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Why It Can Be Hard To “KonMari” Your Stuff

This month has been pretty bad for blogging – it’s already the 17th and I’ve only made two posts. Partly it’s because Malaysia is currently undergoing another ‘lockdown’ due to the rising number of cases (and deaths, which is worrying), so I haven’t been able to go out much; but it’s also because I’m in a writing slump again.

We had a four-day weekend for Hari Raya, but celebrations have been subdued as people have not been able to go home to visit their loved ones, some for the second year in a row. As for my fam and I, we took the time to rest. My mom has been very worried throughout this entire pandemic, and with cases on the rise, she won’t even let us go out to buy food unless it’s absolutely necessary, preferring to cook all of our meals instead.

But enough gloom and doom – I did something productive over the break, ie cleaned my workspace!

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I am currently working from home full-time, so having a proper workspace is important. But I’m also not the most organised person in the world and my workspaces (even when I had an office) tend to get messy with bits of paper and notes. To tidy up, I took some of my books to the shelf outside so there’d be more space, wiped down the dust, and put away smaller accessories that were contributing to the clutter. Also gave away two Apple mouse units that I’ve been keeping for the office (company told me to get rid of them coz they didn’t want to ship it to Singapore, but I didn’t want to throw them).

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While cleaning up, I sorted out my accessories and trinkets, thinking to throw away the older ones that I no longer use.

I ended up keeping everything lol.

A couple of years ago, there was a lot of hype over the KonMari method, attributed to Japanese consultant Marie Kondo. In her approach, Kondo advised people to keep only the things that ‘spark joy’, and let everything else go.

The thing is, all of these things have sparked joy to me at one point in my life, and in some small way, they still do. I still feel nostalgic and happy when I look at them and think back on the memories associated with each object. I know some people would call it silly and sentimental, and maybe it is, but it’s also vulnerably human.

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Some people enjoy collecting fridge magnets or keychains as souvenirs from the places they’ve traveled to. For me – and I did not realise this until I looked over my ‘collection’ – I apparently enjoyed collecting accessories. Some of these were given as gifts, which makes them even more meaningful.

On the left is a bead necklace that was gifted to me by my hosts on a trip to Siniawan, aka the Cowboy Town of Borneo. The ‘town’ is really not more than a dozen traditional wooden shoplots along a main street, a town hall and a nearby temple – but I enjoyed the experience tremendously. I got to ride a sampan across the river (which has crocodiles, by the way!), experience a Gawai festival with the local Bidayuh community, eat amazing kolo mee that was just RM3 ffs, and take in the sight of a gorgeous pink sunset for a few nights in a row.

On the right is also a bead necklace, which I bought from Auntie Sina Rang at the Bario longhouse where I was staying. This trip was an unforgettable one because I got stuck on a hike for 11 hours in the Borneo rainforest, and the longhouse residents were so worried they sent a search and rescue team because it was already dark and we were supposed to have been back like 6 hours ago lol. You can read about it here.

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Me and my fellow members of the media before everything went to hell (for me).
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Hardcore hiking
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Siniawan, the Cowboy Town of Borneo.
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Also from the Bario trip: woven bracelets which I bought from a visiting Penan tribe. They are nomadic and only come to the longhouse occasionally so it was fortunate timing!
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Coconut shell bracelet from a 2014 Bali trip. It was my first time visiting Indonesia. Since then I’ve been to Bandung and Yogyakarta. Can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so I can travel, to different parts this time.

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Decorative necklaces from Venice, from my 2012 graduation trip to Europe. Venice was gorgeous in is own way, but it was also extremely crowded with tourists, and the canals smelled. Still glad I got to see it in my lifetime, before the city sinks.
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A brooch from Fuhu, Genting. Also a Sarubobo doll from Japan, which Japanese grandmothers make for their grandchildren for their safety and wellbeing. On a trip to Tokyo, I got to write my own well wishes for the sarubobo’s clothing and pin it onto the doll.
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A Catholic necklace with wooden crosses and a carving of Jesus, which I got from a shop outside Antipolo Church in the Philippines. I was there with my ex on Ash Wednesday, and it was interesting to see the rituals and sit in on mass. I didn’t get the necklace because of religious reasons, but because one of the ladies manning the shops insisted we buy something, I didn’t know how to say no lol.

