Lola and Mr. Lucado

(Day 11 – A quote you love)

My grandmother asks me the same question whenever I go home to my province: May boyfriend ka na ba? Translation: Do you have a boyfriend yet?

Mari: "Oh no, not this question again..."

I know she means well. She keeps a tab on all her kids and all her grandkids. At 84, she still knows who goes to what school, who works at what company, who garnered which achievement, who got together with which person. It’s not an easy feat since there are so many of us. But she does it because she loves us so. She’s so proud of all her kids and grandkids that she can’t help it.

I wonder what goes through her mind when I tell her, “No, Lola, wala pa po.” (No Grandma, there’s none yet). I used to throw in an exasperated face with this reply, but lately, I just chuck in a good-natured laugh.

See? Good-natured laugh.

She’ll probably ask me again when I go home this year. I’m thinking of adding this quote to whatever my response would be: “Lola, according to Max Lucado – well, I think it’s Max Lucado – ‘A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.’”

But then I can imagine how the rest of the conversation will turn out.

if (responseWithQuote == “wala pa po”){

$Lola = “Baka namang sobrang tago na ang puso mo, di niya na nakita.”; //maybe your heart’s so hidden, that he wasn’t able to find it

$Mari = “Edi lumapit pa siya kay Lord. Hehe.”; //then let him get closer to God still

}

else {

$Lola = “Tama ka, anak. Ang galing naman. Ibig sabihin, malapit talaga siya sa Diyos.”; //You’re right, child. Amazing. It means he’s really close to God.

$Mari = “He is. And the whole hiding and seeking thing is worth it.”;

$Mari.smiles();

$Lola.ordersFireworks();

}

Yes, I just had to add in some geeky coding to this blog post.

Haha. Cheers to Lola and to Mr. Lucado!

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I Dare You to Move

i-dare-you-to-move

song's stuck in my head -- and playlist

Welcome to the planet, welcome to existence
Everyone’s here, everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?
What happens next?

–          I Dare You to Move (Switchfoot)

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One of the songs that used to kill my CD player way back in high school was Switchfoot’s I Dare You to Move from the A Walk to Remember OST. I remember playing the song (and the soundtrack) over and over until forever and ever. No wonder, years later, my karaoke picks would always include Mandy Moore’s Cry, It’s Gonna be Love, Only Hope and New Radical’s Someday We’ll Know. If a karaoke/videoke machine had Switchfoot’s I Dare You to Move and Learning to Breathe I’d have sung those songs too.

I have five of the American Rock Band’s albums stored inside good ol’ Acer here and two of those have I Dare You to Move in their track lists (it’s just Dare You to Move in The Beautiful Letdown).

Would it surprise you if I said that the song’s been murdering my playlist again lately?

Why? No particular reason. It just is.

Hmm. Or maybe it’s because it reminds me of that long-gone saccharine-filled A Walk to Remember OST.

I’m not going to write about sugar and all that jazz in this blogpost though. I’m dying to, but let’s just wait and see.

So instead of writing about all the mushiness that this world has to offer, I’m going to write about – wait for it – MY THESIS. Big surprise there. It’s like it’s the only thing that I ever talk/write about these days. And it’s so funny because I stumbled upon this post from phdcomics the other weekend:

status

BIG LAUGH!!!

Well, my thesis is almost over. I’m contemplating on asking God to add an additional three days to February this year and make it end on the 31st instead of the 28th. Really. How do I finish all that I’m supposed to finish in those mere twenty eight days???

I believe it’s possible though. With God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

I honestly believe that.

And so, as I finish this thesis off, I’ll just brace and prepare myself for all the new things (as if my January hasn’t been filled with new things already!) that are still to come.

I’m excited for all the doors opening up ahead.  : )

Cheers!

new things

Doors opening up ahead.

EPLT. Eating, Praying, Loving. And Thesis-ing.

I love my thesis. I do. Sure, it is often a source of headache. Sure, it is often a source of many tears. And sure, it constantly brings me to my knees. But though there are days that I have to pull myself out of bed so that I could work on it, it’s still one of the many things in life that I am enjoying right now. Enjoying a lot, I might add.

Okay. So sitting in front of a computer typing away about wood and service science and business-to-business processes doesn’t really sound that glamorous. It isn’t. But thank God that that isn’t the only thing this research requires me to do.

Because this research allows me to eat. To pray. And to love. Though it doesn’t take me to either Italy, India, or Indonesia, it does take me out of my UKM room into the colorful world of KL. And Kajang. And Rawang. And yeah, maybe in a way, it does take me to India (there are many Indian communities in Rawang).

