Sunday, December 3, 2017

Crying all alone under the stars

Note: the title post is part of the lyrics of 'Travelin' Soldier' by Dixie Chicks.

After a torturous semester, I now have updates - let’s make that two - for you guys.

#1: Now that I’m reflecting on the semester, there were some moments that I loved and disliked. The course that I wanted to enroll in was finally offered. I knew that it would be hectic, but I went for it with full confidence that it won’t get any worse than that. I mean, having three rest days to catch up on the backdated work and take a breather could have easily compensated me for the bullet train speed.

And worse, it did.

The first half of the semester drained me so much that I struggled to convince myself to attend the Corporate tutorials. The expression on his face was similar to the one that I saw in someone’s eyes before college graduation: a masked annoyance at the coincidence. I’m always able to suppress the fears or worries whenever I’m in class, but this safety blanket barely worked for Corporate. Let’s just say that my emotions and the lack of adequate diversion suddenly got in the way of the academic goals. I looked at the formative assessment with such confusion that I told myself not to hope for much for the overall grade. It was better to work for the best that I can get while expecting the unexpected.

I definitely pushed myself a little over the breaking point - until the ADR presentation took a beating. Although I survived the battle (in short, I passed everything), I didn’t emerge unscathed. My psyche feels such weighed down that I’m in need for any type of vacation that allows me a quiet environment to crash for 12 - 14+ hours. I’m also in need for some cardio exercise that will clear the congested brain in preparation for the final year’s crazy schedule.

#2: I’m sure you’d have seen snippets of it splashed on the blog and Twitter account, but let’s make this the official announcement, shall we? What took me 5 - 6 years of writing and two plot changes has finally arrived to this. What saw me swimming in memories and left me with an aching heart has also finally arrived to this.

Remember how I mentioned in a couple of posts ago that I’m tying up the loose ends for my e-book? Here’s the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/760802 . Some elements of my time in college has been woven into certain parts of the plot, but in a fictional way. The plot involves a slight twinge of heartbreak, a dash of betrayal, and a splash of the unexpected.

I’m not going to reveal anything more than that, so if you’d like to read more (i.e. the blurb, short summary and a sample of the manuscript) or purchase the e-book in its entirety, head on over to the link - and let me know what you think about it.

Depending on how things go, I might continue moonlighting as a writer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

11/29/2017

I’m sure the dream had an introduction to it, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was about. What I can remember is that the dream began from the middle onwards.

I dreamt that we toured a place in the middle of the city. While my mother was in another part doing her own thing, I was on the first floor of a shop, browsing through the merchandises that they offered. It was divided into two smaller spaces with a wooden fence. The wooden fences were behind low two-tier shelves. While shoppers and employees could talk with each other over the fence, we had to use the main entrance if we wanted to go from space to space - or at least that was what one of the shop assistants mentioned to me when I inquired about the presence of the wooden fences. The camera then panned to the corner, where there was boxes arranged in a neat line, before I saw the traces of an escalator bringing the shoppers from ground floor to the first floor.

Somewhere along the way, I met an adult who had a toddler son sleeping in the back and a baby daughter in the car seat at the front. He offered me a ride and since it was someone whom I knew well, I decided to take up on his offer. He removed the car seat and I ended up carrying the infant in my arms. The infant slept peacefully and didn’t break into a screaming match. When my phone finally connected to his hotspot, the notification exploded in my face, but my attention was scaled in on the WhatsApp messages from my Mom. As the place where she was became a crime scene, she told me to meet her at the McD near there.

When we arrived there, she was talking to a female stranger before she climbed up the 4WD that the adult drove. She asked me to look at the infant child’s legs. One of the legs were swollen and red - as if the poor child suffered from water retention - but there were no traces of blood. She said to drive us to somewhere safe and she’d reveal the reason behind her questions and what had truly transpired there and then.

Well… I sense an ongoing theme here: someone else is behind the wheel with me being in the shotgun seat without any indication of the driver’s facial features. Although I can see from the outline that it is a male, that’s as many hints as I can get. The wooden fences. Fences should symbolise a barrier to something. You know, like dividing the main roads and pedestrian walkways. Garden plots. Applying to the context of the scene, maybe it’s the intention/warning not to let people any closer than they should be. Have intellectual conversations, but never allowing anyone to see the inner depths of my heart. Or was it influenced by that book’s protagonist? As for the boxes, it might be the fact that I am boxing up my emotions and thoughts for the fear of revealing too much about myself.

