Monday, 2 January 2017

Goodbye, 2016

Happy new year, blog!! I hope-

What's with that look?? Hey! Stop throwing things at me! STOP PUNCHING ME! Hey-

You didn't blog for weeks and neglected your blog to collect dust and cobwebs and now you're back wishing happy new year as if those long weeks of hiatus did not happen?! That's a pretty daring gambit for a chicken like you, Shahirah!!

Okay, okay, I know I haven't blogged in ages!! I'm sorry!!

Stop. Hitting. Me!!

I'm sorry, okay? I know full well that saying I'm sorry doesn't make any difference at all but.... what else is there for me to say but sorry? Haha. I mean, is it too late now to say sorry? 'Cause I'm missing more than just your bod-

You think this is a good time to be funny and break into a song?!


Alright, I'm sorry, okay? I really am! I'm sorry for the long absence, and for starting this post with a preamble so ignorant that it sounded like an attempt to invalidate your weeks-long suffering for my lack of blogposts, but you'll be happy to know that I'm about to make up for it!


Sorry you guys had to witness that little drama between me & my blog. Is it weird that I reckon my blog as an entity with whom/which I have a relationship of bizarre dynamics, rather than a medium through which to interact with other real humans? Haha.

Anyway, happy new year, yeoreobun! :)

I know right, where the hell did 2016 go?! Are you shocked because I know I am.

What the hell did I do in 2016?!

Well, let's start with the resolutions that I made public here on my blog. One of them was to exercise more control over my KDrama pursuits i.e. to NOT finish a KDrama in 2 days, and I remember breaking this very resolution just 3 days into 2016, but thenceforth, I think I've done pretty well in keeping my KDrama obsession in check. I even started watching a KDrama while it was still airing, in other words, I experienced the agony of waiting for new episodes on the weekly, all the while evading spoilers left, right, and centre to preserve the virginity of my viewing experience, only to find myself in deep frustration once the drama came to an end. I never wrote about how I feel about the ending, or about the drama as a whole, have I?

I might as well do it now.

First of all, Scarlet Heart : Moon Lovers : Ryeo could do with a simpler, more straightforward title. I sound like I'm being on a whole new level of pettiness by whining about a KDrama title being a mouthful, but see, from the title alone I can feel that there is a clash of opinions on the writers' end, and they couldn't come to a consensus so they decided to squeeze all opinions together to put the matter to rest. This showed a lack of communication & understanding, possibly also a lack of a single authoritative voice to make the final call.

And from there it kind of just snowballed into a disorganised mess of poor directing choices, awkward camerawork, unimpressive script, choppy music editing, unconvincing acting, and mediocre plot development. Don't get me wrong, I'm no professional, especially about all the technicalities, but if I, an average KDrama fan, cannot help but to notice all these widespread shortcomings, I think that's saying something. How often do you, while watching a movie/drama, notice a weird camerawork and think "Umm why am I getting an close-up view of this character?", or notice that a song starts/ends abruptly at all the wrong cues and think "Why is this song being played, it doesn't fit the feel of the scene at all,". Is it just me who had all these thoughts while watching Scarlet Heart : long name drama??

I hoped it would get better with each episode, I wanted it to get better, I cajoled myself into believing that the weekly wait was worth it, and sometimes it did get better, but scarcely. The fluctuation of the quality was so unsettling for me, I cringed every so often, yet I still waited every week and watched every episode earnestly.

How did Wang So & Hae Soo get together again?

Oh right. None of us knows, because their romantic development is concealed within the 1 year that the drama decided to jump across. Tahu tahu dah bercinta, what in the world..? Heck, I feel like Hae Soo & Wang Wook's loveline was more believable and more aptly handled despite Wang Wook not being the one I'm rooting for.

Hae Soo's character was not my favourite right from the start, I put this down to personal preference, but the final few episodes just proved to me that her character's just, for the lack of better word, stupid. Not at all a good female character. Let's see. She got upset that Wang So punished her friend Chae Ryung with death penalty when a) Chae Ryung obviously lied to her, betrayed her and b) Wang So was doing his job, that is, to be a fair king. Then Hae Soo made a show about wanting to leave the palace and all and in doing so, breaking Wang So's heart and leaving Wang So with no source of comfort & support. When she finally left the palace, she wrote all those letters to Wang So asking why he hadn't visited her, aka wallowing in self-pity and playing the victim card when uh, hello, she left the palace on her own accord!! Can you imagine what would happen if Hae Soo actually got a grip of herself and remained steadfast & faithful by Wang So's side instead of throwing tantrum about having her 'friend' killed?

