Introducing Project More and also a Couple of Other Stuff about Books

With a new year comes many aspirations and ambitions!

I was inspired by WordPress’s blogpost on blog projects so I decided that this year, Careful Confessions will not be filled with posts only about Michelle’s emotions and feelings and weird outlooks but also posts on Project More.

What is Project More?

The “More” in Project More is a combination of the words “monthly” and “recommendations” to form the phrase “monthly recommendations” and that is exactly what it is! Each month, a post will be dedicated to book, album and movie recommendations. Simple as.

I also like to think that Project More will be able to introduce more great books
(“more     great books” and not “more great     books”, just to clarify), music and movies to more people out there. Great things deserve to be shared with everyone else. So, stop tacky vampire YA novels, horrible teenybopper music and Razzies-worthy movies!

Of course, while everyone has their own opinions, and not everyone will agree with my recommendations, I would also like to make it known that this project is not created merely for other people; it’s created for myself too. Perhaps one day I might want to go through all these posts and re-indulge in the glory of each masterpiece; or guffaw at my different outlook then. Whatever it is, it’s totally fine if you’re not happy with these recommendations because you’re not obliged to like them and thus not obliged to express your extreme disagreement. I am okay with debates and discussions but comments like, “OH MY GOD THIS IS CLEARLY THE WORST BOOK RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE GOD YOU ARE SO STUPID YOU NEED TO GET OFF THE INTERNET” will be happily ignored.

Just a little paranoid of negative feedback, is all.

If you haven’t noticed it yet, there is a little Goodreads’ 2012 Reading Challenge widget on the right sidebar and one of my 2012 resolutions is to read 50 books this year, as stated in aforementioned widget. It’s only 50 because this year is SPM year.

I would also like to announce two new pages to Careful Confessions:

  • The Next Change 2011 is the page about the YNN Camp I was talking about since a few posts ago. It is now up and running, complete with relevant photos and videos, so if you’d like to read about my 3-day job as a real videographer and that time I was almost killed by a durian, click the link above!
  • Michelle’s Booklist is exactly what it is, my booklist. It is a list of all the books I want or need to read and this booklist also corresponds to my Reading Challenge so you’ll know what books I’ve read for the challenge.

I know both the project and challenge will be sort of a hindrance because it’s SPM year and I shouldn’t be doing anything but studying for SPM…but that’s just it. I don’t want 2012 to be a year of studying only. Because contrary to what most of the teachers think, I personally don’t believe that SPM should take over an entire year of our lives. A year; there’s a lot of things you can do in year. Yes, SPM is greatly important, but I don’t want to succumb entirely to an examination. I want to be able to say that I’ve done something I like and am proud of by the end of the year (besides doing well in SPM, of course…but that’s not the point).

This is such a strange post. I’ve never blogged about this kind of thing before. Oh well, like they say, there’s always a first time for everything.

Little update on school: I have more or less gotten back some threads of motivation for the past few days. Ironically, I find being in Form 5 classes more comfortable and enjoyable than Form 4 classes. I’m even anticipating Add Math tuition later! The sheer horror of it!

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Michelle, at 6 in the morning.

“Adik, adik tingkatan berapa?”

“Um…tingkatan lima.”

The conversation above took place between a parent and I when I was assigned to usher parents who brought their Form 1 kids for registration today.

I actually hesitated for a few seconds before admitting that I was in Form 5. Which sounded absurd even to my ears at the time. Since when did I become a senior?

I’m not even exaggerating when I say it seems like just yesterday that I was the frightened little girl with short hair who was a ball of tangled nerves under the curious stares of everyone else the first day I stepped into Asma. And then I thought of my days back in 1 Kedah, 2 Asma, 3 Asma and 4 Negeri and where the heck did they go? They just flew past at the speed of light without warning. It was as if there was a huge gap between the moment I first entered secondary school and the moment right then. It couldn’t have been four years already. It just didn’t seem possible.

And throughout these four years, I’ve witnessed different batches of seniors preparing and finally sitting for SPM, and I’ve thought of the day I will be in their exact same shoes too, but the thought of it has always seemed vague and far away, almost light years away. And now it’s here and to be frank, it’s hard to think of myself as a senior. I’ve always been the one who needed taking care of, the child who needed help in almost everything she did, but now it seems that I can’t be that way anymore because I’m almost a grown-up now and I need to learn to grow up and be a lot of things I’m expected to be instead of what I am now. It still frightens me that I only have a year of being a kid left until I leave the house and my family to live alone in concrete jungles or wherever it is away from home.

I’m looking at the huge stacks of books with “SPM” labels on it which I have on my table right now, thinking that in 10 months time, all of this would be of no use, would be thrown away and never retrieved from the depths of the garbage pile again, and then that’s when my stint in Alor Setar would be over this time. It just doesn’t seem right.

