Monday, July 21, 2014

The pre-exchange II


The past few days have been a whirlwind of bittersweet feelings, feelings I never thought I'd experience, especially since I've always wanted to go on an exchange but there's definitely something about saying goodbye to the life that you've lived for all those years in routine and comfort. 

On Thursday I attended my last Chinese ink painting and watercolor class at the MIA extra mural studies center, it's a beautiful old bungalow occupied by the some very passionate teachers and hobby artists and it's located right smack in the hustle and bustle of KL which proved to be very soul satisfying since I could spend my lunch breaks getting lost in freshly printed books in Kinokunia as it was a mere five minute walk away. I enrolled myself in their courses only because I had time to kill as I was just a few months away from departing for my exchange and I couldn't work on any long term projects, so the courses that they offered seemed like the perfect way to spend the remaining months I had. 

Over the last four months I had grown to love being in a classroom like environment again, what made me love it even more was the fact that the students were of all ages, each class conceived of less than ten people on most days and the teachers would tutor every student personally, which meant that there were advance students that have been attending their courses for years and were working on massive projects and there would always be a new face around but everyone in the classroom bonded on one common ground, art, and those two hours were sometimes the most uplifting of my week. Ideas would be thrown around, thoughts on the latest artists or exhibitions would fill the air, intense discussions on where to get the most affordable art supplies were initiated. 

There truly isn't anything like being in an environment where you truly belong, where the way you look, the clothes on your back and the place that you're from doesn't matter. All that matters is your love for art, how spiffy you happen to be with your art medium or maybe you just know where to get a high quality horse hair paintbrush for RM2. It's a place where you indeed, feel beautiful as is. 

And I'm going to miss walking through those doors every Thursday but to me, being an exchange student means possessing the ability to once again discover places in which you belong, just halfway around the world. 

Now that I've got a whole lot more free time on my hands I've gone full throttle on catching up with craft, reading and more or less everything that I haven't had the time to immerse myself in with my prioritized activities but since they've been called off, well, it's time to indulge.

 

The most recent obsession (My obsessions have got a very high turnover.) of mine has been t-shirt painting, it's something I had dabbled in before but unfortunately didn't take much interest in since I found it tiresome because it took too long to paint a simple outline and it was just plain frustrating not being able to achieve a clean cut line, my strokes always turned out a little fuzzy. 

I only decided to work it out since I've really been into bands and obviously craved for their merchandise, only to discover that I couldn't afford it, so I resolved to painting the merchandise myself. Since then I've painted every single one of my plain tops in my wardrobe and I'm not entirely sure if I should be proud of myself for improving the overall state of my clothing or disappointed because I haven't been able to control my urge to splash paint over everything.

It's funny how everything I get into always does fall back to art, it's almost like I revolve around it.

On the final note, I can't help feeling a little ill prepared about my departure or maybe this is just the slightly overwhelmed bit of my mind speaking as it usually does when what used to be far from reach nears to the point where you suddenly snap back into reality and realize that it's no longer a far fetched dream.

31 DAYS.



Monday, July 14, 2014

The pre-exchange

Just a few days back I never would have thought that I would revert back to blogging since I had my mind set on starting up the long procrastinated youtube channel, I had been meaning to start vlogging for years but once I had the courage to actually start filming the first video I realized that there's a lot more to it than having an interesting video that's filmed in a decently lit setup, there was editing, background music (Yes, I'm a perfectionist like that) and having to wait hours for it to upload.

Long story short, after having gone through the entire process I've decided that it probably wasn't worth all that effort and I wouldn't want to spend hours facing a screen during my exchange year in Ecuador because I'm not going to want to regret not soaking up enough South American vibes and living in the present. Yes, this is me telling myself that it is okay to not document my exchange too much and as much as I now despise blogging, as I've witnessed just how much more intense and personal stories seem to sound through a video format, how it captures emotions perfectly, I'll endure this slightly backward path.

Well, being someone with incredibly low self-esteem, I am relieved that I wouldn't have to experience anxious fits when I upload a video but I can't help feeling overwhelming guilty about not being able to bring myself to hop over such a small yet terrifying hurdle. The overly circulated quote "What if I fall? oh, but my darling, what if you fly?" seems oddly relevant just about now.

The past few months have been a blur of scurrying around in a decapidated chicken like manner to prepare the necessities that are required for me to bring over and since Rotary has never sent a Malaysian exchange student over to Ecuador there was a lot of uncertainty and none of those in change of the youth exchange sector really understood what procedures to take. 

So there was a lot of assumptions and frustration being scattered around mainly due to the legal matters like apply for the certification of good conduct for the incoming exchange student's host families and the extremely tedious process of applying for my one year visa, not to mention that we weren't told prior to confirming that I had to have an "open return date" flight ticket which happens to cost an exorbitant sum of dosh, needless to say, my Dad wasn't the happiest of fellows. 

Then there was purchasing gifts for my host families, frantically shopping for warm clothing since the average temperature in Quito is ten degrees Celsius and my wardrobe conceives mainly of loose fitting tank tops and shorts, hunting for a durable suitcase that didn't have zips since becoming an accidental drug trafficker was a major concern and this isn't even a quarter of the "to get" list.


