I Resolve To…

The internet has been down for two days now. Vogler is next to me on my right while the Iphone 4s (ahem) is next to me on the left. I could, technically, tether the damn thing to my pc but by not doing so, it should theoretically force me to finish Vogler. But despite how much I am learning from Vogler, I can’t help feeling like I’m yanking my ribs out via my throat when I’m reading it.

It’s not that it’s dry or anything – it’s just that. Well, it provokes too much thinking. And my brain can only take in so much – anymore than that, and then I start stacking the cheese in the fridge into a tower. I would use Legos but I don’t have any.

Anyway.

So I procrastinate. By blogging. Well, at the very least, Vogler sits on my right as a dire reminder to finish him. The intention is to finish him before I start writing again. I could write simultaneously but then I’d be busy switching back and forth. I may be able to multitask on a million things but reading is not one of them. I can only read one thing at a time and I can’t write while I read.

So.

It is now the 30th of December. Only 2 days away before the new year. When I was much younger, I used to fret about having New Year plans and all that. I don’t anymore because I used to find the New Year’s reveling quite dull and question every year why I did it. It was much better NOT doing anything except watching the fireworks with loved ones. That is always fun.

What I do like about the New Year are resolutions. Resolutions are fun. Probably because they are like lists and I do very much enjoy creating lists. I even like the little dots on the side of my lists although I have now progressed onto numbered lists. I know, look at me! Life of the party, I am.

But I digress. I am pleased to say that 2011 was the year that I actually kept my resolution. I resolved to lose weight last year and I made a huge effort (pardon the pun) in doing so. I am currently a size 10/12 UK – 12 is a little baggy while 10 is a little tight. I’ve come down from a size 14/16 UK. I have lost an approximate 10 kg? I think. I am not so sure because I fear the weighing scale and resolved never to check it for fear that I start binging again when I see the number. All I do know is that I am lighter and slimmer than before I started university so all is good. I am certainly healthier – the frequency of my asthma attacks have decreased and I recover from illnesses faster.

I could stand to lose a few more pounds but for now, I am happy with my weight. Onto newer resolutions.

My brother pointed out that it would be better to have New Year Goals as opposed to the vague Resolutions. Fair enough – vague ‘resolutions’ like to become a Better Person is impossible to attain. Define better person. Say every year, I have a bad habit of knocking old ladies down in an effort to be the first in line at the Isetan sale – that would make me a horrible person. But what if this year I decided to mumble a brusque ‘sorry’ to that old lady as I bulldoze her down – I suppose that makes me a ‘better person’?

I did apologize.

This year is a recycled resolution but an important resolution nonetheless. This year, I want to complete my novel and have them shipped off to publishers in attempts to get it published. That’s all. Of course, I have other little things up my arsenal that I want to happen like you know, play the piano (vague), experiment on my cooking further (vague), get my other business up and running fully (vague) but what is most important for me – is the novel.

So up, up and away 2012! 2011 had been a very good year and here is to a better one in 2012.

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Only The Young

“No, that is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.”

                                                            – Ernest Hemmingway, A Farewell to Arms

I woke up on Christmas Eve feeling absolutely miserable. My temporary crown had fallen off the night before and Adlina being Adlina saw it fit to associate the failure of my temporary cement to the end of the world. So I woke up convinced that the world was against me and that whatever I was going to do was going to fail – just like my temporary tooth did.

Eizwan dragged me to the dentist and the rest of the weekend was much better. I assume that the anesthetic had something to do with the weekend being slightly hazy but all in all, I had a very good weekend.

I met up with my old childhood friend, YK. We did what all adults do on their day off. We had lunch. We watched a movie. We went to the arcade. We hung out at the mall. We bought headbands.

It was really strange. We were doing the exact same thing what we used to do back when we were fourteen. I told YK that.

‘The only difference is that at around 7pm, our parents would call us up, asking us where we are and to come home now.’

‘Well, actually my mum called me up.’

‘Is she asking you to come home?!’

