Saturday, January 28, 2012

"I knew your father"


"Ok done!!"

We looked at the time in indifference. It was already 9pm, and the eggs were getting cold. That's possibly the seventh pot we cooked that night. Sister was really hungry, my brother and I looked at each other, trying to telepathically send a message that chances are for the rice to get burned this time again, is equally the same with the previous six times. 

His head popped up from the door with the pot this time, and a huge grin. "Ok we can eat now!" He planted the pot down on the table, and we stood up, looked in and to our shock it really didn't get burned another time. It became porridge instead. 

I looked at him. And he looked at us, trying not to look sorry, trying not to make it any more sombre. When he's in charged, we eat the strangest of things. Durian with rice. Dried pork with rice. Dried pork with Sprite.  Coffee with rice. Strangest of things. And each and everytime we had to try out these "old school unusual dinners", he would give us a long history about the food. He has always been amazing with story telling, we're always fascinated with his stories, real or not he was like a walking storybook. I'm beginning to think that that could particularly instill some sort of adventurous trait in us. And that things were never dull when he's around.  That said, he was always trying. And most importantly, he told us not to complain. 

I've been thinking a lot about him lately. Partially because whenever I introduce myself to almost all the local media big guns here in KK, they would look at my name card, analyze my face, put my business card down, relieve a sigh, and finally let out a smile and said, "I knew your father". 

He was a salesman, an economist, a public figure, a good friend, a trustworthy partner, a good brother, an exceptional leader and the list is infinite. Every single veteran in the industry that I met, have different words and different stories to describe him and their previous endeavors together. Funny, intelligent, kind. This list too, is endless. And everytime they look at me with recognition that I'm a product of him, I could almost feel their emotions when they're around my dad being transferred to me. It was almost they too developed a sense of pride for me. The good, the bad, the trying, the challenges. Some even had sparkle in their eyes, giving only a second to tears. That's what he could do. He had the ability to get people talking about him. And most importantly remember him. 

"Your dad used to be a sales manager here. That was at least 30 - 35 years ago. He was intelligent, charismatic, hardworking. Everyone loved him."

I used to wonder what it would feel like to be inspired by him even when he's gone. And now I do. In the strangest of ways, I am inspired so much of the stories that people have shared to me about him. I chuckle everytime I think about him. I couldn't see him as how they see him.

He was always the funny man. 

"I will buy one of this watch from you, if you walk a whole round of the food court and manage to sell it to at least one person, then and only then I will buy one from you. No you know what, make that two" He would make the 'watches sellers' do exactly that. And though most of the time, he ended up leaving the place before actually knowing whether the sellers sold any, sometimes, he would wait and keep his promises. The sellers would come back to him, show the fresh money and said "I sold two, so you buy four". He grinned, and took his wallet out in acknowledgement. Pat the sellers' shoulder and said, good for you. 

Dad had a hard life as a kid. He walked for hours just to go to school, and walked a couple more hours to get back.  If he's lucky, he get to bike. He would finish his homework with just candlelight to help him, and stack with his siblings on the floor to sleep. He worked as rubber tapper to help his family. But year in, and year out he would excel in his studies with flying colours. Studies and books were his thing. He continued his studies to high school, with best of grades, and was fully sponsored by the Government to Australia. While life was the hardest in Australia, racism, financial issues - all stories that shared to us were altered and explained carefully what all of that meant to him. And how it should mean to us. 

He never had it easy. 

I've always wondered why God wanted to take his life, on that same year he was appointed to be the country's Senator. After all that years of struggle. He was finally getting recognised for all the things he fought for. And God, with the strangest of idea, took his life that very year leaving him almost no room to enjoy what he had been fighting for. 

It's amazing how inspired people are by him. Thank you for the remarkable stories. 
I will make him proud :) 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The most romantic song

I was doing my copywriting for Valentine's, and was cracking my head on what to illustrate to the lovebirds and people who pay tribute to love and togetherness out there, to kinda assist me with the copy. I browsed through countless of love songs, unfortunately, to me, most love songs are vague, yet exaggerated at the same time. Most do not have any human element in it, unrealistic another. Which is unfortunate because eventhough love makes you feel extraordinary, most of the time, the simplest of moments are the ones that makes you realise you are indeed in love. The little little things.