Not wanting to step into the exchange program without any knowledge about what may happen, I've been doing a fair share if research and by research I really do mean going borderline insane trying to locate as many blogs of rotex (Ex-rotary youth exchange students) that had Ecuador as their host country. At least I'm now the slightest bit more content and in a less fidgety state having known what I may experience especially during the first few months to an estimated average on how many pins I would need to exchange with the other exchange students when I meet them at conferences or events. Yes, the picture above are of the 220 pins that I painstakingly made over a few quiet nights and who knew it was quite this difficult to source for tiny Malaysian flags.

10 Things that may most likely to happen/be true if you're ever going on a Rotary exchange to Ecuador, *according to rotex blogs:

1. Sometimes your host family's house doesn't have an address and getting yourself home can be tricky.

2. You wouldn't understand a single word uttered in class no matter how many years you've              been studying the Spanish language. 

3. There's going to be a language camp in a 5 star resort in Mompiche, where you're apparently going to speak more English than Spanish. Also Germans make up half of the population of exchange students and the Taiwanese are the only Asian exchange students, not that it matters.

4. Concerts are realllly affordable. 

5. Ecuadoreans throw parties every weekend.

6. You're probably going to be a Latin dance expert by the end of your exchange. 

7. Football is a thing. Duh.

8. Anything that isn't manufactured or grown locally is priced sky high. (Side note: I may return  draped in llama wool, topped a woven straw hat and requesting for cuy.)

9. Don't expect high speed wifi and the connection has got some major mood swings.

10. Sometimes there's no hot water to shower with.

*I can't wait to do a more in depth post on this once I've actually experienced or myth busted everything on the list.

What I've been enjoying most throughout the entire preparation stage has been taking up the language of my host country, Spanish. It was advised that I take formal Spanish lessons but I had come across a free app called Duolingo a few months back when I was interested in picking up German and I found it a lot easier to follow and grasp as compared to expensive language learning software like Rosetta Stone. 

It actually made language learning addictive, I would be going through a few lessons whenever I had free time and one of my favorite concepts about it is being able to "duel" other Duolingo users that are at your level, basically it's revision but a whole lot more fun since there's a challenge given. I don't usually rave about things, let alone apps this way but you could say that this is my latest obsession and having completed the entire Spanish course was just plain devastating, it was almost like Augustus Waters at the end of the Imperial affliction and not believing that it had ended. 

Also you never realize how much of the world around you is in a certain language until you learn it, it feels as though a dark veil has uncovered over the way I see the world, okay that may be a little exaggerated but at least I now understand the subtitles in that movie I not so legally downloaded, the occasional Spanish quote on weheartit and being able to properly understand the countless Spanish art and cake decorating blogs makes you feel nothing less than triumphant.

38 DAYS.




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Close your eyes and hold out your hands

Closing my eyes and holding out my hands, I think that describes just exactly what my approach to life has been over the past few months and yes, it does in a way sound excruciatingly naive but I'm starting to see how it works. 

If I had let fear overcome my desire to delve into any possible opportunity I probably wouldn't even have giving a second thought about trying out for the Cake Challenge Malaysia competition, which was exactly what I did for the past few years when I had heard about the competition since it very clearly stated in the fine print that the finalists had to complete the last tier of their entry live and I just didn't feel as though I possessed adequate experience to compete under a limited time frame but this year I decided to close my eyes and hold out my hands to accept what life brings me. 

After I had got chosen as one of the few finalists I constantly felt as though as my competition entry wasn't good enough and that I would never be able to exceed what I had accomplished at the 2011 ICCA wedding cake competition, by what I had accomplished I really do mean the techniques I was able to invent and the entire composition of the cake. That feeling that settles at the bottom of your heart that puts you into a state where you could never become anything more was unnerving and it was set in concrete throughout the preparation stage as I felt that I was constantly referring back to the techniques I had executed on that piece and then having to force yourself to improve on it because you couldn't bring yourself to copy off a thirteen year old, even if that thirteen year old was yourself. 

Yes, you're probably wondering why would I would actually chose to regress in a way instead of getting inspiration from other artists or objects around me to actually progress. During the first few days of preparation I did the necessary bit of research to keep myself up to date with the latest winning competition cakes, which really only proved to be useful in mentally pointing out where my fellow competitors had extracted their ideas and techniques from as whenever I tried to apply those techniques onto my cake it would have an 80% chance of winding up in the trash because I would step away from my cake, tilt my head to the left and right and come to a conclusion that it really didn't come from me but that celebrity cake artist instead.   

Like everything else, I realized all I needed to remember is to keep a decent balance between the two to avoid any further inner conflict. 

Though it wasn't the first time, I've been receiving telltale signs that I wasn't as passionate about cake decorating as I had been before for instance I honestly did not have a halfway acceptable theme aside from it being royal and dripping in primary colors because it seemed like a slightly challenging color combination to work with or a name for my cake, two things which I found as important as the cake itself and which I would take pride in sharing how I had come up with it and what had inspired me but no, this time it felt as though my thoughts had vacated my mind. 