‘Nah, she asked me if I wanted dinner, and I did, she’d leave some stuff out for me.’

YK later declared that despite us approaching the big 3-0 and that she did not feel old. Or like an adult.

I don’t though. As of late I do feel like an adult. I had just spent a month with young ‘uns and despite ‘adults’ saying they feel like they’re still a kid – we are nowhere like children.

The awful truth is, as I get older I start to realize how much of being young I forget. I may have lost the silly wide-eyed innocence that had gotten me into a lot of trouble but with that innocence, I have lost the cocky fearlessness that allowed me to do whatever I wanted.

I think the old envy the youth, not for their energy but for their belief that they can do anything. The young believe they can change the world from their presence alone, they believe that they can be the best and that electrifying will and determination alone is enough to make me feel tired.

And very envious.

I love being an adult. I think the number of times I rub that fact into the faces of my young nephews and nieces is testament to that. I keep telling them that being an adult is awesome. I get to do whatever I want. Which is true. If I wake up feeling like I want to eat ice cream for breakfast – I do. If I feel like I’m going to eat only junk food for lunch for the whole week – I can. Never mind that this adult body will rebel and retch an hour later craving ‘healthy’ stuff like whole wheat bread and that the adult body is physically incapable of eating junk for more than 3 days straight without going wonky. Believe me, I tried. The whole point is, I can do it even if I wanted to.

But.

I also notice that as I grow older, I grow more fearful. To paraphrase Ernest Hemmingway, the old are not wiser. They grow careful. When I was a kid, I would be running to the first roller coaster I see. At Hong Kong Disneyland, at one of the big rides, I could feel my heart in my throat. I was fucking terrified. And it occurred to me, somewhat painfully, that if I were to walk away from the roller coaster – it would not bother me. That it’s okay to walk away from things that you are scared of. Because as an adult, you would make plenty of excuses for yourself why you can’t do it. Your back hurts, your body hurts. You’re ill and you’re about to collapse from fever (well, this was actually true but I’m proud to say I managed to do the whole of Disneyland anyway). And you can always go back to Disneyland. When you’re braver. Ish.

Thing is, you’re never braver as you get older. You only get more scared.

It is a tragedy. It is a tragedy to forget your youth, to forget what makes the young so strong and unstoppable. It is a tragedy to become so scared because we have so much to lose. Probably that is the biggest tragedy of growing old.

Although…I can take some evil comfort that knowing that one day, the young that I envy will grow old too. And they too, will one day eventually envy the young.

New Haircut

Argie, I’m definitely approaching that age where it’s inappropriate to have photos of me without make up on

So yesterday, I got a haircut.

It was a spur of the moment thing. No, I lie. It was not a spur of the moment thing – more like a peer pressure kind of thing. My mum got a haircut and so I wanted one. I don’t think I’ve ever outgrown this ‘If you have one, I want one too!’

To be fair though, I’ve been wanting a haircut since before I left the UK and as most people know, I usually take a couple of months or years to decide on anything that requires spending. As a professional tightwad, I finally bought make up brushes about 4 years after deciding I want some. So you know…

This is the resulting haircut. The hairstylist said that it was the most popular cut right now, as inspired my Korean dramas. A full mid-length haircut

I think I look like a particular archetype that you find in K-dramas. You know, the pretty rival to the wide-eyed innocent, the evil bitch who wants our heroine’s love interest, who doesn’t hesitate to scream at the lovely, ‘That man is MINE!’

Which is fine by me. Who wants to be the abused wide-eyed heroine who almost always eventually gets the most good looking, arrogant man who happens to be really sweet deep down inside and who also happens to be the son and sole heir to a rich industrialist?

….Dammit.

When life gives you lemon, you make failwhales

I’ve been looking for some new things to write about recently.  I mentioned that I wanted to try something new – although I can’t write romance. Aside from the lack of interest, it is something I cannot genuinely relate to. I have very little interest to the dalliance of men and women doing this “Will they, or won’t they” dance. I’m that unromantic chick going, ‘For fuck’s sake, just TELL HIM ALREADY AND STOP WASTING MY TIME!’

