Performance Vs. Behaviour

A conversation with a phone salesperson:

“Have you not heard that our *insert said product* has won awards?”

“No.”

“What?! It’s in the newspaper, magazines and radio? We’re the best out there.”

“No.”

“Ma’am, do you not read the newspapers?!”

***

I’ve been thinking about angery lately. It has occurred to me that as of late, I’m rarely angry about the world. As a kid in uni, I used to get angry about a lot of things. I used to sit down, draft political blogs – and at one point, got noticed for my opinions – and then suddenly it all stopped.

It was not that my interest in politics that stopped – I still enjoy reading politics, but I would say that a chunk of my anger had mellowed down. I don’t do drafting angry blogs anymore, as I write it out, it feels petty and to a certain extent, I feel that it doesn’t serve any purpose.

Purpose is a great motivation of mine lately. I’m very busy, I’m always on the move. Being angry serves no purpose to me, it just drains me out and I get tired very quickly.

***

My sister, the great (almost) psychologist was sitting down and eating a very bizarre dish of onions, sausages, fried dried anchovies, and chilli.

“Does that even taste good?” I ask.

“Yeah, well, surprisingly,’ as she munches through the chopped sausages.

“Fine, wait, I need advise from you. Stop focusing on the sausages.”

Hani puts her fork and knife down. “Fine, fine, fine. What do you need?”

“To brainstorm. My client. You know what he’s like.”

“Oh, that stupid one.”

“Crazy one.”

“No, stupid. Don’t insult the insane.”

“Yes, yes. Whatever. See, the thing is, I don’t want to get angry at him – nor do I want to push my way around things. Being high and mighty does not work, being holier than thou never works. What I need is a way of getting him to work, getting what I want?”

Hani pauses from eating her sausages, onions, chillies and anchovies. Her forehead creases as she thinks.

“Don’t need psychology to do that. Just manipulation. Dude is probably insecure. Work with his insecurities. Praise him, compliment him,  – and just get what you want.”

***

Anger used to drive me. Anger doesn’t serve anyone. It’s good to angry about things, but it’s a mostly negative energy that serves to drain rather than propel. When one is so busy, positive energy is what you need. I’m not saying to sit around the campfire, hold hands and sing kumbaya and let the positive energy fill you up– I’m too cynical for that. What I need is now, the ability to acknowledge my anger, compartmentalize, and put it aside and do what I need to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not become uber-zen. People still irritate me all the time. Like the dude who parks right in front of my house even though I’m inside. A part of me wants to stomp outside and key his car. Or the crazy management who writes passive aggressive notices at my parent’s place. I feel like writing thousands of passive aggressive notes in response and stuffing it down the management’s post box.

Instead of reacting the way above , I stop to think. I sit back, pause and wonder, what would be the right response.

A few years back, as a response to the Evil Corporate Body, I used to be quite nice about things – but unfortunately, being nice sometimes is equated as being a pushover.

Nor do I want to go about my life being a nasty ass bitch. It works for some but it certainly does not work for me. Shouting and screaming, in the past two years, I’ve started to equate it to losing control. It’s impossible not to lose your cool, I fully admit, my voice tends to rise around Eizwan when I get irritated but I suppose it’s because I’m most vulnerable around him.

But I’m not going to sit down and take it in. When people say things, I pause to think. Do I let this slide? Do I voice out my displeasure and make things difficult for everyone? Do I give in and feel resentful? Do I shout and make myself feel miserable for losing control?

If I give in to my anger, I will regret it. If I don’t give in to my irritation, and release it somewhat – I will probably take out my anger on the door, the car, and kicking something.

Performance versus behaviour. I know what I want. I have to ignore the behaviour and just get the performance that I want.

When people irritate me, I keep my voice cool but firm in response. I no longer offer smiles to people as generously nor do I give in to what I feel are unreasonable requests.  I don’t raise my voice nor am I rude, but certainly, I’m not nice. The customer is not always right – you gotta find the best compromise to get the best for everyone.

***

“What? You don’t read the newspapers?” asked the lady on the phone incredulously.

A part of me wanted to shoot back saying, of course I read the papers. No one actually cares about the product, nor the company you were representing, you could be winning awards up the wazoo but which part of me actually cares? Nada. Zilch.

Instead.

“You’re not going to sell me anything by being insulting.” My voice was cool, and steady but I knew she could hear my displeasure.