You know what, don't even imagine that. Wang So seriously deserves someone better, someone who puts the greater good & justice before her own selfish wants. Ugh so geram with Hae Soo.

Acting-wise, only Lee Jun Ki and Kang Ha Neul impressed me, only these two that I don't mind getting close-up shots of. The others were mehhh, even Baekhyun (sorry bb I love you but you have PLENTY of room for improvement ok).

I feel like Scarlet Heart had the potential, had an amazing storyline idea, had all the opportunities to be great, but all of these slipped through in the hands of inexperienced writers/director/whoever's in charge. It could have been a fantastic drama, but that's all it is, it could have been. But guess what, for what it's worth, I liked Scarlet Heart. I liked the issues & concepts that it raised. For its good and bad, it's a drama that I don't regret watching, and this comes from a rather weird, special place in my heart. I won't go as far as saying it's among my favourite dramas or it's a good drama, but it's a drama that I will never forget yet most probably will never rewatch, ever. The OSTs, though I find badly edited into the drama, are on repeat on my lips.

Oh wow will you look at that, I just wrote several paragraphs worth of kdrama rants.

Another small resolution was to not blow my food when it's still smoky hot. This one was a tricky resolution, I felt like I was walking straight into a trap after I made this resolution.

Because I regularly cook here in the UK, and every time I cook I'd have to have a taste of the food before it's ready, to ensure that I've put enough salt/sugar/whatever. It's not exactly easy to taste something straight out of the cooking wok/pan/pot without blowing when smoke is still emanating, dancing in an upward motion from the food. But I have tried to hold it off, to wait a considerable length of time, before I had a taste. As it's almost like a reflex that I tend to blow hot food, not blowing my food has taken conscious effort, so I'm guessing this is a learned skill that takes time. On several occasions that I actively thought about it, I succeeded in suppressing the reflex. But on other occassions, I blew my food without even realising it. So was this resolution a success?


But does that mean I failed this resolution? Not exactly. I'd say it's a work in progress, and I'm headed in the right direction.  

What else did I do in 2016? God, I didn't achieve anything at all in 2016, did I?

But that could be because I'm expecting to achieve big, significant missions, forgetting about the small hurdles that I overcame and little positive improvements that I've made. Like, I've added more choices in the variety of veggies that I can tolerate! Asparagus. Aubergine. Broccoli!! I actually like broccoli guys - hah, that's a sentence I never thought would come from me - not because of its nutritional values, but because I genuinely like the taste of it.

2016 also saw me incorporating more fruits into my diet. At first this, too, required conscious effort, daily reminders in the form of inner monologue "Oh hey I haven't eaten a fruit today! Go to the kitchen now, Shahirah, and grab a fruit.", but after a while, it became like a habit, a necessity even. You know how you brush your teeth in the morning, you don't even have to actively decide to do it, do you? You just do it! Like Nike. Like breathing, like it's a part of your autonomic nervous system. That's how eating fruits is to me now. Nowadays I grab a kiwi straightaway first thing in the morning! All throughout the day I'd frequent the kitchen to have grapes or mandarin oranges. My bag to lectures/hospital is never without a banana or an apple. If someone gives me a basket of kiwis for my birthday I'd be over. The. Moon!!

Over the summer break of 2016, I came to realise that I'm allergic to dairy products and flour. Not the anaphylactic kind of allergy, but the acne/pimpley kind.

For the longest time, I had had pimples & blemishes on my cheeks that persisted despite every imaginable product I'd slathered on them. For one week I cut off all dairy- and flour-based products, and my cheeks cleared up! Like magic! And when I started eating eggs again one day, the following day I woke up to several pimples reclaiming their residential area on my cheeks. Having proven the reversibility and temporality of my hypothesis, I thought it's safe to assume that I've proven the causal link between dairy products & flour and my predisposition to acne & pimples.

It seemed pretty straight forward right, just ditch dairy products from my diet. Shouldn't be too hard, right? It sounded doable in theory, until I realised the number of food I consume that actually contains the offending ingredients.

