Emotional Support Procrastination, 2023 edition

Stuff that got us through the year.

It’s been awhile since we’ve sent out a proper newsletter, mostly because we were (a) either far too busy and overworked to be able to write procrastination newsletters or (b) enjoying time off too much to procrastinate. Turns out it’s not that easy to hit a sweet spot.

But we wanted to send something out before 2023 ends, so here’s a little end-of-year post from all three of us, each sharing three things that brought comfort or joy this year.


“VOLCANO” by Han

I don’t think there are enough words for me to express my long and abiding love for this song. It was released as Stray Kids member Han Jisung’s solo SKZ-RECORD in February this year, when I was in Melbourne for work. I remember listening to it for the first time while lying on an air mattress in my high school friend’s flat, then listening to it again and again while on long walks through the city. It’s not budged from the top of my playlist since. 

It’s a perfect Han Jisung song, with its different textures and lyrics that really hit. The chorus is what clinches it for me; it drops like a punch to my heart (in a good way). Listen to it with headphones on for maximum effect.

Perhaps the only person to love “VOLCANO” more than me is Kim Seungmin, another Stray Kids member who bugged Han to give him the song, to no avail. But Han and Seungmin did perform a short version of “VOLCANO” in an episode of 2 Kids Show—where a couple of members discuss their friendship and their music—followed by “Hold On”, another beautiful song that Han wrote for Seungmin to sing. That episode wasn’t released on my birthday, but it sure felt like it.

(Let’s face it: Stray Kids were my go-to procrastination this year. Especially when they did things like SKZ Family.)

Curtain Call

I was looking through the list of dramas I watched this year, trying to decide which one I’d like to include in this post, and it was quickly clear that Curtain Call was probably the most powerful of the lot, in terms of the emotional response I had. I was planning to write a full review, but never got around to it—maybe I still will some day, if people are interested. 

In Curtain Call, Ja Geum-soon (Go Doo-shim) is separated from her husband and infant son during the turmoil and chaos of the Korean War—she ends up in South Korea while her family remains stuck in North Korea. Although they aren’t that far apart geographically, geopolitics means that Geum-soon’s beloved and child might as well be on another planet. She has no choice but to move on; she remarries and becomes successful and wealthy, but that doesn’t heal the pain or the survivor’s guilt. By the time of the main plot, Geum-soon is old and terminally ill. She dotes on her three grandchildren, all of whom love her dearly in their own ways, but keeps longing for the North Korea grandson she’d met so fleetingly at a North-South reunion a decade ago. Her loyal right-hand man decides to hire actor Yoo Jae-hun (Kang Ha-neul) to pull off the biggest performance of his life: to play Ri Moon Sung, the long-lost grandson who arrives at last to fulfil his grandmother’s last wish.

I did not expect to cry during the very first episode of this drama, but Curtain Call is not just some melodramatic tear-jerker. Deception is at the root of the story, but it is predominantly a tale about looking for someone to love and be loved by. It’s about seeking closeness and family, and while the circumstances in the drama are very extreme I think the themes are something that speak to many of us.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

I’d originally picked something else, but changed it to this book even though I’ve really only just started reading it. I thought it would be a fitting inclusion because I was looking for a book to add to this list (so things look a little more well-rounded), and also because this title fits the bill as something that I’m reading for fun and enjoyment. I bought this book at The Bookshop in Wigtown, designated as Scotland’s National Book Town, while on a little trip with Peiying and her husband, so it’s also a souvenir from a happy, relaxing time that we snuck in at the end of 2023.

The author is the owner of The Bookshop, and The Diary of a Bookseller is the first volume in a series of diaries he’d written based on his experience running the largest second-hand bookstore in Scotland. Many people imagine that running a bookstore is some sort of idyllic dream, so Bythell’s here to disabuse us of that notion. There are bizarre and unreasonable customers, idiosyncratic employees and the constant headache of trying to survive as a bookseller in Amazon’s world.


