Thursday, June 16, 2016

Piggy Banks (Part II)

A penny saved is a penny earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin. 

I had two piggy banks for 2015. One was the 52-Week-Challenge piggy bank and the other was the Coin piggy bank.

The 52-Week-Challenge was fun. I was very disciplined and by the last week of 2015, had saved about RM1378. My Coin piggy bank on the other hand, yielded about RM265. I decided to treat myself. End of story, LOL.

For 2016, I have three piggy banks. I am continuing with the two piggy banks mentioned above and added another piggy bank. This third bank is what I call the 1-Ringgit -1-Day Challenge. It was suggested by my BFF. The aim however, is not to reward myself but rather to use it for Qurban. My BFF told me that if I saved 1 Ringgit a day, by the time Raya Haji approaches, I would have saved enough money for Qurban. So I thought, yeah, why not?

Piggy banks are all about discipline and enthusiasm. And they always give you happy endings ^-^

2015 In (Late) Review

Doing this belatedly. Can't help it, I overestimated myself and now suffer from bouts of guilt. To my over-thinking mind, recapping the year that passed is a must, no matter how late. I just hope I can still remember those life-defining moments that happened in 2015. Here goes:

1. Lost a very good friend, Rohaizad, who'd finally gotten his green card and migrated to the States to be with the love of his life. It's not like we've never been separated before. Ro has always moved around, and once in a blue moon he'd come back. But this time it felt different because his leaving has that sense of finality to it. We met for the last time in JB. I'll never forget his enthusiasm and  his almost child-like eagerness to meet up. We had coffee and goofed around at Jalan Dhoby. He was so happy with the farewell gift Lin and I got for him. Two Malaysian recipe books since he loves cooking so much.  I almost burst into tears when I bid him goodbye. He's such a good friend. Luckily we have Whatsapp so we still keep in touch now and then. I miss you, Ro.

                                          Ro was happy with his farewell gifts!

                                         Goofing around at Jalan Dhoby

2. I brought my TESL kids to see a play at KLPAC. I was worried the play would bore the kids but they seemed to enjoy it. This batch was a very enthusiastic lot. Most of them have never seen plays in English and seeing them happy  experiencing theatre for the first time made me happy.

3. I was invited to be a judge for the National Residential School English Drama Competition. It's not something I hadn't  done before but what made this memorable is the presence of Tiara Jacquelina, a passionate advocator of the arts and a very graceful lady, who was kind enough to sponsor the trophies for this competition. It was really an honour to have her grace the competition.

                                                Judging is hard work ^-^

4. I went to Barcelona and Maldives. Barcelona for a conference with Ann, Aniza and Padma from Sunway. I was told I could apply for funding to go to the conference so I applied. After a rigorous application process which really tested my patience, they rejected my application. Like, one day before I was supposed to leave for Barcelona. I went anyway. Luckily I had some money saved. What made the trip worth it was the publication of my papers with Ann in a SCOPUS journal. I had two publications, yeeha! The conference hotel was in the outskirts of Barcelona so most of our time were spent in Sant Boi, a quaint town 30-45 minutes away from Barcelona. It was nice knowing the hotel where we stayed at used to be a castle. But it was also scary. Hehe. Barcelona was nice, and despite horror stories of pick pockets and thieves, we enjoyed ourselves, especially during the visit to Gaudi's signature landmarks such as Park Buell and LeSegrada Familia and to a Flamenco show. Met Bill Philips from University of Barcelona. Quite a nice guy.

                                             Ann and me in Barcelona

Maldives was like a double celebration for me. It was less than two weeks after my birthday and earlier on at the end of August I had submitted my thesis. The Fantastic Four went to Club Med Maldives and had fun, especially in the evening because they had a show every night followed by some clubbing session afterwards. Activities were abundant. I enjoyed the Aqua Zumba. Also enjoyed our one-night transit in Colombo. But this trip really cost me a bomb. Huhu.

                                             Maldives' kinda morning...

5. Also managed to bring my sis, mom, nephew and niece to Melaka for a short holiday. I booked a nice apartment in the middle of Malacca town, equipped with swimming pool.That was the most I could do. I hope they had fun. I hadn't been to a zoo for a long time so took the kids to Melaka zoo. I think I was more excited than them. Hahaha.

