These retreats from well-lit and densely populated digital spaces are necessary for those of us who remember a quieter internet, one not so strident, not so shrill. And yes, perhaps this current digital shared reality may seem like it creates more connections, but without these quiet moments, you lose the spaces to dream and to be who you are.
I’ve never been one of those people desperately chasing every sensation, every interaction, every call to glory.
I want to work, and to thrill to quiet glories. And whenever I interact I do feel the cheer of bonhomie, and I enjoy conversations. But then it is time to retreat into my cozy shell. Time to heal, and time to dream.
Picture above was taken on my way from the Chew Clan Jetty onwards towards Armenian Street.
Listening to: Group Autogenics I — The Books
I didn’t know what I was expecting at the clan jetty but for some reason it’s one of my happiest memories of my sojourn in Penang over the last weekend. And this friendly-looking dragon guarding the thoroughway and watching over exits and entries seems such a liminal being. My memories include eating durian ice cream, watching the sunlight reflected on the sea, and just drifting — allowing the moment to carry me and inspire me.
It seemed fitting for the above to be the last photo I posted on my instagram re my psychogeography fieldtrip. I feel a bit bad inundating people with so many pictures so am resolved to do a series of latergrams in November after a few more small adventures. Fairly sure I’m going to use that IG mostly for architecture, travels and psychogeography photos now. I feel a sense of purpose for it, which is good.
It’s been a quiet and peaceful kind of day, albeit rainy. I haven’t felt weak at all re this being my fourth vegetarian day. Feel quite energized, to be honest. But I have been eating eggs, tofu, beans, pasta. Today for instance I feel like I ate a lot but it’s been a respectable 1745 calories. I only had 5 strawberries for breakfast so that might account for it.
Food for today:
- Breakfast: Decaf french press coffee + 5 large south african strawberries
- Lunch: The usual vegetarian rice at the usual indian restaurant. No appalam today, but I did have both a hard boiled egg sambal and a portion of tauhu sambal plus beansprouts, french beans and their nomtastic freshly made mango chutney.
- Dessert: A portion of cut guava w/ mo fa kor dried preserves.
- Dinner: 0.8 cup of pesto pasta with fried egg, 1 teaspoon parmesan, 5 cherry tomatoes and a handful of holy basil. Also a small portion of tomato soup which was lovely on a rainy evening!
- Supper: Yes! There was supper! Because I enjoyed the black bean burger so much yesterday! So, made it again today, but with even less oil, and slightly less seasoning. Accompaniments: 1 slice tomato, 1 baby romaine leaf, 2 slices beetroot, 2 dill chips, 1/3 tablespoon ketchup. SO. GOOD.
- Dessert: hot rooibos tea w/ milk, 1 digestive biscuit, 1/3-ish cup of mango, 5 almonds.
Very satisfying. Haven’t felt hungry at all. Just satisfied and nourished.
Whatsapp’s been uninstalled for the weekend and because I really want to hunker down and do serious monograph work on FRI-YAY! No distractions! Also logging out of my author email for good measure. Don’t want to see rejections that will throw me off my stride. 😛
Listening to: Rest — Charlotte Gainsbourg
It’s been a quiet but productive day.
- I sent out contracts for the poets and authors I’ve accepted lately for Truancy 5 and 6.
- Did significant work on my monograph. I’ve made such surprising strides I might be able to deliver it ahead of my doomful schedule in December.
- Cleared some academic redtape and outstanding tasks.
- I met with the Chair of our research centre to discuss the reading groups I’m holding next year and briefed her on the situation re waiting to find out if I’ve got the grant or not. Yesterday I sent the full schedule for 2019 to my lit committee cohorts, and got good feedback from them. All up, I’m looking forward to seeing all of these things happening next year. They’re going to be held at my school, I think. I think it’s important to house it within the university although my earlier plan was to hold it in KL. I just can’t anymore with these KL people.
- Inktober! I did another nautilus-centered abstract piece. I’m aiming for one aquatic critter per day so that I’ll improve my life-drawing while still doing the abstract pieces I love.
- Weight went back down. Weight-loss is a bell curve, as we all know. But as long as I’m headed in the right direction, I’m happy.
