So I haven’t really written about the book launch at all, and that is due to two things; I had been crazy occupied and I also wanted to get some feedback from others who were there as to how they thought it went. For all I know I could be the only one who thought it went okay whereas everyone else had a snoozefest!
There were in general three groups of people present – family, friends, and other avid readers/writers. We cleared the center of the MPH bookstore in One Utama, and created a little cosy area for everyone to settle in. Most of the guests had never been to a book reading event before, so we wanted to make it as nice as possible so more people would go to more book readings!
For this purpose, I decided to interview M, a good friend of mine, who was there for the whole event. That way, you can get the feel of what it was like to be present!
What was the first thing you noticed when you arrived at the book launch?
The poster! The large poster where all guests can sign or give any well wishes.
*We also had a big world map, with pictures of the book being all over the world. They are from readers who travel with the book. Alright the one with the pile of books is obviously mine. #narcissistic
How did I appear? Nervous? Uneasy?
You looked so happy! I also thought you were a really good host. You greeted everyone and you made sure you talked to everyone.
*The truth is I was dead nervous. I didn’t even sleep well the night before. I was anxious about everything that might go wrong – what if the mic doesn’t work? What if no one shows up? What if I have diarrhea?
Is this your first book-reading event?
What did you think about my book reading?
Since I’ve never actually been to a book reading session before, I kind of expected it to be boring and dull. Instead I thought it was really funny! It was interactive, and everyone was in a good mood and responded well. And did you see Yu He and Ruzzana reading the book as you went on?
Did you like the game we played? What was your general observation of the crowd?
I did! The part where everyone has a chance to read an excerpt of the book was quite fun. It was good to see everyone’s different reactions while reading it. And you elaborated the back story of each excerpt, so that it becomes relatable. Did I think it went too long? Maybe a little bit. But overall it was okay.
*Everyone who volunteered got a gift voucher. We also had a game where you submit the best breakup story you’ve ever heard, and the top three winners get a mystery gift!
Were there a lot of people during the book signing? Did you have fun mingling?
There was a line to get the book signed. I definitely had fun, but that’s probably because I know you, so it meant something a little extra.
Did you like the book? Why?
I did, but I actually haven’t even finished reading it hahaha. But so far I like it because I thought it offered a different perspective on things, and I thought it was extremely intimate the way you wrote it.
Did you talk to my family? What did they say?
Your Mom said she read it twice and your Dad said he hasn’t finished reading it.
*My cousins showed up as well! It was awesome. And aside from my friends, my friends’ parents came too!
What was your main takeaway from the whole event?
A lot of people came, more than I expected. It was obvious that you have an amazing support system. I was also impressed to see other readers show up as well!
Pre-read Warning: This blog entry will have NO chill.
Don’t worry, no one is getting an actual baby out of her body this time.
OH MY GOD guys!!
So excited to finally share that I will be publishing a book soon!!
(Alright, fine. MPH Publishing house does the publishing. But you know what I mean)
Here’s a sneak preview of what the book looks like!
The book is called “Dumped: A Journey of Lessons Through Breakups, Mishaps and Misadventures”. The first chapter was written around 2015, and here it is now in the form of an actual, proper book!
It has been such a labour of love. After two years of writing it (first year of doing un-constructed bits and pieces, second year of pulling it all together to make a story), three occasions of re-writing the whole manuscript and a few months of editing, MPH Publishing house will be publishing it by the end of September 2017.
We’ll have a proper book launch where I will be doing some book-reading for you, have some awesome games/prizes, an opportunity for you to have a copy of the book and hopefully we can say hi to each other!
I loved and enjoyed every single process of this book, and in turn I hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy it too!
My book will be available at bookstores in MALAYSIA and SINGAPORE.
Details for the book launch and where/how/when you can get it will be announced soon (you will also be able to buy it online, of course).
I’ll also explain a little bit more about the book itself in the next blog entries.
Till the next exciting update!!
Many years ago, out of some strange epiphany I had, I decided to write down my expectations for myself when I eventually turn 30. Although I am always a believer that being present is of upmost importance in enjoying youth, I thought it would be good to set up little targets and milestone checks, something to aspire to.
