The Case For Packing

Three pairs of socks, two pairs of pants. Easy. The real dilemma are the scarves and tops. 

Here, my existential crisis and questioning of beliefs begin (or at least it did whilst I was packing). What do I want to look like when I travel? Do I want to plan my outfits to look cute/pretty? Do I want to stick to my usual outfits? Why aren’t all my clothes are prayer-friendly? Prayer friendly clothes are supposed to be full sleeves, no sheer clothes and are long enough to cover everything except your face, hands and depending on your personal beliefs, feet.

I interrogate myself in these moments. Firstly, who am I wearing nice clothes for? To please people or to please God? And secondly why can’t all my clothes be prayer friendly without requiring another cardigan, under sleeves or extra garments in general? I have to pack scarves on top of that too.

Mostly I am furious that I have to bring more clothes. If i were a guy, I would have not needed to bring so many clothes.

These are struggles I still have to come to terms with as a Muslim woman wearing a scarf. I remind myself that I chose to put this scarf on. And because I chose this, I have to be okay with the other things that come along with it. I still whine and whinge especially in 80 degree summers but above all, I still want to stay true to my faith.

When I find my faith wavering, I remember these verses “By the morning brightness and by the night when it grows still, your Lord has not forsaken you[Prophet], nor does He hate you, and the future will be better for you than the past; your Lord is sure to give you [so much] that you will be well pleased.” (Quran 93:1-6). 

And it brings me comfort.

Starting Film Photography

After admiring film photography from my friends’ instagram, I decided that I wanted to try it out too. I was excited by the process, slowing down to take pictures, to think about it and most importantly, accepting my mistakes openly. I also really liked the aesthetics. So when I traveled to NYC, I stopped at the local camera store to check it some cameras out and I bought myself a Pentax K1000.

One of my friends’ husband, Brad, asked me why I wanted to get into film. Being a photographer himself, he was puzzled by my decision. “It’s not the same as digital,” I told him. He told me tales of having to wait weeks until you get the results back as well as labs who mismanage and cut or don’t return your negatives. “You could just use a filter to get the same look ,” he said. Though I agreed with him, I didn’t think I would feel the same satisfaction as taking it with film.

The first mistake I made after sending out the first roll to be developed was that I did not attach the roll properly. Thus I sent a blank roll. Bless the shop for giving me a partial refund. The second roll had mistakes too and I did not set the proper ISO according to the film. Nonetheless, I am now currently on my third roll so hopefully this one turns out well.

Film used: Kodak 200 Gold

Picture 1: my favorite coffee shop

Picture 2: seen at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Picture 3:taken at Church st,

Picture 4: taken of a shop at Nickels Arcade

Picture 5: my bedroom window and a light leak seen when I exposed the film to light

Picture 6: East Quad’s roof during sunset


How Did We Wind Up Here?

Latched into the next wave, here we are trying to keep afloat. We abandoned our small dingy, favoring the next underwater current. Easily, easily we are swept away by the next tide that catches us by surprise, or choice. Are we really ourselves if we keep chasing the sea tides that come and go? Why can’t we stay put for awhile?

New trends come and go. With Juuls, new K-Pop songs and a sudden tide of GoT upcoming episodes  are new fads that find its way into college campuses. “Its really hard for me to become excited because of something” I mentioned to my friend who commented that he rarely finds me latched onto new crazes. “Well, I only like something if I find that it will give me more meaning beyond the superficial oh-since-everybody-is-following-this-so-shall-I”, I expressed.

Indeed, I was seen as favoring different interests than the ‘normal’ person.

Regular artists I follow are Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and The Lumineers plus some cello + piano instrumentals. One of my favorite songs is Yellow from Crazy Rich Asians movie. Besides that, I didn’t really enjoy watching any form of TV series but later, I got hooked to Mrs Maisel. The Office was somewhat entertaining, but I still wasn’t keen on it.

Not to say following mainstream trends are wrong, but being caught up with every new trend certainly doesn’t make you a particularly interesting individual. Like the Arizona tumbleweed, your seeds are everywhere and you take off where the winds blow you. Ungrounded, so where do your roots lie?

If you follow the crowd, you will go no further than the crowd. -unknown

Ask yourself, how did you wind up here? By merely following what everyone else is doing? By taking the subjects or doing things you think will get you to better places just because everyone else says so? Do some investigation (but if you need an easy A ask your advisors/friends for easy A subjects).

Do you, unapologetically. Caution certain advices, especially those who don’t have your best interests in mind, they may just be trying to veer you off course.

Do you, always.

