Fussing

February’s reaching the end of its first week. Time really is of the essence now, even though it’s just a concept people create to measure their achievements, or failures… whatever it may be.

I feel like I’m chasing something – scrambling, trying to reach for something – but what?

I’ve only recently started to make sense of last year’s ventures. I started off last year with a list of all the things I wanted to achieve. Among them are:

  • Start my YouTube journey
  • Save up for London
  • Blog
  • Write a book
  • Draw more
  • Open mic

And so many small, arbitrary goals. Well, not really arbitrary but they were small and easy to accomplish. When I started ticking them off, I realise that I’ve done quite a bit for last year – but I barely made through half of the list. And the overwhelming need to finish everything put me in a bitter mood. I blamed myself for not achieving things I’d sought out to do – when in reality, I’d done a lot more that weren’t on the damn list.

Why did I let a list dictate me?

I suppose unlike some who celebrate their achievements, it takes me a while to consider anything I do as one. I downplay myself quite a bit and then I realised it was because I was merely gliding through my life without direction. Work, for instance, has made that incredibly easy.

I power through every day doing one thing after another but I never properly absorb anything. I always think to myself; I can leave. This is temporary. I don’t want this. It’s not for me. That’s not what I want to do.

Epicurus says: Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

And therein lies my mistakes. Because no matter how many goals I set for myself, no matter how much I do, if I keep hoping and chasing for something that isn’t there, I’m just wasting my time. I suppose it’s because I’m too skeptical and lazy to dive in head first. I don’t believe in putting my all for anything because it leaves so much room for failure. You’re literally setting yourself up for failure. Why bother?

Sigh. To be afraid of failure is childish and cowardly, but to be cynical of success is downright stupid.

I’m an idiot.

I half-ass my art because to me, it only serves as instant gratification. I just do it to feel good. Like how I make music, or write. I didn’t bother making this into something because the vulnerability would eat me alive.

I think I’ve always been a complacent child. Person. Being. There’s nothing and no one to blame, I’ve just been lazy. There’s no need for me to do anything if I really think about it. I can put in good hours being a clerk, I can do admin jobs for the rest of my life. My finances are stable, I don’t need a relationship – much less a child, and I have my own place. Literally every box on everyone’s list of Things I Need To Survive Life is checked. What am I working for, exactly? Why go through the trouble of having goals and aspirations?

A question I contemplate quite a bit.

But I suppose God has better plans for me because I can never live knowing I’d settled. It’s ironic that I am starting to settle for mediocrity when I constantly fear and beat myself up for it. What is this weird cycle I’m in? And how the fuck do I get out? Or am I not mediocre to begin with but somehow I tricked myself into lying under this brick wall illusion of being average? I don’t know!

But despite my inner turmoils, 2017 was a tough year, even I have to recognise that. After everything that has happened to me and everyone around me, I feel like I’ve matured into someone who’s very much capable in handling whatever life throws at me. Even if I have no idea how, I will find a way to.

It was a good year for self-reflection. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and everyone else’s. But I need to be quicker, sharper, less… turbulent and wishy washy, cut contemplating the ‘what ifs’.

Because I cannot afford to indulge in my reveries and dream of things that aren’t here anymore, can’t afford to revel or squirm in the past, can’t afford to shy away from opportunities, can’t afford to waste anymore time.

You see? I’m chasing again. But it’s okay this time. I don’t feel as lost or clueless as I was before. I stopped seeking what is not there. All that I need are here, in abundance – and I intend to utilise them.

Maybe now I’ll be running towards something tangible enough to reach for.

Tonight’s muse; spruce up your CV!

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Open Space

I took a weekend trip back to Bachok.

I haven’t been here since Raya Haji 2016 – it’s definitely been a while. Truthfully, I have missed this place so much.

Kelantan always has (and will always have) its negative connotations, but I can’t lie; I’m fond of this place, despite its barren surroundings. Really, there are not enough trees to shield us from the sun – which explains why it’s constantly hot. But I love it.

After moving to the city, I realise that most of my friends didn’t grow up having what I had; a kampung.

A kampung, from my point of view, is simply the feeling of comfort. You associate it with childhood; simpler times, when everything is less chaotic and more… liberating.