Oddly as time passed I was slowly filling that vacant space in my mind with a clear picture on what I wanted my finished creation to look like, though I had never done any proper research on those few topics I knew it was going to be a fusion of stained glass and oriental royalty. I shall assume that my creative gears are merely taking a little longer to shift into place and even more time to start whirring.    



I do feel that this cake slightly reflects my current state of mind, from the way the tiers seem almost identical to my scattered thoughts and ideas and the striking colors resemble the way I've been looking at life from a different perspective and it gives the most mundane moments and objects a new, more vivid form. To me the cake competitions I've entered throughout the past four years has never been purely for the golden trophy or the way people spend time admiring your entry or that surge of adrenaline and raw excitement you get when you get interviewed, all along I really do think that during the period of time I spend working on my entry is when I get a true sense of self, getting in touch with my inner most thoughts and basically it's a two week journey of rediscovering who you are all over again which is something I realized I need to go through annually in order to keep myself sane. 

Also the live competition was the direct opposite of the Masterchef scenario I had in mind, with cake being thrown around and contestants running riot. I was never too good with time management or estimating the amount of time I would need to complete a project and I had actually finished my cake an hour before we had to officially lay our piping bags to rest, which was surprising. I should time myself when I work next time. 

I had feared live competitions all along for nothing, now I really am glad I decided to close my eyes and hold out my hands because what gets placed in your hands can be magical. 

On the side note, I do hope that I'd be able to start blogging again for good since Ecuador is a mere three months away and I do want to keep a little travel log on my adventures anyway. And reading through my older posts gives me cringe attacks but they do seem like a brilliant memoir of the past. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm on the pursuit for adventure

Goodness knows made bought me here again after abandoning my blog after all this time. Maybe it is because I wanted to check if I am still capable of writing more than one worded photo captions on face book, or maybe it's because for the past weekend or so I have been feeling very motivated and slightly inspired in the art and literature department.
Anyways, I suppose this shall be a quick update about what's been been revolving around the cuppy headed world, besides the fact that I have been obsessing over indie rock fashion and DIY bohemian inspired feathery headbands, seriously though I can spend hours scrolling through pictures of weird indie /bohemian inspired fashion and hipster type quotes in german that I find somewhat amusing, what has become of me. Or maybe this post shall just be a short reminder that I still exist and have yet to be completely taken over by feathered accessories.

Apart from tearing apart old t-shirts and converting them into colorful headbands, which have convinced my family that I might join an indian tribe sometime in the near future or perhaps at least start practicing rain dances around the house, I have been drawing a whole lot more as compared to the past few months and I have completely given up using my once favorite Stabilo 0.4 ink pens for willow charcoal sticks and 2b pencils. I don't recall what made me switch art mediums but I guess it was partly due to boredom and the fact that I wasn't really good with ink and I wanted to try something new altogether.

Honestly, I haven't actually studied or observed artists using pencils and charcoal because I am such a lazy creature and also it literally takes an hour to load a youtube video with the extremely slow Port Dickson wifi speed I am blessed with, so I guess I can proudly say that I picked up whatever pencil and charcoal skills through a whole lot of trail and error and not to mention the amount of wasted paper! Also, until I immersed myself into creating art with these relatively new art mediums (Or at least that's what they are to me since I never would have given it a second thought before.) I never would have realized how important an eraser was, especially to create highlights. And erase mistakes, doh. The next step I'd be taking would probably be to use color pencils and hopefully be able to invest in a nice creamy set of color pencils that would hopefully work better than the cheapo ones I find scattered across my brother's desk. Then again, it could just be me not having enough skill to be able to blend the colors properly, go figure.

Ah, I remember now. It was because I was slowly getting sucked into the world of realistic human portraits, with a tinge of surrealism and ink pens limited shading and whatnots since I was, and still am pretty much useless at controlling ink. At the same random pencil using artists decided to appear all around, so I decided to give it a shot. I don't think I would ever go back to drawing with ink pens or start doodling henna inspired art again, or maybe I would one day since I once sworn that I wouldn't never step back into the cake decorating industry but I did and I probably created more birthday and wedding cakes for the past two months than I have throughout the past few years. Sometimes I do wish I weren't so fickle about the decisions I make.

A couple of days back I got the last of the Rotary youth exchange forms filled up and I was told that I would be departing for a year in Ecuador on the 22nd of August next year, that was probably the moment when everything started feeling scary and at the same time excitingly real! Since I have got a little less than a year till my departure to the land of spitting llamas and ancient  galapagos tortoises, you could say that I have prepared a list of some of the things I wanted to experience in Malaysia or just things I am looking forward to, since I wouldn't be around for an entire year and at the same time prepare myself for a journey to a faraway land. To start off I decided to pick up Spanish, I had no idea it was such an easy and enjoyable language to learn!

The decision to go to Ecuador instead of Germany was pretty sudden. Sudden as in I said yes over a two minute phone call in the middle of a hectic marketing game played during MYC13, I was bought over the moment I heard that the exchange students would be able to visit the Amazon rainforest, Galapagos islands, Machu Pichu and some other places I did not catch on that brief phone conversation! Besides almost all the previous exchange students went to either somewhere in the European region or Japan, so it would be nice to be one of those that venture outside the box!

