Flooding in Perak

It happened around 24th Dec till 26th Dec, when the water rose to a record level high since 1993. I would remember these dates, because a) it was Christmas and b) i had to cancel my annual leave.

We had our hands really full, with the team having not enough sleep watching the water levels every hour. It was quite a confusing time too, because it really took awhile to hit us the stark reality that we just experienced huge floods right here, right then. The scope of our work when flood hits among others are to:

1) Cut off supply: but not just haphazardly–we would  want to delay it as long as possible. Water is a good conductor, and the risk of 11,000 volts running  inside water with people in it is a tremendous hazard.

2) Give alternative supply- if possible,  to places that had once been connected to an installation that had submerged in water and hence was turned off but the place itself is not affected by rising water. We had to think of ways to connect these places to other electricity line sources. What was mandatory is to ensure that all relief centers, hospitals, and water treatment facilities are connected to electric supplies either by generator sets or ring supply.

3) Repair and restore: This took most work and present the worst challenges. Landslides come hand in hand with floods and hence, a lot of cables, electrical lines and poles fell apart like dominoes. If it was a backbone line, we had to repair them immediately, despite the conditions that was presented to us; be it road damages , muddy roads (A HUGE CHALLENGE TO MOVE VEHICLES) , and bad weather.

3) General relief help : Mostly in terms of transporting things, because we are well equipped with lorries and 4×4 so the team would lend a hand or two to help affected victims move their things to higher land and relief centres.

WHAT I LEARNT:

1) This is the time where the elected rep in your area should function. Rescuers need to have knowledge of the demographics of the area affected–how many towns, how many families, who are left out from being rescued. And you better hope your elected rep knows his shit stuff.

2) People wont listen to you until someone in a uniform give orders. Its an anxious time, especially when false information spreads wildly or no information at all travels out. Limbo, that was the feeling i would remember the most. Nobody really knows whats going to happen, or the extent of things happening.

Get the army and police to give evacuation orders, then perhaps you have much luck with stubborn heads. Stubbornness leads to a major problem in our area, whereby a lot of towns and villages are islanded. The roads going into a settlement was drowned in water, cutting off the community from anything. Nothing can come in and come out unless via boats or helicopters. For these cases, authorities had to ferry in supplies, food and medical personnel every 3 days by boats. We had no idea why people won’t evacuate when asked (that limbo feeling again i suppose), but since it was too late, we just make do what we can help.

3) Ask, what the relief centers need, don’t assume. This is a critical time,and mostly the issue are not the amenities or supplies are unavailable but they’re usually a) a huge mismatch in needs b) arrive late. In my area, there was approximately 40 ish relief centres, and each with differing needs and shortage of supply. A lot of people just go to one relief centre without asking anybody and dump their donations there. This is okay, but runs into risk of oversupply or mismatch. What could have been a smarter way is to find out who was in charge in distributing supplies on the ground to the relief centres (in our case, Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat) and ask them what things are in shortage of supply and by how much and hopefully things will match.

4) Donating stuff is okay, but think about other options in terms of efficiency. In the spur of ‘volunteering’ moment, a lot of people took up to their own hands by buying stuff in their hometown, and drove all across the country which can take days to reach a certain area when the matter at hands are urgent. This act  is only favourable to areas that are devastatingly affected, where there are no business at all to buy supplies in-situ. For other cases, how about donating hard cash to a reputable NGO or personnel ALREADY on the ground, who can buy/deliver the supplies faster, and know their way around better?

5) Throw away party colours and ego. This is not the time to take sides, or score political mileage. People are suffering. It’s disgusting to take advantage of other people’s calamities. Cooperate with the government, o matter how  much you hate them at the moment. One have to admit at that point, they have the machinery , manpower, authority and reach while you have nothing. It is advantageous to work with them.

6) Don’t argue with nature. Don’t argue with each other. This is a natural disaster after all, sweeping us like a jolt from sleep after a bad dream. Everybody is confused and sleep deprived,the situation feels surreal,  a lot of people are given duties that are not in their job description.  Of course there will be kinks in the relief operation. Instead of criticizing, what have you done to help, did you know getting huge boxes into the back of a lorry is a major headache? Help carry that at least. Also remember that this is also Allah’s decree.  Make peace with it, and let us do our best. What counts is not the event that happened, but what  are our reactions to the event.

7) Have sabr.

“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious ) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters.” [Quran, Al-Imran (The Family of Imran) 3:186]

It is the determining factor in all affairs.

And Allah knows best.

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Halal Hong Kong & Macau

This post has a specific intent that is to aid and help Muslim travelers going to Hong Kong to navigate the requirements of our beloved faith in the most painless and stumble-free manner. I would have picked a much more poetic title for this post like, “Fragrant Harbour” for example but i want this post to be Google-able.

Blogs around the Muslim world had helped me a lot to gain resources and information about where to pray and where to eat when traveling the largely non-muslim world .