My sister, The Psychologist reckons that my lack of interest in romance stems from my relatively tame love life (yes, I have to confess – and despite me approaching the big 3-0, I still find it kinda embarrassing that I married my first boyfriend).

As they say though, you should only write what you know, and the sister suggested that if anything our family knows very well, it would be our family drama. Which is of the failwhale kind.

And for those of you who seem to have a life outside the internet, and is not familiar with the failwhale – let me refer you to this wonderful picture.

Failing – in epic proportions.

The Amiruddin family isn’t quite complete without some sort of failing in epic proportions. For instance, only the Amiruddin family would end up in the most dangerous mall in Atlanta (two shootings in the last month alone) in our efforts to find a cinema in the US.

And when I was with Eizwan’s family in Hong Kong for the holidays, I thought it was rather odd that nothing, like absolutely nothing went wrong during out holidays. Since I’m good pals with fate, and fate tends to respond in kind when I tempt it, of course on the final day, I chipped my crown (sobs!), the fire alarm goes off in the apartment we were staying in AND we had to trek down 17 floors, yes, count’em, 17 floors only to find that the slightly deaf caretaker downstairs had locked the fire escape, leaving about all the tourists to burn to a crisp in the fire escape (the other smart Hong Kong-ers opted to burn to a crisp in their home instead, escaping the bitter cold winds of Hong Kong in December). It turned out to be a false alarm, of course and we all clambered back up around midnight, only to be serenaded by the fire alarm, off and on, every other hour or so. I think the fire alarm wanted us to be reminded of its presence or say goodbye since we had an early flight and we only needed to have as much sleep as we could get.

See?

But imagine what happens when almost the entire family comes together. There were only the four of us when we drove up to Ipoh for a talk on editing on Friday. My father missed the one and only Ipoh exit and the car was running on empty. We had to stop the car by a lookout point whilst the Plus Highway people came to rescue us. We filled up at the nearest exit, did a long ass U-turn (only 30kms long, folks) and to get caught up in the longest jam ever, since some inconsiderate bugger allowed his car to catch fire in the tunnel. Tsk tsk. Some people.

We finally get to the talk which was alright. It was too short to be any good, too wide and shallow to appeal to me when I was hoping for something a lot deeper.

So there you go. Failwhaling is something I’m quite familiar with. It might not be much of a plot but at least it makes good comedy.

Sometimes people ask me if ever get tired or unhappy when things can go spectacularly wrong, the way they do whenever we get together. I rarely feel blue about things that go spectacularly wrong – really, the best thing you can do is just laugh about it (I got food poisoning on my wedding day, beat that) and just shrug it off. I don’t get stressed over the small matters, not when you are in a mall where shootings occur regularly.

And I do know, when times get a little tough, the tough gets going and good things will happen. Eventually. Hopefully.

 

Seeing the World in Different Hues

In all honesty, it feels very odd to be home. I hate to say that the one month in England was a life changing experience, certainly it is too presumptuous and most tellingly, too early to say if anything was a life changing experience unless we look back at the event years and years in the future – but well, I’m going to say it. That one month course certainly changed me in ways I did not expect it too.

And so I come back seeing everything a little differently.

I see the world in vivid colours and I know my mood influences how I actually physically see the world. If I am in a fantastic mood, the colours of the world tend to be brighter, more saturated with higer contrast. I see the world in different tones and hues, depending on how I feel at the moment.

It’s the same with the way I write. A tutor asked me how I wrote and I explained to her, and I don’t think she quite understood me – in hues and colours. I would see a scene in my mind, and I would see a colour to that scene and that colour would influence the mood, the tone, the language of what I will write. The world builds from that scene and colour.

When I came home, Malaysia was simultaneously in familiar and yet unfamiliar to me. I realized only recently that hues and tones that I associate home with has changed. I view the world differently. I can’t quite describe the new tone I’m seeing. The world is not as vivid but it certainly was not as grey as I last remembered it…

Of course, I could be romanticizing the entire fallacy. It really could just be that I need glasses OR that Malaysia is less hazy than I remember it to be.

