Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review #1: Misery

Normally bloggers dedicate their entries on Wednesdays for 'Wordless Wednesday'. This practice was a hit some time ago, and I honestly don't know if it's still what bloggers these days stick to, seeing that I only read one or two blogs a day now. But I've never been one to catch on with the hype, so I never did stick to the Wordless Wednesdays entries. 

Not entirely unrelated to the paragraph above, I love reading books. Fictions, specifically thriller ones. No matter how busy it gets, I try to read a few pages every day, normally before bed when I'm breastfeeding Zayd to sleep (yes, I intend to breastfeed him until he turns two like his sister did, God-willing). I did this ever since I started my PhD, as one of my friends said that it was important to have an 'escape' from studying and family obligations, and reading storybooks have always been an outlet for me, so I stuck with it. Especially since used books were dirt cheap in the UK. And I figure it would most definitely help me with my English, so technically it is still 'academic-ish'. 

Alhamdulilah, the practice continues till today. I have always wanted to do write or at least document books which I have just recently finished reading. I've just finished a book this evening, and since today is Wednesday, I thought, why not just write a review of the book. Then it occured to me, why not dedicate two Wednesdays a month to write about the book(s) which I've finished reading (coz that's the speed I go, mate -- one or two fictions every fortnight. Sad, I know, but I'm making an effort here). At least that way, I'll remember the books which I've read, owned or borrowed. Again, it's just petty record keeping, but sharing is caring, they say. Perhaps it will help the odd high schoole rs who needs to finish off their book review assignment which is due tomorrow (naughty, naughty!). May be it will encourage more people to pick up the said book and have a go at them. I don't know. and I don't know how long I'm up for this, but the nerdy academic inside me is saying, 'do it'. Once a nerd, always a nerd, I guess. So let's see, shall we...

Title: Misery
Author: Stephen King
Year: 1986
Genre: Thriller
Procured: Bought for RM 10 from the Islamic Relief Charity Shop, Bangi.

Ok, so I'm not really a bombastic reader, I haven't even finished the entire King's collection, but I'm working my way around them.

Misery, I find, was a good read. It's a story of a famous writer, Paul Sheldon, who'd gotten into a car accident one snowy evening, and was rescued and nursed back to health by a woman, Annie Wilkes, who claimed to be his number one fun but later turned out to be a psychotic ex-nurse. with his broken legs, Paul was kept a hostage by Annie, who demanded that he write another sequel to the book series which Paul had written before (the Misery series or something). She'd gotten Paul hooked on to Novril, a kind of heavy painkilling drug. Annie was a real nutcase, one minute she seemed fine and the next a compete basketcase. Among the torturous things Annie wasn't shy to form included karate-chopping Paul's broken knee, chopping off his left foot with an axe, and de-thumbing him with an electric knife. I know, very gruesome stuff. I winced through those part, since I have a rather active imagination myself. She's also killed an officer who came knocking at her door looking for the missing infamous Paul Sheldon (by this time he was gone for a good few months). In the end, Paul finished writing the book (the last of the Misery series), which made Annie really happy. But Paul wasseeking for revenge and a way out, so instead of Annie enjoying the final instalment, he'd burnt it (with a match given by Annie to lighht his cigarette). Annie fought to save the copy, and they wrestled, and boy was it hard to kill the lady, but in the end she died. Paul had triumphed, especially since it was a dummy copy which he'd burnt so he escaped the house (the police came after the fighting had stopped, how typical) and made millions seling his final instalment. But he was still haunted by Annie Wilkes in his dream and struggled to get back to writing, until his encounter with a boy and his skunk. 

***Spoiler alert***

It was really hard to put down the book, but I didn't manage to read it all in one go, with the kids and all. But it took me only four days to finish, so that's pretty fast for me these days and definitely saying something. The ending was a bit rushed, I felt and had to re-read the ending several times to know what happened post-Annie's death. Or was she really dead for that matter. And also the part about the boy and the skunk confused me a little, but after going back to the same text a few times over, I got it. I'm giving this book 9/10.

Now, I'm off to search the full movie (it has been turned into a film). With Katie Bates playing Annie Wilkes, you know it has to be GOOD....

Cute notes:

I bought this book last Thursday at the Islamic Relief Charity shop. It cost me RM10. I leafed through the first page and saw it marked in pencil as 20p!!! So this book has once been in the land of the Queen, sent to some charity shop in the UK, bought by someone (I don't know how many times it has been bought and sold again), but in the end fell into the hand of someone presumably Malaysian living in the UK. I imagine it then being boxed and shipped to Malaysia, follower its owner's return to Malaysia, and after some time, perhaps the owner got bored with it or trying to save space or whatnot, and now it is in my hand. Quite a journey, for a book  :)

I've overpaid. 20 p = RM1.20 at most. But in the name of charity, right? Hihi... Btw, it's not that surprising, I suppose. Bangi is the academic valley, so I'm imagining it was someone who at one time was abroad studying like myself perhaps? Only Allah knows for sure.

