[Letter] To the future me

Hey, remember when we coloured our hair purple? Was a fun experience!
Hey, remember when we coloured our hair purple? That was a fun experience!

Last November was a very eventful month for me. To say that it was overwhelming is an understatement. Things happened. Hearts were opened. Laziness was indulged. Panic was had. Triumph was snatched.

And we’re not talking just about Nanowrimo.

The heart of November, to me, has always been about the writing. It’s always one of the things I look forward to the most when the end of the year approaches. Nanowrimo always marks the beginning of the last two months for me. More than any other month in a year, Nanowrimo reminds me that madness is around the corner for the next 120 days and I need to be prepared. The rest of the year, in comparison, is spent, in a way, hibernating.

But this year has been very different. So very different.

For the last few years, I was content to simply write. I rarely had the opportunity nor inclination to submit my stories anywhere. I was simply coasting along.

Last year, however, just before Nano, I had an incredible change. It left me bent, maybe a little cracked, but it was necessary. Like the bamboo, I needed to have the heavy rain and strong winds to wash me anew and see how far I could bend without breaking.

As it turns out, I could bend quite a fair bit.

This year, things were slightly better. Or I should say, much better. The clouds that remained after the storm gave me the time I needed to absorb the lessons from that thunderstorm. It hurt, of course, but it also crystallised for me, somewhat, things that I wanted to do.

I did kind of lose my way for a while. That gloominess meant that I couldn’t see the sun for a bit, that I was indulging in mere fantasies and continuing to drift without a concrete plan. The raindrops were still on me, and I lost myself in the illusion that drifting and coasting along, was all I could do in this life.

If anything were to happen to me, I wasn’t the one to do it. For once, I wanted things to happen to me, instead of always having to be the one to chase the rainbow.

As it turns out, allowing myself to stand still and hesitate was probably one of the best decisions in my life. A strong wind, from multiple directions, came and swept me off my feet. Some days, it’s not blowing in the direction I want. Other days, it’s such a strong wind that all I can do is stand, hold my ground, and open my arms wide to feel it running through my hair, carressing my face, and making me feel joyously alive.

I haven’t allowed myself the pleasure of merely being in a long time. To exult in my senses, delight in my mind, and please my imagination.

I was sorely lacking this for the longest time, and I didn’t know it.

So what happened in November?

Well, for one, I won Nanowrimo by the skin of my teeth. For another, I met an interesting group of friends, one of whom opened my mind up to new possibilities. Also had a timely and much-needed reminder to take care of myself and those I love. I travelled, and for once, did not feel as though I should be guilty for travelling. And food. Ah, glorious food!

It’s been almost a week since December started, and I’m still excited. There’s ideas I want to explore, things I want to write, articles to make and Fiverr stuff to check out. And if you are wondering, yes, I offer resume-checking services now.

Some of the leads may not pan out. Some of the plans will probably fail. But I’ve never felt this loved or this supported before.

Sometimes, the jigsaw puzzles just fit.

See you soon.

[Lyrics] SCANDAL’S 「Image」

New album out 3 December, 2014! Really enjoying their lyrics (though really, that Superhero thing…). Romanji here, English under the cut as usual. Got it from here.

Nakidashi sō na machi o se ni
TV no nyūsu de wa
atarashii seimei no tanjō o
minna ga iwai waratteru
konna kaze ni boku datte
umarekawaretara to omotteru

yarinaosu koto mo
Kuririkaesu koto mo
kantan janai kara

sukoshi nayande iru keredo
ashita wa umaku yarerutte
seimei no tanjō
kokoro no dokoka de omotteru

sutoppu deki nakara shinchō ni imēji shite asa o matsu

me o akere ba atarashii boku ga iru
ima kara nandatte egaite ikeru
hakinareta kutsu de itsumo yori keikai ni
fumidaseba nani demo tobikoerareru

imēji shita risō wa genjitsu yori muzukashii ga
itsu datte atarashii sutoppu wa kireru

naganen kie nai nayami goto
chīsana koro mi ni tsuita kuse
butsuketa kioku mo nai no ni dekita aza mo
kizukeba issho ni ikite kitanda
kyō ga subarashii to ienai tadda ichinichi tatoshite mo

mada mi nu ashita ni arāmu o setto shite
namida o gutto kotaete yume o miyou
tsuki ya hoshi wa kumo ni ooware te mo
kawara zu ni kono machi o terashitsuzukeru kara

