I Want It All, I Want It Now

According to various studies that I can’t be bothered to research and to link up here as reference, smells evoke the strongest memories while I think sound comes in second and pictures last. Anyway, don’t quote me on this one, I probably made this up for all I know.

But today, as I was listening to Brandon Flower’s Crossfire (love the song btw), despite it being about a couple going through trying times – I was overcome by my feelings for Eizwan, he sang the song while he cleaned up the kitchen last night since I’m (*gasp* *shock horrors* *no really?!*) sick again.

Which made me think about the odd things that bring up memories. Smells and music do it for me more than pictures – and I do wish sometimes I could control what evoke memories. For instance, it’s a wee bit disconcerting that the smell of Fumakilla, the very good insect killer spray, reminds me of my first few days with Eizwan as husband and wife. It’s romantic in a pesticide kind of way – thinking of dead cockroaches evokes deep feelings of love.

Aside of deriving some loving from some dead cockroaches, I’m ill again. This time from a cold. Two days ago, it was asthma of which Eizwan rushed me to the clinic at 2am for the nebulizer. I felt better on Tuesday before dying Tueday night from a cold. My parents reckon it is because I am too excitable. I don’t think I’m an excitable person. I’m gung-ho, yes, I feel that I can take on the world, yes. So what if I think I can bake a cake, roast a chicken, cook spaghetti with mushrooms and write 3 proposals within three hours? That is what multi-tasking is for!

Heck, I even have Steven Covey’s 4 quadrants on my fridge, reminding me of the things I need to do. And the list seems to go on, and time seems scarce. I’m super busy, I have work that earns me a living, my novel which I’m finally, planting my arse on the seat to sit down and rewrite (except sure…sometimes I spend more time daydreaming what happens after, ahem, the thing gets published – optimistic I know) and then planning all the cookies I’m going to bake before Raya comes along.

But the fact that this is the second time I’ve fallen sick within the short span of getting married might actually mean I’m pushing myself too hard. A friend of mine reminded me of something I said to her earlier – that falling sick is a sign that you’re pushing yourself too hard. That I need to rest. It’s kinda embarrassing to be reminded of your own advice. Well, you know me. Good at giving advice. Bad at following them.

I’m from the Generation Now. I’m the sort of person when I’ve sent a reply on my mail, I click refresh fifteen times after to see if they’ve responded. I think the most of the time, Queen’s “I want it all” is playing a the back of my head. I want things to happen so fast that I’m frustrated that things don’t go the way I plan. But no matter, I’m already making up a plan to get to what I want. I’m perpetually stressed, my shoulder muscles are perpetually knotted up from being ‘ready’. I’m ready to do anything, if you wake me up at 2am because we need to go climb Mt. Kinabalu – I’m game. Because…well, because climbing up a mountain must be in one of those things you have to do to lead a complete and fulfilled life.

I worry that in my crazy pursuit of leading a complete and fulfilled life – I don’t know what it means to be contented. I don’t know if I want to be contented. Somewhere in my warped mind, contentment means the fire within, to drive and to pursue would be dampened. It’s the same crazy fire that forces me to get up when I’m so sick, to write in between naps of recovery. But I might miss the small things in life in this crazy pursuit. If I were to recall my uni days, the best times was not the time when I did well in class (well, that does go up there as a nice, smug feeling) but the times when I skipped tutorials to get dessert with David. There are more memories of tea with friends then there are of classes.

I’m trying to have everything – a beautiful relationship with family and friends, the fantastic career achievement, the great spiritual enlightenment and the fantastic health – that I put everything in me to get it.

And then I worry that in my pursuit to do everything, I don’t slow down and take the time to enjoy the journey, that I am so keen to get to my destination, I’ll miss the best parts of life, the time spent with friends and family. But conversely, I worry if I’m enjoying myself too much, that I won’t have the satisfaction of achieving something in my life.

Also I worry that I worry too much – but that’s another story for another day.

For now though, I’m going to keep busy, if sometimes at the expense of my own body. It’s hard to accept that some thing has got to give because all of the above matter to me, and I want them all. Right now, I may be doing things a little wrong but I’ll keep pursuing until I get it right. One day, I’ll be smart enough to say rest now. It’s all okay.

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Days in the life of an asthmatic

I am currently sitting, well, more like hunched down in front of my laptop. Sometime this morning, I woke up with severe nausea and a terrible backache, somewhere down the middle of my spine. Of course, being the severely paranoid person that I am, the first thing I think of is, no, I can’t be pregnant. Like no way!