- Third day of being vegetarian. Since it’s not for religious reasons I won’t be super strict. I’m quite sure I’m making sambal belachan this weekend, for instance — to go with the masak lode putih I’m making. Yum Yum. But I do want to do this “cleanse” of my system both for my emotional wellbeing and for my health. I do worry I’m not getting enough protein. But there’s eggs, tofu, nuts and beans. So many beans. I’m interested in seeing how long I can be vegetarian this time around. The last time I did this was in 2004, I think. I lasted fifteen days. By the end of that I was a bit frail but otherwise healthy, and I almost couldn’t eat meat again.
- I made a yummy vegetarian burger for dinner. Black beans, white mushroom, eggplant, tomato paste, caramelised onions, coriander powder, cumin powder, egg replacer powder. Worked well. I used the egg ring to fix the shape. Also had a yummy mug cake and a small scoop of ice cream.
Yes, twitter’s deactivated again. My cleanse includes not paying attention to things that will only upset me. I **am** paying attention to academic twitter on my private read-only account, because I want to see if there are grants opening or calls for papers. But that’s about it. Facebook’s still open and since I only do public posts these days I’m less discriminating about FB friends. Also, I need the account for approving members to the reading group facebook communities.
Otherwise, I’ll mostly be posting here, and pictures to my Instagram. Hoping to do more psychogeography treks, and closer to home to boot. Stay tuned.
Listening to: Ein guter Tag — Klaus Johann Grobe
So I came back and then was all fired up for my monograph, which I tackled after I did over half a dozen outstanding tasks. Other things I need to do this weekend include sending out Truancy contracts. That was supposed to happen last week but I was overwhelmed by too many things. I’m really really happy with the progress I made in the monograph today. I went back to the Intro chapter to redo my definition of terms and re-structure some things. Then I moseyed on back to Chapter Two. I have bought and read so many new monographs lately so I have a general idea of how things should be better structured now. Earlier this year I was still shooting in the dark. Now I have a clearer picture and a better sense of direction.
I’ve decided to keep Twitter locked maybe till 2019. I don’t have anything due out, I’m closed for business for the year. No social engagement either apart from a quiet dinner, or lunch with friends. Not likely to go for concerts etc either. I’d rather ramble in quiet glory, and work on improving my visual arts. I love taking photos and processing photos, but Inktober’s been a real boon to me. I warmed up with the abstract stuff that’s always been my strength. My figure/life-drawing has always been laughable but I’ve started using reference pictures again, so let’s see where this takes me. I’m sure people are humoring me and being awfully kind by liking them.
Ahh, twitter drama. Especially Malaysian twitter drama. I think they like controversy. There has been more than one attempt to be approved into my locked account. I dunno what they expect to see. I already deleted my angry tweets from the weekend. No matter what I say, people can and will choose to believe the worst from people distorting the narrative. I learned this in 2015 with that huge mess. People are always so proprietary over — idek what? Society? Writing? Intellectual Culture in the valley? It’s so baby-ish, really. I’ve really thrived by keeping away from the bullshit and quietly just producing things that get published.
So, what about the reading groups? They’re happening but will likely be low-key. I started sending out feelers as early as July-August so there’s proof that I have been planning this awhile. But even if people disbelieve this, what I’m planning to hold will be small and intimate enough it’s not likely to be a perceived “threat”. Bit of a joke really. People really are not able to see the wider/bigger picture. Or perhaps refusing to see it because wouldn’t that be inconvenient.
Anyway. I’m going to keep denying follow requests by friends of certain individuals. Let them cool their heels until the next controversy hets them up. I’m just going to keep working on my monograph, my novels, my articles, my poetry, my art, my photography and try to be a better human being somehow.
Listening to: Pine & Clover — Chad VanGaalen (love this song so much right now)
I am glad I took the time away for the field-trip. I bought the ticket on a whim last Friday before that talk because I had a premonition I was going to need to get away. I was right. This past week of not being able to work on my monograph because I was massively demoralised was not fun. But my psychogeography trip, while purportedly for the article (and novel) was also good for me to think about the liminal condition, the configurations of what I am setting out to do in the monograph. Sadly this means it’s past midnight and I’m here, angsting about said monograph again. So tomorrow I’m going back to working on it.