                                                    Raya with my family

6. I finally submitted my thesis on 28 August 2015. What a relief! I felt like the whole planet has been lifted off my shoulders! I had gone through so many hurdles and challenges before I could finally submit it. There was that MicrosoftWord challenge which delayed my printing. My proofreader Khalil was also late. My supervisor - well, late should be her middle name. I did the pre-submission seminar - after I got scared out of my shit. Two weeks before my seminar Elham my friend had hers and was verbally attacked after her presentation. I became paranoid and expressed my concern to my supervisor. I told her I didn't want to get attacked like that. Not when I am about to submit my thesis. Luckily my seminar went well.

                                             The day I submitted my thesis!

                                              Celebrating my birthday in class

7. I got involved in a voluntary-basis project with SUTRA Dance Company. SUTRA, whose founder is the legendary Ramli Ibrahim, was involved as one of the organisers for KL International Dance Festival. The event took a month to complete and involved dance groups from all over the world. My part was to help run concerts at the DBKL Auditorium i.e. ushering guests, monitoring audience in the hall. I had fun watching all the dance shows, especially those from Malaysia and India. I also made a lot friends. My proudest moment was when I was invited for a dinner event at Ramli's SUTRA and he thanked me for my part in the event.

                                            A dance show by ASWARA

8. A friend told me about Tinder, an app that connects people who are looking around for people who are looking around. Hehe. It reminds me of those dating websites back in early 2000s, those that Kak Wan urged me to join. Well, I tried it, mainly as a  reward to myself for submitting my thesis. Met a few guys online but I didn't feel any connection - not the kind of connection I used to have with my ex-muse. Bummer. Maybe I still can't get over him *gosh*. Well, maybe I felt some kind of connection with one or two guys but they didn't last long enough. Anyways, what I learnt from Tinder is that it is a VERY promiscuous dating site, most of the guys seem attached in one  way or another (fuck yeah, I can tell) and are there for fun (and fuck, it goes without saying). So after a few weeks of going nowhere, I decided to uninstall it. Yeah. I felt so relieved. I felt liberated. I guess I'm just too old for dating games. Plus, guys nowadays fail to interest me that much. 

To recap, 2015 has been good to me. I had a few hiccups here and there but eventually I stepped into 2016 with peace of mind! Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe.

For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.― T.S. Eliot

Monday, March 16, 2015

Piggy Banks

Why do we put money into piggy banks? The reasons are varied but for me, it is a way of rewarding myself.
I don't remember having a piggy bank when I was a child. Back then, I only got money for my school expenses, given by my Mom on a daily basis. The money that I got was only enough to get a decent meal during recess, so I didn't have extra money to put into a piggy bank. I watched with envy every time my Dad put some money into his piggy bank. He would put those small change that he got into his piggy bank, which was made of clay, a replica of a rooster. His reason was obscure to me, but come to think of it, maybe men just do not like carrying coins in their wallets. Or pockets, for that matter.
The only time I would get lots of money was during Hari Raya. I would get some money from my family, uncles and aunties, but that would disappear fast as it would be used to buy whatever I needed. Yup, money was not easy for me to get back then. This is why when I entered university, I worked during semester breaks and sometimes on weekends, so that I earn my own money and need not ask my parents for it.
My parents did not really teach me how to save money but I learned from them indirectly. My Mom's money-saving skills was exemplary. She used to save part of her salary religiously that by the time she retired, she had saved enough money to build a house back in her hometown. Also, throughout her working years, there have been occassions when money was needed and she already had some money handy. Like when she bought two pieces of land in her hometown. Like when she bought me a second-hand desktop so I could do my thesis when I came back home on weekends. Like when she handed me 20k for the downpayment of my first car! She made me speechless every time!
I started saving money when I taught in school. I used to save about 400 ringgit every month, with the aim to travel to UK. Hehehe. But a lot of things happened along the way. I got married and whatnot.  I got divorced. I also had a lot of part time jobs. I saved some of the money I got. I always told myself, if my Mom could do it, so could I. Plus, I've always believed in the need to save up for some rainy days ahead.
So, my point is, I've never had a piggy bank. Until recently. I've always saved my money in banks. About two or three years back, a friend told me about her piggy bank, which, when full of coins, would yield about 400+ ringgit. She would then use the money to top up her car insurance payment. I thought that was really cool!  So I tried it, beginning on 1 January 2013. I bought a piggy bank at a 5 ringgit shop. My target was to save money into the piggy bank for a year. So whatever  small change I had, I would quickly put it into the piggy bank. I would do this almost daily. So by 31 December 2013, I got about 300+ ringgit! I'd always intended to use the piggy bank money to reward myself. So I got myself an Armani watch at JPO.  I've always liked Armani watches anyway. The same thing happened by 31 December 2014. I got about 200+ ringgit. I got less savings this time around because the coins have shrunk in size, a move by Bank Negara that has baffled me until today.  Hehehe. With that money, I managed to get a good deal on an Armani watch. I was happy!
This year, 2015, I added another piggy bank. Thanks to a pin I came across on Pinterest, this second piggy bank is a piggy bank of notes. Yup! The whole idea is called The 52-Week Money Challenge. The image below illustrates this challenge: 

