Operation Stringbean

Am currently on Day 1 of Operation Stringbean. What is Operation Stringbean you ask? It’s my mad, crazy idea of swimming 1km a day for 30 days straight and at the end of the programme, I’m curious to see if I will look like a stringbean.

I swim at a 50m pool and use Swimplan to vary my drills and workout so I don’t get bored doing 20 laps of it over and over again.

Today’s programme consisted of:

Warm up

2 x 50m freestyle

Build up: (twice)

1 x 50m streamline kicking

1 x 50m single arm (arm by side) 6 x left, 6 x right, 6 x full stroke

Core:

6 x 50m Bilateral Breathing –> Um, sort of collapsed halfway through this one.

6 x 50m Freestyle Distance per stroke

Warm down

1 x 100m Breastroke.

More on this later, it’s already midnight and I need to sleep because tomorrow is Day 2.

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Eizwan

eizwan4

I don’t write about Eizwan frequently. Like who he is, and what he does or what he means to me.  I used to mock people who write about their S.O’s in lovey-dovey language because I feel that they’re being dishonest with themselves; that you can’t possibly love someone that much and say “Myaaah! I wuv you hunnyyyyy!” or “Miss you babyyyyy” all over the net. I see love as a very private emotion and it’s hard for me to even talk to people about our relationship.

Which of course, brings next year into a big dilemma. Getting married, well, that’s a very public thing. I mean, you could actually just run into the kadi‘s office and get him to do the nikah without anyone present, but I’d break my grandparent’s hearts. It’s quite a feat to be able to actually say aloud to everyone present and to God, that this is the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with. It’s mind boggling at least for me, that in one sentence you are bound to each other in the eyes of the law and in the hereafter. And to do it in PUBLIC!

This is what happen when you watch too many hindi movies, you think too much about family values and marriage etc.

How do other people do it? I figure the easiest way for me to get over the anxiety of getting married, the responsibilities and the forever-ness is to focus on the unimportant details, like you know, the cake, the dress (THE DRESS! DOES ANYONE KNOW A GOOD TAILOR!) and the decor. But I am thoughtful. Right now, Eizwan is just Eizwan. Will he change from The Eizwan to The Husband on June 4th 2010?

Right now, I can be selfish, I can have one foot out the door and my daydreams which may or may not be naughty be with David Tennant who may or not be there. Does that mean that once I marry, all my daydreams must include my husband? And David Tennant?

I kid. But I am a little worried, even more so when married couples snark “Just WAIT till you get married, see if you’re that lovey-dovey,” when they chance upon us being a little affectionate with each other. Does that mean, fast forward five years after our wedding, our fun-loving selves will somehow deteriorate into snarky, unhappy people with a squealy baby and mild resentment under the surface?

It all boils down to the incredible question: why do you want to get married? That question makes me nervous. Can we actually articulate why we want to get married in coherent sentences? Is it the right answer? What about the slight doubts under the surface, is this what you signed up for? Where’s  Prince Charming The Doctor? The knight Doctor in shining armour a pinstripe suit riding his stallion Tardis?

How do you know you’re not losing out on something better?

Lately Eizwan and I have been watching my stash of Hindi movies. Well, it’s a compromise, for every Hindi movie we watch, I watch TWO bang-bang action movies (a deal that was brokered by my brother) with him. Most men AREN’T into Hindi movies and I have to commend him for sitting through Aditya Chopra’s Rab ne Bana di Jodi, a three hour SRK love-fest.

But on Monday, on the way home after a really good meal at TGIFs, Eizwan switched on a song and squeezed my hand as he drove.This coming from the same person last year who refused to listen to Abba much less Hindi music?

When someone asks me why I want to get married, how do I explain how I felt when I sat in the car and heard this song? It’s not as practical as “I want to marry to further our relationship” or “This is about us making a new life and sharing responsibilities together.”

But it’s no less powerful.

Happy 29th birthday my dear. I love you.

I’m a Sea of Meringue under the Malaysian Sun

As some of you may know, or now you know, as of late I’ve been fretting a lot about wedding photographers. It’s not as though there aren’t any, but daaayng, yo! Wedding photographers are expensive! Like ridiculously expensive!

It’s not without a heavy heart that I have to find and pay for a photographer. Actually, with this wedding, it’s not without a heavy heart that I’m doing everything related to the wedding. Have you seen how much it costs lately to get married? Some people dream about throwing a gorgeous wedding at a hotel. I did the calculations for that and very nearly started convulsing. There is no way in hell I would let my parents spend RM 70k for one evening. It. Just. Maketh. No. Sense.

