how I was feeling and what was happening in my life just by looking at guys I’ve dated / gone on dates with. And I have to say, boy am I glad I’m where I’m at now!

Where I’m headed seems a more positive place, too. Only good things to look forward to in the future. Salut!

As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to do two things: draw and write.

Back in Year 1 (Standard 1), I recall we were asked in class by our teachers to fill out some form, and one of the questions asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wanted to put down ‘artist/writer’. Instead, upon seeing all my friends writing ‘doctor’, I chickened out and wrote ‘doctor’, too. What a wuss!

I love(d) drawing. I started drawing from the moment I had enough hand-eye coordination to hold a pencil and make some squiggly lines into a picture.

I still remember how my father would come home from work with heaps of computer paper – the kind that went into an old-school, dot matrix printer. Yes, with perforations and everything. Reams and reams of paper, all connected, to be ripped apart at the perforated seams by myself and my sisters for our childish doodles.

Only I didn’t stop there. I drew on art blocks my mum bought us specifically to draw on, in exercise books from school, and notepads that were meant for grocery lists. I remember I filled up one such notepad, cover to cover, with an illustrated story (an early ‘graphic novel’, if you will), about a boy snake and a girl snake who met, fell in love, got married, got pregnant. The pregnant girl snake demanded that the boy snake go to the witch’s garden to steal nutritious vegetables for her to eat (“Or my baby will die,” I remember were the girl snake’s words). Yes, I did not yet appreciate the fact that instead of pumpkin and watercress, snakes prefer frogs and rats. But I digress.

In the early days I liked drawing “friendly ghosts” – not really Casper, but just ghosts who had skirts and lipsticks and handbags. Later on, I drew more talking animals like snakes, rabbits, dogs and cats. Later still, I got into drawing unicorns and girls and people. I was always told how well I drew.

These days… I don’t draw so much. I doodle when I’m on the phone. I can really draw some interesting, nice things that way. But generally, as a way to pass the time, I don’t do it anymore. And it makes me sad. I always tell myself I want to draw more – heck, I even bought myself an art block so I would just start drawing stuff – but it still sits collecting dust in the shelf, under the Foxtel decoder.

Now, I want to talk about writing – something I am obviously more healthily engaged in (what with my blog, and having to fill out paperwork, tax returns, badgering immigration people, etc).

Back in the days of my childhood, the budding writer in me managed to write (and finish!) a few works that, when I revisited them as an older, more mature writer, made me snort with laughter. How unsophisticated and inane! But what can you expect from an 8-year-old? Or a 10-year-old?

I remember my best friend Lin and I would create illustrated works of serious writing. Not bad for 10 and 11-year-olds. Series about teenage ghost fighters (culled from my favourite cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters – how ironic!). And about teenage space travellers, set in the future. With lengthy descriptions of their appearance and clothing. We even collaborated on some of these. I still think they’re pretty good.

Later on, in my teenage years, I would write romantic dramas about young people in hospices, dying of some incurable but noble diseases, the inmates falling in love with each other. My depiction of sex scenes were incredibly humorous. No other way to describe it, really. Just… totally out of those filthy romance novels Lin used to borrow from her aunt, bring to school and lend me (with the ‘good parts’ conveniently dog-eared for me to skip right to). Ahh, good times.

I have been trying for the last 5 – 10 years to finally write something coherent, and of substance. It is my dream to publish a best-selling novel before I get too old. Geez, but where and when to start? Here and now is the only answer.

But I am just too scared that my ideas are stupid and the story will stagnate. As it has done for much of my mid-to-late teens. Every time I hit upon something good, I’d advance full steam… then lose it all a few months later in tears of frustration. In my early twenties, I tried again and lost faith.

Now, I want to try again.

I have found these links pretty useful and humorous, not to mention inspiring:

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (Part 1)

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (Part 2)

I want it t be my project over the holidays to at least come up with a skeleton of a book for me to fill in with meat and fat over time. Fingers crossed.