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A necklace inspired by Aboriginal art. Got this from the shop at Tower Hill Reserve in Victoria, where we saw a bunch of koalas hiding in trees, and encountered a rogue emu blocking the van that we were travelling in.
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Of course, travel memories aren’t the only things that makes it difficult for me to throw stuff away. I also have a lot of random accessories that I have fond feelings for – like these wooden bracelets. One of them is falling apart, but I can’t find it in me to just dump it because it was my favourite bracelet to wear in college and through the early years of my adult life (back when lots of accessories were a thing).

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The evolution of my earrings – from a sharp, rebellious-looking stud in my college days, to the ‘elegant’ ones that I wear for social outings today. By today I mean like two years ago, when we could still go out for gatherings. lol
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And other, assorted bracelets.

So you see, it’s not easy to KonMari your stuff, when there is so much to reminisce on each time you look at them. I think this is also why people find it difficult to let go or throw things away. They are all reminders of a happier time, and form a part of your life’s story.

I guess I’ll be holding on to some of these things for a bit longer.

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Nightmare Neighbours Vol.1

Ever since I can remember, my family and I have been dogged by neighbour problems. It doesn’t matter where we move to, there will always be one (either on the left or the right, since most Malaysian homes are terrace houses) that drives us up the wall. Since we live for tea, here are my tales of nightmare neighbours: there’s actually so much to tell I’m splitting this up into several parts lol.

Enjoy!

HOUSE A (1994- 1997, 2000 – 2003)

My neighbours on the right were hawkers.

Nothing against hawkers, but these were just nasty, uncivilised people. They sold noodles at a food court in SS2, and would come back late at night with huge pots of soup and leftovers in their car. To clean up, they used newspapers – but guess where they threw their rubbish? Yes, instead of throwing it into their own bin, they’d chuck it over to our side. And they didn’t even bother throwing it inside the bin; we’d just wake up to a pile of greasy, oily newspapers on our patch of grass.

Course, if it was once or twice, we wouldn’t have made a fuss, but they did this REPEATEDLY. My parents caught them in the act once and confronted them, and they were unremorseful and defiant. I guess you really can’t argue with stupid: they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

We had no problems with our other neighbour, until they moved out and a new family came in.

These new neighbours had huge parties at least twice a year; erecting canopies outside their home that spilled over to adjacent houses, blocking off the entire road, and playing loud disco music that could be heard from the opposite end of the street – imagine living right next to them. And they’d often blast away past midnight! (I think this one is relatable to many Malaysians – there seems to be at least one such hooligan in every neighbourhood).

wanna party go to a club lah. seriously

The nuisance extended beyond festivals and celebrations: there were a couple of kids in the family and they’d throw stuff onto our roof for the heck of it. One time, they played with glass bottles and broke them, scattering glass shards all over the common area outside our homes. They also had a dog, and since their house was dirty af, the dog had lots of fleas and ticks, which would crawl over to our house. They were everywhere: once we found a whole bunch clustered on the wall outside. I’ve had trypophobia ever since.

So there we were sandwiched between two unpleasant neighbours. But if we were hoping for a reprieve, there was none : even the neighbour behind our house was problematic! They often threw garbage into the five-foot alleyway and would burn the pile in the evening. When confronted, the reply was a loud, “You scared I burn down your house ah?”

By 2003, my parents saved up enough to buy a new house in another neighbourhood. We were overjoyed to finally be rid of these crazy neighbours.

Or so we thought…

Stay tuned for Vol.2 !

PS: What are your nightmare neighbour tales? Share them with me in the comments!

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