But anyway, back to the topic at hand. Photographers. They are expensive and there is pressure all around to do an outdoor photoshoot or in Malaysian vocabulary, the ever ubiquitous pre-wedding. There are many reasons why I don’t like the idea of a pre-wedding photographs, one of them romantic and the rest, because I’m me, I like to mock. Let’s get the romantic one out of the way.

Reason 1

In a small voice: I don’t like pre-wedding shoots  as  I don’t believe in getting into a wedding dress before the real day itself. Altogether now, lemme here the collective “Awww”. But seriously though, the white gown (or red or blue or green, whichever floats your boat) is intended for that day and that day only. If you’re going to wear it at every other occasion, well, what makes it special then?

Reason 2

It’s hard to do a pre-wedding shoot without well, looking a wee bit stupid. I have an allergy to looking stupid since I do it frequently enough on a daily basis. Like for instance:

Case 1:

Sheila was jogging in Taman Tun, the perennial favourite for exercise buffs and future brides and grooms to pose.

“So I’m running right, this one morning and I see this bride in her meringue dress and the tiara and the veil posing in front of me. And I thought, ‘very nice’. And I run a bit more and I see the same bride in front of me, doing another pose! And I’m like, maaaan, I’m going real slow today, this chick  in her wedding dress is ahead of me. I run a bit further and there she was again, like some sort of phantom. Daaamn!. So I pick the pace and it’s a workout but I wanted to see if the bride with lightning feet caught up with me.  But this time, I kept my eyes peeled. You know what I realized? They are three different girls. Same day. Same poses.”

Wayyyy to feel special for your wedding photos. Three couples. Same location in Taman Tun, under the hot Malaysian sun, with the photographs trying his best to trick the viewer into thinking we’re not in Malaysia.

Case 2:

SW relates the story seriously. But that’s just the way she rocks man. Seriously.

“So, my boss goes to FRIM (Forest Reserve) to do his photos. So here he was, in his suit with his beautiful bride when a group of scouts who were camping descended upon them en masse. Pointing. Staring.”

Possibly laughing. No. I can’t do it. I’ll look at the photos and not remember sweet memories of the day. I’ll remember the little boys in uniforms probably promising themselves that when they grow up, they’re not going grow up and be as ridiculous as the adults they saw that day.

Haha. Little do they know.

And finally, from my own experience.

Case 3:

It was a rainy, drizzly grey day in Singapore. Certainly not fun for going out . And certainly not fun AT ALL if you’re a bride taking pre-wedding photos. You have a crazy photographer who insists on doing artistique shots by the bus.

“Now, wait for it! Wait for it! Ah yes, POSE! PRETEND YOU’RE WAITING FOR THE BUS!”

But the thing is, you’re not waiting for the bus. Everyone else is. You’re trying to pose and be happy, but it just ain’t working. And combined with the open oggling of passerbys, are the irritated glances of people waiting for the bus and having to wade through a sea of meringue to get to their bus. Plus it’s wet. There’s muck on the hem of your dress.

And there’s that Malaysian chick who keeps pretending not to stare at you. It’s your day, who cares what they think. I mean you know, it’s not like she’s going to blog about it. Or repeat the story over and over to various friends. Because she’s a nice girl…right?

So there you have it. My reasons. The gown is sacred. Keep it for that day, don’t associate the gown with kids at camp, a jogger who runs around the track like a madman or a wet, rainy day in Singapore.

Fries with Ice Cream

Proof my mum still sees me as a kid in elementary school:

I was working on a project that required the use of colour pencils and so, on my table there was a flurry of pencils, coloured pencils and eraser dusts. My mum comes into my room and she frowned.

“You should put the colour pencils away carefully, you wouldn’t want to lose them.”

“But I’m working!” I whined. “I’ll put them away when I’m done.”

“No, you should put them away after you’re finished. Finish one colour, put them back and take out the next colour.”

I was about to comply when it suddenly hit me. My mum was nagging me about colour pencils.

“Waaaait! I’m like twenty-something! You’re nagging me like a six year old! I’m not going to lose my colour pencils! And I bought them! I’m an adult and I can do what I please with the colour pencils!”

“Oh, yeah! Sorry, box of colour pencils, automatic mom-mode. I’m still traumatised by the number of colour pencils I bought for you over the years.”

