Lost Heart

I realise I owe this blog an update. Many updates, in fact. I’m at home now, have been for almost two weeks, probably more. I was going to write a post about my Spain and Portugal trip, and then consecutively my trip to Ho Chi Minh with my parents that I just got back from last Saturday, but right here right now I am just going to plain outright admit that I don’t know when that will happen, or if I will end up even writing them at all. This sounds dramatic. I probably will eventually for posterity’s sake (lmao) but as of now I can’t find the heart to do any of that. Neither can I find Heart, my dog, for the past few days. He’s been missing speculatively since Wednesday and I implore everyone to keep an eye out for him, especially my friends and family in Alor Setar, because it breaks my heart everytime I come back home expecting to see Heart running around excitedly to greet us and be welcomed by an empty house instead. It breaks my heart everytime I instinctively and habitually start to call out “Heart” only to stop myself in time because the little fella won’t emerge from his favourite spot under the settee, little bell round his collar to announce his approach. It breaks my heart to hear my mum say that she thought the silhouette of a pair of slippers in place of where Heart usually waits for her behind the kitchen door was actually him, and it also breaks my heart when my dad went outside at 4AM when there was a thunderstorm to check if he was back and hiding under the car because he’s afraid of thunder. He’s been with us for six years that his absence feels like a glaring phantom limb for such a tiny canine. I can’t bear to think of how scared he must be, and I hope he is at least okay, wherever he is. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss you, little buddy.

They say home is where the heart is, so please bring Heart home. Please.

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I’m Going Home Tomorrow

Just spent the whole day packing things into storage and then things into luggage and all the busyness coupled with the immediacy of just coming back from Spain and Portugal has left me with little to no capacity or time to truly think and lament about the fact that it’s my last night here in Manchester before the summer. I’m going home to Malaysia tomorrow. It’s finally happening.

Despite all my complaints, there is no denying that I’m going to miss my tiny blue room in Weston. It’s…tiny, but it’s been somewhere I can call a shelter, a home, for the past nine months. I’ve stripped my walls bare of posters and photos and postcards, things I treasure and have put on display to make this room, a room that has changed owners annually for years, mine, and it feel so weird and out of place to see this room empty again, just like how it was when I first moved in. Every little sound I make generates echoes now. What was previously a crowded city where you couldn’t walk down a street without bumping into at least one person that you know feels incredibly barren right now, with the few exceptions of me and my friends who are also flying off tomorrow. It’s all happening. Everything feels so overwhelming, now that my first year is actually already over and I’m going home, after nine months. I’m not without emotion, but I feel like I’m feeling too little for an event of a scale this grand. Objectively I’m making a mountain out of a molehill I know, but that’s always the case and I feel unnerved when I’m not “feeling enough” anyway.

Well. See you in a bit, Manchester, and see you soon, Malaysia.

chasing a bridge

it was already 8pm when we left oceanario and we didn’t really have any idea how to get to the 25th of april bridge. each of our google maps was suggesting different transportations and routes, so in the end we decided to take the full package combination of train, metro, bus and walking.

it turned out our travel pass was not valid for train journeys so we took the metro from oriente, and then spontaneously decided to stop at saldanha and take the 727 bus to the bridge. of course, the bus went right past us as soon as we emerged from the metro station. we spent 16 minutes waiting for the next bus while playing spyfall, and then spent another 30 minutes on the bus continuing the game while simultaneously trying to figure out where we had to get off.

in the spirit of things going wrong, the bus dropped us at the wrong location and we had to walk 10 minutes to the bridge, but we got there in the end. it was beautiful. the full moon was directly above it and lights lit up the bridge connecting two cities within lisbon. the weather had cooled considerably compared to the afternoon’s harrowing heat and we could see the cloudless sky full of stars. all day we’d been talking about the bridge and despite everything, we made it. it was 10.30pm, and there was no one around, but we made it.

we sat by the riverbank in silence as music from yee lin’s phone played as a background theme song. i was just indulging in being able to appreciate the incredibly scenic view before me in the presence of my friends, friends whom i have travelled around spain and portugal with for the past 10 days, have encountered many problems and challenges with but have also found joy and gratification with. and i’m not even gonna lie, it’s been a gruelling and exhausting week, but right at that moment, realising the impending future of our departure, i felt nostalgic for what was merely a trip that lasted for 11 days. not even weeks nor months nor years, but considering all that had happened, it most certainly felt like that.