So as I was listening to all kinds of lovey dovey songs, a few got me. And to be frank, these are the songs that are very simple in descriptive nature but amazingly romantic. Like,

1. Eric Clapton's You Look Wonderful Tonight 
2. The Beatles Something 
3. Whitney Houston I Will always Love You 

But to me, whenever I hear this one particular song - I am reminded of occasions where I feel, there's a need to stop everything. And to just remember to be in love. That there are far greater things for the soul, and love is one. I visualize laying on the grass old brown and dry holding hands, blown bubbles bounced while we name each a world's continent, drawing shapes of animals out of the blue outline, hisses from the wind tangled with the slow crackin' music from a mobile speakerphone, and birds, fly, high passing by.

Thank you Snow Patrol for Chasing Cars. Simply written, but close to heart, and heartwarmingly relatable.

"If I lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world, forget what we're told, before we're too old". 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Posting up stuff at 1.50pm on a Tuesday noon, because I can :)

Here are some pictures I finally get to dig out from Facebook, and share with you.

After 6 years of celebrating Christmas and immediately packing over, last year, I finally get to stretch my legs on the sofa, devour some Christmas cookies and listen to old school Christmas songs till its' 12th day, and just take my time to soak up the Christmasness around me.

This is a humble creation of me and my mum.

We came up with a lovely theme, hence the softer colours, and the unconventional green and red setup. Told mum, that we'll be doing something different, and we did :) She also went a little crazy with the Christmas trees, ended up buying two more sets, though smaller.

Other than that,

A couple of weeks back, we also visited my brother in Kampung Marudu, 2 hours drive from my house. Pesta jagung is ALL about the jagung = corn. The contestants literally dressed up in corn.


I dyed my hair brown. I don't know why I did it, all I remembered was seeing the box I bought from Korea, feeling oh well at that moment, next thing I know, I was already washing it up. Check out the colour difference between my hair and my virgin, undyed sister's hair.

That is brown alright.

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beach. Books. Networking. Nap.

This new life, however I felt and embrace is evidently different from the previous. I've met a couple of people that have taken the words right out of my mouth; that change is good. And it has. Change has been really good to me so far. So good, that I quite like this solo life of mine because I have some sort of control over it while still making the most out of things.

Will update you on the changes of my life;

I'm no longer in Media and I'm in now in the Hotel Industry. Not quite the exact 180 Degree change as I am still in the Communications Department, but frankly, there are far more things required to learn when you're a baby in any industry. The basic hotel lingo, acronyms and structure. And in any new organizations, getting used to the organizational structure is by far the most important, and blending, humbling in is key. Expertise alone will eat you alive, as people don't like to work with people who are not willing enough.

So a lot of the things in my life revolve around my work now.

I love this place. I really do. They take good care of all the colleagues here really well. But the most important reason why I love this place so much, is because of the people. Maybe it's Sabahans, or maybe it's the hospitable industry in general, a simple encouraging gesture goes a really long way and in this place, they flash smiles and greetings every minute. Aside from all their personalities combined, it's the idea that I get to get to know almost all of the employees from different strata in life is such a humbling feeling. Especially when it boils down to personally chatting up with everyone, all these people work really hard for an honest day's pay. How littlest of things can make them really happy, and how hard they try in their work performance is the kind of affirmation and the kind of world I want to choose to live in. That there are far more valuable things in life in all these gold chasing.

Everyone here is friendly, welcoming and if you're one bit of a grinch, they are hospitable enough to fit your unique character into the whole picture. It's quite heartwarming actually. Everyone here seems to collectively care about each other.

Being in the hotel industry means you have to suit up literally everyday. You have to make sure you look good enough, you don't look thrashed. And it is the total opposite of how I was from my previous creative industry, I could parade jeans, slide onto my colourful jacket and let loose of my messy hair, just because I can. Eventhough, casually of course the latter would be fun, but it really is harmless to dress up :)

While I was in the city, a lot have argued that working or being outside of the city equals to slow. Now that I've experienced what everyone's been assuming about (for 3 months now), I would say it is neither slow nor metro-city-like. Just like a certain tradition or culture, say not to use your phone when you're having dinner with your family, or boxing your presents only after Christmas, or maybe even having family dinner the night before the festive celebration, all these are culture that we keep for traditions sake and working outside the city means having preserving the balance between work and personal life that we've come to consensus in keeping and loving so much.