So, by week 52, 31 Dec 2015 to be exact, I would have a total of 1378 ringgit! Isn't that a wonderful way to close 2015 and welcome 2016? As of now, it's already the 12th week of 2015. I have actually saved up about 66 ringgit! Woohoo! So far I've been doing this with great discipline. Every weekend, I would mark in my calendar how much I've put away for the second piggy bank. Just so as not to lose track. 

See ;-)? 

As of now, I still haven't decided what I'll do with the money. Maybe go on a shopping spree. Or a short holiday somewhere. We'll see! Whatever it is, I'll reward myself. If I don't do that, nobody will ^-^ ! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hats and Such

I was a Victorian lady last weekend ^-^

A friend had thrown a birthday party for his teenage daughter. The theme was 'Garden Party'. A quick google confirmed that this kind of theme would entail hats. I have always liked wearing hats. Or caps, for that matter. If it is socially acceptable in my culture to wear hats around the clock, I would gladly do so. But, nah. I get to wear a hat only when the occasion arises. 
I had not bought a hat for a long time. So naturally I had to find one, to suit the 'Garden Party' theme. Went to Mid Val but the hats there were so expensive! I was reluctant to buy because of the probability that I would only wear it once. Victorian-style hats are occasion-specific, I think. 
How I ended up with a nice hat, at the last minute, at a very cheap price, was funny! I had walked into a shop at my housing area because I thought I'd look for a flower hair clip or hair band to wear to the party. Then I saw this very nice, dainty-looking hat. I reached for it and saw the price tag. RM16.90!!! I couldn't believe my eyes! The same-looking hat would cost me RM89.90 at Mid Val! I quickly dashed to the cashier and paid for it, thanking divine providence for such a blessing! And this happened two hours before I was supposed to leave for the party! 

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about. ~ Philip Treacy

Friday, January 30, 2015

Rakish Inc. III

Times have changed. And so has my wall of Rakish Inc.! Hehe. Well, some men are simply God's gifts to humanity! 

1. Luke Evans

Never has there been a sexier Dracula! 

2. Mads Mikkelsen

Some men are like wine. They get better with age. And a royal affair! 

3. James Franco

I like funny men! 

4. Cristiano Ronaldo

Not a football fan but this guy sure makes football a lot sexier! 

5. Ebizo Ichikawa XI

A samurai as rakish as this? Why not? 

A man's face is his autobiography. ~ Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014, Recapped

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

I have been very INACTIVE here. The reasons are many. I felt like I had nothing much to write. I was too preoccupied with work. I was lazy. I was too pissed-off with *_*  who must have thought it would be cool to be able to read (literally) my mind but then couldn't handle whatever shit that was written here. My mind is my essence. My mind is also the vortex of my inner chaos, which needs to be de-cluttered when the need arises. I don't need a man who gets easily offended  (and intimidated) by every single thing that I write, anyway. But now that he's no longer in my life, I can write whatever I want here. Not that I haven't been writing whatever I want. Hence this post.

