My Valentine’s Day

I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. There is this assumption that if you are a couple, or in a relationship that you would automatically be happy on Valentine’s Day. Or at the very least, that you would appreciate a day dedicated to lovers.

Honestly though, I can’t think of a worst holiday – intended to put pressure on couples already in a relationship, a day making singles feel worse than ever. I suppose there is only one type of couple who would enjoy Valentine’s Day, the same kind of couple who would enjoy endless attention on their wedding day, the sort that invite the press and the Tattler to cover the minute details and attention that they put into their wedding: ‘Oh, see those roses over there? Yes, I had it brought in from Cameron Highlands. They were picked at the peak of their blossom as the sun began to emerge over the horizon. Oh, but why talk about the roses when you can talk about my shoes? See these? These were designed by Dato’ Jimmy Choo. Yes, I know he had retired, I forced him out of his retirement for my wedding. I’m that important.”

I met up with my friend, N yesterday for Valentine’s Day. And I brought my husband along – I don’t want him to feel left out on such a special day. We were going on a date, N and I. We were going to eat burgers and then we were going to watch a romantic movie starring Bruce Willis. With lots of guns and bombs.

We were late to meeting her as it was particularly crowded at Midvalley yesterday. We had to maneuver around a number of couples, diligently holding hands because that is what is expected of them for the day, a number holding lifeless bouquets of roses and all of them, looking more bewildered and stressed out rather than genuinely in love. I suppose it’s difficult feeling like the feeling when you have to battle a swarm of forlorn couples, figuring out what to do. One couple began to quarrel almost immediately after the man gave his woman a bouquet of flowers. There was a long queue outside TGIF, couples holding hands waiting for their turn to eat at at the restaurant. I wonder how many of these couples will head home tonight, or to a hotel and make love, even though they don’t want to but because they are expected to.

I told N this and she had a good laugh. N said that we were cynics. I don’t know what gave her that idea.

My distaste for Valentine’s Day began early – it began in Malaysia where the government school I attended, a rather conservative secondary school I might add, sold roses to young lustful boys by enterprising students who would then distribute the flowers to their high school crushes during class. They made a grand show out of it even, coming into a class with armfuls of roses and announcing the name aloud: “Farah!” “Yee Ling!” and the girls would get up, and saunter as gracefully as a fourteen year old could to the front of the class to receive their roses like it’s the bloody Oscars or something.

And then for the rest of us, the not-so-popular and the not-so-pretty, we squirm in our hard seats, hearts pounding fast as we give a quick prayer to God: ‘Dear God, please, please, please let me have someone send me a flower. I know I’m technically not supposed to pray for someone to send me a flower because it might lead me to think about lustful thoughts and to lustful situations that I’m not supposed to be in, but please, please, please God, I’m not so sure if I can handle the humiliation of not getting any roses when two-thirds of the class have received flowers.’

I think the trauma of Valentine’s Day in High School is enough to put anyone off Valentine’s Day for life.

I have to be honest though. When I finally did meet that special someone, I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I really did. I wanted to see what’s all the fuss that Hollywood was talking about. But my special someone happened to be Eizwan. Eizwan is the best man for me, who else would patiently help me roll out sheets and sheets of pasta when I went through ‘I-want-to-make-my-own-pasta’ phase or watch a crappy Korean drama without judging me. You can’t have everything though, because Eizwan is not particularly romantic. I mean he has ideas on romance, just sometimes, he falters on execution.

Like the year when I hinted I want a Valentine’s Day celebration. It coincided with a busy period for him – but he tried. Apparently, he had this grand ideas of creating a paper tree made of hearts, with each heart containing a poem on how much he loved me. On Valentine’s Day, I was waiting for roses, or a nice night out but nothing happened. Every restaurant was booked and the ones that were not, were places like TGIF where you pay a whopping RM 90 per person for a set that you would usually pay RM 30 for on any other weekday.

