Goodbye 2018

Cheryl asked me what we should do for New Years Eve yesterday. As I was in the process of coming up with a suggestion, she hastily interjected.

“We are not going out to any events or gigs that night.”

I laughed and suggested we chill, smoke, have a few drinks and play board games – basically the same thing we’ve been doing since she and Eb were staying at the condo.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m getting old!!!!” jokes aside, going out and socialising demands a lot of energy, and really, with New Years the worst place to be is outside with a crowd. While admittedly I do enjoy the occasional crowd, the preferred choice is quite clear.

2018 has been a year of finding comfort. Comfort in being in my own skin, doing what I want to do, and cutting off any experiences or people that bear no benefit to me and my self-growth. Gigs and events were terribly fun, and throughout the last few years I’ve thrust myself into the deep end and busted my ass going to shows, forcing myself to face social anxiety head-on. I’ve had so many ‘this is the best night’ moments, to downright ‘let me lock myself in this bathroom for 3 hours’ fiascos. I suffered anxiety attacks from going to shows alone only for them to turn into okay – some even great nights. I learnt to loosen my inhibitions and enjoy whatever that presented itself.

This year I’ve said no to many things, allowing myself to discard the delusional fear of missing out because of conscious decisions I’ve made, regardless of the turnout. I figured it was high time to ditch the assumption that I’ll be missing out on any amazing experiences if I didn’t say yes enough. Same goes with certain people – especially the emotionally-draining ones. It’s not their fault though! This isn’t a cutting off toxic people moment, but a realisation that some people take more out of you than others – and only recommended in small doses. That being said, there were definitely some cutting off toxic people moments. I’m now more selective over the people I choose to spend time with, and those who clearly can’t appreciate it, can fuck right off.

Weeding out the ones that don’t matter seems to be the recurring theme of this year’s play.

Being more critical in my decisions and experiences made me realise how much responsibility is taken into account whenever I commit to something. Sounds like common sense, but no one seemed to tell me how much weight it actually holds! I quit a job that I often wondered why I took in the first place; which led me to regret the time wasted and question why I made the decision. Lo and behold, the reason was because: see above. Then, I decided to swallow my insecurities and plunge back into my studies. Granted, that decision in the grand scheme of things, didn’t hold any dire consequences to anyone but me. Thank you, parents, for always wanting what’s best for your daughter. I went on dates; great ones, bad ones, terrible ones, I read more, wrote more and drew more.

Losses were inevitable; our family is small, so the death or estrangement of a loved one hardly goes unnoticed. It doesn’t become the subject of gossip; rather a deep, saddening fact that only serves as reminders to keep our small circle… even smaller. Al-fatihah to Nenek Su, and Tok Mi who has left us for exactly a year, and to those whose sole purpose is to disrupt the peace we have built for ourselves in this tiny little vestige of a community; please fuck right off, too.

Despite everything, I’m in a much better mental state than I’ve been in 2017, which was arguably the most confusing yer of my life. 23 roller coaster-ed itself over and under every hurdle through blurry messes. I needed to step back a little and look at everything from different angles instead of bulldozing my way through. Also – part of having peers who are a good number of years younger than you, is realising that while there were definite gaps in my experience memoir, I’ve done enough of the things I had on my list in one year without coming off as repetitive and time-wasting. Onwards to a new list, and bigger, more ambitious ones.

2019 is uncertain. 25 is a jarring number, but 11 months is a long time to make something out of it. I’m slowing it down on being social for the moment and I will be focusing on my own thing. I’ve learnt that expectations from other people only serve as disappointments. You are what you need to work on. You should expect great things from yourself, not depend on external validation. Not that it matters to me anymore, but remember that next time I try to attempt something new.

I was almost convinced that I couldn’t sum my 2018 up considering that it moved pretty fast and the fact that I’ve made some major life choices that will definitely dictate my path in the years to come, jotting them down would overwhelm me. But there’s no need, because life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards. Yikes, that’s a little too corny for me. Why wasn’t it corny when Kierkegaard said it the fuk?

This is where I stop, and where 2018 comes to an end. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and it’ll be just another day. So here’s to a good 2018; you’ve been kind, and allowed me to start finding my voice, and here’s to 2019; where there will be no set expectations, only excitement to see what I make of you.