I eventually opened the letter again a few days ago, and my first impression was “Man, my handwriting hasn’t evolved!” But other than that, I'll tell you this; if you're not convinced whether you have grown at all in the past decade, doing this is a surefire way to prove otherwise.
I’ve cropped excerpts of the letter here to share, except some paragraphs that I thought was so embarrassing that no one other than the writer should ever read it again.
It started off rather innocently. You can see how vanity was very evident in the earlier years of my twenties. (cringe)
Yes, I suppose SK2 really does work.
No, I don't have a treadmill at home.
(more cringe-worthy stuff)
Good God woman, that is a whole lot of discussion on products (and yes, I do use Touche Eclait now hahaha).
It turns out that I do like my job(s) now, and I did become a published writer. And I'm glad the younger me had the same sentiment about money as I do now. I obviously was not thinking about retirement savings at that point of time.
Next, I went on about how I expected myself to be more involved in community work. Honestly, I am not doing enough volunteer work or contributing as much as I thought I should. Something to improve on as a way forward!
Apparently, I was also psychic. Here I discussed the pros of my current life status, as though I knew exactly where I'd be when I'm 30. It was also a very long, detailed write-up about how I should be enjoying it.
It became very apparent in these paragraphs that I was afraid of giving up my independence, something I still struggle with today.
Hey, 23 year-old me. I still agree with everything you just said here! (*tear*)
"And I also don't like to make sacrifices and compensations..." Wow. I was pretty selfish when I was younger.
Happiness truly is key. It was true then and it is still true now.
It is insane to be 30. INSANE! Although a birthday is nothing but just a numerical milestone, it feels that I am so far away from that same girl who wrote those letters. So much has happened, and I could never imagine ever being that same girl of 23 again. I saw things that left me starry eyed, I did things I never thought I had the capability of doing and most importantly, I met people who had tremendously changed my life.
Now that I am on the other side of the twenties, I guess what I’d say from my experiences is… don’t wait. If you want to do something, go for it. There will never be a better time. If you find something that gives you joy, don't give them up. You might never get the opportunity again. Some things in life really do only happen once.
I posed a simple question to a bunch of people (and by bunch, I mean that I spread it out to be as diverse as possible culturally/socially), in the name of research.
“What is something from your Twenties that you wish you had done differently/better?”
Surprisingly, across different cultures and current social backgrounds, everyone seem to have a thematically similar answer.
NOT surprisingly, men (about 15 of them) had a thematically similar answer – they wish they had dated more in their twenties.
(Insert side-eye smiley)
As a summary, here is a list of top choices of what everyone should at least strive to do before they turn 30, based on summarized answers from the survey and personal experiences.
NOTE: Answers have been filtered to make them less specific/vulgar
1. Befriend someone completely different than you
Or date someone completely different than you. Whichever floats your boat, really. Chances are most of us live in this comfortable cocoon, where everyone has the same background, the same beliefs, the same culture and the same perspectives. The bad news is, this has a tendency to turn us into narrow-minded folks, makes us less empathetic towards others and frankly, is why we have so many hate crimes around the world.
Getting to know someone different from us will open our eyes to so much more than we have ever known, and perhaps, if we’re lucky, show us different and better ways to live our lives.
This seems like generic common advice, but you’ll be surprised how so many of us have not even ventured out even beyond our own hometowns. For a lot of people, traveling is a great driver for personal development. Looking at other places and people in different parts of the world will either make us grateful for the things we have, or motivated to want to do more. Traveling adds to wisdom, open-ness and also intellect.
That is also probably a reason why well-traveled men are so, so very sexy. #justsaying
3. Start taking care of your health
Someone from the survey said that he wished he had taken better care of his life during his younger days.
Chances are not many of us would be bothered to be mindful of looking after our wellbeing when we’re younger (exhibit A: I used to have boiled hotdogs for dinner almost every night of the week). By mid-thirties it would all start to surface – too much sugar, drinks, fast food and processed meats will now translate to badly-ageing skin, expanding waistlines, and deteriorating bodily functions. So take heed while you can.
4. Be in love, at least once
I’ll make this one short; you will never learn as much about yourself and your life more than you would through loving others, and all the processes of it, be it the infatuation, the connection to another person, and even getting your heart broken. All amazing, important lessons.
