Choices 3.0

Being a mother means you are confronted with choices almost every minute of your life. Notwithstanding all the normal day-to-day ones, most of the time, its a choice between yourself and everything else.

On the rare day that I get a whole day without the kids and I am at home with all the luxury of time to do whatever I want, these choices bubble up to the surface faster than you can blink.

A whole day to yourself. You can rest. you can pamper yourself. you can do whatever your heart desires. And yet.

You walk into the kitchen to make yourself an adult breakfast that you for once, will not have to share, that you can eat while still fresh, that you won’t have to gobble down. One that you can eat in peace without getting up from the table a million times because your kid needs a tissue, or more water, or whatever else they always seem to be needing. You fix yourself breakfast. But you’re in the kitchen, you notice the fridge could use cleaning. The floor could use a good wash. The pantry could use some arranging. Counters can be wiped down. And was that smell coming from the microwave? Maybe a little scrubbing would clear that. You notice all these things because you have the time and space of mind to notice them, and now comes the choice part. Eat breakfast in peace, savouring each bite, or eat quickly because the kitchen needs some TLC?

Okay maybe just a quick wipedown and throwing out everything expired in the fridge. Yeah. That’s a good compromise, right? Good. now lets just relax and watch some Netflix! Great idea. You walk to the bathroom to freshen up and pass the laundry basket. It’s 3/4 full. Nope. Ignore it, you tell yourself. It’s Netflix time. but that small part of your brain says, just pop it in the wash, you can Netflix while it’s running! Okay fine.

But now you have to decide whether you are gonna fold that pile of laundry that’s been in the basket for 2 weeks, because when else are you gonna have the free time, the hands free from carrying babies or toys or everything else, the house free from toddlers running around and knocking your folded laundry pile into the ground because he’s pretending to be a roaring dinosaur

Quick lunch break and you’re feeling tired from all that decision making, but here comes another choice. You could take a nap you so desperately crave, but there are toys randomly wedged in between the couch. Bits of cereal left under the table from God knows when. The front cabinet is strewn with receipts and old bills and random bits of pocket fluff. The sheets haven’t been changed in a while – they are starting to get musty. What about that plan you had of sorting out the kids clothes that they outgrew? Or filtering your closet to sell/donate the clothes you rarely ever wear? And while you’re at it, all that baby equipment you’ve been keeping in storage which you said you wanted to photograph and put up on those preloved pages? What about everything on your home to-do list that you put on the back burner, parked in the sidelines, or just completely stuffed in the deepest part of your closet because you haven’t had the time and energy and freedom to properly give them attention?

Well you have time now, right?

But what about time for yourself? Time to recharge? To rest? To NOT think about the million and one things that need doing, because that list just keeps getting longer and longer.

Nap, or tidy up the house?

Read a book, or start dinner prep?

Write, or do something more productive?

Obviously these choice have to be made by everyone, all the time. But somehow, as a mom, the urgency is more and you have much more at stake (i.e, your sanity) Maybe some moms/wives manage to find time to do it all, but me? Not one of those superwomen. What do you do when both choices bring you satisfaction? Choose yourself, or choose everything else?


I made a dress for Hudaa the other day and despite the very wobbly and uneven seams, crooked pleats, and shoddy workmanship in general, I was so happy and proud of myself. It’s been a looooong time since I felt that way. A lot of people replied to my ig story post and it got me thinking, and I suddenly had an epiphany moment.

My epiphany moment was this:

I’m more of a crafts person rather than an arts person.

Hand-on creating physical useable things. I have always liked arts and crafts. I distinctly remember in kindergarten really wanting to play in the “woodworking tools” section but never getting assigned there (got the painting station, which was 2nd best). Then in primary school I would look forward to kemahiran hidup when we’d go to the bengkel. I loved sewing little outfits for my dolls, and even sewed a bag for myself out of some scrap fabric I had lying around. I liked art too – drawing and painting felt good and I was moderately good at it – but for some reason I was never satisfied with my work, and I oftentimes didn’t finish any pieces I was working on as a result. Also it was way too easy to have sever inferiority complex when looking at other people’s art.

My fav subject in high school was woodshop, and even though I also took an art elective, my fav module in that class were the ones that were more…physical. Like linocut printmaking, collage making, etc. I adored making pop-up cards for friends and family. I loved trying new things; in uni I tried crocheting and knitting, and after uni in my whovian days I sewed a tardis pencil box for myself. Whenever people buy Ikea furniture I jump at the opportunity to put it together.