Dying a Slow Death

It has been my mission since I started this blog to ensure the archives have every month of the year displayed. It’s part of my whole OCD/perfectionist persona which sadly is linked also to my procrastinating persona.

I just want it to look pretty and complete, dammit! All calendars have 12 months (let’s not go into a discussion about some niche calendars here), and by god, so will  my blog!!!

In order for this to be achieved, I have to have at least ONE blog post per month or I’m f**ked. (Notice how I randomly censor and then don’t censor myself on this blog? Not sure why I do that – obviously it is something that’s NOT connected to my OCD-ness).

Okay, now that this is out of the way, the reason I have been such a baaad blog-person (I just hate the word ‘blogger’ – a throwback to my days as an actual writer and journalist: we turn our noses up at bloggers when we cover events)… is because I have been busy with Uni.

Yeah, well I figured it’s as good an excuse as any. I did 4 weeks of teaching prac at a high school here, teaching media. Boy, what a challenge teaching something you haven’t really thought much about since graduating (for me, that was 2006!). True, I worked in publishing for over 2 years in total. But the kind of media I was required to teach was 90% centred around film. Theory and practice. Re-learning on the job: do two things at once while trying to keep your sanity!

Then after that concluded, I was swamped with assignments and now, exams. Yeah, it is exam week. I had an exam on Friday (which was held NOT on the scheduled exam week, UNFAIR! I cry, but oh well it’s done and I think I did pretty well anyways), I had an exam this morning, and I have an exam tomorrow morning. ARGHH! Hence, the title: dying a slow death.

I should be studying. I really should.  That’s what I also told myself last night, and I did it. I ignored the call of my blog. But I can’t ignore it any longer (June is almost over). I thought a quick post to explain myself (as I seem to do a lot on my blogs – hey, it’s the alternative to therapy!) was in order. Besides, I only need 1 mark to pass this unit. A shabby, shabby excuse. I mean, of course I would like a distinction or a high distinction. But I’ve done pretty well on my assignment, so really, if I don’t do BRILLIANTLY on the exam, I will still make it.

So. Tomorrow an exam. Then, my last exam, which is on Thursday morning. That’s the one I really worry about. I need to do quite a bit better for that exam because the assignment was really tough. After that I plan to sleep, sleep, sleep. Go out with my Uni pals and drink our brains away (maybe). And just rejoice.

Oh, and a UPDATE: I got my Student Visa (finally!). So I’ve applied for jobs and am awaiting a callback for an interview.

Wish me luck (on all counts)!

Visa Situation

I am very fortunate to have so many friends who care about me and what’s been happening over the last few months.

For those of you not in the know, well… I have been waiting for my student visa to be approved for over 3 months now.

Atrocious?? You betcha!

To make a long story short, there were some issues with my medicals whereby I had to go to my GP and get a blood test done. The urine test I did at the Health Services Australia (HSA) place that you go to when you want to apply for a visa, was not satisfactory, so they gave me a letter to give to my GP explaining that I needed further tests.

Let me explain.

I was in such a rush to get this student visa sorted that I had made my appointment with HSA on the first available day and time they had available (they were pretty much fully booked except this ONE day, a few days away frm when I made the phonecall).

The problem is… that day happened to be the day before I got my period.

Now we all know what periods do to urine tests right?

So, yeah.

Anyways, what ensued was your typical Government Bureaucratic BS / Red Tape wild goose chase, all summarised in an email I sent my ‘case officer’ after I had been sent on a merry-go-round of sorts. Please keep in mind I had been sending a few very mild-mannered and downright pleasant emails to her asking, among other IMPORTANT things, how her Easter/ANZAC day break was. Naturally I got automated, robotic responses in reply, instead of an actual human saying “Thanks, I had a lovely holiday, now I am back and working hard to get you your student visa pronto!”

