Learning to Say No to the Naked Girl in the House

Let me tell you a story.

At the time when I was completing my undergraduate studies, during my last two semesters, I was up round the clock doing my part-time job and drafting up plans and brainstorming ideas with my team to lay the foundations of my business.  I also had to work on my senior project – which was, much to my pride, apparently the first actual human experiment to be conducted on-campus.

At that time, one of my juniors who was a foreign student would always hang out in my room because her rented room was too far from university. Sometimes she would bring another friend along with her baby. Most times she would turn the music on loud and walk around the house naked. Yes.

I also had another friend from a different faculty who would come every evening to ask me to help her with her assignments because her English sucked real bad. By real bad, I mean real, real bad. She did not understand what her lectures were about. She could not comprehend her assignments. She could not even remember what I taught her. I ended up going with her for days to the library just to help her with her assignments.

Okay, I was being quite helpful. Never did I express my tiredness or lack of time for my senior project. But as days caught on, I realized I was putting off a lot of my own assignments and postponing several deadlines – deadlines I set for myself. I began feeling as if I lost my value and energy. My hard work seemed to be running down the drain dealing with all the drama in the house.

Due to all the stress, I lost the job that had been feeding me for the past three years. I told my girlfriends no, I am sorry, but I cannot possibly help you anymore. But did they understand what I was telling them?

Well, I moved in with the one from the other faculty because she was willing to help me with the accommodation. But what I did not realize was that she did not even know how to send an email or write to her husband in English? I always wondered why the heck she could not write to him in their own native language? I also noticed that although I told her that I was quite busy with an exam the next day, she still asked me to help her with her presentations!

Oh, I hope you do not get into the same problem as I did. What did I do to solve the problem then? I scolded them vehemently. I also unfriended them. On top of that, I got up very early every morning at approximately 6AM, did my prayers, and then walked 500 meters to school. Every morning before the sun rose itself.  I tried studying in the library… until my friend who couldn’t understand English turned up again out of nowhere to ask me to assist her! One day she even brought another friend who was having issues with her own project.

God bless my heart and my soul. Why was getting away from my girlfriends so important? I had definitely sworn myself out of lesbianism, to be sure. So why did I have to give them a hearty scolding every time and run away as if I were the thief?

Because it is very crucial for my subjective well-being. I needed a lot of time to think about more important matters, like my fees – I was graduating soon anyway.

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Here I am talking to you on my video. And please, when you say no, please mean it. Don’t you dare laugh after saying it because there is nothing funny about the “No”. And no, I am not naked. (Photo credits to Alicia Leng)

Alone time. Hard, death-like situations are opportunities for growth, and to grow, you need to think. You need to rearrange your thoughts and give yourself a little peace of mind as you navigate yourself well. Even if you are not in a dead-end situation, you need some precious time for yourself. For growth. For self-care. That moves us to the next section.

Self-care. You only have all the time in the world to attend to every matter around you. Give yourself a little gift of time. Sip slowly over a hot cup of green tea, read your favorite detective novel, or simply do nothing for awhile. This leads to the next point.

Well-being. A holistic approach to self-care looks at not only proper functioning of the body, but also the well-being of the mind. We got a brain to think, not just for ourselves but also for others. This mass of grey matter, with all its fancy nucleus accumbens, mesolimbic dopaminergic pathways, and the stuff in your hippocampus (pardon my language) that puts you to making the right judgements – resembles other muscular tissues in the body, and requires consistent exercise to keep running. And as far as we help others do their thinking, we have to give ourselves a break to redirect our focus too.

Exercise. As mentioned earlier, self-care in the positive psychological perspective involves working out on a timely basis to keep physically and mentally fit. Join a dance class to get the entire body moving freely.

Opportunities for Self-development. Time is of essence, and the time in which we invest our time is very important. When you are already tied down with a long list of things to do,  it’s okay to say no. Just say it. Don’t even feel obligated. You need time to fine-tune your strengths, because stars don’t grow overnight. They always emerge from the core of mysterious nebulae and take millennia to mature. In the same way, great ideas always form from muddled-up minds of a plethora of experiences, knowledge, and wisdom altogether. You just need to reorganize your thoughts so you don’t leave them hanging. When you mix the ingredients for a cake in a bowl, and then put the whole thing in the microwave, you’ll get a cake in the end. Of course however well it’s done requires all the love, care, and patience it needs too. So you need to be very clear to anyone who is begging for your attention while you are trying to make an amazing cake, to be able to concentrate on making such a nice cake.