So here i am,  returning the favour InshaAllah taala.

Where to pray in Hong Kong ? 

The nice thing about Hong Kong is that since its a small country, to get to one mosque to another is fast and easy and a great joy to do.

If you are in Kowloon(Mainland) Area: 

Kowloon Mosque And Islamic Centre

105 Nathan Rd
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong

Getting there: MRT Tsim Tsa Tsui, exit A1 and head to the left and there you are, you simply cannot miss it.

If you are in Central (Island) Area:

Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre

40 Oi Kwan Rd
Hong Kong
Getting there: This is a bit hard to navigate but bear with me.
1. Get to MRT Wan Chai. Exit A3
2. Cross the road and turn left on Wan Chai Rd.  Make sure the Trams are on your left side. Walk ahead.
3. You will meet a fork midway , but just head straight . The trams will converge on the other road on the fork though so dont worry about losing it. Walk straight ahead until you reach New Bangkok Restaurant.
4. At this juncture, turn right into Tin Lok Lane. Walk until you find yourself at a 4 junction with traffic lights. You would like to cross the road and head towards The Charterhouse upwards the hilly road on across your right.
5. Walk up towards The Charterhouse (you will pass a pizza place).
6. This is the bit that gets a little confusing, go INSIDE The Charterhouse and walk past it’s parking alley.
7. You will see it there, InshaAllah.

Jamia Mosque

30 Shelley St
Hong Kong
This mosque is easy to miss because its not within your peripheral sight.
1. Get to the Central Mid Levels Elevators. This is a spiffy elevator that goes uphill and cuts through the hilly area and brings you to multiple ‘exits’ to a bunch of streets.
2. Go up, up, up and keep your eyes peeled on your LEFT. You will be on the elevators for quite awhile, around 5-10 minutes.  Get off  JUST BEFORE the Mosque St exit , when you see on your left a green gate with “Allah’ written on top of it.
It’s not a street exit from the elevators but a stairs exit.
When i was looking for it, i thought it will be on the  Mosque Street, but no its not, however logical it may be. If you already got off on Mosque Street, go back down the stairs a couple of steps and keep your eyes peeled on your right. It’s a beautiful, serene mosque with ivy and moss wall perched up a hill. This is the oldest mosque in Hong Kong.
When i was in HK, i had the opportunity to pray at 3 different mosques on 3 different days. It’s doable if you plan your excursions near the area on each day accordingly.
Where to pray in Macau?
Well, i prayed in the fitting rooms.
There is a mosque in Macau, but it is located a bit out of the way but still accessible by buses.
The Macau’s tourism page gave a pretty good direction to reach there: http://en.macautourism.gov.mo/sightseeing/sightseeing_detail.php?c=8&id=315#.VHXnMTGUft4

Where to eat in Hong Kong?

Rule of thumb is, whenever there is a mosque, there will be halal food nearby.

Kowloon Area:

The whole stretch of Nathan Road opposite the Kowloon Mosque is good for halal food hunting. If you want cheap and indian, head to the Chungking Mansion (turn right from Kowloon Mosque along Nathan Road), and head inside the building and muster the courage to walk past the sketchy crowd. I had some turkish stuff, but nothing memorable. My favourite chicken sandwich i had in Montreal opposite guy concordia had better, and cheaper turkish food.

Central Area:

Masjid Ammar canteen.

Open for lunch from 11:00-3.00 PM and dinner from 5:00 to 9:00 PM

YOU CANNOT MISS THE DIMSUM.  Its on weekend lunch only, but absolutely worth it. Come in fours, or just grab any sisters and ask whether they would like to share dimsum with you.

It is the best (halal) dim sum I’ve ever had.

Macau:

Xinjiang Food ( by the Ughyur Chinese community here) at Estabelecimente de comidas lou lan Islamico.

For starters, if you are in Macau, you will head to Senado Square.

Thats a good start, because that’s where the food is nearby.

Getting there:

1. Make sure to be at the beginning of Senado Square,  near the traffic lights , at the Av Almenida de Robeiro

2. Walk on the left side of the Av Almenida de Robeiro, ensuring that Senado Square is situated  on your right

3. Walk away from Senado Square along Av Almenida de Robeiro towards the port , heading towards R. de Cinco de Outubro.

4. Turn left on R. de Cinco de Outubro.

5. The restaurant will be immediately seen. Enjoy! Good luck pronouncing the name of the restaurant! Good luck ordering! Nobody speaks English! Alhamdulillah.

It is He who made the earth tame for you – so walk among its slopes and eat of His provision – and to Him is the resurrection. [67:15]

P/S If you would like to see some pics, head on here to this album

Hah

Somebody basically just spelled it out for me lulz.

