This is where I write about absolutely anything. Random thoughts about my friends, myself, my job, life in general. It is reminiscent of the blog I used to own in high school, but with much less angst. I started this not too long ago but I’m writing here more and more frequently. Might need to change the format of the page soon. Don’t think this continuous page is sustainable. We’ll see.
Today is as right as it can be
4 November 2017 | Saturday| 1:22am
Today is one of those days that makes me feel like I am exactly where I should be. Everything is so normal and yet so special.
Well technically it was yesterday since it’s one in the morning right now.
It started last week when I was looking for some painting videos on YouTube and purely out of coincidence, instead of your normal ad, a trailer for Victoria & Abdul played. My attention was immediately captured and I googled the release date of the movie in Malaysia.
Turns out the date of release was Thursday. I really wanted to watch it and considered asking my friends to come with me, but then I thought my parents might enjoy it more. I couldn’t remember the last time I took both of them out for a treat.
After arranging for a suitable time with both my parents, I immediately booked the tickets online and pre-ordered a bucket of premium TGV popcorn to share. The thing is, I didn’t even tell them the name of the movie, except that it’s based on history. I wanted it to be a surprise. There’s always a risk of them not liking the movie, but I was about 80% sure they would. Being the chill pair of parents they are, they went along with it.
So today, I woke up really excited about the movie. It was a cool, drizzly morning so I sat in the kitchen with my mom, she reading and I writing (or trying to write) until it was lunchtime. We had run out of bread, so a fresh loaf of bread was baking away in my mom’s old breadmaker while we sat together in silence, occasionally broken when either of us had something to share.
At noon, we started moving around the kitchen making lunch from whatever minimal ingredients we could find in the fridge. She went about making salad while I made my usual tuna dish. I chopped some onions and had some excess, so I put the rest into her salad.
The bread was done baking and had cooled down significantly for me to slice it. It turned out beautifully. I think I ate five or six slices with a generous serving of SCS pure creamery butter. It was heavenly. Honestly the person who first discovered butter – I have no words. I love you.
Together, we enjoyed a rather mismatched but delicious lunch of tuna with salad and a fresh loaf of bread still hot from the oven.
Right after lunch, I went out with my good friend Zan and we sat together at McCafe while I continued writing and him accompanying me in silence while reading something on his phone, occassionally smiling to himself.
I squeezed a good three and a half hours of writing. By then, it was time to go home so I could get ready to go to the cinema.
My parents loved the movie – it was much better than I thought it would be. My mom loved the popcorn so much she finished it, which is rare. The movie finished at 10:30pm.
We were feeling a bit peckish so I drove to our favourite mamak haunt, ordered teh tarik and roti canai. And there we sat until it was past midnight, just talking and enjoying each other’s company. We talked about current events and politics, about the economy, about technology and AI, about family, nature, medicine, the future and a lot of other things.
By the time we realised it was late, our eyes were wide open and we didn’t feel sleepy at all. To add to the loveliness of it all, there was a light rain so the whole place felt really cool and nice. Time just went by so quickly.
Now I am on the sofa in my house in my pajamas, ready to go to bed. My laptop battery is dying and I can’t be bothered to fetch the charger. This post is not as well-written as I prefer, but I just want to get it out while my memory and feelings are still fresh.
Today is just one of those perfect days. I don’t earn that much now but spending money to treat my parents to a movie is one of the best things I’ve spent money on recently. I feel it’s worth every sen and more. Exponential feel good factor.
I should remind myself to do this more often. I mean, this is what life is about. I crave for more time so I can spend it right. Today, in my opinion, is as right as it can be.
I no longer question why my life is this way or that way. My life is great right now. Everything happens for a reason and I’m happy with the reasons.
And now, I must sleep. Last week I walked for 9km. Tomorrow morning I’m going to try for 12km. Good night.
18 October 2017 | Wednesday | 10:45am
Love this song
22 September 2017 | Friday | 1:40pm
I don’t usually like deviations from original songs, but I’m completely in love with this version of Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.