Taylor Swift and The Lumineers

This time of the year always brings new surprises; new albums being released. It just so happens that this time some of my most favorite artists are dropping new things for me(and you!) to listen to. Here’s a rundown and throwback of Taylor Swift’s past albums:

  1. Taylor Swift (2006)
  2. Fearless (2008)
  3. Speak Now (2010)
  4. Red (2012)
  5. 1989 (2014)
  6. Reputation (2017)
  7. Coming soon(?)

Leading to the countdown of her suspected new album, Taylor Swift has recently been posting mysterious pictures with no captions whatsoever on all her social media. The pastel pictures at the side of The Lumineers’s album cover are some of the pictures she has released on her Instagram, and her fans are definitely excited (including me). What a way to rile some excitement, posting pictures with no explanations.  Her latest tweet however, has a date, 4.26. This is definitely something to look forward to.

(some other pictures she has been posting on her social media in the past two weeks)

Besides that, The Lumineers too are set on releasing their 3rd album after their last release. The last album they dropped was in 2016 titled, “Cleopatra”. They have also released new tour dates and merchandise. Surprisingly, most of their tickets and merchandise are sold at a very reasonable rate (I suppose they want all sorts of fans to enjoy their music without too heavy of a price tag).

If you don’t really know much about the Lumineers, here’s some pointers:

  • They are an American folk rock band (this is the closest label they can get to but in all honesty, they are a pretty ambiguous/indie genre)
  • They passed up opportunities to sign with major record labels and decided to go with an independent label, Dualtone Records: As one of the member’s commented, “It’s just nice to work with people that are entirely engaged. You know, not just sitting in front of a computer and playing Angry Birds their cell phones all day,” adding that, “with these smaller labels, people work 12 or 15 hour days to ensure our records are in the stores, and that we’re getting played at radio. We want to work with people that are as hungry as we are. “ (Wikipedia).
  • Launchpad comments on their music saying “Where most bands these days look for that new, original sound to enhance the digital revolution, ‘The Lumineers’ do superbly in taking it back to simplicity.” (Wikipedia)

Also, Yuna is set to release a new album soon as well this summer/fall.

Stay tuned to these artists for their fresh hits!

Forever more by Yuna


I don’t know how to even contain my excitement over this song. It feels like its spilling over and I just cannot.

This song is the epitome of a perfect pop song reflecting Malaysia by showcasing essential representation of Malaysian people. We see motorbike guys, termed ‘Mat Rempit’ and even though these sub group of people are a somewhat nuisance, here we see them celebrating their culture, togetherness and brotherhood they strive to achieve through riding bikes at night, speeding along highways. We also see different groups of races here, namely the Malays and Chinese. The Indian people are also represented through the elegant Indian dance moves.

My words are not able to convey how fascinating the video is and how Yuna really is an underrated Malaysian pop star staying true to her roots. She symbolizes hope, unity and faith for her people, something unheard of these days.

(Also its on Spotify/what are you waiting for go listen and watch the video!)

The Business Cycle of Emotions

I’m sure we can all relate to this. We plunge into the deepest ravines of our emotions, dragging ourselves through days of homework, commitments and stress. Tangled in vines, our anxiety rises more as the days with endless lists of to-dos confront us, reminding us that they exist. Deadlines give you a brash high five, nearly toppling you over with its weight and its shadows overwhelm you, a little too much for you to handle. Not today, please, you beg. We’re unsure of ourselves, of our capabilities and our potential. “Can we really be more?”, we wonder to ourselves quietly as we lie in bed, staring at the space between the bedsheets and the ceiling.

Maybe, just maybe.

Out of nowhere, life suddenly accelerates into overdrive. All seems good, all seems too good. We write furiously, commit a little too much, are sure of ourselves a little too confidently. It seems like caffeine continues to supply us with energy, nearly steering us off course. We’re tempted by the edge, curious and hungry for the adrenaline thrill we could possibly feel if only we took the leap.

Yet we are so unsure of that steep drop ahead.

The business cycle has never been more meaningful now. It goes up and down, like it always does, like it always will. We crave the adrenaline high, so much but we forget about the grayer days when the snow mounds start to drag our feet. We forget we need motivation when we are least likely to internalize it. Therefore, in foresight of stormy clouds, we must take great care to to weather the coming thunder we heard long ago. To write more in case you don’t feel like writing later. Cook away porridge for days we don’t feel like cooking and do laundry ahead of time. More importantly, we need to ensure we have enough reassurance to get through the tougher days.

But please validate those moments when they come. Stop the “why can’t I get over this” when troubles come. Let yourself feel a little scared. Take smaller steps, nonetheless a step ahead. Buy some Panera soups why won’t you.

From these gaps you will grow. (i.e. trust the process)

Featured song: Spiegel im Spiegel

(Image Credits: Google Images/Japanese Waves)