Obviously these are all very small projects for people who are serious crafters, but for someone who never really knew why she just could not get into art this was a huge awakening.

I’m trying to think of why I prefer crafts. I think its because art is too abstract, too personal, too emotional for me. It feels like you need to have your head in the clouds for a lot of the time. It is deep and subjective and the end product is usually just something pretty. Working with my hands means I know what I’m trying to do, I can construct the product in my mind and reverse engineer how to make it. I can do trial and error and experiment and modify. And at the end of it, I have something tangible. It feels much more ‘real’.

So with this realisation, I have a new resolution. I want to be crafty starting now! That means I want to get back into knitting/crocheting and actually make something me or my ids can use. I want to try my hand at linocut prints again. Get back into bookbinding. I want to sew more. I want to MAKE.

So this happened sometime last year

Around Ramadhan last year one of my old lecturers asked if I was interested in writing a piece for a magazine. He didn’t give me much detail or direction, so I wasn’t really sure what to write and how. But I typed away and emailed him the draft and forgot about it. A few months later, people started telling me they saw my piece in Architecture Malaysia magazine. I was gobsmacked. I didn’t actually think they’d publish it, because I didn’t really get any feedback on my draft. Anywho, I only recently got my hands on a copy during Archidex’13. Tried reading thru it and I kept on wincing and going OMG whattttt was I on about >.< It would’ve been ok as a blog post, but to be published in a national magazine which is read by basically everyone in the architecture industry…embarrassing!! Might not be a big deal to some but I am quite giddy happy that they actually published my nonsense. Even though I’m reluctant to share it, there is no way to improve without letting it out there kan? so here it is >.<

Architecture: expectations and reality 

Most people coming into architecture have their own personal ideas on what architecture is like. Some, like me, had preconceived notions that it was about building or making things. Some thought it was all about drawing. Some came into architecture thinking it would make them rich. But almost all of us had our expectations turned on our heads. Just about everyone I know who came into architecture has said that it is not what they expected. None of them were wrong (except maybe the part about being rich) but they weren’t entirely right either. Architecture, as we now know, is a complex mix of just about every discipline imaginable. We knew it was going to be hard, but none of us knew just how hard it would be.

Horror stories about staying up for weeks on end, living on caffeine and rarely seeing the light of day seemed like exaggerated fables by overdramatic seniors, but we were quick to realise that it was not a tall tale. Reality had begun to sink in. we sloughed and we pushed and in the end, we came out clutching our hard earned degrees and thanking God we survived. The big question now came: “Now what?” some of us decided to continue our studies straight away, some decided to take a breather. Many decided to plunge into the working world. Portfolios were glossed up and printed, résumés sent out. Rumour had it that in the dismal economy of the day, getting a job in architecture was hard. But surprisingly, offers came in quickly and jobs secured. Quickly we realised that the work we put in during our studies did not really affect our job prospects. A regular dean-lister had the same chance of landing a job as a graduate with a significantly lower GPA.

Most of us were raring to go, to see how our studies would be put into practice, to see if maybe, our initial expectations about architecture would prove to be true in the working world. Personally, I relished the idea that I’d finally be able to really affect and help people, bring about change through architecture. Idealistic and naive, no doubt. Different firms had different work cultures, and so whenever we met up the question ‘how’s work?’ was enough to fill hours of conversation. Hours were long and work was hard. Well, that was nothing new.

We all agreed that working taught us to be more efficient in carrying out tasks, and we learnt how to focus on important parts and not so much on the nitpicky details that would be sorted out later. Many of us were in awe of our bosses, how they managed, with a few swift flicks of their pens, to solve design problems that to us had seemed impossible. If only one day I’d be that good at architecture, we thought. It seemed like a tall order but we still had the option of going back to school to continue our studies. Maybe that way, we’d learn what it took to be like them. Better decision makers, with a much deeper well of knowledge to pull from, better versed at the intricacies of architectural practice. Yes, studying seemed like a good idea. Some of us were getting disillusioned about the practice, where it seemed like it was not about the people, but about the money. Architecture was just a business, and like most businesses, making profit was their Raison d’être.

So we went back to school, fresh faced again and thirsty. But although working had taught us about efficiency, speed, and teamwork; to a certain extent, it also accustomed us to being workers. Directives were duly carried out, and feedback was immediate (and sometimes scathing). Going back to school meant that all decisions were up to us, with no boss to tell us what to do and how to do it. Feedback came slowly, with lecturers barely able to attend to the large number of students. Getting back into a steady groove took some time. What we quickly learned was that part 1 was a stroll in the park, a breeze compared to part 2. But here we are, and we’ll strive to survive.