Email below (warning: long and possibly mind numbingly boring for those of you who aren’t going through what I am going through):

Dear Kylie,

I received in the mail a reminder from HSA / Medibank Health Solutions (dated 28/4/2011) that I was to undergo further assessment and supply the following information for my student visa (immigration purposes):

Urine Microscopy & Culture and serum creatinine

The thing is, when I was told in person at the HSA office in Perth CBD on the 24th of February that I needed to undergo these further tests, I immediately scheduled an appointment with my GP at Garden City Medical Centre in Ardross for a couple of days later, and did exactly as the staff nurse told me with regards to the referral. I handed this all to my doctor, Dr Gary Fernandez, and had the tests done. I was told both by the doctor as well as HSA / Medibank Health Solutions, that once the results were finalised, they will be sent directly to HSA / immigration. I was under the impression that I need not conduct any follow-up activities, and to await the approval of my student visa.

However, the arrival of the letter a few days ago was alarming. It stated that if the information is not received by their office (Medibank Health Solutions in Perth CBD) by the 19th of May, they will dispatch my papers without a recommendation! I had been under the impression, all this time, that the results had indeed been forwarded to the relevant authorities and were being evaluated.
The letter states otherwise. Despite my repeated efforts to contact the immigration department (I spoke to a few people over 4 or 5 phone calls made in the last 2.5 months, as well as several emails sent to you, my case officer), I was NOT told at all during this time, by anyone, prior to the reminder from Medibank, that the results had not been sent through.

Upon receiving the reminder, I first called HSA/Medibank and spoke to Thomas, who confirmed with me that the results had in fact NOT been received. He gave me the fax number as well as email address that the results should be sent to, and advised me to ask my doctor to have them sent over as soon as possible. I then called Garden City Medical Centre to speak to Dr Gary Fernandez who was not available, and will not be available until Friday (please note I have been trying to contact him on and off the whole time, calling about once a week and leaving messages for him to call me back, but to no avail). I explained the situation to the receptionist, who then instructed me to contact Kimberly at Clinipath. 

When I spoke to Kimberly and explained the situation to her, she informed me that she did not have any results with her and was unable to help me. She advised me to call my doctor and speak to him: I then explained that he was unreachable, and also told her what I had been instructed to do. She then gave me the main number of Clinipath, to call them and ask them as they handled the results. I called and spoke to Kate, who finally told me that she could not send the results without HSA/Medibank first requesting them. This was apparently a new procedure they had put in place.

So, I had to go back to the beginning and call HSA, this time speaking to Priscilla and explaining the whole thing to her. She took down all the names, numbers and information from me, assuring me that she would pass it all on to Thomas to sort out.

Let me just say how disappointed I am in the system for making things unnecessarily complicated. Also, why did nobody inform me of the system/procedure? I was told that all I had to do was drop by my GP with the referral from HSA, and the rest will all be taken care of. Not so. There is a severe lack in cohesion between the different departments/groups involved in the process.

The fact that I have been in contact with you over the last 2.5 months without any information or reminders (until the one I received in the mail from HSA) regarding this matter is also alarming to me as to just how things are being managed. I would appreciate if, once the results are finally sent in, you could help in somehow expediting the process, which has been severely delayed through no fault of my own. 

I will be contacting HSA again to see if they have requested the results, and I hope that once you’ve received them, you can contact me as soon as possible with the news.

Thank you & best regards,
Inayah Ariffin

The reply I got?
“Thank you for your feedback.”

And some other quoted text that they’d sent me before several times (the automated responses) about how the medical results will need to be evaluated and to basically sit down and be patient. And why don’t you spend this time twiddling your thumbs?

There’s something that’s puzzled me for a fair few months.

It’s to do with toilet paper (yes, how interesting).

For some time now, every time I mention it to people, they give me a puzzled look: “What? What is that item you are talking about?”

It’s not that they don’t know what toilet paper is.

It’s because for some reason I’ve taken to calling it “Loo Roll” instead of “Toilet Paper” or “Toilet Roll”.

Forgive me for using a phrase that nobody seems to understand. Somehow it crept into my vocabulary and I have favoured its usage over the more conventional ones stated above.

For some reason, I honestly thought it was an Aussie thing and that using it would better facilitate understanding between myself and those around me here in Australia. I used to just say “toilet paper” which is the standard in Malaysia, but adopted “loo roll” as part of my efforts to assimilate into different cultures and avoid any misunderstandings.