December always brings about all sorts of feelings for me, and I get quite nostalgic and am a total sucker for Christmas. This year is a little different, and I’m inclined to think about all life changes and healing things, so my selection is inclined to things that are wholesome and have warm vibes.

“Mull of Kintyre” by Paul McCartney and Wings

As Kirsten mentioned, I’m currently doing my masters in Scotland and just spent some time touring the country. We went to the Mull of Galloway, and the moment we stepped out of the car, we were hit with a hilarious barrage of the windiest wind ever. Nevertheless, it was actually a really beautiful and sunny day, a rarity for the mountainous country this time of the year. Standing at the mull overlooking the sea made me feel small but also mighty, and it reminded me of this song by Paul McCarney and the Wings. While we didn’t go to the actual Mull of Kintyre which is close to Campbeltown, it had pretty similar vibes. 

Looking out to sea from the Mull of Galloway.

The lyrics of this song are really simple, but its melody coupled with that guitar strum and bagpipes really brings out all the feels. It’s really about missing the places that feel like home, and with landscapes as awe-inspiring as the ones in Scotland, it’s not difficult to understand why. I’ve come to really enjoy living there, and I listened to this on repeat the whole 24-hour journey home.

Sadly, while writing this I just found out that Denny Laine who co-wrote this with Paul McCartney just passed three weeks ago. May he rest in peace. He gifted the world this beautiful, soulful Christmas song that was the first to sell two million copies across the UK in 1977.

Twenty-Five Twenty-One

This is hands down, my favourite k drama of all time. It is a little old now, given that it was released in February 2022. This wonderful story explores the coming-of-age stories of a group of friends during the late 90s, particularly when South Korea was going through the IMF crisis. It focuses on the main character, Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri), as she pursues her aspirations to be one of the best fencers in the world. 

At first, I was excited to watch this show for the lead actor, Nam Joo-hyuk, who I loved in another well-loved show Start-Up, which I felt was a beautifully directed show that was not only engaging and hilarious, but also poetically heart-wrenching in many moments. However, I ended up having a massive girl-crush on Kim Tae-ri instead. Her character Na Hee-do was full of spunk, ambition and unapologetically herself. The show is quite simple in nature, but explores the very real difficulties that she faces in love, friendship and pursuing her dream. 

While this drama has romance, it really is one about life and friendships. There are many beautiful scenes in the show, and one particular favourite is the stressful moment where Na Hee-do meets the mother of her competitor and idol, Ko Yu-rim, and the heartwarming exchange they have. The fencing scenes are also extremely exciting and realistic, and it’s clear the actors have gone through a lot of effort to make it as believable as possible. 

The ending of this drama was bittersweet, and I watched it at a tricky time in my life. It may have been unsatisfying to many who watched it, but I felt it represented a realistic view of life, and despite the deep connections we might have with someone, time, place and personal ambitions interfere.

Of Wolves and Men fan fiction trilogy by DirtyFeet

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I couldn’t really have a procrastination newsletter without talking about fan fiction in some shape or form and how big a role it’s played in my procrastination life! I remember at a friend’s meditative session we were asked to imagine our happiest place, and for me it was during the Covid-19 lockdown, reading fan fiction in my room. 

I have my favourite pairings, but this is one that I chanced upon several years ago and surprised me. If you’re a sucker for super long drawn out soul-crushing heart-stabbing agony, also known as angst, this trilogy spanning over two hundred chapters is for you. It’s an Original Character (OC) and Remus Lupin pairing, starts in the Marauders’ era and continues to the end of the Deathly Hallows timeline. Remus and Rowan start out as sweet beaus while they’re students, but the realities of his condition catches up with them. Rowan dedicates her life to becoming an excellent potions mistress and finding solutions to being a werewolf. The author draws in many of the Harry Potter universe’s characters, both big and small, and also creates many new characters and side stories that you get so invested in. I love this trilogy and read it once in a long while, especially when I want to just sink into my couch and be a social hermit. . 