Carrot Guppy Head's to do list of shenanigans before Ecuador:

  • RYLA13. I actually got chosen as one of the facilitators this year! So I suppose writing that insanely lengthy e-mail to them about my "abilities" was worth it, though I was fan-girling about how much I loved RYLA12 and the experiences I had for at least three quarters of it! I can't wait to see what's in store for me this year since I've stepped up the ladder, hm.
  • OUTWARD BOUND. I swear, I attend every single camp I lay my eyes on but this particular camp sounds like heaven on earth for outdoor loving, adventure junkies!
  • VOLUNTEERING at Zoo Negara and the Ma Daerah turtle sanctuary. It's amazing being in an environment where you are surrounded by people that have the similar love for wildlife conservation and nature, being able to observe how things are managed and operated behind the scenes and constantly learning to fuel what you are passionate in. 
  • MT. KINABALU. Training for it, pushing my limits and conquering a mountain sounds thrilling!

For the past two months or so, change (Such as how I am able to do a proper bridge without sounding like a dying pterodactyl and being able to tie a top knot that doesn't come loose in two seconds.) and fascinating discoveries were ever present, you could say I am feeling very much happier and wholesome now than I have been for the longest period time.
It could be due to the fact that the future doesn't seem so blurred and foggy anymore and maybe it is because I finally accept who I am without the need to feel embarrassed when people start bashing my dreams.
And it feels amazing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A weekend of music and dance

I must admit, it's pretty strange typing away on a laptop again as I have grown accustomed to the whole pen on paper, old fashioned way of writing thing ever since I decided I wanted to be out of the house more and blogging on a tiny phone isn't exactly easy as the keypad is tiny and I keep stumbling over my own fingers, so I decided to start writing in one of my long abandoned diaries again.
It was slightly difficult at first since it's been sometime since I've actually written my thoughts down on paper and by the time I was halfway through jotting down whatever I was thinking, the thought would have evaporated away and you are left staring at some blank paper, maybe it's because I write very slowly or something. I should probably teach myself how to write in cursive one day.
Also you get to pen down every last detail without having to worrying about how your entry might insult someone or how you would be judged by the way you write, so hooray for secret diaries!

Okay, it wasn't exactly a weekend of music and dance since it started on Thursday and I only got home on Monday and it was filled with more than just music and dancing, I seriously need to work on my blog titling skills.

Thursday

I woke up to the very annoying bleeping sound of my phone's alarm at seven or so in the morning, I wanted to give my morning zombie self some time to put on make up, actually comb my hair into place and put on a little black dress I D-I-Y refashioned from one of those hand-me-down ankle length auntie dresses I had rotting in my closet which I so happened to only work on it at like, two in the morning or something since I had to pack and stuff. I had a casting and it so happened that I needed a tight, short, dark coloured dress (That I didn't have, so D-I-Y-ing was the alternative to sitting down and crying I suppose.) at the Amber Chia academy for a company that booked runway models.

The casting was over pretty quick, all I did was talk a little bit about myself, get my height measured against one of the two ladies that were doing the casting, do some pretend-you-are-on-a-runway strutting and they actually said my very panicky refashioned dress was pretty and asked where I bought it from!
I'll should probably add "learn how to sew clothes properly" to my things I need to learn how to do before I get old list.

After some drool worthy wan tan mee in Petaling street and getting a new pair of red sneakers at Mid Valley, Dad dropped me off at AWL's. I don't really remember what happened afterwards except maybe walking over to CLIC to have some bihun, fried, vegetarian bak kut teh and fried seaweed with bits of sesame seed in it (Which I later dumped into my bak kut teh soup since it tasted really weird on it's own for some reason that I have no explanation to.) for lunch and then re-reading the city of glass by Cassandra Clare.

At five or so in the evening we made our way to the urban groove dance studio where the workshops for project hip hope (A charity fund raising project for the house of love, an orphanage and the house of joy, a home for the elderly.) were held and signed up for their graffiti workshops since I've recently been obsessed with trying new forms of art out and graffiti is something completely different to what I am used to!

Once I got "project hip hope" stamped in red ink on the back of my palm I was whisked off to a secret church, it shall be called the secret church since I have no idea what the church is called and I probably wouldn't have noticed it there since they camouflaged it so well!

A couple of minutes after climbing up a few flights of stairs, settling down on a plastic chair in this very squashy room filled with Australian fellows freestyle rapping to their adventures they had so far in Malaysia and hip hop dancers that I recognized from the urban groove studio, began the first project hip hope workshop! It began rather awkwardly I must add, since literally everyone knew each other and spoke in hip hop language, which at first was like an entirely new language filled with weird hand gestures but I am proud to say that by the end of the three days I spent at the graffiti workshop I had pretty much understood the whole hip hop language and sign language thing they had going on. And a girl named Carisa, who happens to look almost exactly like my fat blue hippo but perhaps with a hip hop twist said she liked my very random stack of bracelets, yay me.