I’ll admit that the sleeping toddler son in the dream was so adorable - to the point where if it were to occur in real life, I’d have to stop myself from pinching the kiddo’s cheeks. This scene reminds me of something that happened when I was about 5. The context is fuzzy in my brain; I only remember that my godfather had fetched us from some place in Chinatown and my godbrother was asleep on the front passenger seat, which was reclined to 75% of its maximum. I don’t bond very well with infants in real life. In fact, I make sure that I keep an arm’s distance from them, especially whenever they are crying their hearts out. For me to be willing to carry an infant throughout the car journey, who still remained quiet in my arms, it has to mean something significant. This definitely stretches things, but I’m guessing that as I’m growing older, I’ll learn to tune out their cries? Or my thoughts towards children will change after I’m married? *holds head in hands*

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

This is all of me

"The closer you keep what’s in your head, to what’s in your heart. The better your life will be."
-William Chapman

I know that something in me must’ve changed in the past twelve weeks, but inasmuch as I’d love to pinpoint the exact reasons for it, I’m unable to. All I’m aware is that I’ve been rather harsh towards myself and withdrawing from the things that I once loved instead. I mean, look at the semesters for a comparison. In the last semester, it was a manageable time although I had a jam-packed schedule that left me wanting to pull my hair in displeasure. For this semester, I’ve been sitting at the edge of the cliff, more than ready to let myself go at any minute. My face was a canvas for the negative emotions that I felt (talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, ugh). It numbed my feelings with such ferocity that I was in a daze for 75% of the time. If I felt something, it was only relief and worry. My confidence slipped through the cracks between my fingers and I had doubts about my choice of degree and career path.

There were a couple of occasions when I didn’t feel like attending my tutorials/lectures and wanted to hide under the blanket instead. The truth is, I’m not sure if I can hold it out any longer. My heart already feels weighed down by the emotional burdens that I’ll never share with friends and my shaky academic performance. It also feels like I won’t be able to achieve my full potential, especially after what happened during the Corporate exam. I’m sure the folks at the back of the hall would’ve heard the loud thud in the silent area. Although no one paid any attention to it, my heart raced with embarrassment.

You might argue that me dropping my notes was an accident and I shouldn’t blame myself for it. I could’ve prevented it from occurring, you see, by maybe leaving it on the chair next to me. For unknown reasons, I lost concentration for the next hour or so while I struggled to find my mojo and didn’t even know what I wrote for the directors’ duties question about the interstate mining venture. In hindsight, I actually knew what it hinted at when I read it, but I just couldn’t get it out onto the exam booklet.

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m losing control of things - or merely unable to cope with the stress on a sleep-deprived mode after the whirlwind dates with research essays. I hope it’s the latter. Things aren’t rosy if it’s the first one… because it’s sending me straight into the path of a burnout.

Since I’m done with the exams, I know that I should take the time off now to clear my congested psyche somewhere out of town (or even out of the country), but I can’t travel in peace until the results are released. Thinking about it has left me with sleepless nights and an onset of headache. I know I shouldn’t worry as I’ve done my best, but I know I could’ve done better and the waiting game is killing me. I also don’t like the idea of air travels. My yearly flights are done out of necessity, not by choice. I can’t travel in peace without knowing my official results either.

I don’t know why I keep getting flashbacks of a certain someone. Two of the events have always stood out in my mind: 1) him flipping through my floral folder that contained the English assignment sheets before our mentor-mentee meeting, as if I had granted him an advance consent and; 2) him perching against the wall in a daze with raw, rimmed eyes. He looked so … broken, like someone threw him into a hole and he couldn’t find any reason or strength to come out of it.

I’m sure there is a reason to it. I just have to dig deeper into the subconscious to find out what it is. Maybe it’s a warning to be cautious and observant of my environment, seeing that I still can’t blend in after three years. I discovered the truth last semester and it has nothing to do with the life here. If it is, I’ll be losing more weight and scaring the lights out of everyone around me. For all I know, I’m torn between returning to good ole Subang or remaining in Adelaide. Both decisions have its pros and cons: heading back will afford me the comfort and familiarity that I now crave, but at the expense of losing friends and reverse culture shock. Staying back will give me a shot at a new life, but at the expense of starting afresh - for the second time.