mezashiteita mirai ga ima to chigatteite mo
daijōbu donna basho e mo mada jiyū ni ikeru

ima made no jibun o shinjite imēji shite asa o matsu
me o akereba atarashii boku ga iru
ima kara nan datte egaite ikeru
hakinareta kutsu de itsumo yori keikai ni
fumidase ba nani demo tobikoerareru
imēji shita risō ga genjitsu o nurikaete iku
itsu datte atarashii sutoppu wa kireru

~~~~

In the back of a town that seems on the verge of tears
On the news on TV
Everyone is laughing and congratulating
The birthday of a new life
And like them, even I’m
Thinking of how it’ll be like if I were to be reborn
The things I’d do over
The things I’d repeat in the same way
It’s not easy so
I’m a bit troubled but
I tell myself I’ll do well tomorrow
The birthday of a new life
I’m thinking somewhere in my heart
Since I can’t stop I’ll continue carefully, as I wait for the morning that I imagine
When I open my eyes, there’s a new me
From this moment on I can depict anything I want
The shoes I’ve had experience putting on, I put them on and
If I take more steps than I usually do I can overcome it all
The ideal I’ve imagined is even harder than reality but
New stops always break through long years of unending worries
The habits I’ve gotten used to since I was little
I have no memories of them but when I notice my birthmarks
I know we’ve come this far living together
Even if we can’t say today if a wonderful day, and just appreciate the day for what it is
We’ll set an alarm for the tomorrow we can’t see, firmly bear our tears and dream.
Even if the moon and the stars are covered by the clouds, they’ll still like always, continue to shine on the town
Even if the future we were pointing to is different now, It’s alright
Whatever place it may be, we can still freely go there
I’ll believe in the me I was until now and wait for the future I imagine
When I open my eyes, there’s a new me
From this moment on I can depict anything I want
The shoes I’ve had experience putting on, I put them on and
If I take more steps than I usually do I can overcome it all
The ideal I’ve imagined is even harder than reality but
I always through new stops.

Alive!

Writing to me, is simply thinking through my fingers
Image from http://myliteraryquest.wordpress.com/

Writer’s note: Just been swallowed wonderfully in some new beginnings. And it’s also Nanowrimo, so most of you will know that I’ve disappeared into somewhat isolation to concentrate on a new novel. See you in December!

Just wanted to drop off a quick note that yes, I’m still alive. The blog hasn’t been updated in a while, I know, and it’s a combination of being busy at work and doing other writing projects. Just dropping by to tell everyone that yes, I’m alive, and yes, I’m still writing.

With that, back to work I go!

Quickie: Short+Sweet Malaysia 2014

This is going to be a quick review because I really wanted to post this two days ago but had no time to write.

Summary of this is that if you’re new to watching theatre in Malaysia, want something different and can take a joke, come and watch Short+Sweet Theatre Malaysia, happening this week till next.

I caught the First Week (next week there will be different shows) and I highly recommend catching this week’s one before they finish their run. Among the skits to look out for:

Cari
For a Malay play I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I do know is that the cat here is cute. The twist isn’t something you see coming from a mile away, which is a very nice touch compared to most Malaysian media. I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. On another note, this sketch was in Malay, and so if it’s not your first language you may find it hard to follow.

Anda Rasa?
This was another Malay play that blew me away. The premise may be popular, but I loved how they tackled the question of sanity here. What impressed me most was the acting; I really got the sense that the prisoner knew he had been sentenced to death, but he was exhausted, somewhat, by the procedure involved. Easily one of my favourite plays.

Captain Everything
Never have I seen the power of a child’s imagination portrayed so effortlessly, so realistically, so wonderfully ever. It’s a whole hodgepodge of pop culture references and one that’s incredibly nuanced.

However, I think the ending would have been better if it had stuck to the “lost in imagination” premise instead of “knowingly making a fourth wall reference” that it went to in the end. The latter is overdone, I think, in Malaysian theatre, and I think the former would have made the message of the play much stronger. Swiych mentioned that this ending weakened the play, and I agree.

Allegra the God
Bias alert: I know the playwright for this, and I am familiar with the canon she’s creating. Part of my glee comes from watching a world come alive, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching this.

That said, if you have sharp ears, enjoy word play, and delight in sarcasm, then this one’s for you. It’s a pragmatic view of how Gods operate, has reference to bureaucracy and cage matches. Sadly, the delivery is a little marred, and I could barely hear one of the actresses during the play.

The rest of the acts are quite intriguing in their own right and fun to watch. Some, like Tough Love, employ good timing and great delivery. Others, like But If I Don’t, Know That I Love You and Sticky Situation are slice of life.

The only skit that I had a personal issue with was Partner, Pattna. While I understand it was to poke fun at the older generation, I felt it was stereotypical and quite standard. Don’t get me wrong; I thought the script, acting and execution was spot-on. It just didn’t make me feel anything more than “meh” after watching it. The other plays, even the ones I haven’t mentioned here, left me with something to think or feel after they ended. This one left me feeling empty inside, cause it didn’t feel there was any point to it.

With that said, go and catch Short and Sweet Theatre Week 1 before they end! You can find more info on the KLPac site.

Sex Education Part 1?

When it comes down to it, I think that sex education is directly tied to being comfortable with your body. I don’t mean necessarily that you feel comfortable to put it up on display or even to expose yourself. At its core, knowing how your body works is an incredible sense of empowerment.

You know the phrase, “Knowledge is power?”

Basically that’s it.

The knowledge that you know your body, that you know how it will react, what pushes it to its most efficient, how it helps you get the job done… All this is empowering when you realise just how much information you have.