When I was younger, a kampung meant the mud you wipe off your knees after falling from a game of galah panjang, the sloppy sloshes your slippers make when you come home dripping wet from playing in the rain.

It is homemade akok for tea, nasi berlauk for breakfast, sirap, ring candies, muruku ikan, shitty processed sausages and cheap ice cream from the pak cik eskrem every 6pm.

It is your family; petty squabbles swallowed for the sake of a good time, because no matter what, you only see these people once or twice a year – better make their presence count.

Now, a kampung is like stepping into another part of my life and leaving behind whatever it is I’ve grown so accustomed to living with. It’s leaving worries, work, and responsibilities without a care in the world. It’s coming home to my grandma’s teh tarik, the dusty roads, crazy heat, semi-haunted house, and less jangok more kaftans, please.

And it’s literally a plane ticket away.

I count myself lucky to have experienced three different sides of life and wonder why I’ve tried to suppress the less ‘glamorous’ ones so much in my formative years. I’ve grown up in a town, migrated to the city later on, and frequent the kampung-est of kampungs and still thought I was missing something. I guess my fear of missing out developed earlier than I thought – and it seemed to linger.

Apparently the grass will always be greener on the other side. Except I’ve been on both sides, and neither is greener than the other. They are different, sure, but still green.

But hey, the older I get, the more I start to appreciate the little things. I’m happy now having grown up with what I had and part of me feels so stupid for wanting more.

Tonight’s musing: visit Mak more this year.

 

 

 

2018

Here are the things I’m holding myself accountable for:

 

  1. Work responsibilities. Deadlines must be met, and a proper thought process must be implemented in everything I do.
  2. Personal responsibilities. Recognise the place that I am in, and never undervalue the privilege that has been given to me. Put in the same amount of effort to keep them as much as anyone else would put in to get them. Be on time for everything, instil discipline.
  3. Physical health. Be in tune with my body. Be mindful of its needs and respect it. Compromise with the habits I have chosen to keep. Or, cut them out. Completely. Pamper it, train it, be stronger.
  4. Plan for the future. Do something today that future you will be thankful for. Save your money, or invest it. Make wise decisions that will reflect later on in your life – and never opt for a cheap way out to avoid discomfort.
  5. Learn as much as I can. In a timeframe, absorb as much information and always keep yourself on your toes. What will this bring me? Will this benefit me in future? What did this person do to get to where he/she is? Emulate, emulate, emulate.
  6. Build my principles. What do I believe in? To what extent do I believe in it? Am I satisfied with myself? Practice constant self-reflection.
  7. Vices? Choose them wisely. You are young, you are reckless and curious. It is understandable. But have a solid foundation around your justification. Why do you do it? Are you aware of the repercussions? Will you be able to face the adversity it brings head on? Are you prepared?
  8. Utilise my time. Time is precious currency. How am I spending it? What is it I’m doing today that will help me later on? Be on time, or be a little early. Treat every task as important and meaningful.
  9. Keep up. Read about the news and current events. Pay attention to everything around you, watch people’s quirks, listen to their words. Listen and keep up. The world moves faster and faster every day. Keep up or you’ll get left behind.

 

I am a raggedy patch that needs a lot of work. There is no time.

Tonight’s musing: Happy New Year.

Cosy

As much as I’d like to think ‘cozy’ or ‘cosy’ (because not all of us adhere to American spelling) resembles plush cushions, a hot cup of tea, and snuggling to a new episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, recently it hasn’t been like that.

Cosy is wearing a long-sleeved jumper and having a cheap IKEA cushion in my arms while I type away on my laptop in the cold, unforgiving office air-cond.

Cosy is being able to smell the artificial lemon scent courtesy of the cleaning lady that comes every Friday.

Cosy is plugging in my earphones and listening to droning, melancholic post-rock during lunch time.

As 2018 draws nearer, I can feel the exhaustion of 2017 setting in. Suddenly I’m overwhelmed by everything that has happened and it seems like work is the only thing suppressing those thoughts. Perhaps I’ll be able to face my discomfort during the weekend.

I’ll probably sit and contemplate what 2018 will bring me – or what I will bring to the new year, since one of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned is that you can never expect things to just happen to you.