 

EPLT

EPLT. Hope Elizabeth Gilbert does't mind me borrowing the title.

For my research I have to conduct case studies on several wood-based companies. Not having the luxury of owning a car (and not having the knowledge and license to allow me to drive one), I have to pick companies which are walking distances away from any of the known train, LRT, and Monorail stations.

Having only UKM, Serdang, Midvalley, KL Sentral, Pasar Seni, and KLCC as my usual stops, the whole thing spells out A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E.

To find one company I had to walk around the Petronas Twin Towers’ perimeter for around an hour or so. The walk allowed me to discover the whereabouts of the Masjid As-syakirin, to find people who were shooting some sort of documentary, and to realize that the company’s wisma was like, a mere 500 meter or so away from the KLCC Suria.

To find another company, I had to ride the KL monorail for the first time. It felt like riding a rollercoaster. And because I was standing up, I was just clinging on to the handlebars, holding onto dear life.

After riding the monorail, I unwittingly found myself in the middle of a Friday Bazaar at Jalan Tengah (and yes, tengah means “middle”). After escaping all the sights, sounds, and colors, I surprisingly landed in the middle of this highly cosmopolitan area. And then I found out that my company was actually in the complete opposite direction of the road I was walking on.

And that the menara in which it was located in had changed its name. (I had to come back for another visit because I didn’t find it the first time.)

To find yet another company, I had to ride the monorail all the way to the Titiwangsa station. And then I had to walk all the way to Jalan Ipoh. And then I was stuck wondering if I would reach the Petronas Twin Towers if I just kept on walking.

Somewhere in the middle of my walking, I had to stop in front of this building so that I could have a breather and so that I could check my map. Afterwards, I headed off again. But when I realized that I had gone way too far, I backtracked.

And wouldn’t you know it. The map told me that the building where I made my first stopover on was the building that I was looking for. Funny lah!

And to find my last company, I had to travel all the way to Rawang. Yes, Rawang. There I found myself in the midst of an Indian community. And there I found myself (again) walking, walking, walking… until I couldn’t walk anymore. I would have given up, but persistence and determination kept me going.

So guess what? I so wanted to give up and turn around — but just when I was about to head back – there it was! The block where all the industrial buildings were located! Yey! The site of my final breakthrough company! Woohoo!

All that adventure wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t step out to visit my first company. In Kajang. Just a T430 bus ride away. It was this “obscure” little company which didn’t even use e-mails to handle business transactions.

But from that humble first step, I got to go eat, pray, love, and thesis all over KL and all over that Indian community in Rawang.

Like I said. I love my thesis. I do.

Now, if you excuse me, I’ve got some write-ups to do.

 

Overheard

Eavesdropper, I am not.

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, often during the most surprising times of the day.

Today’s came from the office of the School of Linguistics. It crept up upon me while I was waiting to be entertained by the Puans , Ciks, and Enciks* behind the counter. What on earth was I doing at the School of Linguistics? Let me backtrack a bit.

I went to the School of Linguistics this afternoon to ask for my English Placement Test result. It was already one year delayed and I needed to submit it to my faculty ASAP if I wanted to write my thesis in English**.  When I got there, the Encik behind the counter told me to wait for a little while because the Puan in charge wasn’t feeling well and would be in after 10 minutes.

I, haggard from having to ride the bus across Za’ba to PPS, then from the PPS back to the School of Linguistics, asked if I could wait for her in one of those big comfy blue chairs at the corner of the room.

The Encik said that I could.

I felt like I hadn’t done anything but wait that whole afternoon. After class, I had spent a considerable amount of time waiting at the FTSM bus stop for the BUS U to arrive. After the bus took me to PPS, I had to wait again for the counters to open up. And when they told me that they couldn’t assist me, but that the School of Linguistics could, off I went to the PPS bus stop to wait for another bus to take me back to the other side of UKM.

Oh well. At least the Linguistics office was accommodating. I tried to pass time by reading some brochures I found in one of the nearby racks.

And then she came.

She was an Indian Malay. At first I didn’t realize that she was one of the lecturers there. She didn’t head off to the cubicles, so I assumed that she was a visitor like me.

I assumed wrong, because a few minutes later, two girls, an Indian and a Bumiputra, came and handed to the woman what I believe was their assignment.

Okay. Visitor she was not.

So lecturer and students got on to talking about marks and about the Hari Raya and a whole lot of other stuff. And then a few moments into the conversation, they started talking about some family problems that one of the girls was having.

The truth is that I didn’t really mean to eavesdrop. But then they were talking loudly enough for me to hear and understand. And they were speaking in English. If they were talking in Bahasa Melayu, I would have had no trouble tuning them out.

