Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Choose Life

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 @ 11.49am

Life's a rollercoaster ride right? There are ups and downs and you can't really control it once you're going through it now can you?

Friday, 23 January 2009

9.30am

I swiped my access card to open the office door. My phone is ringing in my handbag. Pushing the door open while fumbling for my phone, I balance my breakfast in my other hand. It's Eddie.

E: "Yang, kita kena balik kampung. Atuk dah meninggal."

11am

I'm sitting in the car at the back of Pavilion. I'd gone home to change into my baju kurung and packed extra clothes. I'd already been here for fifteen minutes. Eddie had to wait till another Assistant Manager can come in to cover him.

2pm

We reached the masjid near his parents house in Teluk Intan just as all the men were walking out. Friday prayers had just finished. We saw the van at the entrance of the masjid waiting to transport Atuk's body. Eddie ran out. I drove Lily back to his home. Umie was sitting at the front with other relatives. A look of sadness and gladness came over her when she saw me walking towards the house.

3pm

I reached the graveyard with Eddie's three sisters. Eddie, Ayah, Paklong and Pak Mamat were already there. Before the burial, everyone was given one last chance to say goodbye. After Eddie's turn, I saw him quickly walk away, wiping the tears from his eyes.

7.30pm

Eddie's sister and I got carried away chit chatting in the room that we didn't realise everyone else was already gathered outside to pray. We quickly took turns taking our air sembahyang and joined them. Eddie stood in front of me. This was the first time we'd prayed together.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

It was our one-year anniversary. Ijah and I were still sleeping in the back room at 8am when Eddie opened the door and said, "anak dara ni dah melampau tidur! Ha... kalau ikut style Ayah... tutup kipas..." and he switched off the fan and left laughing. I got up first to shower while Ijah continued rolling around in bed.

After breakfast, we went to Sungai Besar. Eddie, myself, and all five of his siblings (including his sister's husband) were there to look for fabric and baju kurung/kebaya. Eddie and I had originally planned on dinner at the restaurant where we met to celebrate our anniversary. But under the circumstances, we spent the day with his family instead and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way either :)

26 January 2009

Gong xi fa cai. The first day of Chinese New Year was also the first time in two years that Get Crafty was closed. This also meant that this was the first time that we were all able to gather in the day time outside of Great Eastern Mall! When we first found out that we would be closing, I suggested a picnic and kite flying, which is exactly what we did!

The grass was green and the blue sky was endless. All the Get Crafty crew had gathered, each bringing an item to share for our 'potluck picnic'. The only thing missing for me was Eddie, who had to go back to Teluk Intan for the day.

I had never flown a kite, but had always wondered how it was done. Turns out... wasn't so hard after all. Just feeling the wind against my skin and looking up at the clear blue sky as my Ultraman/Power Ranger kite (ahahahah) blew against the wind made me smile. Laughter and shrieks of delight accompanied us that day as none of us had ever flown a kite.

Zaza arrived an hour and a half later with Am and her baby python, Violet. She'd brought one of her other snakes before to Get Crafty. But it was a thin and tiny little fella that I didn't have the guts to even touch. Feeling liberated, I quickly put my kite aside and said, "I wanna hold it! I wanna hold it!" Screaming in absolute fear as Violet slithered against my hands, I managed to take one nice photo where I wasn't screaming for my life.

Returning back to our spot where our drinks and leftover food awaited us, I immediately started jumping and declaring to the whole group, "Nak naik train! Nak naik train!" It was actually a 'bus' that would take us on a half-hour ride around the whole park. Iqbal was smiling as he saw me jump like a little kid. I grabbed his arm and led him to the very front of the 'train'. All aboard! All 12 of us sat and enjoyed the train ride :)


I never saw myself as someone who'd enjoy kampung life. Or someone who'd enjoy being out in the sun flying a kite and running along the park. I always had this perception that I'm a primp little princess who needs her shaded areas and air-conditioned areas and cool drinks and proper seats and luxurious meals.

I discovered that what I want is the simple things in life. I want to relax on my days off work. I wanna play in the sun. I wanna get dirty in the mud and sit on the ground as we pray for arwah Atuk. I wanna enjoy the sun instead of spending hours in the shaded air-conditioned areas. And I want open air places that's not surrounded by high-rise buildings.

This doesn't mean that I want to abandon the city and move to the kampung. This means that when I do get the rare day off... I wanna enjoy it in the sun. I wanna play like a kid and pretend I'm a tourist in my own country. Because frankly, I didn't feel like I was in KL when I was playing in that park.