We’ll see which one I’ll choose when the time comes.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

11/25/2017

The camera panned to the end of the first scene in my dream. A wrapped wine bottle rolled on the floor and before we could do anything, it slipped through the hole on the balcony. I hope it didn’t cause any damage to the building or to the occupants on the lower floors (well, maybe except spillage and broken glass).

In the second scene, my younger brother was bullied and kept mum about it. It took me a while to pry the details from him and I instantly knew who was behind the bullying. Relying on my knowledge of the person, I found her and her friend in the toilet, adjusting their makeup. As I confronted her, I could see, from the side of her face, that she was giving me an evil grin.

Anger overcame me and I pinned the girl to the wall with my forearm at her throat. She still didn’t budge; it was only when I threatened to do the same with her brother, who I’d be able to stalk, that her eyes widened with horror and pleas for mercy.

All along, a name kept surfacing in my mind: Thomas.

First of all, let me reiterate the fact that I don’t believe in violence whenever I confront anyone. I just find that it will make things worse than it already is. As for the dream, I saw the girl’s facial features, but I couldn’t place her to anyone whom I know in real life. I might have seen her on the streets, but who know? She’s just a stranger. Although the dream interpretation suggested that there is a desire of change and frustration with them, I can’t quite connect the dots on this one.

Why that particular name, I’m not sure. It’s not like I’m close with anyone who has been christened Thomas.

In the third scene, we were in a room that resembled a classroom attending a presentation. There was a blackboard at the front with two columns and a line of three chairs and tables on each row. After what seemed like an eventful night that involved someone leaving deep in the night to avoid being caught, I struggled to stay awake as I knelt on my knees to talk to another friend seated behind me. A male student resembling Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu Wai entered at the eleventh hour and, noticing that there was no more vacant seat, ends up taking the one next to me. I shoved my knapsack under the table, careful not to whack my fellow seat companion to my right with it.

It is pretty evident that I’m worried. As results day inch closer and closer by the day, I’m more and more nervous with the grades. This falls in nicely with the dream interpretation. The subconscious might be trying to settle the academic anxiety, judging from the place where I sat, unlike the folks who sat away from the front.

As for the celebrity doppelganger, the interpretation is simple: I might be inspired by the Hong Kong actor’s attributes.

Friday, November 24, 2017

11/24/2017

And so, I dreamt that we travelled on a familiar yet quiet highway that was surrounded by trees after a trip into the suburbs. Not too long into the journey, we stumbled upon a crossroads with two exits. One was up a ramp. The other was down a ramp. Both led to somewhere away from the highway, but it’s a place I didn’t know. Since we weren’t sure which exit we wanted, we stopped in the middle of the road and discussed about it.

The ramps. At the top of my head, the dream might be insinuating that I have to make a decision from two options - both with consequences that I wouldn’t like because there won’t be relief. There will be a sense of something missing. Maybe the reason why I’m at a crossroads in my decision making is related to the driver. Seeing that the identity was not revealed, I’ll presume that it is a guy. Whatever I decide in the end, it will probably affect him - in some way or another. This definitely points to a specific matter in my life. If you’ve read one of the previous posts, where I talked about being torn in two directions, you’d know why.

The camera panned to something that happened hours earlier, before the sun went to bed. I spoke to a female assistant manning a counter. I don’t remember why I was there or her position, but all I remembered was that she had lost two teeth on her bottom palette. Although it was only evident when she grinned, it still scared the lights out of me. The loss of her teeth didn’t seem to affect her charisma or confidence. It was like she didn’t give a care in the world about it.

Just a random scene that my subconscious inserted to make things interesting? Maybe. Maybe she has something that I need in real life: confidence. Again, I may have indicated my worry about the confidence slipping through the cracks of my fingers in one of the previous posts.

If it’s a sign that I should beat the obstacles until it turns blue in the face, it’s spelling trouble for me. I’m already tired of taking the bull by its horns - when almost everything is piled against me.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

11/15/2017

I dreamt that there was a small circuit fire in the house that threatened to engulf the entire structure at any minute. I panicked and didn’t know what to do.