5. Try something physically extreme
The ‘twenties’ is called the ‘prime years’ for a reason! Maximize your youthful exuberance and the best years of your physical shape by trying out something physically demanding. Perhaps go for extreme hiking. Or maybe a few days’ worth of jungle trekking. And how about a diving expedition? Before the joint pains, knee aches and the plummet of physical strength begins, best enjoy the opportunity to try these things.
6. Achieve a dream
No, it doesn’t have to be as extravagant as traveling the world or as ambitious as becoming a millionaire. It could be any dream, even as simple as learning how to cook, going for piano lessons or finally going to see your favorite band play. Don’t put them off, because the older you get the more commitments you’ll have, therefore reducing your chances of ever getting around to achieve your dreams, whatever that may be.
7. Have a journal
Someday, you will wonder where the years had gone by when you were young and wild and free. So for those days, keep a journal to remind your older self later that in fact, you did have an eventful life with memorable milestones. If you can’t be disciplined enough to keep a daily journal, then have a weekly/monthly one, or if even that is not possible, keep your social calendars as a memento.
8. Learn to handle stress
Newsflash: The challenges get harder. Life is almost like a video game, designed to keep improving your life skills and quality of self. It is never too early to figure out what works best for you in terms of handling hard times. This is not as easy as it seems as people react differently to different things. It could be yoga, praying, binge-watching the Kardashians, a shrink, owning a pet monkey – your future self will thank you for establishing it early.
9. Be alone
And I can’t stress this enough. Through the people that are constantly in our lives and the responsibilities we have to take – mother, daughter, friend, spouse, Insta-celeb – it is easy to lose ourselves in height of these things. Being alone, whether for a period of time, a phase or even just a little while, allows for a space to re-center ourselves, immerse in our own thoughts, and re-calibrate. Don’t be thinking about other places you could be or other people you could be with.
If you can’t make yourself happy and feel enough on your own, no one can.
10. Do something for someone else
The twenties is a selfish period of time. Between trying to find ourselves, adjusting into adulthood and wanting to have lots of fun, contributing to others often ends up in the backburner. It is mostly about me-me-me and less about doing things for the sake of helping others with no personal gains. But devoting time for the benefit of others, either through charity, volunteer work or even helping someone with their life will help set us in the right headspace of becoming a citizen with value.
There is no point living if all you’re doing is exist, work and die.
No, that’s not my new last name (although admittedly, it does sound pretty hip for a last name).
So happy to announce that I would be writing for New Straits Times!
Blogging has always been such a blast. I love how I am able to be transparent and free to write about everything under the sun, and channelling good energy through words has always been such therapy. Writing a column for NST also brings the same joy, but it will be more specified – I will be discussing subjects under the flagship of Women's Relationships and Health, both of course shall be conveyed in a fun way that would hopefully be as entertaining as it is meaningful.
I thought long and hard about what I should call the column. Eventually I narrowed it down to 3 options;
Eventually, I came about with ‘Amal Muses’. Why? A rather simple explanation – I am almost always musing over things. Simple and to the point.
And so the first article came out and I am over the moon! I felt super proud and grateful to see it, kind of like when I first made a soufflé and it came out almost perfect. Or that time when I actually understood what my real estate agent was talking about when she was explaining loans. But better. If you don’t have the paper, you can always read them online. Just Google ‘Amal Muses’ and take the first link on the list.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them!
I’m 29 years old. I know. I’m just as surprised as you are. This time around, I didn’t check around for wrinkles. They aren’t there and they wouldn’t be there for a while, so why worry? This morning I was largely excited about the prospect of spending it with people that mean a lot to me in my life, but also worried that I may be expected to have more answers about more things from now onwards. And I don’t. (Exhibit A: I had no idea what happened to Turkey last weekend, until someone told me on Monday night.)
The past year had been a major milestone in terms of learning things about life the hard way. Most of the things centred on ‘love’, and I mean that in every sense of the word. Taking care of my father before, during and after his triple bypass surgery. Watching and caring for my grandfather’s deteriorating health until his passing a week ago. Family members who grew into very different people than you, but understanding that it does not mean you should love them any less. The idea of loving a boy means very differently than what it did 2 years ago. And finally, loving and accepting yourself and staying true to who you are with minimal concerns about other people’s ‘perspective’ – it’s a rough climb but once you get there, it is extremely liberating.