I realised something too. After fun in the sun, we went to Sunway Pyramid to go bowling. Reaching there, I immediately lost interest. I didn't like the crowd. I didn't like the covered area when I had just experienced hours in the sun (I already spend hours everyday in an office...why would I want to spend many more hours in a closed-up, windowless area on my day off?).

I decided that I want to spend my time outdoors. I want to enjoy and appreciate the other parts of the city I live in and explore whatever else it has to offer me. When I have children, I want to take them outside. I want to go for picnics. I want to see them playing kites. I want them to enjoy the sun too. I don't want them to spend their days in a shopping mall whenever they have a school holiday. I don't want them to be cooped up at home just watching TV. I want them to always try something new. To learn to enjoy the simple things in life. And to spend their days laughing. I want them to choose life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jealous

Monday, 19 January 2009 @ 6.39pm

I was jealous the other day. No, not because of Eddie and another woman or anything like that. It was a different kind of jealousy. A sort of jealousy I’d never experienced. A sort of jealousy that I’d only seen from single friends.

Eddie and I had gone to dinner with his sister and her future husband. They’re getting engaged in March and planning to get married in either June or December. When we were discussing wedding dates and themes and colours, I started to feel something unfamiliar to me. I became a little quiet and withdrawn then. I wasn’t really sure why I was feeling that way yet until I said, “At my wedding, the theme will be lilac and silver.” I’d spoken to Eddie about all of this before, so he wasn’t surprised. But in a weird way, I sort of felt surprised once I’d said it out loud to someone other than Eddie.

Eddie’s sister suggested we go catch a late movie or sing karaoke. But I declined. Saying I was tired and wanted to go home. On the drive back home, I was quiet. Eddie knew something was wrong. He was probing for answers. I just said, “nothing.” Upon nearly reaching our destination, I was playing with his hand when we were stopped at a traffic light and I finally confessed.

A: “I’m jealous.”

E: “Why?”

A: “I don’t wanna tell you.”

E: (silence for a few seconds before his face changes to sympathy) “Yang, benda-benda macam ni we cannot rush. Sekarang ni kita takde duit. Soon ok?”

I sulk for a while more. I’d been joking with him for a few weeks now about Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020) – the year that we’ll actually be able to get married at the rate we’re going. There are days when I get sad. And days when he feels bad. But we make it work. Our plan is going smoothly, just moving along very slowly.

It seems like everywhere I turn now, someone’s getting married. Or their brother or sister or cousin or aunty. I’ve seen single women who have expressed fear of becoming a lonely spinster. And that if there’s a man and an offer, sure, they’d take it. A year ago, I semi-sympathised these women, but laughed it off and joked that things were going to be fine and they’ll find someone someday.

A year ago, I didn’t think about furniture and loans and this and that. I just thought, hey, I’m having fun. And all the extra money I earned from other jobs just meant that I could go out and spend more. Now…I work extra days to earn more for savings and for road tax and for insurance. Eddie started part-time work on top of his full-time duties to put money into our savings.

Years ago, I always knew I wanted to get married. I just never saw it as a reality. Now…it only really hit me that I want to and that I’m ready for such a commitment when I knew that I found the right man.

No, he may not earn hundreds of thousands a year. And he may not possess a house. But I believe that we should work together to get all those things. I only realised how serious he was too when he was enthusiastic and almost relieved at my suggestion to work out a monthly budget in an excel file (I recommend that to EVERYBODY – you know what your budget is. You know how much goes to bills. And you know what you can put into savings).

So yes, I’m a little jealous. I’m happy for Ijah and Rasydan. I’m happy that they’re working out a budget too and planning and wanting our help in thoughts, suggestions and ideas along the way. But I can’t help but think…when is it my turn? When can we give the green light to Ayah and Paklong? I don’t want to go back to Teluk Intan again until I know the answer. Paklong is already in fifth gear. He’s just got his foot on the brakes till Eddie and I say go. But patience is a virtue. Things are slow because it’s the beginning. I foresee us staying in more to be able to reach our goal.

Paying for your own wedding sucks. But I know in the end, it’ll be worth it. Because it’ll be ours.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Living with Arthritis

15 January 2009 @ 1.39pm

I've been diagnosed with arthritis since my early teens - 13 or 14 - after I started going to the chiropractor. Basically, all my joints hurt - all the time. My thumbs, my neck, my jaw, my knees, my back...

There are days when it's really bad. A couple of months ago, I had to take an emergency half day off work because I couldn't hold a pen. A couple of weeks ago, I couldn't eat because my jaw hurt so bad that I couldn't chew.