The scene repeated itself with me reacting differently to it. Surprising myself, I didn’t panic and instead asked the fellow occupant to gather all or most of their important belongings before we collapsed from smoke inhalation. After I called the emergency hotline for the fire brigade, I rushed to my room and shoved my wallet, my passport, and a couple of full water bottles into my tote bag.

As I looked back at the scene behind us, the firefighters battled to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to our neighbors.

In the second scene, when things were much better, we scouted the area for food. We found ourselves in a bright yet quiet hawker centre selling Chinese food. The moment I entered the place, it felt like I have visited it before in real life.

There are a couple of ways that I can look at the dream - with the help of the online interpretations, that is. Let’s use the part where I saw the fire first. One suggestion is that I might be battling intense emotions over something that I can’t ignore any more - or rather, I’m nose-deep in stress that my subconscious is pleading for me to take the time off.

Maybe the intense emotions part is skating the surface of my perception about things that have occurred around me. It might also mean that I’m no longer able to avoid a particular person and should take the bull by its horns, resolving the low-level conflict once and for all. As I have mentioned in a handful of posts, this semester has been challenging emotionally and physically. I’ve suppressed my thoughts and emotions in the hopes that I’ll be able to focus on what is ahead of me, but it hasn’t worked in my favor at all times.

Maybe I’ve pushed myself so hard that it’s tearing my mind into pieces.

On the contrary, me seeing the firefighter adds a divergent twist to the interpretation. It is indicative of me cleansing and purifying myself. My subconscious might be asking me to rid myself of the earthly burdens and focus on myself. It doesn’t want to be weighed down with exhaustion anymore.

I initially thought the scene was a result of my craving for Chinese food, especially char siew fan and wan tan mee. I guess I’ve been proven wrong by the context of the scene. Since the food came in a soup, I can only assume that it is wan tan mee. The online interpretation suggested that I have a ‘deep desire to understand a different point of view.’ I’m not sure how to relate to this - unless it’s pointing me to consider a past situation. I’ll keep the identity confidential, but truth be told, I still don’t know what led the person to arrive at the decisions that he did. Maybe the dream is reminding me to look at the situation from his eye and understand the reasons behind his choices and eventual departure.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Case of Curious Incidences (Part 9 - The Finale)

It was two and a half hours later that Crystal was able to rid herself of the weighted robe and swapped into a more comfortable attire. Instead of her smart formal dress and heels, she was in a knee-length striped dress with a cardigan and wedges. She ditched her purse for a backpack. She observed as the next batch of cohorts gathered outside with their family members and the student volunteers ensuring that all went well. She smiled to herself, relieved that she was able to freeze today’s event with her peers on digital. It had been another reason for attending the graduation in person - with her friend, Harry. Although they were of the same degree, he arranged his study plan in such a way that she graduated earlier than him. In fact, she was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to take time out from his schedule to watch her graduation. She looked at the clouds around her while she waited for Harry to leave his tutorial. Much to her dismay, it was gloomier - as if it was sad to see her and her cohort go.

I’ll wait at the phone charging area of the library, she texted him.

She then made her way into the law building and easily assumed the role of a continuing student. With her frazzled look and concentration on her laptop, she’d have fooled anyone into thinking that she was under the stress of the killer subject. Which was why she chose the seat to the wall. No one could see what she was doing.

“You changed clothes,” a voice commented above her forty-five minutes later. It was Harry.

“Yes, I did,” she replied as the person took a seat next to her. “How was Politics of Law? Are you hungry?”

“It was good. Yes, can we have tea instead?”

“Now you know why I recommended you to enroll in it. It fits you like a glove. Let’s go to the beachside cafe then.”

*

Something is not right, he thought. This girl never visited the beach unless she was emotionally occupied with something. He knew better than to ask her and waited with patience instead. If there was one thing he learnt about her, it’s that she will share her thoughts only when she wanted to. He followed her cue after she parked her car and killed the engine. After a short distance of awkward silence that was accentuated by the waves splashing against the rocks, she stopped and gestured to the seats ahead of them.

It was moments later that they made themselves comfortable in the beachside cafe after the waitress took their orders. She trained her eyes on the waves splashing on the rocks outside. Now that she was alone with Harry out of campus, it’d be easier to speak her mind and relieve her heart of the burden that lodged itself in the abyss since last year. The one that threw her into a state of dilemma. So, why was she struggling to let the words roll her tongue? It wasn’t like she needed to confess to a crime either.