But in a way, I was glad to overhear what I happened to overhear.

The Indian woman had managed to draw out one of the toughest problems that that girl was facing in one sitting. And at the end of it all she said, “You know, if there’s anything else you need or if you just need someone to talk to, you can just come to me anytime. Sometimes, we just need a friend to understand us. Sometimes, we just need a friend to give help and comfort.”

That melted me right there.

I mean, if I could cry in those big blue linguistics chairs, I would have done so. I really would.

The whole thing just brought me back to my room at ICS C-117 and reminded me of my heart, of one of my greatest passions and desires – teaching.

What I would give to have been in that lady’s place, to have been the one receiving the assignments, to have been the person giving out those encouraging words.

But.

But like waiting for those buses to come, like waiting for the Puan to arrive, I’m still here, waiting for my turn, until I could finally teach, equip, and inspire once again.

Yet I’m grateful to have overheard that conversation. Because it showed me that even if you’d try to turn me inside out and upside down, you’d find that I’m still really that teacher at heart.

After the students left, the lecturer got up and smiled at me.

“Are you Malay? Indonesian?” she asked out of the blue.

“No, I’m Filipino.”

“Okay.”  And then she left and headed off to her cubicle.

I wanted to hug her and thank her for reviving my desire to teach. I wanted to thank her for inspiring me. But I couldn’t do that.

I left the Linguistics office soon after holding my EPT results and certification. Soon (Oh God, let it be soon), I’ll be leaving UKM holding my Masters diploma.

Watch out world. An inspired teacher is heading your way.

______________________________

*Puan is the Malay counterpart for the title Mrs., Cik is used for Miss and of course, as you would probably guess, Encik  is the counterpart of Mister or Sir.

**Uhh, saya boleh cakap bahasa melayu sikit dan saya juga boleh menulis sikit-sikit lah, tapi – comeon! Saya tak boleh menulis tesis saya dalam bahasa melayu!

Sem Ender. Life. Lessons. And Impact.

Yey. This is it. The official “fist day” of my vacation. I finished the last of my examinations yesterday and now it’s V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N – te-te-te-ten – in the summer time! (Sing with me now!)

More like partial vacation though. There isn’t any real break, cuti, or bakasyon for us postgraduate students. There’s still the research, the research, and – wait for it – the research to consider. Yep. Summer time is the perfect time to make sure this “thing” gets done. I had to laugh when I saw this strip from Piled Higher and Deeper the other day:

I’ve got to get moving and start finding those companies! I will not end up like mister-nameless-guy-in-the-glasses over there. I will have something to show my supervisor and something excellent at that as well.

Anyway. I’m supposed to be creating a sem ender, talking about the sem that was, like I usually do at the conclusion of every semester. You know. Just to wrap things up. So wrap it up I will.

The sem that was. In all honesty, I feel like everything went by in a blur. A blur of papers, examinations, and projects. A friend of mine commented last night, “Parang ang bilis.Ang bilis nga. Was it just a few months ago that I was agonizing over the fact that I’m doing classes by day, papers by night, living on coffee and simply getting a full dose of what I signed up for while everyone else is out there enjoying the sunlight? (Oh. Airconditioned rooms for my dear professional friends.) Yeah, that was just some one-hundred-twenty-something days ago. But cepat (fast) as those days were, I’m thankful I got some lessons to go with them as well.

Lessons, lessons, lessons. What lessons did I get from these four-something months? Well, I learned that coffee tastes good black. And that eating Malaysian food before studying knocks me out before I could even manage to open up a book. And that chocolate keeps me awake, but like I said before, sugar is disastrous to both my wallet and waistline. But kidding aside, I learned a couple of serious things as well.

I’ve learned that doing homework every week pays off during the final examinations. I’ve learned that Google Scholar is a friend and not a fiend.  I’ve learned how important it is to read and study the instructions and to never forget to give your paper a title before submitting it to your beloved professor. I’ve learned that there are some classmates who would try to take advantage of you but then again, there are still those who’d turn out to be real friends and comrades as well.

I’ve learned that it’s never too late to get that second wind (even when you sometimes get to thinking that the race is already as good as over) because hey – that’s where the second wind comes in – when the race is almost over.

Still the kid sitting prim and proper but sporting the nonconformist hairstyle, nonetheless.

And since my life isn’t really all about acads, I’ve learned a couple of non-acad related things as well. I’ve learned the importance of family, the sweetness of being able to discover and re-discover your roots, the awesomeness of being able to connect – kahit sa FB, chat, WordPress o Blogspot man yan – with those whose blood flows through your veins.  I’ve learned how funny it is that those whom you call family are still the first to post birthday greetings in your FB wall (even though you’ve already changed the birthday settings in your FB profile to perhaps fool people into thinking that your birthday is still a couple of months away).