Of course in reality the cake is you, and I bet you are sweet too. What about those girls who came into the picture from the start of the story – did they stop asking me the same goddamn question? No, they didn’t.

Poor girl.

Red Scarlet

PS.: No one could find any photographs of the naked girl, so pardon me.

Godsend

Today, August 6, 2016, marks the end of my undergraduate years as a psychology major. It has been six years of seemingly endless struggle and bittersweet happiness which did not just change when I decided to take my life in my own hands.

Way back in 1998, when I had first moved into the city, there were no tall buildings, the only shopping mall and hotel had just opened in the neighborhood, and there were no highways and express trains. Even the institute where I graduated from was really an abandoned block of concrete nobody bothered to work on until a decade later.

A good 18 years later, new constructions started sprouting up one by one.  The scene in this photograph is taken at the back of the campus after my very last day. It is an example of how as time progresses, things change – for better or for worse. In reality we pick things up along the years and discard those parts that are not as useful in our purpose. Humility is a lifelong process of learning and practice. Of course we must be grateful for the opportunity that we have been given. This is what shapes us into becoming successful individuals.

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It was really tough having to plan and manage my team for my company business Brainiac Laboratories while studying, working part-time, and writing together at the same time. I was really hard-pressed for results. I had to meet all kinds of people every single day. You know how god puts you to test something you abhor again and again – until one day you raise your hands in submission and begin to love it as much as you can. Is that good or bad? More than once my life seemed to be just hanging on a thin string of thread, waiting for a sharp pair of scissors to snap it cut. I have no clue why, but it just kept happening. The amount of tears I cried throughout all these years could have over-filled a pool. Things went down the drain several times; and I was so helpless all I could do was try to stop myself from crying. But I cried anyhow.

I had hated my life. I hated how everytime I had to register myself for subjects the following month, the management would pull out my accounts statement  to tell me that I had an outstanding of nearly RM20,000 to be paid before I could register for any classes. I hated how I had to write to them letters after letters attached with a new instalment plan of empty promises, and I hated how I had to face rejection with a solid face and unnerving gaze but a mind full of doubts. Last of all, I hated how my uncertainties seemed to be growing bigger very quickly.

I whirlpooled into depression for the second time as I sought for solutions. I watched as my friends – some of whom were even my batchmates – walked out happily out of unhiversity after their final semester. I saw how my friends started getting married one by one and having families of their own. This made me question myself a lot.

What set me apart from my peers was the fact that I had the ego of knowing that I was way better than them, so there was no point of getting along with them. That I had to spend a huge part of my day working at the bookstore, shopping mall, or what not, and then take a bus back to home to clean the house of mess (it was like that everyday, trust me) before I could actually sit and study. Right there and then I could run back to my house and give my mother a bear hug  and go lovey-dovey like any child would, but I did not. It has never been the way my family worked. My mother refused to pay for the education I was entitled to, and she was taking the money I earned from working part-time to buy other things for herself. The more I tried talking to her, the sharper the answers I received from her. I tried my best to listen and care for her but I never got anything out of it.  Every ounce of my energy was sapped away as I worked in and out and studied at the same time. If I ever failed to do as I was required, or I could not because I was really, really tired. I got hit by anything. My depression just worsened.

Like I had done many times, I asked myself a question: What am I doing all these for? It was quite a question because I pressed myself for the answers all day. I pushed myself forward to do what I could. I definitely did not want to go through the same things anymore. Yes, I was tired of being depressed; I was tired of destitution. I was sick of all the lies I was made to tell to cover my life from my “friends”. I was sick of the inner demons eating away at my soul, devouring up the life I was supposed to have.

The answer to my own question: I did what I did to save myself.

Red Scarlet

2015 in a Bottle

Gazing blankly into the ghostly sky with its morning star hidden right behind the thick, heavy clouds, I downed my cup of espresso.  I tried to shut my thoughts and listen to the sounds around me.  I sat still in my wooden chair trying to capture some form of hope for my trusty pen to thrust its wildest dreams on.

If I could, I would.  Definitely.  I would part this sheet of paper from the book, roll it up, and then put it in a bottle – and set it free.  Well, what if I actually did?

My thoughts would have the freedom to linger off through the water surface, forever encased in its protective covering.  Hopefully it would seek refuge from raging storms, and finally meet with amicable weather in the Atlantic, before sailing smoothly into the Indian Ocean.  Perhaps, thousands of years later someone would be lucky enough to stumble upon it when it gets itself stuck in the soggy sand.

Parts of the lines are quite cheesy, and I do have to apologize, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, for borrowing the words in your lyrics to vent my dissatisfaction.