That’s all I want to say. And it’s a public holiday in Malaysia today! Not that it matters to me since I’m still writing, haha!
Unwanted too freaking early in the morning adventure
20 September 2017 | Wednesday | 7:15am
Left my house at 5:30am today and as luck would have it, my house keys fell into the drain. The people who first built the neighbourhood for some reason thought it was a good idea to place drain grates in front of every porch with enough space to trap a child’s foot.
Even with street lamps, it was too dark to see so I had to use my phone’s torch light while dragging the heavy, rather slimy drain grate open with one hand.
I couldn’t go into the house to get tools since I had already locked myself out so I found myself going through my neighbour’s heap of garden waste in search of a long sturdy branch to hook my keys with.
Once I found a good one, I proceeded to poke and prod at my keys which kept sliding back down against the slippery, muddy, mossy walls of the drain. I thought I saw a little frog stare up at me from the bottom. I thought it was rather cute.
Everything had to be done with one hand of course because I had to shine the light on the right spot and my phone was too bulky for me to hold it with my mouth. After about 5 minutes, I started looking for someone to help me hold the phone torch light while I fish my keys out (or better yet, jump into the drain for me) but there was no one to be seen at 5:30am for me to pull a damsel in distress routine.
I had no qualms getting into the drain myself but of all days, I picked today to wear a nice skirt and I had also washed my hair. I contemplated removing my clothes but that felt like a disgusting recipe for disaster. Nope, this clean, floral smelling body washed with Innisfree green tea facial wash, Enchanteur liquid body wash and hair covered in L’Oréal hair serum was NOT getting into the drain. Not today. Anyways the mosquitoes were having enough of a field day as it was. I was already bitten in six different places even with my clothes on. Opportunistic bastards.
After switching tree branches a number of times, the first branch turned out to be the one that saved me. I managed to hook the key far in along the branch enough to finally lift it out of the drain. I felt like freaking NikGyver okay.
Moral of the story? I now totally have a legit reason to buy myself the Klarus XT11S Tactical Flashlight with aircraft grade aluminium body and projected beam of up to 330 meters.
The Edge of Seventeen – Thoughts
19 September 2017 | Tuesday | 11:38pm
What exactly do I talk about with my friends all the time?
17 September 2017 | Sunday | 7:00pm
I am right now with Zan at the our usual cafe with our laptops. This morning went well. We went to the cat cafe as planned and hopefully I got enough footage and B-roll to make a short pleasant video about the cats.
Before coming here we had an early dinner at the usual mamak place and I saw a lot of cats just lounging about. Suddenly I felt a pang of guilt paying RM10 to play with cats when there are so many stray ones out here that can definitely use some extra food and love.
But then again, I wonder if the cats in the cat cafe are rescue cats. If they are, then it would be worth the money to keep the cats off the street and in a clean, safe environment.
Anyways the reason why I’m writing this right now is to loosely track what I talk about with my close friends. I always enjoy going out with my group of friends but when people ask me the kind of conversations I always have with with them… I don’t always have a ready answer. I know we don’t gossip and TV shows don’t really dominate our conversations and yet we just spent about 30 minutes in the car talking nonstop right up until the moment we sat down at this table.
So here it is, while the memory is still fresh.
We talked about backup options for our pictures, videos and music on the phone and how best to recover it should something shitty happens (like my microSD card dying on me a few days ago). Then we talked about backing up our external drives and if it’s better to keep it running all the time rather than repeatedly plugging and unplugging it. My brother said they might break down quicker if we keep starting and stopping the rotating motions in the hard drive. He suggested hooking it up to the router so it is always running and always accessible.
Zan also told me how he accidentally made Google Drive and Dropbox as a sort of backup for the stuff on his phone. I was initially interested but I don’t really like not knowing what’s being copied and what’s being deleted. I guess I could always read more about it but right now it just feels like too much work. Might come in handy to use Dropbox for now though. I lost about a hundred or so images and videos when my SD card acted up.