Slow is a description that is so off in describing working and living outside the city. I came to duty over the Christmas Weekend, and over the New Year's, where I celebrated with strangers, while other days I enjoy less hectic and proper strike out of things to do, but when other days when I'm required to be there and push the boundaries, I really do. So it's not slow, it's just that everyone else is helping each other out to preserve the balanced work and personal life, or in other words the working hours e.g say I sent out something at 8.00pm, and another agency receives it at 8pm they would usually stop the cycle by telling us, that if things can wait, we can send it to the next in line the first thing in the morning :)

New friends! When I came down from KL, I left almost all of my closest friends and people I generally hang out with, back in KL. Most of my high-school friends, are either working at KL, married or hanging out with their other friends. Now that I'm in a new environment, I glove myself in to the culture and surrounding that I have left 6 years ago e.g speaking in Sabahan slang. I know it sounds like I'm some sort of foreigner for saying this, but I realised that blending in naturally in a work environment requires well, conditioning. New friends come in all forms of shape and sizes. They may be my new pets :P, my new friends from the places that I've visited at some parts of the world, my new colleagues, and other friends from networking for work. I am blessed with a kind and sincere approach towards friendship, that so far I have attracted those who have the same intention.

Am I gravitating towards steadiness? Hmm. Will I never? Of course not. I have always told my self, never say never on all things. I am still in love with seeing so many places, that quite frankly, comparatively like how you work hard for an iPhone 4S, or a pair of new Levi's jeans, and save some for savings. I work for return tickets to exciting findings and stack some savings somewhere. It's the kind of adrenaline I love, and the kind of rush, momentum that nothing can replace.

So what do I do now for fun?

Beach. Books. Networking. Nap.  

I've been catching up on books and Newsweek. Newsweek, was a newfound love. I read some articles a couple of weeks back and am hooked. Plus, now that I do a lot of copywriting I need to furnish myself with new words, new strategies and new angles on describing something every day, better every second. I've been blessed with good hours and better time management, that I get to meet friends after work and still don't feel so lethargic, hence the networking. Always keeping in touch with new people as much as I can.

I've heard so many that, sleep is a privilege we always take for granted. True enough, now that I get to nap during the weekends, I feel super, whenever I'm awake from one and forgot how good it is, to have time for yourself with no cloud of thoughts hanging by.

So that's it. I just came back from my best friend's birthday, and I must say, I'm really REALLY EXCITED for her wedding, because she only deserves the best.

Till then.

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Tequila will be served at the wedding"

Moving around, experiencing things, watching and learning gives me a sense of freedom and peace that I will never be able to pen down. But, this article is beautifully well written, it almost felt like it copied my thoughts, my sentiments and most importantly my fears. So here I am sharing you, what most travellers or travelling lovers think about the most. 

A Place to Lay my Heart - Elisabeth Eaves :