“Is something going on?”

“No,” she lied. “What’s up?”

He peeked at his surroundings. “You’re worrying me. It should be a joyous day, but I sense hesitance instead.”

“I don’t know. I’ve mulled over this since the start of last year, but I don’t know how you’d react to this…” She took a breath and avoided eye contact. “It was obvious that you wanted me to remain in town and you’d do anything possible to prevent my departure. But I can’t stay. This place has continuously forced me to revisit the dark days of my past. At every corner, I see memories or triggers of what I’ve endured. Yes, my home is here, but I’m itching to run. It’s good that you came along for the ride because there is something I have to give you.”

“Okay?”

She rummaged through her backpack and found the item she looked for. A sealed envelope addressed in Harry’s name. “Here you go.”

“Thanks.” He fiddled with it and debated whether he should read it now or later. There was a twinge of urgency in Crystal’s voice, which made him antsy. He knew her long enough to expect sporadic letters - be it one of comfort or gratitude - from her. He just wasn’t sure of his emotions once he opened the letter.

She misconstrued his hesitance as fear. “There’s nothing and no one to incriminate us. Me, maybe, but definitely not you.”

There was a long silence, in which he tore open the envelope and perused the three page long letter. Peppered in the content were her fears of leaving their friendship for a better opportunity interstate. An elaboration of her dark days. Suicide attempts. Mistrusts. Personality changes. “I wish you told me earlier,’ he whispered.

“Sorry, Harry, but I didn’t want to show my vulnerability until I could fully trust you.”

Sunday, November 12, 2017

11/12/2017



I dreamt that I was in a furniture store with a male companion. The camera in my dream didn't pan to him, so I couldn't see his features or have a rough gauge of his identity. We were guided towards the furnishing department by one of the employees. On our way down the escalator, we found the person whom we wanted to see.

As we sat opposite the person in charge of the brightly-lit furnishing department, I noticed that some of the pathways were blocked with wooden dividers. It was a sign that the place was in the midst of a renovation. When he saw our initial drawings for the house furnishing, he said that it would be difficult and proceeded to write down the name of a real estate agent on our paper. Mind you, he did it secretly. I immediately knew that there was a conflict of interest for him and wondered if he disclosed it to his superiors the moment it occurred.

I know that my subconscious is still thinking about the corporate law exam because of two reasons. The first one is my confidence. Although it's now a done and dusted thing, I'm not confident in what I wrote on the exam booklet. Watching the kiddo in front of me asking for a second booklet from the invigilator didn't help much. The second one is embarrassment. I kind of embarrassed myself when the file containing my notes crashed onto the floor with a loud thud in the silent exam hall. Although no one cared about it, I felt that I was turning beet red and losing concentration to the point where I wanted to get out of there in that instant.

I'm definitely going bonkers.

On flipside of the dream, I'm about to break out into laughter even thinking about the possibility. It might be an indication into the future when it's time to purchase furniture for a new house that my significant other and I have bought. It could be, seeing that I couldn't see the person's facial features.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

11/8/17

Okay, so this is it, I suppose.

This unofficially marks the end of my penultimate year, which begs the question of whether I am worried about job vacancies. It doesn’t help that I’m wondering whether I’ve learned enough skills to handle the real world - but I guess we won’t know until it actually happens.

After an intense fortnight of slogging past midnight, yesterday was the last of my papers - and I’ve already done my best for it. The rest is up to the written content on the exam booklets. It also depends whether I’ve regurgitated as much as I could and linked enough concepts to get me across the lines. The answer for the second one is a definite no. I knew that I can kiss the credit goodbye the moment I looked at the questions during the reading time. Although I revised most of what I could, something possessed my entire being towards the middle of the exam - and I wondered if I’ve made the right choice of enrolling in this degree. Ironic, right? Self-doubts while in the examination hall.

Or a sign of burnout on the way?

I’m only confident for a pass, but I guess I won’t know for sure until I either attend the viewing session or wait until the release of the official result. A miracle would be needed now if I want a credit. Then again, I shouldn’t think too much about the final grades and focus more on sleeping the exhaustion off instead. I’ve blown out both my brain and emotions this semester in such a way that I’m more of a zombie than a homo sapien.

Maybe I’ll have to take up on my lecturer’s offer after all.

