In a casual conversation with a friend, she commented, “Keith and Mika’s (names have been changed) relationship is still going strong after all these years huh?” I thought for a while and replied, “They’re very lucky to have found each other at the right time in their lives.”

We always say that there’s a time for everything, and more often than not do we stumble upon the unfortunate event of being at the right place, at the wrong time.

I think a lot of things in life are really matters of time – that crash you evaded because you overslept and missed your flight. That last full-time hire position you missed because you came in to the company a day after the guy who got it. That home you tied your stomach to purchase only to have a better deal open up the next day. That relationship you let slip because you were impatient, only to find that you’re still wanting it after three years and that person has long moved on.

Everything is bound to the hands of time.

If you didn’t already know, Mr. Bentley and I were high school friends. We were the closest sorts of friends who’d do crazy stuff for and with each other. We were each others’ crush. He asked me to prom, I agreed. But we were never an item. I didn’t want to start college alone, so I asked him to come with me when he actually had plans to enrol a semester later. We were still each others’ crush then, until someone pursued me and I decided to go with it. We hardly spoke shortly after that phase. He went to South Adelaide for studies and I was here, and it was the occasional exchange of MSN chats that still determined we were friends, if at all.

It was only after what was about eight years after high school that we got in touch again. And became an item, we did. But perhaps, it was a bit too late.

You see, while everyone chased their college dreams and grades, I did too but I was working part time as well. And immediately after college, I started working full time in that company I was part-timing at, while everyone else was still fumbling for jobs or even bumming around for a month or two. And by the time most people were settling in to their jobs, I was already in my fourth year with the company. Everything moved really fast for me. Too fast, in fact.

But for Mr. Bentley on the other hand, he has met with quite a few bumps and roadblocks on his journey to this current job. While it’s never ever to late to build a career, settling into one at this stage does take its toll on a lot of other things, I suppose. And this is where we suffer. Our relationship takes a backseat for an indefinite period of time while everything else moves pass us, pass me. 

Time. Time was never on our side. I don’t even know what I’d do differently if I could turn back time, to be honest. I do however, wish I was blessed with good time. I wasted three years of my life trying to bounce back from a horrid relationship, and then close to seven years to only realise that I didn’t want to go down a certain road yet, and now close to three years of building my life around someone to only have to spend, perhaps double or triple that amount of time erasing it. I can’t help but feel like this is a sick joke of some sort. Maybe one that I  brought upon myself, or….I don’t know.

But time, it truly defines a lot of things in life. Lies get revealed. Hearts rust with it. Lives get created. Careers climb or crumble with it. Friendships fall apart or seal with it. Life and death is determined by it. Everything is absolutely bound to the hands of time.

You don’t regret things, really. Instead, what we actually regret is the time of it.

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Have you ever had those times when you did something – something perhaps almost never thought of, and so crazy it is an incredibly life changing testimony, and one that you would actually say, “I can die now” to, with absolutely no regrets.

This was my I can die now moment yesterday.

On Wednesday, I was on my home and just around the corner from my where I work; I saw this black and white dog sitting by the roadside, just next to the grassy curb. I didn’t stop or think much about it because I thought it was very normal for strays to sit around wherever and whenever they please. And just yesterday, on the way back from lunch with my photographer, I saw the same dog at the same place, and in the same position. It was raining and there was a lady with an umbrella squatting next to the dog, and from my distance I could see a Styrofoam food pack next to the dog. And that was when I knew something just wasn’t right.

My photographer dropped me back to office and I immediately drove out to where the dog was. Apparently the both the dog’s hind legs are injured, fractured or broken perhaps. This lady, Margie who was there to help tried to strap a muzzle on the wounded dog but she wasn’t quick enough so it ran a short distance, completely dragging its hind legs behind it and hid head first under Margie’s car. Wedged between the curb and under her car, the dog kept growling when we tried to coax her out from her position. I made a few vet calls and so did Margie, but the good ones were out on their house-call rounds. So she hopped in my car and we drove to Kota Damansara to get a vet to come with us to tranquilize the dog, and that’ll help us get her out from under the car, into a box and to the vet safely.

Dr. Chan came with us to administer the tranquilizer, and she was out in a couple of minutes and we lifted her into Margie’s ride and off she went to the vet.

Dear Margie, I couldn’t think of a better person that could have come to the dog’s aid. Though we’ve only known each other a little more in that short ride to the vet’s, I think you are an amazing lady in your own rights. The heart you have for these furry friends go beyond everything else, and I know there really is no better aid than yourself and your friend, Charmaine who first alerted you of the dog.