Somewhat worried about monograph vs novel-writing plans in November but I’ll likely make it happen. I want to deliver the chapters before year’s end. I don’t care what that that horrible human being said, it’s still one of my bucket list publishers, and this is only my first monograph. Let’s get through this, and then see where we go from here.
I’ll need to be a hermit for the rest of the year. That’s the only way things are going to get done. With small research-related or not-so-research-related escapes. Everything is related. Sometimes the only way I gained clarity for the (PhD) research that led to the monograph, was through transit. I need to be in transit to jolt my synapses. Need to be on the move. Sometimes, delays happen. Sometimes they are necessary pauses to regroup, to figure out where you’re going next.
It’s been a hectic past week and I was in recovery over a thing. Though I’ve told myself this: next time someone upsets me enough that I cannot write for a week or so, I should just enjoy the holiday from writing and then move on, maybe.
So, the next two months or so I’m basically being a hermit again, though I have scheduled in more than one research field trip (paid by me, make no mistake). So far I felt I made some advances in being a psychogeographer and was typing up a lot of notes from this past weekend. Also worked on the article that was the reason for my trip. I revised some of my findings and have a lot of food for thought.
Not going to talk about the upsetting thing that happened this weekend though I’ve locked my twitter for anything from a week to two weeks to two months. We’ll see. I’m not a fan of controversy though some do thrive on it. I just want to do my work and be mindful. It’s still a year of bereavement. I’m still emotionally fragile. People who don’t respect that don’t really deserve my respect, attention, and regard, to be honest.
So I’ve also decided to be callous and not care so much because I need to set my boundaries and limits for interaction. I guess that’s all for now. Going to read, and then sleep.
Listening to: Imagining My Man — Aldous Harding
I’ve been really angry and upset for three days. But it is time to move on. So I deleted the blog posts as a form of…exorcism? Some of the tweets also.
Friends reading this will likely have read it anyway.
I have a positive and busy week ahead of me, leading into a weekend getaway writing/research retreat. I want to enjoy it without the distraction of anger which leads one into thought-loops. So. Onwards and upwards. No more distractions.
Listening to: Helicopter Sunset — Footy
Today is another quiet day. I didn’t sleep as much as yesterday but wasn’t planning on it. Around 6 hours and 40 minutes.
Things I did today:
- Laundry: Washed the sheets I bought in August, and changed to another set of Tencel sheets. Folded a stack of underwear and night-things.
- Weekday Food Prep: Crockpot Chicken for sammiches and salads.
- Breakfast: Sardine sandwich, baklava and a granny smith apple.
- Lunch: Rice, Masak Lodeh Putih (tempe, eggplant, mung bean thread, green bird’s eye chilli, turmeric leaf, dried prawns, shallots and garlic. Heaven!) Sambal Belachan. SO GOOD. Also I feel very proud and pleased with myself that I made a decent masak lodeh.
- Teatime: Rose Tea with French Vanilla (I’ve been drinking black tea daily for over a week now and my body’s responding well to the caffeine although I have had two insomnia bouts last week), more baklava (sooo good, but now they’re all gone. GONE.), sugar-free chocolate.
- Dinner: 1 slice of bread, 1 teaspoon of St Dalfour raspberry jam, 1 granny smith apple. I was way too full to eat the rib-eye steak I planned on making for dinner. My body’s behaving itself — it knows when I’m not burning I don’t need as much energy. Thus I think I’ve successfully made the transition from living to eat, to eating to live. I ate a lot the past week but it was a hyperactive week and I went down another kg. Which means I lost 1.6kg in September. Aiming for 2kg in October.
- Reading: The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Practical Magic by Emily Croy Barker is a dark horse of a book. You think you’re going to read chick lit fantasy but it takes you deeper into some serious worldbuilding. It’s a great portal fantasy thusfar but not without its harrowing scenes.
- Watching: Look, today was basically all about my cuddling up on my couch with my plush Totoro while binging the last three episodes of Westworld Season 2. It’s so good. SO GOOD. One of the best seasons in any show I’ve watched. My mind is blown and I need to rewatch Season 1 now. For some reason it’s also made me want to rewatch BSG (the reboot). But I only have those on DVD and I have no DVD player. Huh. Will see. Same problem with LOST. And I haven’t yet got the hardware so I can watch either iFlix or netflix on my bigscreen tv.
