I’ve been in DC for over 2 months now and in some ways, it just keeps getting better. I know neighbourhoods, grocery stores I like, bus routes and coffee places I prefer. I no longer struggle to wriggle my keys into and out of my apartment door. I no longer have to read the signs when I’m changing lines on the Metro on my daily commutes and I figured out the best places to consistently keep my work ID and Metro card. These kinds of things make me really happy.
But I miss the depth of my life in Philly. I don’t consider myself a person who gets lonely much. I rarely feel like I need people, or a certain person to be around me. But maybe that’s what I’m feeling right now? As in, I miss making extra pancakes for my friends. I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast on Saturday and was like… these would be great to share but guess I’ll just make them for myself?? I miss texting my friends when I have baked goods and have them just walk over quickly. I miss how those quick visits sometimes turn into late nights on the couch talking about every and anything.
I have a birthday coming up and as much as I have enjoyed the company of my new friends (I honestly cannot stress this enough—some of the people I’ve met these past few months are the nicest, most talented people I have evermet) I just want to be with the people who already know me really well.
I don’t really feeling like throwing a party with “nice to meet you” and “what do you do?” and “I just moved here from Houston in September”. I want “I was at Hubbub and I moved seats twice to move closer to my usual spot with the power outlet”. I want “this wedding photographer just requested to follow me on Instagram for the fourth time”. I want granularity. I want inside jokes. I want people who know where Damansara is and what cendol is. I want 2 a.m. conversations in Manglish.
I think that the kinds of friends I miss are the ones with a shared history. And I know that a shared history can be developed over time, but I guess right now I feel a little impatient. I also know I have my all my friends at my fingertips. I text May May and Sha allthe time. But they’re not here.
Anyway, like I said, I don’t mean to suggest that I’m making no headway or that I don’t have fun because I do! I love it here and I absolutely adore the friends I’ve made in DC (though I’d appreciate it if we could become BFFs quicker because I’m bored, y’know?). Last night I made nasi lemak and invited Ken’s friend Vera over for dinner. I met Vera during Thanksgiving a couple of years ago while she was visiting Ken in Philly and we reconnected during Ken’s recent visits to DC. I totally knew we would get along, and I was right. We hung out just the two of us for the first time last night and I had such a nice time.
I could’ve talked to her all night, but I also wanted to go to Claire’s birthday thing the same night so I decided to bring Vera with me, and I’m glad I did! Vera is so good with new people and it was so much more fun having her with me. It’s also nice to hang out with work people like Claire, Benjamin and Rachel outside of the office. Claire is a huge denim enthusiast so she had a denim theme and I have to say, it’s such a good one because people always have so many opinions about colours and not everyone has polka dots or whatever. So props to Claire for picking a pretty accessible and fun theme haha. I also met a couple of people who did Fulbright in Malaysia in the past and it was SO EXCITING. We bonded over laksa and char kuey teow and it brought out all the –lahs in me instantly.
I’ve also been reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in ages. Yesterday, I saw Bu for coffee. I know Bu from following my dad to work when he was training BNM’s fresh grads. I’ve kept in touch with a number of the people I met there, and Bu is one of them. He’s living in DC now and we talked for like two hours. It’s sometimes nice to see someone who has a lot of mutual friends with you, especially when you’re in a new city. The familiarity is lovely. He also has been here for a bit longer than I have so he gave me advice about the city and you know, working and life and all that.
Today, I had lunch with Alya. She’s my parents’ friends’ daughter and she was probably my first friend ever in my whole life? Or at least, the first friend I remember having. We have quite a few pictures together of us as kids. But I haven’t seen her since… we couldn’t even remember when. More than 10 years, for sure. It was cool to catch up now that we’re both living in the same city! We had veggie ramen at this cute place in Adams Morgan (I love that neighbourhood) and it was amazing.
So yeah. It’s all good. In fact, it’s great. It’s just not home, but that’s ok. We did it once and we can do it again (did I ever tell you that when I talk to myself, I refer to myself as “we”? It’s like the me who’s speaking is different than the me I’m speaking to).
I’ve just gotten back from a quick… um, early dinner? late second lunch? I don’t know, I just got back from Kelana Jaya, where my family and I went out for some char kuey teow (no prizes for guessing whose idea that was). All of that “just had a scaling appointment at the dentist” sensation from my dentist appointment this afternoon has completely gone. Oops.
My insanely indulgent summer holiday is coming to an all-too-rapid close but has shown no signs of slowing down in terms of how much fun I’ve been having. I think it’s been a while since I’ve done a recap and I don’t really feel like covering everything I’ve done so I’m just going to do another run down of some personal highlights.
Aboo Bakars Bowling Tournament
I mentioned a while ago that my family was going to have a bowling tournament and we did! It was so. much. fun.
First of all, let me just stress that I suck at bowling. If you set aside my 8-year-old cousin Natasha, I came last out of everyone that day. But it was just really fun to see how good some other people were and it was extra exciting when my ball didn’t end in the gutter! My dad even sorted people into teams such that each team would have players of equal capability and no team has an advantage over another and no one knew who was in which team to start with so we all just rooted for everyone. There were prizes and everything!
My favourite part of the day though was probably when we all went out for lunch at Delicious after we all played two rounds. I love going out with my extended family. We always end up blocking out a whole section of the restaurant because there are like 20 of us.
A while ago, my sister showed me this video on Instagram of this white guy speaking fluently in Malay about a restaurant called Kesom which serves really good nasi kerabu. We decided to go a couple of Sundays ago because nasi kerabu is one of my craving list items and it did not disappoint! The only thing was that my dad made me drive (!!!!) and the GPS took us on some small winding back roads so it was a little nerve wracking but it turned out ok.
That same Sunday, my sisters and I went to Bukit Raja to watch a movie with two of our cousins, Alesya and Azlina. We watched Bad Genius, which was the talk of the town—everyone was absolutely raving about it! Basically, it’s about this really smart girl who starts a system to help rich kids get good grades by helping them cheat in exams in exchange for money (when I told my mom this, she was like “why are you watching a movie about cheating?” but like, obvs there was a lesson and all of that).
I loved the cinematography of it all. Some parts were cringey and unrealistic but it was just all so beautifully shot and I really take my hat off to the Thai entertainment industry for a well thought out film. (*cough* now, if only Malaysia could stop making ridiculously stupid ghost movies…)
HAIRCUT + FOOTBALL DEBACLE
Last week, my sister wanted to go get a haircut and for one reason or another, each salon she went to that day turned her away (too full, closed, etc) but after Maghrib, we decided to try another one near Aeon Seksyen 13. So we left after dinner, thinking it would just be a short drive, but a little apprehensive because Waze said it would take us like 30+ minutes. It was a little strange, but we thought it was just peak rush hour traffic jam, so like, whatevs.
After getting stuck in traffic for ages, we finally remembered that Malaysia was playing against Laos (I think it was Laos that night) at the Sect 13 stadium………. literally, there were cars parked on the road. We just couldn’t believe it. I think that was Aida’s like 4th or 5th attempt to get her haircut that day. So, we ended up going back to BJ, stopping at Mydin, getting a pair of scissors (and a good ol’ Ramli burger hehe) and getting my mum to cut her hair because she was desperate lol.
To be honest, it was such a fun(ny) night hahaha.
Seeing Amalina after 8 YEARS (!)