More so, I will think about past relationships, friendship shifts, uncanny encounters, piety and where I stand in the spectrum, and so many more I can hardly stop myself from squirming in agony.

But for now, I’ll settle with being cosy at work.

PS post-rock playlist here. It’s not all post-rock, nor is it all droning and melancholic. But it’s good shit. 🙂

via Daily Prompt: Cozy

 

Let Go.

We twist her body for the umpteenth time, gingerly adjusting her pillow so she gets the cold side. Her frail body is almost skin and bones, and her glassy eyes stare off into nothing particular as we speak to her.

My mother brushes the strands of hair off her face and murmurs almost comforting words, words she can only muster enough empathy to her mother who had never done the same.

Here lies the woman who, once upon a time, carried an air of pride and dominance with her. Her piercing eyes and upturned nose made her peers both admire and resent her, to which she revelled in the fact. She had filled her life with superficiality, caring little of what the world had to offer other than paper thin egos.

Tight-fisted, she counted numbers in her pastime, and smiled when the stacks piled higher and higher. When she was done, she would gather them all and gingerly place them in her secret cupboard, away from prying eyes and grubby, calloused hands.

Now she lies in bed, with nothing but a kaftan and the people she had once turned away from, gather around her with pitying eyes laced with frustration – for her grip remained cautious till her knuckles shook. Old habits die hard, she says with a sliver of a smile, ignoring the gentle massages on her cold fists.

When will she live so happily and carelessly?

Perhaps one day when death claims her for its own, she will finally raise a finger up to her worldly prison, and say fuck no to holding things gingerly.

Perhaps.

via Daily Prompt: Gingerly

Jakarta

The air was hot, humid, and smelled like exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke; with spirited chatters of locals permeating the air. It felt so much like home, but was undoubtedly foreign at the same time.

I’ve touched down in Jakarta.

I had a resolution to go either way, with or without a companion. Thankfully though, a friend decided to salvage the extra ticket I had and went with me (tqtq Ken Jin).

Ken Jin and I had nasi padang as our first meal, and decided to dedicate our first day to the most important aspect of travelling; food.

We ventured to Jalan Pecenongan that evening. It was this stretch of road inhabited by rows of miscellaneous shops, but the attraction was the pasar malam-like stalls on the side of the road, complete with tables and chairs decorating the pavement for customers. From the hearty bakso (on sticks), questionable Siomay to decadent gorengan – Jakarta houses many interesting street food that should be tried at least once, despite the possibility of a stomach ache. We had satays, nasi Uduk and their famous teh botoh Sosro – among other things.

On the day of the festival, we visited Fatahillah Square; a big square hosting various museums. It was fascinating; the Kantor Pos Kota was a magnificent sight, primarily due to the size of its landscape and architecture; but what stood out the most was a towering bookcase. It was approximately 3 metres in height, constructed of black wood and gold carvings of the coat of arms for the Court of Justice in Batavia. A majestic relic built over 200 years ago; still sturdy and unscathed.

After, we were feeling a little peckish and decided to scout for a little shop famous for its iced coffee called Kopi Es Tak Kie. We traversed under the hot sun, weaving through traffic on foot and ended up in Glodok, which was a good 20 minute-walk away.

Jakarta’s traffic is a force not to be fucked with; an organised chaos consisting of heavily-tinted SUVs, ojeks, and ojek bajaj(es) conglomerating without a single inch of gap between each other. O many occasions, I found myself whispering frantic prayers under my breath whenever we crossed roads.

We walked aimlessly after, soaking in what that little piece of Glodok had to offer; rows and rows of street food, aunties selling traditional sweets and assorted nuts, wet market vendors calling out to us to buy their fresh produce, and little children scattering around carelessly only to be chided by the adults for disrupting traffic.

A while later, we realised we were lost – and figured it was the perfect opportunity to Go-Jek our way back to Fatahillah.

My first experience riding a motorcycle in a long time was amazing. The hustle and bustle of the world seemed more tangible from being on a motorbike than in a car. I could almost touch my surroundings; the pitter patter of people walking beside us, the honks of impatient cars, countless motorcyclists swarming from every direction, it was glorious.

After that little adventure, everything else was pretty festival-centric.