Eggs, milk, chocolates, desserts, roti canai, naan cheese caramel, anything fried with flour, junk food, fast food..... All my favourite food...... :'( Had to say farewell to all of them.

Explaining to Amie what my allergy entails

We all know it isn't easy to give up pleasurable habits or in this case, food.

And we also know how it is with motivation.

Motivation is fleeting, oftentimes reliable. Discipline has been my key drive.

Of course, bearing in mind that this dairy-flour-pimple link that I uncovered was on the grounds of empirical evidence, a personal experimentation if you will, I have every intention to do the skin prick test. This is to confirm exactly what and find out what else I'm allergic to, and to sort of, you know, have an objective evidence to validate the dairy-flour-pimple conclusion that I drew, but I haven't had the opportunity to do the test. InshaAllah I'll do it in 2017 then, haha. This newfound allergy discovery, along with the addition of fruits & veggies in my diet as well as my Korean skincare regime, gave a byproduct of improved skin conditions alhamdulillah!! Far from perfect, but improved, so alhamdulillah still. Hehe. And my bowel movements have been more regular now too. It could be psychological, mind over matter kind of thing, but I feel good about my body & my health, even though they're not necessarily in a fit state. Does that make sense? I don't know how to explain it. But yeah. Haha. 

Some time in September or October, Ulfah & I started jogging together every weekend. On Saturday nights we'd ask each other where to go jogging, Sunday mornings would bring us to various parts of London :

Jogging at Hyde Park
Jogging at Stratford

Jogging along Regents Canal
Jogging at Victoria Park

I jog as an investment for my old days later, if I live long enough that is. Another reason is I'm responsible for taking care of my body, because ultimately this body is never truly mine, it belongs to Allah, and when the time comes to return it to Allah one day, I hope to return it in the best possible condition. I wish to jog & exercise more frequently you know, but for now, once a week is all I can muster. That's okay I suppose. Besides, aren't the small deeds done consistently the ones loved most by Allah? Hehe.

Entering the clinical phase of my medschool journey brought about some significant changes. I was pushed way, WAY out of my comfort zone. I confess, coming to the UK three years ago made me a timid person. Sure I can write quite well in English, but to speak the language is a different story. Especially British English. I was never very confident to hold a conversation for long with the locals here because the Brits, they speak too fast, and their British accent makes me wish there are subtitles underneath for me to refer to. I always had to take some time to decipher what they just said, resulting in few embarrassing seconds lag before I could respond to them. It made me feel inferior. I also couldn't find anything to talk about with my friends in uni, there was no one that was on the same wavelength as me. In the end, I never really befriended the locals here for real. They're just people I meet at the uni, nothing more than that. The clinical placement, however, forced me to interact with the locals on the daily. Can you imagine how intimidating that is for me?? It's one thing to interact with my uni friends, interacting with the patients is another thing. But alhamdulillah, I learnt a bit. And I'm still learning, there's a lot more to learn. I made mistakes here and there, but I'd like to believe that I learnt a thing or two from those mistakes.

My friend Amir once scorned at the fact that I never read any of the Harry Potter books or watched any of the Harry Potter movies. He said I was missing out on the whole UK experience, but I ignored his disapproval with a wave of dismissal and carried on. But then 2 weeks+ before 2016 ended, I decided to pick up the first Harry Potter book and by 1st January 2017, I reached the back cover of the seventh Harry Potter book. Safe to say that I am now officially a Potterhead!!! 10 years late but who cares!!

At Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station. Bye bye everyone boarding the Hogwarts Express now adios amigos adidas

I'll probably do a separate post on Harry Potter but good God, it's sooooo nice to finish all 7 books and have in-depth discussions with other people (Ulfah, my little sister, and Mina) about those books! afterwards!! It's like blogging KDrama reviews, but with an engaging audience! Hahah.

At this point, I want to remind myself, while I still remember, the things that I may forget, that is to strive for progress. To compare myself to myself and only myself. To aim for my own definition of happy and wealthy and successful and brilliant, but not to look down on anyone who doesn't subscribe the same definition. To keep Allah in my heart in everything that I do. To welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn, but to also try to minimise them, because there are many ways to acquire knowledge - observation, experience, reading, teachers; blundering isn't the only one. To be grateful but not complacent, for complacency leads to stagnancy. To never undermine my own strengths but at the same time recognise my own weaknesses. 

2017 beckons. Happy new year, everyone! Except Dolores Umbridge.

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