In 2009, I went to a couple of environmental camps: in Pahang in March and then in Sandakan in June. At both of those camps, I befriended Amalina. We didn’t become BFFs or anything during the camps but you know, we have followed each other on social media ever since. Trust me, I know there are a lot of downsides to social media sites like it amps up the temptation of comparison and urges you to waste your time etc etc but there are a lot of ups to it as well. Keeping in touch with your friends and having a sense of what everyone is up to is one of them—it helps give you like a jumping off point to talk to friends you rarely see. It also means that sometimes you get to really connect with people you otherwise might not get to and that was totally the case with me and Amalina.
We definitely didn’t talk all the time. Far from it. But there were multiple occasions where I felt like we were going through the same thing and sometimes we’d strike up a short conversation just lifting each other up and it was always so special to me. I still have screenshots of her messages to me just being really sweet and expressing how happy she was for me when things were going well. I had no idea that anything I said to her meant anything to her at all until she told me last week, so that was just really great. I’m so glad we got to catch up after 8 years.
Tasha’s 8th Birthday
It’s been so long since I’ve managed to catch my cousin Natasha’s birthday. It’s usually right around the time that I head back to Penn. But this year, I got to go! It was just nice because, well, it’s always fun when my whole extended family gets together to eat (lol I’m family + food 24/7) but also because it has been forever since I’ve been to one of these kid birthday parties! I used to enjoy them so much when I was in primary school and this really reminded me of those days, with all the wrapped up presents and cartoon themed birthday cake!
We got her some Shopkins toys for her birthday which is one of those new age kids things that I totally am out of touch with. They’re just like… objects? I don’t know. This is me, trying to explain what they are to Hanna:
But yeah, it was so much fun and we stayed until like midnight talking and by the time we left, I was already hungry enough for a cheeky little McDonalds stop, heh.
My diploma arrived a week or so ago, while I was still in Kuching. It was rather underwhelming, I gotta tell you, to see that the whole thing is literally just a printed piece of paper and it’s all written up in Latin. Still, we decided to get it framed. I didn’t buy the frames that Penn sold at the bookstore ($200? no thanks) and this whole paragraph is really meant for me to express how happy I am that I got it framed beautifully for less than $30 and it feels way more legit now haha.
Publika with Sha and Eli
It’s been a while since I saw Sha. And her friend Eli, who I met a few years ago, asked if I wanted to meet up, so we all went to Publika last Saturday for dinner because Eli said there was going to be a free jazz festival there (with emphasis on “free”) and we should go catch it. We had dinner—Sha and I had a really good pizza with brie and beets—and after that we went to like that outdoor area to watch the show….. before we all kinda sat and looked at each other like “now what?” lol. Sha hardly complains but that day she was like “can we go somewhere else, I’m bored” hahaha so we went to Artisan (again). It’s so weird that I won’t be seeing her for months at a time now!!! I can’t believe she won’t be coming with me to the US anymore, I feel like that’s going to take time for me to get used to but I’m glad I got to hang out with her a few times this summer.
First time on the MRT!
The new MRT line in KL opened up last month and I finally had a reason to try it out a few days ago. My mum and I took it to Bukit Bintang and it was quite fun! I loved the new stations; they’re really well done, clean and spacious. We hadn’t been to Bukit Bintang in ages (ok, we did go to Pavillion that one time but we didn’t go outside so I don’t think it counts) and I forgot how overwhelmingly touristy it is. I just forgot that there are parts of KL that are that touristy.
Last full family dinner out (for now)
My sister heads back to London tomorrow for her third year in med school, so we went to Jibby & Co. for a nice family dinner yesterday. My family loves going out to eat, and Jibs has been on my list for dinner for a while now. It was a good night as always, especially because we ended up making a stop at what seems to now be our go-to dessert place: Family Mart, hahaha. If you’re in Malaysia, you would know that it’s a not-that-new-anymore Japanese convenience store, but I only got around to visiting it this summer and I. am. obsessed. with their cheesecake ice cream and their ebiko onigiri. Good luck staying in business, 7 Eleven!!!
So yeah, that’ll be all from me now 🙂 I hope everyone else has had a nice week as well. Thanks for reading!
The greatest irony about hari raya/eid is that we go back to Kuching and we visit a lot of people to try to spend time with as many people as possible but I always leave feeling like I’ve spent time with absolutely no one and yet I’m so tired. Plus, this year, because I was fresh off the plane from the US and super-jet lagged, I reallydidn’t spend much time with anyone, so it’s nice that I got to be back in Kuching for another few days last week. Most of it was spent at my grandparents’ house—the house my mum grew up in!—eating, hanging out with my cousins and playing Bananagrams and other word games (by now you should know that this constitutes 90% of what I do when I’m back/on holiday).
I have so many memories in that house, which, according to my nenek, is now like ~45 years old. That’s like twice my age. I remember when I was like 9 or 10, I spent quite a bit of my school holidays there. I even went on my first flight alone to Kuching! I remember playing with my cousins in the garden, running around pretending to be teachers or mothers or witches. I remember the house before it was renovated about 15 years ago, and everything was still wooden and the toilet bowl was, what one of my aunties described as a “throne” because once you entered the bathroom, you had to walk up a few steps to get to the toilet bowl haha. The shower was basically a tap that was above your head! The house is so different now but still sometimes as I walk through it, I almost expect to see all of those old things. So yeah, it’s always good to be back, despite the lack of wifi and airconditioning.
Ok, anyway, first thing’s first, let’s do a cheeky little run down of all the places I went to eat in Kuching. See, the other thing about only going to Kuching during raya is that everything is closed the whole time I’m there. Like, all the shops I want to go to are closed for the whole week or something so I only get to eat it when someone brings some back to KL. But not this time!
We first went to Swee Kang for jagung susu, which is exactly what the name implies. Milk and corn with shaved ice. I have only ever eaten it with the ice all melted because once it reaches me in KL, it’s typically many hours after it was prepared. We also had some rojak buah and cha kueh there, which were so good.
Then we went to Mita, which is the go-to bakery in Kuching. I literally remember going there when I was little and getting the same loaf of… I don’t know what it’s called… butter cake, I guess? It just smells amazing. I got some egg tarts and buttermilk buns and they were perfect for snacking.
We also made a quick pit stop at Black Bean Coffee near the riverfront which is actually a super touristy place but I had heard from my mum that the coffee’s good there and I just really wanted to try it. I got some iced coffee and it was so satisfying, though I think it’s partly because I just haven’t had good strong coffee in ages, since school ended.
The next day, we went to Rumah Hijau, which is another thing that is almost exactly as the name implies. It really is a house that’s green which was made into a restaurant. My sisters and I wanted to go there to have nasi goreng bunga kantan, which is something I had never ever had and it was amazing!! I loved how aromatic the fried rice was. It was nothing like I had ever tasted before. The next time I visit though, I think I’m going to try their nasi kukus. My Mak Long had it and it tasted pretty good.
We got some ice cream at Sunny Hill, which is just this small ice cream stall next to a school on Jalan Cahaya (hence, the name). I have to say the ice cream itself is nothing extraordinary; it’s the really soft and melty kind which isn’t my favourite, but even if it was, I’ve definitely had better ones. But (!) the ice cream is topped with these crushed salted peanuts which makes for this perfect balance of tastes and adds some texture to the otherwise overly liquidy ice cream. 10/10 would go again.
I think our last food stop was Mom’s Laksa for a good ol’ bowl of laksa sarawak, probably my favourite variety of all the laksas in Malaysia (if you’re wondering, though they’ll all really good, I’d easily rank it Sarawak, Johor, Penang/Kedah). Laksa was amazing for breakfast, though it’s really not that much better than what my mum makes at home. It’s just less effort, I guess haha.
So yeah, other than that, we mostly just stayed and ate at home. My grandma made some amazing dhal which we ate with rice or roti bom. On the last day, she made nasi daging with air asam which was amazing. In true grandma fashion, she even made some extra for us to bring home to eat the next day.