I hope to write more here in 2015. Haha. We'll see. This is not a resolution but I kinda have this vision that one day, when I am really, really, really old, I'm gonna  print every damn entry in my blog and bind them into a book. Then, in the evenings, while sipping a cuppa, facing my backyard garden which has a pink frangipani tree, I would read every damn entry and reminisce the past - and how I have successfully (or otherwise) manoeuvred this sometimes-nice-sometimes-cruel life. Uh. Looks like I'm adding another item in my already-long Bucket List. Kachinggg!

Anyways, to recap 2014 (doing this because I feel like 2014 needs a closure) :

1. Accomplishments
  •     I managed to get FOUR publications this year. Woohoo!!!
  •     Finally I was allowed  to submit my  three-months-notice of PHD submission. I was actually surprised my supervisor agreed to it. Hahaha! Well, she had no choice, I guess. 
  •     I became an Emcee at my department's conference in Penang - for the first time ever! I nearly peed in my pants but somehow I pulled through. I had to. Huhu.
2. Best memories
  •     In April,  I went to UK. Reckon it would be the only overseas trip I'd make this year. I was right. Stayed with Iman, my niece who was doing her master's in London. Joined the Keretapi Sarong London organized by some Malaysian students where we took the tube in our sarongs. It was fun! Gotta know some of Iman's buddies. Traveled to Reading to spend time with my BFF - Faiz. Made friends with some Malaysian students there as well. Met an ex-colleague. Then my Singbles friends - Jenal, Zam and Yati joined me for a 6-day car tour around UK. It was really fun! Jenal  teased and made me laugh all the time. Hahaha. If he wasn't taken (I think), I would have fallen for him. I love guys who can make me laugh! The four of us got to know each other better. All this while our meetings were restricted to a few hours of dinner or coffee. From my observation, Zam is so organized, cool, diligent and helpful. Jenal is so funny and generous. Yati is a control-freak. But she's also generous. Hehe. I love these people. During this trip, it was the first time I heard about AirBnB. Apartments and condos for rent. Our accommodation were booked by Jenal and Zam, through AirBnB. All the apartments were lovely, especialy the one in Notting-hill. We even stayed in a 1684 cottage near Paignton! 
Zam. Jenal. Yati. Me. The Fantastic Four. 
  • Earlier this year I got news from a long-time friend, Rohaizad, that he was going to join UM as a lecturer. I was exhilarated! I've known him for so long and there were times that I didn't hear from him and lost contact. But Rohaizad being Rohaizad - he would always appear when I least expect it! But Rohaizad's venture with UM didn't last long. I however cherish the times when we hung out together during his stint in UM. I am deeply indebted to him for taking the time to read my thesis and comment on it.We did this over many sessions at Starbucks. He was so meticulous. If only my supervisor were the same.  To appreciate what he'd done, I took him on a road trip to Kuantan to visit my friend Lynn, who then brought us to Kemaman. Rohaizad was so happy. He'd always wanted to go on road trips on weekends. I merely fulfilled his wish. The least I could do. Fortunately, Rohaizad was not a fussy traveler. He was such a sport. We had a blast karaokeing in my car throughout the journey. I miss him a lot. He's such a good friend, and I hate to see him leave. All the best, Rohaizad! 
Selfies are here to stay! Rohaizad and me at Teluk Mak Nik Beach
  • I met Prof Scott Slovic, an expert cum celebrity in ecocriticism, whose works I've read! He was invited to assess the postgraduate literature program at my department. It was a real pleasure to meet him. He's such a nice guy, so courteous  and accommodating. He also doesn't look his age (54) at all. Knowing that I would have much to learn from him, my colleagues let me take him sightseeing in Putrajaya, followed by dinner. I took the opportunity with much delight and talked to him about my PHD research. He was very supportive! When my colleagues suggested I took him for a trail walking at FRIM, I didn't hesitate to say yes! But he was so fit! I was left behind by him because he was so fast! 
At the conference in Penang with Prof Scott
  • My birthday. The Singbles threw a birthday party for me at Empire Hotel, Subang. It was fun! I felt like my birthday was a week-long celebration because I had many friends this time around who gave me birthday gifts and treats, one after another. My two sisters also threw a surprise belated birthday party for me back at home. I am blessed. But I still don't know how to behave my age. LOL.
 I hope I'll look as good as this 10 years from now.