Then we talked about how Apple makes backing up really easy but at a cost both of us are not willing to pay – the freedom to categorise things the way we want to – among other things. iTunes is a classic example of an annoying control freak of a software.
In the end I think I will always prefer putting in the extra work in order to avoid using Apple. While Apple makes a lot of things easy and you don’t have to think too much when doing stuff like reformatting your computer, they sort of curtail your freedom when you want to do something extra. I don’t think the system is sophisticated enough for me to concede control just yet. Probably not in my lifetime.
We also talked about how Samsung Note 8 costs a grand in USD, just like iPhone X and what I would consider buying should I decide to upgrade my phone.
My Note 3 has sentimental value in it. My second brother sponsored RM 1,000 when I bought it so there’s a piece of him in there. The GPS has gone all wonky, the phone has suffered from one too many falls and there are scratches everywhere. I don’t really mind the cosmetic damage so much and for now, it still does what I need it to do. Video editing, taking pictures and videos, social media, voice recording for quick interviews, internet browsers, some quick sketches, calendar, memos and notes, music, chromecast. It’s a solid phone, I have a battery pack and I bought two extra batteries for it plus extra cables. So it kinda feels not worth it to change my phone to something else.
If I do change it because it suddenly decided to die, in the near term I might buy a second hand Note 3. In the future, I might buy Note 8 when it’s cheap, like when Note 12 or something is out. Note 4 is not that much better than Note 3 and I think they don’t have a slot for memory card and they don’t let you change the battery (easily). Or was it Note 5? Note 7 was an exploding failure and Note 8 is the first attractive deal I’ve seen since Note 3, but the price is simply retarded.
Unfortunately when it comes to phones with stylus, the Galaxy Note line is still the best one for me. I wish new competitors would come in soon. The pricing is absolutely ridiculous and there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be a part of this craziness. It just doesn’t make sense.
Huh. Looks like we spent a considerable amount of time discussing computer stuff. Let’s see what else I write in the future.
For now, I’m gonna work on the article that should be coming out next Wednesday… which… shit, it’s in my other computer. Dammit. Great job Lisa.
Things that follow
17 September 2017 | Sunday | 2:54am
I was about to turn in for the night when I decided to post a quick update about my day today.
My latest post about Seri Talam is well-received by them. It is a positive review after all and it came from a genuine place. I think I should start placing a statement at the beginning of my reviews to make clear that my posts are completely independent of sponsorship or payments. I still have no idea how I’m gonna make money but I do know that I want to have credibility when recommending something.
Anyway, I got to talking to someone from Seri Talam when I enquired about their cat gallery – my friends and I are planning on visiting it come Sunday morning (which is a few hours from now God I’m gonna be so sleepy later) so I can write about it as well.
The person responding to my FB message confirmed the opening hours and then proceeded to thank me for my post. I’m always happy to receive feedback about my writing especially positive ones but what made me happier is the realisation that I can actually make new friends and contacts through my writing. It’s the first concrete gain I see coming from what I post on my website.
I’m not too sure how to put my feelings about this into words. I feel like it’s a big deal. It’s the reason I have to write this right now so I don’t forget in the future. So that when someone asks me how I do this or that, I will have these posts to fall back on and not just some sketchy memory.
Before I quit my job, I had a thousand and one questions about how things should proceed if I were to run my own website, how to get contacts, how to get work, how to be recognised, how to find people, how to know what to do next, how everything. And even though my conversation with the nice person managing Seri Talam’s Facebook page was a casual one about nothing in particular, it struck me that this is how it’s done.
When I say ‘this’, I mean things that happen following my commitment to focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it properly.
I don’t think anybody starting out really knows exactly how things are going to pan out. But I think this is the part where faith comes in. Faith comes in the form of choosing to stick to something you genuinely give a shit about and believing that one way or another, some path only you can see will open up ahead of you.