Thank you for calling me a bitch.  Thank you for assumming that I am a slut.  Thank you for piercing through my heart all your sharp arrows, of setting my soul to flames.  Thank you for calling me stupid, and whatever other names you felt befitting.  I have never once been that, and I shall show you that I mean it.

The players are going to play, play, play.  The haters, on the other hand, they are just going to hate, hate, hate.  What can I possibly do about that anyway.  I sort of knew you were trouble when you walked in to my life, so maybe shame on me now?  Hmmm.  All too often I was just left in blank space, baby; because all boys only want love if it’s torture, if it’s pain, if it’s hurt, and if blood oozes out from their hearts.  What do you really, really mean?  You were, in the end, the reason for the teardrops on my guitar (well, ok; it was really your guitar, but I held it with my dainty fingers sometimes).  Finally, your friends talked to my friends talked to your friends talked to me, and so we are never ever getting back together.  Not like I actually cared even.  I only have to shake it all off my head.  Yeah.  Loving you was so red, in fact forgetting you was like trying to know someone I never met.

Nevertheless, from the ashes rose a phoenix with wings so large they carried it away from the consuming fire.  I started showing gratitude and showering my appreciation on people, sometimes even people I do not even know who helped me in doing something.  I allowed myself to be as genuine as possible in dealing with the different kinds of people I have to meet everyday.  These things cannot go wrong.  As a result, I am proud of myself for having grown emotionally stronger and bolder than before.  It could be that my feelings have been numbed from the constant hurt, but my chains have been broken, and my soul has been set free.  I hope.

A few more months – just one more semester – I will be graduating!!!!  (I do wish I could insert a love icon here.)  I shall be done with my degree after a long, long time.  I should be so excited right?  Yes I am, but no, I am also not.  Oh gosh, my mind is wandering to so many places!  Life is an exciting venture, a beautiful journey bestowed upon Man.  There is no other gift more amazing than the gift of life.

This year also I am chasing time to kick off my positive psychology start-up as well.  While I am working on one SBU (strategic business unit, that is) now, I will directly after I graduate, start-up the other SBU.  Currently I am looking for sponsors and venues for investors.  It has been a crazy six months running about to widen social networks and contact suppliers, and so on, whilst studying final year.  I still have not mentioned that I am also doing sales.  Haha.  Crazy times.

I have of course had my fair share of repeating heartbreaks, but yet I did all I could to keep pushing on and on.  Whether it has got to be love, wealth, fame, or self-fulfillment, I wanted it to work out this year.  I probably went a wee bit overboard, pushing myself dangerously over the edge.  But I had already decided from early this year that I am not going to let things happen to me just like that.  I am going to make things happen to me instead.

So I just want you to know: I am fiercely fighting for whatever that is meant to be mine – my degree, my start-up, and HIM!!!!!

Never say never.  All I need to do is be patient. Perseverant.  Positive!!!!  The 3Ps!!!  Oooh – how sweet.

Red Scarlet

Dirty Little Secret

Shush. Don’t tell your mother.  Kiss one another.  Die for each other.

In the midst of the gooey mass of grey matter in the prefrontal lobe stands a huge army of Spartan soldiers with their spears sticking upwards in the air.  They are prepared to fight, prepared to conquer malaise, to combat for Truth.  For the mind is a wondrously dangerous place, and white lies are in constant battle with black lies and dirty little secrets.  With a tweak of a passage of signals, the entire perception alters somewhat drastically.  It gives birth to a thought, an idea, and though in its embryonic form, it still has the capability of enveloping the entire physique, covering the subtle pores of the skin with its vulnerable coat like myelineated sheaths of axons.  It hydrates the thirsty soul; it instigates a certain craving for – a little cocaine, maybe?  Fervently spreading throughout the entire breathing creature, it begins to speak aloud in the creature’s own voice.  But how weak the mind is!  Yet it is capable of intelligent choice.

Secret Garden. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Secret Garden. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

A long time has past since I last published my work on WordPress.

It is a superficially busy time for me because, after this semester, I have only two more to go.  Then I shall finally graduate.  It is critically important that I do well during these last few months because I plan to sit for masters. Not only that I am working towards developing my own organizational objectives with a music business unit.  It is not easy to do this single-handedly, but I am fortunate to be able to work with other entrepreneurs as well.