 

Advertisements

2018 in Internet: Favourite Discoveries

While I’m on a 2018 favourites roll, here are a few internet discoveries I’ve begun to religiously follow:

 

I’ve been a long time subscriber to ASMR videos for about 6 years now. The first time I experienced tingles was listening to that barbershop audio clip circulating on Tumblr, and since then have been fervently looking for more videos that will bring me the same feeling.

Due to prolonged exposure though, it’s only natural I’ve developed immunity towards that tingling sensation so I’ve opted for relaxing videos that are both pleasing to the eyes and ears – which is why Goodnight Moon has been a solid constant for a while now.

This year especially, she’s been putting out amazing content that not only is fucking creative but simply exudes comfort. She has a way with words that are strung out specifically to lure you into this magical world where everything is slow-paced and patiently waiting to be absorbed. Little details like the sound of leaves crunching beneath your footsteps, smooth burbles of rivers, crackling of fire, murmurs of a crowd in the background and so much more that even if you closed your eyes, you could physically feel yourself there, standing in the very place she’s describing with gentle whispers. She is the personification of every season’s aesthetics.

Please give her vlog-style video a try, if you’re reading this. It’s simply beautiful – and if you’re into role-plays, she’s created a lot of characters based on her conception of Babblebrook, a medieval mystical world. My favourite is Nightshade!

 

Sticking true to my INFP roots, I am forever a sucker for anything related to self-discovery. Channels like School Of Life used to create profound content, often giving unbiased philosophical insight on ‘why we behave this way’, and Anna Akana – who provides more lighthearted rationalisations and advice on self-growth.

People Watching is an animated webseries depicting the raw, visceral perspective on how shitty life is; touching on topics like prejudice, dealing with death, mental illnesses, and a myriad of every other millennial problems and why it’s okay to feel mad or sad about it but also to not lose hope. It follows little life snippets of 20-something characters with very different personalities, and thus, outlooks on life. An epic extreme of two ends ranging from the bitter stripper who seems like she’s completely given up on the world only to end up realising her goal was to become a humanitarian, to a bubbly girl with a seemingly comfortable life but struggles with dating because of her depression.

Yes it does get whiny, yes these characters complain a lot. But no, it’s not just about that. It’s amazingly well-thought-out scripts that encapsulate and verbalise a lot of what every 20-somethings go through at one point in their lives. It’s knowing that whatever shitty predicament and any dark thoughts you have are normal because lol thats just life and even though the frustration of not being able to say what you want is inescapable sometimes, watching at least one episode will put some of that frustration to rest knowing that someone else has said it for you. Also it’s not all dark and depressing. There are positive episodes, but it does come with a side of corn and cheese so be warned.

  • Brogue

The only non-internet-but-still-internet thing I’m lightly touching on because this game has been fucking me the fuck up.

I recently procured a Macbook Air and decided to download some light games just for fun. Many lists suggested this game called Brogue which I will try my best to explain considering that all these gaming jargons are about as familiar to me as computer science.

Brogue is a roguelike game that uses ASCII symbols as graphics.

Oh wait, that’s pretty much it. The abridged version that is.

For those of u(s) in the dark, roguelike is a type of role-playing game characterised by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels – meaning that levels are created at random every time you start the game because once you die, you die permanently and have to restart from level 1.

The objective of the game is to retrieve the amulet of Yendor on Depth 26. You start at Depth 1.

Screenshot 2018-12-26 at 1.40.55 AM

What is amazing about this game is not that it’s fucking hard to play. Oh no. It’s really the graphics that’s attractive as fuck and very creatively used in each dungeon depth. From the flickering colours of dark to light blue representing water, to bolts of multicoloured tiles erupting around you when you’re hallucinating. Ugh, it is such a masterpiece.

Really too bad I haven’t gotten past Depth 12. I hate this game but I really can’t stop playing it because each time you die, your next game calls for another strategy depending on what you get. It’s simply beautiful.

 

  • Reddit

Because really social media has been getting incredibly stale.

 

Aaaand that’s it for the favourite internet things of 2018! Tweet me your favourite subreddits. Or leave comments. I don’t know, but if you’ve stumbled upon this post then that’s what I’m asking!