Today, my insurance agent called me and said that there's a problem with my application. I need to bring a form to my doctor and get her to fill it out. Eddie's has been approved. Mine is still pending - all because of my arthritis.

I can tell you this now - arthritis is no fun. I constantly need to move my thumbs. If I don't, they get stiff. I can't sleep in an aircon room for two reasons - my sinus and my arthritis. If I do, I'll wake up with a blocked nose and my knees and thumbs hurting.

I'm only 24 and I'm getting worried. I'm not allowed to take too much calcium because it makes me constipated (and I have enough problems in that area alone already). I can't drink milk because that gives me diarrhoea. (My God...I'm a walking encyclopedia of disease!)

What happens 24 years from now? Will I be able to move my thumbs? Will I be able to chew and eat? How can I get rid of this? Problem is... I can't.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Facade

Wednesday, 14 January 2009 @ 2.11pm

I want to stop being known as confident, independent and strong. For many, many years people have been telling me that I’m capable and smart and strong. That I can go through anything. That I can handle everything. That anyone can throw anything at me and all I’ll do is reply with a charm that’ll shut them up. For how long do you think I can keep up this fa├žade? For how long do you think I can continue weighing this burden on me?

Yes, I have all these jobs. I’m always running around. Always on the go. Once in a while, I may have borrowed money from friends, or called crying, or called saying that I’m parked at the side of the road somewhere. Isn’t that a sign? Shouldn’t that raise alarm bells that maybe something’s not right? That I really can’t handle it all?

When I met you, I thought that I've met someone who's confident, independent and strong. Someone just like me. Except you're a man. I thought I can finally relax and start behaving like a girl when I'm around you. Be manja and start depending on you. To have someone there that I can cry to when I feel like I can't be 'confindent, independent and strong' at the moment.

You never want to talk about our problems. You always want to cuddle and tell me you miss me when you see me. Then you always want to talk about work and money. So fine. I realised that I can't be manja. I can't be a girl. I have to harden my heart again.

I hate Shah Alam

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 @ 6.41pm

I drove a total of 109km today. And it was all for a CD. I started my day off quite busy – settling two submissions with two art directors while sorting out some other work with my boss. At 12.30pm, I left the office to go to Damansara to drop off one of the completed submissions. After having a quick lunch with ex-colleagues, I made my way out to Shah Alam.

I’ve never been fond of the area. And the names of the roads don’t amuse me. They irritate me. I’ve never been to my client’s office in Shah Alam before and being an AE, that’s just something I have to do. Being hired as an experienced AE, they let me go alone. Big mistake.

I left Damansara at 2pm. I knew I’d get lost. But I never imagined that I would be driving for nearly two hours before reaching my destination. Luckily, Ina was on her way back to her office, which also happened to be in Shah Alam. After aimlessly driving around for a good hour and a half, I called Ina. She told me to wait for her. Being the good friend that she is, she met me where I was parked at Caltex and showed me part of the way and left me where I was sure to find the rest of the way following the map (which is not very useful) that was drawn out for me by a colleague.

Once I made the turning after Ina went off to her office, I got lost looking for the actual location. I knew I was in the right area. All the landmarks that were drawn for me was right in front of me. But I kept missing the turning. Another good fifteen minutes of U-turns. After parking illegally (forget claiming for parking – I was already going to claim big time in petrol alone!), I went in, got the CD and got back to Lily.

Then it hit me. I have no idea how to get out of Shah Alam, let alone the area. I made rounds and I kept ending up on Jalan Kontraktor (do you think that’s smart? I don’t). I finally saw the main road at the end of the world and made my way to it. But there’s another problem – I’m still in Shah Alam.

After half an hour, I finally found my way out and saw the sign board saying, ‘Kuala Lumpur’. But it’s never that easy is it? I was driving towards KL, but this motherfucking eighteen-wheeler truck squeezed me to the left of the road. T o avoid crashing into the divider, I was forced to exit at Subang Jaya. And I don’t know how…but I was back in Shah Alam. At the roundabout where I called Ina!

Making my 25th u-turn of the hour, I finally got back on track to Kuala Lumpur. But there’s another problem. The goddamn Duke Highway just opened and the old familiar roads were gone. Half excited, I drove for the first time on Duke. But exited in another world. I could see KLCC and KL Tower to my left in the distance, and the road sign says Jalan Kuching. But it wasn’t registering. I kept thinking I was in Ipoh. It was past 4pm and I was starting to get a migraine.