It truly is one last stage for me to get by.  I admit it is tough because I am now handling everything by myself, from tuition fees to organization structure to this little powerful drug – writing – that I do every now and then.  I am consummated by exams and university projects and meeting new people.  Every now and then I am hurled into Dreamland, where I am trapped in an extremely tall tower waiting for my knight in his white horse to come around and save me of course.  At the very same moment, Time is graciously ticking away.

It definitely is fun to form mutual friendships with people and organizations, especially those who would be able to help out in the event that it is necessary.  As part of entrepreneurship all that stress that comes along with it – hopefully it ends successfully.  I want it to be a success of course!  It meaning everything.  Which encompasses education, my job, my friends, my family, my life – everything, god damn it.  All these are the work of a lifetime.  These are all my Paradise.

Don’t tell anyone.  It’s my dirty little secret.  Can you keep it?  Because I am fine with it.

Red Scarlet

P.S.:  I am quite happy being a woman.

Only Human

Tonight I am going to speak out my heart. I am going to pour out every single thought that is trying to fight for space in my head.  Tonight I just want to cry out and forget.  I am going to climb up the rooftops, stand by the edge, spread my arms wide apart, my back facing the cold, dark night air… and fall.

Fall all the way down.  As I descend through the wind, I shall look into the beauty of the skies, perhaps for the very last time.  The sack of questions slam me further down, but no, I would not budge.

I breathe in, and out, in, and out; the raw air fill my one and only lung (I lost the other a decade ago), bringing oxygen to my blood.  One by one statement after statement surface into my concious.

“My name is Alicia Ai Leng, turning 24 very, very soon, and I study psychology.  This does not mean I have answers to your every question.  I too have questions myself – many of them used to be unanswered, but more and more are getting clarified.  I daresay I know a lot more than some people, but I feel too.  I also break down and cry.  I need a hug as well every now and then.  I have the breaking point, just like everybody else, where the limits are pushed to the maximum.  But just how far are these limits?”

For the most part, my life at this time seems like an endless struggle.  If you have heard of the saying:  She stoops to conquer.  Well, I have stooped so many, many times.  I was nearly killed in an accident.  I nearly killed myself.  I nearly  lost myself to insanity., the complex of Nature and the supernatural.

My old soul is slowly fading away into the past.  Now is now, and I have to act very swiftly.  I have drowned myself completely  into positivity, completely into work, and studies, and business, and enterpreneurship.  And wallahi, for all of heaven’s sake, love!  Oh god, what is going on?  Why is this happening?

The answer is because people change.  With time, people deviate from the norms of tradition – I know this might sound sad, but it is not the time to shed tears now.  I change.  You change.  We change.  All of us change.  Like all other humans I have blood running through my veins.  I breathe the air just like everyone does.  My heart pumps life into my body just like other living being.  I eat.  I pee.  I poo.  I cry real tears too.  I am definitely not a Bobo doll, a punchbag everyone hits mercilessly.  I laugh so loud you would have thought I were out of my mind, so long you could have thought that I were out of my mind.  There are occasions of burnout too everyone experiences that I also experience.  Of course in reality I am only literally meaning what I say.  Whether there are ups and downs, I acknowledge that I am imperfect as I am; I cannot please everybody.

Ich schwore, that is just me.  I could probably use a hand sometimes.

Getting Lost

Pack your bikini.  Throw in your hammock.  Take along some food, maybe.  And, oh, do not forget your sunglasses.

Go alone.  Switch your mobile phone off.  Disconnect yourself from the world.  Throw it away; forget yesterday.  Lose yourself.  Challenge your limits;  go the extra mile.  Push yourself a little further than usual.  Gain the courage to embrace the unknown.

And there is no need to be afraid.  Where you find water, jump in.  Where you find the ocean, plunge in.  Get wet.  Inhale and exhale whole-heartedly as you allow the tiny rippling droplets of sea hydrate the  pores of your skin.  Where you find the forests,  run through and get yourself lost in the trees. Capture the magic that you find in the air.  Look for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that comes in between the rain and breaking sunlight.  Sketch imaginary dreams in the blue sky.  Close your eyes.  Live in the present, in the moment.

Pay attention to the inner dialogue, that little voice speaking inside your heart.  Be one with your mind and soul.  Be it rain or shine, let the weather wash away your anxieties.  Let the gushing sound of streams in the waterfall filter out your emotions.

One of my Getting Lost excursions. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

One of my Getting Lost excursions. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

Drive somewhere you have never set foot before.  Head out to the beach in the morning; slowly tread along the shores in your bare feet, and feel the waves brush gently between your toes.  Head to the hills in the evening and find a little spot where you can get a good view of the sunset.  Turn the light breeze into music as it orchestrates over your ears.