Here are some highlights from my 28th year.
Honestly, I love turning 29! I have learned that age gives me an upper hand in making smarter life decisions and highly improves my dressing skills (have you seen my hideous getups in my early twenties? Yuck.). I am at a place in my life where I am very happy to be where I am at this moment and am surrounded by the most wonderful people – there is such goodness to be within such a positive energy. Life challenges are inevitable, and all of us will face some in our personal ways. But what is the meaning of life if it is all just fun and dandy?
Here goes my last year of being in the twenties! Better tie up my shoelaces, I have a feeling it will be a good one.
It is an unwritten cliché that a lot of singletons like to spend their time exercising. You know, just in case Jake Gyllenhaal show up at my front door one day. I mean, I’ve got to be prepared to look my best. It was a normal workday and I had decided to ditch my usual exercise routines and opt for something a little different. I heard that the nearby gym has fun classes you could join, and statistics always show that following a group workout makes the exercise more effective.
A class that sounded intriguing to me was a particular studio session called ‘Shbam’. I’m not even quite sure how to pronounce it really. The poster showed two ladies having the time of their lives strutting a move in awesome yoga pants, so I figured I would give it a shot. So off I went, high spirited to join an exercise routine that will surely give me lean legs like Jessica Alba.
The exercise started rather normally. The instructor was a flamboyant man in his twenties, and he had a microphone attached to an earpiece. The music was loud and funky. Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ started playing. The instructor told us to move around like he was. I followed suit. “You can do it!” He started yelling at the microphone.
“Oh yes! Oh yes!” He went at it again. At this point I started giggling a little because I always find words of affirmation from personal trainers to be somewhat of a script by a programmed robot. They are designed to tell you that “You’re doing great!!” or “Those hips are shrinking already!!” The music got more upbeat and louder.
“Yes, ladies!” He shouted again. “You’re single! You’re single and ready to mingle!”
Yes, I’m… wait. What?
I looked around. The studio was definitely filled with just women, alright. Women of all shapes and sizes, twenties, thirties and forties. I certainly didn’t think that we were all single, especially not the aunties with wedding bands. The instructor went at it again. “Oh yes you’re single! And you’re ready to mingle!”
As I was trying hard to coordinate my arms and legs into a rotating motion, I couldn’t help myself from bursting into a fit of laughter. I was pretty sure the lady next to me was giggling too. It was deeply amusing, finding myself trying to get a good workout with an instructor who seemed determined to remind his audience that they’re single. When you think about it, he probably would never say stuff like “Oh yes you’re a Mama! You’re a Mama and you’re ready to lose that baby gut!” Frankly, I was also a little embarrassed with all that shouting with the microphone. The guys outside who were doing weights and glancing at us were probably secretly glad that they didn’t join this insanely uplifting don’t-you-forget-that-you’re-single exercise routine.
Needless to say, that was the first and last time I ever joined the bloody ‘Shbam’ class. If I needed to sweat while having someone yell that I'm single in my ear, I would just attend a Malay wedding.
The problem with the idea of ‘relaxing at home’ is we rarely would ever relax. There is always some kind of errand you’ll have to do, someone you’ll have to meet and somewhere you’ll have to be. I’ve tried having a staycation at home before. I ended up cleaning out my closet, going for lunch with friends that ended up taking almost a whole day and decided to surf social media until the wee hours of the morning.
So this time around I was adamant on making my One Day Staycation work. I despise school holiday public crowds and made no plans traveling anywhere, so I picked out one day to be my staycation day and did the following in the days beforehand to ensure there will be no disruptions.
When I got home, I turned my social media off (except for the occasional glances in case somebody caught fire or Kim K gets a divorce. You know, emergency stuff). This included my laptop, because as long as it is on, I will always end up being drawn to do some kind of work (office, writing etc). I then proceeded to make a one-pot meal which I will eat the whole day, because as much as I enjoy cooking, I do not want to be at the kitchen on my staycation (note: this is not the day to experiment with a new dish because that will take time and you might screw it up. Or if you prefer, takeout. I cook because I don't like takeouts).