**

Eizwan and I came back from Hong Kong, really, really, really craving Chinese food. I came back home dreaming of dim sum, chicken with cashew nuts and kailans. Lots and lots of kailan.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Chinese food in Hong Kong, I’m sure they are excellent. It’s just that well, being Muslim and all, we’re limited to the halal stuff which brings it down to just three places in the whole of Hong Kong. The two Halal places that we did go, the Islamic Centre Canteen and Wai Kee at Bowringdon Market – is just not enough! Plus, I found the Islamic Centre Canteen just alright, certainly it does not compare to the dim sum that you get in Malaysia but the roast duck at Wai Kee was excellent! I drool just thinking about it.

I had plenty of good food in HK, just not enough good Chinese food. The irony that I have to come home to Malaysia to hunt them.

**

The lovely thing about being a traveller for the past 1 month is that I can pretend that I err…don’t have responsibilities. Which unfortunately, smacked me right in the face when I came home. It’s not that the husband has not been doing a good job, the poor boy worked very hard while I was away so that I would come back to a clean and comfortable home.

But there are all those things. Little things that he could not cope up with, little things that just take two. Things like garden maintenance (ah well, problem solved there though – all the plants died) and well cooking. The fridge is rather bare save for lots of chocolates and chocolate biscuits and my pantry looks rather dismal. Are those eggs more than a month old?

Being a foodie means I should abhor an empty kitchen. And I do. But I’ve been away for more than 5 weeks enjoying my lack of responsibility that the thought of being a motherfucking adult is just tiring.

Which is why I’m sort of justifying The Wire marathon I’ve just started. Am just sayin’.

My Short Movie

So…I am currently in bed, with the husband fast asleep next to me. I’m not, my eyes are wide open and I doubt  I can go back to bed anytime soon. I’m coughing slightly – I was already developing a cough on my final few days in London but somehow the sheer excitement had prevented me from falling ill. Of course, now that I’m back in boring old Malaysia, the past one month has finally caught up with me and I feel nearly quite dead.

My brain is still on film-maker mode. Apparently I was mumbling about the various shots that I needed in my sleep and got very confused about where I actually was. I am still very excited about my course, which is a fantastic considering the amount of apprehension that I went through at the beginning.

One of the first things I did when I got home was to upload the movie I directed for the course. Considering we had only 2 hours to shoot this, and about 1.5 days to edit the bugger, I am immensely proud of what I had done. And it is certainly something since it was only one month ago, I had never touched a video camera or an editing suite.

To be fair, I had a fantastic DP who helped me with the shots. I had originally argued with him over the story and the kind of shots I wanted – I prefer framed shots but his arguments were that for such an intense conversation scene, it would be better if it were handheld. We compromised with a still handheld – it gave the dynamism and movement an intense conversation that worked for the scene but not too much that would give me a massive headache.

I worked with really fantastic actors for my shoot. Because the nature of my scene was so dialogue heavy, I needed the actors to be as natural as possible, so I loathed trying to block them. I did try – it did not really work out but in the end, we went with the idea of letting the actors block themselves, as to what felt most normal around them. We rehearsed, positioned the camera where we thought we would get the best angle. It went against a lot of what we were taught (did not quite plan a shot list) but as it turns out it worked for the best.

The scene comes from a story idea that I was hoping to help nurture and develop into a full-fledged screenplay.  It is amazing to see what sparked from an idea to finally be developed into something tangible and can be seen.

For now though, I am going to take a quick break from everything. I’m going to Hong Kong on Wednesday – insane, I know but I’m not going to be thinking of writing or being creative while I’m there. I’m this close to burning out (body is saying bye bye from exhaustion) but once I’m back, it’s time to get creative again. I’ve a few projects on the back burner that needs working on and a kind of hunger to get cracking on this career of mine.