~~~~~

So what does knowing your body have to do with sex education?

Well, it comes down to basic protection. The thing about sex education is that it is supposed to demystify the process of having sex and/or everything related to reproductive health. And reproductive health is more than simply sex.

What is sex education anyway?

In most definitions, sex education is more than sex. What is sex? It’s a mating activity that two (hopefully) adults partake it. Sometimes there may be more adults. Sometimes there may be only one. Sexual activity varies, but involves one human being (or more) touching themselves to achieve orgasm.

Where do they touch?

Usually the genitals, but there are other parts of the body, called the erogenous zones, which also serve to stimulate sexual desire. In females, such stimulation will lead to the lubrication of the vagina. In males, it will lead usually to the stiffening of the male penis. The desire, when accompanied by physical stimulation, is supposed to peak to the point it culminates in what is called an orgasm.

And now, here we get into a somewhat murky part of the syllabus.

Traditionally, it has been taught that orgasm is the ultimate aim of sex. What makes it murky is that a female’s orgasm is not as obvious as a male’s, and is often thought to be harder to achieve. For males, it is taught that ejaculation is proof of orgasm. Another word for this process is “climax.”

However, while it is true in many cases that orgasm accompanies the male ejaculation, it is not true in all cases. Google says that orgasm is characterised as a feeling of pleasure at sexual climax. In males, it is considered to be an accompaniment to ejaculation. However, in cases of rape and non-consent, it is possible for the body to be sexually stimulated and achieve climax without actually achieving orgasm.

Hands up if you followed me through all that. Good. You know now a little bit more about mechanics of sex than you did before. Would you be surprised to learn that the Malaysian education syllabus doesn’t include that bit of information?

And we haven’t even gotten into the topic of how sex can be pleasurable, how to protect yourself, and taking good care of your reproductive health. We teach our kids about how eating fibrous food is good for their digestion. We teach them that exercise is good for their health. We teach them the importance of keeping clean.

Yet when it comes to their genitals, we are strangely silent. The genitals is another part of the human body. It is used every day, as part of our natural bodily processes. It is as part of us as our arms are. Where is the shame in that? In learning how it works to keep our kids safe?

We tell our kids not to play with knives because they can cut themselves. We teach our kids how to play sports in accordance with the rules so they will keep their limbs intact. Yet we will not arm them with the information they need to make safe reproductive health choices. Are we not failing them as parents? As adults?

[Nanowrimo] Just a few more weeks to Nanowrimo

Squee! Several months ago, I contributed some “advice” on how to get past the hardest parts of Nanowrimo. Apparently it was included in the new No Plot, No Problem! that was released recently. Grab it now, especially if you’re a writer who has difficulty convincing yourself to start, much less to finish!

You can find it here at his site.

008: Innocence

Two little girls innocently playing with pigeons
Two little girls innocently playing with pigeons

The two of them were sitting in front of the couch, sullenly apart. Mit ate the popcorn noisily, while Tim was staring intently at the TV. There was nothing really, they could say to each other that hadn’t been said hours before.