Writing a review about Mok Teh or Seri Talam was not really a calculated move on my part. I wrote it because I genuinely wanted people to know about them and because it felt like the right thing to do. In fact, food logs are not even a huge part of my website. It’s just something I do for fun.
But because of it, I am now acquainted with someone new and we had a nice chat over FB Messenger about something rather exciting. Do I know what will happen in the future? I don’t. But I get it now. I understand that whenever I have one of those days when I feel like my website is a sham, I just have to focus on producing another article I care about, whatever it may be, because one of them will lead me to new paths that would otherwise not be available to me had I not written anything at all. Does that make sense?
Doing opens up new pathways. It’s always tempting to bite our lips and worry about a dark future but in the present, the only thing we can do is to do something. If we spend our time worrying and doing nothing, the future will remain a dark place.
Before I started doing all this and still working in CIMB, I remember reading so many articles about freelancers and startup founders and the journey they took to get from the beginning until the present. They would talk about meeting certain contacts and going to certain events and capitalising on certain opportunities. It’s always one thing leading to another and poof, here we are, successful and famous.
These things used to boggle my mind to no end. I would wonder and wonder and wonder how exactly did they make those contacts? Did they know them all along or did they just waltz into an event in the neighbourhood and decided to network the shit out of the event? How did they see opportunities coming? How did they know it would lead to something? What was their thought process? How did they know what steps to take? How did they get interviewed and covered in magazines and newspapers? Just how?
At the end of these articles, I would always feel like there’s something I wasn’t getting. I absolutely didn’t understand how the whole thing was supposed to work. I felt afraid, like I was left out of a secret that every aspiring freelancer and startup founder and business person should know.
Turns out, the secret I didn’t know was this – no one really knows anything. A person coming from a business oriented family might have some advantage if she wants to start her own business. But other than that, everyone’s really just focusing on what they know and what they can do best and then they go from there. Opportunities and chances and new paths are not clearly defined like our school syllabus. They are always unique to what the individual person is looking for.
Just like how my writing will lead me to new things, new people and new chances. I understand it now. I just have to keep writing better and better things. Not because I’m being calculative about traffic or bounce rate or whatever Google analytics shows me. But because writing is what I’ve chosen to do seriously and because I have a personal obligation to myself to improve my craft to the best of my abilities.
Phew. Glad I got that one out. Hopefully this will make sense when I come back to it in a few months or years. If someone ever asks me, “How did you get from this to that?”
I started this ‘Musings’ page partly to chart the paths I take. All these thoughts and realisations and lessons all just disappear into thin air if I don’t record them somewhere. I’m hoping Musings would be a somewhat reliable record of the mini milestones in this journey I’ve decided to take a chance on. In the future, I can clearly see that it wasn’t as simple as ‘this therefore that’. I want my future self to remember that were a lot of confusion, roadblocks, pondering, indecision and mistakes. When my time comes to help other people on their journey, I can give them a more realistic account of how life on this side is really like. They can even read all of this for themselves if they feel like it.
Anyways, on to other less serious stuff.
I didn’t do much website-related work today, but I think it’s acceptable since it’s Saturday and I’m trying to find some balance between work and personal things. Spent the morning making french toast and taking my time eating it. It was glorious. Then I decided to read a book and not feel guilty about it.
I picked up a book I bought about three years ago about analysis but my brains had a hard time processing it, so I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while – read fiction (!).
It worked! It brought back a lot of enjoyment into reading and I felt absolutely no guilt, so half the morning went by that way. Spent the rest of my afternoon and evening with my family and came back feeling quite exhausted, but not so sleepy.
