it’s been a really long time since i last surfaced on this website but let me tell you how much you have been missing – nothing, because since the last blogpost until this present one, i have predominantly spent most of my time in my rented room in KL looking like this ^
(that’s not entirely true because i did not have a PC up until January this year, but regardless it is still not too far away from the truth)
i turn 26 today. it’s pretty uneventful compared to how most birthday celebrations go, but with a second full lockdown in Malaysia due to Covid, i am thankful to even be healthy, employed and safe. the past 2 years have certainly been strange (to put it gently), to the point that i feel like i am perpetually coping with the strangeness that seems to have permeated every aspect of life. working everyday as usual, as if a ravaging virus hasn’t completely changed everyone’s lives forever. not being able to travel home to see my parents as often as i would’ve liked. social gatherings being a luxury rather than a daily activity that used to be the norm a mere few years ago. life still trudges on for everyone and we adapt to the “new norm” as it develops, but i also realise i’ve been distracting myself more than ever before. i’m sure it’s perfectly normal in light of recent circumstances, but the realisation does bring with it a slight discomfort.
which is why i make sure every little comfort counts. getting boba during a sleepy late afternoon weekday with Amber is a comfort. learning to play TFT every night with my friends is a comfort. receiving a care package from my parents is a comfort. watching Hell’s Kitchen with oli over Discord is a comfort. finishing a Chloe Ting workout video is a comfort. ordering Super Kitchen chilli pan mee for my birthday lunch is a comfort. whilst little, they all add up to remind me how blessed i am to still be able to derive joy and dopamine from the only comforts i can be afforded during these trying times.
so today, i take comfort in turning a year older while being surrounded by the love generously given by the ones i love, be it near or far away.
(and i also take comfort in re-learning to find my writing voice. again.)
This year really passed by too quickly. It scares me so much how quickly time flies by.
When in the midst of things and with a crowd of people around, it’s usually easier to just suppress emotions without any problem. Almost doesn’t feel like I’m leaving sometimes because the act of departing is not being carried out instantaneously.
But it’s getting harder and harder to feel comforted by the thought of going home and returning to my room where I would have to be alone and deal with the suppressed thoughts and feelings clamouring to be heard the moment I close the door and severe any communication with the external world. I’ve said too many permanent goodbyes within this week alone but it doesn’t get any better each time.
But this isn’t supposed to be a post about leaving. It’s a post about my gratitude for the people I have met and gotten to know here for the past three years, how they all turned up to celebrate my turning older by a year yesterday with an outdoor barbecue. It’s also a post about my gratitude for all my friends and family, in Manchester or not, who had remembered and sent me well wishes on my special day. It’s a post about my gratitude for being alive in this enigmatic but ultimately wondrous world for 23 whole years, and for being loved by so many.
If feeling twenty two means feeling half-dead and tired from sleep deprivation and residues of a hangover.
Everytime June rolls around, besides my turning older by a year, it also means the end of yet another academic year. My second year of uni is done. A time conundrum exists wherein my last paper felt like it happened ages ago yet it also didn’t feel like a lot of time has passed since stepping on Manchester soil in September last year to commence my second year.
That’s crazy! So this is what it feels like to be old. I’m too tired to have a lot of words right now, but my second year really has been something. And I have every single person in my life to thank for that.
Thank you, to all of you who have stuck around all this time, and are somehow still willing to stay with me throughout my journeys, now, and in the future.
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.
It’s my birthday today! Hence the pink bow on my head. I’m also trying to accustom myself to the look of having short hair?
It’s my first birthday away from home but it didn’t feel like I was away from home much. Not when you are showered with love and gratitude from the people you love and are grateful for. And this is precisely what this post is about. Thanking everyone in my life because where would I be without all of you? I appreciate every single thing everyone has done for me, in return, I will strive to be the best version of me for all of you, and also myself.
There are a lot of emotions I can’t put into words, so TL;DR, I love all of you. And I know love is subjective and fickle and frequently thrown around like a used toilet paper (to use Effie’s metaphor) but I truly am thankful for every single person that has crossed paths in my life. That also means you, reading this. Know that I thank the higher powers above for putting you into my life (although the feeling might not be mutual), for shaping me to be who I am today, and for helping me get this far in life.
(Also, please wish my mum happy birthday too because it is rightfully her BIRTHday and also she rocks)
Because let’s face it, it was probably the most interesting thing to happen before the event in itself had even started.
I sent out invitations to a couple of friends who were still in Alor Setar/back in Alor Setar to come to my house on the Sunday evening at 7PM but 15 minutes past 7, only my uncle had turned up so I began to get quite antsy if anyone would even turn up at all. Literally everything was already almost prepared, but no one had turned up yet. So I started to scroll through Twitter to…calm my nerves or something and saw that Khey Ken had tweeted that it was flooding outside his house and he couldn’t get out. Immediately after that, Ching Ju and Hui Ying called up to tell me that they couldn’t make it because of the flood as well.
