The KL Curse

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?

So about two weeks ago, a friend asked me out to dinner at a restaurant I was not familiar with.

If you know me well, you would know that new places and Adlina driving are generally two non-mixy things. I may wash my own car, will attempt at assembling my own furniture, drilling and other manly things – but when it comes to driving and getting lost, I’m a stereotypical woman.

I am so good at getting lost, my record for getting so spectacularly lost was on the way from KL, I ended up in Puchong, headed towards Cyberjaya.

My family has a nickname for my disability – they call it the KL curse i.e. if Adlina is in the car when we’re driving to KL, rest assured even if you LIVE in KL, you’re bound to get lost when I’m in the car with you.

I refused to give in to this curse of mine when my friend asked me to dinner. Though she offered to pick me up, the husband offered to come back all the way to KL and then send me to dinner – I was adamant. I spent a good one hour before leaving memorizing the way there – I studied Google Map, wrote down the instructions in my trusty notebook before heading off. My friend kept calling me to make sure – seriously, I’m that notorious. Like getting lost from Mont Kiara to One Utama notorious.

But surprisingly, I DID NOT GET LOST. WAHEY! I may have driven like a turtle, annoyed all the cars behind me but I arrived on time! Said friend was well impressed.

Dinner was good, the company as always was lovely. After a long conversation, we hugged each other goodbye.

Of course, so gung-ho was I on studying the path to get there, I did not actually find a path to get my way home. Was I nervous? Yeah, sure I was, but come on. If I could get there, surely I could get back.

At the first wrong turn, I did what most idiots do when they get lost. Panic. And keep driving. Keep driving straight until I reach somewhere familiar. Hopefully. And of course, as all idiots do, I won’t stop to ask for directions. That’s the manly part of me. Asking for directions are for sissies.

The first 10 minutes was okay. I was blasting Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd on repeat and feeling quite a lot like a reckless renegade, driving free and easy. The next 20 minutes however, I was getting rather grumpy. And edgy. Did not help that the tank was empty and the light was flashing. And I wanted to be home with the husband and even poor Lynyrd Skynyrd’s voice was starting to annoy me. I could change music but the only music I had in my car was a mix from 2005 and seriously, what on earth was I thinking back then, listening to “Because of You” by NeYo. I should be ashamed of myself.

It was in the midst of potentially stalling my car in a dark creepy alley in the middle of the night in an area I was not familiar with, I decided to do some things that was unlike myself. I stopped to fill up my car, as opposed to hoping I could find my way home with a minute amount of gas (I hate filling up at non-familiar stations) and secondly…I asked for directions.

The dude at the station looked at me with surprise. ‘Long way from home!’ he said.

‘Well, yeah. Not used to this place,’ was my miserable answer.

He gave the directions and then offered to fill up the tank for me. He also insisted that I fill up the competition form to win RM 30,000 (my friends in Shell, I’m still waiting for your ahem, inside help here).

Mana tau? Boleh menang! Banyak duit!’ he said to me. (Who knows? You might win! Lots of money)

I’ve given up on these competitions because, heck I never win anything. But I thought so far tonight, I’ve done some things that are unlike me. Firstly, I studied google map like I was studying for an IB exam. And I did not get lost to the restaurant. Secondly, I asked for directions. Who knows? Perhaps this new change in attitude would lead to me miraculously winning RM 30k. I filled up the form gladly and almost, smugly.

I left the petrol station, feeling rejuvenated. My spirits were soaring and I thought. Yeah. That is what has been wrong with me. My attitude. Eizwan was right. Unlike the rest of my family, he never believed in the KL curse. He always believed that it was in my mind – that things can always change, that things can get better, if only I wasn’t so insecure of myself.

So true, I thought as I drove down the road. With newfound confidence, I found my way through a series of complicated roads back onto the Federal Highway. I put on Free Bird at very high volumes that my car shook. I Looked like a teen on crack. But it doesn’t matter. Because I am Free Bird. Won’t you fly high free bird, yeeaaaaah!

But of course, in true Adlina fashion, I took the wrong turn as I was getting onto the Federal Highway and got lost again….

Lord help me, I can’t chaaaaange.

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The Housing Dilemma

Before Eizwan and I got married, Eizwan’s parents cornered (in a good way of course, not in a rattlesnake in the bedroom and all the doors and windows are locked kinda way) and asked us where we were planning to live. As with all parents, the most harmless of questions usually lay a TEH SERIUZ issue underneath.