I’ve learned (and still am learning) to just keep on giving love even though at times you don’t seem to get back any love in return. I’ve learned that love comes in many forms and knocks through many doors, but yeah, the coloured pieces of paper still put the biggest smile on my face.

I’ve learned to step out, to keep on stepping out, and to be consistent in being consistent. To simply refuse to be bogged down by anything threatening to keep you down. (I’m still learning this now.)

I’ve learned to live an unoffended life, to smile, to laugh, to love no matter what the situation or circumstance may dictate. Because the situation should never dictate how you live. It is you who dictates and determines the situation.

And I’ve learned that when it feels as if I haven’t learned anything at all – I’ll just go back to the presence of the best Teacher and simply ask to be taught once again, over and over again.

Impact, impact, impact. I’ve learned so many lessons but now the question is, was I able to make a difference? Now that I’ve stepped out of the doorways of my classrooms, did I even leave a mark? Was I able to show forth the excellencies of my God and King?

I remember how Nichole Nordeman sang it out in Legacy – “Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering, a child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically… and leave that kind of legacy.”

I would like to believe that I did, but I can’t really gauge it at this point.

Of course it’s still April (hey, on Saturday it will be May!). And I’ll have plenty of time to leave that sort of impact. But it would bring me such great joy to know that the first four months did not just pass without me leaving some sort of legacy.

So now with the month of May opening up, and with summer “vacation” underway – well, I’m believing for greater lessons and for a greater impact. More treasures to learn, to live out and to share. More lives to know and to touch. More opportunities to love and to give. More. Just more.

Yey.

I’m excited find out what the next months have in store. And like India Arie sings out – “I wonder how life will surprise me today?”

I wonder how life will surprise me today.

Cheers. Here’s to the months that were and the months that are still to come!

Just Got to Laugh out Loud

I go for the "or code to compile" clause. "Or installation to finish." :D

Hahahaha! I just got to laugh out really loud. Last night, I was looking for images to use for some promotional materials and I stumbled upon a couple of images from Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I’ve already seen some of the strips scattered all around the web (I think I first saw them somewhere in Ate Mian’s blog) and around the FTSM hallways, but — intrigued and in need of some de-stressing — I took a peek at the PhD website. I got a total kick going through the crazy stuff posted there.

I’ve got to say that laughter is the best medicine. I’m so thankful though that nobody can see me laughing way over here —! (Yeah, I’m laughing alone but I am not unwell)!

At least I’m laughing, right? At least I’m not crying all over my lappy’s keyboard. And at least I’m not banging my head on my desk, because for some crazy reason, the Python code won’t compile.

Speaking of compiling…

I can so identify! See why I’m loving this strip? Though the creators of the website so warns the readers — “WARNING! Reading the entire archive can be hazardous to your research. Proceed with caution and use only in moderation.”

I know, I know. The whole thing is dangerous if you get too caught up with it and get too overwhelmed by the “power of procrastination”. In addition to that, going through Piled Higher and Deeper is also fatal if you’re not set on finishing your post-grad studies with all excellence. Be warned. http://www.phdcomics.com is not for the faint-hearted.

Hahahaha! That’s me just a couple of minutes ago! But now I’ve found another bug that I have yet to crush and squish with another ten-ton hammer. Hopefully it won’t take me till twilight to get those bugs out of the system because…

I do not want to end up that way! After I squish this bug (and eventually all the other bugs that I have a feeling are following close behind it), I’ve got to work out on the written report. Strength, courage, and wisdom — come to me right now!

I can’t wait till I do that victory dance, though. True, after this project is done, I’ve still got those final examinations to face. And after the final exams — The Thesis. But hey. I’m taking it one step at a time. Enjoying the process. Stopping to smell the roses every now and again. Enjoying life. Enjoying grad school life for that matter.

I chose this path because this is one mountain that I’d like to conquer. I’m laughing, but at the same time, my heart is releasing that battlecry once again.

So who’s with me?

Think: The Matrix. :D

Let's just edit out the final scene, shall we? :D And make that two years. :D

P.S. Just a post-birthday wishlist — a Piled Higher and Deeper book would probably make some good summer reading, eh?

Second Wind

Muddy shoes. (Image taken from http://www.corbisimages.com)

I used to play soccer for my school way back in high school. During the peak months of the season, we would do our weekly trainings at the often muddy BSU Oval (“soccer season” was synonymous to “rainy season”). We’d end up with abused hamstrings, soaked jerseys, browned socks, and caked cleats.

