December 31, 2013

2013 in Perspective

By Aldric

January 2013

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When 2013 came in, we were still in the hospital. Deep in battle was my mother in the Critical Care Unit of the Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya. On the eighth day of the year, she won eternal rest. Life has never been the same again. Full of drama, despair and hatred. As if what existed was not enough.

Four days of her wake at home. Three days following her funeral. It was a time when custom worked like clockwork. Many were involved: family members, relatives, members of the clergy in St. Thomas’ Cathedral, the choir, Bob & Peter of Prosperity Caskets in Kuala Lumpur, the hired help and caterers to name a few. All played important roles for her final stay at home.

I can never thank them enough: all those friends and family who supported and comforted us from near and far. A special mention to the Rev’d. Fr. Alfred Damu who flew all the way in from Miri. One who I always look up to. Not just a relative, but also a mentor and guide. Also worth mentioning is the Rev’d. Canon Michael Woods of the House of the Epiphany. Fr. Woods who have known my family since his first time in Sarawak back in the 60s.

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February 2013

Sorrow was still with us. Grieve was my companion. My immediate family members were supportive all the way. This was when I got my car. My very own car: a Perodua MyVi.

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Trying to get my life together, I also enrolled into Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus. Grieving, I knew working was not the thing for me at the time. Emotionally I was a wreck. Employers expect their newly hired employee to be able to perform immediately. Plus there is no way I can just sit at home and do nothing. So I poured down RM9,000 for my Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) here.

I also “promised myself” that I would get my copywriting business up and running. That’s the other lesson I learnt.

Robert Kiyosaki made sense all of the sudden. Let me share it here:

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All the while I have been putting up goals and resolutions. While I thought I had a plan, I did not. Yeah, I enrolled into courses and subscribed to coaching programmes. But these were mere accessories that I could have done without. These accessories meant nothing because there were no plans or systems in place to produce, market and grow.

Overwhelmed! That word best describes my 2013. I set a goal so high but my actions did not support the outcome. I can say I fare better now after properly sitting down and reading The $100 Startup. But that took me months to comprehend.

 

March 2013

Following the Iban rites, we bid a final farewell through the ngetas ulit. The Rev’d. Fr. Bradley of St. Thomas’ Cathedral gracefully agreed to preside over the ceremony. Earlier the day he also blessed my Mom’s newly completed tomb marker.

And that was also the last time I held my sister. She followed her brother to the Netherlands. My Mom’s widower brought them with him early December.

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April 2013

Hmmm… What happened in April??? Oh, I found out from a friend – and practicing physician – that I needed to watch my cholesterol level. It spiked slightly. I have been going for a routine medical check up since.

 

May 2013

I have been a registered voter since I turned 21 years ago. But I never voted in either the State Elections or the preceding Parliamentary Elections. On May 5th, 2013, however it was my first time. We drove from Kuching to Betong. There I casted my vote to retain the incumbent. In my view he is doing a great job! And he did drop by the Cathedral during my mother’s funeral. A personal touch by a very busy man.

During our two days in Betong, we also went to Matop, my late grandfather’s longhouse. There I took some photos of the beautiful and pristine surroundings. Of course, I took the photo of the skulls – trophies of wars in bygone era. The first photo is the one outside our bilik while the photo that follows is from the neighbouring bilik’. Still a relative’s bilik.

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On the occasion of my Mom’s birthday, we dropped by her resting place. As usual we lit the candles, cleaned the site and spent a while. Since the beginning of the year, I have a habit at Batu Kitang. When we visit, I also lit candles on other graves. You see I believe that the living wanted it to finish burning. By weather, the candles were blown by the wind – thus putting out the flames. It is only right for the grave to be lit again. I wondered where the tradition came from and what the original meaning/symbolism was. I liked to see it bright. That’s all.

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June 2013

I skipped the Gawai celebrations because of our final exams in Swinburne.

Secretly I also flew to Miri in June. St. Columba’s Church was being consecrated – a project dear to my Mom’s heart. It was also where I worked as an intern from June 2011 to August 2012.

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Besides contributing to the New Church Building Fund, my Mom also sponsored the Processional Cross. It was a rather last minute decision. All other prominent elements to the church were taken up by generous donors. When I explained to her the theological meaning behind the processional cross, she was excited. She shared with her sisters and her brother about it! “Dulu Cross aku dibai bejalai” (The Cross is the first to be brought in each time.)

As she lay rested in the CCU months ago, I told her about the cross when the Archdeacon and the Treasurer sent me its picture via Whatsapp.