I started to feel really dreadful, like of ALL the days it could rain and cause a flash flood, it happened on the night of my birthday. I was sad at first, but then I felt indignant. And then I laughed because it was the greatest story ever. It would be the greatest story I would ever tell. So I went with the next plotline in the story: my dad and I drove around the flooded neighbourhood to pick up my stranded friends from their houses; like a Flood Bus or something. A Flood Party Bus. It felt strangely exhilarating.
We picked up Ching Ju, Hui Ying and Khey Ken and by the time we reached my house, Yi Jing and Peter were already there. Jia Yuan and her sister came later, also braving the floods.
We had a barbecue (graced by the presence of self-anointed Masterchef Mr Teoh aka my dad) and pasta and salad and everyone was talking about everything and it had been so long since I last met up with so many of my old friends so it was pretty rowdy and I yelled my throat sore that night trying to talk to everyone really loudly. We had a cake and everything, and desserts and also Jaffa cakes courtesy of Peter. Needless to say, I was really, really full before the night had even ended. And then it was just a lot of talking and laughing until 11PM, when everyone realised how late it had already gotten. The Flood Party Bus dropped off those who had arrived the same way, and my birthday ended.
It was truly an amazing birthday; the floods somehow made it even funnier (when its nature shouldn’t have been) and the food was really good and the company even better. Reuniting with old friends was lovely, even if it’s just a short time before we leave for college. I’d like to thank everyone who made an effort to turn up and also to everyone for the lovely presents. But more importantly, many special thanks to both my parents, and also my uncle (whose birthday was also the same as mine) and his family for preparing and holding this huge party for me which surely had been pretty stressful. I am really, really thankful.
That night, I fell asleep listening to Dan and Phil’s radio show on BBC Radio 1.
And now for photos!
WATCH OUT, WE’VE GOT A LEGAL GIRL OUT AND ABOUT RIGHT NOW (loljk I still live on the Internet)
Alright, well, remember that horrible, horrible headache I had which I described in my previous post? Well, it is good and gone! Now let me move on to something else nicer lest I jinx myself with further elaboration.
Today is the last day of the June holidays and coincidentally, it’s also my birthday! But before I continue on that, let me give you a recap of some of the interesting events that took place during the holidays.
On Monday, 4th of June, we had a mini primary school gathering at TM Corner, and I say mini because only 10 out of 65 people turned up. Among the ten were Jia Yuan, Cheah En, Zhao Xian, Ying Hui, Vern, Jia Ying, Wei Xing, Jing Sheng, Hui Xiong and I. Despite that, it was still very nice as we caught up with each other over steamboat and teppanyaki. Later, everyone started to groan and gripe about being too full so someone suggested a jogging trip at Taman Jubli Perak the next morning and what was initially a joke turned serious and that’s what we did the next morning, although this time, the number of people that turned up was reduced by 50% and only five people turned up: Jia Yuan, Ying Hui, Zhao Xian, Cheah En and I.
On Wednesday, 6th of June, me and 30+ members of MYF including Jia Yuan and her younger sisters hiked the Penang Hill. We set off for Penang in a bus at 7am and reached the park where we would begin hiking at around 11am. It had begun to rain by the time we reached the park so everyone whipped out their raincoats and umbrellas but I only had a cap in hand so that was my only protection (from the rain, not anything else omg) for the hike.
The hike started pleasantly, although admittedly (and this is an embarrassing admission) I had a hard time keeping up with Jia Yuan and the rest because they were fast, I was weak and under-exercised, and the road was bumpy and tricky, so solve that equation by yourself. So about half an hour later (I think), I had to ask Jia Yuan to stop for a while to rest (initially I’d asked her when we were stopping to rest and she gave me a look saying no one was going to stop to rest dun dun dun) because I was starting to feel dizzy and inhaling was starting to feel painful. I looked around me and everyone was almost gone and we weren’t even close to the top of the hill and we were on a hill and that was when I started to have a panic attack. I sat down but vertigo still made my head spin and my hands and chest were starting to numb and it was the scariest moment of my life. I legitimately thought I was going to die right then and there. Like, my heart was going to stop and I’m going to die on a hill. I started blabbing subconsciously after that (Jia Yuan said she got worried because I was literally making no sense) and by this time, most of the other adults bringing up the rear stopped to access the situation.
Things weren’t improving even after quite some time and when I tried to stand up I collapsed almost immediately so the final plan was to…actually, I don’t quite know what the final plan was but it was settled that I wasn’t going to continue climbing up anymore. And then something happened. Uncle Joseph and Jia Yuan helped me to stand up really slowly, aided with his constant encouraging words and when I stood up on my two feet, the numbness actually vanished instantaneously. Just like that. I still don’t know what really happened, what caused the numbness to take over my nervous system and what chased it away, but I’m still too afraid to Google the symptoms yet so let’s just praise the lord that I was able to overcome that obstacle.
After that, we (by this time, “we” meant Uncle Ti Pheng, Uncle Joseph, Uncle Kenny, Angeline’s dad, Yi Hong, Jia Yuan -those wonderful, wonderful people who stayed behind to help me- and I) continued to climb up the hill at a really, really slow pace and I had to rest a couple of times because I was feeling pretty weak and then halfway through the hike I actually had a muscle cramp.
