So much happened in the first half of 2019 that I didn’t have time to stop and reflect. I’ve just been on go-go-go non-stop till now, where I’m finally taking the time to “audit” the first half of my year and process my thoughts. All I remember is that I had a restful Christmas and then suddenly things were all up and running again. I feel like Jack and Tyler Durden. There are ticket stubs, but I don’t know where I’ve been, what I’ve done, or what I’ve bought. When I wake up, I have to find the pieces and put them all together again.
I started my January by coming home from Siem Reap, where I’d spent the New Year’s with my cousins and family. My sister stayed on in KL to celebrate my birthday, and we went to Two Sons Bistro in The Starling and had dessert at Tsujiri in Uptown. January was a heavily social month, too. I had three guests that turned up – my brother-in-law from Australia, my flatmate from Singapore and my colleagues from Singapore. That meant lots of dinners, which included Damansara Uptown’s famous Hokkien Mee, Dragon-i, Tiger Sugar, Pizza Lab and Kakigori.
There was a sad Japanese restaurant dinner, a trip alone to IKEA thereafter to buy a metallic gray shelf, and helping out at the Malaysian Writers Society’s “Emerging Malaysian Writers Anthology 2018” launch at Grizzly Cafe in Intermark Mall. In January I also completed a 500-piece Van Gogh sunflower puzzle. I hadn’t done a jigsaw in about a year, so it was very therapeutic. In January I read two books; “Tenderness: Poems” by Joyce Carol Oates and “The Cry of the Owl” by Patricia Highsmith.
On the first day of February I was already home in Penang for CNY. The day before I had taken the Aeroline up in order to avoid the balik kampung traffic. I did lots of eating, house visiting and jogging around my estate in Sungai Ara. I baked a butter cake and a cheese cake, spent time with my little sister and her husband, and had a high-school reunion at McDonald’s until 3am. During this time at home, I worked a lot, too as there were deadlines in my day and freelance jobs. Because I worked so hard, I also binged really hard on Netflix, watching The Crown re-runs. My aunt was also back from London and stayed with us. I spent 12 days at home, then came back to more heavily crazy deadlines in KL.
I enjoyed a Sunday champagne brunch at Sofitel Damansara as part of my freelance work for a luxury magazine (always thankful!) and had a busy conference week at church hosting people and doing airport pick-ups. I also joined a new Homes and said farewell to some good friends who left for Solomon Islands. Creative wise, I embarked on a 5-postcard project that helped me to express my thoughts and feelings kept since Christmas, and it was a really therapeutic art project which got chosen for an anthology. In February I read only one book and watched only one film in the cinema; “Inferno” by Dante Alighieri and a really lousy film called “The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang“ starring Jackie Chan.
The first weekend of March I went to see HONNE at KL Live, which was a really good experience even though I only liked two or three songs. I also brunched at APW’s Breakfast Thieves in Bangsar for the first time. I had an action-packed weekend, too, by going hiking at Bukit Wawasan in Puchong, followed by Setinggi Waterfalls in Serendah the day after, and then a BBQ at a penthouse in Seni Mont Kiara at night. I really wanted to get out of the house and do something. In March I watched Captain Marvel in order to review it for YMI, and then I was off to Singapore to attend and MC at a friend’s wedding. In between her two weddings in Singapore and KL, I also flew off to Manila to watch Phantom of the Opera as part of a media preview.
That week I also had a meeting with my freelance boss from Johor Bahru, and attended the launch of The Principal Girl at Gerakbudaya PJ where my short story “House of Malacca” was published. No wonder I was flattened! On a bright note, I stayed a night at the YWCA KL and really enjoyed its old-school minimalist designs. At the end of March I was off again to Penang to attend another friend’s wedding, and I spent five days back home doing new things like colouring my hair, hanging out with rude-boy cousins and getting dead drunk for the first time in a decade. In March I did better in the reading department with four books; “Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee, “The Boy in the Earth” by Fuminori Nakamura, “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller and “Sense and Sensuality” by Ravi Zacharias.
Come April things settled down a bit. The wi-fi in my apartment was cancelled, so I learnt to live on limited data. I did a job for a luxury magazine and interviewed a perfumer from Paris, whose PR company also gave me a gift set (so thankful!). We also had the very first Writers Ink meeting at church, my sister visited again after her trip to Phu Quoc and we ate at her friend’s restaurant Thai Chala in Sri Petaling which was yummy as usual. For the Good Friday long weekend, my flatmate was back and treated me to an Ippudo dinner at Sunway Pyramid.
