Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Heartfelt, Post Traumatic Thank You

About five months ago, this album called Post Traumatic was released. Three months ago, I went to Bangkok to watch Mike Shinoda perform. And I have some things to say about it.

Mike Shinoda. You beautiful, talented human being. 

Thank you.

Thank you for this album. You are so brave, putting your grief and your healing into song for all of us to hear. It has helped me so much; more than you can imagine. It helped so much with the loss of Chester, but also with other loss. Like the loss of people who one day just choose to walk out of our lives. The beauty of this album, its acceptance of mourning, its celebration of having had these people in our lives before we lost them, and its hope for the future, has just made something click into place inside me. 

And thank you for the Post Traumatic tour! I sadly didn't get into the meet and greet, which I confess I was really sad about. It's probably for the best though; I told my friends for weeks that if I got into the meet and greet I might have burst into tears at the sight of you LOL. 

I was a little thrown off at first that you weren't stopping in Malaysia. See, I've never actually left my home country before. Not for lack of trying of course, but numerous trips got postponed and cancelled and somehow, I reached the age of 28 never having seen a foreign country. But you know what? I saw the Bangkok dates and this girl right here decided to make her first international trip, which somehow became her first solo trip too. Yeah, that was definitely enough to terrify the crap out of me and excite me in equal measure (I'm sure my mom was hyperventilating til I got back. Sorry, ma!). 

But that concert? Man, was it worth it. 
The beautiful things you said about Chester almost made me cry. I didn't, because I felt super self conscious. But surrounded by strangers who love you like I do (every time someone in the crowd screamed that they loved you, I internally yelled "Me too!"), it felt like a wonderful, safe space. And I gotta say, I really love that about Linkin Park fans. I love that the music brings us together in a way that makes us part of the Linkin Park family.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Mike. We've all looked to you to lead the way, and you have been so courageous, so kind, and so wonderful to not only share your journey with us, but to give us hope. 
And thank you for the push I needed to gather myself by the bootstraps and make this trip by and for myself. Thank you, for the courage I found in wanting to see you perform, and send you my love and support from the crowd.

Also, if anyone ever asks (AGAIN) why I love Linkin Park (I mean, they're just a band, Ellana) so much, now all I'll have to do is tell them this story. 

Much love and gratitude always,
(Now an international traveler and no longer Linkin Park/Mike Shinoda concert virgin) 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Saturday Morning's Game

Hello, lovely people.

I come to you from my home, listening to Honne on my Good Vibes Prepared-ness playlist on Spotify (yes, that's actually what the playlist is called) after a nice round of musical chairs with my parents and our cleaner who came in this morning (AT 7AM ON A SATURDAY 😩), where we were chased from the dining room to the kitchen and finally to the living room with all our feet up as the cleaner mopped the floor.

A great way to start off the weekend, really. Musical chairs with the visiting parents and a clean apartment. Who knew, right?

So I'll start off by saying that I GOT MIKE SHINODA TICKETS. He's coming to Bangkok in August and I decided that you know what? It's about time, at twenty seven, that I left the country for the first time. Yes, I have, for real, never left Malaysia's shores. Not even to Singapore, which isn't even that far away and can be reached by bus.

The only downer is that there's a very real chance that I might have to head out there alone. I mean, my first trip overseas. I'm not going to have a clue what I'm doing. But I shall persevere. And possibly ask my mother to come with me. Because I'm twenty seven and I still need my mother, thank you very much. Stop laughing at me.

There's also going to be an album listening party for Mike Shinoda's new album on the same day as my favourite colleague's farewell dinner. Great. Now I don't know if I want to win this listening party contest or just go for a nice farewell dinner where I mentally list out all the things I won't be doing once fav colleague is gone. Like stopping by his desk whenever he decides we need to talk or whenever the presence of free food at the pantry needs to be announced. Like laughing at his excel sheet to calculate how much we owe each other for lunches and/or Grab rides. Like discussing men and women and gender stereotypes that annoy me. Like walking at half speed while our other colleagues all race ahead because of his bad knee. Oh god, I'm not ready for this.

But as I mentioned to another colleague who was being even more dramatic than me about it, he's leaving the company, not dying. So I'll be fine. Mostly. Even if I don't get to see him every day and I won't have a work husband any more.

Fine, I admit it. I'm sobbing on the inside.

Tragic pretend divorce from my work husband aside, here's a little mini update from my Good Vibes preparation. Yes, that's right. There are preparations happening. Important preparations. Like listening to Lorde for the first time. And Honne. And basically all the acts besides The Neighbourhood.