The first morning we were there, my friend Lisa came over to visit! It was really funny. She came at like 9 AM, when we were all still kinda groggy. In fact, my sisters were still sprawled out on their mats on the living room floor where they’d slept the night before. So Lisa came and saw us all in our pyjamas, hahaha, it was quite a sight. Lisa is currently a Fulbright ETA in Serian, a couple of hours outside of Kuching, where she’s teaching English at a secondary school. We had some paratha and kari for breakfast together as we caught up and listened to my grandparents’ stories. I think she really enjoyed listening to my grandparents’ stories, seeing as they were both teachers/worked in education for a very long time.
This was actually the first time I ever heard that my atuk actually spent 4 months in Hawaii training some people in the American Peace Corps. He was in the US when JFK was shot, apparently. I literally never knew this. We also heard stories about his experience in Birmingham where he spent 2 academic years studying. He was telling us about how difficult it was to call home back then. I kinda can’t imagine just going abroad for so long when you already have a family and all of that, in a time when travel and communication wasn’t as easy or cheap.
Anyway, so yeah, we had a really nice morning at the dining table. I never would’ve thought that someone I met randomly at PAACH one day would someday be having breakfast with me at my grandparents’ house!! I’m so proud of Lisa and I’ve mentioned it before but I’m so amazed by her dedication to her students and her persistence in trying to keep students engaged despite language and cultural barriers. I honestly don’t think I would fare as well as her if I were to live in Serian but she seems to be enjoying it and has expanded her food palate way beyond mine (no tempoyak for me, thanks). I’m so glad we got to meet again and I honestly can’t wait to see what she goes on to do next.
I also really enjoyed spending time with my cousins, aunts and uncles, and my grandparents because I don’t get to see them a lot, since they’re a whole flight away. As we stood outside in my atuk’s garden, looking at all his plants (mangoes, grapes, pineapples, chilis…) I thought about how I have a lot of hopes and dreams and things I want to achieve and places I want to see. But what do grandparents want? They just want to tell stories to make us laugh and feed us so we’re healthy and happy and just be able to spend time with us as much as possible. I hope we got to make them a bit happier with our visit.
So, I know I was just in Ipoh like a couple of weeks ago but on that trip, I was mostly just catching up with a friend–so much so that it didn’t really matter where we were. I even told Shahirah on my way home that day that “I spent a whole day in Ipoh and literally only have one picture and it’s a selfie in a carpark” HAHA.
Still, I had such a good time that day that I kinda convinced my family that we should all go. After some difficulty scheduling a 2-day block for a little getaway, we managed it last weekend! We left town right after my cousin’s doa selamat for her new house which was quite nice because it was the first time I saw her new place.
The ride to Ipoh was quite fun because it wasn’t too long like driving to Singapore in the south or Langkawi in the north, just about 2+ hours. We had apple strudels in the car on the way as an unlikely road trip snack, thanks to our cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) who bought a whole box for us. I did get a little tired of having my knees bent in the car along the way so as we exited the highway, I just couldn’t help but put my feet up. Yeah, very unbecoming of me, I know, but I just had to. It made me so grateful to be so short for once.
We stayed at this really lovely place called Sarang Paloh right smack in Ipoh town (which, itself is very small) and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere to spend the night. Not only was it really pretty, it’s just a walking distance away from Kong Heng Square and the hotel staff were very friendly. We totally couldn’t resist having lots of mini amateur photo shoots around the place, haha.
If you know Malaysia, you know that most getaways are centered around food. I had a good ol’ list of things to eat on our trip. The first thing we got was cendol! I love a nice cold bowl of cendol (note to American friends: it’s pronounced chain-dole or chen-dole LOL). There is nothing like a chilled spoon of santan and gula melaka on a hot day. Absolutely nothing else like it.
Later on in the evening, we took a stroll down to Kong Heng Square and Concubine Lane (don’t ask me why that’s what it’s called because I have no idea even though I’m probably just a Google search away from finding out). That area is small but really cute and well maintained. I was very pleased to see how clean it was, too!
We had early dinner at this place 20 minutes outside of the town center and had laksa telur goreng bersarang. It’s basically laksa utara but topped with an egg fried into a perfectly crisped mesh and it was probably the single best meal we had on the trip. We were a little weary on the drive there because we weren’t sure where Waze was taking us… it looked for a second like we were going to get lost in a housing area but the restaurant was tucked in this small neighbourhood like a real hidden gem. If you’re in Ipoh with a car, definitely go visit! Worth the drive and the wait in line.
My parents stayed in the hotel after dinner because my mum wasn’t feeling too well but my sisters and I went to… Milk Cow and Plan B, lol. It’s funny because we find both of those places in KL all the time. We got honey milk ice cream, salted egg fries and a teh tarik cake for supper, since dinner was at like, 6-ish.
Although the laksa takes the cake for best single meal, my favourite place on the trip was New Hollywood Cafe (again, don’t ask me why it’s called that because I truly have no idea) for breakfast on Sunday morning. We went at like 7.20am to avoid the crowd, which was a really good idea because by the time we were about to leave, people were struggling to get seats. I liked this place because it was a food-court type situation which is always a good thing when everyone has a different idea about what to have for breakfast.
I went with chee cheong fan and char kuey teow, two of my favourites (please don’t tell my trainer that I had two carb-loaded meals in one sitting). We also had mi rebus, roti canai, yong tau foo and roti goyang on our table. It was more than satisfying and I totally understand why it’s the go-to place for everyone from KL who makes a road trip to Ipoh. Seriously, I see this place on Instagram almost every other weekend (slight exaggeration).
Sunday was a really nice day, not as hot as the day before. We walked to Kong Heng Square again, but this time to see the Yasmin Ahmad exhibit. It’s a small two-room exhibit run by Leo Burnett, where the late filmmaker used to work, and it’s really quite lovely. I absolutely loved it. The exhibit has some of her best work playing on loop, along with some of her poems and quotes hung around the room. I don’t need to say it because most of us already know… but Malaysia is destitute of good museums and accessible cultural centers so it’s always nice to see places like this. I think it’s better to have a small and simple exhibit and have it done well than to have large buildings with a big marketing budget and pathetic maintenance. So please, if you’re in Ipoh, go visit Yasmin at Kong Heng; we won’t get more places like this unless we prove that we’re here to support local arts and culture.
When I was in Ipoh last month, I went to Funny Mountain Soya a bit too late and they had already run out of everything for the day, so I knew they were probably reallygood. Last weekend, I made sure we went a lot earlier in the day. We got 5 bowls of tau fu fah (which, like cendol, is also really good on a hot day) and some bottles of soya bean, cincau and soya cincau. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t have gotten in KL but delightful nonetheless.
For lunch, we were thinking of getting mi rebus in this place just outside of the town center before we made our way back to KL but when we got there, we saw that it was unfortunately closed for some reason. Luckily we weren’t really hungry since we had been kinda eating non-stop haha. So we stopped by the side of the road to just get some cucur udang and rojak for a relatively light lunch before driving back. It was the first time I had had rojak in ages, so I was actually really pleased.
We got back to KL by about 3-ish that evening and I made it all the way without putting my feet up this time! I really enjoyed Ipoh and I’m definitely looking forward to returning again since there are still a few places on my list I want to visit. We used to go to Melaka quite frequently when one of my uncles lived there and once every few years we’d go to Penang or Port Dickson but we literally never go to Ipoh so I’m glad that we’ve added another city to our list of food-getaway places. Maybe our next addition will be my first ever trip to Kelantan (the only Malaysian state I’ve never been to!) for Kota Bharu.