If anything, being in architecture so far has taught us an extremely wide set of skills that not many other degree holders can say they picked up. We have a year left, a year of learning, a year to discover finally if architecture can live up to our expectations, or if it will turn into a different reality altogether. It’s a long, bumpy road ahead./aM vol 24 issue 5

Food – A love/hate relationship

If you know me personally you know I’m what some would call ‘skinny’. I’m around 5’2″ with a slight frame and I currently weigh 43 kg. I am definitely underweight and I know it. Not that I like being so light and wispy. A few months ago I’d been going on a steady 45kg, I was at that weight for more than 5 years with very little ups and downs. The heaviest I’ve ever ever been was 47kg in my third year, when we went for heritage studies.

It’s not like I don’t try to gain weight, I really have tried. but the pounds don’t seem to stick. A few months ago there was a health screening thing in UIA and I went just for fun. My metabolism rate was off the charts, and according to the guy at the booth, it’s because of my irregular sleeping pattern and irregular mealtimes. Ideally, I should be around 50kg (although the reading below said 54..I can’t imagine being over 50. Masa 47 pun dah tercungap2 naik tangga kaed..)

BMR- thats my body’s metabolic rate

My dilemma is this:
When people eat, they usually feel energized, yea? Not me. When I get hungry and remember to eat, I get extremely drowsy and sluggish afterwards. it’s not even funny. if you ask any of my teachers/lecturers/classmates since high school they’ll know I slept in just about every single class.

I’m also..lazy and forgetful when it comes to eating. If I’m at home in my room doing work or whatever, I’d usually forget to eat, and when I do remember at the end of the day or in the afternoon, I tend to be all ‘I’m too lazy to go all the way downstairs and cook something..and I’m not that hungry anyways.’

When I don’t eat, I will eventually get very tired and can’t do work due to lack of energy (obviously) but when I do eat, I get super sleepy and can’t really function as well. So, to eat or not to eat?

Being the paranoid person I am, I’m half certain that I have either narcolepsy or some weird gluten allergy/celiac disease or that there’s something wrong with my blood. I mean, I know I have low blood pressure but maybe my oxygen count is low or I don’t have enough blood or what. hmhmhm

I suppose one problem might be what I’m eating and when I’m eating it. I rarely have breakfast which I know, is the most important meal of the day (at least that’s what everyone says) and usually only have either lunch or dinner, and at irregular times. So in an effort to make myself more food-disciplined, a friend suggested I keep a food journal. it’s been 3 days since I started and immediately it’s obvious that I skip breakfast and I tend to snack a lot. In our household, we usually cook with less oil and less salt because its healthier, but on my part I’m very picky about what I eat. I only eat certain veggies and only if they’re fresh, etc2.

Need to start taking care of myself because who else is gonna do that. Also probably need to learn how to cook. 😐 And exercise/be more active.

Healthy me Insha’Allah (right after I finish my thesis >.< )


So the second semester of my B.Arch started today…and from the looks of it its going to be more packed than the last semester.

Last semester’s exam results came out. the semester I felt that there was a real possibility that I’d fail every single subject. It’s always worst right before the exams. But after sitting for them, they didn’t seem that bad. And Alhamdulillah, berkat doa atok, kawan2, parents, I managed to pass with quite good marks.

This sem though, honestly, I’m scared.

I messed up a lot of things last semester. I screwed things up. I was so busy it seemed like I didn’t have time to manage my own life and my relationships with people around me. I’m scared that this sem will be the same, or worse.

It’s the end of day 1 and already I have 2 assignments, have to think of a topical studies area, thesis, synopsis, Kyoto protocol, add, drop, move in, research on high-rise, polish up holiday assignment.

Yesterday I was feeling very down. I really didn’t want to go back to school. but towards the end of the day, I slowly tried getting myself mentally prepared. I ended up thinking, this sem is going to suck real bad. but I’m going to try my best anyway and I’m going to be great!

By the end of today, that flame has all but died off.