PS: I know a charity-shop book when I see one. Why, I've volunteered at a charity shop for a few months myself, while I was in the UK. But that's another story for another time ;)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Suraya's Wedding

Was on leave since Friday of last week. We went back to Muar, Johor in preparation for my SIL's wedding, which was last Saturday. Alhamdulillah, it went smoothly. The sun was out all day (panas ngeer ngeeer gitu), most of the invited guests came and food was great. It was held in true Javanese fashion - the berkat, the toll, the gendang and all. My Dad even made it to Muar with my youngest brother and his family. My SIL Suraya looked so lovely in her wedding attires. Sadly, no pics of all of us together. For some funny reasons, the photographer didn't think it was necessary to include family members in the pics, I guess. This was a bit sad since I think almost all of us made an effort to wear purple, I know my family certainly did. We made the purchase the night before we traveled back to Muar. Oh well... gotta wait for other photo op I suppose. 

Nonetheless it was a great day. The children had a blast, explaining why none of use were ever together in any of these pics below. Aisyah ran around with her cousins and most of the time I didn't know where she was at :P  Zayd my sidekick was always by my side, but he was down in the afternoon for a much needed nap break. I don't blame the poor guy. By 6 p.m., I had this splitting headache. From the heat or dehydration, God knows. But Alhamdulillah it went away around 9 p.m.

Congratulations to my dear SIL Suraya and husband, Iwan. It's a tad sad that this means her leaving our house for good (she lived with us since 2006, and even looked after our house while we were gone in the UK). Zayd, in particular will miss her most, shouting 'Ude! Ude!' everytime he passes by her bed room door, expecting Ude to open the door, pick him up, tickle, kiss and lets him watch Upin Ipin on her phone. But life must go on, eh? Moving out of one house to move in to another more permanent house. May this union be blessed by Allah and that you guys stay together till Jannah, Amin!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ask, and He Gives

Something amazing happened yesterday. 

Just as I was ready to give up on doing things extra for my students (bcoz I am kind of slow and my priority is off, so best just focus on what my KPIs are really about - advice I'd received from colleagues previously, and was about to agree), a Godsend comes my way.

Well, actually, TWO Godsends. My two Master (Research) students shared the news that they have both secured the GRF (a kind of grant). It's very good news in two ways: (a) they don't have to worry about money, they'll have a fixed monthly stipend from now, and (b) they now need to serve 4 hours assisting their Supervisors in teaching and learning activities or research activities in return for their allowances. These two students are already doing lab sessions with undergraduate students, but those are only for three hours a week. So that one other hour? They will use to assist their Supervisor's work

Whom is ME.


Alhamdulillah. I think this is God's way of saying, keep doing what I've been doing. Do the extra stuff. Don't quit. Help is on its way. He knows I suck at doing my work fast (the downside of being too 'cerewet'), so He sends not only one student, but TWO to help. Two solid hours a week is going to be a MASSIVE help, Maha Suci Allah. 

He definitely knows best, Allahu Akbar!

(PS: I think this is the first time I am writing the word Supervisor on my blog, that I am actually referring to myself. Urm... super weird feeling here, to be honest, but in a good way).

I'm sharing some pics from yesterday's event - Drawing and Storyboarding Workshop. For my Creative Design class, I've invited Mr. Latfy who is an illustrator and writer for children story book (and long time family friend) to come and share his experiences and some useful drawing techniques to the class (third year students). Alhamdulillah, it was a blast and I learned a thing or two myself.

When the working day ends like this, I'll always sit back and think, it really IS worth all that trouble.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don't Wait Act Now

Dah sebulan lebih x menulis. Alasan yg sama, of course. Time... or lack of. Itulah nya. Time, time, time. Kadang rasa mcm x tutup terus je blog, but then, maybe out of habit, bila ada cerita2 yg rasa nak kongsi, or cerita anak2 nk dokumenkan (I am forever haunted by guilt sbb x tulis cerita psl my second born as diligent as my first child, huhu), then teringattttt kat blog balik. But then I'm swamped with work, tinggal la plak blog ni gersang tanpa entry.

It's true though, bila dah sibuk dgn kerja, balik badan penat, layan anak2 lg, mmg by the time 10 p.m. rolls around, aku mmg org mengantuk disorongkan bantal. I do sometimes get up again (either super early or in the middle of the night) but these are reserved for deadlines. Naturally, blogging has no space in my already tight schedule. I tell myself, 'Later. Or soon. Or someday.'

But some things happened at work today which made me review my so-called 'work habit'. The perfectionist that I am, I don't like doing things in a haste. Things are usually properly thought out first. I don't do things half-heartedly. To me, if it's not worth doing, don't do it. I really am a micro-analyser, which can be an annoying trait to others. I realised that it's ok for me to carry on working like this and remain a slow-poke, but when it involves other people, sometimes I just need to learn to let go and know when to say stop. I nned to plan my things ahead of time. And also that I cannot expect people to work past certain hours or over the weekends, even when I don't mind some times. 

I kept waiting for time to clear up, so that I can start writing long entries.

I kept waiting for work to subside, so that I can leisurely do the things I like.

I kept waiting for a huge block of free time, so that I can start having fun with my loved ones.

I kept waiting for the semester to be over, so I can "seriously" start with my research work.

I kept waiting for the right time for everything.

I kept waiting and waiting, but the time never came.

So I thought. Enough waiting. NOW is the time to do everything. What little time I have, don't wait. Be happy NOW. Write entries NOW. Tackle those huge pile of work NOW. Don't wait for tomorrow. I may not be able to complete all, do all, write long, etc, but that's not important. At least I am progressing.

Unless I'm just too darned knackered, that is. Heh.

Disclaimer: this post is absolutely useless. But man it feels good to write again, even if it's rubbish!