And of course, nothing says romance more than celebrating Valentine’s Day in a restaurant where they make you stand on a chair as the waiters sing and stomp their feet for your birthday.

We ended up in KFC that night.

I was getting very agitated and upset, like if you love me, why don’t you do something for me? Finally, I confronted him about it and Eizwan broke into cold sweat and said, ‘I did! I tried! See, I wanted to make these paper hearts but I discovered, I’m not very good at arts and craft and every heart I made was ruined, so I bought more paper and I’m trying to cut them at traffic lights.’ He showed me the half-cut cards at the back of his car, together with sticky tape and scissors and the instructions he printed off the net on how to make them as proof that he tried.

The ever reasonable girlfriend, I burst into tears and refused to speak to him.

Clearly, it worked out okay, or we wouldn’t be here today, but we never bothered to celebrate Valentine’s Day since. After getting that moment of madness out of me, I’m done with Valentine’s Day.

I had been done with Valentine’s Day for years since. Last year Eizwan got me a small teddy bear for Valentine’s Day and I looked at him and asked ‘What is it for?’ and then he sulked because I had forgotten Valentine’s Day.

As we had our burgers, I thought about the couples who had made so much effort for this evening, walking around Midvalley aimlessly, hoping to find a restaurant that could fit them in. When they do actually find one, they would be seated a little closely to another couple, as restaurants try to pack in as many lovebirds on their biggest money making evening of the year. And then, said couple would inevitably overhear conversations about love from the couples surrounding them and feel pressured to outdo the couple next to them, to proclaim that, no, they love their partners more.

And suddenly I felt this burst of euphoria and superiority. I am superior, I wanted to shout aloud. I am superior over all of you. I have not been conned by this madness, I have not been conned by this capitalist holiday of making you spend and celebrate love even when you don’t want to. I am not a sheep! I am free to make my own choice, to celebrate love when I want to celebrate.

Of course, that feeling of superiority ended when I watched ‘A Good Day to Die Hard.’ In what is possibly the most cynical attempt at milking the Die Hard series, I felt like a real sheep herded into the movie theatre by a Hollywood producer shepherd. As it turns out, my date with John McClane turned out to be a real dud.

How did you celebrate your Valentine’s Day?

On Golfing and being married

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Before I got married, I used to worry that because Eizwan was such an avid golfer, I would end up a golfwidow, never seeing my husband on weekends, losing him to golf.

The irony is that after we marry, Eizwan barely touched his clubs. Sometimes I wonder if it was my disdain for golf that stopped him from playing.

Which is why this picture is a wonder. This is Eizwan at a golf festival testing out clubs. If you told the younger me that one day I’d be insisting Eizwan go and that I’d wake up early to support his golf, I’d tell you that you were bonkers.

Which goes to show marriage brings out the things in you that you never thought was possible.

Six Months Already?!

Here’s the thing. Today, I was planning on writing a very sappy entry. For the past few weeks, I’ve been mulling in my head a few entries and planning a special one for today. I’ve jotted a few down on paper and my sticky note on my laptop is filled with stuff that I plan on saying.

Heck, I knew what I wanted to write about – I wanted to write an entry today, dedicated to my husband of six months. I wanted to try and attempt a non-sappy entry on what is an essentially sappy occasion. I wanted to share with everyone who reads my blog (all five of you and dwindling) about today.

Today, is something I had been looking forward to for ages. Ever since the day I got married, I had been looking forward to it. Not because I’m some crazy hag who feels the need to mark her relationship at every second (“Oooh! Darling! It’s been 132 days since we got married! Let’s celebrate!”) but because there is something perennially special with the words: 6 months. 6 month is half a year. It’s halfway to one year. It’s like almost a year!

It’s a milestone that suggests, ‘Wahey! We’ve made it.’ Even a month (on the 5 month mark) before we hit the 6 month mark, I’ve already made plans to celebrate this incredible milestone (incredible despite that there have been billions of people who have done the same – but I think it’s incredible, because it’s US TWO, us crazy people, we managed to stay together!) by a sappy entry, going away somewhere and then having a lovely dinner out.