Hello! I’m happy to report another blissful and leisurely week at home, alhamdulillah.
The week started out really strong on Monday (I know some people insist that the week starts on Sunday but I see it as starting on Monday and this is my blog, so y’know, roll with it) with an early breakfast at Chong Kok, all the way in Klang. I want to say that’s my favourite kopitiam but the truth is, I don’t go to a lot of other kopitiams ever, so I guess this is just my favourite by default. First of all, I love the atmosphere there. I love that you see Malay, Chinese and Indians having breakfast in the same place. I love that it’s super no-frills and casual with a lot of character—I think the place has been around since the 1940s. But honestly, the best part is that we always have breakfast there with my aunty and cousins. Food’s really good too!! I still remember the first time I had roti steam there, it was so fluffy and soft and warm, ugh, so so so good and it goes so brilliantly well with butter and kaya. A moment of silence please for people in other parts of the world without the gift of pandan! Ok, thanks.
After breakfast last Monday, we went back to my aunty’s house to see Amelia for a bit. It’s hard to resist just sitting around watching her bob around with her toys even if it’s just for half an hour. She’s just such a cutie. I tried to get a selfie with her but she just keeps trying to grab my phone so I guess she’s not ready for it yet. I’ll wait.
The rest of the week was super relaxing. I can’t even remember what I did for most of Tuesday and Wednesday, but my camera roll reminds me that I ate an insanely good murtabak cheese and played some Bananagrams with my mum and sister.
We went to KLCC on Thursday to go to Kinokuniya where I got some books. I absolutely love driving into KL and I know I only say that because I’m never the one actually driving; what I mean is I love sitting in a car being driven into KL. I love watching the highway break into the small KL roads and the view change from trees and houses to flyovers and skyscrapers.
I’ve had 3 more personal training sessions (and one run!) since I last wrote on here and I think I’m getting a little better at it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still sit down anxiously in my room before every workout session hoping my trainer doesn’t literally kill me… but I’ve found that I’m so much less sore after exercising these days and I really enjoy the feeling of buckling down, silencing the nagging quitting-inclined voice in my head and focusing on hitting the number of reps the trainer sets for me. By the end of it, I’m always as red as a tomato and dripping in sweat, plus my heart seems to migrate into my ears because I can almost hear its pounding but it always feels so bloody good to see myself, quite frankly, just survive. We also had one kickboxing session with some pad work and I enjoyed that so I’m hoping to do that again a couple more times.
The best part of working out though, is actually how I feel when I eat after that! Haha. On Friday, we went to Chili’s for dinner after working out and it kinda felt more satisfying because it’s as if I deserved it more. Only as if.
After dinner last Friday, I went to see Ken, Peter and Shahirah at Artisan for dessert. Ken was leaving for the US that Sunday so we just wanted to hang out one last time this summer with the four of us together. We had Last Polka ice cream, and I had my absolute favourite flavour: salted gula melaka. We talked about everything from work grievances to toxic shock syndrome. Ken drove me all the way home from PJ again even though he had to be up at 5 the next morning because he’s just an insanely nice person. I’m going to really miss seeing these people regularly!!
Anyway, that’s all from me today! I’ll probably write again tomorrow about my family’s weekend trip to Ipoh but until then, thank you for reading as always, byeeeee!
I think if I had to set up an ideal week at home for myself, it would probably look a lot like last week.
After a nice trip to Ipoh last Sunday, Monday was mostly spent hanging out with family. I went to Pavillion with my mum, sisters, aunty and my cousin Alesya. To be honest, we made the trip because my family isn’t impervious to the whole Duck Scarves hype. Their only store is all the way there, so I just wanted to go check it out since I had never been. I didn’t buy anything (I think my mum and I were the only ones who didn’t) but it was fine because the highlight of the trip was really getting my Milk Cow honey soft serve and having lunch at Ben’s.
I should also mention that I’m really enjoying the fact that public transport (or at least, the trains) are half off until the end of the month! I really like taking the LRT around so I was really glad we all took it to KL, though it might not be a good idea for next time because of my aunty’s knee. I just love the views and people-watching! Plus, I like how it makes me feel independent… and you know, I hate navigating roads and parking haha. I’m glad connectivity is getting better in KL. It’s still not great, I usually need someone to send me to the closest station. But it’s a lot better now and I’m grateful for progress!
We also made a few more food excursions last week (honestly… what’s new?). We went to one of my favourite places for breakfast, Azira in Seksyen 10. They serve everything and everything they serve is just so good. My favs are mi kari, lontong, roti jala and soto in that order. It’s one of those restaurants where you can take as much as you want, which I love, which means I can have just a bit of everything. Their kari especially is just so good, and I think I really like it because it’s just so berlemak haha.
Later that evening, we went on yet another food hunt. I had recently heard of the kuey teow place near FAM in Kelana Jaya and when I asked my dad about it, he said we actually used to go there a long time ago so we decided to give it a visit. The one at Subang Ria was unfortunately closed that day so we went to Restoran Jamal which also has a really famous char kuey teow place. Normally, I’d be bummed if I went to KJ for a certain thing and couldn’t get it but the kuey teow we got instead absolutely did not disappoint and just reaffirmed my putting kuey teow in the upper echelon of Malaysian food.
The next day, we had a cute little family photoshoot in Bangsar. We’ve been doing these once every 3 years or so and it’s always a little awkward having to do all the poses haha but they always turn out great so I’m excited to see these pictures, especially because we took some graduation pics as well and Aida got to be in them this time.
After the photoshoot thing, my dad had a meeting but the rest of us went to KGNS for lunch. I love KGNS and it’s probably really bougie of me to say that I love being part of a ~golf and country club~ lol but honestly we just go there for the food. Aida and I were particularly craving yong tau foo so we got that, some pau ayam and good old teh tarik. SO SATISFYING.
That night, I went to KL Sentral to have dinner because the Malaysians at Penn club thing was having a welcome dinner for the incoming freshmen. We squeezed into a small corner at Manhattan Fish Market because despite making a reservation, we were told we’d have to wait 30 minutes for a table otherwise. A little annoyed at first, we ended up making it work. I feel a little bad that I didn’t get to speak to the newbies much but it was the first time in ages that I got to see Peter, Han Yang and quite a few others who had graduated in previous years so I was just so excited to see them again.
Ken offered to drive me, Sha and Peter home after dinner and I gladly accepted, forgetting for a minute that I actually drove to the Glenmarie LRT station, haha. I had a hell of a laugh for a second, thinking about what my parents would say in the morning if they saw that the car wasn’t there. In the end, he drove me to the train station near Sha’s house which is a lot closer to Glenmarie than KL Sentral is. We had so much fun in the car, laughing, talking about everything from work to the healthcare bill to figuring out how to use Boomerang. It was so blissful—more so than usual now that I more fully understand how precious and rare times like those are and will continue to be now that we’re all going to be in different cities. It reminded me of lazy hangs at Ludlow and it made me miss May May and Hui Jie a bit more.
On Friday night, my family and I went to KLPAC which is the KL Performing Arts Centre to watch Family, a production put on by the participants/students of their Theatre for Young People program as their final showcase. My dad knew someone who was in it, so we all decided to go support him since we thought it would also be really fun. The show was well written and as far as Icould tell, it was a very good performance. It ran for about 80 minutes and consisted of short sketches that really attempted to blow out into the open all the things we Malaysians tend to sweep under the rug when it comes to family: secrets, broken homes, mental illnesses, multiracial families, domestic violence and etc. I definitely was glad I went.