Oh Allah, give us strength to face your challenges
Wisdom and courage to make the right choices
Patience for when times get tough
And focus when our minds wander

Finding Peace

I was listening to the radio one day during a rather funny incident (a story for another time) and they were interviewing Nora. She was talking about her…transformation? and journey to becoming a better Muslim. And something she said struck me. It was something like,

“Orang selalu fikir, kalau ber-hijab susah nak cari makan sebagai artis etc2, tapi kita kena ingat, rezeki tu bukan datang dari manusia. Rezeki tu dari Allah. Dan kalau rezeki tu Allah dah tentukan kita yang punya, tak kisah lah jauh mana pun rezeki tu, akan sampai jugak kat kita. Dan kalau rezeki tu Allah tak maksudkan untuk kita, walau depan mata pun, kita takkan dapat rezeki tu.” 

A rough translation is,

People always think that it would be hard to make a living as an artist (singer/actor etc) if you wear the hijab. But you have to remember that rizq doesn’t come from people, it comes from Allah. And if Allah has determined that the rizq is meant for you, then no matter how far away it is, you will get it. And if Allah deems that the rizq is not meant for you, then even if it’s right in front of your eyes, you won’t get it.

It struck me because I’d been thinking about all my offers to study overseas. The ones I applied for while clinging to hopes that maybe a miracle would happen and I’d land a scholarship that would let me go and further my studies overseas. And as the university offers rolled in, I’d get excited, and then disappointed because I couldn’t go. As time went by, I didn’t let myself get excited as much. but the disappointment still came. I tried to be all blasé about it, and I thought I’d accepted all of that. But every time I’d hear about people flying off to continue their studies I’d get a sharp jab of emotion and a spell of sadness. Maybe it was jealousy, although I’ve been told that not the right word. It’s not that I hated those who could go or that I wish they didn’t get to, not at all. I just really really wished I could go as well.

But listening to the radio interview made me realise that if I’m here, that means here is where I’m meant to be. And There is not my rezeki. And when I realised that, a sort of peace planted itself in me. I think I might definitely still feel those pangs of emotion whenever I hear of people flying off, or hear about their stories, or see their pictures, but I know that that is their rizq, and this is mine. And I’ll grow to accept that, Insha’Allah. After all, God knows what’s best for me.

Twenty Twelve

I had planned to write a recap of 2011, I already took down notes for January and February, and a little bit of march. But in the flurry of busyness surrounding the last few months at my job and the nonstop busy during my semester, it didn’t get done. You can read the half baked blog post at my scraps blog for posts that didn’t make it, here.

Also, not that I was any good before, but my writing skills seem to have dwindled down significantly. Probably because of lack of practice. Maybe I should work backwards, start with where I am now. The new years. As it so happens, I’m currently procrastinating. I should be studying for my exams that are just around the corner but although I find economics and all the related stuff fascinating the horde of new concepts and specific terms tend to confuse me, just like it did in high school. Business studies was the only subject I ever got a C for and because I just couldn’t grasp what was being taught I dropped it the next semester. Also perhaps because our teacher was pretty lousy. I still sat in through the classes though, because I was the only one in my grade who wasn’t taking business studies, so even If I did have a free period, there was no one I could hang out with. As it turns out the next semester we had a different teacher who was slightly better but then if my memory serves me right he felt underappreciated because people didn’t respect him in class, so one day he exploded and never came back to finish the syllabus. I mean exploded in anger.

Oh. I should mention that I’m having exams because I decided to continue my Part 2 in architecture. It kind of a difficult concept to explain, whenever I say I’ve taken up studying again people always say, oh, you’re doing your masters? And I have to try and explain that it’s not a masters degree even though it’s at the masters level. For the benefit of anyone randomly traipsing through the web and happened to find my blog by searching for Part 2 bachelor of architecture in UIA (IIUM) I’ll break it down

In Malaysia, to become a licensed architect you need to pass three parts or stages. The first stage is Part 1. In IIUM, Part one is called Bachelor of Science (architectural Studies). It’s mostly the same for other public universities in Malaysia, except some universities combine part one and part 2 into a 5 year course. But in my case, after completing part one; you would have graduated with your first degree.

Then you can either choose to enrol in Part 2 if you want to continue immediately or work first (as I did) or just not continue at all, or continue in other fields. With a part one degree your position in an architecture firm would most probably be that of an assistant architect, though the specific workload you’ll receive as well as the pay differs from firm to firm. I worked for a year before deciding to continue my Part 2.