But there are also serious preparations going on in the wardrobe slash makeup department. I've never paid so much attention to primers and beauty blenders and setting spray in my life. This thing is turning out to be a serious investment. Digression aside, my point was that all my orders from the various online shopping apps should start coming in soon. And my first order came in this week.


Obviously that's not my leg, I'm still Indian and I still look it. Just saying, this is the picture displayed on the site right? You know what arrived?

ONE leg chain instead of two, to begin with. Which promptly broke when I was trying it on, just because I was trying to take it off. It might have just broken on an exhale. It took almost a month to get here. FML. Order Dispute option, here I come.

Them other orders better arrive in pristine condition and not fall to pieces when I stand still and breathe. Seriously, it's in three.



I wish I was kidding.

But you know what? It's hard to stay annoyed when I'm genuinely excited about watching Mike Shinoda live, even if I do have to go alone. I'm genuinely excited about Good Vibes, which I don't have to go to alone! Yes, even if I'm going to be wearing a broken leg chain while I'm there. Complaints for comedy aside, life is good people.

Have a very happy weekend y'all.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Good Vibe

I was at the gym the other day, taking a shower after my workout. Okay, first sentence and already I feel the need to digress. But this is a totally unimportant digression and therefore, needs to be made. And yes, that sentence makes perfect logical sense. 

So on Monday when I was at the gym, Bryan asks me if we can go to KFC for dinner. Keep in mind that I have only recently started going to the gym again, and I still feel all the calories from all my meals in the past month weighing down on my soul. So I scream no to KFC obviously, and since I only ever make it to the gym about three times a week when I'm good, I confidently promised that we could go to KFC if I made it to the gym not three, not four, but five times this week. 

Needless to say, in the face of unnecessary additional calories, I legitimately made it to the gym Monday through to Friday. Even work somehow slowed down enough that I could leave the office before 6.30 every single day, which almost never happens. And I come up with loads of excuses not to go to the gym too! All the time! There are days when I'm just too tired and too hungry and feeling too bleh and somehow even though all those things were true this week too, it just kind of...happened. I feel like I should feel like a beast, but mostly I'm still in shock that it even happened. 

On Friday I had all my fingers crossed that Bryan would forget, or lose track of how many times I had been to the gym. Yeah nope, he remembered. The things he'll remember for KFC. So that's what I did with my Friday night, guys. I celebrated losing all those calories after all those planks and hip abductions and push ups....

By adding KFC calories to my already (let's call it) sufficiently sturdy body. Oh well, it was delicious. And the point really should be that I made it to the gym five times this week. Patting myself on the back.

Okay digression over! Getting back to the point of this post now.

So I was at the gym, taking a shower, which is of course where I do some of my best thinking. And it occurred to me that it's been almost a year since Chester Bennington passed away. It made me sad, of course. The way listening to Linkin Park and Mike Shinoda still makes me feel a little sad and a lot happy at the same time. So I thought about the 20th of July, the anniversary of his death, and wondered how I'd feel on that day. And you know what I realised?

On the 20th of July, I'd be packing to head to the Good Vibes Music Festival in Genting. And you know what? As much as my friends and my brother and I are headed there to have a good time, I'll be celebrating music in Chester's memory on the anniversary of his death. In my opinion, that's a pretty great way to celebrate his life and his amazing talent. 

Good Vibes, here we come.

(After all my stress with early bird tickets only being for u-mobile subscribers and finding out I had a friend who was a u-mobile subscriber but who could only get two tickets then finding out regular people could get early bird tickets too, but they were limited and then half an hour before those tickets went on sale found out that another friend wanted to go to then trying to find out her details when she stopped replying at the crucial moment.......

I'm glad we all got our tickets and got out of that experience unscathed. Phew. Now for the stress of planning our alcohol intake. And the number of mattresses we'll be bringing to our Airbnb, meant for 6 people but will of course be holding twice that number of stingy Indians who happily decided to squeeze rather than pay more for hotel rooms.

Just kidding. We're not all Indians.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

An Excitement

Happy Easter, everyone!

It's a fantastic day. I'm off til Tuesday so I'm spending time at Melaka with my parents and my siblings. My sister has just given me yet another nephew, by the way, and he's just the cutest thing. 

Look how precious!!

My first ever photo with the newest nephew. The first of many, of course.
So anyway my sister and her family are here too, so we're all having a nice time together. Right now everyone's watching Gods of Egypt, so I'm taking the chance to quickly write this. 