 

 

2018 in Music: Instrumental Rock Edition

2018 has brought about very satisfying releases for the instrumental rock genre – and while this (very limited) list consists of bands who have already broken through the market, there are many other up-and-comers who have released beautiful, solid albums and/or EPs.

These are just a few albums I’ve been completely obsessed with this year and figured I’d talk a little bit about them.

So let’s get to it then.

  • Toe – Our Latest Number

One of my favourite bands of all time has put out a 4-track EP in August, and it is beautiful.

Our Latest Number is a release that’s more laid back, and easier to digest. Despite the presence of complicated musical nuances, it was done at a languid pace. The drumming is light and crispy, the guitar works remind me of a J-pop bop that, if you listen closely enough without the presence of less-than-favourable vocals, can pick up on its many added layers.

Dual Harmonics lures you in with its bright beginning, not unlike the sight of spring greeting your doorstep or a busy pocket watch indicating the start of the day. The EP then slows down, taking you on a long train ride with the evening sunlight bouncing off your face behind a succession of trees in ‘The Latest Number’. Etude of Solitude had such a strong intro – much like an opening for a samurai-centric anime – that features what I think is a Koto? Which then concludes with a very melancholic and slow-paced number, F_A_R, that melts into the whole ensemble, declaring this journey’s come to an end.

Despite the fact that this feels too weak to be a standalone, fans of Toe will definitely appreciate any new material that comes their way – me, included.

All in all, it’s short and sweet and perfect bus-ride music.

  • Polyphia – New Levels New Devils

I feel like New Levels is the sort of epitome to whatever this band has been trying to achieve with their sound over the past 5 years. Polyphia’s completely taken their brand identity apart and revamped it into an amalgamation of EDM, trap, progressive, and mathy goodness with this new kicker. A rich and almost ‘meaty’ record that not only managed to blend in diverse genres, but also made it catchy. It’s funky and pretty and danceable even.

Even though they have a reputation for being the poster pretty boys for modern progressive rock, you have to give them props for pushing through the mainstream boundaries (and the h8) to produce something that’s actually pretty different. Admittedly, my music tastes aren’t as broad but I haven’t heard something like this before – so I think this is phresh as phuck.

O.D and G.O.A.T – two of the more heavier tracks have got the catchiest riffs; the fast-paced staccatos jab at your ears and hit you hard with the crunchy bass slaps, forcing you to alternate between wanting to head-bang or wanting to dance. This album also features a lot of notable acts like the CHON boys, Yvette Young from Covet and Mateus Asato who each contributed their own signature flair in Yas, Rich Kids and Drown respectively.

The guitar effects present throughout the album seems to be their signature sound for this record; a constant modulated wail that reminds me so much of a nasally cross between a growl and a meow.

Sounds like an all-rounded millennial album to me. It’s like you take all the internet slangs, dankest memes and whatever Reddit has to offer, chuck it in the blender and throw in good production, you get this album.

 

  • Covet – Effloresce

Yvette Young’s style of playing is ethereal. She is brilliant in capturing the tiniest nuances and turning them into something that can be moulded and remoulded; sometimes soft and delicate, and other times packs incredibly rich textures that brings about complexities to their songs. Covet’s Effloresce sets itself apart from its predecessor Currents; focusing more on dynamics. The guitars were mostly put under this weird lo-fi, modulated effect that, when you first listen, sounds absolutely uncomfortable but later just sort of sits at the back of your brain, stewing away until you eventually start to appreciate its integration into the familiar clean fingerstyle.

Despite being a ‘technical’ genre, math rock has a tendency to be over-repetitive so the presence of strumming and chords in their single Shibuya is a fresh take on Yvette’s usual finger-picking style. The off-beat rhythm and dirty effects at the start of Gleam is one of my favourite things in this whole album! Overall Covet’s continuously going strong and sticking to their trademark sound while developing newer, better and more dynamically diverse choices that strangely enough seem to work.

  • GLASS – Glass

I wasn’t even sure whether I could write about this considering I’ve only just gotten their album a week ago. Hailing from the very own streets of PJ, they’re pretty much the hot fresh faces of post-rock. At least, in the incredibly familiar circle of gig-goers. Regardless, I’ve been to enough of their shows to know that whatever they’ve been putting out is that of quality.

