Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rest

Sleep,
a sweet escape that it should have been,
a sweet escape that it used to be.
Now robbed off of me,
you find me even in my dreams,
and I have no where else to run to,
because
I have everything to run from.
Just let me go,
I know your ears are not deaf to my pleading,
but even if you do hear,
my heart and mind won't agree.
Just lay it to rest,
just lay it to rest,
for these have become all too much.
To be numbed from them,
my only rest.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Outside looking in

A peek at the ones beside me,
I felt a tumbling of myself.
Longing for what -- I don't even know,
but I know I need it,
because I don't want to be left out of the bandwagon.

Please, please, would you just let me in with you?
But I'm sorry, I have got nothing to give with it.
I've been missing for so long,
and along with it left this little spark.
A cry for it to come back,
didn't even feel that real.
I grapple for it,
but knows not what is there to search.
I don't know where to start.
I don't know how to stay in it.
I just don't know.
God help me please.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bookworm post. Stay Out.

Today, in Ikano Power Centre's Popular bookstore, I used up all of the two hundred ringgit worth of 1Malaysia book vouchers gifted to me -- just like the ones every other primary and secondary school and college student received. It is moment like this when you can thank God you're still a student. This sudden act of generosity by the government is probably to encourage the reading culture (almost non-existent) in our society, though I do suspect that this is also part of some evil scheme of the government to score extra cookie points from among the rakyat. And by the way, general election is drawing anywhere near from now. Just saying. That's of course not to say I wasn't grateful for the vouchers, because you can give me any amount of book vouchers right now and I'll take it without a second thought of any blackmailing that may entail in the future.

Anyway, purchasing books in a bookstore hadn't happened to me in a long time, so I am thrilled I finally got something. It's not that I stopped buying books prior to this, but technically, all the novels, and the occasional autobiographies, memoirs and hardcovers that I had bought in the later part of last year -- if not the whole -- were obtained from book fairs and warehouse sales that gave deliciously generous discounts, and those don't count as bookstores. For other more interest-specific or obscure titles (like history of beaded jewelry or interior designer profiles) that couldn't be salvaged from a clearance, I resorted to the cheap thrill of frequent jaunts to my college library (total bookworm, I know right) to read for free. Christian books, I have many friends to borrow them from. So you see, I had more than enough of my supply of books without needing those major bookstores anymore. Oh wait, I did buy some magazines from Popular the other day, but magazine is arguably not a book. Not counted.

So yup, today was to be a good day of vouchers spent on books that haven't been thrown around, disfigured and marked down to one-fifth of its original worth. I can finally splurge on some expensive books, and looked around excitedly at all the titles once we stepped into the store I did too.

But do you know what happens once you have been spoiled hopeless with all the book fairs (MPH, Popular, The Big Bad Wolf) that popped out randomly around Klang Valley throughout the year? You get so used to filthily cheap books, you now think everything you see or yearn for in a proper bookstore is expensive. At least that was what happened to me.

Initially, I was excited I could get practically anything that I wanted just because I already had currency designated for books. I'd had my hopes high on buying some art and craft books that in other circumstances would have been too pricey. But after fifteen minutes of flipping through pages of fashion, how-to-paint, crocheting and jewelry-making books, I realized my current circumstance didn't change my opinion that these books were too pricey. Just picking three craft books could easily take up all of my vouchers' monetary worth, and I preferred being able to buy more than just three items with the vouchers. What more, now that all these artsy stuff can now be learnt through blogs and YouTube, I saw no point in buying these books anymore -- especially when I couldn't be sure yet what craft I really wanted to invest my time and money in in the long term.

So I walked away from the shelves imaginably labeled 'exorbitantly priced titles,' and splurged on expensive stationery and blank-page journals (one for me, one for Jess) I wouldn't usually be willing to pay for instead. And also two novels that I knew could be obtained much more cheaply in some future fairs but I didn't want to wait for. (I finally got Coraline by Neil Gaiman that I'd wanted since forever.) The remaining value, I let my mom use on her Chinese books.

