Farewell 胖胖

For the longest time, grief from a loss of life has been a concept that has eluded me.

For one who’s spent a huge part of her life being a sullen, dispirited character capable of spending days in recluse from a song or movie, I’ve somehow managed to find an understanding in the impermanence of time and life, enough for it not to ever keep me down. This, of course, could also be rooted from my unmindful selfishness of often being too self-absorbed to really care.

For the most part, though, I’d like to believe that this insight of mine stems from my grandfather as well as parents’ very healthy understanding of death. It has been ingrained in me from a young age that death is only the most natural thing in the world, that people die every day, and that the only certain thing in life – is death. While this has given my siblings the spirit to move on quickly post-grief, it has hardened me to a fault.

When my grandfather, the man whom as good as raised me passed on in 2013, I found myself unable to feel anything but guilt – Guilt for being unable to feel much. I questioned my virtues as a person and wondered if my inability to grief or cry made me a horrible grandchild to the man who spent countless hours over the years getting me versed with the notion that death is not just inevitable, but consequential.

Fast forward to last Sunday, I found myself once again in the very same stance. I was visiting home, having my usual round-table reacquaintance with my sister and folks’, when one of their four dogs began groaning and howling so loudly it sent us all racing to the backyard to inspect. Thinking she was having a nightmare we called out to her, to no avail. Realizing this dad rushed closer to her, and that’s when the howling stopped. She took two more gasps, and she was gone. All of this, from the time the howling began to her demise, lasted less than 30 seconds.

胖胖/Phung Phung (English translation : Fatty) was the family and especially my mom’s favorite. We found her on Facebook when a few previous owners gave her up for being hyperactive and destructive – Turns out she just needed attention and most of all space to grow, of which my folks have enough of. She was to turn three next month.

Because I don’t live at home I have even less of an attachment to the pups, but share the heartache of my family members who did.

Goodbye and RIP, 胖胖. I hope we gave you happy home you ADHD doggo.

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Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018!

I won’t even begin trying to illustrate how quickly time has passed in the year that was, so let’s just concur with the cliché – Time flies, and it is here and now that I bid farewell to the year 2017.

2017 was a strange, strange time not just in regards to the happenings in our constantly evolving modern world, but also in my own little bubble. While I am quite possibly too unscholarly to come across passing commentaries on world issues, I can at the very least look over the year’s events in my life.

It was in this year that I started seeing someone I met back in late 2015 when I’d just started climbing, and have been fortunate to see it blossom into the relationship we have today. Coming from a place where I was more than happy with absolute freedom with no interest in dating, I’m really glad I made an exception for this.

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2017 was also the year I made my debut at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas with The Swing Kings, and very fortunately and coincidentally got discovered at soundcheck by conductor Harish Shankar who was backstage conducting closed auditions. I was hired on the spot without an audition for an upcoming concert, and three months later realized two of my biggest lifelong dreams of singing with an orchestra, and singing The Sound of Music. I got to perform The Hills Are Alive with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, along with a few other classics from Rodgers and Hammerstein. This definitely goes down as one of the biggest highlights of my life, and needless to say, there isn’t a day that I don’t think about how majestic and magical it felt to be held so tightly and healed by the waves of orchestral music.

I also lost 7kgs, finally weighing in at 55kgs; climbed a tiny number of 7a(s), and made a resolution to climb 7b by the end of the year. It saddens me to report that instead of hitting the 7b goal, climbing took a backseat in the second half of the year and I’m back at struggling on 6b(s) 😂 I also regained 5 of those kilograms and now stand at 60kgs. FML.

When the second half came, it saw me getting reacquainted with a dark old friend, which took me on a downward spiral towards the big black hole of nothingness. I got three years’ worth of hair chopped off in a bid to shed some weight off my head and shoulders, all in vain. While it is still an uphill battle to keep alive one day at a time, I’m thankful this recovery is being made easier with the support of the most amazing life partner and family one can ask for, who have all been ever so patient in loving and supporting me despite never quite understanding wtf is going on in my head.

With that, here comes the part of this entry that I’ve been looking forward to – listing my goals for the new year. I have always been a firm believer of making resolutions, but this year I’m adamant on becoming a believer of keeping resolutions. Wish me luck, and willpower.

So come 2018, I look foward to :-

1. Taking better care of my voice.
It was really tough having to take most of November and the entire December off from work, having suffered a vocal chord infection that’s still actively triggering allergic reactions that renders my voice completely useless. Less fried food, less curry, less pepper, more sleep, more water, more practice.

2. Getting healthier and fitter, and staying that way.
I look forward to experimenting and finding out what works best for me – What’s sustainable and what’s not. Regain some agility while getting rid of this lethargy. I’m not weight-obsessed or extreme by any measure, but the goal is also to stay below 55kgs for the sake of my poor fingers.

3. Eating better.
In terms of food quality, quantity and schedule. To banish gastric, acid reflux and bloating forever. Ever. EVER.

4. Working better.
Finding and sticking with a more efficient work flow, but also ensuring that my work adds value to the occasion/event/clients/musicians/audience. I will strive to work only with musicians who add value to what we do, who are invested in their craft and every job big or small. Above all, I aim to no longer put up with bullying at work.

5. Climbing harder.
Getting back on the walls and training board to boulder better, and eventually getting back on ropes and the outdoors.

6. Managing my time better, so I can pursue my other pastimes. 
More sewing, embroidery, leatherwork and pottery time. I really want a sewing+embroidery machine…

7. Completing two full songs.
And getting them produced.

8. Seeing and experiencing more.
More road trips, short getaways, and one rock trip a year.

9. Reducing waste.
Stop wasting money on cheap things that fall apart in no time and end up as trash. But also reducing waste by minimizing my usage of plastic cups and straws, pretty but unnecessary paper bags, etc. Walk more, take full advantage of the MRT, and just try living as minimally as possible without depriving or torturing myself.

10. Beating depression and stop self-harming.
And no more attempts to escape it all.

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And that concludes it! For now. I don’t believe I’m setting myself up for too much. With that, I’m signing off to do the one thing I’ve done well in 2017 and will continue to practice in 2018 – Sleep! I’m really quite proud to have stuck with a pretty good sleep-early-wake-early schedule 😇

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR, folks! I wish you all prosperity, good health and most of all happiness as you start afresh.