Before going to bed, I was browsing social media and came across Kina Grannis’ cover of Yellow by Coldplay. It was beautiful. So beautiful she made me pick up my dusty guitar to sing my own version of Yellow. Then I went browsing on YouTube and came across All You’ve Got To Do is Fall in Love in the movie House at the End of the Street. It’s a horror movie which I will never watch, but Jennifer Lawrence was in it and there was this scene of her singing this song (actual singer is Sarah Rayne) and I just… I literally fell in love with the song at first hearing (is that correct?).
Yellow all but forgotten, I did a short cover for the song. I don’t fancy myself a singer but I just love the song so much I just had to. And I just wanted a version of the song without having to go through the scary trailer. For some crazy reason I couldn’t find the OST for that movie. All I want is the Sarah Rayne version of that song. Is that too much to ask? 🙁
Anyways, here’s the video of me singing with my guitar, very much out of practice. Much love, no hate!
Wow it’s 3:58am now. I took one hour writing this. I don’t regret putting my thoughts down but I will be a zombie tomorrow. Good night for real now.
Spending more time on my website
15 September 2017 | Monday | 8:30pm
Just finished writing a food post. Published it. Feel good about it.
It made me think about myself a mere few months ago. Feeling confused if I should focus on food or travel or money or God knows what else. I still haven’t completely figured everything out yet, and I doubt I ever will figure ‘everything’ out. It’s a feeling I’m getting more and more comfortable with each day I do this.
What I do know, is that with every post I publish, my footing in this world of blogging feels more firm. What I create yesterday, today and every day forward will be right here for people in the future to read, even after I’m dead. It’s a comforting thought, that all the effort I put into reading, thinking, editing and writing will somehow help people in the future, even when I’m not actively doing anything. It’s an investment of the best kind, I think. Investment in knowledge creation.
Maybe not all my posts are good. Maybe most of them are crap.
But if I just write one good post out of a hundred thousand, I think it would be worth it. I mean for all the good writers and bloggers I respect out there, I probably remember only one or two posts from each author which I keep coming back to. If I can be that author for someone else out there, what a wonderful thing that would be.
This is what I’m learning now. That it’s okay not to have so many views immediately after publishing or at all. It’s okay not to have the likes, or the shares or the comments. It’s okay if there’s nothing at all. The point is I’m making effort and taking the shot.
I am in a spot where things don’t really make sense. But compared to a few months ago, right now definitely makes much more sense. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.
The best thing is, I’m actually updating this page! I feel like I’m 15 again, updating my blog every single day for my small group of friends to read. Back then, my blog was filled with embarrassing teenage angst, but at least I was writing every day, sometime twice or thrice a day.
I’m glad the magic of spontaneous writing is no longer lost to me.
I don’t actually need to buy anything new right now
11 September 2017 | Monday | 11:30pm
My brother has a way of knowing when the popular online retail websites come up with discount coupons and he’d always share them with the family.
So there I was with a 30% discount coupon and I could buy anything I needed.
“Need” being the operative word.
I literally couldn’t find anything worth spending money on. There was this one thing I originally thought would be useful – a compact shotgun mic for mobile phones called Ampridge MightyMic S. There are some good reviews about it on the web and the price is not too forbidding. I was all but ready to buy it until I saw a comment saying that if the mic jack sits too close to the camera, you will see the mic sticking out in your footage. Useful comment, that. I ended up not buying it and to be honest, when I saw a comparison video on YouTube, it wasn’t that much better.
But anyway, I still had these 30% discount coupons, so I spent a good few hours browsing for things that I needed. I don’t exactly have a wish list so I had to think really hard about it.
Unfortunately, they are all really expensive. GoPro Hero 5 for some of my more adventurous trips. 1TB SSD drive because it’s better than a 250GB one. A studio lighting kit with reflective umbrellas. A proper shotgun mic to mount on top of a DSLR and a deadcat to go with it. A freaking Cintiq would be nice. Or a Surface.