Another twenty minutes trying to find a familiar road, I finally exited onto the Jalan Kuching I knew – the one I used to take back home every day after school. Reaching the office with what I knew would be the start of a pounding migraine, I quickly popped two ActiFast Panadol and quickly finished my work. Doing my claims as my boss has been hounding me to submit it for days…I discovered that I drove a total of 109km. 84km was because of Shah Alam.

To top it all off, I went to the toilet and discovered that I have my period. Great end to a great day huh? At least it explains why I feel like shit.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I don't care

Friday, 9 January 2009 @ 2.33pm

I fear that I am beginning to mentally lose it. I'm tired and getting fed up really quick. I'm releasing my anger on innocent victims and I want to get away from it all.

Last night, at 7.30pm, we had an urgent meeting in the conference room. Me, my superior, the art director and production manager. What for? To rush out 60 pages to be completed, pdf-ed and emailed by 4pm today. It doesn't matter that it was client who delayed the copy by three weeks. It doesn't matter that she denies the fact and is blaming us for only showing her 25 pages in three days (done by ONE person mind you).

All that matters is that she can threaten to take her business elsewhere. Yes, she's our biggest client. But where does she come off delaying the copy and then demanding we finish it in a matter of days? Is she dumb? Incompetent? Stupid? An idiot, I would say. My superior and I have a pure hatred towards her (who the fuck does she think she is calling L and complaining? Talk about, "I'm gonna tell on you" syndrome). So what's our response? Scramble and get the ENTIRE agency to work on this one fucking piece. Oh, how much did we charge this bitch? A mere RM5k. Is it worth it? No fucking way. And whose problem is it? Yours truly.

To top it off, I had a birthday dinner to attend last night. And Eddie had said he would go with me since he finishes work early. Did he remember? No. When I called, what did he do? Hold the phone to his ear for a good few seconds joking with his staff. What did I do? Hang up on him. Did he bother to call back? No, of course not. Since when had men ever been sensitive to their girlfriend's needs?

It was near 8pm and the whole office was going for a "dinner break". Would I like to join? Hell no. I finished whatever I had to do and left. When I drove out, I managed to make the u-turn to my destination, but instead of turning left, I turned right and headed straight for PJ instead. Frank was calling me. I was ignoring it. I just wanted a peace of mind.

I've decided I want to take a break. I will do what I have to do but that's it. I don't want advice. I don't want lectures. I don't want words of wisdom. I would just like to take a break. I want to sleep. I want to get out of bed with a purpose.

This morning, I forced myself out of bed at 8.50am. And I didn't care. I don't care that I'm late for work everyday. I don't care that I go back down to get breakfast once I reach work. I don't care that I don't eat lunch. I don't care that I do only what I have to instead of more than I really should here. I just don't care anymore.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Loose

Wednesday, 7 January 2009 @ 5.19pm

Two days ago, there was a feature story in one of the Malay papers about a group of 12 and 13 year old girls who were proudly flaunting the fact that they enjoy random and casual sex. And the fact that they taunt and tease their peers who are still virgins, pressuring them into having casual sex too. One was even quoted saying that she’s young, why not have fun now? Did I fail to mention these children are Malay and pictured wearing tudung?

On New Year’s day, there were reports of a female newscaster and actress who were caught in a raid in what was believed to be a sex party, ushering in the new year. It was later revealed that the female newscaster is a 22-year-old Malay woman who’s scheduled to be married in three weeks. It was also reported that a newly-married MALAY couple were also present at the party.

A couple of hours ago, I logged into Eddie’s facebook (it’s a daily routine since I’m his secretary). There were two notifications – one was the message sent by his brother. The other, was a friend request from a woman. I took no notice. Read his brother’s message and logged out. About half an hour ago, I realized that I could actually view the profile of the woman since it was her who was requesting his ‘friendship’.

What I saw both angered and sickened me. In her info, it said, “I’m happy to ‘entertain’ married men. You can see why I’m divorced. I’m looking to settle down with someone who’s willing to have a polygamous relationship with me.” She has five other friends – not surprisingly, all are men. Did I also mention she’s a 29-year-old MALAY woman?

I don’t understand what is happening with the current situation of girls and women today. Especially in the Malay society. I’m sad, sickened, angered and disgusted all at the same time. First I read about these children who are flaunting their lifestyle – all sparked by Mat Rempits. I’m worried. I have an 11-year-old and seven-year-old niece. I also have a 10-year-old nephew. I don’t want any one of them getting caught up in this bullshit.

