My April A to Z Challenge 2019 Theme Reveal

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I’ve had this theme idea for a while now but I always thought that I didn’t have enough types of food/ food places for it to be a viable theme for the challenge. At most, I assumed I’d have probably 4 or 5, maybe 8 food/ food places that would work within the theme. That was until I sat down and started listing the food/ food places in alphabetical order and lo and behold, I had more than 20 possible blog posts! Of course, the usual “troublesome” alphabets like X, U and V are still post-less so I guess I’ll have to be creative with those ones (like every other year).

So, for this year’s A to Z Challenge, I’ll be writing about my Food Memories. For 26 days in April, I’ll share a memory – good, bad, funny, poignant – about the particular food, or food place (this is the “where I get creative” part) associated with the alphabet of the day.

“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.” – Anonymous

Now, to go read about other blogger’s themes for the challenge!

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Ooops I Did it Again #AtoZChallenge

So, despite not finishing the April A to Z Challenge last year, and procrastinating on posts the year before, I signed up to do the challenge again this year.

“You don’t have to do the challenge every year, you know,” said concerned friend when I reminded him that the challenge was on the horizon.

“I know. I just want to,” I replied. “It’s like an annual writing tradition. I see April on the calendar, and think Blogging A to Z!”

I couldn’t wait to sign up and am pretty sure I was one of the very, very early birds when the sign-up list opened up yesterday. I kept checking the challenge site and when that 1000th post showed up, I immediately clicked the sign up form 😀

I am feeling fairly positive about the challenge this year, because:

  • I already have a theme!
  • I’ve a blog post idea for most of the alphabets, except for the letters Q, U and V. Darn you Q!
  • I’ve started writing some of the posts! Well, one so far. But that’s better than the previous years when I’d write the day of, or when I’m REALLY hardworking, the day before! My target is to write draft at least 7 posts by the time the challenge starts (crossing my fingers and toes).

Can’t wait for the theme reveal on the 18th of March and then checking out what everyone else will blog about in April!

Lessons learnt from my attempt (and subsequent abandonment) of the 2018 April A to Z Challenge

bloggingThis year’s April A to Z Challenge, which begins in about 2 months, will be in its 10th year. Sign ups for the challenge opens in about a month, on March 1st. I have every intention of signing up and doing the challenge this year, but that was my intention last year too.

The first time I attempted the challenge was in 2012. And since then, I’d attempted it every year, completing 5 times, and not completing it once. In 2018, I only managed 4 posts, which was the second time I didn’t complete the challenge.

So, what happened? I’ve a few thoughts about that:

  • I didn’t prepare as well as I should have i.e. come up with the individual posts which correspond to each alphabet before the start of the challenge
  • The theme was a little too close to home for me. Those years in college were fairly turbulent ones and I’ve always wanted to put them down on paper. I suppose I was worried that I wouldn’t do the memories justice and so put added pressure on myself to get it right, which eventually led to not writing them at all.

How will these lessons inform my next attempt at the April A to Z Challenge?

  • Decide on a theme that doesn’t require deep diving into painful or awkward memories
  • To at least, have a list of blog posts (within the theme) for EVERY alphabet BEFORE the challenge starts
  • To ensure each post is limited to a specific number of words per posts and to make each word count.
  • To have fun.

With these in mind, I actually have two theme ideas already but which one will I choose? Check back on March 18th, 2019, and you’ll find out.

PS: I do not want to be Bunny McRabbit in the cartoon I inserted in this post.

Dau

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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Among all the pictures I took during the two years at college, there’s a picture of Dau ironing a long, pleated, brown skirt she planned to wear to class the following day. I also have a picture of her holding the skirt in front of her, and striking a pose. She was quite a character. I can’t quite remember why I had my camera out and how I managed to get the picture. I do remember however that after I took that candid shot, I ended up chatting with her till quite late into the night, snacking on the cake I’d brought.

I met Dau during my first week at college. We were in the same team of juniors on a treasure hunt, one of the activities that the college had organised for incoming students during Induction Week. From the moment the teams were handed the clues for the treasure hunt, Dau took charge. Our team eventually finished in the top three. That first time I met her, I was totally in awe and extremely intimidated. She was tall, lithe, athletic and had a gravitas about her. She also totally rocked a pixie cut.

She was one of the popular juniors, most of the seniors knew her and she had more than her share of secret admirers. It wasn’t enough that she was statuesque but she was also adept at Taekwondo. She was friends with most everyone and always had a smile on her face. It would’ve been easy enough to hate her except that Dau, infuriatingly,  was one of those girls that guys wanted to be with, and girls wanted to be. More than once, I wished I could be her.

Curfew

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It’s 11.10 pm. Twenty more minutes to curfew.