***

We Malaysians eat normal things. We do!

So Eizwan’s boss, AK is a Norwegian who is posted to Malaysia. All around nice guy, he’s a little tentative about the food in Malaysia. Who wouldn’t be after being tricked into eating tempoyak (fermented durian) at the office?

It was a celebratory dinner after their team slogged in hours of hard work on a database project. I was utterly gleeful of being invited to the dinner, especially when there was plenty of dessert and most importantly a chocolate fountain.

I think I spent most of the evening at the chocolate fountain, I don’t remember much of the other stuff at the buffet, and after munching on marshmallows dipped in chocolate, I could not help but sit back, semi in pain from the chocolate overload.

“Done already?” AK teased me.

“Not quite,” I said. And further proof why my mouth has a tendency to speak before the brain processes. “It’d be perfect if we had fries with ice-cream right now.”

“What?!” AK said. He made a face,apparently reminiscent of the time when one of his staff tricked him into eating fermented durian. He gave Eizwan a look, a look which suggested that your fiancee may be out of her mind.

“Hey, it’s not bad!” I said, a tad bit defensively.

“It’s fries. With ice-cream,” he intoned. He turned to another one of his staff who was sipping mango lassi who was listening to the conversation, but did not contribute.

“Arief, what do you think? Fries with ice-cream. She’s crazy right?”

Arief nodded wisely. “Well…Actually, it’s very good, especially if it’s hot fries with McDonald’s sundae.”

“Oreo Mcflurry for me!” another colleague put in.

The best way to describe AK’s facial expression was something along the lines of him unable to wait to head back to Norway. Where they eat normal things, I presume. Like fish soaked in lye water. Yumm.

The Way to A Woman’s Heart

I am, by nature, very good at sulking. When things don’t go my way, I’m the sort of vv irritating person that starts whining and sulking until things do go my way. My parents remind me constantly it’s a very undesireable trait.  I’d like to think of myself as just having high standards.

Case in point:

Eizwan was late yesterday. Not very late to dinner, but just late enough. So of course – I would give him the silent treatment, the whining and sulkiness whereby Eizwan automatically goes into the pujuk mode. Don’t think there’s an English equivalent to that word, which sadly enough for the women who only speak English. It’s like pacifying, only better.

Of course since I was particularly sulky, didn’t help that I didn’t eat that much the whole day yesterday. Eizwan took out his trump card when it came to me sulking: “Would you like to go to TGIF?”

As a kid, McDonalds was the ultimate treat to make me feel better. All that salty fries and tepid burgers is just something for a kid (or an adult like me if I’m being very honest with myself) and now TGIF is it for me. Notice how much junk food I like? It’s disgusting I know, but let’s face it, you only tell your friends that your body is a temple, when deep down inside, you’re craving for a cheeseburger with sinful fries. If you say no, you’re lying.

In my case, Eizwan knew the way to my heart. Junk food. Pasta alfredo with shrimp and chicken. And a side order of chips. Well, not quite a side order of chips, it’s just that Eizwan ordered a burger and I kept stealing his chips. I knew there was a reason why I’m marrying this man. Perhaps I ought to sulk more often.

Things to Do, People to Draw

Why I love my friends:

Sheila was sharing a story about a friend who called her up panicky, one evening. Sheila, ever the dramatist, told the story perfectly:

“He called me up, his voice low and traumatised. And then he said, dramatically, ‘I’ve done something I shouldn’t have,”

“What did he do?” I asked, ever hungry for gossip.

“I know! I was like, ‘Geez, what on earth did you do?’ I asked, him, ‘Did you kill someone? and he was like, ‘No. But I must talk to you.’ All these questions raced through my mind, ‘Did you kill someone? Did you elope? Did you get someone pregnant?’

“Or ‘Did you make a bad bet that compromised the Malaysian reserves?'” interrupted SW pragmatically.

We’re such geeks that we kill ourselves sometimes.

***

I’ve not written about writing in ages. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I think it’s fair to say that when I am writing about writing, it’s probably I’m not writing, if you get what I mean.

Happily enough, my work on my first ever novel is moving along. It’s about 70 percent done, and since Eizwan challenged me to finish it by the time he gets back from England next month, I would be more in a more than comfortable region of completing it next month. And then the editing process will begin and I will have to tighten up my research since I want to be comfortable with the world I’m writing in.

My target is two rounds of massive editing before *gasp*I will send it off for publication. Yeah, it’s a long shot but hey, you never know till you try.