Not doing any writing this weekend because my brain needs to heal.
Was astounded that I hit another weightloss milestone on the scales. Did my fortnightly measuring tape measurements that corroborated the scales. I won’t be having anymore cheat weeks till the festive last week of December, but that was good to know, very good indeed.
I did some postings on open social media this weekend: instagram, twitter, facebook. But that’s it for the week, I reckon. Still avoiding drama since it’s so easy to yank my chain and then I’ll just rant which will just be off-putting for everybody, ESPECIALLY me. Best to just avoid, I believe. I crave peace and serenity. Also, my rants I know might be detrimental to both my fiction career AND my academic career. I zip lip.
*In case you did not know, Oases is the plural of Oasis, which is not (just) a britrock band.
Listening to: Rose of Picardy — June Tabor
In September I:
- Re-submitted my Gothic article to a Gothic journal.
- Solid work on my Monograph.
- Started teaching for the new semester.
- Wrote 6 poems.
- Started drafting 2 new stories with solid plots.
- Read about 4 books.
- Ran a fairytale salon.
- Was social.
- Attended Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s concert in Malaysia
- Got a flash fiction acceptance.
- A small amount of writing happened in Rosemirror.
- Got a conference abstract acceptance.
- Spanish translation of my short story was published. Waiting for the Italian translation now.
- Submitted a chunk of short fiction.
I didn’t get as much done as in August, primarily because the semester has started, I was quite social, there was a lot of work-related red tape wrangling that happened, and quite frankly July-August activity had me exhausted. I’m planning to be moderately antisocial in October so I can catch up on various things plus fix my eating/fitness regime, though I may do Tiffin once a week because I want to try things out. Also want to explore more of Kuala Lumpur in a psychogeography sense.
In October I need to:
- Finish and submit my two monograph chapters for peer-review and editor evaluation.
- Finish Draft Zero of Rosemirror because by November I want to hyper-focus on the new novel idea: the foodie novel set in Penang. I may set the Cantata aside because I want to make it much stronger. Thinking it could be a duology rather than a trilogy.
- Submit another sole-authored academic article.
- Read 10 storybooks if I want any chance of all of reaching 80-100 books read this year. This weekend is commensurately an intensive reading rather than writing weekend.
- Write 4 poems for my 36 poems in 2018 challenge.
- Draft another short story for the #12for12 short stories in 2018 challenge.
- Revise another three short stories and submit them.
- Teach, obviously.
- Lose another kg, minimum. I seem to be averaging 1-2kg a month.
- Explore more of KL because I need to get out of my comfort zone.
- FFS return to practising music. This is getting ridiculous.
- Do more art.
- Ignore trouble-makers.
Listening to: Disengaged — Grouper
This is a note to myself to eat right the coming week. This means not eating out as much. The past week I basically brought sandwiches to work the first two days because I had so much leftover fillings from the fairytale salon. I think that’s a good plan so I’m making fillings tomorrow. But I also have pasta thingies I should cook for dinner. There’s also some pesto that should be used.
Basically I have a well-stocked pantry and I don’t really plan on eating out much this coming week apart from my prerequisite Indian lunches, 2-3 times this coming week. Love eating there because lots of vegetables and I get to eat parboiled rice (less starch).
Things to Eat, Maybe (because these plans are fluid and subject to change)
- Breakfast: Mostly Bread and Jam for Breakfast. Also Sandwiches.
- Lunches: Sandwiches and Wraps to work Monday-Wednesday. Indian Food for lunch Thursday-Friday. Maybe Wednesday if I feel like it.
- Dinner: Pasta thingies from Monday-Wednesday. Possibly Tiffin on Thursday. Friday I am giving a guest lecture over at another university from 7:30pm-10pm so I’m going to grab some dinner on the way there. Or maybe I’ll zap some leftover pasta.
I was too zapped out this weekend to see my mother so I should probably schedule her in next weekend. I owe her a nice dinner.
Listening to: Driving — Grouper