Grab hold of Mother Nature, and never let go.  Permit yourself the luxury of freedom.  It is best to travel without planning the day.  Let life happen as it should.

Life gets in way with what we are occasionally; it has us chasing after several things that we wish could be ours – but are not, unfortunately.  Normally we forget who we are in the process; we imprison ourselves in our own rigmaroles and deny ourselves the meaning of life.  Like auto-generated assembly lines we operate tediously from dusk to dawn.  Every single interaction with another human being becomes programmed by rules and instructions set by society.  We arrive home flustered, exhausted, and frustrated.

The solution?  Get yourself lost.

My Getting Lost excursions are kind of memorable.  The last time I got lost, I hiked up a hill filled with waterfalls.  The trail was steep and slippery, but I managed to climb all the way up.  I had fun on my own in the gushing currents. On the way down, I met a furry little kitten who was fending itself from nasty babboons.  What did I do?  Well, I picked him up and carried him down to the foot of the hill, chasing those monkeys away in the process.  I even had lunch with him; I watched as he munched at the burger I bought him.  That was just one of my excursions.

What about yours – why not go somewhere new, away from the world today?  Find your Narnia; it could even be simply at your backyard.

Red Scarlet

Turn Down For What?!

You there!  Yes, you!

Please excuse me…. Umm-YOLO!

This is how I express myself.  (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

Breaking free!  This is how I express myself. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

Okay, okay.  Really sorry for the abbreviation, because I rarely use them in my writing (it is just not my  etiquette), but guess what: You only live once.  Romance.  Risks.  Life and death situations.  Fight-or-flight.  Or the other way round.  Shame.  Attitude.  Opportunities.  Courage.  Determination.  It is worth the risk.  So take it, god damn it.

This is just a simple little life project of mine, some scheduled before I get married, some scheduled before I think I want to die. I am an expressionist when it comes to art and things like these; I believe in self-expression. I am always wanting to go beyond what I think I can do and do as much as I can, with the time I have in hand.  I am always on the lookout for opportunities, spreading out my dendrites bare naked to really savor the sweet fruits of work.

Life happens, of course, and there is going to be a teeny-weeny little switch in the way things are every now and then.  You just got to adapt.

Just like me and my best friend, partner in crime for life, and love.  He said time will tell, and as time ticked by the minutes, he awakened my soul.  His existence brought a whole new level of experience to me, incorporating more actions and deep thoughts about sharing beautiful times.  Making me think seriously, how do I want to do what I want to do tomorrow?  With whom?

Below is my list:

I want to express myself through music, writing, the eclectic arts, and the sciences.

I want to dance in the rain.

I want to fly with or without wings.

I want to bungee-jump off the mountains in New Zealand.

I want to travel around the world.

I want to explore the earth like a wanderlust.

I want to sky-dive.

I want to climb the highest mountain in the Himalayas.

I want to dive around beautiful Grecian islands in the Mediterranean.

If there is an expedition to Pluto, I want to go too.

What he calls the Rock-Star Personality, because I am always, always wanting to do anything and everything right away.  But he wants me to sit and wait for the moment to happen, because he really, really wants to come along with me.  And I want him to come along with me, too.  I feel kind of sad when we do not do something together.  It is just the way I feel.  Some parts of life can be so hard, but the thing is we will survive.  These are beautiful times.

The only drawback is the fact that right now I am kind of confined to my studies, but only for a little while.  I hope everyone will be a little patient and hold on, because my journey has not ended yet.  From a positive perspective, I sense a lot of excitement in the air.  The vibes are vibrating vigorously between the particles; a whole aura of happiness is beaming between the neutrons and protons, the charges canceling each other out because of the equilibrium, thus making the charge positive.  Sometimes it is too positive I cannot hide… but wait!  I got stuff to do which will be done soon enough, so please, please, please be patient with me, and be good.

At times when it rains so bad the roofs start shaking, I want to go out and dance in the rain.  I want to get wet, so wet that I am drained.  I want to jump off the cliff even, and fall so freely there is nothing to do except living in the moment.  I want to shake, and shake, and shake it all.  I want to break free, and experience life right now, right as it is.  The Blitzkreig, with its natural warring attitude-that I want to fight along also.  And I do not care,  because these make me feel so fulfilled.

You should join me too.  Come on.  Fasten your seat belts.  Ready.  Jump! Beeil Dich. Yallah.

Love,

Red Scarlet

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Turn Down For What?! by Alicia Ai Leng is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://theladyintheredscarfmindtalks.wordpress.com/.