I’m also learning to draw right now. I’m hopeless at drawing, but I suspect my hopelessness is due to the years I’ve convinced myself that I can’t draw. It’s not quite an overnight decision to learn to draw, and it’s not quite like I have a lot of time on my hands to actually pick up a pencil and sit down and doodle for hours on end.

But I’ve been thinking about drawing for quite some time now, I know JK Rowling draws and so does Russell T Davies. It’s not to say to write that you must be able to draw, certainly, there are plenty of writers out there who will openly admit they can’t draw for peanuts. But there  are times when it is difficult to express in words, it would be nice to see my characters and the world I’ve created come to life.

All this, alongside my crazy idea of trying to get back into my French swing of things, and exercising to lose weight for the wedding…oh crap! Yes, and planning for the wedding, it just shows how hectic my life will get. And Eizwan’s birthday is this Sunday, mucho fun!

For now, I bid you adieu, I have a huge word limit to catch up to!

Something Blue

One thing about getting married is this: logical, down to earth women (stop laughing David) somehow turn into this obsessive and crazed women who suddenly MUST DESIGN AND PLAN THE WEDDING OF HER DREAMS.

And it’s funny despite insisting in my head pre-thoughts of weddings crossing my mind, that even I find myself getting into the Bridezilla swing of things.

Honestly, wedding planning is a little depressing. I wonder why on earth am I putting so much effort and money for an event that only happens once in a life time to a man I’ve known for nearly seven years now (if I had married Eizwan two days I met him there might have beenan impressive reason to celebrate…Like, hey! “I found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, IN TWO DAYS! Let’s throw a party!”). To tell my family this is the one? Why do a big wedding? Why not over a barbeque and then over lamb and mint sauce, inform the relatives: “See that man over there? Yeah, the one struggling with the chicken wings? Yes. That one. I love him. I’m going to have babies with him one day. Would you pass the beef please?”

Weddings make no sense. It makes no sense to have the dress, and in the case of Malay weddings, the three million and one events that go along with the wedding (in my case, I’ve cut it down to three million…and a half). It’s costly, it’s ridiculous and to a certain extent, I go from someone with feet relatively on the ground into this bridezilla who wants to find the PERFECT TAILOR, PERFECT VENUE, PERFECT DRESS, PERFECT ETC. To impress who!? Me? To get the best value for money? But why? The best value for money would be spent traveling in Europe, not over one dinner.

Somewhere along the line, I seem to lose sight of the reason why I’m doing everything. Why am I obsessing about my weight? Why do I allow myself to be abused by wedding planners who tell me my ideas are weird (“The pelamin is far too small, how are you going to show your status?”), my wedding photographers who think their astronomical charges are reasonable for photos I don’t like, by bridal shops who tell me I’m a little chunky and I need to lose more weight, and for that, why don’t I take their ‘slimming package’ where they can proceed to abuse me further by  pinching the fat around my belly and making those little lizard noises of disapproval.

I really, really don’t get it.

Right now, I have to balance what my family wants because, you know, in Asia, marriage is an alliance between families, and is not just about two individuals who are in love. I have to withstand the remarks that go something like “Oh, you’re so Western” when I really am not. I’m not Western.  I’m me. Be grateful it’s Western as opposed to my original theme of Doctor Who. I could be dressing the groom up as a Cyberman and we’d walk down the aisle serenaded by the Doctor Who theme.

Why on earth do women subject themselves to so much abuse for their weddings?

Psst…wanna hear my dream wedding?

It would be as Disney World. I know it’s tacky, but I want that. For that short moment, I can pretend that there is really happily ever after, that I have found my Prince Charming. And that ‘home’ is a palace and a castle, there’s a giant mouse that does not cause disease and that I don’t have to go back to the ‘real’ world of bills and chores. I’d be with super closest and dearest, where we’d have a nice dinner and then, roller coasters. And then I’ll go explore different parts of the US because I really don’t need all these things like a wedding cake, hantaran or that silly dome in the centre of wedding tables that serve the same tired dishes, wedding after wedding.

Here is the thing. To want something like that is to be selfish. To do the traditional way (and to be honest, my wedding is not even that traditional, my parents are bending over backwards enough to accomodate my strange wishes…so much so my dad worries that his relatives would think that he dropped his daughter on the head when she was growing up) is being selfless.

But somewhere along the lines, with all these planning, I can’t remember why we’re doing all this in the first place.