Their album is inspired by the poster ‘heavy’ post-rock sound we’re all accustomed to; drawing inspiration from (what I can hear) bands like This Will Destroy You and local math/post rock behemoths Dirgahayu. But their edge isn’t drool-worthy technical skills or overwhelming ambient sounds that seem to go on forever, in fact it’s actually fundamentally, just emotions. Every song is tailored to each member’s emotional journey that transcends to a piece, written from them as a means to convey their message.

Tracks like Riwayat and Pininyau shamelessly exudes gut-wrenching energy that bounces from one tear-stained face to another. I absolutely love the sentimentality that comes in this carefully wrapped package of played and sung poetry.

Thinking Box, their first single, sets itself apart by being the heaviest and loudest track out of all the others. It jolts you awake as a reminder that while it’s all tender emosi, Glass is still capable of packing a mean punch.

Overall, a very solid debut – and definitely one of my favourites this year.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Elephant Gym – Underwater
  • Delta Sleep – Ghost City
  • TTNG – Animals Acoustic

I’m excited to see what 2019 will entail for these bands and many other up-and-comers, and I’m excited to do more of these favourite thingies. Next year I want to diversify my musical palate even more and inhale as many genres as I possibly can.

Thanks for reading – and Merry Christmas!

Untweeted: 1

“ive literally never felt the strongest combination of both loathing and apathy towards my body in my life. until now. its like im fucking gross and i fucking hate it but also i dont fucking care?”

Empty Nest, Hearty Soul.

Things have been incredibly entertaining for me the past few months.

I finished my first semester and started the holidays with a bang: by breaking my foot on the first day. Congratulations to me, I’ve been in a cast for the past two weeks, and have another 4 to go.

Since I started foundation year, I’ve been thinking about how to leave home, and for the past two weeks, me being home – properly home – has further intensified my desire to.

Home feels like limbo. You wake up and everything you see around you is the same and has been for the duration of your life. It’s such a comfortable feeling that forces you into complacency.

I love it but I feel like I need to step away from everything to appreciate it more. There’s this episode of Kim’s Convenience where Janet, the daughter, decides to move out from her parents’ home. They didn’t take it too well, initially. They tell her it’s not necessary and that it’ll incur more cost, be more of a burden to her because of the extra responsibilities she has to carry and a myriad of excuses in hopes to disguise their Empty Next Syndrome.

But I think those excuses aren’t excuses, and that’s… the point.

Living at home spoils me. I love my parents, I love my kakak who’s always there to do whatever I need her to do, but is my whole life expected to be like this? I’m in my 20s, I’m approaching my mid 20s and that’s a scary thought because even though you know this is fleeting, it still feels like something that could be forever.

I realised earlier on that I’m very much affected by my surroundings, especially the people around me. Perhaps I need to surround myself with other people to break away from the comfort. Maybe I just need to get super, super uncomfortable to the point where all I can do is work hard to stay sane. Does this make sense?

Having your parents with you all the time is such an incredible blessing. I can’t even begin to say how fortunate I am, but living requires growth, and growth thrives on discomfort.

Maybe… maybe I’m just making my own excuses as an attempt to disguise my own fear or anxiety that I’m still having a difficult time to admit. Maybe it doesn’t matter where I am, because if I wanted to do something I would already have done it right? Maybe if I wanted to achieve a goal, the place that I’m in wouldn’t affect my ability to do it.

Maybe.

But maybe I just… need to do this?

I don’t want to leave the comfort of my bed and the fact that I get to see Mummy every day is a luxury I’m not willing to give up but forcing myself to quite literally be myself in the presence of strangers would help curb my insecurities – by beating the shit out of it. And maybe stab my Impostor Syndrome in their faces. And maybe a myriad of other good and bad reasons.

So many of my friends have lived away and learned how to be independent in ways I can’t even fathom. Hell, even Imran has spent most of his late teens and early 20s far from home and I’m pretty impressed at his character development. Deep down, I know I can do it. It will be difficult, but I’m up for the challenge.

 

 

 

24

Happy 24th birthday to me!

I’m not quite sure what to write. Usually birthdays would feel a little more special, wouldn’t it? Gives you a chance to do some self-reflection.