TEH SERIUZ issue was of course the issue about buying a house. They were concerned that we were not intending to buy a house – and although they did not want to convince us either way, they wanted to understand our thoughts about the future.

Granted, I must come across as an oddity. While I may consider myself as a real goofball, apparently, in real life, I come across as TEH SERIUZ person. Like very serious. The sort that has steel in her eyes, the one that will stop at nothing to pursue her goals.

Now, if only those goals weren’t as, well….weird. At that point, buying a house was really out of order. Because at that point, I was more than convinced that in a few years time, one way or another, I’d be on the Tardis and so, a mortgage would be an impractical burden when you’re off in space.

We told them that we would like to rent first. Of course, we left out the bit about me wanting to be with an alien out, that would just be awkward conversation. Regardless, I knew they were not particularly happy with that decision – a house is an important asset to have.

I kid. Inasmuch as I’d like to pretend I’m a goofy bunny, I’m really not. The decision not to buy came after a long thoughtful discussion and lots of research, consulting with esteemed economists and investment bankers (although post 2008, no one wanted to be friends with I-bankers, so this had to be done on the sly). It did not seem logical then, and with a huge investment already in place between the two of us, we opted not to buy a house of our own. We explained and our parents accepted.

That kind of bliss lasted only for so long. It’s the same like getting married, everyone’s single for so long until, wham! Everyone’s married. Sure, everyone was happy, single and renting and then bam, you’re married, bam, you’re pregnant and wham, you’re a house owner! And all eyes are on you. Like when is it your turn?

The worse thing about this house ownership pressure is that, fuck, it comes from all sides. Not just from them smug marrieds. It’s from them singletons as well. Three of my single friends bought homes this year – and despite pretending to be all bohemian and mystery writer and all, where nothing can hold me down – I can’t help but feel the pressure.

There are pros and cons to living in a rental. But one of the biggest cons, is well, it’s not your own home. There are little things about our current house that we wish we could fix. Like have an uber-fantastic kitchen when I can be mad scientist all day. Or a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shelves of books made from oak wood, one where I can get a ladder to slide from end to end.

Granted, if I have a house of my own, I might not actually have this from the lack of funds but hey, it’s nice to dream.

But mostly, and shock horrors, I don’t want to feel irresponsible. I feel irresponsible not having a house, as though should we ever have a baby, I’d have to do the dastardly deed of telling my kid that, ‘Darling, I know we’ve already failed you as parents. Your parents have a rental. No, darling, we don’t rent out to people. We live in a rented property. I know. For shame.’ It makes me feel like I’m not taking control of my future, like we’re leaving it up to chance as opposed to carpe diem.

And if you know me, this is very, very hard. I. Hate. Not. Being. In. Control.

The competitive person in me is starting to feel as though I’m falling behind. Which is just as bad because making an investment decision by keeping up with the Jones? Poor show, Adlina, poor show.

Will we make an impractical decision and just jump into the property world? Unlikely. This feeling in me, it’ll come to pass. I know I have to be patient, that I’d have to wait before experiencing the joys of being home owner (and after today, whereby I’ve spent 5 hours of scrubbing walls, painting, putting putty on the walls, oh, I think I can wait a little longer)

And it’s okay.

Why we’re not having children anytime soon

You know that saying? That only have children when you stop behaving like children? Well then, it seems like my parents and Eizwan’s parents will have to wait a long, long, long while before they get to cuddle a baby in their arms.

Want to know why?

Well, it all started today when the two of us decided to go gung-ho. What is gung-ho, you ask. Gung-ho is our codename for getting off our lazy arses and actually doing our chores that we had been postponing for months.

So on this bright, lazy Sunday morning, Eizwan and I mopped the floors, vacuumed, de-weeded the gardens and then to top it all off, we were going to wash the cars. I was in a very good mood, we were going to celebrate my grandfather’s 91st birthday (!!) and then after that, we were going to head of to Eizwan’s cousin’s engagement. The fact that her parents cook very well was in no way, any influence why we were looking forward to the sojourn.

So far, so good. So far, so responsible right?