I've been watching lots of new and not so new shows. Netflix has changed my life, as I knew it would. It's almost like a project, one show after another. So I've just finished the first seasons of Queer Eye and The Punisher. I'd recommend both. 

Queer Eye really is entertaining. Also, Antoni is so pretty I want to cry a little bit whenever I see him. 

Okay this isn't a great picture to show off how pretty he is (the one in the middle), but he's incredibly cute, I promise. Also, I just assumed the show had half hour episodes because they seemed to just zip past. But I played one of the episodes and realised that (holy shit) they were about 45 minutes long each. Believe me, if makeover shows and entertaining people are your thing, you need to watch this show. Jonathan especially, is just the most entertaining queen ever. 

The Punisher is, of course, the complete opposite. 

The promo picture should give you an idea of how full of giggles the show is.

Not gonna lie, I was expecting Daredevil to maybe make an appearance. But I wasn't sure if it made sense with the timeline from The Defenders, maybe it didn't. It would have been pretty cool though. So all we get from Daredevil is Karen Page. And you know what, it really isn't the next best thing. I never really fell in love with her character. It's pretty annoying when people (like Karen and Foggy's characters) give someone so much shit for wanting to be a superhero. It gets old pretty fast, even if okay yes, it comes from a place of love and concern. But they become such bitches about it that it really does become super irritating. It would be nice to have a superhero show where everyone around said superhero was actually supportive and understanding. I suppose Arrow is something like that, but I stopped watching it a while ago. The writing was getting a little two dimensional for me. I think Netflix's writers have spoiled me. 

Regardless, give The Punisher a try if you were into him in Daredevil. Although, spoiler alert, I don't know if other people will figure out the "twist" as quickly as I did. I mean, just look:

This guy was supposed to be Frank Castle aka The Punisher's BFF when they were in the Marines. But I took one look at him and was like, please don't let him be the bad guy, he's too cute to be the bad guy please please please.

Yeah, he's the bad guy.

He was just too slick I guess. Too successful. Or maybe they were making it purposely obvious. Let me know if you figured it out.

Another thing I'm excited about: TWO MORE SONGS FROM MIKE SHINODA'S NEW SOLO ALBUM. 

It is absolutely coming from the most biased place when I say that I love both songs like I love chocolates and spicy food and red wine. The first three songs sent me into a severe spiral of grief for Chester Bennington, but only because I had been ignoring the fact that he was gone. And once I acknowledged it, it was actually the kind of grief I might have experienced had I lost like a favourite, super cool uncle. I did grow up listening to Linkin Park after all, although I have no idea why I was listening to such angry music when I was 11. What was I so angry about at that age? My brother CONSTANTLY FINISHING HIS CHEWING GUM THEN STEALING MINE??? Okay maybe I had good reason to be listening to angry music 😂

Anyway, give the songs a listen. Let me know how biased I am if you feel like it. 

You know all those people watching him sing live? I actually saw his tweet calling whoever was available to meet him somewhere and I remember thinking WHY DON'T I LIVE IN LA NUUUUUUUUU. Why can't Malaysian artists be this fascinating and this wonderful? Sob sob.

I love Mike Shinoda so much, it scares me 😅

Anyway the new nephew is crying and Mom is cleaning around me for our Easter family dinner so I guess that's my cue. 

Do you out there, babes. Much love 💕

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Surprising Grief

This is going to sound weird. There's my disclaimer.

So the thing is, there has been quite a bit of upheaval in my life lately. And somehow, my mind has decided that the best thing to do about it is to take my grief about the matter, and focus it on something completely different. Something that has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Namely, I've finally started mourning the loss of Chester Bennington.

I say "finally" like I expected to be this upset about it. And I really was not expecting to be so sad, and to be reflecting on it for so long. I sure as hell didn't feel this way when Michael Jackson died. Or Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse or Christopher Lee. Sure, Cory Monteith affected me a little, and I cried when I watched his tribute episode on Glee. I wrote a blog post about him too. But still, it didn't feel anything like this.

It was a Friday when the news broke on social media, given the time difference and everything. I hadn't been paying attention. I had been having a particularly shit day at work, and I was too tired and stressed out to deal with all the pictures of people going on vacation on Facebook. I met up with a friend that night at our usual mamak, moaning and groaning about it all. When he asked if I had "Seen on Facebook about Chester Bennington?", (I had given him an hour long lecture on why he should start listening to Linkin Park just weeks before, telling him that Chester had one of the most amazing voices that I had ever heard, especially when he was singing live) even though I had an inkling what it could have been about, I asked him in a horrified back-of-my-throat whisper, wide-eyed and a little panicked, "What about Chester Bennington?". He saw the look on my face and said that I had just had a terrible day, and that we could talk about it the next day.