“Oh, uh…okay. Uh…sorry.”

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On Being Rational…

So, the house is coming together slowly. Very, very, very slowly. So slowly sometimes that I can see my mother twitching at the corners of her eyes dying to get her paws on putting my house together. I have a feeling that my MIL has avoided saying anything lest she bring in an entire troop to put the house together.

The house is not in a bad condition – it’s just still bare and some of our stuff are still in boxes. I’ve thought long and hard about the entire thing. I could rush the entire process, be a superwoman and then delay doing up the house when I fall terribly sick about halfway through the process. Or I could meticulously plan (I love planning! More than actually putting stuff into action, but planning is so much fun) the entire thing and do the finances (I love finance too! But I don’t like the spending) and then, meticulously plan the Action Plan on when I ought to do things.

Or I could be wholly impractical and do things that I enjoy first.

So which do you think Eizwan and I did?

After meticulously planning, we decided framing the paintings should be last. As much as we loved the paintings that we bought in Bali, framing the pictures would be expensive. There are far more important things that we need to do, you know? Like we need a stove for goodness sakes. We’re wearing out the multi-cooker as we speak. We ought to finish up the kitchen. And buy a dining table. We’re eating off Eizwan’s mum’s table, of which, each time we see her, she tells us a tale of woe of how much more difficult it is to bake now that we are using the bar stools that she uses to sit on when she cooks.

And then of course, my grandmother is throwing a party (sort-of) at our place on the 25th, and so it’s imperative we get the house in order, to make it look less like a student dig. The game plan: More carpets and coffee tables, less PS3 boxes with tablecloths on top of them. More adult home, less teens who watch Avatar: The Last Airbender at night after work.

Of course, with the 25th looming upon us, a bit like Firelord Ozai (ahem) looking upon Sozen’s Comet to demolish the Earth Kingdom, we have much to do. So that’s why it makes sense that we splurged again to frame our paintings.

Logic does not work with us. It does not work with cats either that meow whinily at 3am and 4am but that’s another story for another day.

On Saturday, Eizwan and I went to SS14 Subang Jaya, Klasik Gallery to get our paintings framed. I had originally, been silly enough to think that I bought these paintings for an investment. The lady at the shop was very sweet, but she totally had us pwned. She sweetly (like really, she was not condescending at all) explained the crazy process and the steps to buying paintings as an investment.

I did leave the shop feeling rather silly and somewhat embarrassed that I thought that I could easily jump into this posh hobby without much thought. Still, though, my advice to anyone is go with what you like. Despite what the lady said, I am convinced that my painting is worth something – now all that’s left is the very difficult task of getting a certificate to prove its authenticity.

But if anything, I have a painting that I very much like.

The rest of Saturday was doing very adult, domestic items. We opened a joint account, bought ourselves a dining table. My grandmother was getting very edgy at the thought of her friends at the doa selamat eating on the floor, and so I called her to tell her that all is good. At least SIX of her friends would be able to sit somewhere – the rest would have to sit on the floor.

After putting the house together, it was just still not quite yet a home. The kitchen feels like a home, we know exactly where each things go – and our morning routines are fast and efficient. But there’s something unbearably empty about our living room. So I ran upstairs, to our so-called studio i.e. our home office, picked up my two giant posters that I had framed years ago and put them up on the hooks the previous tenant left.

When Eizwan saw them, he was aghast – but not aghast enough to take this photo.

And the very bare dining room table, to which my renovation-mad in-laws approved.

So what makes a home? I thought it’s the dining room set, but I ain’t sure. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

Getting Used to It

Picture taken specially for Maya, and testing out our smile function. Maya’s garam chai mugs from Good Earth, India.

In between the reception on my side and Eizwan’s side, Eizwan and I did the utterly nutterly thing: we moved out of our parent’s home. Looking back, it was a crazy thing, probably bordering on the stupid end – I was still very emotional from the wedding, from seeing friends I’ve not seen in ages and then to move out from the comforts of home to something that was rather alien. The house we moved in was old and clean-ish, with a fresh coat of paint, I thought the house smelt awful. We were living out of a suitcase, the kitchen had its daily share of cockroaches and it just felt so empty.

Fitting I suppose, that almost every morning I would wake up in tears.