I must admit the workshop ended almost right after it started or at least it felt that way, hmm. We covered a a brief bit of hip hop history, how it started and who made it famous and all, it's too bad I don't remember much of it since I probably have this life long disease called goldfish memory.
Then we did even more theory on the different graffiti techniques, mainly letter writing/spray painting techniques since we were focusing on getting our tag, basically your graffiti signature, done by the end of the first workshop.

After what seemed like eternity, nah actually I found the theory bit pretty interesting since I had never actually dabbled in graffiti before. When it was time to create our tags I had an "artist block", my mind went blank and I had no idea how to create a somewhat "badass" tag for myself or how to sort of draw it out on paper! Even when I did pull some ideas together and started doodling on my A3 sized paper with multi colored markers it just didn't seem to flow as well as I thought it would and I got the feeling that maybe graffiti is just something I will never be naturally good at.

Once the workshop ended I headed back to the urban groove dance studio, got dragged to a vegetarian restaurant by Awl for dinner and of all things they had there I ordered vegetarian fish head noodles! It tasted very much like eel sushi, I am still undecided if I like or hate it, hmm. Oh since Am, Sam and Arian decided to take the evening workshops we hung around the restaurant sipping on Chinese tea and orange juice, since I might have burnt my tongue while stuffing noodles down my throat. Then Jet and his family decided to join us since they had just finished their dinner somewhere in taipan as well, we yakked about things I don't remember of anymore till the owner of the restaurant decided that they wanted to to kick us out since it was getting late.

The next day was filled with egg sandwich making and packing into ziplock bags,more reading and writing a dozen pages or so in my diary, I guess this is what I get for procrastinating, zero memory of anything that has happened only rough bits and pieces. 

Friday

Today at the workshop we started on characters, the whole theory then practical concept again but I enjoyed myself a whole lot more since Sam wasn't taking the workshop with me so I pretty much didn't have an excuse to hang around her and not talk to anyone else! I was there a little early for the workshop that for some reason was held in the urban groove studio instead of the church, so after walking around the reception area for a bit, I plopped down on the couch and talked to this random girl that looked equally as bored next to me and by the time the workshop started we pretty much knew everything from each other's weird life stories to what we kinds of videos we watch on youtube to what we thought of random countries around the world!



As for the practical part of today's characters in graffiti style workshop we had to draw the person sitting next to you as a character and the person sitting next to me was Jane, a friend of Sam's that I had met at the first workshop but didn't really get to talk to much and the photo above is her drawing of me as a graffiti styled character and the piece of paper next to it is my failed attempt at graffiti from the workshop the day before! 
I don't look anything like that though you might have gotten the shorts and big feet right, but thank you for making me feel really beautiful!
We switched our drawings at the end of the workshop so I unfortunately can't upload a picture of the drawing I did of Jane but maybe it's a good thing since mine turned out pretty bad but not as rotten as the tags I did the day before, thankfully.

Am and Sam weren't at the studio yet since their vocal workshop started a little late so I sneaked into the room where the hip hop dancers were rehearsing for the project hip hope concert on Sunday and you could say I was pretty blown away, staring at them dancing with eyes popping out of their sockets and my jaw trailing of the floor! There is just something about the choreography and music that just makes you blink for a second and then mouth a silent "wow" because you forgot to breath for that few minutes they were dancing and its a little hard to say anything when you've got no air left in your lungs.

I spent the next twenty minutes or so watching them dance the same routine again and again till Am and Sam arrived and dragged me off to subway across a very congested road for dinner, by then the dancers were probably very creeped out by my overall existence in the studio.

We watched the silver linings play book when we got home, it was amazing (Yay, Jennifer Lawrence!) enough to keep me awake watching it till two or three in the morning.

Saturday

Day three of the project hip hope graffiti workshop! The workshop that I just couldn't wait to attend since we were told that we got to do graffiti with actual spray paint!
Evening came soon enough and after a quick round if registering and re-stamping in the urban groove dance studio I rushed down to the alley behind the row of shophouses with Sam because that's where today's workshop was held. 
I was greeted by three huge wooden boards and a cardboard box filled with primary and secondary spray paint colors, I was bursting with excitement!
After Matthew mystery, he is this mind blowingly "cool" priest that conducted the graffiti workshop, does freestyle rapping, dances hip hop and tells nerve wrecking stories of his early graffiti days in Sydney and how he very nearly got killed by a train in the subway and caught by cops a couple of times. Anyways after he demonstrated one of his signature characters it was our turn to finally try out graffiti on the huge wooden canvases.

Sadly, I discovered that graffiti isn't as easy as it looks and made a complete mess on my side of the board, how very disappointing indeed but it was fun literally getting myself coated in spray paint since I picked the bottom part of the board and there were people working on their piece above me!
Note to self: Always pick the top when it involves paint and other humans.

Sunday

After another lazy morning filled with more egg sandwich making and diary writing at Awl's we made our way to the Paradox cafe where Am had created an open mic event, to be honest I really didn't expect much from it, maybe some newbie singers/songwriters that would give such terrible performances that you would rather listen to a blender blend concrete. You could say I didn't have very high expectations about the event or/and that I am a terrible excuse for a human being.