Of course we were. We blasted songs from the PC to entertain us while we washed the cars. When it was time to wash Eizwan’s car, I can’t quite remember why Eizwan headed inside, but he did. He headed inside and then he came out, and out of habit, he locked the door.

Without bringing the house keys with him.

So there we were, the two of us, in our mankiest clothing, dripping from the washing of the car, with no phone, no car keys, no keys to get back in. So the two of us were trapped outside, between the front gates and the house and no way of getting back in.

I could get upset and go beserk, but for some reason, I was not. Eizwan was starting to freak out and get upset. For a moment, I thought this was it. This was the end. A very sad end for the two of us, sitting outside, drying out in the sun and missing out on Thai food. In the end, death did not seem like a good alternative and we decided to swallow our pride and call our neighbours for help.

Thank goodness Eizwan was very nimble. He climbed out of the gates, and knocked on our neighbour’s doors. Being the anti-social people we are, we, ahem, haven’t actually introduced ourselves to the neighbours. Thankfully though, they turned out to be some of the loveliest people and not only lent us the phone, they helped us call the landlord who had a spare key and she even opted not to go out with her husband and kids to wait with us until the landlord arrived with the spare key.

While waiting, I just opted to wash all the cars and started to wash the porch as well. Idle hands make for evil brain as the saying goes. Or something like that.

Our landlord came in the nick of time, and we explained embarrassedly what happened. Thankfully he was very understanding over what happened and we got into the house, took a shower and then got to my granddad’s birthday celebration on time!

In such high spirits, we got home and we prepared to go to Eizwan’s cousin’s engagement. I got all dolled up (by dolled up, I put on a decent pair of trousers) and looked pretty. We were feeling happy about the whole day and we talked about how we were going to Ikea later in the evening. But at this point, we were late to Eizwan’s cousin’s, so we had to rush.

I got into the car first, starting the engines while leaving Eizwan to lock the door. As I got in, I watched Eizwan slam the door, before a looooong pause. And then he put his head in his hands.

‘Eizwan?’

‘I thought I had the house keys. Turns out I took both car keys instead.’

So. Twice in one day. We locked ourselves out.

Whilst earlier, I was the super understanding wife, at this point, I was livid. I was not going to shout at him, he was feeling bad enough already. But certainly, the most apt description would be, I was not amused.

Now, the two of us decided, it would be a fate worse than death to call our neighbours or our parents for help. So we would rather just sit in the car and die outside. But thank goodness I remembered I could use my phone to access the internet in the house. So the two of us hid in the car, the aircon switched on as I surfed the net looking for a locksmith online.

We found one and had the dude charged a literal arm or a literal leg to open the door for us, we would have gladly agreed. But he said, he’d only be there in half an hour. Problem was, we could hear the neighbours coming out of their house. It’d be just too horrible if they knew how useless the two of us were. So we switched off the engine, pushed the car seats down, furiously whispered to each other and hid in the car so that they wouldn’t know that we were locked out again.

Eizwan looked particularly blue but  I was just too annoyed to make him feel better.

‘I’ll cook for you this evening,’ he offered.

‘Not good enough,’ I said.

‘What about ice-cream?’

‘Only Baskin Robbins will do.’

We kept peaking out every so often to see if the locksmith had arrived. Everytime a noise came from our neighbours side, we would scurry in and keep quiet. Lest they know.

‘Should I call the locksmith to tell him that we can’t open the gate either?’

‘No.’

‘So, like how is he going to get in?’

Good question. But I presume he’s a locksmith and had to be nimble enough. Hopefully he’s nimble enough. Or hopefully he’ll have a ladder to climb over the gates.

The locksmith was true to his word, in half and hour, he did arrive. Eizwan joyfully greeted him at the gates but again he spoke quietly, lest anyone hear that you know, we locked ourselves out again.

‘So macam  mana nak masuk?’ the locksmith asked (So how I do I get in.)

‘Uh…kena panjat,’ Eizwan replied sheepishly. (Gotta climb in)

As luck would have it, or as you would have guessed, dear readers, as the locksmith climbed on the gates, stood proudly on top of the gates, that was when my dear neighbour decided to head out. According to Eizwan, the man next door stared at our house completely gobsmacked as to why there’s a man climbing into our house with Eizwan greeting him like an old friend.

We were supposed to buy our neighbours chocolates for helping us out, but how on earth could we explain to them that we were locked out. Twice. In one day. The chocolates will have to wait.