And then when the second bout of nausea hits, somewhere deep within my chest, yes, you read that right, chest level did I realize something that did not bode well for my fasting days.

Having an attack is scary, more so when I have recently switched out from an old medication to Symbicort. I was recommended Symbicort by three different doctors, I had refused to take it at first because it was just so hard to get a prescription. Clinics make a fuss, saying they don’t know if insurance would cover it (they do, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and refuse to prescribe it to me. Eizwan and I called up no less than fourteen clinics to find a clinic willing to prescribe me Symbicort.

I love Symbicort. While before I was on nearly 8 puffs a day of the blue inhaler, I’m now down to just twice a day. I can sleep, I don’t suddenly wake up coughing and I sleep through the night. For once, I feel that I’m managing my asthma, as opposed to letting it manage me.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like when I have an attack. And it’s very frustrating to as well. Unlike in Hollywood, where people start to wheeze, my asthma attacks almost never start with a wheeze. It starts with a deep ache in the middle of my spine. Like I’ve worked my back muscle too hard.

When it gets worst, the nausea hits. It’s a different kind of nausea to food poisoning, or the pill. It’s the kind that makes me want to heave my lungs out, a bit like where my lungs are turning inside out. It’s an awful feeling, alternating between wretching your lungs out and your lungs caving in.

And then there’s the exhaustion. Asthmatics rarely have a good night’s sleep, they randomly wake up and they don’t know why. Sometimes I would have about 8 hours worth of sleep and still wake up tired.

The coughing comes after all that. It’s a cough that comes from the lungs, like you’re choking. I used to cough so often at my old office that my colleagues were able to tell when I was deteriorating. So much so that an old colleague of mine told a friend of hers that she had an undiagnosed asthma just based on her cough. Coughing is bad. Coughing means that you’re just one step away from wheezing.

Wheezing for me, is the final step for a full on attack. When I sart to wheeze, I usually am unable to walk, my lips are blue. I have fantastic lung capacity (100%, a bit uncommon for a chronic asthmatic) and so when I wheeze, I’m usually below 60%, or the danger zone.

The most frustrating thing about my asthma is that a lot of doctors in Malaysia refuse to listen to patients when it comes to asthma. Most GPs think I’m either exaggerating when I beg for the nebulizer only to feel really sheepish when I crawl in 5 days later, wheezing and unable to walk or breathe at all. When I’m at 80%, as far as I’m concerned, that’s an attack for me.

As for today, I was beginning to wheeze. And it’s terrifying not knowing what caused it. I’m quite careful with what I eat and even though I have cats, I know when to play with them and when I have to avoid them.

Despite sleeping in till 12pm, I was still exhausted, there was a strong knot in the back and I was coughing. Eizwan insisted I break fast, I took a strong cup of coffee (it helps a lot) and spent the day resting. It’s frustrating when you have an attack. I feel normal for the most part and even the smallest thing like walking up the staircase exerts me.

It’s frustrating because it means that we have to postpone all our plans. We had an invitation to Eizwan’s aunt’s place for iftar and that had to be shelved – Eizwan was unsure if I was strong enough. It was a good assessment because I was dead asleep by iftar, poor Eizwan broke fast eating cereal. Was still too weak to make dinner,  Eizwan had to cook (and he cooked very well, indeed) and I feel much better.

I do feel that sometimes, this blog will turn into the days in the life and insight of Eizwan, since it’s all I do talk about. I suppose, I am excused since I just got married – so I’m allowed to be irritating and lovey-dovey. But on a more serious note, I am very grateful, on times like these for him. It’s not easy living with someone who is chronic and I can see people getting irritated when I suddenly go down, causing plans to be shelved. I am loved and I am grateful.

Ramadhan…and a bit of Sherlock

Ramadhan kareem everyone!

Granted this post is severely delayed, but I still thought it’d be nice to wish everyone a happy Ramadhan.

Ramadhan is one of those things, that despite your parents’ promises that it’ll get easier as time passes on, I find it gets harder for me. I suspect that it correlates with my asthma: since my asthma, unfortunately, has started to take a turn for the worse over the years, it just makes the fasting harder. Fasting stresses the body out, and when I’m stressed, my lungs get all wonky.

So the first week was a bit of a lost, battling insomnia as well as adjusting to fasting on my own well, with a roommate. Both our parents are sniggering, especially when we complain how overwhelming the sahur is. Of course I’ve had nearly 26 years of being spoilt, a hot meal in the morning as I crawl out of bed and then dozing off right after with no worries on who needs to clean up.