It was strange how the moment Am welcomed all that arrived and started it of with her two original songs "clues" and "dandelion days", I actually found myself enjoying the songs, tapping out the beat with my shoes and singing along, all while I was stuffing my face with a huge bowl of noodles.
I still have Am's "dandelion days" stuck in my head and I believe a week or so has passed already.

I even met a fellow RYLArian there, Krystal, I do regret not speaking to her much during last year's RYLA, hmfp. She's in a duo called Big & Small, they were the featured artists for today's open mic and I don't think I have enjoyed a performance as much as Big & Small's! It was just so filled with strength, happiness and energy that you can't help it but dance! Unfortunately I still hadn't finished my enormous bowl of noodles so I kind of just shuffled my bum around the chair I sat on, boo.

Also, I don't think I have ever spent so much time in a toilet before, it was just so filled with hilariously interesting stuff pasted on the walls and there was a piece of artwork painted on the door to the toilet and the particular style it had was extremely familiar! After staring at it for a minute or two I realized it was by Iam May, one of my favorite local artists! 

The moment the last performer stepped off the stage we packed up and zoomed off to The icon, where the project hip hope concert is held.
We arrived a little late so the concert had already started and there were three middle aged men rapping in Cantonese, I was pretty confused but things started going uphill when they exited the stage because then the stage was just taken over by all the dance crews and music that was so loud the floor vibrates and your heart starts beating a little funny! I unexpectedly started having a really good time and joined the huge crowd of people that were waving their arms about, dancing (halfway through the night the people in the mosh pit made a circle, the dj started mixing and there was an amazing dance battle!) and jumping in the mosh pit!

So yeah, that was my very eye opening weekend of being immersed in the world of music and hip hop culture.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Because the neighbor is renovating and I can't hear the tv.

Okay, the past month or so kind of just wooshed by and I seem to have gotten a memory wipe or something because everything I've done seems extremely vague and blurry but at the same time it was probably the most interesting month this year since I was rarely ever at home.
And I oddly don't exactly miss the whole comfy home environment as much as I thought I would have.
Hoorah, a nomad's life it shall be for me.

What's also strange is that everything I have wished for seems to be coming true and that's an amazing feeling.

Yes, I actually prayed to be out of the house and on my own in a way, my family is absolutely fabulous and I get stuffed with amazing food everyday but sometimes change and adventure is needed and that I felt excruciatingly frustrated about not knowing what I wanted during most of the year kind of helped too.

I think I just made everything sound overly dramatic.

Anyways, I will start my post off at the end of May, my Dad received two seats to an introduction to NLP, which stands for Neuro linguistic programming if you didn't know but most of everyone I've talked to seems to have heard about it one way or another and I was pretty surprised I suppose.

I had an impression that we could hack into people's minds but fortunately for those around me it wasn't anything like what I had in mind.

The two day seminar was held in on of the lecture theaters in the Taylor's Lakeside Campus and I expected a huge lecture hall that could accommodate over a hundred participants, like those you see in movies but it really was this normal class room with bright yellow walls and was filled with middle aged students that had either grey hair or were balding.
I should probably lower my expectations by a whole lot.

We were also late and there was traffic that morning, like most mornings so my Dad parked across the highway at a patrol station and we actually walked across a highway so very early in the morning.
You could say it was a very interesting experience to have when you are half asleep, I felt very much like a refugee that morning.

The overall two day "training" was pretty interesting and I am surprised I do quite a lot of the techniques already, it was basically reminding myself how to use it.
We were also given a pen and paper test to basically find out your personality and we were taught how to communicate better with different individuals, it was very much like learning a whole new language and the whole using certain words thing doesn't really work on me (Or maybe my Dad just doesn't know how to play with his words very well.) but it surprisingly worked on my Dad and he still doesn't know I used "his personality language" on him to persuade him to go shopping with me.
So maybe I'll use it after all.

The biggest reason why I enjoyed I really enjoyed the overpriced course was because I got to spend more time with my Dad and I also learnt why I usually end up in tears when we "talk", it's because we are are on the extreme sides on the personality chart.

He is an I.D which means he is someone who enjoys plans, structure and straight forward stuff and I as a kinesthetic on the other hand, doesn't really like step-by-step plans, I would very much prefer that you gave me a deadline and I would find a way to get it done by then, hopefully.
I am also completely fine with fuzzy details and apparently I feel a little bit too much and my Dad doesn't exactly understand what this feelings are.

I guess now I understand why he says the things he says and overall accept his occasional grumpiness a lot better, as well as learn a little more about my wonky self but I honestly wouldn't pay RM 1,400 for that seminar because I am such a cheapo.

The next day I drove, wait my Mom drove over to our old place in PJ and kidnapped Swathy over to PD to stuff our faces with Mommy's popcorn, re-watch every single episode of Mind Your Language again, roll in sea mud, dig for lalas, cycle to our favorite warung to have nasi goreng kampung tambah ikan bilis and syrap limau ais and then tapau-ing curry puffs to munch at the very beautiful and breezy fisherman's jetty and throw a random Honda car factory plant tour in the middle of it somewhere.
I also got stopped by a really creepy kampung boy that claimed I looked like his favorite k-pop singer and insisted to take picture of me and to have tea with him. I don't think I have cycled away from anyone quite as fast before.