From one perspective, it could look like I was overreacting. It’s not as though I lived faraway from my parents – just 7 mins away. And it was not as though I could not go back home but it never occurred to me how used to my life I’ve become. Having Eizwan by my side did not automatically make things better. I think it’s ridiculous when people say they wake up in the morning and see their husbands and All Izz Vell. Or perhaps they are just very lucky and I’m a lot more emotionally unstable.

On the other hand, it just reminded me how different life was going to be. So now the two of us have this entire house to manage, from the cost of living to actually making it look nice and hospitable. And in all those silly kursus kahwin that they talk about, they never talk about how hard and expensive it is to start up a household. Despite trying not to be all princess-like, I discover how picky I truly am. I don’t do bathrooms without shower curtains, I don’t do not having curtains, dining room tables, a proper workable kitchen where I can bake.

So I would cry again – and poor Eizwan would try and comfort me. Of course, looking back, I wish I was not so hard on Eizwan, or so selfish. The change was hard on him as well – we’re used to being on our own, essentially despite being together for 7 years, we were still two individuals, looking out for ourselves. Looking after each other and out for each other always, is a bit of a new mindset.

Still, even if I cried an ocean, it was not as though the house was going to do itself up. It was up to Eizwan and me. While I did not mind making puppy eyes to my parents and in-laws for help, Eizwan was certainly the more stoic one. He wanted to do things himself. Eizwan is fiercely independent, he tries to do everything himself, short of actually sawing wood and making his own furniture. Knowing we don’t actually have that much time, we managed a compromise. I dried my tears, and we sat in front of the big telly Eizwan’s parents gave us (which shows nothing since we’re not subscribing to cable), with coffee on our makeshift coffee table (made out of Eizwan’s empty PS3 box) we made a plans on how . Eizwan and I would do up the house, bit by bit, and I would raid our parent’s and our in-law’s place for stuff that they don’t need. Trust me – being shameless in this instance really helps. Go to your auntie’s house and tell sad stories about how you don’t have plates and you’re eating off paper plates. Watch the plates come right in. Keeps the cost down.

In this odd instance, Eizwan and I both did not receive as many kitchen/household items for wedding presents. We did however, receive an extraordinary number of vases and  thankfully, money. And then we did one of the hardest things in our new life, and something Suze Orman would be proud of. We sat down and did a budget of our incomes, and how to do up our house. Again, nothing the silly kursus kahwin spoke about – like for real, nothing in the kursus kahwin actually helped me in my married life except to question my own identity in a bad way. But I digress. It’s hard discussing finances, like openly discussing finances. Despite being similar in values, you find yourself not being all too similar and you start arguing.

It took a few days to come up with something we can agree too. So here are the things that I’ve learnt on starting a household from scratch.

1. Have a budget on things you can’t live without. Different people have different priorities. I can’t live without a sofa set or a complete-ish kitchen, I need to lounge in the living room and I hate eating out, so I must be able to cook. Eizwan needs a dining table. We can do without a dresser. And I can do without curtains as long as I don’t flash the neighbours.

2. When buying all these ridiculously practical items, like coffee tables, dining tables, plates for eating – set aside some money and splurge on something completely unnecessary and ridiculous that both you and your husband want. It’s a means of keeping your sanity, it’ll help, I promise you. Eizwan and I bought paintings from Bali, and will be setting aside some money to frame them. So I may not have carpets, we’ll serve you tea on the floor – but you can admire my pretty paintings from the floor.

3. You can never have enough hangers.

4. I truly have my priorities wrong. So what if I’m cooking out of a multi-cooker but brewing fresh coffee everyday. Freshly brewed coffee is what makes my mornings go.

5. You can turn into your mother. So you start scrubbing things, murdering roaches, proudly laying liner in cupboards before you pile the plates in the cupboard.

6. But it still won’t be enough for your mum, who will still find that you’re just doing up your house too slowly.

7. Cats make everything better. Especially when you’re feeling low, and they wiggle their little butts before pouncing on a rogue lizard that’s been poo-ing in your sparkling clean kitchen. They’re even more awesome when they present to you the head of the lizard. But they’re not so awesome when they throw up after eating said lizard.

8. There’s always one room in the house that’s out to get you. In our case, it’s the bathroom. The toilet gets clogged and then it leaks. And you get it fixed. And then it gets clogged again. But then it gets fixed. But not before it starts leaking. And there’s no shower curtains, I hate wet floors. It’s a rental, so it’s a shame that I can’t actually smash it to pieces, because I daydream about it everyday.