I think some people would be quite upset if they reach any mark, like an anniversary, or a monthiversary and had nothing, especially if they’ve built it up in their heads for ages. The thing I’ve learnt is, since I’ve gotten married is, well, nothing goes to plan! Like I certainly did not plan on being sick again – (5th time this year) – and lying down in bed, re-writing this blog entry over and over again, because it’s hard to write when your head is somewhere else and your body is somewhere else.

But I’m not lying when I say, I really don’t mind.

I know it sounds terribly clichéd and smug when I say, I don’t mind not having a chance to celebrate out and do something special with Eizwan is because the past six months have been incredibly special.

It’s not to say it’s been an easy six months, it’s been a hell of a rollercoaster ride, filled with ups and downs. Everyone had warned me, married life would be difficult but it was only one other person who said to me, “It’s going to be so much fun, starting a new life together and setting up a home together” And you know what? That person was right.

The hard part – well, everyone can tell you the hard part. A chunk of the luxuries both Eizwan and I had been used to had to be cut out. Astro, what Astro? We counted pennies, we argued on what’s right to spend on, what’s wrong to spend on. It takes time to get used to each other, and in some ways, I feel like I’m getting to know an entirely different person.

On the other hand, and I wish someone had told me this, the best part about getting married, is gaining this new partner-in-crime who thinks the same way you do and who wants to do just as many crazy shit. Eizwan knows when I have a crazy idea up my sleeve – and boy, we’ve done some nutty things. The best part of being married and being an adult? No one to tell you that you can’t do it.

So what if I’m going to salvage a 30 year old ice-cream machine on a Thursday night, before hunting down ice and salt and making ice cream at around 11pm?

So what if cleaning the house at midnight seems like a good idea?

So what if we attempted to make cheese with curdled yogurt? (No one dared to eat it, except me and Eizwan. And we’re fine!)

And then spending our honeymoon like it was Amazing Race Asia edition?

Throwing a bimbap party as part of our mini-house warming?

Five-hour Law and Order marathons?

Hmm…they all seem to be related to food. But aside from the ‘nuttier’ things, there were just so many small things that happened between us that, I dunno how to describe it, just so much fun. It’s a bit like my declared competition on who could fill up our respective bookshelves first. What started as a genuine need to fill up our bookshelves on the living room, turned into a competition where both resorted to stealing books from the other side to fill up their own bookshelves. I won by the way.

And it’s more than just having someone with you, who is willing to go about with your mad ideas. It’s being with someone who can listen to your insecurities and then say in a calm voice, ‘Lin, don’t be silly. There are no such things as aliens.’ Or something like that. Eizwan knows when to encourage my ridiculous-ness (“Yes, darling, you can go ahead and spend RM 14 for a box of kosher salt, just because Asian Food Channel said so,”) to appropriately discouraging my insanity: “No, Lin. Eating cookies for dinner is unacceptable. ”)

And Eizwan is my ever-willing partner to listen to my long rants and raves about politics, movies and intellectualism.

I could go on. And you could close the window and stop reading. But I won’t go on because I’ve reached my end-limit. I’ve already corrected every single typo I could think of but probably missed out a ton more because I’m in some lala land where my brain is watching ponies dance with teddy bears.

We’d probably be spending our “special dinner” tonight by ordering in – which is a good thing; no one wants to dine with a patron who sounds like her lungs are trying to escape through her lips. But I honestly can say, it does not matter. It sounds like I’m trying to justify myself but no – the best thing about the past 6 months, had not been the material wealth, or the stuff, or things, or holidays (which there are none). A lot of people make marriage life out to be about material wealth, from what you give on your hantaran, to where you spent your honeymoon, to who designed your dress, to whether you bought a house or not, to the cars you have.  To discount them would be dishonest, material things had made my life comfortable, no doubt. But a chunk of my happiness has been based on the time I’ve spent with Eizwan, the time getting to know him, the time spending and doing crazy things, and the time feeling like I’m a better person, just by being with him.