But despite all that, we managed to make it out of the hill! Woo yes celebration! But I cheated a little on the tar road by hitchhiking a stranger’s jeep all the way up the hill. Here, I want to take this chance to thank everyone who helped me during that tough time from the bottom of my heart. Honestly, I don’t think I would’ve ever made it out of the hill without the help from these people: Uncle Ti Pheng, Uncle Kenny, Uncle Joseph, Angeline’s dad, the pastor, Yi Hong and Jia Yuan. I’m sorry to have caused so much trouble and I cannot thank you enough for all the help you guys gave.
At the top of the hill, we cleaned up and then took the train down. Four hours of climbing up the hill, five minutes of descending it. The biggest irony of my life.
After reaching flat ground, we headed for Queensbay Mall, where we were given 2 and a half hours to shop and eat. Jia Yuan and I broke away from the group to shop for clothes and books. We each bought a shirt at Padini, and then had dinner at this lovely English-styled cafe called Winters Warmers (I think) and the food was brilliant, although that could just be our hunger. It was probably the loveliest meal I’ve had in months.
Soon, it was time to leave and I was dead beat with and the tendons in my legs were screaming but I managed to stay up throughout the whole trip back to Alor Setar, gossiping with Jia Yuan all the way. The moment I reached home, the first thing I did was check the Internet (did you honestly think I was going to say I went to sleep immediately? No, that is not the kind of life I lead, sadly) and then only went to sleep, completely conked out.
So that was how I spent my holidays. Seriously, those were the only productive days during which I actually got up to do something. Other than that, my universe was just the bed, my phone, my laptop and the TV.
Moving on to the birthday mood, this year, I decided to do nothing, which really isn’t such a huge decision, let’s be real. But my parents initially wanted to hold a celebration for me which I finally rejected because I just wasn’t up for it. I don’t know, I just think…birthdays aren’t such big deals you know? (Says the kid who cried when no one entertained her during her birthday last year oh whoops!) But yeah. I’m already happy enough that people take time out of their schedules to properly wish me a happy birthday, some even accompanied with lovely essays about my brilliance and awesomeness (which is actually non-existent, I assure you). So, thank you everyone for the wishes!
Did I mention that I got a pair of aviators for my birthday from my dad?
And no, I totally wasn’t trying to channel Harry Styles that idiot from One Direction, what are you on about.
See, Aifa, I told you this post would veer off into the direction of…One Direction.
Besides that, my parents also got me several books as early birthday presents: Insurgent by Veronica Roth, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Paper Towns by John Green, Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer and A Feast For Crows by none other than the brilliant George R.R. Martin of the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Oh and before I leave, let me leave you with an incredible gem that came in my email inbox last week, which in itself is probably the greatest birthday present I’ve received this year.
I know, I know, it’s only the fifth of June, still four more days left to my birthday. Well, guess what? That’s exactly what I thought too.
So that day, I came back from school, so utterly tired and grumpy because of the fact that I still had to go to school on a public holiday and made plans to stay at home to Tumble all day. But no, Dad wouldn’t have that. He said we were having lunch outside, and as much as I hated to get my butt off the chair. We had lunch at Wah Tua Guan, which was actually a first, since we avoided expensive meals at all costs, but I wasn’t bothered.
Later, Dad brought us to Aunty Josephine’s shop because I thought I heard Mum say a few days ago that she needed to pass some things over to her. I refused to come down from the car at first but Mum forced me so I had no choice.
Incredulous, really, when my Mum told Aunty that “she hadn’t snapped pictures of her shop for so long already” and I was like, what? Why the hell did you bring your Nikon in, Mum? But then Aunty Josephine insisted on pulling me along to “see her new massage room” and I was like, “Er, okay” so I followed her and
So like, everyone started to yell “Happy birthday!” and stuff and I was just like, OH MY GODDDDD. And then I realised there were so many people there! Jia Yuan was the first one I saw, then my friends who I haven’t met for eternity, Yi Jing, Jou Wen, Chia Shin, Sin Shiun, Zhao Xian, (Angeline came a little later), Wei Xing, Vincent, Ooi Zhen and Lian Kai. I didn’t even know what was really happening until I saw cake and food and balloons and then I started to laugh and cry at the same time. Next thing I knew, Wei Xing passed me his phone and everyone was wishing me happy birthday at the same time.
And then, oh, they’re throwing me an early birthday bash.
Apparently, it’s because Yuan had to go to SUKMA for the next week and she had held this party just for me. :3
Everything went smoothly and amazingly, better than anything I’ve ever expected. Well, mainly because I hadn’t expected anything. Can you believe it? All the clues were lay out for me, so obviously, and I missed it. Dad forcing me to get out of the house, the basket with ‘happy birthday’ serviettes at the backseat of the car, Mum forcing me out of the car, and even that time when Boo Chian told me he couldn’t come to my birthday party through MSN once. I guess I had suspected something, just not today.
There weren’t many things we did later afterwards, apart from catching up with each other’s lives, opening presents, playing musical chairs and eating. The boys played poker so we left them be.
We left at around 6, feeling exhilarated and extremely high. It was the best surprise party I could ever have.