OC fics get a bad rep for various reasons, one of them often about how many authors imagine OC to be “you” or themselves. This one doesn’t feel like that at all, and while the writing starts off a little cliche, do note it gets better and better over time. DirtyFeet started this in 2014 and only completed it in 2021, and I remember having to check the pages every week for an update and they were slow to come! I was so glad it was eventually completed unlike many other stories that have been left fallow. 

Tonks and Remus fans beware!! You will not like this story—you’ve been warned!


Hello hello! I'm pretty sure this is the one Passion Procrastination review that's finally going to make it out of my drafts folder because (1) we came up with a deadline this time (turns out I really need them after all) and (2) it's divided into three parts which is much more manageable, yay!

Ponniyin Selvan II

The Ponniyin Selvan (PS) films are an adaptation of Kalki's serialised stories which were later integrated into a novel in 1955. The story itself focuses on the Cholan Empire. The ailing king's throne is at risk. His oldest son, a warrior nursing heartbreak of the most immense order, is uninterested in coming back. His daughter is, well, a daughter. Even if she's a strategist, whose character I eventually come to dislike lol. And his youngest son is some peace-loving prince who's off somewhere doing… something. But there's political intrigue dum dum dummm. So the siblings have to come together. But then, birth secrets and tragic romance get in the way so it's a whole lot of drama.

Directed by Mani Ratnam, with music by A.R. Rahman, PS1 premiered in 2022. I was not prepared, ok? I was simply unprepared for the epicness. I feel like I've watched Tamil period films but nothing I remember is in the same league. Then again, we are talking about Mani Ratnam, who really is in a league of his own. (I should do a must-watch Mani Ratnam list for y’all, tbh).

PS2 premiered in April this year, thankfully. I do not like waiting for sequels. Or when they go on for longer than necessary. (I'm done with the Star Wars universe and the MCU for this reason. Stories need to end at some point lah.) 

We got tickets for opening night, yayyyyyy. (PS2 was my Coldplay, man.) I went with my husband and both our mums. The thing about Tamil films that I really enjoy is that you can easily enjoy them with your parents. You never have to worry about an 'f'-bomb being dropped or a random sex scene in the movie. (Trust me, I watched Gone Girl in the cinema with my mum. It was very much not a vibe.)

The film itself was amazing, frfr. I mean, first of all. THE FASHION. Heck, I knew sarees were our traditional wear but I didn't even realise that saree blouses only came into fashion as a response to colonialism. Blouses only started to be a thing because the British weren't letting Indian women into spaces because uncovered shoulders were seen as uncivilised. Now, blouses are seen as peak tradition and not wearing them is perceived as being too modern. Whut.

Secondly, the music. A.R. Rahman's music always hits different but let's face it, he was in his prime in the 90s. That said, I think PS has been his best work in a long, long time. I listen to songs on loop so I get through very few albums properly each year. From December-April, all I was listening to was this. And then they released the music for PS2 and until now I've been listening to is this (beside Stray Kids, ofc). You don't even need to watch the film (watch it plspls) to feel the pain in this track. 

Thirdly, the plot! We love a good slow burn. We love stories that take time to introduce us to characters. We love worldbuilding. And because it was an adaptation, there was so much nuance and depth to PS1. The story moved at exactly the right pace. I do think PS2 was not paced as well. Unlike PS1, PS2 veered off the original storyline and it did kinda feel like the threads were pulled together a bit too quickly? Character arcs and plot points were glossed over and it started to give “who spent too long on their introduction before realising they only had 30 minutes left before the exam was up” vibes, yknow?

BUT. I don't think any weaknesses take away from the grandeur of the entire story that was told. The scale of the film was on another level and I do think it is quite possibly the most epic Tamil film I've ever seen. If I'd watched this as a kid, I'd have been more motivated to get into Tamil literature. I actually bought the books to try and read them but I'm thinking I need to read them alongside the audiobooks cos right now, my Tamil is not Tamiling. I speak better than I read. The 2024 resolution is to read them all, I say. 