Part 2 in IIUM and generally most public universities in Malaysia, again, is called Bachelor of Architecture. Even though it’s technically almost a masters degree level/postgraduate course. Well actually, it IS a postgraduate course since we already graduated the first time around. But anyways. In Australia, part 2 is called masters of Architecture, whole in the UK, they don’t have a standard name for the degree, which I think makes it even more confusing, in some universities it is a masters course, while others might call it a postgraduate diploma, postgraduate degree, etc. I guess the confusing part is just the naming. Because it is another undergraduate degree in the eyes of the university, but at postgraduate level, while we have to register as double degree holders. Yeah I don’t think this is helping very much.

Anyway, after completing part 2, you graduate again, and have to work in the architecture industry for a minimum of 2 years before you are allowed to take the part 3 professional exams. There’s no official course you have to go through (I don’t know of any anyways), although there are study groups conducted. If you manage to pass the part 3 exams (if I’m not mistaken there are 2 parts of the exam, written and an interview/oral exam) then you finally become an architect with an Ar. In front of your name. I’ve heard many horror stories about the part 3 exam, and they all seem to be true, the passing rate for the exam is less than 10%!!

Erm yeah so that’s basically it. I can’t be entirely sure what I’ve written is 100% correct and I know it’s definitely not comprehensive, but that’s what I understand anyways.

Where was I? Oh yes. Part 2. I decided to continue part 2. Like my first degree, I planned to do it elsewhere, to have a different experience and to move out of my comfort zone. Applications were filled; certificates and transcripts photocopied, and sent to various universities and scholarship organisations in Australia and New Zealand. My dad told me to try for the UK as well but I found their application systems to be confusing so I didn’t. One by one the offers came through, each one bringing up a little sparkle of excitement which I had to squash down in order not to be thoroughly disappointed like I was in 2007. Didn’t really work because I got disappointed anyways. So again, I sent in local applications, and UIA accepted me and I went. I don’t think I’m quite over it though, because whenever I hear of people flying off, I get a little pang of jealousy and yearning that brings my whole mood down.

The first semester of part 2 proved to be extremely extremely trying and tiring. The stream of assignments never seemed to stop, and the expectations were very high. I don’t think I coped well at all. After having gone through one semester of it, I’m seriously wondering if I want to continue or not. I’m seriously considering quitting. Because even though I like architecture, I appreciate it and all, I don’t see myself enjoying any aspect of it in terms of a job. I wanted to continue my part 2 to see whether I’d want to really be an architect, and to learn the things I needed to know to become a good architect in the field, since when I was working, there was so much that I didn’t know. But now, one semester wiser, I think I might be inching closer to a definite answer. I don’t think I’d want to be an architect like the ones I have worked with/for. If I was to be one, I don’t think I’d open up my own form or even work in one. I’d work on projects that I liked, without chasing clients and so on. I don’t know if that’s a feasible model to work on but I don’t think the stress of the whole architecture industry would suit me. Not just the stress, but the whole business side of it. From what I observed, the priority in the architecture industry was to make money, not to design functional and beautiful buildings that would benefit the community or help people. Of course that’s a narrow perspective having only worked in one firm and heard stories from my colleagues/classmates who have worked as well. Maybe I’ve just yet to find a firm that suits me, and whose main aim isn’t just to make money.

Well I think this post is long and rambling enough as it is, so I’ll save my abstract thought for another time. I have to get back to studying anyways.

I have kitties available for adoption if you want one! they are all super cute and cuddly 🙂

l-r: 1. BonBon Mignon, the curious adventurous one
2. DimSum (not available for adoption) the cuddly fluffball
3. Souffle, the blue eyed boss
4. Kimchi, the little cutie with puss-in-boot eyes
5. Truffle, the handsome, active and playful one

Reflections Pt2

Its already the second half of the year! Eep! Ramadhan is coming in a month and i really want to make the most out of it this time. I felt like last ramadhan i let a lot of opportunities slip by and even tho part of it was me being busy with work, it was also just me not trying hard enough. I dont want to do that again. Which is why i’m considering quitting my job. I already know i want to stop this year, its just a mette rof when. if i get accepted into any of the local universities (Insah’Alllah), then i will start my semester in September. And i do want a break before joining, so august would be a perfect time for me to uit. I can focus on ramadhan, have my holiday, adn be refereshed, hopefully, for  scholarly life once more. I;m still undecided tho, mostly because i havent received any offers from the local Uni’s i applied to. Really hoping they will get back to me asap so i can formally submit my resignation. Tried mentioning it to one of my bosses today but he didnt seem to understand and said it would be better to wait for offers. Thing is i have to give one months notice, so that means if i want to be off work in august, i have to submit my resignation NOW. we’ll see how that goes. Insha’Allah i will have decided by the end of this week.