At long last, I now have those little punchers that punch adorable little shapes (59.90 MYR, but thankfully, there was 30% discount), which made me giddy with joy not unlike a kid with her first Play-Doh set. The second novel I got is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.
My blank-page journal made from recycled papers. I bought it because I hardly come across journal covers with fine art on it. It's too pretty to not be my next journal. :)
From now on, I think I'm mostly going to stop buying books from major bookstores, because it's just silly to do that when they will have book fairs selling the same things for less anyway.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hope for the Better

I haven't blogged about the books I read in a very long time. At long last, I feel like talking about one or two maybe. Some of them have eased away idle time I barely found for myself; several others had done a little more by tingling this little thing called my emotion. I think I'll talk of the latter ones. Or maybe just one. 

via Beaded Hope
I like Beaded Hope.

Beaded Hope by Cathy Ligget is a novel inspired by a non-governmental organization of its namesake based in South Africa. It tells of four women, all of different ages and standing in very different stages of life, who cross each other's path when they all signed up for the two-week mission trip to Mamelodi in South Africa. Supposedly to give hope to the HIV/AIDS stricken community of mostly women and children who have been left to support and fend for themselves, we all know inspirational stories of this sort always end up with the individuals who have gone to a place to bless whom are themselves blessed instead.

The story opens with a portrayal of an overly-loving relationship between Gabby and his husband, which I have to admit, felt slightly cheesy to me. As it turns out, the loving couple has invested so much financially and emotionally into years of trying to conceive a child -- and coping with the miscarriages. The amount of love Tom still pours out to his beloved Gabby is disarming and enviable.


On the whole opposite end of the issue of life, stepmother-and-stepdaughter pair, who still mourns the death of their husband/father and who seems to have a widening gap between them, faces another jolt of life's surprise for them when Katie, the daughter, becomes a pregnant seventeen-year-old.

Then there's Cassandra, a career woman who has arrived at her success and owns everything that she has by her own effort. She trusts no one; not God, not humans.

The women meet, initially wary of each other, but they experience, and so they learn.

The novel didn't turn out cheesy like the first few pages had caused me to fear. In fact, it became quite so engrossing that I read it through amid the busy traffic of people coming to and going from my house during the core days of Chinese New Year festivity. I quickly became drawn into the emotions of the characters -- didn't matter which side of the Atlantic Ocean they were situated at that time. The author sure knows how to make the women and their thoughts relatable to the readers.

More than just a feel-good novel about women helping women, and the incredible bond nurtured between them and with the African community in a span as short as a couple weeks, this novel became a much-needed reminder to me of the faithfulness of my God. It was through this novel that I felt God speaking to me when I was in one of my absolute lows in my walk with Him. If you have read my previous post, I was just like Gabby in the story; disappointed, feeling abandoned, and bitter.

This novel spoke so much to me because it was a sincere portrayal of our Father in Heaven who is forever faithful, even if having things be unraveled to us in His timing can feel like otherwise a lot of the times. But God is faithful, and it doesn't matter if you are a woman suffering from AIDS and having to live with the fear of leaving your children orphaned, or if you feel guilty and spoilt after seeing the generosity and gratefulness of the lives that have less than half of what you have, or if you are bitter towards Him, or if you have made Him absent in your life for the longest time. In the novel, He redeemed every lady in touching, different ways.


And if an author can portray God as such in a made-up story -- that has touched me so and made me cry in quiet abundance and realize again that He is indeed so real -- how much more amazing and real are the things that Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, can do in my life, right? I admit, things aren't going to be easy even after this. But it is really good to have a novel that reminded me of God's goodness.

And to the author's credit, the story line wasn't as predictable as I had originally thought it to be. Because I predicted some parts wrong.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not forgotten after all

A cry in silence for anyone who would hear
-- funny how the most desperate call is the one to go unheard.
Deafening sound
the others are deaf to,
so deaf that I
took it upon myself.
Just it against my silence,
and presence defeated by absence,
my scream becomes a statue
frozen in everlasting time.

Life isn't all low, but it isn't all high either. It just happened that I had one of my lows.

There is this little corner in my heart that always knows God to be the God who will never forsake. Sometimes though, to be convinced that I was anywhere near the top in His priority list felt ludicrous. I figured there were always people more important for Him to attend to, or people in greater distress that needed His immediate attention more than I did. It seemed like I'd been calling out to Him for so long -- far too long. But I guessed my problems weren't big enough to be rendered a prayer answered. Problem was, my problems weren't small enough for me to take them all in my own hands either. Stuck in the middle, was that a problem God could at least take a little look at?