So the next day, a Saturday, as I tapped on that Facebook app as I lay in bed, I breathed deeply, exaggeratedly, preparing myself. Sure enough, there it was.

I stopped listening to Linkin Park. Ignored the whole thing and pretended it hadn't happened. It was pretty easy. Malaysia is far, far away from LA after all. So I switched radio stations when their songs came on, read through everyone's status updates on Chester and then repressed it, didn't watch any of the videos of the countless artists' singing tributes to him, and all the reminders of what had happened faded away soon enough.

Well, their music kept playing on the radio. I kept switching stations.

Recently, post first instance of emotional upheaval that is, I came across Mike Shinoda's Post Traumatic EP on Spotify. Damn you Spotify for kickstarting all of...this. Holy shit I swear 'Watching As I Fall' just started playing on Spotify. Spotify scares me. Okay fine, don't damn you Spotify, just don't scare me like that.

Anyway, the first thing I heard was 'Over Again' and I was surprised it was so angry. I mean, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. Anger is part of grief, and (Great, now 'Place to Start' is playing, how is this even happening right after Watching As I Fall when Spotify is on shuffle I'm going to start tearing up in this cafe why did I decide to write this in public I can never come here again) Linkin Park have been together for two decades now. I've known people for 20 years, and I can't even begin to imagine the hole any of them would leave in my life if they passed away. Touch wood for superstitious purposes.

I have to admit, Spotify didn't start playing Over Again. That was me, because I'm just a glutton for punishment at this point.

It's just that Mike Shinoda (bless him, love Mike Shinoda so much, always have) always seemed so put together whenever I saw videos of him post-Chester. And yes, I suppose that makes sense too. His grief is private, not fodder for public spectacle. So when I heard all this sadness and anger in these three not very long but full of emotion songs, I was surprised. It finally got me thinking about Chester.

It's all been downhill since then, my poor battered heart-wise. I finally started listening to Linkin Park again. And if I had thought that was hard, it was only because I hadn't starting watching old interviews yet. He was so funny, so full of joy and love for the music his band was making. I still crack up every time I see that interview about him being on Jimmy Kimmel with Dead by Sunrise. Have you seen it? You absolutely have to, here:

Mike and that "You never told me this story" face and his laughing and snorting was not helping me stifle my laughing in public.

I mean, how do you not fall in love with Chester Bennington after donkey years of all of that? You can't, that's how. Good Lord, now it's raining outside, and there's thunder. Lots of thunder. I don't think I'm supposed to escape this post tear-free.

Anyway, even after reacquainting myself with Linkin Park music I didn't feel quite ready to watch their tribute show. Just couldn't. I don't know how they did it, and they have my undying respect for that, really. When I finally did get around to watching it one Saturday morning, it blew me away. Not only because it was a great show, but...

People were crying. And for once I wasn't that girl. The one who was like "Oh, please. You didn't even know him and you're crying like he was your best friend." Because for once I got it. For once, I was crying too. When the band played Numb, and they shone that spotlight on that empty mike stand, I just started bawling like a baby. And when the crowd (who obviously knew all the words because please, it's Numb) sang along and it was just them singing, my goodness. It was so beautiful and so tragically sad.

And you know what? Watching them on stage, I missed him. I missed Chester.

Let's not even talk about what happened when I watched the 'One More Light' music video. It destroyed me. The whole music video, the whole thing just triggered me at every microsecond. That first throwback to him and Mike Shinoda, which is like ten seconds in, and I already started tearing up. Goodness I am such a mess over this guys, it's not even funny.

I think I'll never be able to watch this music video without tearing up. Well, not anytime soon anyway.

I will say this though. I didn't like their song Heavy at first. I remember hearing it on the radio and of course recognising Chester's voice immediately and thinking "What the hell is this, Chester? Have you gone fully mellow now, what's going on?". Stupid question, in hindsight. In fact, it made me laugh how many people freaked out over the song being so electronic and so chill. Of course, it was only a dislike borne of love and adoration for them, if that makes any sense. It wasn't a 'I'm going to stop listening to them now' kind of dislike.

Now of course I love the song, have listened to it a million times and haven't gotten sick of it yet because shit. It was a dream of mine to watch Linkin Park live. They were in Malaysia in 2013 if I'm not mistaken. Sadly I was a student back then, and broke. So I couldn't go. And now I'll never get to hear Chester sing live. Breaks my heart.