I love you Eizwan, and happy six months – and looking to many more months ahead.

 

 

 

Of Epic Dreams and Domesticity

Lately, Eizwan noticed my dreams have been rather…domestic per se. I’ve been dreaming that my pelamin and wedding decor had been a disaster, the wedding dress have been a disaster – and something else rather common in general.

I thought it was normal for me to dream this way but Eizwan did not think so. Fine. I endeavored to do better and was then rewarded with a very strange dream that involved jumping into sewage water, a bomb and a lovely boyfriend by the name of Adam Lambert.

I admit I have a pointless crush on Adam Lambert, so the dream was well…let’s not go into details per se. Not because it’s R-rated, but dreams are boring in general to be recounted to. Unless your fiance’s name is Eizwan and has a ridiculous ear for detail, despite how mundane things can be.

But the dream got me thinking. 1) Why is Adam Lambert gay? It makes me feel weird having a crush on him because I can’t allow my nefarious mind to have my way with him (well actually I can, it’s just that my brain keeps shouting, he won’t be into you darlin’!) and two, if the weddings have domesticated me. Which is the single most terrifying thought.

I think the preparation for a wedding can be slightly soul destroying. When once upon a time you’re thinking about saving the world, you’re now thinking about saving the furniture and the flowers. Where once upon a time you’re thinking, yes, should I take this job where I’d up in Machu Pichu hunting aliens and then become Prime Minister, you’re now thinking of menu planning to stretch that monthly budget of yours. You’ve gone from epic to domestic.

Weddings are bizarre. They turn what used to be very reasonable and interesting people into essentially very self-absorbed people focusing on the very mundane details. Does my corsage match with my theme? Good God, are you wearing that?! You might upstage ME! Will my wedding dais be the one to remember? Will my live band kick ass (trust me, mine won’t since I won’t be having one!)?

Of course, it doesn’t help everyone makes a fuss about it too. The number of times my grandmother reminds me that I will be “berumah-tangga” soon (literally translated, it means I’ll have a house and stairs, an upgrade I suppose…but it actually means I’ll be a married woman), it’s always said a bit solemnly. Your relatives do treat you a little bit more special now that you’re getting married.  And there are your own friends who say that, once you’re married, you’ve upgraded yourself.  Which makes me sorta wonder that are we less of a person before we marry?

There is this idea that when you marry, the centre of your world changes. That your entire life revolves around this one person and that you’ve moved on from everything else. Marriage is the be all and end all.

This is the  issue my aunts brought up over the weekend. They wanted my dad and mum to say ‘something’, like a speech of sorts after the solemnization ceremony. The all important “I let go of my daughter, her well-being and care is now in your hands. Bye bye forever.” I feel my aunts take glee in this act, they enjoyed sobbing their eyes out when my uncle did this sad declaration at my cousin’s wedding.

This is something I do not want. It is disheartening enough that my life will change (it is naive to acknowledge otherwise) but I don’t want to torture my father to saying that I’m leaving him. FOREVER. Which is what people make weddings make – like the end of something and the moving on to newer and better things and leaving people behind. With this new upgraded status, comes a new centre of my universe – my husband.

Because it’s not true.

Will my life change? Yes, probably. Will my priorities change? I think some will change – but not much. Will I be a different person? Maybe. If different means getting up earlier.

Sometimes I worry that marriage will lead to this life of domesticity. If I’m brutally honest, a lot of my friends, post-marriage talk about refrigerators, schools, servants, runaway servants, servants who hear voices and attack police officers, babies, cracked nipples, cost of nappies, organic food for babies and in general, are just terribly boring people from the super interesting people they were before.

Will I be this boring?

I had my answer this morning. This morning, I woke up in cold sweat from my very strange dream whereby I had to rescue someone through cold waters before the bomb exploded (I have a very queer imagination as they say), I was trying to figure out how exactly did these very domestic dreams turn so epic overnight. I think I’ve figured it out.