I guess I got bitter after a while. I mean, wouldn't you too if you were me? I desired for more, but nothing seemed to show up from His side. I gave my thanks. Nothing came. I read the Bible. Nothing in me sparked. I prayed that He would help me understand His wonder. Nothing. But maybe the harsher way would work. Questioning God becomes easier once you keep at it. I questioned His care for me. I questioned the injustice of subjecting me to seeing His marvel be manifested in the lives of others, but not in mine. I accused Him of ignorance, maybe not directly, but I did think of it.

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I allowed bitterness and anger and forlornness to enter my heart, but it soon made me feel sad and alone. I couldn't even talk to God without feeling somewhat insignificant anymore. And I got tired. Tired of the people who seemed to have it easy and could easily tell me to not try too hard, but to let God take over. Truth be told, the balance between waiting and doing is clearer told than practiced. I asked Him if it wasn't me not surrendering my all to Him or me just waiting around expecting a boom that was the problem, but rather, was it because I was more flawed than the rest of mankind. Silly thoughts I know I had, but so real too they were that they really hurt.

It took someone to finally confront me before I had no choice but to face myself and the way I had been facing God. At first, it still made no sense. I could not understand why I felt nothing from Him even after He had -- I'm sure -- heard my angry desperation. But then it made sense. Just like a husband who wouldn't act like nothing is wrong when his wife is angry at him and who would be cautious with the way he approaches her, the Heavenly Father who respects my feelings is not going to freely approach me when I am not exactly on the best terms with Him. He is probably going to wait for the heart to settle. Funny huh, if you think about it now, how I could actually expect to feel His love when at the same time, I was mad at Him and probably slowly pushing Him away -- and then getting even more mad and agitated when what I expected for didn't happen.

I knew then that if I really wanted my Heavenly Father to work in my life, I needed to let Him into it, and that wouldn't happen if my bitterness was becoming a fortification that guarded my heart. So that night, I talked to Him. I asked God to help me let go of the bitterness and doubts that had been dwelling in me, because I wanted to be on good terms with Him again and to see Him be manifested in my life. After saying my prayer, my bedroom ceiling did not open up to show Heaven shining down upon me. No, no dramatic manifestation of such scale happened. But I felt lighter. Much much lighter than my spirit had allowed me to feel in a long time. That was God's manifestation enough.

Today, I read a section of a book that reminded me again of my God who sees, who cares, who remembers -- through Hagar's story. Hagar might have been a nobody compared to Sarah. But God remembered Hagar the first time she ran away into the wilderness (Genesis 16:7-11), and He remembered her and her son again when she was banished from her master's house. Roaming in the wilderness, Hagar felt invisible. With no more water to drink, she felt hopeless. But God showed himself to be there for her, to give Hagar hope by opening her eyes to the well of water just when she thought she was going to watch her son die of thirst (Genesis 21: 8-19).

Like Hagar, I felt invisible in my own wilderness, thinking that my problems would not compare with the big problems of others in the world, therefore not worthy of God's time and attention. But just when I thought I was going to give up hope, He opened my eyes, so that I can now see His ways of loving me all the while He was waiting for me to return to His embrace. He used the people who care for me to stir my heart after I had closed it from Him. And even when I had given up on reading His Word, He used novels to reach me. God didn't think me less significant, nor my problems too small to garner any attention. He remembered me all along. He was just waiting for my heart to settle, and it took me some time to realize that.


So she called the name of the LORD who spoke, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me." (Genesis 16:13)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's the Dragon Year

To all the Chinese people out there -- and anybody else who celebrates it anyway because it has become a part of your culture -- Happy Chinese New Year! :)

Mushu can finally cheer as this is his year.

"Yeah!" (via disneysites)
Jessica's birthday fell on the first day of the celebration, so she turned a ripe young age of twenty-one yesterday too. My sister has finally gained her brand new independence. Which, on second thought, probably makes no difference to her since she hasn't exactly been deprived of freedom by my parents. Right?
I'm sure she attests to it.

We celebrated it all with the best food (Mom's cooking) and some relatives coming over, sort of like a little reunion and surprise birthday party sort of thing. Nothing too grand. But really, the whole coziness of it is what makes the celebration extra lovely.

So, blessed 21st birthday, dearest Jessica! Thanks for being the sister who puts up with my crudeness, my crazy random bursts of singing spontaneous songs with plain terrible lyrics and especially the blanket-pulling (and totally winning you at it) on cold nights; who shares even when I don't, who cares even when you don't want to admit to it sometimes, and who is like a best friend to me. I love you!