In April I upped my reading game with five books; “Edith’s Diary” by Patricia Highsmith, “We, The Survivors” by Tash Aw, “Transformation” by Mary Shelley, “Ten” by J. John and “Chin Up” by Kenneth Chin. Creatively, I participated in Camp Nanowrimo and came out with four short stories entitled “Sampat”, “A Star Has Landed”, “Crossings” and “The World Has Eyes”; nine microfiction entitled “Predicament”, “Change”, “Afterlife”, “Today”, “Cake”, “We”, “Naked”, “Flying Lotus” and “Black Eye”; and one poem entitled “Moonlight”. April was much quieter, but it was the beginning of my eczema, which I suspect was from a heavy March.
May began with a Labour Day public holiday mid-week, so I spent that time eating a delicious brunch at Sunbather’s in Bangsar and playing Laser Tag with friends, which was so much fun! That weekend itself, I was off to Singapore for a freelance writing training. I went early and had three days of leisure, so I spent it watching Avengers: Endgame at Filmgarde Bugis+, visiting the Future World exhibition at Marina Bay Sands which I’ve wanted to see for a long time, visiting Mr Kwok at my favourite second-hand bookstore Sultana at The Peace Centre, doing street photography at night, hanging out like an expat at Crossroads Bar for 1-for-1 cocktails with a uni friend, brunching at Arab Street with another hometown friend and eating at new places like Kin Moo, Joe & Dough, Chevy’s Bar and The Meating Place.
Because of Wesak Day public holiday, I went back home again to Penang. This time, I did a night drive and spent six days of quality time with my mother, sister and grandfather. Highlights include tabatha class, dinner at Equatorial’s The View, lunch at Edoichi and delicious cakes and coffee afterwards at Coffee Bean. Because I drove, it meant that I could bring down my Olympia Traveller de Luxe too. Upon my return back home, there was a delicious dinner treat at Rakuzen on Saturday and a home-made Sunday roast post-touch rugby. In May I read two books, both non-fiction; “Parables, Prophets and Pillocks” by Cecil Rajendra and “Be A People Person” by John Maxwell.
My June began with Fairstival, a church conference held over the Hari Raya public holidays where I learnt lots about mental health and digital detox. I ate lots of sandwiches and McDonalds during conference. Later, we had three days off where I went shopping at Sunway Pyramid. I also attended a Masterclass with Malcolm Gladwell session at a friend’s house, visited Cyberjaya for the first time, tried Hisho Japanese Cuisine at DC Mall and spent one Friday night taking minutes for a Malaysian Writers Society committee meeting. I watched X Men’s Dark Phoenix, also for review, attended a friend’s baby shower at Nourish in Damansara, and went for a 5D4N missions trip to Lake Toba in Indonesia. In June I read three books, all fiction: “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan, “Elevation” by Stephen King and “Othello” by William Shakespeare.
In July, I came back from missions trip with a bad eczema flare and went for my first visit to the dermatologist. But shortly after I was back to Penang again for four days, this time to see my eldest sister and her family who were back from Australia. Back in KL, I had a rather quiet week except for a Saturday at Kinokuniya KLCC for another launch of the same book, The Principal Girl. A friend came to support and we had a late lunch and coffee at Illy Cafe, which was so yummy! I then went on a 3D2N staff retreat to Melaka and ate alot. My Singaporean boss was also in town and many nights were spent in Morganfields, Mozer’s, McDonalds and briefing on a new project called Mordecai. July was a month of many firsts. I prepared food for Homes, did Acts TV for Service @ Homes, visited Amcorp Mall to check out the vintage flea market, ate a delicious crab dinner at Green View Restaurant in SS2 and played football for the first time in my life! In July I read zero books and watched zero movies in the cinema. I also bought a new pair of Reeboks and took a lot of medical leave because of my eczema.
The lesson that I learnt is that heavy months are not for me, and that I should cut down on unnecessary travelling in order to have a set routine at home in KL. I think working 3.5 jobs is not a good idea either and I may need to cut down on one. Here’s to August and quieter months ahead.