Then I read that young, Malay women and a couple (who could so easily be my friends), caught in a raid at a suspected sex party? What happened to honour and respect? And the vows that had been so recently taken by the newlyweds? Where was dignity and respect? Did the 22-year-old newscaster think about her future husband? Or could he himself be at another party? Or was in on the whole idea and encouraged her?

Today…I see some 29-year-old hussy who’s trying to invite MY man for casual sex? I’ve known, heard and seen through other friends where people use networks like Facebook and Friendster to search for potential sex partners. They add them as friends and start chatting, all in the hopes of having casual, no-strings attached sex. I’ve never really said much or got involved except for the occasional reminder to play safe and smart. But once a brazen whore casually declares she’s loose and free and invites MY man for casual sex…she’s got another thing coming. She’s clearly messing with the wrong couple.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Idiots come in all shapes and sizes

Tuesday, 6 January 2008 @ 6.38pm

A man was crossing the road without even looking. I slowed down because I don't feel like getting slapped with a hit and run charge today. He turned his face to me as he was taking his own sweet time crossing. Then he stuck his finger in his nostril and dug at that stubborn piece of booger. And he just kept looking at me, his finger up his nose, as he strolled to the other side.

A man was sitting on his motorbike, chatting with two of his friends. He was blocking my way to drive into the entrance of my office building. And as I horned and turned dangerously close to the idiot, he just continued chatting with his buddies.

A woman was walking. I could see her in my rearview mirror. As I reversed into the parking space along side the rows of cars on both sides of me, she chose to walk BEHIND my reversing car.

These series of events happened in a mere ten minutes. It happened about half an hour ago when I was driving back into my office from my meeting. I'm always astounded at the level of stupidity that I see all the time. But this time...after another meeting with an idiot client who thinks we just need to "cut and paste" pictures and words to lay out our designs and expects 60 (!!) pages by Thursday. My God...talk about a test... luckily I was too tired to swear. So I just gave them a 'fuck you' face.

By the way, if you're visiting somebody's house...do you park your car IN FRONT of their gate? No? Well, I guess only an idiot would (and for those who know what I'm talking about, no, I'm not over it yet. Idiot).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lessons Learned (Part 3: Final)

Tuesday, 6 January 2009 @ 11.18am

Lesson #5: Sometimes settling is just not good enough

Ever since I left Trix, I’ve been whining that I hate being an AE and blah blah blah. I’ve always been told and been taught to push further and be all that I can be, to the best of my abilities. Ever since I was in uni, I’ve been pushing myself to work harder then I really should. Because I realized that I’ve been given an awesome opportunity that a lot of other people won’t get. I also realized that Papa worked hard as fuck to be able to provide my siblings and I with these opportunities. Taking advantage of it and just passing by is really a stupid way to go. So I decided to push myself as hard (if not harder) so that one day, I will be able to provide that same opportunities to my children.

Ever since I learnt to appreciate the fact that I’ve been given a start ahead of many others, I decided that settling is not good enough. When I started Trix, I felt like my weekends were wasted. Two days of doing nothing. So I decided to apply for a job as part-time teacher at Get Crafty (then known as Craft Attack). In 2007, I was working seven days a week and I loved it. I was making the most of every day and every moment. It was at this moment that I decided that, “hey, you’re young. If you don’t do all that you can now, then when can you?”

When I became an AE, I suddenly felt dumb. I didn’t have to push myself and there was no challenge. I was merely servicing clients. I AM merely servicing clients. There was no creative drive anymore. No push. No stress. No pressure to get to the deadline. What I do now is wait around, get quotations done, make sure invoices are sent, chase clients to pay us, and act my way through clients and bosses. There are times when it gets extremely busy. But once I’ve briefed the designer…that’s it.

I’ve had arguments with Papa about my wanting to look for another job. I’ve told him I feel useless here. But he says stay. Economy is bad and I’m lucky to have a job and blah blah blah. But I DESPISE coming here. I look forward to weekends because then I get to work at Get Crafty. I HATE when it’s Sunday evening because that means that it’s only hours away till I have to come back here. I feel like I’ve been dumbed down. I don’t work to the best of my abilities here because I cannot accept what I am here. I cannot accept that I can be just an AE. I know I can do better.

I used to pour my heart and soul at Trix. Work was piling and I loved it. I just hated the pay. I loved being in control and there I got to multi-task. There were clients to handle, articles to be written, designers to brainstorm with and bosses who trusted me. Here…I’m not even trying. Because there’s nothing to try. You just lie. All the time. My boss even joked to me, “you better pray everyday. Because you’re going to have a lot of sins working here.” Yes, that’s advertising for you.