But I'm thankful I get the next best thing, which is his voice, immortalised in song. Listening to the One More Light Live album made me so happy and so sad at the same time. They perform Crawling with just a piano, and I've never heard it like that before and it's incredible. Give it a listen, it's amazing:

Thinking about Chester and feeling so miserable about his death has really given me a newfound appreciation and curiosity about depression. I find myself talking about it more and more, and even though it's not a topic I can talk about confidently because I don't know all that much about it, I will find out more and continue to talk about it. So many people I've talked to still have a pretty old school train of thought about depression. I have a friend who recently told me that her parents think she wants to be depressed. Goodness. That made me sad. But mostly people ask me why people are depressed when they're rich and famous and have a wonderful family, and I try explaining that depression is not a choice, and it can't be overcome just because a person is successful.

As sad as the whole Chester Bennington situation has made me, I appreciate him and his music, and the part he played in my life, helping me deal with my anger when I couldn't find the outlet I needed. He screamed for me, when I couldn't scream. I appreciated the band so much for that. Meteora pretty much changed my life. I memorised the entire album, having listened to it every single Saturday with my siblings as we cleaned the house. It was the one album we convinced dad to buy for us (Non-pirated albums are expensive in Malaysia by the way, so it really was a momentous decision on dad's part. Any album, even by local artists, would have cost almost 50 bucks back then. Goodness knows how much they cost now.), and he ended up loving it too. Given Up was my go to song in uni when I was feeling particularly frustrated with assignments and tests and my friends and my parents and life. Linkin Park was always just around, playing in the background of my life.

A friend of mine asked me recently if I'd still listen to Linkin Park if they got a new frontman and continued to make music. I couldn't answer the question at the time, never having thought of Linkin Park as Linkin Park without Chester. But you know what? Of course I'd still listen and love their music. Chester left a hole that will never be filled, but whatever happens Linkin Park will always be one of the great musical loves of my life. May they continue to persevere even as they grieve, and may they continue to make great music that will make us all feel okay.

Rest in peace, Chester Charles Bennington. You know what? I really will remember you, always.


Monday, February 5, 2018

An "It's Not You, It's Me"

Guys do this thing, where they say you deserve someone better. Sure, it's a compliment to you and your personality and your capabilities. They think you deserve a handsome, wonderful man who will always make time for you and never lie to you and cherish you above all else and never lose their temper and always do right by you despite their own feelings and basically they're saying what you deserve is a superhuman demigod who doesn't exist.

So yes, it's a compliment of a sort to have someone think you deserve a better guy. But as I get older it sounds more and more like an excuse. It doesn't sound like "You deserve someone better" any more, it sounds like "I can't be bothered to improve myself enough to feel like I semi deserve you". And at that point this pedestal they put you on doesn't feel like a pedestal any more.

It feels like a cage.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Wandering, Wondering Adulthood

So I suddenly felt inspired to write. I have no idea what this post is going to be about yet, so let's see where this goes, shall we?

Anyway, here I am, listening to Thirty Seconds to Mars, which I don't do enough I might add, wondering what randomness I'm about to spew at 10.24pm on a random Tuesday night. I suppose I'll go with what I know.

Does anyone ever feel like even though we're functioning adults, that we should be better at it by now? 

There's always that one appointment you miss that hurts someone's feelings or that one friend who thinks they can't talk to you because my goodness you're a sucky friend or that one deadline you barely met even though you did everything right or that one insult that everyone at that work meeting understood but you or that time you wondered why you don't have friends any more. 

Granted, it doesn't happen all the time. But do you feel like you should have gotten the hang of life a little better compared to when you were 17? Again, granted, a lot more shit happens to you when you're closer to 30 than 20, and being an adult is a lot sometimes. 

I just wish that I could look back and see how far I've come. There's just too much of a tendency to mess something up and then sink into a hole in the ground and think "my goodness I've learned nothing I'm barely a useful human being why didn't I know that why can't I just be good at this adulting thing".

It's a lot. Especially at 10.41pm on a random Tuesday night. 

Wow, how's that for weird topics to blog about, huh? 

Let me leave you with something a little more cheerful than that. Dale Carnegie said, and I quote, "The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way." It sounds like he had just studied the definition of insanity, doesn't it? Nevertheless, it remains sound advice and a good thought to take to bed as I ponder a new day and a new beginning. 

I hope everyone reading this has a great day today :)

A Heartfelt, Post Traumatic Thank You

About five months ago, this album called Post Traumatic was released. Three months ago, I went to Bangkok to watch Mike Shinoda perform...