Reflecting on this semester, I knew what I was getting myself into, but the constructive knowledge wasn’t enough to save me from drowning, so to speak. Although the stress may have died down towards the fourth week of the semester, it flared up as the time got closer to the exam period. I felt like someone struggling to stay above water and the workload dragging me down like an anchor. The headache persisted so much that I christened it ‘my death sentence’. At least, the comforting side is that I’ve one more year to complete before I’m able to smell the roses.

If this is the life of a practicing barrister, I’m definitely considering my options here. I don’t know if I can weather the storm and argue for my client’s benefit in front of the judge without feeling like I’m about to pass out.

Maybe I contemplated that it will arrive at this stage sooner than later, but I didn’t want to believe that it might explode in my face. I mean, what were the odds? I’m always surrounded with anxiety and worry over the performance on my assignments and exams. It’s eventually bound to spill over and leave a trail of blood, sweat, and tears.

There was a flashback of me in the middle of a street in Taipei - in search of a particular store when we stumbled across two shops: one specializing in items made out of bamboo and wood and the other sold specialty cooking oil that ranged from sesame to flaxseed. I vaguely remembered the packaging of the bottle - and let me just say that the labels were beautifully designed. Too bad I didn’t keep the address - otherwise, I’d definitely swing there if I ever return to visit Taipei.

It might be a small city, but if you look hard enough, there are places to visit and the best is that it ain’t touristy either.

And before I forget, I have news for everyone. Remember the little side project that I have been working on and off for the last years? Well, it’s been finished - at least for the last couple of months. Now you see why I’ve been slogging like a mad woman away from the blogosphere. Although it couldn’t have been published as a paperback inasmuch as I’d love it to be, I’m now ready to release it as an e-book.

If you’re keen on purchasing it, stay tuned for more details (including the method of purchase and delivery).

Until then, I’m off to take a breather and soothe the racing mind.

Friday, November 3, 2017

11/3/2017

This is the second time that I’ve dreamt of pelicans. Although it is in a different location with a slightly varying context, I’m sensing that there is an occurring theme as well. The timing is also … too accurate - almost a year to this day, to be exact. As always, there was much more information in the dream, but I could only remember some of it due to sleep deprivation and exam revision.

I dreamt that I was leaning against a wooden bridge that connected the mainland to somewhere in the middle of the sea. My peripheral vision did not allow me to see where the bridge ended. As I allowed my thoughts to drift away, I noticed 3 pelicans waiting at the riverbank before another 3 swam over to join them. I remember feeling peaceful and relaxed at seeing this occurrence.

The online interpretation suggested sacrifice, charity, and nurturance. I’m not sure if it’s a 100% applicable, but certain elements of it seem to be. It does sound like I’ve sacrificed something without being aware of it, though. If I were to reflect on the past semester, the only thing that I have sacrificed is social time.

If we are also to discuss about nurturance, then the dream makes full sense. I was fully aware that things weren’t rosy as it seemed. A part of me feels like I need some nurturing, especially after what has transpired. It has made me question myself if this is the right choice and whether I should still follow the path. Or whether a divergent path would prove to be much more successful?

In addition, it might serve as a reminder to trust in the process and not to panic at the way things have turned out. When I first read this interpretation, I wanted to burst out laughing because that’s what I’ve not done. Although I know that I should have faith on what is to come, I’ve successfully scared myself with the prospects of next semester instead. I’m sure that I’ll be crazy soon at the rate I’m going.

I’ve forced myself not to blame myself if I don’t get the desired score because there are variables that led to such a result, but it is hard to trust blindly in the process and see the positive side of things.

On a more realistic view, it might also mean that I have a lot of errands to tick off my to-do list as well as carrying a lot of baggage. A wave of anxiety would always envelope me whenever it is the exam season because I have to tick off the list of revision methods. I feel that there’s too many things to do with little time to spare before it’s time to face the papers.

As for carrying a lot of baggage, I wonder if the interpretation refers to both the physical and emotional ones. Based on the reasonable person’s understanding of the term, I’d say that it’s probably hinting at the emotional baggage. Ah, this one is a bit arduous to write about - because I thought that I’ve buried it. Everyone has their own load of emotional baggage that they choose to speak of or keep secret about - it’s understandable.

I just don’t want to talk about it in public.
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