So imagine my dismay when I say things like “Jason, where’s your loo roll?” or “Amir, we need to buy more loo roll” and I am met with a blank stare followed by a “Wha-?”

According to Wikipedia, the term “loo roll” does indeed exist, however I didn’t read much more of the article (only the first paragraph, really) to find out if they mention at all where that particular one originates from. I really didn’t want to start reading a whole article about the origins of this paper product designed to decompose in septic tanks (there, I already read much more than necessary!).

So I guess the point of this somewhat pointless post is to wonder aloud to the cyber community: who here has heard this term before, and where the hell does it come from?


The flow of dough right now is currently one-way.

Going out:

– Rent

– Bills

– Groceries

– Fuel

– Parking

Coming in:

– ???

– #$@%#**!!

Those are my main expenses. I haven’t eaten out in ages. Well, I ate out on Monday night with Gaya – we had Japanese. Even then, dinner cost me $13.50 for fresh, raw salmon and tuna on rice. BIIIIG bowl, not too bad of a price. So it’s not like I’m going crazy and eating out at fancy-schmancy places every night, spending cash like there’s no tomorrow.

I eat most of my meals at home (well, Amir’s home anyway). We cook. Sometimes it’s something really awesome (his bolognese, my chicken/beef curry, his healthy baked trout with veggies, my baked chicken and potaotes…)

Sometimes, when money’s tight (or time – hey, we’re both busy people!), it’s… not so awesome (Indomie, scrambled eggs on toast for dinner, TOAST for dinner, a sanger for dinner… you get the picture).

Bottom line: I haven’t been spending money on frivolous, luxury items.

It’s the everyday things, bills, and so on, that have caused my bank balance to slowly head south for the winter. And guess what? There ain’t no money coming in, nuh-uh, oh no you di’in’t girlfriend.


I. Still. Can’t. Work.

No, not because of my achy breaky back (which still causes me to fantasize about firebombing that house in Bateman where that jerkoff lives).

Because of my bloody visa situation.

I’m still on a bridging visa which allows me to stay here and attend Uni, but

… no permission to work.


Throw me a friggin’ bone here!

Sometimes, a girl just wants to have fun. Luckily I was able to go out shopping the other day with Gaya because Amir had given me, as a gift for Nawruz, a gift card at a leading department store here in Perth. So I bought myself a new handbag and some other odds and ends. It was fun to shop for pretty things again!

Plus, sometimes I just like eating well. I like spending a little extra money on premium fruit and vegetables. Or on that extra lean, extra delicious cut of meat. Or on that lovely fresh fillet of salmon or trout. And not have to worry that this one meal may be the death of my bank balance.

Meanwhile, I have rent, bills, petrol and weekly groceries to pay for. And trust me, I ain’t the fussy kind when it comes to food. I like good food, but I can basically make myself survive on poor-Uni-student fare like instant noodles, toast and nutella (or Nutino if you’re really on a budget), $1 canned tuna (which come in flavours so you can pretend you’re eating a lovely, hearty curry or even a full-blown Italian meal with sundried tomatoes and basil… oh, who am I kidding!).

But good nutrition has got to come from somewhere, sometime! Or my body’s f*cked! And I care about my health just as much as the next person (maybe more!). Every time I go grocery shopping, I am armed with a list of items that I saw were on special that week. I haven’t paid full price for an item in ages! Sometimes it is to my own detriment. Like buying the cheap meat (reduced by 30%!) and then opening the package only to be punched in the nose with a smell that I believe is reserved for an abandoned abattoir. Or something the cat dragged in.

I don’t know if it’s because I am disorganised and procrastinating (as usual) but I am also so overwhelmed with Uni work that I am not even sure how much I’d be able to work even IF I was able to (with the Permission to Work thingy that comes with a Student Visa). Still, people have been telling me about jobs that I could definitely get that pay like $20 an hour or more… geez! I’m dying for a job like that! So close, yet so far.