WHEN I met Joe, he told me he was trying to decide where to live. At the time, he lived in — well, that was hard to say.
He was from New Hampshire, but after stints in various United States cities, he had moved to Paris, where he had been based for 10 years.
But “based” was a loose term. There had been six months in South America and a lot of time in Sicily. Once he’d moved to Barcelona on a whim. The last couple of months he had been in Seattle.
And here we were, meeting on a bus in Guadalajara, Mexico. We had come as journalists to write about tequila and were on our way to a distillery. In terms of expertise, I had no business being here, but he wrote often about food and drink. A photographer, too, he flipped open his computer to show me close-ups of Sicilian grapes. Later, as we whiled away the ride, he spoke enthusiastically of a Catalan tradition in which he and teammates built castles by standing on one another’s shoulders.
I was immediately attracted to his dark eyes, lean 6-foot-1 frame and sunny demeanor, and to a chivalrous streak that had him helping an older woman off the bus.
But his geographic dilemma and its lack of resolution discouraged me from considering romance. I was settled in New York and had just accepted the kind of job where they expect you to show up every day. He was a freelance writer, flitting around the world. I reminded myself that wanderers were bad bets. I had reason to know: I had been one myself.
Traveling was my first love, and plunging into a foreign culture (the more different from my own drab Northwestern existence, the better) had been my greatest thrill.
And so my university years took me to study in Egypt, backpack around the Middle East and work as a State Department intern in Pakistan. After college I settled in Seattle and tried to see my ensuing engagement, mortgage and office job as their own sort of adventure.
But I felt stifled by the weight of expectation I’d brought on myself: by the trips to Home Depot and earnest requests from family and friends to know when the wedding would be. Running from what I had just embraced, I broke off the engagement, with guilt but also with excitement. It was as if my horizon had narrowed to a tunnel and then suddenly expanded, giving me back the whole world. I traveled around the South Pacific for a year. I moved to New York for graduate school.
As Joe and I sat together on the bus that day, I told him a little about my trajectory, and for the first time in years I didn’t find it difficult to explain. To him, it all made sense.
During my traveling years I wasn’t exactly running from relationships, but the pleasure I took in moving dovetailed neatly with my fear of them. My unhappy years of domesticity in Seattle had left a scar. I was suspicious of myself, never quite sure that I could stay committed.
The years during and after graduate school had taken me to Jerusalem, Peru, London, Mexico, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Paris, Syria, Poland and New Zealand, a nearly complete list in more or less chronological order. I became a travel writer, which gave all the peregrinations more of the appearance of a purpose. Every romantic entanglement was a long-distance one. 
But a few years into my 30s, ambivalence began to creep up every time I bought another plane ticket. Traveling for the fun of it was morphing into traveling out of sheer momentum. I felt the first tickles of envy for friends who were rooted. They had a gravitational pull that I lacked, drawing people to them, to their homes and dining room tables.
I wanted a dining room table, I realized. I wanted a dining room. Living in Paris at 34, I had awakened and realized that I wanted to go home, only to discover that I had no home to go to.
I began to fix that, first with trepidation (was I cut out for a stationary life?) then with zeal. It was a slog, though, because while you can take off in an instant, going back takes a long time. I saw that my faraway friends had made daily lives that didn’t include me. And I learned that a rooted life means making the kind of choices that I had avoided for the last decade.
Part of my impulse to travel came from never wanting to commit to just one thing; I had created a life that afforded me the illusion of endless choice. I could work for this freelance employer or that one; choose spontaneously to live in Hong Kong or the Outback. The “or” was what mattered. The “or” is what I was giving up by settling down.
I chose New York City, where I had friends and potential employers, and which contained worlds upon worlds of its own. I got a staff job and tried to become a center of gravity in my own right.
When I signed a lease, I felt a shiver of worry, but it passed. I bought not only a dining room table but also a sofa that visiting friends could sleep on, karmic repayment for all the times I had been the nomadic guest. I confined my traveling to vacations and occasional assignments.
When I met Joe I felt as if I was hearing my own story told back to me. I had to learn, late, to make certain big life decisions, and now he did, too. He had narrowed his options to three cities: Paris (which was familiar), Seattle (where he had family) and Barcelona — there had been a girlfriend there; that was over, but he loved the food and his Catalan friends.
Love can be narcissistic in that we often fall for a person in whom we see ourselves. Still, even though Joe captivated me, I was wary. New York was notably absent from his list. And when I chose to settle down, I resolved to avoid long-distance relationships, with their soaring highs and dismal lows.
In Mexico, we talked about his decision over steak and tequila. We talked about writing, photography and the mysteries of the blue agave plant, of which I was becoming increasingly fond.
Later we mapped out a year-by-year geographical overlay of our lives and learned that we had unknowingly crossed paths in Seattle and Paris, and I enjoyed imagining that I had passed him in the Metro.
We played the name game and came up with an acquaintance in common; again I envisioned the what-if. Might we have passed at the door to the same party? I was knitting a shared past where there wasn’t one. Although, in a way, there was.
We kissed goodbye in the airport in Houston, with no promises or plans. A week later I asked him to come see me in New York (I was grounded by my new job, so I couldn’t go to him). Extending that invitation gave me a strange new feeling. In relationships of all kinds, the wanderers are always assumed to be the flexible ones, the ones who will go wherever you tell them to for Thanksgiving.
Now I had become the center of gravity, with an irrefutably fixed address and a permanent job. The downside was that my new wandering star could just say no and be pulled in some other direction.
BUT a week later he walked into my apartment with a suitcase and a bouquet. I was heading into long-distance love, I could see. But being rooted firmly in place, I was able to take the leap of faith. At the end of his five-day visit, he invited me to the sofa and said, “We need to have a talk.” I knew he meant, “We need to find a way to make this work.” We plotted who would visit whom when, and talked about trips we could take together.
“How about driving from Alaska to Baja?” I proposed.
“Sure,” he said, just like that, as if I’d said why don’t we order sushi? He took these kinds of suggestions not as fantasies but as first steps.
That was 13 months ago. In April he moved in, bringing with him a beloved Peugeot bicycle, a collection of top-notch kitchen knives and not much else.
When I realized he was going to ask me to marry him, I wondered again if some part of me would seize up, if I would fall back into my old patterns. But since my decision to move to New York, through the four years during which I bought an apartment, was promoted at work and settled into routines, I had slowly become ready. And with this man, I saw, I wouldn’t be tied down so much as tied together.
When he asked, the choice was easy.
Tequila will be served at the wedding. 

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.