I’m miserable here. I’ve worked out the steps and the system and I’m just going at it day by day. I feel depressed coming here. I don’t even bother playing nice and lunching with colleagues anymore. I just play at a nice, vague level to ensure I don’t come off as the cold-hearted bitch. I’m so glad that I have Get Crafty to look forward to so I don’t fall into a black hole of darkness and misery. I’ve decided that I’m not going to settle here. I can and will do better.

Lesson #6: Love is sacrifice

People always say that you have to give and take in a relationship. That you each have to make sacrifices and accommodate. Most of the time, the things that need changing are not major. It’s whether you’re willing to do it or not.

Eddie and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary very, very soon. And since then, we’ve been through a lot together. It sometimes feels like we’ve been together longer than a year. But with each step of the way, we’ve had to learn all the grueling details of each other and it was up to us whether or not we could or wanted to accept the other.

Along the way, we’ve learnt how to deal with each other. I’ve learned that he has a temper and I know how to calm him down. Recently, his family has expressed relief that we found each other because we complement each other. He needs somebody who’s firm enough to pull him down and they’ve said that they’re glad I’m able to do that. In fact, whenever they need to get through to him, they go through me first. He’s knows I get irrational when I lose it and he knows how to handle me too.

I’ve learned that we both need our space. Eddie’s job demands long grueling hours (sometimes from 9am till 12.30am) of physical work that leads him to both mental and physical exhaustion. Not only does he have to handle staff and customers, he also has to deal with paperwork and the management of the restaurant.

My jobs vary from mental to physical work. Mega Ads is mostly mental exhaustion after hours of endless arguments with various people while Get Crafty can be eight straight hours of being on your feet dealing with children and their parents while not even being able to have a toilet break or having lunch.

We don’t see each other every day and we’re both OK with that. We’ve learned that we don’t need to see each other ever day to love each other. Sometimes he just needs to unwind and so do I.

I’ve learned that we come from different worlds. He is a kampung boy and I am a city girl. But there are traits of each others worlds that we both actually already possess. I secretly like Malay tradition and culture, and he and his family have been there every step of the way to teach me things I was either to shy to ask or never experienced. He lives like a city boy but is truly a kampung boy at heart. We’ve learned to trade information, to teach each other things and to learn together.

I’ve learned that we complement each other. It may seem that we’re worlds apart, but there’s actually a lot that we have in common. We just took the time and effort to learn from each other. And it’s that one major sacrifice that I think has glued us together.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lessons Learned (Part 2)

Monday, 5 January 2009 @ 3.44pm

Lesson #3: NEVER judge a book by its cover

I have met a lot of people in 2008. It started with Eddie. He is so unlike what I first assumed he would be. He turned out to be kind, caring, thoughtful, affectionate and easily excitable. He enjoys simple things in life and loves to make me laugh. When he took me back to Teluk Intan, I learned another side of him. I saw him as Abang Eddie or Abanglong. He loves children. He’s always asking if Cutie Face is at home when he visits. He loves playing with Wani, the toddler who lives across the road from his father’s house. And his younger cousins and brother look up to him so much (and not only because he’s the tallest one in the house ;P)

I’ve come to know Eddie’s friends – a lot of whom I previously thought I had nothing in common with or wouldn’t be able to communicate. They turned out to be fun, concerned human beings. They’ve also established some sort of respect for me and try to ‘behave’ when I’m around. Save for a few, they’ve also become somewhat protective over me. When I’m at Pavilion and Eddie’s away, if ever F***** (the jerk who wanted me too) or anyone for that matter tried to disturb me, which is a lot of the time, someone in the vicinity will always tell him to piss off. Especially Bennie, Qayum and John. I guess it sometimes helps knowing half the staff working at the restaurants in Pavilion J

In all my lines of work – Mega Ads, Get Crafty and Kostari – I get to meet all sorts of people. At Mega Ads, I meet the more corporate, serious types of people. There are those who understand the position you’re in (being the middle man to boss, client and designer) and cut you some slack. There are those who refuse to be understanding and instead prefer to use you as a punching bag (verbally of course). And there are those who really don’t know what they’re doing and you end up as they’re personal assistant.