So the two of them sat on the couch, staring at the TV but not really watching it, each counting down to the minute before they could finally go to bed. By all accounts, it was too early to sleep.

Not that either one felt like sleeping, but that semblance of normality needed to be kept.

“Are you going to shout at me or not?” Tim finally broke the silence, still not looking at Mit.

Mit continued to eat his popcorn noisily, ensuring he crunched it as loud as he could. If there was ever an image needed for sullen, he was it, with his feet on the couch, face on knees and a huge frown on his face when he was not stuffing it. He simply projected a sulky, silent air that would usually push people away.

But Tim was not like people.

“Mit,” Tim had a way of saying Mit’s name like it was the most precious thing in the world, and that he intended to savour it.

It usually sent shivers up Mit’s spine, and now was no exception. But Mit did not intend to give in, so he just raised his hand and motioned for Tim to stop talking, before continuing his crunching.

Tim sighed, and moved over the couch. He took the bowl and put it on the coffee table in front of them, before putting his arms around Mit and hugging him close. Mit did not attempt to push him away, but he still sat like a curled hedgehog on its back.

There was still a lot of anger and resentment.

“Mit, there’s nothing between us. It was over a long time ago. She wanted to ask me for advice, and that was why we met. That’s all,” Tim explained for the hundredth time. He was keeping count.

“What, so that lunch where she so easily put her hand over yours and you didn’t move it away was casual?” Mit’s voice was biting, sarcastic.

“If you had stayed a bit longer, you’d have seen me pull away and told her never to touch me again. That touch wasn’t innocent, and I won’t lie. But I didn’t encourage her to think so,” Tim hugged and nuzzled Mit. All he wanted was to be as close as he could to Mit.

“Seems like you enjoyed it,” Tim could feel Mit’s body relax a bit, but he did not push the point. He just held on to Mit.

