2016 In Review

Writing a review of 2016, as is customary when the new year has begun (for quite some time now, huhu).  Hmm. If I could summarize 2016 in a sentence, I would say that 2016 has been a hectic yet rewarding year for me. Here's why:

Career

I guess career-wise 2016 was really a hectic year for me. After 8 months of waiting, I was called for the PhD Viva in April. I was informed two weeks in advance, when I was chilling out at Nok's place in Kuantan, so practically I had ample time to prepare. But preparing for the Viva was  really nerve-wrecking. I really had no idea who my external examiners were until the day before the Viva. I was so fucking worried!  I mean, these two examiners were like professors in the field I am doing - so yes, there was that worry that they would be very critical of my work. But it turned out the internal examiner was more critical - well, that was sorta expected. My supervisor had assured me that the internal examiner had passed me but still, that was no consolation. I still worried over the other two external examiners. I found out that one was a professor in India, and the other one was a professor from Idaho, USA. That professor from India though. The irony was I had had her book on my desk for months and didn't even bother to read it! Well, anyways, these professors were happy with my work and didn't have much to comment.
The Viva itself was even more nerve-wrecking. There were so many people in the Viva Room - the Dean, Deputy Dean, someone from the Senate, The HOD, my Supervisor, an admin officer and the internal examiner.  I had post-it notes all over my thesis but I didn't even get to touch it!  It was like a round-table discussion, with everyone in the room giving a li'l bit of his or her opinion except for the HOD, whom I think gave too much of her condescending opinion. Without even reading my work.   Thank God she wasn't my examiner!
I had a lot of support from my friends especially Chong, Nok and Muzhafar. The latter even took the time to drive me in the morning and waited patiently outside the Viva Room with Nok. Nok and Stef even got me a bouquet of flowers as soon as I stepped out of the room. Later I found out that Stef had actually been asking people at IGS and had already known about the external examiners' reports! I only knew about the reports whilst I was waiting to go into the room! Pn Lina, the clerk who is in charge of all PG matters told me not to worry because my reports were okay. It was a relief to hear that and  I felt like half of my anxiety and nervousness were gone. But they came back when I went into the room and saw so many unfamiliar faces, waiting to hear about my thesis!
So after the Viva I was told I had passed, with minor corrections. I was given three months to do the corrections but managed to complete it in two months. I had to complete in two months anyway because the deadline for claiming my thesis allowance loomed really near. Either I hit or miss the deadline! I chose not to miss it because a lot of money was at stake! LOL! Plus, I wanted to make it to the convocation this year!


 Just after I stepped out of Hell. Hehe. Thank you, Nok, for always being there for me. 

My convocation was extra special because it fell on my birthday. Yup, 15 October. I was H.A.P.P.Y. It's not every year that I get to celebrate my convocation and my birthday on the same day. Definitely never again!  My family came, my two BFFs Nok and Lin came. Another thing that made it special is I shared the convocation day with my two other BFFs, Ann and Agil, who had also completed their PhDs around the same time I did. 


The pinnacle of 5 years of H.A.R.D work


                            Probably my favourite non-selfie in 2016. Haha! On my birthday, after convocation, chilling out with Stef, Sabine and Nok. 


Other than my thesis, my appointment as the English Lit Bachelor's program coordinator kept me pretty occupied since I spent most of my  time working on the department's curriculum review. Thank God I had Ewan, my ex-student cum colleague, who had tirelessly assisted me throughout the process. Another appointment, as the secretary of MICOLLAC 2016 - our department's biannual  international conference - kept me pretty occupied too. On many occasions I found myself going home really late at night to settle things related to the conference. Being the Secretary was like being the coolie.  Even more so when the conference was held. I was like a mother hen going here and there doing this and that!
Despite my busy-ness, I managed to send an article for publication. It was accepted after much rigorous improvement but I  was told it wasn't going to be published until 2017! Bummer!
I also managed to get a research grant. Yup, despite my busy-ness, I managed to come up with a proposal  (which was largely churned out of my thesis - I just tweaked it a bit). More surprisingly some of my colleagues at the faculty congratulated me on getting the grant. It felt odd a bit but I hoped they were sincere.
So, even though I did not have any publication in 2016, I am quite proud of myself for being able to juggle a lot of things that came my way. I went bonkers a few times, yes but was still sane. Hehe. I also got appointed as the Vice President of Association for The Study of Literature and the Environment ASEAN (ASLE -ASEAN) - a newly-formed association based in NUS,Singapore. I got called by INSPEN to conduct some training on research.  Still got called by Bahagian Matrikulasi to vet and mark papers. Got some extra money for part time teaching. I was blessed.