After my photographer and I placed the dog in Margie’s backseat, I couldn’t help but feel like today was an amazing day. Almost always, we tend to think that someone will rescue, someone will feed, and someone will adopt these poor animals. But we fail to realize that to everyone else, we are that ‘someone’ to them as well, and we are all just sitting around and hoping for everyone else but ourselves to get their hands dirty.

If it were a person by the roadside, it wouldn’t have taken this long for someone to come to his or her aid. People turn a deaf ear and a blind eye just because it’s an animal – a life we think is worth less than ours, more often than note. That’s what is incredibly heart-breaking. But I choose to believe that there are many more people like Margie out there in the world, saving, rescuing and loving these animals like their own kind.

After the whole ordeal, I went back to my office, washed my hands and sat down to a hot cup of tea, thinking…I can die now.

{Dr. Chan administering the tranquilizer shot while the poor fella continues to hide head first under Margie’s ride}

p.s.: Margie and her friends work together to spay and release strays so that they don’t reproduce and elevate the problem of strays on their streets. Their works are absolutely not for profit, and above all, funds and subsidies are entirely raised or requested for by the team of people. The dog is now under medication and observation. The vet is giving it two weeks to see if it regains its ability to walk before proceeding with any further procedures from there on.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been this distraught over anything. Maybe my first break up about 10 years ago did mess with me a little, but really, nothing this horrible.

For the past couple of weeks or slightly more, I did actually think I was doing alright from the break Mr. Bentley and I had agreed upon. But I’ve never been more wrong. I’ve patted myself on the back for surviving two weddings since the break, but it wasn’t easy at all.

Everyone says that change is inevitable, and I couldn’t agree more. But most of the time, change feels like it subtly invades your space, and thus you have no choice but to accommodate it. Then there are those times when you get thrown into a situation that only change is what would possibly keep you alive, and your sanity intact.

…and that is the phase I am in – forcing myself to adapt to keep my head above waters.

Some changes I have attempted and am attempting, slowly but steadily:

A TATTOO BEARING A MEANING FAR TOO PERSONAL I’ve always sworn off tattoo-ing something that directly connects me to a person, like a name or a birth date or anything that would probably turn out to be a regret with time. But this time, I allowed myself to get inked based entirely on this phase I’m in. I got a phrase ‘this too shall pass’ and my first graphic ink, an anchor. The phrase, to remind me that everything, good and bad is but temporary. And the anchor, a symbol of two things to me – keeping myself grounded, and a reminder of things I’ve perhaps anchored my life around.

MY ROOM, ORGANIZED For the three years Mr. Bentley and I were together, he has probably been to my room less than five times, really. It was always a mess and despite him saying he wouldn’t judge me for it, I never allowed him in. Not even a peek. I decided to clean it out once and for all, because life’s too short to keep turning people down from entering my room when that space is really a reflection of who I am, and is most definitely the one place I wouldn’t mind hanging in at anytime.

TAKING UP SCUBA DIVING The abundance of time I have on hand since not going on dates shall be put into scuba diving lessons of some sort. I was all set to attempt a dive course with some friends but it clashed with my New York trip. It’s as if God knew there’d be a time I could use these dive lessons a lot more than my initial plans had it. Hopefully it takes shape some time next year and I’d be a certified diver by mid-year. I even toyed with the idea of a free-diving experience just reading an article on it last week on my flight to Singapore. Maybe.

GETTING A PLACE OF MY OWN This is a big decision, I know; nothing like the other three. But I feel like getting a place of my own would take my mind off the rut I’m in. I’ve been house hunting, both online and visiting physical properties, reading up and weighing out all my possible bank loans and their procedures. I think channelling my energy (and finance) into making a space my own will perhaps give me a sense of accomplishment that would hopefully remind me that while I might not be where I want to be, I am where I need to be. And that’s what matters most.

GOING BACK TO STUDYING I was thinking of going back to studying. Gemology studies, perhaps. Maybe getting out of the country for a good while would be an alright move to help me put things behind. And if it’s hard to get out there on the grounds of work, I suppose going out to study would do. And plus, I’ve always wanted to study gemology and learn the art of cutting stones and setting them, and earning a fat pay cheque with that. Haha! But yes. The idea is very tempting. Though I am also considering staying put in my job and doing a stint at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design some time.