With this marriage comes a change, yes. Eizwan will be my family, he’ll be part of my family, legally. Spiritually, he has always been just as some of my dearest friends have always been part of my chosen family. Eizwan just happens to be slightly more special 😉

But while the tendency is for some to give up everything, give up their lives for this new core – well, as I dream about alligators in elevators, daydream about David Tennant, I have to say strongly and forcefully, that this is not who I am. I’m not going to give up who I am just to be the wife. It’s a new role, yes, but it does not mean I’ll give up 26 years of who I am as a person. What makes me, Adlina are my friends, my family, my writings, my posters on the wall, the Dalek on my shelf etc.

If in one fell swoop with Eizwan’s nikah declaration, I give all that up, Eizwan won’t be marrying the girl he fell in love with.

I can either allow myself to be domestic, or I can choose to live the life I want to. I can choose to cherish my friends, my family and be the same person I was before this marriage thing happened. Just as I could choose not to marry, I could have just as easily chosen to forget my family and friends if I were single. I could allow the domesticity to take over, or I can continue to dream about crocodiles and live, pardon the pretension of it all, an epic life.

So the key here is choice. I could either allow myself to slide into domesticity or live the life I want. It may not be easy this epic living, but at the end of the day, it is a choice I make.

Will things be different? Yes. Probably. But I’m not going anywhere, I’ll still love the same way I did before I got married. I’ll probably moan about my rented house because knowing my luck, the cabinets collapsed because I did not put them together properly, or I misplaced my Dalek and the cats are attacking poor Dalek Caan.

Back to the wedding, no speeches about me leaving my family as though I’m off to the new world, whereby it’s a 9 month journey by ship in perilous waters filled with sharks, pirates and typhoid and I can’t return until I’ve fully colonized the Wild West. Eizwan is coming into my family, I’m going into his. It’s an alliance of families, it’s a happy thing. I’m not superior to anyone else, nor am I moving on from anybody. Nor will I change to be a Stepford wife anytime soon.

So here’s to epic dreams and an epic life, surrounded by your family and friends.

114 days to go

“This getting married thing, it’s weird.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I mean, in a few months time, I’m going to  be a Mrs. I don’t like the word missus. It sounds so matronly. Fat bosom in an unflattering dress matronly. Miss is more feminine.”

“Oh?”

“Like the Malay word for Mrs is Puan. It sounds awful. Cik sounds cute. Puan sounds pregnant.”

“Does this mean you don’t want to get married?”

“Of course not. Don’t be silly. It’s just that I feel, sometimes when a woman marries, she ceases to exist in a way. Mrs Eizwan. Adlina disappears.”

Pause.

“You won’t disappear. I’ll be Mr. Adlina for you.”

Eizwan

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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.

Growing up…sort of

Met up with a bunch of my uni mates in Porto Romano in Taman Tun tonight, to celebrate Jo and Fani’s last few moments of singledom before their tying the know in April 5th. Whilst the food ain’t that great, the company was as always fantastic.

One of my biggest fears when I first came back from the UK was that eventually, we’re just going to grow apart without our Warwick experiences holding us together. Tonight was the first time where I felt quite comfortable about who we’ve become. Warwick  dominated very little of the evening’s conversation, the conversation veered around our jobs, politics and then mostly topics that when I try to recall later, make absolutely no sense and could have only been made by people on substance abuse. Except we weren’t smoking up anything, since Dilla is pregnant and is a doctor, so that’s quite impressive.

The cracky insane conversation  assured me, that despite impending marriage and babydoms, my friends are just as silly and ridiculous as they were six years ago when I first entered university as a wee, naive child of 19. Despite their respectable jobs, their outwardly mature personas and their kind demeanour, lie people with wit and an insanity streak that give me so much hope for the future.

Their kids are lucky to have them as parents.