Suddenly, I’m taking roads down memory lane back to the time of the internship, camp and even Christmas. Anything beats this right now.

I’m lacking the motivation and optimism I promised myself last year that I would have at the beginning of SPM year. Hopefully with just the right amount of tuitions and classes, I’ll be able to get into the right mood again.

On the bright side, at least I’m still in 5 Negeri, hey!

I would also like to thank God that I was born in 1995 and not 1996 because then I would have to study all three pure sciences and Add Math in Malay and be forced to take up Mandarin in SPM. Yes…you heard that right.

Are You Really Having A Happy New Year?

When people wish other people “Happy New Year!” do they really mean it? Are they really feeling happy when they do so? Are they really happy that a new year is here?

Because it’s pretty hypocritical that there are huge celebrations all over the world to welcome the new year. I’m pretty sure most people in the celebrating crowds aren’t even happy that a new year is arriving. It’s not even exactly a reasonable cause for celebration. Because after all the parties and celebrations, we stop rejoicing for a moment to realise that nothing’s changed. Nothing has gotten better. And yet we are celebrating it as if something good will happen every day. We wish each other happy new years but we all know it’s bullshit. What’s the point of wishing one a “happy” new year when you know it’s impossible to have a “happy” year? No matter what, shit will always happen to counter against these happy wishes. So really, what is the point?

If anything, New Year’s Eve should be spent introspecting and fixing paths for ourselves to take in the new year.

I don’t know. I’m not making sense. This frustration and crankiness is mostly due to fatigue and I’ll probably wake up tomorrow thinking that I’m being stupid now but I don’t really care. I normally wouldn’t post this kind of stuff here but Twitter is down and Facebook is the worst outlet possible to channel your emotions through so this will have to do.

You’re probably cursing my pessimism but I’m being honest when I say I don’t really have anything to look forward to in 2012. It’s just one of those moments when I’m too tired to even think. So I shall stop thinking. Yes.

A Crammed Post About Everything That Has Happened While I Was Away From this Blog and the End of A Pretty Amazing Year

This blog has not been updated for too long, but perhaps it’s because I’ve finally gotten a life. Quite a lot has happened to me while I was away from this blog. The main reason I couldn’t blog was because I was staying at my Si Pek’s house from Sunday to Thursday, and blogging on my phone was inconvenient.

Might I add that I’d been leading a life of hedonism while I was away. Hedonism in my contextual definition means enjoying every single thing I do without really worrying about the consequences, in case you’re worrying that I’ve started picking up drinking or smoking habits or whatnot. I’m pointing it out because somehow, I finally found the guts to step out of my typical guidelines to do things -things I normally would be horrified to do- without thinking too much of the consequences, which is something I’ve never been brave enough to do before. Again, nothing serious or life-damaging, but perhaps a little life-changing.

So here’s what you missed on Michelle’s Interesting Life:

I have been attending a lot of Christmas parties. A family dinner at Si Pek’s house on the 24th, a barbecue dinner at Caleb’s house on the 25th, another Christmas party at Si Pek’s house on the 26th, a Christmas festival at Taman Laguna Mas on the 29th and an MYF Christmas party last night, the 30th. This year’s Christmas has been great. Some ups and some downs but overall pretty satisfying.

Dad started giving me driving lessons around the neighbourhood, because he said he wanted to make sure I had “steady steering skills” before I worry about manual gears during the real exams. The first time was horrifying, and I couldn’t even exceed 10 km/h. I’d brake everytime a car or a motorbike appeared out of nowhere, so you can more or less imagine the hysterical screams and laughter I emitted while my dad got more and more frustrated. However, today’s my third time driving around the neighbourhood now and safe to say, I love driving. I know I’ll most likely change my mind in a few months’ time but right now, I love driving.

This is the first non-separated post about my braces, which hurts my OCD but there’s nothing I can do about it. I got black braces yesterday. Yes, black and nothing else. It symbolises my mourning of the start of a new school year.

And now we get to the sentimental part. The end of 2011. To be quite honest, 2011 was probably the best year I’ve ever had, and I know I say the same about every year when it’s coming to an end, but this time I really mean it. I’ve been to so many different places and obtained eye-opening experiences, made new friends with wonderful people as well as strengthened old friendships, and done things I’d never, in a million years, think of doing.

But of course, there were the horrible breakdowns, painful heartbreaks and confusing obstacles that lined the path of 2011. Those are places I don’t really want to venture into but just to make it clear that 2011 wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns and pure ecstasy.

Hence, safe to say, the best and worst moments of my life all took place this year. It has been a wonderful yet disastrous ride, but a lot of lessons have been learned. They’ve helped me grow into the person I am now. I think I can safely say that I’m better than the person I was early this year.