Let’s see.

I think I still have a few issues to work on, but for the most part my whole life has been such a blessing. 24 years… of being completely loved and never being short of any necessities, with boundless opportunities and countless support from my favourite people.

24 is a year where I’m comfortable. A part of me feels like my days are numbered, but it’s stretched out so far that it might as well be a lifetime. Does that make sense?

I am loving who I am, who I’m beginning to be. Despite the uncertainties and the horrible apprehensions, I’m at peace. A part of me wishes I would have more to write on but perhaps I don’t need to be pedantic about everything.

My foot is healing. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk again, because I could really go for my Wednesday night ritual to Shelly Yu’s right about now. Plus, I miss Assikin. She’s been a solid constant. Every time I see her, she’s the same person but with a myriad of different things to talk about so I could always count on her as a source of entertainment, a riot that one.

Today I came back to college after 3 weeks of recuperating at home. Figured I’d will myself to leave the house and make an appearance. Everyone crowded around me, obviously. And as much as I’d love to hate on the attention, I can’t say that I did. I simply basked. Besides, we all know I came to school for the clout considering I’d be disappearing a few days after 😉

Abigail and Yolanda threw me a wonderful surprise. It wasn’t much, just a piece of cake and a candle. But they sang it in class and everyone else chimed in. The sentiment meant a lot, actually. More than they think it did. It was worth the painstaking effort to drive my ass to school and wheel myself to college. I appreciate the little things people do, especially when it isn’t expected of them.

When I reached home, Sarah came over with cake and bubble tea. Bless her. We stayed and chatted for about 3 hours and then she left. I don’t really know what’s going on with her at the moment, perhaps she needs to work out a few things and can’t figure out how or what they are. I’m not too worried though, she’s sensible. Too sensible sometimes, but that’s what keeps her grounded now. Besides, I could always count on her for amazing food.

I received obligatory birthday texts from everyone, but the ones that actually mattered are my family’s. Lately I’ve been trying to open myself up to behave the way a daughter should behave instead of how an individual should. Does that make sense? With Baba, I tend to dwell on the negativity a lot, but that doesn’t implicate me as much as I thought it did. Or perhaps it had and I’ve decided to ease up on the grip, I don’t know. Nevertheless, he’s trying so maybe we can meet in the middle and start from there.

With Mummy, our relationship hasn’t changed. We’re still best friends, but I’m glad she’s gotten to a point where she tries to understand and accept my anxiety. It’s new, and awkward, but she tells me to take deep breaths and recite the selawat. I appreciate that. Often times when I’m anxious, I tend to get caught up in my own head and forget about God. Perhaps now, mother’s words will ring in my ears every time my other senses start to close up.

And finally, this year I received not two, but three wonderful addition to our close-knit family; Ummi, Opah and my beautiful baby sister. The love I have for her is bulletproof. Just like that my source of happiness has branched out towards these other people; strangers not too long ago, now inseparable. Funny how that works out in the end.

Being 24, I’m beginning to appreciate things a lot more than I ever did. Small ones, big ones, they’re all a genuine blessing. Perhaps this post isn’t really much for self-reflection but reverence for what God has blessed me and with deep gratitude, I thank the best gift of all; contentment.

“The greatest of richness is the richness of the soul.” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

She

She dons on her weariness like a thick heavy cloak, enveloping her figure tightly, suffocating.

Her feet drag for ages through the noisy gravel and her breaths come out in gasps and pants. She wonders when this will come to an end.

She walks without purpose and throws her casual smiles effortlessly, enduring the everyday chatter, falling trap to exchanging pretty nothings with equally pretty people. The mundane is her escape from little adamant whispers that drill her in the quiet – but who could blame her?

She listens for escape. She absorbs stories, feelings and thoughts from others because anything is easier than coming to terms with her own. She cracks self-deprecating jokes sometimes to lighten the mood. She screams when telling day-to-day adventures because they are the only exciting things that happen. and anything to cover her lack of interest.

but she knows she is in no rut. she feels things. she waits. she has ideas bubbling but she never takes what she wants because fear has built a white picket fence around her garden of dead roses. look at that fence. she could easily break them and cross over. her flowers have withered, doesn’t she need to look for more?