My roommates and I had just returned from the mamak, a roadside stall, about a slow 10 minute walk away. I had my regular supper of maggi goreng (fried instant noodles) and iced coffee.

11.15 pm.

We were milling around near the guardhouse, which was at the entrance of the small gate we entered that led to our hostel block. Other students were at the phone booths, making calls to family or loved ones. There were more students queuing up behind them, clutching coins or a fully loaded phone card. I would normally call my folks on Thursday nights, to tell them what time I would be home the following day.

11.25 pm.

Some students were already trekking back to their rooms, some nodding at the guard, Pak Guard, we called him, who was standing at the gate ready to usher the rest of us stragglers in before curfew.

My roommates and I were one of the last to go through the gate that night. As we climbed up the ramp to our floor, we heard the gate clanked shut. We were locked in for the night.

 

Birthdays

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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It was May Leen’s birthday.

Like most birthdays we’ve celebrated here in college, among the new friends from far-flung states that we’ve made, there were:

  1. A big makan-makan (dinner) with the gang
  2. A public display of embarrassment affection when the gang erupts into a raucous, slightly out of tune birthday song (on purpose)
  3.  A birthday gift and card shared by at least 15 people (we were students with a student loan, so most gifts were shared)

We were in our room, she was getting read to open her gift from the guys. It was a cassette. She loaded it into the player of Felicia’s red radio, and pressed play. Then voices came on and we heard the guys wishing her a happy birthday, followed by the sounds the strumming of a guitar. Not many of the guys knew how to play the radio so we were trying to guess who were the guitar players. Probably Pey Haw or Cheese. Then they started singing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight and us girls sighed in almost-unison.

May Leen looked to be in tears, it was such a thoughtful gift. The fact that the guys got together and probably practiced the song before recording it, we were nothing short of amazed.

I looked at my desk and saw my birthday gift among my textbooks, a book from the Chicken Soup from the Soul series signed by maybe ten people, remembered the card that came with it, a Get Well Soon card, and wished someone recorded a song for me on a cassette.

Aaron

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about people, places and events that I encountered and experienced when I left home for the first time to live in a residential college for two years. I was 18. I’ve a book in the works about those significant and tumultuous two years but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m hoping dredging up some memories and writing about them during this Challenge will push me further towards the finish line. With that, each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet in this theme. Enjoy!

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I remember driving up towards the college campus. I was in the back seat of my parent’s Pajero, clutching my backpack. I had another suitcase in the trunk of the car. It was mid-morning and I thought I’d be early but there were already many students and their family milling around the academic block, which was where we were supposed to register upon arrival.

As we drove past the academic block, looking for a spot to park in, I noticed a boy in a white dress shirt tucked into black pants. A woman, most likely his mother, was straightening his tie. The boy wore a bored and frustrated look on his face. I smiled to myself.

Later, I learnt the boy’s name was Aaron. He ended up my classmate for the next two years. I also learnt that he liked to tap his feet when he was figuring out problems and that he thought I was a strange creature.

He was my first love.

Guidelines for the New Year

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To continue (and document!) with project #40thingsat40.

To not to be too hard on myself.

To continue doing the things that feed my soul.

To remember that joy is not in things, it is in us.

To treasure time with loved ones, even when said loved ones make you want to pull out your hair.

 

Nano and Tokyo

Nano

nano-2017-participant-facebook-coverIt’s November, which means NaNoWriMo.

It’s Day 7, which means I should’ve written approximately 11, 667 words.

However…I’ve only managed a little under 3, 000 words so far, and I’m trying not to stress myself out due to my low word count.  In 2012 and 2013, I managed to hit the 50, 000-word mark by the end of November and since then haven’t been able to commit to the challenge. Throughout November during those years, I blogged nearly daily here in an effort to keep myself accountable and I have to say that it helped!

This year I’m visiting a story idea that’s been percolating within me, which is part-memoir, part-murder mystery, tentatively titled “The Way We Were”. Today’s NaNoWriMo pep talk is all about being okay with wherever you are, as long as you keep moving forward, which is timely advice indeed.

Tokyo

Also, I’ll be travelling in a couple of days to one of my favourite cities in the world – Tokyo. In order to keep up with NaNoWriMo (crossing my fingers) during my trip, my iPad is making the trip too, and for the first few days, I’ll have to use the touch screen keyboard (ugh) to write before I hunt down a bluetooth keyboard in Tokyo’s Electric Town Akihabara (still crossing my fingers). I also plan on blogging about my trip (something I’ve always wanted to do on my other trips!) and am contemplating setting up another blog which will house my Tokyo Travel-centric posts. Alternatively, I may post here initially and then migrate the posts to a separate blog.

Now, I’m off to write! And pack!