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During the consecration service, I fought back tears. Especially as I took the shot above. It’s not just a cross, but also an embodiment of my Mom. She did not leave us without her marks. And while I am glad her mark is in the Church, it has become a bittersweet thing for me. A promise I cannot fulfil.

After the consecration service, it was the first time I went karaoke-ing with my friends in Miri. Karaoke is my guilty pleasure now – introduced by a friend in/from Kuching.

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July 2013

A few days before my major trip, I managed to fulfil a lifelong dream: to visit the Logos Hope. A ship I have heard of and read about so many times. While a bit disappointed by the collection, the experience was still wonderful! Not to mention: I went there with a special someone I’ve been dating since April…

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After months of planning and fear amidst uncertainty I left Malaysia for the first time in nearly 10 years. In December 2003 after the SPM exams were over, my Mom sent my brother, my grandmother and I off to the United States to visit our uncles. What was meant to be a month holiday became a two months visit. And I enjoyed every moment of it.

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In July 2013, my cousin graduated from St. George’s, University of London, with her MBBS. Atharina and her siblings are close to my brother and I. We grew up together. Her Mom and mine were inseparable! Thus the closeness of our bonds. After months of planning, it finally happened. My brother and I flew to Heathrow via KLIA from Kuching. During our stay there, we even went to Paris for a day trip.

For my cousins who hosted us, it was also a challenge. Something I am extremely grateful for. Our trip coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. Not to mention it was during one of the hottest summers in recent history!

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It reignited in me the love I have for travelling. Something I have put away because “it was too expensive” and “I couldn’t afford it”.

DSC02880Returning to our trip to London, we went to the following places:

  • Natural History Museum
  • The Tower of London
  • The British Museum
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Passed Soho
  • Liberty
  • Needless to say we also went to Oxford Street, Regent Street
  • Passed Buckingham Palace, Green Park et al.
  • Trafalgar Square

On my own, on the last day in London, I took the chance of going to the following places:

  • Heythrop College, University of London
  • Kensington Palace
  • Passed the grand mansions of Kensington Palace Gardens
  • Walked down Notting Hill Gate to Kensington Church Street

In Paris, we:

  • Entered the Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Had tea at Champs-Élysées, Paris after a short shoot before the Arc de Triomphe
  • Awed the sheer size of the Eiffel Tower
  • Sat among the fountains of the Louvre Museum.

At Luton, earlier, my grandmother’s phone triggered the alarm. We were stuck at security for a good twenty minutes as the Customs officer tried to figure out what was wrong with the Nokia basic phone. So at Charles de Gaulle Airport, one of my uncles took the chance to throw the device away before the flight back. We didn’t want a repeat of a similar incident in France. Of course, the family matriarch is not amused…

 

August 2013

We were celebrating the triumph of Muslims in the month of August. Syawal/Eid Mubarrak fell in August. Unlike past years, our Raya was not as festive. There was no open house in Miri. Before my Aunt would open their house for Aidilfitri. We – my Mom and siblings – would join in. We invited many to come. In 2012, for instance, we had a South Korean couple who dropped by. This year there were none. It was more private.

For the first time, I experienced a hack. My website – yes, this one – was hacked during the month. I know I should not give them prominence, but the hackers did give something worth remembering.

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It was also when my car was knocked in the rear. (T_T)

 

September 2013

September 2013 was a quiet month for me.

October 2013

To the surprise of many, I joined a retail store as their cashier in October. October 9th to be more specific. It was my first full time job in years! Before that I was a junior copywriter in Primeworks Studios Sdn. Bhd. I’m not sure how to put this nicely. When I was looking for a job, I had three objectives in mind:

  1. Learn how to sell.
  2. Learn how to deal with customers.
  3. Learn how to work with people.

I was not in it purely for the money. Heck, my expenses per month exceeds how much a retail chain pays the first three tiers.

What is valuable for me is the experience. An experience which I aim to translate into my copywriting business. Yes, I still have that illusion/dream in my head.

November 2013

Mid November, I sat for a test. The Computerised Unit Trust Examinations (CUTE). I failed it. I guess I am not cute enough!

Again a blessing in disguised.

December 2013

On the second day of December I left Guardian Pharmacy. I dismissed an offer from Watsons on the grounds that the store manager was not so straightforward in her character. Later I found out I did the right thing. While the store manager in question meets her KPI, her turnover is high! Staff from other Watsons outlets told me that the MIA level of this particular branch is exceptionally high.

December, too, was when I began to reevaluate my copywriting services. And I have been taking massive action on http://www.AdvertWriter.com and the blog at http://www.AdvertWriter.com/blog.

Well, this is 2013 in a nutshell for me. Looking forward to 2014. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!