There’s another reason why I dread the arrival of 2012 besides the fact that this year has been infinitely good to me, and that is SPM. I don’t think it has fully registered in my brain yet that in less than a year’s time, I’m going to be sitting for what would probably be the most important examination in my life. I’m not prepared yet. I don’t think I’ll ever be. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it. So I shall not think about it. Yet. For today.

And then there’s also the teeny voice at the back of my head that spews apocalyptic theories which, sometimes, even makes me doubt myself, wondering if it’s true we’re all going to die next year. I know it’s highly unlikely, but you never know these things. Unlike SPM, there’s nothing I can do about it but being a natural worrier, I still worry about it.

All I know for sure is that next year is going to be one hell of a ride. Stopping for a breather even sounds absurd. So here’s to the last two days of freedom before the gates of school finally open to welcome all of us into her arms, despite our struggles and tantrums.

I would’ve written this at night when 2012 looms closer, but there is a countdown tonight and I don’t think I’ll be able to break away from it to write a blogpost so this is it.

See you guys next year!

PS. Unfortunately, I have not completed my YNN Camp page yet. Epic facepalm. Guess you all will have to wait until next year.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS!

This is what my dog, Heart, looked like when I came home. I couldn’t even recognise him.

Anyway, I’M HOME!

I reached Alor Setar at around 1 PM yesterday and to be honest, everything here seemed foreign at first glance: the lack of traffic, the slightly less developed roads, the absence of towering buildings and even my home. But after having lived here for 11 years, I managed to slip back into my normal routine quite easily and frankly, I am glad to be home.

I didn’t get the chance to blog about my return yesterday because yesterday was a day of productiveness. As soon as I got home, I started unpacking everything and then proceeded to clean my room so now it’s inhabitable. I don’t even remember what time I went to sleep last night. That’s how productive I was.

I am almost done with Christmas gift wrappings and that’s pretty much what I’m looking forward to at the moment: Christmas.

Despite the gladness and relief, yes, I still do miss my Starstruck! buddies. But I’m veering more towards “until the time we meet again” instead of lurking at “our time here is over, we might never see each other again” so yes, that’s been helpful, at least.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

PS. I didn’t forget about the YNN Camp page. It’s still under construction until I stop procrastinating enough to finish it.

Remember the Time When We Stole the Whole Day?

Ann-Marie, Wee Nie, Min Hui, Le Shea and yours truly. Copyright (c) Le Shea.

Another mushy post about an ending? Unfortunately, yes. But it’s my blog and these are my memories so it would only make sense for me to jot down every single detail before they fade away with time.

I’m headed for Alor Setar tomorrow morning and I’m in the middle of repacking. I can still remember the day before I headed for KL for the internship. I was fresh out of the finals oven, both anticipating and dreading the internship. I was reluctant to pack, to head for this totally different environment which I would have to live in for a month.

Time flies, a little too quickly for my liking. Now that I’m going home, it’s hard to leave all these new memories, experiences and friends behind to return to my old life.

I just came back from a farewell dinner at 1Utama with Ann-Marie, Ellora, Kyle, Le Shea, Wee Nie, Ju Mei and Chester. Promises were made, roads down memory lane were taken, long hugs were given, more memories were formed and fortunately, no tears were shed. They were close to making their appearances, but I willed them not to with constant reassurances that these were faces that I would see again. Maybe not soon, but perhaps soon enough. (Sorry Le Shea you didn’t make me cry, but if it’s any consolation, I almost did.)

I really cannot thank all of you enough for the wonderful time I’ve had. As Min Hui said, it’s been a long journey, but it’s also been an amazing journey. I’m in a thanksgiving mood, so to all of you (yes, you, even you who’s reading this now) thank you, just for being a part of my life. (Special shoutouts to Effie, Ellie, Mei, Hanna, Farhanah, Sarah and even Elya and Kath for the happiness you’ve given me for the past month.)

These wonderful memories are forever carved in my mind, complete with the footsteps all of you have left in my heart. You have all played important roles in my life, and all of you will never be forgotten.

Now we own the night, and it can’t be undone,
We’ll never forget how it feels to be young,
Beause it will be forever mine,
And it will be forever yours.

A Post About Stuff and…dsjadhslkjflskdjfsa

An excerpt from The Start of Something New:

Dear post-internship Michelle, as you reread this (I know you will, because you [or rather, we because we’re actually the same person obviously] are extreme narcissists), I hope you had a fantastic time at Menara Star and that you did not regret a single thing. I hope you learned a thing or two to make your life infinitely better than it is right now. I also hope you do not come back with a “big city mentality”, as I like to call it, because who knows what a city as huge as Kuala Lumpur is able to do to you? Remember your roots. (I am beginning to sound like a Disney movie now, aren’t I?) And if you didn’t enjoy your time there (though I hugely doubt so), remember that you have a knack of finding certain joys in life from the littlest things, so don’t mope over what’s over and start…preparing for your Form 5 life.