QUIT A MINISTRY Don’t panic yet. I’m only quiting one to join another. I have given it some good thought-time and decided that I want to quit the Worship ministry to be part of a more encouraging one, the usher ministry. If you are like everyone else, you’d probably ask why. It’s simple. Worship leading in my church can get quite depressing because the congregation is not receptive at all, and it always feels like you’re the only one up on stage belting it out and trying to coax them into worshipping with you. I know it’s for God, and not men that we worship but let’s face it, no one appreciates a dead crowd. Not especially when you practice for two whole hours almost every week (small church, small duty rotation), song-arrange and whip your music team into shape only to have the church complain that the songs are too new/too fast, drums are too loud, worship leader has got too many tattoos and whatever. It’s depressing, and I can’t wait to get out, frankly.

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I have come to notice a pattern of ‘likes’ to blog entries – the happy ones, the ones with an opening visual. And the ones that inevitably get the lesser likes are the ones that ponder life, or a similar equation to that. Don’t get me wrong; it’s perfectly fine that things are that way.

I wasn’t expecting any response whatsoever to this entry of mine, until a random Jack Saunsea came by and gave it a like, which lead me to read on with his entry that brought me to a comment left by one of WordPress’ fellow bloggers – each of us needs to be uncomfortable at least some of the time. I couldn’t help but immediately wonder if this was my moment of discomfort that I need to be in. I have always believed that things will only get worse before it gets better but boy oh boy, you do not know how badly I pray and hope that this phase is the lowest of the curve and that things can only go up from here.

Dearest Jack Saunsea,
If you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you for dropping by my blog and in return, encouraging me not just with your post but also with your reader’s comment. I’d love to attempt living in step with the wind, and simply being.

I’m at a very trying phase of my life when making the uncomfortable, comfortable is really not much of a choice I have. I don’t know where and what I’m headed for, but I’ll take a leap of faith right off the cliff and hope I’d amaze myself, somewhere somehow.

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Young, happy and dead.

This is my friend, who would’ve been 27 this year if she were around. And just a couple days back, her mom dropped dead from a burst blood vessel in her head.

And there’s the usual wake, and the funeral that follow, and the eulogies, the appreciation speeches, the weeping and the coping with life after a death.

We take our lives for granted, and above all, the people in them. We live our lives as if we will always have a tomorrow to count on, an another day to live by. We are quick to forget that we live on borrowed time, and slow to remember that it is the people that matter, not the things and achievements.

I have always struggled with prayer, frankly. At times, I believe myself to be a church-going, principle-keeping, prayer-believing Christian. And more often than not, there are those other times that I am but a burnt-out, bored as hell, God-doubting Christian. But don’t get me wrong; I still do believe anyway, that all the goodness and greatness in my life cometh from above. It’s just that in a hideously frank manner, I have to admit to being just like every other scaredy cat out there that turns to God – whether or not they believe in Him – when I’m at my lowest, rock bottom moments. When things are spinning out of my control, when I want something bigger and better to happen, I know to pray. I am such a horrible Christian, really.

At one point in my life, my job was my priority and I was the sort that was so married to it that I had this nudging feeling at the back of my mind that if God decides to humble me, He could take away my job and I’d be more or less, dead. It was at this point that I was so blindly passionate about my job that I was ready to trade anything to keep it at its peak. I would actually pray, “God, please don’t take my job. Don’t humble me that way.”

And then I began to see things differently when Mr. Bentley came around. He’d whine about my work hours, and my constant checking of emails despite being away on a holiday with him. I learnt slowly to check my priorities and set them straight – doing my best to make time for us, for hanging out, for dessert dates and the occasional coffee round upstairs. But I regret not learning these things earlier, and learning to appreciate the time we had together a lot more than living my job as if it defined my life. It was too slow of a lesson learnt for me that I did still consider trading my relationship to keep my head in my job (we even argued about this once). Shame on me, honestly.

Now, I find myself praying that He doesn’t take away my relationship. I have asked for a million things in prayer when we’d argue back then, but now, I just want things to go back to how they were before – rough, tough but undeniably in love, and strong above all. Those were the best days of my life, I’d say. And they are on the verge of disappearing. It’s been years since I did this but out of desperation, I went on my knees last night praying, “God, please don’t take my relationship. Don’t humble me that way.” For all the confusion I’m putting Him through, God must hate me, if He did actually hate anyone at all.

It’s funny how the person who once made me realize how much time and effort I’m pouring into a job that’s temporary, is now drifting away from a permanent something I have come to build my world around. The change is too…sudden.

I now know what it’s like to be traded in gain of a career’s success, and I promise I will never make that mistake ever again. So really, the question is…in a life that’s fleeting, what would you trade to gain?