Thankfully though, we got in, and got the locksmith to fix the other doors in our house that had been damaged. Now our cats can’t bang their way into our bedroom.

We missed Eizwan’s cousin’s engagement. But it wasn’t all bad. Eizwan cooked for me. I have a pint of choco-latte crunch.

So there it is, dear readers. The reason why we won’t be having children any time soon

Writing is a lot like bleeding on an empty page

‘Sometimes I don’t know why I say why I want to be a novelist, when the mere act of writing makes me want to bash my head against the table over and over again.’

I wrote that on Twitter (and FB) a few days ago, and it still stands true. I love to imagine myself as a writer and I think, if you ask me if I could imagine a dream existence for me, that, ahem, being a bestselling writer is still there, somewhere deep inside my soul (yes, to the extent it is inside my soul – yes, soul, I dream deep, not just big), never forgotten.

The thing is, the first part to actually being a writer, is to actually write the damn thing. And then get it published.

As always, as with everything in life – it’s always easier said than done. Every day, I put some time aside to write and every day, the damn document window is open with those little words Chapter 7 written on top.

On my Twitter window, I have a little feed from a writing aide that keeps giving you (sometimes) inane advice – like have some time for reading! Have some time for writing! Make it like a professional job!

I have music on, I can’t write in silence, I’ve tried and I’ve fallen asleep more often than not for my own liking. So instead, I play songs on repeat. A few weeks back, it was Simon and Garfunkel. Now it’s a selection of Hindi songs and Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill. Over and over again. For 8 hours.

It would be close to impossible sitting next to me unless you have the ability to listen to a song over and over again. I have. My record was Psapp’s Cosy in the Rocket. 8 hours straight on repeat. For three days.

And yet, the screen in front of me remains blank.

It drives me utterly crazy. My imagination is rife. It really is. Eizwan asks me where I come up with my stories. I reckon I tune into the crazy. God only knows the number of mad people I meet in my life. No, like seriously. I meet a lot of mad people, some of them I really reckon deserved to be locked up. One of them eventually did get locked up, my grandmother’s schizophrenic maid who ended up attacking the police.

It’s impossible not to want to write stories when you’re so close to madness.

I get into the zone as well, I craft the story in my imagination. I have my plot book beside me, a ridiculously over the top notebook, a Miquelrius, always a Miquelrius because I love the feel of the paper since 2002, and I draw out my plot. I used to have a plot wall but I know the plot so well now, almost at the back of my hand that it doesn’t need to haunt me on my wall. Heck, I even dream about it. At the risk of sounding over the top (well, of course it would be, I am a very OTT sort of person), I live and breathe my characters.

So sometimes, if I’m a twat, chalk it up to the fact I’m living my character, who can be twat. Except if I don’t like you, then I’ll always be a twat to you.

Again that bloody page is still empty. It’s more than 30 mins since the page is open. I give myself a feeble excuse to write a blog entry – since it’s technically writing, right? No, it’s not and I feel inexorably guilty as I blog along.

40 mins in, and finally I find the guts to write. A few lines in that turns into a paragraph. I write a dialogue. And then I make the mistake of rereading what I’ve written.

I’m tempted to delete everything, because everything, just about everything I’ve written sounds so trite. It does not sound mature enough – why can’t I get that damned vision in my head down to paper. Why is the dialogue stilted? Heck, why does it sound like an American teen from the OC (and don’t tell me I talk like I’m from the OC. Or how unhip I am for referencing a TV show, from 2004. That’s like so 2005).

And then the self-loathing begins. The why can’t I do this right? Perhaps I’m not as good as I thought, and that perhaps I am wasting my life, dedicating so much time (well, more time procrastinating) to writing when I could do something else. After all, Warwick emailed me asking if I’d like to continue my life path there by doing an MBA. And they are throwing a scholarship in to boot.

It’s tempting.

I shut down the bloody Mac and decide, I’ll write again tomorrow. When the mood is better. When inspiration comes. And then I sit in front of the boob tube, and the imagination runs wild and I start craving the feel of keyboard under my fingers, the tappity-tappity sound and the story forming. When I talk to people, I’m thinking of my story. When I eat lunch, I think of my story. My husband is telling me about his day, and all I could think about is my story.

And then process repeats again. Damn right I’m a masochist.