Dear pre-internship Michelle, you’re right! I did go back through all my pre-internship blogposts just to see how much I’ve changed!

I just rewatched Charlie McDonnell’s Time Travel video again and I wish I could’ve time travelled to where you are at the current moment (tenses might not be accurate where time travelling is concerned…confusing business, this is) to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. Well, not exactly nothing, but in retrospect, you really were worrying too much.

Your hopes also came true: I did have a fantastic time. Safe to say, this is the best month I’ve ever had, despite the fact that yes, I was pretty much still an awkward and homesick kid the first two weeks I was here but you know how confusing and brain-meddling the world can be when it comes to regrets and memories. The best moments are always the last few moments you have, right before realising that the wonderful time you are having is coming to an end.

Yes, I would say my life has changed for the better. I (officially) have a true family whom I love very much. I have made new friends who are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met (I realise I’ve said this before in my previous post…WHO CARES, THEIR AWESOMENESS SHOULD BE EMPHASISED ALWAYS) and been to places where I’ve never thought I would set foot on in a million years. It’s like Tweens Camp and MCYDS all over again, except perhaps accelerated in intensity because it’s a month we’re talking about here, not a three days or a week.

As for having a “big city mentality”…well, I don’t think so. I mean, I just asked my aunt for RM 20 for shopping today and she stared at me weirdly before shoving RM 100 into my hands, saying that there’s nothing you can buy in KL with 20 bucks. About human relationships though, I can’t judge yet because I haven’t met anyone from Alor Setar yet. So…yeah.

With that over and done, let me tell you a little about the turning out of my post-internship depression today.

I woke up this morning at 7.30 (it’s becoming a habit) wishing desperately that I could get up and go to work. Predictably, flashbacks started to appear in my head and it was too much for me to bear so, despite being quite awake, I pulled my covers over my head and willed myself to shut everything up and just go back to sleep and not think anymore. Somewhere in there was a crazy moment when I just wanted to roll from the bed onto the floor to stop thinking.

I even dreamt about Ellora and Min Hui in two separate dreams. In the first dream, Ellora and I went to this parade event in town (said town looked like classical London) where I got myself a stalker so I had to stay in a hotel for a night to get rid of him. In the second dream, I met Min Hui three times at the same mall and I remembered thinking to myself, this is coincidental…or IS IT?

The depression could’ve gone on longer but thank God I had plans for the day. I had a meetup with Farhanah and Sarah at 1 PM so I had to force myself out of bed by 11 AM to get ready.

Numero uno: Me and Farhanah; numero dos: Me and Sarah.

By the way, I had a fantastic time. We caught up during lunch at Food Republic and watched Arthur Christmas at GSC. But leaving was once again, reminiscent of all my post-event depressions and that was when I realised that most of my depressions revolve around the acknowledgement that I won’t be seeing these wonderful people ever again. So that’s it then, the core of my problem which I undoubtedly need to learn to face.

I would also like to clarify something in this post. Min Hui once asked me why I was so quiet on the Starstruck! 40 group wall all the time throughout the year, and I think I owe you Starstruck! guys an explanation of sorts.

At the beginning of the year, when I first found out I was selected as a Starstruck! writer, I made a decision: I was going to be the extroverted one this time around. So I started being active on all the topic threads, created a new thread to suggest names for Team B (Le Shea reminded me of this fact when she told me that I was the first Starstruck! person she spoke to on Facebook) and just…be as chatty and talkative as possible. At first it worked, but (I’m admitting something I’m disgusted of) I get bored easily and somewhere in March/April, I got busy with both curricular and co-curricular activities so my concentration shifted away from Starstruck. Hence, during the times when I frequented the group wall, I found you guys talking about stuff I don’t understand, and I realised that most (if not all) of you were already really close friends so I felt out of place and didn’t want to seem as if I was too desperate and started barging in or anything so I kept silent. Another reason why I kept to myself was sometimes, the assignments I sent in were done quite carelessly (especially when I was running out of time) and in a way, I felt guilty and didn’t want to visit the group wall out of guilt. So, yes. I also realise I might have come off as proud or arrogant that way, and I apologise. I really regret not spending more time with you guys because now, the time we’ve spent together just isn’t enough. I wished I was wise enough to realise that earlier on, but I’m foolishly ignorant most of the time so in your face, Michelle.

But to keep the optimism running, I promise not to dwell on the negative parts and rather relish the amazing moments we had together. You are all wonderful people and thank you for the joy you’ve brought into my life.