Packing was horrific since I only started the midnight before camp and I was tossing clothes all over my already insanely messy room trying to find dark colored t-shirt and long pants, not my favorite choice of clothing I must admit.

Hm, camp. I honestly haven't a clue where to start even though Teen Dhamma Camp 13 is all I have been thinking about since it ended and this time I actually had very low expectations (Seriously, how fun can a DHAMMA camp be, right?) but guess what?
IT WAS AMAZING.
.. And I have been listening (And dancing to the hoedown, of course.) to the TDC theme song, It's time - Imagine Dragons on repeat for the entire day and woah, it's a rush of beautiful bittersweet camp memories.

I just realized I enjoyed TDC more than last year's RYLA, maybe it's because I am a little more confident this time round and I don't have a fear of speaking in general.
And therefore you get to meet more people and have more fun, woopie!

When we (Bloo, Nadia, Jet and Sam) reached SJBA very early in the morning, we were led to this hall that was filled with teenagers sitting cross legged and walking to an empty spot to settle down was stressful since everyone in the room was staring and I very badly wanted to dissolve into water at that very moment and hopefully seep into the floor tiles or something.

After a very awkward puja and massage-the-person-in-front-of-you session we had to split into groups of eight and we pretty much stuck together thinking everything was fine as we played some warm-up-to-the-random-people-around-you-type-of-games but oh, after thinking I was safe with the people I arrived with we had to run around the hall asking the facilitators if we were in their group or not and it turns out all five of us were scattered in different groups.

Seeing the people that I was going to be in a team with was.. I don't know how to describe what I was feeling at that moment but "Oh my god, I am going to be stuck with this boy with nice braces (THIS IS SHAYYYNEEE! *Rings chong*), a rather grumpy and annoying look boy, a rather shy smiley girl and three other tiny people for the next four days" was terrifying.
And somehow I got elected to be the leader of the Wave team, like are you people serious.

So what do you do when you put eight random teenagers together?
You make them come up with a group cheer.

"Wavey, wavy
We are the waves
We are STRONG
Prepare for a tsu-na-mi"

After a terribly awkward cheer creating session we boarded two school buses and headed over to the place where we would be held captive in for the next four days, Bodhi Park, Shah Alam.
It has a huge concrete lotus on the roof so it was pretty hard not to miss.

Right after our vegetarian lunch, I actually quite enjoy vegetarian food but don't tell anyone that.
And after unloading our luggage into our double decker zinc cabins (I slept underneath and it was nerve wrecking since the girls on the the upper layer were dancing or something and the wooden deck didn't look or sound very stable but I lived.), we started off our first activity together as a team, it was called the Apple station and we basically had to run around the temple compound finding stations where we would perform Apple app themed games against another team.

The Candy crush station was the most memorable because we had to stick our face in a basin of flour and fish out candy with out mouth in result to people regurgitating nice round blobs of dough out and having flour in your nose isn't the best feeling ever.

And there was the 4 Pic 1 Word station where two teams were shown the same picture and we had to guess the word without the brackets to guide you but my insanely awesome team found a way to cheat, the Where's My Water station where we had to look around the cabin area for cups of water and put it into a little spray bottle, spray a dangling cloth and try to get the water to drip into a cup, the Instagram station where one member of the team (A glittery tattoo to whoever guesses it right.) had to paint an Instagrammed picture of a facilitator, the Hardest game ever station where we had to solve crossword puzzles, sudoku and riddles, the Fruit Ninja station where we had to mash a banana with the skin intact and a Draw My Thing station where you had to um, obviously draw your "thing". *Eye twitch*

There was sort of a "moral" to each game that is somehow linked to the whole "Dhamma"/"Buddhist camp" thing but I sadly don't remember any of it.

I think we also created our mail boxes with pieces of paper and Sharpies that afternoon, pretty similar to the ones that were at RYLA but mail boxes are amazing!

Later that evening we had Mahapuja, it conceived of a very short an enjoyable meditation session which I happened to be slipping in and out of consciousness in and then we lined up in a U shape and passed down flowers, candles and a cup of water. I don't even know why I enjoyed it so much, really.

After a breakfast of dry noodles we began the amazing race which to me was a continuation of yesterday's Apple Station but instead of Apple app themed games we blew tissue, bounced marbles on paper, used chopsticks in a wheelbarrow position, solved some riddle, blew some ping-pong balls into a cup while lying on a lovely sandy and cement-y floor, did some hoedowns and did this marble-tissue roll thing that was very frustrating I must say.

And this time you weren't given a clear map on where the next station is going to be, we had to wonder out of the temple and into a housing estate in the scorching tropical afternoon sun and if you found a marble somewhere along the way you could U-turn another team to do one of the previous stations, unfortunately my team got the U-turn card and boy, it was not fun and I felt like the worst team leader ever because I was probably sulking my face off.

THEN WE HAD A TELEMATCH! I HAVEN'T BEEN IN ONE SINCE SOME EARLY PRIMARY SCHOOLING STAGE OF MY LIFE.

I swear, the meal times were the best because everyone would run off to their group of friends, eat, die of laughter, empty their mail boxes and read fan mail and play with Nadia's hair.