These days, it’s me and Eizwan who cook and clean up together – if we get a little lazy, we have two cats with very strange appetites who will attempt to eat up whatever we might have left behind. Hoho, if you think we are being careless – we certainly don’t expect cats to eat boiled salted eggs left on the countertop. But since they do, well, one just has to be a motherfucking adult.

Ahem.

In between the asthma and then being an adult, I found that the time to actually go back to my, ahem, telly and books. More so, I’ve fallen behind when it comes to the stuff I would watch and as I poked through my mum’s bookcases, reading. Certainly, the last thing that I have watched is The Great Game, the final episode of Sherlock.

Thankfully, it was a brilliant episode. I spent a lot of time gurgling about the episode to Eizwan and my brother. Eizwan rather liked it but Jan didn’t. I asked him a few times, he said it was alright but nowhere as smart as the first episode.

It made me think about what works for people, especially when it comes to stories. In the Great Game, what worked for me was the relationship between Sherlock and Watson, and John’s almost desperate belief that Sherlock is doing this because he is good person as opposed to it being a game.

I ought to re-watch it before I comment, but I couldn’t resist. I love the way Mark Gatiss wrote the episode. My favourite Gatiss Doctor Who episode was disliked by everyone in the family (The Lazarus Effect) and I’ve always loved how the characters in his story always question their purpose and the reason why they do the things they do – and often times, he suggests that their purpose is never as good as we purport them to be. This particular series has a Holmes that is cold and detached, and I quite like the suggestion that Holmes does good because he is bored, not necessarily because he wants to do good.

The past few years since I graduated and post working at the Evil Corporation, I’ve been attracted to stories like these – and interestingly enough, 6 years on, I’m still not bored by it. Am still looking for stories on morally grey areas, with the antagonist struggling to figure out what is the right thing to do.  I know why I crave these stories – a part of me still feels that I’m alone when trying to figure out on what is the right thing to do. That it would be easier to just do what everyone else does, without worrying over the moral consequence, or just ignoring the moral consequence. Sometimes I think I put too much of a moral value on certain things – it would just be easier to be bored and just do things without agonizing if it’s moral or right. Or perhaps I’m placing too much importance in what I do, I am but a cog in the massive machine we call a corporation.

Heh. As my sister puts it, whatevs. I’m just being emo. Blame it on the lack of food. Which means this weekend is the time to cook! And overeat! Since I haven’t yet been doing that this year. *sniff* So Ramadan kareem everyone!

The Wily Oriental

I didn’t expect to like the latest series of Sherlock, especially since my love affair with Steven Moffat (the Grand Moff) had sort of fallen out post-s5 Doctor Who. When the series finally premiered on the BBC, a part of me resisted.

For about 10 minutes.

I blame the speed of my giving in to the fact that I now have Unifi (ahem, ahem, show off, I know) making downloading a breeze. But really, I have to watch it since I love murder mysteries. I mean look at the blog. I’m an aspiring murder mystery writer. And then, the last Sherlock Holmes movie was utterly brilliant.

Plus, it’s Sherlock Holmes brought to 2010? Fascinating.

My finger was heavy as clicked the download button. This was in protest of the Grand Moff’s treatment of the Doctor Who series post-RTD. Perhaps I stand in the minority here, but I am a big fan of the RTD era and I disliked what he did to the new series of Doctor Who.

I have to say that watching the first episode of Sherlock, I tried really hard to dislike it. But I ended up really liking it. I especially liked Martin Freeman as John Watson. I’ve always had a soft spot for Martin Freeman, and his portrayal as the tormented Watson post-war, his irritation combined with fondness for the man himself was everything I imagined. Benedict Cumberbatch was unnaturally skinny, but other than that, he endeared himself as the slightly cold, detached but the genius Sherlock Holmes was.

There were some little bits that I did not enjoy, like the graphics that popped up every so often. The mystery was easy to solve – but I suppose I’ve read and watched so many murder mysteries that it was easy to figure out.

But the second episode. *Spoilers Ahead*

I still love Sherlock Holmes but I found the second episode, frankly rather bizarre. They had this entire episode of a Chinese acrobat troop that had connections to Triads in China and as always, a helpless but very beautiful damsel in distress with in-depth knowledge of Chinese treasure. And of course, she was an orphan rescued by the triads.