I was also very happy to bump into Nadia that night at KLPAC!!! It was both of our first times there and we both adored the interiors together for a second, haha. I hadn’t seen her in ages and now that I’m thinking about it, this was probably the first time I’ve met her in Malaysia since we had only ever met up in London, where neither of us have lived, lol.
We got back from the play and I had to try to fall asleep as soon as possible because the next morning, I had to wake up at like 5.30 because I was going hiking! Ken invited me and Peter only like a couple of days before but I’ve been wanting to go hiking for ages so I wasn’t going to turn it down. There was a hiking event at Bukit Wawasan and we kind of just randomly joined. My dad had to drive me out all the way to Puchong at like 6-ish a.m. (shoutout to my dad) and we started hiking just after 7. Literally 15 minutes after climbing uphill, I was panting and started to think, “hmm boleh ke ni?” (Can I actually do this?) LOL. Peter and Ken are so fit! Peter was literally just like prancing around while singing! But I’m not a giver-upper so I persisted through the 2-hour trail and I’m really glad I did because it was so satisfying. I have always said that the best part of physically exercising is the part where you train yourself to get better at negotiating with the nagging voice in your head and that was definitely true last Saturday as well.
After the hike, we were dead set on replacing all our calories with some good nasi lemak. We even drove out to Uptown to get Village Park nasi lemak (since Ken has never been!) but honestly… Village Park? At 9.30 am on a Saturday? Forget it. So we just drove to Bukit Jelutong since they were going to send me home anyway and the best nasi lemak is actually a 5-minute walk from my house. We ended up sitting there for a couple of hours and I joked that it was probably my most wholesome hangout with those two, haha.
On Sunday, even though I was a little sore and my toe really hurt from slipping during the hike, I went to Puchong in the afternoon to see my friend Lisa who is spending a year in Malaysia teaching English in Sarawak as a Fulbright scholar. She was in KL for the weekend as part of a Dance Camp some of the Fulbright scholars organised and I went to watch their closing show. It was so nice to catch up with Lisa and see firsthand how she’s like with her students. We didn’t get to speak a whole lot because obviously we didn’t want to be disruptive or disrespectful or whatever during the show but we did get to talk about the camp, a few of her struggles as a Fulbright ETA and what she’s thinking of doing next. I’m honestly so amazed by her enthusiasm and dedication to those kids. Her team ended up winning Audience Favourite and even I was about to just full on break into tears, not gonna lie.
I got home that evening, baked some pecan cupcakes and helped prepare for a little dinner thing we were having that night. We invited one of our neighbours to come to dinner at our place as a family. We all just love spending time with Aunty A and her family; they’re always so warm and hospitable and funny. It’s just always a good time. My mum made laksa sarawak (insanely good, btw) and aunty brought some bread butter pudding, which was delicious. I actually used to follow Aunty A and her husband to work every morning when I was interning in KL a couple of summers ago and I honestly enjoyed chatting with them in the mornings and sometimes getting breakfast with them so having them over for dinner really reminded me of that, except more meriah because the rest of our families were there as well.
So yeah, that was my week! It was so lovely… Hiking and dinner with friends! Food excursions, shopping and theatre with family! Catching up with people! How cute and wholesome, am I right? I did leave a few things out, like following my dad to a work event, quick detours to get cronuts at Dotty’s, eating McD breakfast in traffic and going out for chinese food dinner with my cousins but… I don’t know, I guess I just missed it and now I’m too lazy to go back and fit it in lol. Anyway, rest assured, I also spent a lot of time at home doing boring things like napping, staring at the ceiling in my room and flipping through channels aimlessly hehe.
I’ve been saying lately that all I’ve been doing is eating because it’s kind of true. A lot of life in Malaysia is centered on food. It’s not really a thing to say let’s go for a walk or whatever to catch up. So, just as a short foreword: there’s a lot of food on this list! Haha.
I got dinner with my friend Qamarina, who goes by QM for short (I actually have never asked her why…) last week. She’s working in London and was back for Raya for 2 weeks-ish. I don’t see her often at all so it was so nice to just catch up and talk about everything since I saw her last in December. It’s so crazy to think I have no idea when I’ll see her next but hopefully it won’t be 3 years again, which was the longest we went without catching up.
Corporate open house!
My sisters and I followed our dad to a corporate open house and the food was so good. We had durian, otak otak (my favourite, and this was such a wonderful surprise because they’re quite hard to find!) and laksa. My dad even “made” dodol—ok not really make, just stirred for a bit. This was pretty much my only real open house this year, and I didn’t even wear baju kurung for it! Like I said, it was such a quiet raya.
WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTION
This was a big one last week. I removed my wisdom tooth from the top left side!!!! I did it, guys!! So here’s the thing, my bottom left wisdom tooth was giving me a hard time a couple of years ago because it was a little impacted. I had it removed at Penn in 2015, just a week or so before finals! I couldn’t eat solids for 6 days and was sore for such a long time… I remember having such a bad experience last time so I just totally dreaded going through it again.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve had both removed at the same time so that I wouldn’t have to recover twice. I definitely had the option to, but I knew it would be cheaper to wait and get it done in Malaysia so I just did what I absolutely had to do while I was in the US. Summer after summer passed and I kept putting it off… but my dad put his foot down and was like yeah, you definitely need to do it now. I even made him call the dentist to make the appointment because I refused haha.
This extraction went a lot better than the last I think. And this time I got to keep the tooth! The first day, I could at least eat KFC’s mashed potatoes (which is pretty much liquid, let’s be honest) while binge-watching Stranger Things with my sisters. The toughest parts were when I had to go out in the rain to buy more gauze from the pharmacy and when I had to swallow painkillers with that whole gauze situation in my mouth.
Thankfully, I was able eat solid-ish foods within 1.5 days and in 3 days, I was back to normal although was still avoiding chewing hard things on the left side. I am so scared of the dentist, my heart starts pounding just at the thought of going for a regular scaling appointment. So yeah, very glad this is done with!
Baby sitting Amelia
Last week, my sisters and I got to babysit our cousin’s baby, Amelia. She’s a year old now, which means she’s just so full of energy. Even when she’s yawning and sleepy, she just runs around and giggles non stop. It’s kind of cute, but definitely tiring for us. The fun parts were playing with bouncy balls and carrying her around in a slow run while my mum pretended to chase us and “scare” her; she really enjoyed this. The not-so-fun part was watching her take apart and put together the same toys again, and again, and again. Children are cute, tiring, sometimes even boring but always fascinating.
Chik’s open house
My aunty had an open house for her group of police wives last weekend but invited the whole family over as well. The funny part was that we were supposed to arrive after her guests had eaten. We even came a little later just to be super sure we wouldn’t be caught in the middle of her entertaining the whole lot of them and whatnot but when we arrived, they arrived at the same time right behind us! It turns out they were all late, hahaha. So we did end up getting caught right in the middle of it all.
I missed out on the roti jala (!!!) but I had lemang with kuah kacang and laksa. It was in the evening, too. Like, 4-ish p.m. and we had already eaten lunch at 1, had dessert after, and also had a cheese tart around 2.30… I really just… couldn’t believe how much I ate that day.
Banana leaf rice
We had banana leaf rice on Monday! We took Faizol there because he had never been before. I had some sotong goreng and tosai, which is alwaysgood. I wish Kanna Curry House still used actual banana leaves but their food would taste amazing on cardboard so I won’t really complain. And that’s all I have to say about that—I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Seeing Shahirah at work!
I just cannot stress how proud I was to see Sha all legit with her work lanyard and access card and all of that when I visited her at work to have lunch a few days ago. I’ve heard her talk about working there for 4 years, dreading it and preparing for it. And now it’s finally there!!!!! Her work sounds really interesting and I’m beyond excited to see how she grows there.
We got dim sum for lunch and I gave her a birthday present, Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. Charawi and I have been asking her to read that book for like, a year now. Every time I see it, I snap it and send it to her and she keeps saying it “haunts” her and it became a funny thing between us so as soon as she could tell that my present was a book, she was like “OH MY GODDDDD, I KNOW WHAT IT IS” hahaha. It was priceless.
My sisters, my mum and I had a personal trainer come over last week for a private kickboxing class. Ugh. It was insane. I am still sore from it. My mom has been doing this for a while, and honestly I don’t know how she does it because it’s just not fun??? Yesterday though, we had the same trainers come over and we did more of a strength training thing with mats and I enjoyed that so much more. I am going out of town tomorrow though, so I’m a little worried that I’m going to be so sore the whole time but I’ll let you know how that goes! Anyway, with all the eating I’ve been doing here… I shouldn’t be complaining about the pain. I kinda don’t have a choice. I have to be doing some exercise to make up for all the calories.
[31 hours passed since I wrote that last sentence, just so you know lol]
I was on the train back from KL on Tuesday, and as I was approaching the Asia Jaya station, I suddenly remembered that on my commutes back from KLCC in early 2013, I would always look at this office chair on a balcony of this random building between Taman Jaya and Asia Jaya. I would always wonder why it was there. And as I passed that same spot last Tuesday, my heart had this small leap of joy when I saw that two chairs were there. I know it might not have been the same chair but there was just something about it that made me feel really happy.
Making my parents try quinoa
I kinda already wrote about this on Instagram so apologies for the repetition, but here it goes again. My parents used to always perli me when I ate quinoa because it’s “hipster food” or whatever but I brought some back from Trader Joe’s and cooked it at home. I just mixed some cooked quinoa with pesto, baked carrots + broccolis and lots of chopped red onions. I would’ve liked some dried cherry tomatoes and/or mushrooms in it but I was on a bit of a time crunch and had to just work with what was in the fridge. I think it turned out really well and my parents seemed to like it so it was a win for both me and quinoa that day.
I went to HomePro for the first time this past week because my dad wanted my sisters, my mum and me to go check out some wallpapers for our living room. We probably did that for like 10 minutes and then spent the rest of the time wandering around that huge shop… and we got the most stuck at the baking section. I ended up buying this really cute apron and a small muffin pan for our oven (which is relatively small) and I just really enjoyed looking at all the cute and different types of spatulas and whisks and pans!!!!!! AHHHH. Ok that’s all about HomePro. It’s not that interesting… I just felt like I had to include it because I was so excited there.
One of the things I was sad about when I left Philly was leaving Yogorino. It’s this frozen yogurt place that serves one of my all-time favourite desserts and I actually dare say that llao llao is better than that!! It has the same tart taste but is milkier and like… fattier than Yogorino’s “thinner” frozen yogurt and I love it. I literally kept thinking about it during my last personal training session in order to help get me through. Right after the workout, my sisters and I took a shower, had quick dinner and headed to Aeon to get some llao llao. I wanted it so much I even volunteered to drive, which says a lot!
Shahirah’s surprise party
Shahirah’s mum organised a surprise party for her on Saturday and it was so nice! Sha was told that her mum was organising a makan makan thing for her friends (her mum’s friends, not Shahirah’s friends… I realize this is all a bit confusing…) and Sha had to help clean the house and prepare the table and all of that for supposedly 20 of her mum’s friends. She was so shocked when she saw her own friends turn up at the gate haha. Apparently she said that at first, she thought “what are they doing here?? My mum’s friends are coming soon!” or something like that lol. But the food was so good and I got to hang out with Aish and Kai Syuen as well so it was just a really, really pleasant Saturday evening.
I watched Dunkirk last night and it was really interesting. I think I enjoyed it, if “enjoyed” is the right word for it. That is, I deeply appreciated it as a film. The sound effects and cinematography were amazing and I was just revelling in that the whole time. I loved how, conceptually, it felt more like an immersive experience than a typical movie. The plot doesn’t play a huge role in the film and I read this Slate review that described it as being a movie without “military higher-ups debating strategy over maps”, which I thought was really cool. But other than that, the movie leaves you with quite a bit of heartbreak, which means it’s effective as a film but not necessarily “enjoyable”. Plus, there were literally 2 women in the whole film and only 1 person of colour in a non-speaking role, so like, meh. I get that it is a historical thing so they were just portraying what was going on but looking at 400,000 white men can only be so interesting.
We also snuck in so much food from Carls Jr which was hilarious! I felt really bad when we opened the box of chili cheese fries in the cinema but we were pretty hungry so it finished really quickly and I hope no one was too bothered by it! It was so good though, heh.
So that’s all for this week! I’ve got a really nice week lined up ahead of me and I’m so excited to be able to write about that next. Until then, as always always always, thanks for reading!
OH MY GOD. I am NOT at my best today. Let’s just say, in a fight between me and my laziness, today I was badly defeated and it’s a good thing that no one has seen my room. I’m sitting at my desk next to a dirty plate and a couple of used cups. There is a t-shirt and some pants on my unmade bed. My shoes are not arranged and my socks are not in the shoes. And I don’t know. It all just feels gross, but today was my rest-and-don’t-talk-to-anyone day because this past weekend has been a lot.
It has been fling weekend!
It started off on Friday, for me. I don’t usually do fling—but it’s my last year and Zedd was our performer this year (!) so I decided to go. I’m so glad I did because it was so much fun. I absolutely loved his set. Michael Jackson’s Thriller, MAGIC!’s Rude, Chainsmokers’ Closer, Queen’s We Will Rock You and of course, all of his own hits. Man, listening to Stay, Break Free or Clarity will never be the same again.
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Of course, part of the fun was also just having fun with my friends, Hui Jie, Ken and Selina (plus a couple of Selina’s roommates, Tanya and Mounika). I am probably such a dorky dancer but my friends were also dancing however they hell they wanted, so when we weren’t jumping with the crowd, I was so glad I could easily have fun dorky dancing without feeling alone. I think it’s fun to enjoy music at a concert the same way you enjoy the same songs when you’re alone in your room.
It rained on us that night and literally all my makeup was washed away in the rain. And I don’t mean it like drizzled on us. No. It poured. We were absolutely soaked. To the point where we could squeeze our clothes and like a tonne of water would drip from it. But it was one of those things where you just laugh about it and keep dancing, and I don’t think I’ve felt that way since I was 7? 8? playing in the rain with my sisters.
Saturday was much more chill, though I got up early because I wanted to bake a cake! Karlie Kloss posted a video of her baking St Louis Gooey Butter Cake and it looked so, so, so easy that I just had to try it. And it really was super easy! Probably one of the best recipes in terms of effort-to-payoff ratio. It was so delicious, especially when it had just come out of the oven and it made my room smell absolutely amazing for the whole day. Such a nice change from the typical stubborn smell of onion which is literally the bane of my existence. (My “room” is set up in a cordoned off space in the living room with just some screens and curtains so like, you can imagine.)
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I brought that cake to our “picnic” later. My friends and I usually picnic on Sunday after fling, but Hui Jie had plans so we bumped it up to Saturday and as our luck would have it, it rained!!!! I was pretty miffed that we didn’t get a senior picnic picture because I’ve instagrammed one every year and was planning to compile them but oh well. We still had fun. We ordered take out and played card games and later all took a nap, haha.
Here’s a story: we played “heart attack” which is this game where like, once one person in your group has collected all the cards of the same number, they put their hands down in the center of the table and everyone else has to pile all their hands on. Then, the person who “won” gets to try to “slap” everyone’s hands—so you have to try to pull your hands away before they do it. When Hui Jie won a round yesterday, she slapped my hand and for some reason, like a little 5 year-old kid who ruins the big kids’ games, I just started crying from the sting. Like really crying. But also while hysterically laughing at the same time. You could tell even I was very confused by what was happening, lol. But we’re all good and I think it’s something we’re going to laugh about for a long time.
Then, later that evening, May May and I went to watch a show by a student theatre group. They put on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which has won a Tony Award for Best Book. It was a fun show! As always, I was blown away by the talent in the cast. They were all such amazing actors and singers. I wish there were more ensemble pieces, songs where the whole cast is singing, because I love those. Last year, I saw the same… group? company? club? (what do you call them?) put on All Shook Up and I ended up listening to the original cast’s recording of the soundtrack for the rest of the semester. This one didn’t have quite as many catchy tunes but I still loved the charming storyline and the fact that the show involved audience participation.
I was quite sad that that was probably the last Penn student performance I’ll get to watch! And I was fully aware that it was the last performance for some of the seniors in the show/board so watching them all sing The Last Goodbye as they exited the stage was so emotional because it was also a goodbye to their Penn acting careers, to Iron Gate Theatre and all of that. Ahhh. After that, May May and I stopped by Sitar on our way home to get a cup of chai and that was a sweet way to end the night, too. No pun intended because there was definitely no sugar in my drink.
So yeah, today was mostly me chilling in my room (with the exception of a quick trip to the library to return stuff and probably a short walk to get some food later). I also watched Netflix’s Girlboss today, which is based on Sophia Amoruso’s book of the same title and her building of Nasty Gal. You might know that I thoroughly enjoyed her book last summer so I was quite interested in the show—I found that it was somewhat annoying but enjoyable enough to watch in one sitting. I liked the book better but to be fair, I actually shouldn’t make this comparison. The Netflix version does come clean about the fact that it is only a very loose adaptation. However, there are also things in the Netflix version that I liked which weren’t in the book: visuals obviously, but I also appreciated the fact that the show more than passes the Bechdel test (do two women speak to each other about something other than a man?) and that the protagonist is flawed and multi-dimensional.
I also watched The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks!!! Please, please, please watch it when you get the chance! It’s based on a non-fiction book in the same name by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951, but her cancer cells were taken and ended up becoming the first cell to “stay alive” and be “grown” outside of a human body. But her identity was secret for a long time; her cells were called HeLa cells and had even been thought to come from a woman named Helen Lane (a white-sounding name, though Henrietta was black). HeLa cells ended up being crucial to the discovery of the Polio vaccine and the development of in vitro fertilisation. It was also important for cancer research. It was even sent to space to study what would happen to humans out there. Patient consent wasn’t required at the time so her family never even knew of Henrietta’s contribution to science, much less were compensated for it or even educated about any of it at all, although a lot of people obviously gained fame and recognition from it. Henrietta’s youngest daughter suffered from anxiety and schizophrenia and a stroke because of all of her worries and confusion and longing for/about her mother.
Oh, but don’t worry—you learn all of that in like the first 2 minutes or so of the movie so I definitely didn’t give anything away. (Though, if you are interested in the science of this story, I strongly recommend this Radiolab episode about Henrietta Lacks; it’s amazing and includes real life audio from the family and the author, which you don’t get from the movie). The movie was less about the science of her cells, but was more about the humanity of the story. It was a moving story about this family and how they endured this legacy of suffering, and you learn it all along with Rebecca Skloot who’s trying to write a book about Henrietta Lacks. It’s a heartbreaking film about race, ethics in medicine/research and journalism. Plus, Oprah Winfrey’s performance of Deborah Lacks was just amazing. You forget that she’s, you know, Oprah. I really want to read the book now but yeah I’ve definitely said enough about it—just go watch it somehow. If you’re in the US, get a HBO Now free trial! Yes, I want you to watch it that badly! If you’re not convinced, watch Katie Couric interview Rebecca Skloot and Rose Byrne (who plays Skloot in the film). Don’t you just love how I went to an amazing concert this weekend but end up writing the most about a movie?! Haha. Well, I do.
Anyway. I’m gonna go figure out my dinner because I’m getting pretty hungry. I hope you had a wonderful weekend and thanks for reading!
P.S. Hui Jie wanted me to add to last week’s post: she chose the tudung/headscarf that I wore for Sunday’s reading on Penn Monologues. Or rather, more accurately, she (lovingly?) forced me to wear that one because she “missed” it.
Good morning! I’ve just done something really silly. I was making a cheese quiche for lunch later while I was drinking some tea. I grabbed some pepper to put in the quiche batter and I think you know where this is going… I put it in my tea instead, haha. It’s actually not bad. I ended up drinking it in the end. I’m now coughing a little but it’s okay!
Haha, anyway… I had such a good week. The first few days of it were rough. Two words: astronomy midterm. Let me put this into perspective for you. The first astronomy midterm (which I tanked) covered only chapters 1-5. This exam covered up to chapter 14 so there was a lot more material and it was less calculation and more facts/memorisation which is good because I’m better at memorizing than calculation, honestly, but it was also not good because it just takes so much more time to study for. So yeah, I spent a huge majority of my waking hours studying for this exam. It went ok I think! And that was my last midterm ever—I have no exams left until my final finals!
(By the way, last week I got a comment about how I only ever talk about Astronomy with regards to my classes and I laughed so hard at that because I realised that too and didn’t think anyone would pick up on it. It’s true though! I do talk about Astronomy more than anything else because I’m only taking 3 classes this semester and the other two are so so so chill that Astronomy is just proportionally huge lol.)
I also got to go to some cool events!! I love that I’ve been having more time to go to events this semester because I’m not taking so many classes. I think at Penn, everyone is so busy organising their own events that they don’t really get to attend any other events which is such a shame; it’s like everyone’s talking and no one’s listening.
There was an event last Thursday, it was “an engaging conversation” between our university president, Amy Gutmann and former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden is spending his post-political career at Penn at the brand new Penn Biden Center of Diplomacy and Global Engagement. He talked about reaching across the aisle, his faith in the American people, etc. It was kinda cool to see him live in person! Tickets were free but you had to register really quickly in order to get one and I was the only person I knew who had tickets so I went alone. The funny thing is (!) I ended up sitting next to someone else who also went alone and was also about to take the same Astronomy midterm later that day! Haha. While we waited for Biden, we were both talking about Mercury’s lack of atmosphere. Very nerdy, I know.
On Friday, Hui Jie and I went to the Fels Institute of Government’s event, a conversation on media and politics with NPR reporters, Scott Detrow and Sam Sanders. They were so cool, I loved the stories they told. Scott talked about how one of his favourite stories he did was about these Northern Pennsylvanian rattlesnake wranglers. Sam talked about how he got pretty close to Bernie Sanders after covering him through the campaign trail and how he learned that Bernie really loves crowds. They were at one point both hosts of the NPR Politics podcast (Sam has now left), so they also talked about how people tend to expect them to always talk about politics and to have an opinion about everything in politics. They said that they always get flak on Twitter if they tweet about something non-political. Sam said “people want us to be more than we can be for them because they like us and they feel like they know us.” It was really interesting. I mostly love how clear it was that they loved their jobs. Ahhh. It was so, so, so cool.
I also went out for brunch with my friend Cristina in the city Friday morning. It has been a while I think since I last went out for a good sweet brunch. We went to Green Eggs, which is this really popular spot in the city. It was raining and a weekday morning so we thought it would’ve been fine but I still had to wait in line outside in the rain for over 20 minutes before getting a table! But wow, was it worth it. I hadn’t been there since early on in junior year and I forgot how good the food is there. I had pecan french toast and Cristi got raspberry french toast. I could hardly eat for the rest of the day because I was so full but so satisfied.
Later that night, my friend May May and I went to see the Onda Latina show. It’s a salsa fusion dance group and Cristina is in it!! I also know a couple of other people in it and it’s always just so much fun to see how talented my fellow Penn students are. I’ve said this before I think, but I just love putting aside all feelings of competitiveness and just supporting and admiring how amazing everyone here is.
So yeah, it was a great week! It ended with me spending a nice long day in my apartment. I binge-watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix which just came out this week and for the first time ever, I felt really old watching a high school movie haha. The premise of the show is this girl kills herself (uh, yeah, it’s a little dark…) and she leaves this elaborate “list” of 13 reasons why and each one is a person, detailing how someone at school abused, took advantage of or just hurt her. It has a very very strong “moral of the story” vibe which at times seems a bit overdone. I’m not saying I don’t think the message should be weaker because I love, love, love the way this movie sheds light on the ways in which bullying is not so much a matter of direct action, and more a product of culture (guys not wanting to seem “weak” in front of other guys, people being worried about what other people might think etc) but at times it seemed too forced. With that said though, it was still a good show. I loved the subtle ways in which it highlighted how as a culture, we idolise people for their athletic/academic achievements even though they may be… mean, narcissistic, manipulative people. I also loved the diversity of the cast. For most actors, this was their first “real” job. The popular girl was black. There was a queer Asian girl. There were multi-racial couples and friend groups. The show passed the Bechdel test (do two women talk to each other about something other than a boy?—very few films pass this test). Characters were multi-dimensional. Dialogue sounded true to life. I was very happy with all of that and I’m so glad platforms like Netflix are creating opportunities for shows like these which have been ignored and written off by media conglomerates for so long.
So yeah, I guess that’s all for this week. I hope you’ve had a really good week as well. My quiche is done and I’m going to go dig in now 🙂 until next week, thanks for reading!
It’s funny. I always think it’s quite difficult to write about my week when I’m having a bad week because I don’t want to seem mopey or whiney and I just, I mean, who likes showing the world (lol as if the world reads my blog) how they screw up? But I have found that it is as hard, if not harder, to write about my week when things are going particularly well. It’s the same reason why writing a cover letter can be so difficult—tooting your own horn isn’t comfortable at all. Or at least, for me it’s not.
All of which is to say, things have been going well as of late.
I had so much fun last Tuesday in particular. First, my Astronomy homework deadline got ~extended~ one week so that was grrrreat. Tuesdays are also when movies are half off at the local cinema so Hui Jie, Jamie and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. It was so… Disney. And I loved it. I mean, objectively speaking, it’s not a great movie in the sense that I probably wouldn’t rewatch it the way I do Princess Diaries or Pitch Perfect but it was like all the feelings you get when you go to Disneyland, put into a movie. I think Be Our Guest was my favourite scene and you’ll just have to see it to know why.
A few days before we watched the movie though, Jamie tagged the two of us in this old Facebook post of a video where someone dubbed a scene from Beauty and the Beast with Singaporean slang which was really popular at the time. Anyway, so when the equivalent of that scene came on when we watched it on Tuesday, I just could NOT help laughing because I was replaying the Singaporean version in my mind!!! It was really funny but then Hui Jie got annoyed with me because it disrupted her swooning LOL.
Hui Jie and I also went to Zavino for early dinner before the movie. We got our fav: rosemary flatbread with ricotta. The dish, I think, is meant to be a small plate appetizer type thing but we get it as mains because it’s that good. The whole time we ate, we were just like “oh my god” “oh my god this is so good” “this is amazing”. It was also between 4.30-6.30pm so some small plates are half off! Basically, last Tuesday was like… discount day.
This past week, I also had the chance to sit down with Professor Caroline Connolly. I took Introduction to Psychology with her in my very first semester at Penn, then I took a seminar (10-person, discussion-based class) on Young Adulthood in Developmental Psychology last semester and now I’m one of her TAs for her current Intro class. She had heard that I’m working on this audio piece about graduation (I don’t think I’ve mentioned that on here yet, but yeah, I am, and I promise I’ll say more about that later once I have a better idea of what it’s going to look like) and she just wanted to chat about it. It was really cool because we literally sat for two and a half hours talking about graduation, the period right after it which often makes us feel like we’re “flailing” around, about whether college is “worth it”, studying abroad (she studied in Ireland!) and about building character at this age/life stage.
I also liked getting to learn a lot more about her, her background and family etc and I really liked that because there are very few professors I know beyond classroom interactions. If you know me, you’ll know I hate having very surface-level relationships and interactions (I’m always secretly dying inside when people talk about the weather) so it’s nice to just have real relationships with professors, if that makes sense. It makes them seem so much more… human and approachable. Not that she wasn’t human before, but my writing professor Jamie-Lee once said that she thinks if students see professors around campus, walking their dog or going for a run or eating the same places they do, it helps to combat the idea that college is this high-pressure, mechanical place. I get what she means, but I don’t really know how to explain.
It was also a pretty productive week, I just felt like a got a lot of work done while also managing to binge the new-ish HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies and play a ton of Sporcle quizzes, hahaha. Plus, some of what made this week a good one was just little things like hearing from my friend Aish who messaged me and Shahirah last Wednesday, having a great time with Hui Jie and Ken on our every-Tuesday-and-Thursday-after-Astronomy lunches and just putting together good breakfasts for myself.
I also had a great end to the week. On Sunday afternoon, I had my first “practice” for a show I’m going to be in, called Penn Monologues! It’s a show where about 12 students read personal essays and I guess the whole point is about demonstrating how we’re all connected through storytelling and sharing experiences. The proceeds from the show are going to be donated to a local social justice organisation. I’ve never performed in this capacity before so it should be interesting. I’m excited to work with my amazing friend Clare who is the director for the show. Yesterday, we went through my essay, talked about some edits and ways to practice on my own so, yeah… a lot of work to do on that front.
Later that night night was “Sing, City! 6” which is Club Singapore’s once-in-every-two-years (is there a word for that?) musical production. I had so much fun hearing Singlish (Singaporean English), which is very very similar to Manglish (Malaysian English) on stage at Penn. There were a lot of times throughout the show where I was like, “are the Americans here going to understand that?” and then I realise that it doesn’t matter because this show wasn’t made for them, or for them to so easily understand everything. There were “subtitles” to translate certain terms like encik but they mention things and places like A-Levels and Tanjong Pagar without any context and I just liked how cultural shows signal who the show is “for” in that way and it’s an interesting learning experience for people who aren’t from that culture. Anyway, the directors , Oliver and Rebecca live across me and Shahirah and I was so proud of them for how hard they’ve worked despite having little to no experience putting on a show. My good friend Jamie was the logistics chair, and I know how hard she worked securing venue and getting food and helping out with odd ends and I was SO PROUD of her, I screamed so loud and was tearing up like the sappy person I am when she went up on stage at the end of the show. I genuinely respect and admire their spirit (as Hui Jie calls it, the Singaporean spirit) to go all out with anything they do and to work tirelessly to make up for lack of experience.
Anyway, I’m sorry this was late. On one hand, I couldn’t bring myself to write such a happy post, and on the other hand I also wanted to include the show which ended late night on Sunday on here so here I am writing last week’s post on Monday. Looking ahead I have… an astronomy midterm *cowers down in agony* so I really need to get back to studying for that. Until next time, I hope you enjoyed reading. These are the kinds of weeks I just really want to remember when I look back on my time at Penn.