i allowed myself to stare up at the sky with marvelling eyes, allowed the slight breathlessness that comes with realising how big and beautiful the world is and how fortunate i was to be able to take in with my own two eyes the shining dots above me, the reflection of the moon in the water, the chilly salty breeze blowing against my skin, and of course, the good company of my friends.

only a few more nights left in this bed

it feels largely unnerving and overwhelming. i don’t like changes to a comfortable routine and never will, no matter how much i say i want to leave. because it always feels like i’m losing something important. what was once a life i led can now only be referred to in the past tense. 

twenny one 

Photo on 6-9-16 at 6.49 PM

Every year since 2014 (which is not much of a track record since that’s only two years ago), I tell myself to upload a webcam selfie on my birthday as a blog tradition, because that is as real time a photo as one can get. And also because it gives me a reason to take and upload a selfie nbd

This year is my first year (too many firsts) celebrating my birthday in a different country. Despite that, just like every year, I spend it in the presence and company of a family.

Thank you so much to everyone who celebrated my birthday with me, who went through all the effort to make me feel happy and special today. Thank you for all the wishes from everyone despite the time differences and being in different countries (and even from people I’d only met for the first time through Skype). Thank you for spending your time and energy on me, and for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I am honestly so overwhelmed with the love and affection everyone has given me.

Thank you.

Gradual Gradient

Dear readers,

It’s been a while. And I say that because the past posts arguably since I got here have been more inclined towards reporting what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been than anything else and it just feels really weirdly detached. They feel more like necessary obligations — which, I’m not griping about because it’s not like I’m writing them involuntarily, but rather that they feel quite one-dimensional. This is very ironic; before coming here, I told myself to write less about emotions/feelings because it was all I could write about during A Levels and then after that but now that I don’t have the time to do so (lol) it feels odd and out of character. This blog has seen and recorded so many thoughts and emotions over the years, allowing me to look back at them and recall the thought processes I’d initiated and the emotional spectrums I’d ridden on. And I want to be able to do the same during my university years.

I mentioned this in my Blackpool post — that my first year of university has finally come to an end. Wow. I honestly don’t know what to say other than that. I can’t say it flew by really quickly, because at times it felt like everything was moving by laggardly, but at the same time I am also in disbelief that I’m one-third through university. I survived these nine months in a university in Manchester. If I properly sit myself down to think about this more clearly, it would just feel incredibly surreal. Like without a doubt, when I go back to Malaysia, the past year would feel like nothing but a dream to me.

But it isn’t, and the proof lies in the fact that so many things have changed. My hair has grown so that it looks more like a pudding head than the blonde bob I had on my first day in UK. I also apparently like K-pop now. I can now give an analysed answer if a friend asks me, “If someone kicks me and I kick them back, does that count as self-defence and will I be excused” that is if they’re willing to stick around to hear the entire tedious process of it. I also like to think I’m somewhat better at cooking, which is frankly not saying a lot because being better at cooking when I previously couldn’t cook at all just means that at least the food is edible now. I’ve also grown to be less afraid in various aspects — going places alone and doing things by myself is one of the more pronounced ones, but I’ve also discovered that learning to (for lack of a less clichéd word) open up and not closing myself off from the rest of the world out of fear and reluctance takes a certain kind of courage too. When I first came here, I was wary about every single thing, afraid of doing anything that would end up wounding my sensitive feelings, my frail self-esteem, and a foolproof method of preventing that is to just clamp down on the existence of connections that would enable an open path for direct or indirect assaults. And I can’t say I didn’t succeed, during the first few months, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that it was a scheme designated for a backfire. Osho said, “No relationship can truly grow if you go on holding back. If you remain clever and go on safeguarding and protecting yourself, only personalities meet, and the essential centers remain alone. Then only your mask is related, not you.” For a while, this resonated with me so much because even if I was doing what I thought to be the right thing, I was goddamn miserable because of that, and that was a cost too heavy to bear for the next months or even years. And that is why I am grateful that I have met people here who have allowed me room and space to grow, who, during my endeavours to take one step forward and several steps back, at least gave me the chances for my forward steps. It’s not a slope with a steep gradient, this learning process, but it’s a process, and I’m slowly learning the ropes of what it means to be a good person, a good friend to others, not just the friends I’ve made here but also the friends I already have and want to keep for a very long time.

