[To the students of AMU2565, my warning still stands. Reading this blog will result in an automatic fail of the course]. 

Since my last “life update,” I managed a short trip to Cambodia (where I subsequently got Covid) and then things managed to ramp up to an even higher gear I didn’t know existed.

Me, attempting to teach an online seminar with Covid.

Here’s what is new:

University Teaching

This semester I am teaching Southeast Asian cinema. And while, yes, I quickly noticed the irony that a university located in Southeast Asia and full of Southeast Asian faculty selected one of the few non-Southeast Asians to teach this course, I’m enjoying it thoroughly. 

My students were late

It’s quite a lot of history. With some exceptions, I am actually pretty well-versed in these histories. Some of the frameworks we’ve discussed have been ones I’m using for my own research. Plus, the entire course follows themes of decolonization and post-colonial art, which is exactly what I am doing. 

There was one awkward day where I was trying to show students clips from the film Sống trong sợ hãi (Living in Fear), about a Vietnamese man clearing his farm of landmines. The idea of the film is the constant trauma and stress he experiences in his daily life (e.g. on a pleasant afternoon, a water buffalo near him suddenly blows up). 

However, to deal with his trauma, he has a lot of aggressive sex with his wife. Unfortunately, I kept accidentally hitting play in the wrong places. Hopefully, no one reports me. 

It’s a smaller class than last semester and I find the subject matter a bit more challenging but the students are, overall, crushing it. And I’m not just saying that because—to my absolute horror last week—one student announced they found this blog. This was followed by all the other students immediately getting out their iPads and Googling my name.

I guess this is one case where SEO optimization is a bad thing. They all found it immediately.

Threatening to fail them wasn’t effective.

Welcome to my blog, students. What you see on the blog stays on the blog. 

Ph.D. Progress

I’ve made some progress on my doctoral research. In November, I’ll have my confirmation. So, in August, I got busy preparing my 36-page confirmation document of everything I’ve done in the last year. I’m sure my supervisor will tell me it’s garbage, but putting it together gave me a lot of clarity on what I need to be working on moving forward. 

Although I’m studying literature, my research requires me to do quite a lot on postcolonialism, trauma studies, and social psychology. It’s challenging but fascinating.

I’ll have a presentation in front of a panel of experts in my field. While I know it will be nerve-wracking, I’m actually quite excited about it. I’m excited to see their recommendations and where I can improve moving forward. 

Batu Caves


Given how busy I am with my research and teaching at the university, I do not have time for freelancing. I’m quite proud of the freelancing operation I built for myself over the last few years, but I’ve had to cut my hours way back.

First, I gave up the academic seminars I used to teach on the weekends. The lack of flexibility and the “not having any day off” was too much. Then, I requested my editing hours be significantly reduced. Before, I was editing between 10 and 20 hours/week. Now I’m at ten.

I still have my two private literature students but had to delay taking back an old student. My life often involves waking up at 6 am, immediately starting work, and not finishing until 5/6/7 pm.

How does the old saying go? It’s a marathon and a sprint? 

Social Life

I’m a lot less fun. I mean, I’m still fun if you consider fun waking up at 6:45 am on Saturday morning for a 7k around the park before literally running to Crossfit for a second workout. 

I’m still fun if you think talking about the foundational literature of “trauma studies” over brunch is fun. 

It’s a different kind of fun. 

I even temporarily deactivated my Instagram.

Me, being fun, once in a blue moon

I’m even boring in my meals. I pretty much only cook and have been tracking my macros. Yesterday I started a nutritious meal delivery service that gives all the calories and macros. I’m hoping this will free up the time I spend grocery shopping, prepping, and cooking. 

Thai Chicken Satay

I’m also training for a half marathon in December. 

I almost never go drinking. My friend Colm was in town this weekend. I had two glasses of wine and felt drunk. 

Hi, Colm

Goodbye alcohol tolerance! Hello coffee addiction!

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