But for every single item I thought I needed, I would come up with reasons why I wouldn’t need it. Like GoPro for example. It’s definitely nice to have a waterproof camera that doesn’t make the viewers want to vomit on a bumpy ride. But I don’t travel that much yet, so it doesn’t really make sense to buy it now. My videos are pretty tame and… static, so my Note 3 can do that just fine. If I need a better quality video, my dad’s DSLR has video function.
A studio lighting kit would be very nice indeed, but I have space issues and my main work involves writing, not so much videos… yet, I hope. I thought if I bought a studio kit, I’d take it more seriously but then again, I should only upgrade once I am actually more serious. Anyway, there are so many DIY videos out there that can teach me how to make my own light diffuser, so there’s really no point buying a studio lighting kit. All I need is something that works well enough to light my face evenly on days when the morning sun is a bit gloomy.
The SSD drive, Cintiq and Surface are all wants, not needs, so I’m not even gonna bother.
Anyways, I wasn’t going to spend a couple of grands without at least a few months of due diligence, so I turned to cheaper stuff like food, makeup and clothes.
But I don’t wear makeup anymore and I am actually trying to get rid of clothes, so it didn’t make sense to buy more. I saw a lot of nice stuff, I just didn’t feel the urge to buy them. I’m also trying to eat less processed food, so what could I possibly buy online?
I took a while, but I had to admit that there was really nothing I needed. So I didn’t buy anything. I feel pretty great about that.
Nothing like unstable income to really make one see the harsh difference between wants versus needs. I’m glad I can see the difference much, much better now. Whatever I own now is enough. More than enough in fact. All I need is a little bit more ingenuity. Thank goodness we live in the age of internet.
There must be a better way to go about this
10 September 2017 | Sunday | 3:34pm
As I left home to work in my favourite cafe on yet another Sunday, it made me think of how much time I’m spending writing my articles.
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and it’s something I don’t mind doing every day. But while I’m happy that I am consistently publishing one article every Wednesday, they are taking too much to time to write. The usual pattern is I’d spend almost the whole week rearranging points in my head and reading other stuff to get more ideas for my article. Come Tuesday night, the deadline will spur me to finish it, but it usually ends up sounding quite rushed.
I would always end up thinking, “I could have done so much better for that article.”
I wonder what I’m doing wrong. I’m trying to build enough buffer to last me a whole year, but at the rate I’m going, I don’t think that’s going to happen. And without buffer, I cannot work on other things I have planned for my website.
Perhaps I should limit reflective articles to once a month and fill the rest of it with more factual things. Like ‘How to do this’ or ‘Things you should know about that’. Those usually take only one day to complete once I know all the points.
Another worry I have is I usually feel differently about the things I’ve written if I wait too long before publishing it. The risk is lower if I publish ‘reflective’ articles soon after writing it. Creating a buffer for articles like these might end up with me not publishing any of them.
There has to be a better way to do this.
Sleep debt must be paid
5 September 2017 | Tuesday | 10:50am
My brains automatically woke itself up at five this morning. I think I must have been anxious to work on my articles. It’s been a long weekend for Malaysia – a five-day-weekend to be precise – enabled by a string of public holidays for Independence Day, Eid al-Adha and SEA Games. I enjoyed myself for two days and spent three days obsessing over my September articles.
But the idea wouldn’t come, no matter how hard I tried. My notebook is filled with nonsensical scribbling. As I stared bleary-eyed into the darkness, I automatically reached for my phone and started reading random blogs to spark inspiration. After one hour, I gave up and instinctively decided to go back to sleep.
Turned out to be the best decision for me! I slept for three extra hours and from the moment I opened my eyes, the right term just popped into my head. Self-preservation.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be my theme for September. It might take other form or other words, but I know how to go about it now. What a relief! Turns out all my body needed was some rest. I’d been pushing myself on the treadmill for days and the constant reading and thinking and staying up late didn’t help me much.
And I felt so energised I decided to make french toast for breakfast!
The next time you get a blogger’s block, get some sleep. Chances are you already know what to write about. It’s just that your brains might need some time and space to clear up the clutter.