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The thing with life is, it’s smart. No, brilliant. It knows when to swing a bat right at you, and right where it hurts.

People learn from their mistakes. But I’ve come to accept that I don’t. It’s not that I don’t try to, but it feels like I’m trying to prove something to myself by going back into the mistake, attempting to figure what went wrong, and ending up right where I first ‘failed’, only to start the cycle again.

Pathetic, but that’s me. Maybe it’s the OCD shit, like everything has to be in perfect order. And if everything is in perfect order, it shouldn’t fail. If it fails, then something isn’t right. So, start over. Start over until I really can’t give a rat’s ass to start over, then perhaps I will stop.

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I can never bring myself to write about animals, despite how much they mean to me. I can never get to half the posting without first bawling my eyes out already. It’s madness. But today, it’s more anger than heartache.

If everyone could ask but one question when they meet God, I’d ask why He’d let his four-legged creations suffer.

In one of my previous Weekend Wonders post, I put up a video about a Malay couple that opened their hearts to stray in ways that many wouldn’t, or couldn’t, and how our local authorities have harassed them, taking back the land they set up their shelter on and forcing them to find a new place. The good news is, they were given a little bit more time to look for a new place, and the bad news is it’s still not enough time for them to find an ideal land to settle upon. News like this breaks my heart. Especially when a documentary sheds light on a plight, only to have the authorities finding faults with whatever’s been highlighted.

As mentioned in the same blog post, Malaysia is a Muslim country. And over the years, the Muslim teachings have taken an unfortunate negative twist to suggest that dogs are ‘haram’, translated as sinful. And that is why this video went viral at one point.

I’ve been following Malaysia Independent Animal Rescue (MIAR) on Facebook and recently, there’s been yet another video that’s gone viral – one on how our local Kajang council (MPKJ) catch strays and put them down. It’s pure torture. Please go and watch it here. Make those clicks count because in my honest opinion, Malaysia’s laws for animal cruelty are just shit loads of bullshit that take no effect whatsoever. Sometimes, I wished these video would go so crazily viral that PETA or some big anti-animal cruelty body would step in and give the issue the resolution it needs, like putting idiotic people who mistreat animals behind bars, or give them a whipping or something. Just anything. Anything would be better than the Malaysian laws that are so twisted.

There are times I don’t know if people are turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to these animals’ plight because they can’t bring themselves to see and hear of the amount of gory pain that is inflicted on these four-legged creations, or if they are just plain ignorant and do not want to have any association with them, unless of course it’s picking out a thousand dollar pedigree breed for a house pet that will perhaps be kept till the fun runs out. I am disappointed in the human race for this one very reason – that we value our lives more than those of these animals. It’s crazy. The bad, angry kind of crazy.

As a Christian, I’d still say I believe in karma. I want to believe in karma. Maybe because it puts my mind at the slightest ease possible knowing that bad things will happen to bad people. Maybe because it gives me a hope that someone sees and knows their pain. Maybe because it’s an outlet for all the anger I’m bottling up towards the numbskulls beyond sick in the head.

I don’t know. I just believe in karma because it’s a lot easier on a lot of grounds, I suppose.

p.s.: There are a million shelters out there that could use whatever funding anyone and everyone can give – resources or finances alike, so if you can, please give to them generously. If you can find the time, go volunteer at a shelter. Change their lives as they’d change yours, even if that meant for just a day before they are put down. The animals will love us for it.

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Weddings. They redefine friendships, relationships and above all, the meaning of life and love.

I am writing from Perth at this very moment. Flew in for my cousin’s wedding, and will be here for about a week. Weddings have a weird way of getting you thinking about your life, its direction and destination. I always knew I wasn’t the kind who’d settle down in marriage, at least not at 26 years of age when everything is still just about beginning to unfold for and around me. But that said, my cousin’s wedding did push me into that space of thought. It’s not about caving in to the pressure of family and peers of the same age group tying the knot while you’re still just well, dating but it’s just a whole shift of dynamics and all of a sudden, you realise that life at 26 is a different ball game altogether, especially when it’s that age when you should be stabilising, relationship wise to say the least.

I am but two weeks older than my cousin is. We share almost similar characteristics, so say the relatives, her parents and mine. They are an amazing couple with equally amazing friends that were part of a beautiful wedding, I must say. Decked out under the sun at that garden wedding waiting for the bridal party to stroll in, it was inevitable that I asked myself the million dollar question, “Will I ever get married? Will I ever be ready to commit?