I suppose it’s fair to say that I’m adjusting slowly. The dust is settling from the wedding, and work is starting to ramp up again. I’m busy during the day, writing and then picking up my sister from the hospital. I’m settling into a routine of sorts, one that involves Avatar: The Last Airbender at night, breakfast with freshly brewed coffee in the mornings. It’s still difficult, there are days where I wonder why on earth were we mad enough to do this. Life in KL is expensive, the cats meow at three am, the dogs bark at five. Independence is overrated.

But of course there are some days, when I wake up in the mornings and the sun streams down through my makeshift curtains – and Eizwan is with me, in those quiet moments right before it becomes all mad, I think, maybe it’s not so bad after all.

One Month Already?

A random crazy thought suddenly occurred to me. Like OMG! I am a married woman, I’ve been married for almost the past one month!

So what has changed? A lot has changed to be honest and at the same time, a lot has not changed. The past one month had been ridiculously hectic, despite being married (the akad), I had my reception to go through with and then I had my husband’s (an oddly familiar and yet unfamiliar word) side of the reception to go through with. In between, we moved out of our parent’s place and was in the crazy process of setting up our new home. So, yes, in between receptions, Eizwan and I are were battling cockroaches and lizards (thankfully, no rats), entertaining our friends from overeas, before rushing off to our honeymoon in Bali…where it was not at all relaxing. That is so my fault actually, since there were just so many wonderful things to do in Bali and I wanted to get everything in. So we had a massage, we saw a dance, we did watersports, saw another wedding (! – would it be too much to say that I teared up at the wedding, having gone through my own? Yes, I’m being annoying, so I’ll stop now), sightsee from the north of Bali down to the south of Bali and was recommended to make my way to a Japanese prison because apparently the food is very good (!!)

And then, from the moment we arrived, we spring-cleaned the kitchen, stripping it down to the barebones, sanitizing it, murdering a few more cockroaches (possibly poisoning ourselves with DDT as we sprayed the kitchen down – smelt of Fumakilla for the next few weeks), setting up the living room so we have somewhere to chill when we get back from work. Somewhere in between all that, my lovely Toshiba crashed, its poor little hard-drive making a clicking noise. I mourned for about a week, before dragging the poor husband and the excited brother all over Sunway’s IT centre to look for a new pc because work came crashing all at once. So I was trekking from my place, writing on various PCs in the house before finally deciding to invest in a Mac.

Yes, of course, I mean, sure you’ve just spent loads on a wedding, why not a little bit more eh? As I said to a friend of mine, it’s a hantaran present to me, from me.

Somewhere along the line, shock horrors, I fell sick of course. My asthma acted up, was prescribed new medication for my asthma that makes me feel like a brand new person, I twisted my shoulder, my period went all wonky. I think that’s the result of trying to prolong the bleed-free days.

Hmmm….Maya’s right – I need to learn to relax, perhaps be strapped down to a deck chair by the poolside with a good novel hovering over my head.

But I don’t think I can repeat this month nor do I want to. It has been a crazily lovely month, sometimes I feel like I’m getting to know Eizwan all over again, like I’m seeing this person in a different light. Some days it’s just same old, same old, with us curled up on the sofa, coffee on our make-shift coffee table (currently the PS3) box made from our espresso machine, a wedding gift and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I’m not very good at putting up recaps, but I do feel like I should. I still tear up thinking about the wedding events, thinking about my friends and family who put in the crazy amount of effort to put the wedding together. I don’t think it was the type of wedding that would make it to magazines at all, but there were smiles, there was laughter and it was happy. I still tremble in awe and am humbled by the kindness my friends and family had put in for the wedding.

Was it the all perfect wedding? Certainly not. Some err…unexpected things happened that nearly broke me. I’m a seasoned event persons – done a gazillion events before, and my life can be very chaotic, and yet, when it came to the crunch – I was about to break down and cry. At one point, I yelled at Eizwan just one day after we got married; I was so tired and angry with how some things are going – but looking back, things just work out. It’s the cliche espoused by my photographer but it does. Every wedding is beautiful in their own way and there were so many details that made it very special to me.

My mum pointed out that I got what I wanted – a wedding filled with love, life and laughter. If I don’t write this somewhere – I’d probably forget it all so wish me luck recapping. But of course, as much fun as it is reminisce, it’s time to remember that life goes on and one has to keep looking forward.

So….Allons-y!