At Get Crafty, I meet a lot of parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins…the whole family actually. And they come from all over the world – literally. There are those who can be quite rude and interrupt everything you’re saying. Those who only look at the price and demand for it to be lower. Those who don’t understand that art materials don’t come cheap. Those who just come in to complain that we should lower our prices like our competitor downstairs (to which I reply that we provide a service which requires some sort of talent that will hopefully be passed down to their children, while our rivals downstairs merely watch over their children while their children play).

At Kostari, I have met characters who are willing to listen and help in any way they can. And characters who are only in it in hopes to gain some sort of financial return. These are the people who sicken me. Kostari has a mission to accomplish that involves the betterment of orphans, and those who demand a 25% or 50% share (each!!) should go and fuck themselves. Idiot.

As a normal human being, you tend to judge before you know. And you always fix a stereotypical image of a person when you first meet them. I thought people who wanted to be a part of Kostari wanted to help. Turned out they just wanted a cut from the generous souls who wanted to donate. I thought (and I’m being honest here) that a lot of Eddie’s friends would be hooligans. Turns out that a lot of them are really sweet. After my fight with Eddie on New Year’s, it was three of his friends who consoled me and told me that things would turn out fine. I thought my one major client was a bitch born straight from hell. Turns out that she’s just under a lot of stress from her bosses and is handling ALL the work herself without the aid of ANYONE else.

NEVER judge a book by its cover. For those who you think are hooligans or barbarians or some other stereotypical image you had in mind, give them a second chance. They might always turn out to be the ones who protect you, or the ones who keep you company. They may also turn out to be friendly and funny as hell J And for the rest who you think looks ‘ok’, WATCH OUT! They may just want your money.

Lesson #4: Spend more time at home


I’ve missed so many things that were happening at home. I just found out a few days ago that my cousin’s getting married. Quite honestly, 2008 was not a good year to be at home. I was always being told that I never spend enough time at home, which just made me go out more, and that I’m a stranger, which sometimes just made me work all night so I wouldn’t have to go home.

I’ve always felt a little misunderstood when I’m at home. My views are always different from what I heard at home. I always saw home as a place to relax. But I’m always on guard. There are always discussions on politics and money, and that just makes me want to go away. I already have to deal with that crap 16 hours of the day. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a few hours of peace and relaxation. When I spend more time in my room, I get ‘talks’ about shutting out from everyone else.

But I’ve made a resolution to spend more time at home. Brave it like I brave work and do what I have to do to please everyone. Hell, I make a lot more effort everywhere else, I guess it wouldn’t hurt if I tried at home. I just have to learn to be a lot louder and thick-skinned if I’m going to sit through one of those politics and money discussions. Sigh. Family is forever.

Lessons Learned (Part 1)

Monday, 5 January 2009 @ 1.53pm

Lesson #1: We are still a divided nation

One of my duties as an AE here, is to read through all major newspapers published to look for any news on any of our clients while also cutting out ads which are done by us, a competitor, or simply one we think is worth filing. Every day, I read about seven to eight newspapers - three English, two Malay and two Chinese (I know - talented aren't I?)

Having majored in Media and Communications, I understood that different newspapers will use different styles and angles to cover a particular news piece. After a few weeks of flipping through the papers, I started to notice something. We are still a divided nation. All major news will be covered, but the Malay papers will focus more on news of fellow Malays, while the Chinese papers will feature more news on their Chinese counterparts.

It is not just evident in newspapers. I was shocked on the eve of New Year's eve when I invited one of my colleagues to join myself and Eddie for the NYE's celebrations at Pavilion. Her reply was, "but I'll be the only Chinese there" and politely declined. I was extremely surprised that anyone would still reject an invitation based on the fact that majority of the company would be of a different race.

In uni, I was the only foreigner. Most used to look at me like I wouldn't understand a word they were saying. There were those with a little more life experience that treated me no different. But boy, were they all surprised when I opened my mouth and spoke. I remember walking with my lecturer to collect a paper he'd already graded. On the way there, he said, "Anna, I must say, when you first joined my class, I was a little doubtful that you'd be able to handle Philosophy of Culture. But after your presentation and after reading your paper, I must say I'm very impressed at your ability to not only speak, but write in a language that's not originally your own."

After uni, I impressed prospective employers during interviews with my spoken and written English and even landed a job as Editor. I'm not your typical Malay girl and I'm ashamed to say that I'm not very fluent in my own mother tongue. I try to practice. I'm mercilessly made fun of by Frank Moore, but also glad that he and Martha takes me as I am and even try to teach me a thing or two. I guess...in a twisted sort of way, I'm attracted to Eddie because I think we balance each other out and are able to give (hopefully) our future children the best of both worlds. (Come to think about it...I'm quite impressed with how well Eddie and I have been able to communicate with each other since day one).