I tweeted about this issue saying that Asians are all about doing mystical things, obsessing over lotuses, tai chi in between our laundry. Sometimes, I imagine that Westerners imagine Asians to wake up in the morning, we read our ancient scrolls whilst we sit on the floor doing our ancient tea-ceremony. And then a quick exercise of some fancy martial arts before I go off to work. Of course, my job will consist of something like calligraphy or some other Asian arts and then I’ll round my evening with a Malay dance that I’ve practiced since I was a wee child, making me nimble and apt to do acrobatics. That way, I can easily climb up the wall of my house when I’ve lost the keys.

It’s like it’s almost impossible to imagine that we do *gasp* boring things like go to the office, get stuck in traffic, pick up a Starbucks, go to dinner at a restaurant, whine and bitch about our bosses.

You know, it’s fine to write about the wily Orientals but if they’ve updated Sherlock Holmes to 2010, update the triads to 2010. The Blind Banker did not really romanticize it as much as made it ridiculous. As far as I know, they’re not into acrobatics. No, they beat people up, they are brutal, they chain people up. They’re not fun or sweet or certainly mystical. They are scary as hell.

And Asian women are  more than capable of taking care of themselves, thank you very much. We’re not all damsels in distress you know with long-flowy hair and doe-eyed looks.

Some of us have frizzy hair.

In conclusion: Let’s hope tonight’s final episode would be better.

So…you work from home, huh?

I work from home. A lot of people think it’s the best thing in the world. I suppose in their head, they imagine that it’d be the most awesome thing evar. Whereby I sit down at my desk (or on my bed), with my laptop and my pyjamas, whilst I have a cocktail. I’d take a nap when I want to, go shopping when I want to. And then leisurely get up to finish my work.

I have to say that…it’s mostly true.

There are tremendous perks working from home. Like for instance, you can wear shorts and it doesn’t matter if you’ve not shaved your legs. Or you can have afternoon naps and sleep for a good two hours before getting up to continue on work. My personal favourite is standing outside the door and mocking and laughing those who are struggling to get through the traffic.

Hmmm. Shouldn’t say that or karma might blast into something terribly unexpected like a massive jam when you need to pee or something.

One of my biggest concerns when I got married was that Eizwan would not understand my schedules of someone who worked from home. Sure I would log off in the afternoon and sleep. Sure I would crawl out of bed late on the mornings he has to wake up early to make his morning commute. The privilege comes with a price – especially when it comes to deadlines and payment.

I think Eizwan struggles to understand my day, and to some extent, is envious of the flexibility that I have. Sure when things get too tiring, I pick up a wiggly cat and torment it to amuse myself. When I feel like an ice-cream during the day, I get one whenever  (Okay now I’m just bragging). When I feel like going out – I go out (but…despite the freedom bestowed on me, I almost never do it) and when my sister wants me to meet up for lunch, we meet.

(And now for the reality)

The hard part is the in between payments of course. I miss a regular income. There are days when I agonize if going back to work would be easier than counting pennies or battling private clinics to give you the medication that you want. It would be so much easier to just buy the medicine off-the counter.

I’m terribly careful with money, especially in our case, we have one salary to get by till I get paid in lump sum. And then we party like there’s no tomorrow and then we go back to our meager subsistence living.

Well, no, not really.

The other thing is discipline. It is very hard to be disciplined when you’re working on your own. Some days I can have everything planned in front of me. Like the coffee is ready. There is soft, non-distracting music in the background. The lights are switched on, and I have two fans on me to keep me cool. And I have all my papers by my side. And the phone in case any clients call….

That’s about the time when I’ll drift away onto lala land and watch recipes online. There’s this saying, that goes something like, with the internet, you can never create great fiction.

It goes without saying, with internet, you can’t do anything really. But to switch it off, it’s really, really, really hard. When you’re working at home alone, it’s a lovely way to stay connected with everyone. Despite my best attempts at training my cats to talk, they just stare at me blankly and respond with a meow. I suppose it’s still an improvement to my mother’s cats who walk away mid-conversation. Now that’s just rude.

But anyway. Discipline. The thing I need most right now. It’s August 3rd. I have a huge deadline by the first week of September – self-imposed of course. Eid is coming up, and I have to get my, off-and-on novel completed. It’s an impossible task that I’m setting for myself. But there’s a reason for it.

….

And this is the part where I don’t tell you the reason. Because if I do, then I’d have nothing to blog about. My life is not that interesting. Well, actually, it is but it is out of respect to my clients, I do not share. So stay tuned on the psychotic, one month effort. This month is going to be crazy.