Then I got comfortable and spent the rest of my day watching Homeland, snacking non-stop, reading magazines, taking a long bath, having a cup of tea while watching the sun goes down from my balcony and wearing a face mask. I know they all sound mundane, but think about it. When was the last time you had the pleasure of enjoying your time being idle in your own home? For a whole day? Life moves fast, and aside from the already consuming five-days-a-week work commitment for the most of us, the two days left of the week are crammed with errands, hometowns to visit, children, making time for our loved ones, and even taking vacations that can be exhausting by themselves. Take myself as an example. I can't even remember the last time I read a magazine! Magazines are such an indulgence for me these days. I have magazines dating from 2014 that I have not had time to even read until today. And here I was, flipping through the pages, not thinking about that meeting I have on Monday or any of my other worldly problems. Those things can take a back seat today.
Having a one-day staycation is a great way to unwind. You’ve got nowhere to be, no emails and social media to consume you, there is no travel time, you get to enjoy being in your home that you’ve worked hard to decorate and make comfortable, you can indulge in food you like, and most importantly you get to feel like your time is your own again. And this last bit is especially important. You will always think that there isn’t time, and that there is something to do or somewhere to be. But if you think back of a past year and can’t recall a time when you’re enjoying your own company in your own home, then your staycation is overdue.
Tips on having a great staycation:
1. Don't set goals for the day. You'll end up chasing it or you'll end up feeling slightly disappointed if it doesn't materialize. This is the time to just sit back and float around.
2. Stay away from social media. That is just a black hole that will suck you in for hours.
3. If you have kids, be realistic. I know a friend who does a half-day staycation due to babysitting time limitations. And it works fine for her.
4. Do what you want on your staycation. If it means trying out all your clothes in the closet, so be it. You don't want to put on pants? Good for you.
5. BE PRESENT. Don't think about your neverending life problems or the bills you forgot to pay or how to make more money. Next time.
My bedroom window. I loved the fact that it was large and breezy. I imagined getting a reading chair somewhere in that corner (notice that large box that serves as a dressing table.)
No table for the kettle.
Glasses I bought when I was in college 5 years ago, to use in my own house someday. Today is someday!
Mugs, gift from Dad.
Boxes galore. Where the heck is my belt???
One criteria in my must-have list when buying a house; a spacious view of the sky.
After 3 years living in the city, I decided that it was time to own a home. I’ve been living in a rented apartment all these while, and although it was a pleasant place to live in, I had never felt particularly… secure. Maybe it was the fact that I live alone in the city and therefore, somehow, I needed to own a house to feel like I belonged there. Like it was actually home.
After about a year looking for a location I wanted, calculations after calculations of financing, looking for a corner of the city that was quiet enough, I found it. An apartment previously owned by a lovely lady, ten minutes from the city centre, kitchen windows overlooking a beautiful forest reserve, balcony overlooking a pool, and a small room big enough to turn into a closet. It was not exactly new, and some work obviously had to be done, but it had something that newly built apartments seemed to lack; personality.
Moving in was exactly how I pictured it to be. A lot of friends coming by to help, boxes in an out, having a lot of fun being exhausted to death, and pizza after. The next morning I drew the dusty curtains away and let some sunshine through onto the wooden floors. I had no table, no couch, I couldn't find my kettle and I wondered if it was normal for the old fridge to buzz so much. And boxes, boxes everywhere. In the rooms, on the kitchen counter, and piled in the living room. I used a larger box as a dressing table. The realistic fact is, it was going to be a long project getting the house completely furnished and decorated exactly as I wanted it to be. The electrical wiring needs to be perfected. A mini-library is yet to be built. But art takes time, and I am excited for it.
Tips when moving houses:
1. For the love of God label the boxes! You have no idea how I had to unpack pretty much every box just to find my working pants.
2. Packing to move is a good chance to rid some of the stuff you’re keeping just for the sake of keeping. I’m talking out of season clothes, ex-boyfriends’ unusable gifts, and wedding door gifts (here’s a good lesson for everyone to give door gifts that are actually usable!)
3. No, girls can’t do everything. Especially when it’s home-maintenance, electrical and plumbing related stuff. Get a good handyman and male friends to help consult. It’s a good learning curve though.
4. Take time to purchase things you really want rather than furnishing it quickly with cheap stuff. Plus, it’s always fun watching TV while sitting on the cold, marble floor for a couple of months (I'm lying).
5. When in doubt, ask Dad. Dad knows everything.