My two sisters. My Momma. My niece. Surprise belated birthday party.

3.  Unexpected Events
  • I had what was then diagnosed by my doctor friend, K,  low blood sugar or hyperglycemia, whilst I was in UK. I was in a mall and suddenly felt my head spinning. I couldn't walk properly, and felt like I was going to faint. I asked Hani, Iman's house mate, who had accompanied me to the mall, to buy me some food and drink. In the mean time, I sat down at the packed food court. My face had become really pale. My head was spinning really fast, I was sweating and shaking profusely, and felt mildly electrocuted. I thought I was going to get a heart attack. A kind lady sitting opposite me gave some aspirins. I took the aspirin after eating the food Hani bought me and fell asleep for quite some time. But before that, what was going on in my head was, if this thing keeps on bugging me, how am I going to return home?  How am I going to walk to the tube station, to Iman's flat? It was quite a distance. My loss of coordination was worrying me. Fortunately, I felt better after getting some sleep. I called Hani and slowly we walked back to the tube station. Later that evening I text K and told him what I had gone through. Then I learned that I had low blood sugar. Which, according to K, could be due to eating less than required. I thought that was strange since I had my usual two pieces of wholemeal bread with peanut butter and a mug of coffee. K said maybe because of the cold weather and I'd been walking a lot, it was not enough. Every single bit of energy from that breakfast was used up.
  • I was diagnosed as dengue positive early December. After two days of nagging headache, I went to UPM's Health Centre which kept on monitoring my platelet until it dropped really low. Then my case was referred to Serdang Hospital. Because I was having my period then, I had to be warded. What I had dreaded happened. I had never been hospitalized before! The nurse gave me some pills to stop my period. My platelet count reached its lowest. Over a period of five days, my platelet count dropped from 205 to 28. I thought I was going to die. When my platelet count increased to 53, I was discharged. My experience at the hospital was really an eye opener. I saw so many sick people. I learned to not take my health for granted. My Mom came over and brought some papaya leaves. Juice from the papaya leaves is said to be able to cure dengue fever. True enough. I swallowed everything even though the juice was terribly bitter.  Three days after the discharge, I went to check my platelet again. It was 371! My dengue was gone! I am indebted to my friend Evie for driving me around for four consecutive days before I was actually warded and waiting patiently while I was hooked to the drip at UPM's Health Centre. I owe you big time, my friend! I am also indebted to my Mom who dropped everything and rushed over to Bangi upon hearing that I'd been admitted to the hospital. Words just can't describe how humbled I was by her selflessness. After my Mom left, I cried so hard. I don't think  there's anybody that loves me that way! My only hope from this harrowing experience is to never step foot at a government hospital ever again. The waiting time at the ER was terribly long. The waiting time at the temporary ward was also long. Not to mention the discharge process. I don't think I've ever waited that long at any government institutions. At the ER, I registered at 10.30 am and only got to see the doctor at 4.30 pm! I found myself cursing all the time I was at the hospital instead of praying to God to let me live. Forgive me, God.
4. Disappointments
  • I was really disappointed with my sister. She can be very rude and abrasive but because she is my sister, I always let her get away with it. But not this time. I really lost my head. So I kept to myself. I didn't pick up her calls. I totally ignored her and treated her like she didn't exist. She then complained to my mom. Good. I wanted my sister to get the message that I was really pissed off. I knew she'd never apologize. True enough but I guess she apologized through her actions. By giving me a surprise birthday bash and making attempts to talk to me. Buying me gifts. Ok-lah. Ignoring my sister, for months, was really hard work. I was exhausted! 
  • My supervisor is another disappointment. She would keep drafts of my chapters for months *grimace*. She is also inconsistent in her opinion about my work. Enough said. 
  • My kids were another disappointment. When I reported for duty in July, I was given two courses. Fair enough. One was Research Methods.  I was really anxious to go back to teaching after four years, so put all my effort into making the course a success. There was no final exam. At the end of the semester, they had to submit a Research Proposal. Prior to that, they had to do an oral presentation of their Research Proposals. I nearly lost my head!! Felt like my head was going to explode with all the bullshit that they had presented! Not only that, I was also getting sick with their attitudes. Some came to class late. Never mind the texting in class.  Some had the audacity to submit their assignments late. Some had the audacity not to do their coursework. Some plagiarized blatantly. I don't think I've ever been THIS disappointed throughout my teaching career. Well, that's Gen Y for you. But then it also got me to thinking that maybe I haven't been effective in my teaching. Possible. [Need to seriously reflect on this.]
5. Things I focused on - what I put the most of my time into