The ASLE ASEAN newly-appointed committee with Prof Scott Slovic

At MICOLLAC 2016

Travel

Domestic travel was key in 2016. I visited a lot of local places. Went to Langkawi with Nok after so many years. Went to Melaka - thanks to Nok and Stef who were doing research on Kristang, the language of the Portuguese-Malaccans. Even got to participate in Intrudu - some kinda water festival celebrated by people at the Portuguese settlement. Everybody goes around splashing buckets of cold water on other people! I even got dumped twice into a big bucket of iced water! It really amazed me how those kids managed to carry the heavy me on their backs! Haha! It was during this trip too I was introduced to those delicious food at the Protuguese Square - salted egg crab, curry devil and terong pimenter! Yums! And that mango juice - simply out of this world!
I also went to Sg Lembing in Pahang - what used to be a thriving mining town under British colonial adiministration. Stef, Sabine, Nok and me stayed for two nights there - we left KL the day after my Viva. It was fun discovering a small cowboy town smack in the middle of a forest and learning its history. The good thing about Sg Lembing is they preserved a lot of the things in the town - the library (or 'khutub khanah' ), the school, the mine, and more importantly,  the trees! Went up the Panorama Hill to catch sunrise. The  2 hours climb up was totally excruciating but worth it at the end!
Kuantan has also become my second home. Thanks to Nok. I made a few trips to Kuantan just to spend time with Nok. I love you, Nok! Hehe.
I went to Singapore with Chong to attend ASLE-ASEAN's first meeting cum workshop.  It was fun as I got to meet Prof Scott Slovic again and made new friends from ASEAN. Also got to  explore part of Marina Bay Sands especially The Gardens by the Bay. Man-made marvels that left me awestruck!
Went to Penang for the MICOLLAC Conference. Extended my stay there with Nok - just relaxing and winding down.  It was during this trip too that I stepped foot at the famous Penang Hill. I also tried parasailing for the first time. I was scared outta my shit but enjoyed it nevertheless!
Went to Bali, after so many years, with the Fantastic Four. Again, I tried something new - something I never thought I would be doing. White water-rafting. It was a 14 km-long of adrenaline rush but I enjoyed it tremendously! Woohoo! This was also the first time I went on a vacay and stayed at a private villa with a private pool. I enjoyed it tremendously because I got to swim to my heart's content without worrying about people around me.


                                                  14 km of adrenaline rush! Woohoo!

Personal

I am single but not looking. Seriously, I am done with looking.  I think it would take a special kind of man to really wow me and I suspect this man does not exist. Even if he exists he must already be taken, dead or still in mom's womb. Or an impressive figure in fiction. 
I finally lost my handphone. Hahaha. All this while I'd heard horror stories about people losing their handphones. Never thought I would experience it. But I guess my number was up. I got so mad because I lost it at my tailor's house and it was so fucking obvious that she took it! 
I welcomed another baby niece in July - two weeks after Raya. This bundle of joy was really taking her time to come out to this world. After cracking up her head for weeks, my sister named her Qadeeja Amberly.  Deeja for short.


                                                    Baby Deeja!                                                 

After so many years of keeping my hair long and straight I decided to highlight it and cut it short! Many people, strangely, were happy that I did these! Hah!
I found that I was smitten with these three male artists - Hozier, James Bay and Sam Hunt. I don't know how some people could be so talented, and able to poke the deeper recesses of my senses. Haha. Hozier especially, has a distinctive style - almost dark at times but still beautiful. James Bay - so young yet his songs are so matured. Sam Hunt- well, he's taken the country music to a totally different level.  
Towards the end of December 2016, the Singbles family were shaken by the news of Suhairah having suffered a stroke. She underwent two operations and we really thought everything was going to be okay. Yati and I visited her after the operations and she was fine, talking to us happily like her usual self. But things took a turn for the worse after that and as we entered the new year, Suhairah left us forever. May God bless your soul, Su!  We may not be that close and we might not have a long history of friendship but you will be missed, Su!
The Singbles family had a two-night stay at a villa in Pengkalan Balak, Melaka to mark the arrival of the New Year. We had planned this many times over and finally everyone managed to agree on the date and venue.  All of us except Su and Joey were there. We had fun but everyone was kinda in a somber  mood thinking of Su fighting for her life at the hospital. But because reservations have been made and couldn't be cancelled, we went anyway. Little that we knew Su's condition would worsen.


Su and me about two or three years back 


2016, In Short

I guess 2016 was not so bad. I was really busy with a lot of things but managed to handle them.Wishing 2017 would be less hectic yet rewarding. Hahaha! That's really my optimist alter-ego talking. We shall see. Somehow I could foresee 2017 as a road with many twists, all intended to make me a better person (I hope) and be better able to relate to the human condition.



To have the kind of year you want to have, something has to happen that you can't explain why it happened. -Bobby Bowden

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