Mit did not move either, letting Tim warm him. There would be time enough for punishment later.

~~~~~

It’s kind of hard and surprising to allow yourself to swim back into the deep end of the ocean after you’ve spent years swimming in the shallow part.

At least, that’s how this relationship feels like.

It’s rediscovering perhaps, that I’m not quite as 2-dimensional that I thought I was. That I am much, much larger than I appeared to myself. That I’m not single piece of paper with specific words and traits associated with them alone.

Basically, I reduced my life to being a single sheet of paper, and now I’m rediscovering that there is much more to myself than I had allowed myself to think possible.

It’s quite refreshing and really incredibly freeing to feel this. To realise this. And more importantly, perhaps, to allow myself this.

I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed the innocence of curiosity. The pleasure of reading for my own sake, and not because I needed to complete things. The delight in being myself, in letting myself be cute, silly, serious, intellectual, boring, and so much more.

In just being me, without worrying what other people might think about me.

I guess I lost that innocence of being. And now I am slowly finding it back, thanks to the new guy in my life. Or rather, the faith he has in me when I don’t have faith in myself.

Who said you couldn’t restore innocence?

This entry was written for the 100 Themes Challenge. For the full list, click here.

Desire vs want

I find desire to be a very powerful word. To me, it has more connotations, more strength, than just a want. A want is something you would like to have, but you can’t have right now, for whatever reason. And you’re aware of it, and you realise that it’s not necessary. It’s not something that will spur you to action. It’s just… there. And a want can be ignored. It can be tied up with necessity, but more often than not, it’s often something you’d just want to improve on.

A desire on the other hand, now this is something else entirely. There’s a certain sensuality in the way desire sounds, in the imagery it evokes. A need, perhaps, is to drink something to quench your thirst. Want is to have something cold to swallow, perhaps a cool isotonic drink. A desire, on the other hand, may be to have that drink served to you in a tall chilled wine glass rimmed in gold. With the fragrance of blueberries wafting up your nose as you sip.

And that’s just the imagery it evokes. Desire, in contrast to a want, is to me something active. When you desire something, you go out and make it happen. Or you get someone to help make it happen. It dresses up a want into something more. Makes it respectable. Take this exchange, for instance:

“I want that car in my garage,” said the Shah.

“Ah, now that, sire, is a very good choice. Perhaps… we could discuss the price privately?” the dealer replied, rubbing his hand in glee.

Compare it instead, to this.

“I desire that car,” said the Shah.

“It is yours, sire. If you would step this way, we could get the arrangements out of the way…?” the dealer could not abase himself fast enough.

A desire, I suppose if we go by the exchange above, also means that you would not be putting a price onto what you want. It’s an active component after all, not a passive one. Desire makes you go do things, because you feel you deserve it, that it’s something you should have after an ordeal. Want, on the other hand, is something you see by the wayside, as a by the by. It’s not a necessity, and perhaps never will be. Desire, on the hand, can and will be a necessity, even if it is just a dressed up want.

This entry is brought to you by an overdose of beautiful new tech gadgets I am convincing myself can wait for at least another 18 months before I even consider them, much less lust over.

Seriously, look at these beautiful phones!
Seriously, look at these beautiful Z3 Compact colours! Image from http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/

007: Heaven

Image of storks from my own collection
Image of storks from my own collection

The first thing she was aware of was the feel of the gentle breeze caressing her cheek.

It was a constant, gentle thing, a cooling wind to blow away the cares of the day. She found herself breathing easily, enjoying the breeze. Each breath she took brought new aromas, opened her senses to more information about this place.

The scent of wildflowers. Of freshly-cut grass. The cleanliness of a river.

A beautiful meadow, she thought to herself, her mind instantly casting back to when she was just five years old, and her parents had taken her and her brother on a family picnic. That one moment, when she was a child, walking in the tall grass.

“Open your eyes, Alice,” the brimstone voice of the demon broke her reverie.

Alice opened her eyes to find herself standing on a small hill, under the shade of a large yew tree. Around them, she could see people about them, frozen in a moment. Some were running after each other. A few were sitting on picnic blankets, sharing food. She even saw a couple kissing passionately, lovers entwined with each other, forgetting the world. Her cheeks turned red and she looked away.

“You may speak, child,” the demon’s voice seemed to unlock Alice’s lips, and she found the questions tumbling out.

“Where is this? What am I doing here? Why is everyone frozen?” Alice found herself hyperventilating, panic rising in her chest for no reason.

“Breathe, child. You are not in danger here. This…” he waited till Alice had taken two deep breaths and released them before he continued, “Is heaven. A place where those who are sinless and those who have done good, are taken to rest. Frozen, in a moment of time, at their happiest.”

“What… what is it that you wish me to do here then?”

“We want you to destroy Heaven,” she looked at him as though he had gone mad.

He grinned, and sat down. Alice could not help but think how absurd it was, that here, in the sunlight, in what was supposed to be one of the holiest places, a demon, complete with horns, cloven feet, and thin tail, was sitting happily on the ground. And looking up to HER as though she was going to do the impossible.

“What?” she blinked and stared at him.

“Corrupt Heaven, Alice. This is the price you will pay.”

“But how?” she took a few steps back from him and held her hands open wide, to emphasise her words.

“I leave that up to you. Let me know when it begins, hmm?” the demon leant against the Yew tree, closed his eyes, and soon began snoring.

Alice did not dare to even think of running away. She had made a bargain, and she would stick with it. The question that arose, of course, was how do you corrupt heaven?

~~~~~~~

Heaven, they say, is a place on earth.

Or that it’s something you work on. I don’t know. And to be honest, I stopped caring a long time ago.

Heaven, to me, is a state of mind. It’s a moment of bliss, a moment of happiness. A moment where everything clicks. When you feel right, and that everything around you is right. A moment that you would want to freeze. So as to remember it forever.

I don’t want to freeze time.

I know I don’t want to die. I have a lot of things to live for. I always had, I’ve just never had the courage to admit it to myself. But that’s beside the point.

I like the idea of Heaven, but I don’t like what you have to do to get there. That separation is painful. And if there is nothing in this life after death, it is also pointless.

Much better to love and appreciate the people around you instead while they are here. Heaven shouldn’t be a place you wait to meet those who’ve gone before. By the time you’ve found out, it’ll be too late.

Heaven should be a place on earth. Or rather, a person on earth.

Moments of happiness. Of life.

I don’t want to leave this plane. I don’t want to leave my friends, my family, my loves. I want to live here. To be here. Eternal happiness is nothing if the people I care about are not there.

Hell, they say, is other people. But I’m willing to be in Hell if my loved ones are in hell. Because my heaven are the people I care about.

And apparently I can care quite a bit.

This entry was written for the 100 Themes Challenge. For the full list, click here.