  • Healing from the breakup. At first I thought I would never get over it. Felt like my brain was playing over and over again our last fight. I'd never felt so humiliated. I could never tolerate religious bigotry anyway. True, we should always remind each other about the dos and the don'ts of the religion but when one became a religious police, keeping tab of other people's sins, it was too much. Don't we have the angels Raqib and Atid  assigned specifically to do that? Duh. I found myself spending more and more time with my long-time friend Adam. I think he's also a bit lonely since he rarely gets to see K. And since July, never. Almost every weekend we would meet up and I could never thank him enough for keeping me preoccupied on weekends, telling me repeatedly to move on with my life. We became much closer than before. It would have been a slow healing process if I had just stayed at home moping around. So, slowly I got to where the breakup doesn't bother me so much anymore. Well, except for the religion part. It still bugs me to think that the person that I loved would use that to judge me. I'm also bugged by his self-righteousness. I remember faintly that he used to say that his dad was intolerable because the old man always thought he was right. Well, the apple does not fall far from the tree.  Apart from this, I missed my Darling. Oh yeah, the impact of the breakup was double because I had to return his cat, Darling, who had stayed with me for about 1 1/2 years. At first I didn't want to return Darling but then I got to thinking, Darling was never mine. Just like *-*. Do  I miss him? Maybe I just miss the memories, and not the person. 
Adam. Me. We took many wefies; this is one of my favourites.  
  • My thesis. I focused on my thesis for at least 7 or 8 months. What else would I be doing, right? But the semester took its best on me. I rarely touched my thesis since I went back to work. 
  • My teaching. It was refreshing to come back after a 4-year leave. Initially, I  had some tough time adjusting to work life again. Waking up early for a 9 am meeting for example, was torture. *Gosh*  I was given two new courses that I haven't taught before so I had to do a lot of preparations. But I took one thing at a time. It was crucial for my sanity. After teaching Research Methods, I wish I 'd taught this way before I embarked on my PHD. My PHD would have been a lot easier if I had taught this much earlier!
6. Things I forgot - what I didn't get around to do

  • Thorough house cleaning. I didn't do it as often as I'd like to. I didn't even change the curtains! This whole PHD thing, plus my teaching and what not have dampened my spirit to clean the house regularly. 
  • Save a lot of money. Well, this can't be helped since I wasn't earning as must part time income as before. Plus I spent a lot of my money traveling to UK in April and May. Enough said. 
  • Plan for a vacation with my Mom/family. I had vowed to do this,  to treat my Mom at least, but somehow I didn't get around to do it. Must do something to realize this in 2015. My Mom deserves to be treated to a holiday. 
7. Reflection - how does this inform my plan for 2015?
  • I need to finish that damn PHD! [Gonna  go back to my thesis after this post is done *grimace*].
  • I need to save some money! [I have two piggy banks already, waiting to be filled!]
  • I need to improve my teaching! 
  • I need to bring my Mom to a vacay! 
  • I need to concentrate on publishing, too! 
  • I need to take care of my health!
  • I need to appreciate those people who were there for me in times of need, sickness and sadness! 
  • I need to enjoy life as a single person! [Steering clear from men is best!].
  • I need to clean the house (and de-clutter some stuff) more regularly! [First have to buy a new vacuum cleaner. That's gonna be the 5th or 6th cleaner in 12 years! Vacuum cleaners and me don't make good household partners].

Bring it on, 2015! Let me embrace you with positivity!