So back to my point, we may claim to be a land of all races. Embracing each other's culture and all, but take a look around you. Read the newspapers (and not just the major English ones). I don't need to look that far. In the last nine years, at uni and at work (both jobs except Get Crafty), I have been surrounded by races other than my own. And I have had to brave my way into becoming one of them. But not everyone is willing to do what I do. So when are we going to brave each other's races and stop being a divided nation?

Lesson #2: Strength, courage and confidence comes from within

I have gone through a lot this year - physically, mentally and emotionally. I have had to deal with sleepless nights, endless fights, ridiculous demands and I had nowhere to vent. There was a stretch of time where all I did was work, work, work. Mondays to Fridays was work from 9am to 7pm, then Kostari from 9pm till I was falling asleep in front of my computer at around 2 or 3am. Weekends were Get Crafty on Saturdays from 10am to 8pm, followed by Kostari at around 10pm till 4am. Sundays were meetings on Kostari or going back into office to prepare for Monday meetings.

There were times when I really felt like I had nothing left. Times where I felt I was losing hope. Especially when things were tense at home. I think that's why I threw myself into more work than I could handle. That way everything became a distraction from what was really going on. That was also why I cherished the days, hours and nights where I got to see Eddie, I got to escape for a little while. I also looked forward to going back to Teluk Intan. When I'm there, I'm Kak Anna. I'm being pulled by Maksu, Maklong, Paklong, Umie and Ayah and all of Eddie's cousins and siblings all the time to eat, go somewhere or do something that I don't have time to think. It was the journey back that both Eddie and I didn't really look forward to. In fact, when we're on MRR2, that's when our attitudes harden to 'KL-mode'.

I've learnt that strength and confidence comes from within. It comes from a place deep inside that is sparked by a motivation that only you can create. It's no use complaining and whining when something gets a little tough. Just get up and do it. Be proactive. It always helps if you have people you can count on. People who understand and people who are there to help you find a solution. Besides, you can always cry in the shower or in the car when you're alone.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Big Girls Don't Cry

Thursday, 1 January 2008 @ 10.22pm

I've been working with children for two years now. And it still amazes me how transparent, honest and real their emotions are. When it hurts, they scream in pain, when they're afraid or are sad, they cry. When they like something, they smile and laugh. When they're angry, they throw a tantrum. There's no in between.

At what stage did we learn to mask our feelings? Learn to play games to disguise our real emotions? When did it become wrong for grown men and women to express themselves honestly without getting in some sort of trouble?

I believe I'm extremely emotional. Some have even said it's bad. But why? Why is it wrong to react emotionally? Why do we need to hide and mask what we truely feel? To protect someone else? Does anybody realise that when we do that, it just hurts us more in the end?

When I don't get to see Eddie, I sometimes get a bit upset. He hears it in my voice. And he always tells me, "jangan ikut sangat." What should I do instead? Pretend? Act? Just continue going on even though inside I'm miserable?I tell him this. He says no, I should be honest with him. How am I supposed to be honest when I'm being told to ignore my honest feelings?

Why are children celebrated for expressing themselves but adults punished for even daring to show what they really feel? Why do we have this innate sickness to hide what we truly feel and only portray the standard and acceptable emotion: happiness.

Today I was miserable. I cried while I drove to work. I cried at the beginning of work. But I knew I couldn't be honest so I stopped. What I did instead was pretend to be happy for the rest of the day. But I'm human. There were definitely moments where the sadness took over. A moment or two where I would zone out. But I had to snap back to reality. Why? So I could satisfy everyone by giving them a smile.

It turned sour again when I went to Pavilion. He left. He's avoiding me. Yes, we had an incredibly huge and public fight an hour into the New Year. But the feeling of sadness and misery set in once again. I knew what it meant. But now that I think about it, didn't we honestly portray our feelings to each other last night? I had my point. He had his. I was adamant and so was he.

Why do children heal faster? Why don't children understand grudge and revenge? Why don't children know how to hide and disappear? Because somewhere along the way, we were taught that it's wrong to be anything but happy. We were taught that a part of our adult duty is to please everyone else but yourself. And that's exactly what I did today. I got on with my job. I did what I had to do. I ignored whatever I could. But now I can't anymore.

I hope you know...that this has nothing to do with you
It's personal, myself and I...
We've got some straightening out to do...
And I'm gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket
But I've got to get a move on with my life
It's time to be a big girl now...and big girls don't cry...