Sleep came very easily to me that night but I was soon woken up by the sound of one of the facilitator's voice saying to go to the mph (Multi purpose hall) NOW, so I dashed to the toilet with my contact lenses and tried to put them on and I accidentally swiped them into the sink.
Mark my words, never try to put contacts on when you aren't functioning very well. Especially not in the middle of the night.
I never realized how insecure I was without my contact lenses. FIVE MORE DAYS OR SO TILL I GET HOME TO MY STASH OF CONTACT LENSES.

Anyways, we were woken up to solve a murder and it was hilarious since everyone was so blur and we had to solve riddles and duck walk in order to get the suspects and witnesses statements which we then pieced together to figure out who it was.

Also throw in some zombiefied facilitators walking around the temple compound and lots of screaming girls, thinking about the night before the next morning seemed as though it was a really weird dream.

There's so much to write about that my fingers hurt just by thinking about it but I'll try to go on, ack.

Our last night at camp was as usual the most amazing, it conceived with a lot of rolling on spiky grass, stuffing our faces with REAL sausages and cuttlefish balls, loud music, singing, jumpy high-5s and amazing friends!

If only I could relive TDC 13 once again.

-Karen Cuppy Cake



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bits and blobs


So, apparently people still read my blog (Yes, I am surprised!) even though I abandoned it for half a year and I got a request to share the five minute sketch I made of the cakes I submitted for the Mother's day themed cake competition.

Um yeah, it isn't much really and it does actually look as if it was sketched in five minutes and I don't even want to talk about the ball of fluff AKA pink flowers, which didn't even turn out pink! I should probably work on my cake drawing skills!

If you've noticed I did tweak the cakes a little here and there, okay tweaked them A LOT!

I redesigned a couple of tiers from 28 (That's the cake with gumpaste flowers and basket weave.), removed on of the pink flower tiers because I was a little too lazy to make another and I redesigned the roundish flower arrangement topper into an elongated arrangement and again it was because I was a little too lazy to make more flowers!

As for 27 (The little stout prize winning cake with piped details) I did toggle with the designs a little, they were all suppose to be done in a very henna inspired way, I left the styrofoams as is, I planned on slicing them in half to make shorter tiers but I don't have a styrofoam cutter and it does get pretty messy and I also changed the overall shape of my cake a little because I wasn't able to get the sizes I needed, bleh.

My sketches aren't ever set in stone and I make changes when ever I can to get things done faster and easier because I am a really, really lazy person!
I always write down the techniques that kind of go together so at just glance I would be able to know what I have to work with and trust me it makes life a lot simpler!

If you saw my little "What-to-bring" list on the to right corner.. Well, I had completely forgotten about the fact that I had to bring my Wilton course certificates till after I loaded the cakes into the car on the morning of the competition!

Yep, so I ran around the house like a headless chicken trying to find the pale yellow file which I kept all my certificates in and.. To this day it remains mysteriously hidden, coordinates unknown.
I don't even know why it was stated that you would have to bring your certificates along when you don't even have to show it to them or anything, well I didn't have to do so at least.
Maybe I've got a special VIP pass typa thing,yippee!

I guess that is about all I can say about the whole sketching/planning affair and I bet you are now very disappointed at the fact that I am actually this extremely lazy and careless person that makes terrible sketches of cakes and that I don't even know why I make sketches when I don't follow half of it!

Yesterday was probably one of the most productive days I have had in awhile!
I actually spring cleaned my cake room and for the record, I haven't done it in a very, very long time! 
Eh, I'm guessing cleaning isn't exactly one of my strongest points.

My mini caking library was dusted, drawers were emptied and scrubbed, a truck load of cutters and plungers were washed and categorized and my tools were placed into my upgraded purple toolbox on wheels! 

Yeah, I stole this off the Wilton website because my camera is dead and I haven't a clue where the charger is.

Speaking of my new Wilton rolling tool caddy, I am frankly quite disappointed because the drawers just slide out if you tilt it to the front and just how am I supposed to travel the world and teach with this thing exactly, there should have been a little clasp to hold the drawers in place but I guess drawers falling out isn't as bad as the clasp of my handheld toolbox breaking and my tools and piping tips being scattered EVERYWHERE.
I guess it works fine otherwise (Yes, it just stores tools like any other tool box around.) and you get to show off what a huge, purple, wheelie toolbox you have!

Back to the topic of spring cleaning, right after I was done I simply just stood back and stared at the more or less squeaky clean room and.. Started yanking all my tools out from my toolbox to recreate some flowers I found in the garden in gumpaste.


Um yeah, the caking room is once again, in a horrendous mess!

Oh and here's a nice short story.
We, as in my brothers, mother goose and her fluffy little gosling decided to go swimming in the sea once the sun was down, there was a really beautiful rainbow that stretched across the lagoon and we were playing a game of swim-tag..
Soon it got really dark and I felt something soft and jelly like brush against the back of my palm and a millisecond later I felt the most excruciating pain ever, imagine someone spilling acid on you then roasting your hand over a bonfire.
Mmyeh, I got stung by a jellyfish last night, huh.

-Karen Cuppy Cake