Friday, January 20, 2012

This has got to be the coolest home to live in, don't you think?

via honestlywtf.com
Alas, these colorful trailers stacked on top of one another is not a real home. It is actually an outdoor set for the production of Ivanov (a play by a Russian playwright) at the Openluchttheater in Amsterdam. But this is still way too cool to me! :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

He woofs, she meows

Boy meets girl. Awww. (via)
I'm nineteen and I'm still young, but back in my even younger days when it was still cute and not dumb to assume dumb things, I thought all dogs were males and all cats were females, and that a dog and a cat came together to produce boy puppies and girl kittens. No wonder the saying "fighting like cats and dogs" existed too. Did anyone else ever have the same thought as mine?

I deviate from here.

One and a fifth
That's how many hands I need to type decently. School has taught me plenty, but some lessons, like typing the proper way with all of ten fingers on the keyboard, just never stuck with me.

One fine day, I was typing away on my laptop with Jess beside me. She observed me for a while, laughed and said I typed with only my right hand and my left index finger. I gave her a "you kidding me" stare (okay, maybe I didn't, but for story-telling's sake, I think I did) and went back to typing. Then I laughed out loud, because I realized then that I really don't use the other three fingers and the thumb on my left hand whenever I type on a keyboard.

And if I have to choose a song that really helped me through life, it has to be the Alphabet song.
People tell me I'm intelligent and quick-to-learn (and I'm not denying the facts), but I spent probably the first fifteen years of my life not quite knowing whether O came after or before P. Every time I needed to identify the alphabetical order of a letter, I would have to sing the famous Alphabet song until I got to the letter I wanted. Figuring out the orders of the alphabet was my childhood nightmare. And I was petrified of language exercises that asked me to arrange a group of random words in alphabetical order. Of course, I seemed to face a lot of such exercises.

Only when I was the secretary of the Interact club back in my high school and also put in charge of the database of my church's youth group did I get a good grasp of the alphabet and its order. I had to. That was because sifting through oceans of names and placing them alphabetically became my job. I would always screw up Excel document (I still do), so I ended up using Word and had to recite the Alphabet song in my head like about two hundred times as I manually put the names in the right order. It was on an otherwise usual day when I was magically able to say that H comes before I at the snap of a finger. You have no idea how much of a personal achievement that was for me.

I still screw up the order every now and then, but the improvement is an achievement nevertheless.

Not driving others crazy drives me crazy.
I'm restless by nature. I pace about hallways and rooms and the great outdoor and just about anywhere with floor space because it's like second nature to me. I pace when I eat, read or am just deep in my own thoughts. It drives the people around me (especially the poor family members who have had to endure this for years already) crazy when I do that. But I'll go crazy if I have to stand still. I can't sit too, because sitting only causes me to feel lazy, which leads to lying down and consequently, falling asleep. So I guess I'm left with walking.

Okay, enough of random nothings for today. Bye.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A check to resolution No. 3

I have too many things I want to do, and as always, never the adequate time. But I'm unnecessarily proud to announce that I've gotten a head start on one of my resolutions.

After using the wonder of the World Wide Web to search for myself friendship bracelets how-to, and after the first two failed attempts (due to misinterpretation of instructions) that resulted in random, tangled blotches of color, AND after a search for more tutorials from YouTube that proved more useful than mere text instructions, I've finally made my very first proper friendship bracelet. :)

I'm not even going to pretend that I am not excessively proud of the success of my first Chevron-patterned friendship bracelet.
This is second attempt -- with a simpler pattern called Candy Stripe -- on its way (and done).


I'm now on my third bracelet and I intend to experiment with all as many patterns as I can, or rather, for as long as (because I can't promise that my short-attention span won't fail me) the lifespan of my interest in this hobby allows me.

The most often used strings for making the bracelets are the embroidery flosses, but I couldn't find them in any of the stationery shops near my college. So I had to settle for slightly thickers ones that I'm not quite sure of the name. But I think these thicker ones are actually better because they make the bracelets seem more sturdy.

Only 2 ringgit for each bundle. I wish I had bought more colors because I'm now restricted to making everything in green, sky blue, pink and dark purple until I get my hands on more yarn.

Bring me the yarns!