If the team captain was lax during our practice hour, we’d dive straight into doing drills and scrimmages. If she felt that it was time to give us a real workout, or if Sir Frael was there to see if she was keeping our team in shape, she’d make us run a couple of laps around the oval first.

I remember those laps well. We’d form two lines and start jogging off with energetic zeal. We’d do well through the quarter mark, the halfway point, and until we’d cover three quarters of the 400-something-meter oval. However, by the time we’d start the second lap, some would already relax into a walk but would hurriedly break off into doing a semi-slow-mo version of a jog once the captain would start barking and throwing commands again.

We’d usually do just two laps but if enthusiasm would overtake the captain, she’d add to that, making us do three, and sometimes four. Note that we had a pretty big oval. How my lungs and my legs held up during those warm-up sessions is beyond me. (Yes, those laps were just warm-up sessions.)

The breath-robbing laps would explain my familiarity with the term “second wind”. Good-ol-wikipedia defines it as “a phenomenon … whereby an athlete who is too out of breath and tired to continue [running] suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion.” Yeah, I experienced a lot of second winds during those days, alright. Just when I thought my legs were going to give way, the sight of the finish line would always send me running at top speed again.

I’ll be needing a big barrel of that second wind this week. Make that this month. UPeans and other holiday goers probably won’t be able to identify with me anymore at this point (yey for summer holidays!). But UKM studes would understand.

I started this semester off with a passionate note. But now, with deadlines and examinations lined up, with papers publically criticised (with the best of intentions of course) by well meaning professors, and with other equally important stuff in life to deal with – ayyy, my mind, my strength, and my heart feel like they’re already about to give way. And so I need a second wind.

I can feel it already rushing in though. The sight of the Finish line is giving me strength. It is renewing my almost drained passion, making me go, go, go – push a little bit harder, run a little bit faster.

To the rest of the drained and the weary – I’m with you. But now let’s all take that second wind and push through.

Go, go, go!

A Hand at Matchmaking?

Okay. I’m taking a break from writing technical papers. Exposing the right side of my brain to some sunshine (it’s still bright here in Malaysia!) and giving the left side time to take a breather. I’ll probably move on to doing more left brain exercises tonight, but for now, let me just give good-ol’-right-hemisphere a much deserved workout.

I want to write this story about a feisty-yet-fragile woman working overtime inside her office (Jaizel – teaser! ; D ) but that story would have to wait till April. April. Did you hear that, Jaizel? April.

Honestly, I am so itching to write that story, but of course – priorities, priorities. Last Saturday, I spent an entire afternoon on just two pages of my lit review (just two pages! Ugh) – can you believe that? I think I must have spent the first two hours typing a bunch of words – only to find myself hitting the delete button repeatedly and re-typing everything over and over again.

But yey, I am now sudah (finished) with the updated version of my lit review. And guess what? That little piece of writing is now shedding some much needed light into the “stuff” that I have to do for the next year-and-a-half. “Stuff” meaning “matchmaking”.

Say what? Matchmaking?

Yes. Matchmaking. Come May (if I understand the goals of the research correctly), I have to find two companies to “marry together”, engaging them into a partnership type of relationship. They have to belong to the same vertical industry and they have to, at first, seem somewhat uninterested with one another. But a closer look reveals that “I-need-you-you-need-me-maybe-we-can-have-a-relationship” thing between them. I have to find their point of interdependence and create an e-marketplace model and application that would take advantage of that, creating other interdependencies, bringing their relationship to the next level.

Crazy, I know.

Well, that’s just the technical stuff that I typed out last Saturday brought down to layman’s terms.

I’m planning on doing the industry survey by May (if my adviser agrees) but right now, I at least need to have my list of matchmaking candidates – searchee numbers one, two, three, four, five… plus searcher numbers one, two, three, four, five as well.

Ideas anyone? I’m drawing a blank at this point. It’s like looking into the lives of my friends, thinking, “uhh… pwede ba sila?” Sigh. All I know at this point is that my candidates should come from the list of Malaysian car companies, technical support agencies, service whatevers – or anything along those lines. The key phrase is “vertical industry”.

Ay. Blank, blank, blank.

This little matchmaker needs help. Comments are highly appreciated.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Will get back to my left-brain exercise in a few. : )

P.S. If you can’t see any comments here, I think there may still be that glitch in the FS system. Feel free to give your feedback in the FB link if the bug hasn’t been fixed yet. Otherwise, if the stream of comments starts appearing here — well, go comment! : D