Everyone says that when the right person comes along, things will fall into place. I was in a six year long relationship only to eventually feel like we, or more like I wanted different things in life and we just went downhill from there. I can’t help but wonder if I’d ever be able to settle for a routine, whether it’s a habit, a job, a life, or a person. It scares me terribly that I suck at committing to something. And I am absolutely envious of these people who are able to commit to something, or someone for the rest of their lives not knowing if things are for better or worse.

Every time I travel, I make sure I bring extra cash, for those just-in-case scenarios. I always bring extra for the extra and it’s good (and wise, in my opinion) because I will never have to worry if my plastic don’t pass a transaction or if I got stranded somewhere and needed to cab home. But Mr. Bentley made a point went he said this was a reflection of the person I am, an almost-control freak. I had to be in control of, or at least know at the back of my mind that I can salvage a situation whatever it is and I eventually just don’t get to living out those YOLO moments I swear by, simply because I’m always too damn cautious of order, plans, and back up plans.

In all honesty, I am afraid to commit to something, anything, that I don’t already know the outcome to, or have the ability to control the eventual outcome of. When I look at some of the friends that would most likely be our wedding guests or even part of the bridal party, I can’t help but question if they are ready to be part of our wedded life, if we settle down. There are so many concerns that I have, just thinking of the possible list of people that will be playing a part in our big day, if ever. And I suddenly think to myself, “Damn. We need more mature friends who don’t talk to breasts and live on booze.”  Friends who can and would actually give us good advice and guidance when we need some. And trusting those friends to give good speeches at your wedding, even. After all, they always say that when you marry a person, you marry his/her friends and family too. It is funny at first, but then it gets scary afterwards if you really give it a thought.

I envy the assurance people find in their best friend, their punching bag, the love of their life, their spouses, despite really not knowing what’s up ahead – good or bad – that’s in store for them. I envy how people are willing to surrender the utmost control over their lives and to share it with that someone special. I want to have that assurance, cling on to it and abandon all doubts at once.

If I never get married, I swear I’d style a mock wedding with my best guy friend, have it photographed for keepsake and move on with my luggage to a million other places until I find a place where I feel like I belong.

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Today, I noticed an email in my inbox – “Reminder: Astrid Winding Down”.

As messy of a person I am, I surprise myself at being rather organized with everything else besides clutter. I have three apps to keep my finances in check, two for my bills, two for my task lists, two just for reminders of all sorts, a passbook for flight bookings and a password keeper on each phone (I carry two phones by the way). All these apps have kept me on track with well, my life as a whole.

To receive that email announcing that Astrid is closing down, thank you for being an Astrid user over these years, please download your data and check these other sites out for migration…brought an unexpected gush of disappointment, and a sense of lost.

I picked out Astrid of all the other task list apps because it was aesthetically awesome. Well, at least to me, it was; that ever-smiling Octopus waved me in at iTunes App Store and I was hooked. Download.

…and now, it is unfortunately, time to wave the ever-smiling Octopus out of my device.

Dear People at Astrid,
Your team and the app has been amazing. Maybe not perfect, but it has been a great deal of help to someone who lives almost out of her suitcase, lugs two phones, an iPad and a laptop to be on top of her job and attempts to find time for oysters and champagne in between those hours spent with her family, friends and work. Your app has made it easier for her to remember her meetings, and not to mention her parking lot when her head’s wrapped around a million other thoughts. Sorry if she hadn’t written you enough of a thumbs up review or given you a 5-star marking to keep you in the market. She will forever miss that ever-smiling Octopus and if ever, Mr. Astrid the Octopus (assuming that is his name) decides to make a comeback, she’ll be the first to flip your download counter. All the best hereon, Team Astrid.

Girl who first downloaded Astrid because of the cute Octopus.

{Mr. Octopus of}

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So, I opened a Facebook account for my still currently non-existent web shop, and also a separate Gmail account to go with it. Baby steps!

I have been hunting online and on my travels, making purchases in teeny tiny quantities to add to the shop’s list of items sold. I haven’t gotten to working out the pricing (the large, scary part), and most definitely haven’t gotten to photographing them but I’d like to do so soon, perhaps after my big NYC trip.

I’m gearing up and hopeful to get the web shop up and in time for Christmas. I know with such a niche of a market I am looking at, I might not get the response I am hoping for at first but well, it’s got to start somewhere. And I will keep on keeping at it until perhaps, I’m too broke to fund my shop or something. Boohoo.

But well, all will be good.(: Now, a muffin for dinner and back to my work, and web shop planning.

Cheers to a good evening!

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