Ratchpatch

I have a habit of zoning out whenever I put earphones on, so when the stand fan blows in front of me, I hear nothing but whooshes, so reminiscent of the beach; soft wet sand engulfing my curled toes, the salt on my skin, heady scents of saltwater and hot wind blending together…

But I’m not really a beach person so I settle for the fan on my earbuds.

So much has happened these past few months and I’ve tried writing about it but the 15 drafts proved how short my attention span is. But when else am I going to face the music?

The 14th General Election was held on the 9th of May. Surprising turnout when the opposition won, despite numerous attempts to prevent that. Tun Mahathir took his seat in parliament as the Prime Minister once again after 15 years of dormancy from Malaysian politics.

I had gotten into the habit of checking the news more frequently than before. The thirst to keep up with current events have led me to educate myself on its importance, and the influential power the media has. The results of this election wouldn’t have been as successful if it wasn’t for social media, news portals, opinion pieces, and the internet. So here comes the age of reformation. The unification of all Malaysians demanding for change and advocating citizen rights, all-encompassing, have led to us making history.

This time, the people have spoken.


 

Last weekend I spent my free time re-watching Nodame Cantabile. The Japanese live-action ‘dramedy’ follows the adventure of two music academy students in the world of classical music, along with tales of friendship, relationship and self-discovery. A stale relic, but one that has impacted my perception on classical music so much to this day. The analysis on each piece played is so human and romanticises the technical aspects that even if you aren’t a ‘technically-inclined’ person, you’re still able to appreciate it.

Growing up, I’d spent 4 years learning classical guitar. It was a time when music made sense to me. I never classified sound as complicated because every dynamic had a story behind it. Forte, forte. Mezzo forte. Pianissimo. Motives I understood but the child in me never realised how incredibly fitting it was. A stark contrast to present day where sound is analysed very differently.

Perhaps I had given up on classical music a tad too early, so I decided to brush up on my skills. Currently I’m relearning how to read music, getting my fingers all nice and calloused again, and soaking up everything about classical music since I’ve got quite a bit of free time.

I should probably add that I’d officially resigned on April 30th. It has been approximately two weeks since I’ve left my job and truth be told, It’s been both fun and boring. Though I haven’t really been at home since now I’m mostly going back and forth from the condo trying to make it semi-habitable. Also, Imran’s car got smashed by a tree branch during a particularly horrible thunder storm a couple of weeks ago so in the midst of all this, that is another thing we’re trying to settle.

Like I said, a lot of things have been happening but they are all good. Things are finally falling into place; painstakingly slow, but making sense. It’s currently Ramadan and I’m sitting at a café coffee-less, accompanied only by the whiff of Arabica and pitter patter of the evening rain.

May is almost ending and I’ve yet to apply for Uni. Maybe I should get on that soon. Another chapter of life awaits, and I’m totally excited for it. Expect another ratchpatch episode, I suppose!

 

 

 

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Asceticism

If the multiverse theory is true, I would want one of me in a parallel universe to be born a Cynic.

A Cynic’s principle is simple; to achieve happiness through the barest means. Free from the shackles of worldly desires, and remain unfazed by the vicissitudes of life.

They live life in accordance to nature – from where you come, you live.

Introspectively, that would be the most ideal.

My friend once said if you had 24 hours to pack and leave, the most you would need is one suitcase… and a half; because that is all you need to survive while still retaining some sense of self. Perhaps a favourite book, or photos of you and your loved ones.

Lately I’ve been picking at myself a bit more. What are my habits?

Excessive spending. That beautiful basic black top, I must have. Even though mummy complains I have too many already. At least two a month. Socks. Socks?! I could wear socks if they were fluffy and soft enough – and look, it’s in powder pink, and on sale. I could wear pink if they were… powdery in colour.

There is always a reason to every purchase. Reasons soon turn to excuses. Excuses then abandoned as my futile attempts are replaced with defeated acceptance.

Good food. Oh, gluttony is always my favourite deadly sin. Today I spent RM12 on rice and chicken. Tomorrow I think I’ll eat noodles with dumplings. Perhaps later in the week, a plate of beautiful crispy chicken rice. I love chicken. Can’t live without it, really.

There is always a reason. An excuse. The thought of buying something with my own money excites me. I earned this, I should be able to do whatever I want with it. Who’s to tell me I can’t? This is mine. I earned this, I should be able to do whatever I want…

Pity my excitement lasts for a fraction of a second before I slip back into familiarity. My laptop to write, my kaftan, sketch book and a pencil, a good book. Where are those socks, again?

The Swedes are doing it right. Lagom, meaning ‘adequate’ or ‘just the right amount’ is a lifestyle promoting sustainability and discards excessive consumerism.

Diogenes – the founding father of Cynicism – took it to a more extreme level when he lived in a tub on the streets of Athens his whole life after being exiled from his birthplace. He criticised everyone’s social conventions and makes poverty a virtue. He tells them that it is the privilege of gods to want nothing, and godlike men to want little.

Granted, the man lived in a tub and ate on the streets.

It’s funny how we were all born with nothing once upon a time, and suddenly underwent a paradigm shift. Now everyone’s looking for more money, more things to make ourselves feel better, even for just a fraction of a second.

And… perhaps this is the part where I criticise myself, but I know that we’d all prefer the distraction. Perhaps to dull ourselves, numb our senses, keep us passive and obedient. Spruce the fluff, they say. Keep us warm and toasty.

I think to myself; Girl. You’re still so young, but not young enough to excuse yourself from this. Live within your means. Achieve wholesomeness not through materialistic crap that only serves as a brief mood lifter, but through things that serve a purpose to you. Stop getting distracted by the glitter and gold; they are worth next to nothing.

He has the most who is the most content with the least.

Tonight’s musing: Time to declutter.

 

 

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!

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