Nonetheless, the true highlight of the whole PS2 situation was the lead-up to the film. There was a trailer launch, a music launch, a bunch of teasers and a few lyric videos. I was also still living with my parents at the time so every night was PS night with Mum putting on the different versions (Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi) of the songs and asking me to rate them. I moved out in July so I think we were both trying to spend as much time together as we possibly could. Listening to the songs now also reminds me of her, and of us, and all the fun we had while living together. 

The Wire

If PS was what I was obsessed with before moving out of my old home, The Wire will always remind me of the first first months in my new one. 

The series follows Officer McNulty in his attempts to go after a drug lord. But we soon realise that the biggest, baddest villain of them all is neither the drug lords nor the drugs. It's bureaucracy. Hurhurhur. This is a very simplistic summary that doesn't do the show justice but it is what it is, lol. 

I don't know what life in Baltimore in the mid-2000s was really like but The Wire really is one of those shows where the setting is the heart of the show. Every character is rooted in this setting, in this case, Baltimore, and so, they never come across as contrived or cliche. Night after night, my desire to continue the show wasn't because I was attached to any character in particular. It just felt natural to go back there, to that place in the TV, especially at the end of a long week. It's a vibe. Like, really, it is a very specific vibe. 

The Wire did also feel like a truer depiction of life than any other show I've watched. The plot wasn't very plotty, if that makes sense. I just watched people make a bunch of decisions that felt natural, considering what choices they were afforded in the first place. And I just went from one episode to another, watching how their lives played out. There is no main character. There is no main villain. There is no single arc that is not also intertwined with every other seemingly random arc in the story. But interestingly, focusing on individuals also also means focusing on the systems they are a part of—the justice system, the media, the education system, the drug rings. So we end up with a nuanced critique of these systems—how they are interlinked and we see how individual agency can be stripped by systems—especially for the underprivileged. 

The Wire was good, from start to finish. Seasons 4 and 5 weren't as engaging as the first few but damn, the ending was satisfying. Season 3 was possibly my favourite because it dealt with the education system. But Season 1 was probably the best in terms of how tight the writing was. Good stuff, good stuff. 

I actually have no kdrama this year  A Time Called You

Kdrama took a significant backseat this year. I just went to check out Dramabeans Bean Count and I've not even watched half the shows on their list. Big sad. BIG SAD.

It's like adulthood has fully caught up and I'm just living my life doing other things. Earlier this year, someone asked me if I've used TV characters as a solution for my unresolved emotional needs from when I was young. So that's probably why moving on from a full TV schedule does feel a little bit like I've left my friends behind. And I suppose this means that not living my life according to my TV schedule is a good thing?

If I had to choose one, my k drama of the year is probably A Time Called You. I actually started writing a review for it while watching it but I never finished it lol. It was a fun show. It was pretty nostalgic. Time travelling to the 90s for real would be even better, maybe. 

A Time Called You, an adaptation of the Taiwanese drama Someday or One Day, is about a woman, Han Jun Hee, who wakes up in the body of a high schooler in the 90s. Except this high schooler's classmate looks exactly like Jun Hee's dead boyfriend. I was pretty confused at first because their ages didn't match up. Her boyfriend had to be much younger than this lookalike high school dude for the timelines to make sense. Initially, I enjoyed the mystery. Then, I started to really get into the friendship the main characters shared. 

Teenage friendships hit different, I guess. There's always this idealism that accompanies the friendship. You think your friendships will stand the test of time. Recently, I've come to see that very few actually do. Especially if those friendships were forged when you thought too little of yourself. People don't always grow in the same way. Friend breakups have always been more difficult to get over than romantic breakups (mainly cos I haven't had that many romantic relationships in the first place). 

It's not just idealistic friendships, though. It's just idealism. High school dramas are always tinged with a bit of grief, now. My current self does feel like the best version of myself. My self-esteem is definitely stable now, I think. But there is something about my 15-year-old self that's gone. The rose-tinted glasses, probably. It's not entirely bad, just sad enough to watch A Time Called You and wish that I could go back too, even if just for a day. 

But really though, we need to get my k drama game back up again. Any recommendations before 2024 begins?

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