We arrived at the venue around evening. JIEXPO was huge; the entrance was a long stretch covered in a dome-shaped canopy, opening up to a massive circular centre where the Synchronize Fest directory was propped up for the world to see. A few feet behind was the merchandise store. On our left housed one indoor stage, and on the right three gigantic outdoor stages, and one small room housing the DJs and acoustic performances.

We laced our hunger haphazardly with Indomie Bakso and baksos on sticks (insert stereotype here) and caught the first act: Voice of Baceprot; a trio of tudung-clad teenage girls playing metal.

I think that was the pivotal moment that made me realise how foreign Jakarta was. Here, the youth are much bolder in expressing their individuality, belief, and opinions, whether it be through music or art. There were certain parallels between home and Indonesia, sure, but it’s a given that this isn’t a comparison to begin with.

The rest of the night was incredible. I caught Barasuara, Efek Rumah Kaca, and so many more great bands. Ken Jin and I split to watch other acts and I was pretty much alone for a good part of the festival, which was strangely comforting. Sometimes I get a little anxious when I’m with company for a long period of time so it felt nice to enjoy music alone, even if you’re in a sea of people.

After that night, we’d made a few friends along the way, and one of them even took the liberty to show us around South Jakarta the next day.

He took us to lunch at this amazing bakso place (that I cannot remember the name for the life of me), and later on introduced us to Pasar Santa; an eccentric place made up of a wet market, textile shops, and above, housed blocks of vintage shops, record stores, and a bookshop – which, unfortunately, was the only one open during the time. POST Santa was open-spaced, quaint, and brightly-lit, showcasing rows and rows of independently published books. There was a shop next door that you could order beverages and bring into the bookstore as you browse around. You could even sit and read the unwrapped books as you sip your coffee. Truly a scene plucked right out of an indie rom-com, I feel.

Later that day, we suddenly found ourselves in the pleasant company of a few strangers we’d met along the way, and caught a few acts together; post-rock gem Under The Big Bright Yellow Sun, psychedelic rockstars Rollfast, and cheeky indie pop foursome Elephant Kind. All bands I officially have a soft spot for.

I was also introduced to orkes music and was given proper instructions on how to enjoy it; gelek saja. You gotta feel it in your hips. Needless to say, my hips didn’t lie when I gelek-ed to an orkes rendition of ERK’s Cinta Melulu with dedication and drunken vigour.

We paid a visit to RURU Gallery in Gudang Sarinah the next day to check out events and their flea market. I settled for some adorable stickers and other cute novelties but our first choice was to buy a live chicken, no lie.

The last day of the festival was heavily packed. I arrived early to watch Mondo Gascaro (think of a retro, grainy video, with purposely out-of-focus shots of slender girls frolicking about in colourful streets, doused heavily in tropical tunes with a cinematic sound). Personally, he was the first artist to have triggered my affinity for Indonesian music – so I’d made it a point to see him live.

Later on, people flocked to see the likes of Payung Teduh, Silampukau, and other big names that were conveniently fitted together on the last day. I was exhausted by that time and chose to camp out at the hammocks for a bit before resuming to the next acts.

As the night came to an end, we celebrated it with psych-rock titans Kelompok Penerbang Roket, who tore the house down with their electrifying performance. Hell, it was so good I didn’t notice the beach ball in the air that ended up smacking me right in the face.

The next day, we had Nasi Padang again as our last meal, to commemorate the end to our Jakarta trip before heading to the airport.

As I was waiting for the plane to board listening to ERK on loop, the exhaustion set in. Maybe it was also happiness mixed with a tinge of melancholy knowing that my trip was over, and I was going to resume my life the moment we touched down KLIA2.

I could go on for miles about every little thing that happened, but I’ll save my 5000 words for the draft.

Travelling without the comfort of family has given me newfound perspectives. I was enlightened by the city, the youth and the culture; many things I wished I had more time for, but I’d say 5 days hit that sweet spot nicely.

I think it’s easy to grow jaded – especially if you’re confined to repetitive motion, and it is easier to overlook past the world you’ve built and see what the real thing offers.

Perhaps I do romanticise travelling, and would love to have my period of wanderlust someday, but it’s not just about the pretty pictures or self-discovery sentiments; it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and realising the trivialities of your life count for nothing when you’re in a foreign place, experiencing different things.