In one of my previous posts in October, I said I hoped there would come a time when I am able to call this place home. I’m on my way there.

A Night Full of Dreams

The Coldplay hype had been going strong since last year when we bought our tickets to watch them perform live on the 4th of June at Etihad Stadium and now, it was finally upon us. Eight months later, we were finally watching Coldplay live for the first (and most probably last) time on their A Head Full of Dreams tour.

On Saturday, Rumin, Brian and I took an Uber to Etihad Stadium at around 5:30PM (we had reserved seating tickets so we didn’t have to queue), joined by Jovaynne who I later on found out was also going to the show, albeit seated at a different section. Etihad was already full of people and incredibly traffic jammed by the time we reached the stadium. We still had time before the first opening act started at 7PM so we attempted to find Yee Lin, Jia Yang and CC who were volunteering at the food stalls that night but unbeknownst to us, they were actually at a different entrance (out of approximately 40 entrances) from ours.

Our seats were literally second highest from the top on the topmost section, which also translates to 1) climbing an incredibly long flight of stairs that gave me mild vertigo and 2) the singers and band on stage appearing tinily ant-sized to us. But despite that, it was Coldplay, and the mere sight of the massive crowd and stage was enough to make me feel super excited in anticipation of what the night would entail. Ash and Ee Min were in the unreserved standing section and even managed to spot us (equally ant-sized) at our elevated position.

The first two hours were occupied with Alessia Cara and Lianne La Havas’ performances as opening acts. I’d heard of them before but not really their songs but they delivered, even though most of the crowd was just itching for Coldplay’s set to start already.

These Xylobands literally single-handedly brought Coldplay’s performance value many notches above everyone else’s. Your faves could never

And then at 9PM, the background music died down and peals of excited screaming echoed throughout the whole stadium, mine included. It was actually beginning, one of the (if not the) best concerts I’d been to, even if I didn’t know it yet.

Bright rainbow-coloured laser lights lit up the stage while a rotating kaleidoscopic sphere appeared on the LED screen behind the band as Chris Martin started to run down the extended stage pathway, commencing the night’s show with A Head Full of Dreams.

The Xylobands were all centrally synchronised and lit up in different colours according to different songs, and at different frequencies and rhythms

The rainbow smoke was soooooo cooooool

When they played Yellow, the stadium lit up in a sea of, you guessed it, yellow

During Adventure of A Lifetime, the Xylobands lit up in the pattern of a heartbeat at the lyrics “I feel my heart beating” and it really just sends shivers down your spine

This was during Fix You, particularly at the part where the lyrics went “lights will guide you home”. Can you imagine being surrounded by this and witnessing it with your own two eyes. It felt as breath-taking as it looked

The small stage at the very back of the standing section where they performed song requests and acoustic songs

A Religious Experience™

It was amazing. Beyond amazing. The visual effects were absolutely stunning and the best I’ve ever seen, as expected and more of a Coldplay concert. The atmosphere was brilliant, everyone singing at the top of their lungs regardless of tone and pitch, letting loose any and all wild contagious dance moves. The songs and Chris’ showmanship made it impossible for us to stay in our seats. At one point during Adventure of A Lifetime, he got everyone to quiet down during the bridge and once the chorus hit, everyone leapt up and so did I, not caring that I was at a very high place and that I probably looked incredibly silly. That feeling you get at gigs when everyone around you is as indulged in the music and the ambience as you are was amplified so much more at a stadium of capacity 60,000. It was phenomenal.

Two hours later, at 11PM, they ended the night with Up & Up before the credits (literally) started rolling and the stadium lights came on and we had to reluctantly leave, the magic of the night having come to a halt but still lingering upon us, evinced in our blushed cheeks, hoarse throats, sore limbs and most importantly, wide grins.

As far as concerts go (and I don’t proclaim to be a gig veteran but I’ve been to a fair few so I’m basing any personal opinions on my scarce experiences), I can, without a doubt or hesitation, conclude that Coldplay’s 2016 A Head Full of Dreams show at Etihad Stadium, Manchester was hands down the most astounding and spectacular concert I’d been to. And honestly, I don’t see how anyone could disagree with me.

Michelle’s People I’ve Watched Live List, updated: