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Work Related : Back Working Full-time Again

November 18, 2022


After 5 years of working full-time as a freelance independent designer/illustrator, I decided to find a full-time permanent job under a company. This decision was made after almost a year of struggling trying to take care of the whole family, wanting a proper plan to send Sofi to kindergarden and saving enough money to build a house in rural area. 


I am actually disappointed, because it leads me to this. I loved my flexible time, the fun time I had creating art and working with client projects. But we were in a desperate phase, and I needed to sacrifice my freedom to have a better living. I know with my experience and skills, my salary can reach to a 'comfortable' level. But the catch is, I had to let my freedom go. 


I applied to many jobs in October, by the end of October I received a job offer from a Singapore-based agency which I accepted. Since then, I've been working with them, at home, but full-time. Even with all the perks, benefits and high-salary, nothing can be compared to the joy I had with having freedom to do anything I want. And I miss that, so much.


I am still adapting I know.

But I tried the taste of freedom and I'm still remembering the after-taste.


What changed since then ? :

  • we sent Sofi for a trial week at a chosen kindergarden to prepare her for next year
  • I've been working at home 8 hours a day, 5 days a week
  • we expended our working setup, now I got 2 work desks : 1 for office's iMac (which took the whole table) and another one my old original setup
  • I turned off the Patreon monetization, so I just update free contents when I have the time
  • I've been having a mild vertigo again, due to the long hours sitting/drawing and I'm trying to use a pomodoro method to remind myself to move every once in a while
  • my mind is always at work because I have so much to do, but now, I have money and security
  • I started reading less, and perhaps taking a slower time to finish a book because I already reached 95 books and I'm not competing with anyone (but I miss reading)
  • I started to have a proper better skin-care routine because I am now 35 (hahahaha), honestly for almost my whole existence, I only use face wash, perhaps toner (when I remember). Now I'm in my mid 30s, and I noticed that I'm beginning to show a sign of aging: my skin is no longer supple (like in my 20s), maybe wrinkles will start showing (it might take few more years if my skin is this oily for long), maybe hair will start turning grey. I don't know, I don't really mind much. But this year I added spf, serum and eye-cream. Still can't convince myself to use moisturiser because my skin is so oily :F  
  • Oh, I found this drip coffee that is 'just enough' to start the day. I stopped drinking coffee since I had Sofi, and after the anxiety, it somehow triggers the coffee-jitters. But I needed stronger caffeine than matcha, but not too strong until I got the jitters or palpitation, so I tried this and it works for now ! I drink it early when I started working at 9 am.
Note : Also, it is so cool to be working with a full-remote Singaporean agency kan, I was curious at first too. But since then we had so many online meetings, briefing, discussion, also once-every-month online makan2 and seminar as well. Plus, I am the only Malay for now (it's hard not to notice this). 

Little Thing 255 : The Maya Channel and Random Babbles

October 11, 2022
Okay. Let me let it out in the maya (because I need to let this out to free up the burden of talking alone in my head, did I forget how I manage the last 15 years - I've been writing to the invisible people in the internet as a coping mechanism kan). Plus, lately it's been mentally hard to survive one more waking day. I'm not depressed yet, just really stressed out, surviving. And I don't have friends, so I need a channel to express. 

Anyway, random sharing session.

Last week I went out twice to focus on work. I've never left Sofi for work in the past 3 years+ so this is a start. I searched for any coworking space in the area but couldn't find one suitable for me so I spent 4 hours sitting in my brother's cafe, finishing up my first draft for the Noko project I'm currently working on. I even brought my own matcha powder and soy milk (so my brother can make it for me - I'm lactose intolerant and I can't drink coffee anymore). Oh, I also already cooked foods in advance for the 2 days I'm away for work.

4 hours of uninterrupted working hour is a bliss. I forgot what it feels like, to focus solely on your task alone (I've been working while trying to take care of a toddler, so you can imagine if you tried doing that, not impossible - just chaotic). 

Then after the 2 days of working, I went out to socialize (for the first time in a loooooong time). I went out with Ms Chin, we watched Where the Crawdads Sing, we walked, we ate ramen, we chatted, after Ms Chin went back, I sat at a cafe for another 1 hour to continue on another client project. It's like, I actually have a life outside being a mother to a toddler. I forgot what it felt like.


The two things I bought when I went out that day were Muji's open-flat notebook for me to start writing a proper journal to manage my stress + anxiety, and also a croissant.

Next : one more thing I want to do is spent few hours at Kinokuniya. My current physical book wishlist : Hanya Yanagihara's To Paradise and Nell Stevens' Briefly, A Delicious Life in small paperback version. The 2 times we went to Kino, Sofi didn't even give me a chance to browse through and decided to play run and tag in the maze of books. 

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Well, it is then decided that I'm going to send Sofi to a play-school next year and I'm going to start working full-time again (because I'm getting ready for the recession). She's finally potty-trained (except at night when sleeping and for poopoo - still refuses to take it out in the loo). And she can't wait to make friends and have a teacher, so I guess she's ready to socialize. She's a total opposite of us, so we had to provide what we can't offer ourselves. 

Okay I just put Sofi to nap and reread the draft for the final time before clicking on publish

Little Thing 254 : Solving my First 1,000 pcs Puzzle

October 10, 2022

 


I finally finished my 1000 pieces Intergalactic Flora puzzle by a local illustrator and an online friend, @eurekartstudio

The gold hot stamp on the black background, the various colours from the amazing floral on galaxy illustration, it is beautiful ! I took probably around 2 weeks (on and off) to finish up the puzzle. I took my sweet sweet time. There was a time when I spent 3 hours at night straight while listening to an audio book (I remember it was 'My Dark Vanessa'), then I had neck and shoulder pain the next few days later. 

It is my first 1000 pieces puzzle and surprisingly I learned a lot from this experience. 
  • The first few hours were overwhelming. I felt like it is impossible to finish such a huge puzzle. 1000 pieces puzzle is crazy, whose idea was it to start a puzzle this big ? I didn't think I can do it. I even felt anxious on the first week. 
  • Then slowly, I took the smallest step : separate the puzzle into different colours. Different coloured flowers, the leaves, the gold stars, the black background. 
  • I chose the smallest flower and tried to do that, slowly. Step by step, it started to become a bigger piece. I felt less overwhelm and became excited. The endorphins started kicking in every time a flower is formed. 
  • Sometimes you can just put a random piece next to another random piece and it is somehow the right piece. Sometimes you have to come back to the same piece over and over again because it is not the time yet. 

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It felt like a metaphor to life. 
The 1000 pieces puzzle is connected but we need to find a way to connect each piece with one another. It feels overwhelming and impossible at first, but you need to take the smallest step and keep on moving forward. You'll feel like you won't make it and at times, you'll even stop and ignore it for awhile. But sometimes, you can just sit and try again, ever so slowly, piece by piece, and it will form a bigger piece. Then you'll see the puzzle more clearly and everything will make sense. It gets easy when you know how to play the game. 

I'm happy I tried my first 1000 pieces puzzle. I'm off to find other next challenge for me to try next. 

Here are other great illustration puzzle pieces that you can buy online my personal favorite from Mideer
I'm teaching Sofi to play puzzle (since she turned 1.5 yr old), now she's 3 and she's currently up to 48 pcs puzzle. I'm surprised that she still gets excited for puzzle, and she plays puzzle daily. I usually buy puzzles from Mideer, Mr Diy, or Shopee (anything with good illustrations). She calls it "pazo".


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Here I compiled some takes :





Books - Finishing Good Books Lately

September 22, 2022

I've been reading/listening to good books lately. The best thing is, I picked them knowing near-to-nothing about these books, so it was a nice surprise. I gave 4 stars on Goodreads for books listed here :

  • Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens
  • The Good Mother by Sue Miller
  • Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
  • The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
So I decided to go to Goodreads to read some of the comments but I was left disappointed by the never-ending detailed complains (or 'critiques') from other fellow readers. I'm sitting here in front of my monitor, imagining the lives of people who hated something and chose to make an effort to write something so detailed about the hundred reasons why they don't like it. If they like it, I understand the strong urge to share with others about the excitement, but imagine when it is the opposite feeling. 

For example, among the books that I consumed this 2 months, I also finished Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, but I don't feel the urge to share my thoughts on why I didn't like the books. I can't even write the reviews on my Notion bookclub because the books weren't that good for me. It didn't leave any marks except for 'don't feel like rereading these books'.

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Anyway, I'm currently listening to more books by Nell Stevens. I would love to buy a physical copy of Briefly, A Delicious Life - it is a combination of Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman and The Invisible Life by Addie LaRue. First person view, silent love story, and giving a mellow vibe. 

Other than that, I wrote some of the reviews on my Notion Book Club (that I can't catch up to write in). 

Extra note : I just finished My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (book 77). It was another good read, but uncomfortable to listen to (Exploring a relationship of a young naive 15-year old Vanessa and a manipulative 42 year old teacher). It reminds me of The Enchanter / Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Perhaps it is fair to say that it is a modern take of Lolita from the girl's point-of-view. It was not an easy read, quite uncomfortable and dark, but an interesting story nonetheless. 

Little Thing 253 : Drawing/Journaling Playlist

September 20, 2022

I made a 15 minutes drawing/writing playlist, or less. Well, at this moment I have 2 videos that I use when I wake up early in the morning and try to write/draw something before Sofi wakes up. I created my own calm playlists and I hope it is somewhat useful to some of you. 




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Or you can play it on background here :



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Little Stories 245 : Cleaning up My Childhood Room, Recycling Old Books & Magazines

September 19, 2022

We've been spending a lot of time at my dad's to clean up our old stuffs (I left the house when I was 18 and the room kinda stuck in time). There are so many stuffs to do.


The Early Story : Basically what happened was the water tank beneath the ceiling in our old room was leaking badly, so it needed a change + the old roof was in bad shape. Our room was flooded by it so we had to do massive clean up and renovation. I think we already spent around a month on and off at the house since August. 


The Renovation : Repaired the old roof, cleaned up the ceiling, changed new water tank, hacked broken tiles in the kitchen and filled it up with new concrete, filled up cement in the toilet's drain, repaired broken door, rented trash tank and all those stuffs. We called 'tukang rumah' for all those stuffs that we can't do - we spent around RM 4,700 for all those renovation.


While we (mostly Af and I), we organized the stuffs, threw things that can't be used, recycled things that can be recycle, cleaned up the room and a lot of other small stuffs. My brother and sister came twice to help with the heavy stuffs especially the dismantling and lifting. 


The recycling part : The first time we send all our plastic stuffs to the recycling center, we only got RM 1 (it was in 3 huge plastics). We gave away 1 bag of tins & aluminium to the DBKL guy because he wanted it - he also requested to take the metal springs in 2 of the old mattresses that we put in the trash tank in front of the house. 


Here are all the books, magazines, old documents (paper/board related) that we sold, including 2 old bulky monitors, 3 old keyboards, 2 old radios, and a fax machine. We got RM 81 for all those. It's at the nearest recycling center to our house :



Some recycling centers won't take badly damaged books by termite, some just take them, so you need to ask ahead. This is only books and magazines from 2 rooms, we still have 2 rooms to go through :



Note : Most of the magazines were from my sister because she's the one that spent the most on magazines, and already I brought all my books when I left the house (so I don't have this problem).

Moving forward :
  • we have around 15 huge bags of old clothes, bags and fabrics but we don't know where/how to send. Maybe to the Recycling Center in Precinct 9 Putrajaya because they take old clothes (I'm not sure about this yet). 
  • we need to clean up the kitchen after the renovation
  • we need to find a way to clean up the garden
  • more magazines and termite-destroyed books in the library room :F




Anyway, it is a long process and I will maybe update again when I have the time. 

Little Story 244 - The Session

August 28, 2022

 

I went to get a full body massage last Friday (after a week of feeling nauseous, full and bloated). Usually I get extra 'bloaty' during PMS but last week been awful, I can't eat, I got heartburn and extra anxious as well. It has been a cold week and I'm prone to sickness during cold season. 


I wore extra layers, I drank warm drinks during the day and hot tea at night, I took hot shower, soak my legs in epsom salt bath, I wore socks when I sleep, I even bought long sleeve pajama set and took out my 'cold-season' sweater. I don't know how other sensitive-to-weather-changes people survive this without falling sick 😂 I feel old, I even look old, like granny in a sweater and socks, holding hot tea and massaging body with ginger oil after meal. I didn't know what else to do.


Anyway, I had to let this 'wind' (angin badan) out - I don't fart/burp as much as normal people do, so I get sick often because there is too much wind. This pinching pain on my abdomen (like heartburn) + chest area, the nauseousness, the fatigue, the wind, there is no medical term perfect to summarize this (I asked a doctor before and the doctor said there is no such thing as 'angin badan', but I choose to disagree). 


When this happen, I usually go for a massage, specifically to let out the 'angin'. Before this, I also tried acupressure, acupuncture, dry cupping (bekam), and guasha massage : these also help with letting the 'angin' out, relaxing the muscle and just help me with my conditions.  


So I contacted a 'Muslimah' massage therapist near my house, she specifically focused on helping female clients, and she does it at her house. Honestly, I don't know whether I should blindly trust someone I found online (well don't - it's dangerous). But I went to her house anyway, creeped out a bit, a nice decent flat home, really dark when I came in (perhaps to create a 'private/intimate' atmosphere), she gave me a cold water that I pretended to drink because I was a bit worried, then she sent me to the middle room to get change. The room was decorated with decent looking mattress, there was massage certificates on the wall, a small banner for her business, some candles and also some massage equipments. She provided a piece of 'batik lepas', asked me to take off everything except for the underwear. Redho je lah kan. 


But despite that, it was an amazing massage session. She even gave me extra 15 mins of head/face massage. It was a bit painful when she focused on some troubled points (especially the abdomen part and the 'sengkak'). She said everything was good, just a bit of 'wind' here and there. Nothing too problematic, she said my body frame is quite small, so it was really easy for her physically compared to other clients. She mentioned to take care of my consumption, don't drink 'cold' water or foods, choose veggies & fruits that are suitable for my body type. 


All in all, the massage session was a bliss and it helped me. I mean, she burped like no one's business the whole session, like the sound of wild animals - other than that, it was a great session. I would want to go for another session if she could go to my house instead because I am NOT comfortable getting a massage at a stranger's house. 


Right after the session, I ate like I fasted for a week, and the nausea wasn't that bad anymore. The day after, the symptoms subsided and there is still a remaining feeling like a small lump left in the small corner of my abdomen. I still drink hot drinks and really picky with my food consumption because I miss not feeling awful. I even lost almost 2 kg not doing anything :F


There is no lesson from this story : it is just something I put my trust on blindly because I was desperate for a solution after I tried everything I can myself. 



Little Thing 252 : Wordless

August 27, 2022

When you wake up really early in the morning and you stare at the computer screen, thinking what to write but everything you wish you could capture from your thoughts dissolves into mists. 


Here is the playlist I listened to. <


Image from unsplash


Books - Borrowing Books

August 26, 2022

I've been borrowing a lot of books from my former teacher and my online friends (I'm making a huge effort !) I'm proud to say that I now have 3 online friends that I manage to talk about books and borrow books from. 


In this current phase, I'm slowly changing to become my 'real' self and accepting that I feel so comfortable with being alone (and it is okay), I'm getting more and more socially awkward. I did have the same tendency since I was young, but I had to 'fit in' into the societal requirements, so I had to always make an effort. Now I don't.


So I'm really proud of myself for making effort to go out from my comfort zone and make online friends :D

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Here is all the graphic novels and fiction books that I borrowed from Maisarah :



I'm excited for the Handmaid's Tale (because I want to read it for awhile), also Wonder by Beatrice Blue - I want to enjoy her artworks and read her process (but I don't want to buy and keep the physical book), Anxious People by Fridrik Backman is probably a good read for me (because I've been anxious a lot since the pandemic and since Sofi), and sure books by Lucy Knisley (because I read all the early years book but somehow fell out of love from her art), the Nutcracker and the Mouse by Natalie Andrewson (I can enjoy her artwork - it reminds me of Over the Garden Wall series), other than that Feelings : A Story in Seasons by Manjit Thapp & The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (recommended by Maisarah herself). 

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The left one is books from Ms Chin (my former English teacher), most of the books were thriller and written by female writers. Our agreement is to let me read the book and then help her sell the preloved books on my Shopee after I finished it. By now I think I've already read and sell at least 5-6 of her books. 


All the Elif Shafak's books on the right side is from DD. I love Elif Shafak and if I still collect books, I would love to have a row of her works on my book shelf. I already read Black Milk (about motherhood) and currently reading Three Daughters of Eve (about God).


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So I currently have a bunch of books around in my bedroom : on the right table (where I put all the TBR books), on the left (where I sleep, the books that I'm currently reading & my Kindle), and on the bed's front (all the TBR novel graphics). 


I have so many books to read and these books will be returned to the owners when I finish it. I'm not tied to the physical thing but I can still enjoy reading the physical books. Isn't it amazing ? 


I don't know about other people, but for me, this is an amazing setup. But IF I could change one thing, I would want the busy side road window to change into a nature view, no vehicle sounds, or morning trash trucks or busy road bustling with life, just the sound of nature and fresh air. 

Books - I Listened/Read to Anne of Green Gables Book Series (11 books)

August 02, 2022

I've been having some thoughts after finishing 7 of Anne of Green Gables book series, that, we will eventually forget our childhood excitement. That we will become tired and hardly ever feel excited about everything anymore. Here's a good comic about what I'm writing about. 



Anne starts the book with so much joy and excitement towards life, she is innocent, she has an amazing imagination, great friends and she is a big-hearted person. She cares so much about people around her, the trees, the animals, the littlest things. Those are the things that make me adore Anne so much. 


After more than 20 years (I only read 3 books when I was in school), I decided to reread these series and finally finish them up so I listened to her story throughout July. 


Afterwards in the series : she went to school, she graduated, she became a teacher, she got married, she became a mother, she had many children, then WW1 happened, her children were big enough to get listed to the war and throughout the war, there were many sadness and war anxieties, later there were grief. Anne wasn't the same jolly kid she was, she grew up and grew old. In Rilla of the Ingleside (the last book in the series), Anne & Gilbert were hardly there, or mostly just in the background. I'm a bit surprised by how seemingly abrupt their life stories ended. Where was dear Marilla? Where was Diana ? I need closure.  


Anne is one of my favorite character. What happened to her in the end? Did she die old and content among her family and friends? Did they get over the grief? I felt like it wasn't fair, life isn't fair. She had so much hopes for life and I wanted her to be happy in the end. 


But, that was written around 100 years back and nothing could ever be changed now, can it? What can I expect from the war ? It was such a terrible time and it was fairly expected. Nothing good can come out from such sadness. 


**Books in the series (based on the publication order)

  1. Anne of Green Gables (pub. April 1908) - finished
  2. Anne of Avonlea (pub. August 1909) - finished
  3. Anne of the Island (pub. July 1915) - finished
  4. Anne's House of Dreams (pub. August 1917) - finished
  5. Rainbow Valley (pub. August 1919) - finished
  6. Rilla of Ingleside (pub. autumn 1921) - finished
  7. Anne of Windy Poplars (pub. August 1936) - currently reading
  8. Anne of Ingleside (pub. July 1939) - can't find yet

Short stories/poems compiled (about residents of Avonlea) :

  1. Chronicle of Avonlea (pub. 1912) - finished
  2. Further Chronicles of Avonlea (pub. 1920) - finished
  3. The Blythes Are Quoted (pub. 2009) - can't find yet


I wish we had more. 

I know the WW1 was a terrible time and L M Montgomery was writing during such a difficult phase in the 1900s. Imagine having to write something so hopeful and innocent in the early years and slowly turning into something darker and sad over time. The writer went thru WW1, battled through depression, survived 'Spanish Flu' and didn't even see the end of WW2. 


Her final note found on her bedside :
... I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best."

😢


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Side note :

So as a mother I feel like I need to freeze these childhood moments. We decided to record and compile them in videos, so we can see them again and again, especially when things are tough and we forget these little things that make us happy or excited. Eventually all these little memories that we are creating for Sofi will be gone or forgotten, she wouldn't remember them when she is all grown up.


This is where we keep our videos - her first Ikea trip, her first Kidzoona, her first Aquaria, her first dinosaur park, etc. I love sharing these videos with my family especially. You have no idea how many times I've rewatched these videos myself. I'm that kind of mother, I love to rewatch Sofi's videos like any normal mother would. Even my mom loves to rewatch Sofi's video over and over again when I share them in our family Whatsapp.