Some days, I envision a rattling old Victorian house with a wide, wraparound porch and a cupola, and a spouse who is just the whisper of an outline, a ghost. I know that he enjoys travel and can follow the quirky imaginings of my brain, that he can carry a discussion on geekery or sit in comfortable silence at the end of a long day. He shares my unquenchable curiosity for the world, has an intellect that challenges mine, and though he may not always understand my ridiculousness, we support each other’s dreams. He provides the stolid practicality and I provide the pie-in-the-sky idealism. In our post-gender equalist home, I cook, vacuum, and iron, and he does the dishes, the laundry, and the dusting. We both take turns putting out the trash and fixing things around the house. In the summers, we drink lemonade on our porch at dusk, and have conversations about life, the universe (42), and everything, sometimes alone among the fireflies, sometimes with friends. In the winter, we’ll build fires in our fireplace and catch snowflakes with our tongues. I’ll have a study for my writing, and we’ll have a library of his books and mine, comingling on shelves. Maybe we’ll have children, maybe we won’t.

-[Excerpt from Zainab Chaudary’s (Potential) Adventures in Wonderland.]

I definitely want children.

This excerpt above , is possibly  what i want, with the huge emphasis of ‘possibly’, simply  because i have been proven wrong before. There are some things i think i wanted and when i got them i was certain that i was actually duped.  I don’t trust the things i want. Should start with what i DONT want.

Oh guys, let me indulge sometimes.

O

Run Sisters Run

Long distance running is a very inclusive activity. It doesn’t requires participants to possess some talent or anatomical advantage to be good at one. Anyone from 5 year olds to 80 year olds can run long distance given enough training. A bit of perspective: Pamela Anderson ran the New York marathon. The oldest runner in the Toronto marathon is around 90 ish of age. Bottom line is:

Anybody can do it.

I wrote about running before, in fact i’ve drawn some analogies about writing with running:

Potentially hate able,often lengthy,but flows surprisingly easy. She writes grudgingly in prelude,but the great contention in epilogue is all worth detesting for.

Background

When i was in school, i keep winning these long distance run competitions not because i was good at it, but most kids my age gave up easily. In running,  you get tired easily, very fast.

Luckily, I figured out quite early how to manage stamina without training by applying some science principles to breathing techniques which worked well. (deep, long breaths for more oxygen to slow down that lactic acid buildup) .

Plus, running is more of a mental thing than physiological.

Endurance is the ultimate mental test. How are you going to end this thing?  Will you give up midway? What will you say to yourself when you feel you do not want to continue? All these demons, they will rear their ugly heads, and you will need a strategy to slay each one of them. I worked on some strategies. Some worked ,some didn’t , depending on the heat that day. It was good mental training which was perhaps the foundation to my resilience (or stubbornness, depending on how you look at it). Wallahua’lam.

Now

School runs are ridiculous in my opinion. They heed no advice on well being, injury and hydration. Runs will start when the sun is at its peak at 10 AM with no water breaks for the rest of the 8km. Good thing that school-going kids are hardy people so dehydration problem doesn’t really fester (and most will just walk the whole way anyway, which was probably for the best)

I got back into running because i don’t walk so much anymore in Malaysia (too much heat) and there was no other way to keep me fit. It was for pure,desperate, very vain reasons about my worryingly escalating weight lol.

What i learnt

– Carbo-loading is a real thing. You really can last longer if you eat well, preferably lots of carbs A WEEK to 4 hours before a >15 KM run. There is no need for carbo loading for 10-15KMs, just a good meal. I made the mistake of not eating for my half-M last night, which was disastrous because you can really feel your legs screaming for calories to burn which had ran out. It was very very painful.

-Core exercises done well and slow is the ultimate solution to back pains and slouching during long runs. It will make sure you can run upright and last longer during the whole course. It looks unnecessary, and easy to belittle but the effects is what i call magical. Sometimes, if i don’t the have time to train and need to run long distance in the last minute, i just make sure i did some core exercises. When i first discovered this, it was a huge revelation to me because the problem for me was not the stamina, it was how do i get my upper body to not get fatigued faster (back, shoulders, neck) and keep up with my legs. You don’t need much, the results will be quick and fast for the 15 minute exercises done twice a week.

How to build stamina?

You start at 1 KM. Juste run 1KM.

Then you build that up by 2 or 3 KM the next week. The first time will always be the most painful but just bear with it (this is the mental part ), and by the time you know it, 10 KM for you will be a nice, flow-y run.

If you can run 10 KM without stopping and water breaks, you definitely have the stamina to run 21 KM. The body then just needs to get used to running longer than 10 KM but the point will be the stamina is already there.

Hydration

Drink before you get thirsty. Thirsty means too late and already hydrated. Hydration prevents injury and you want that knees to last long. I wear knee guards because long distance running is punishing to your knees. If you are very fancy, buy a rolling ball to roll the tight muscles under your knees after a run.

What about Full M?

I am working towards that inshaAllah. Full M is a whole new monster altogether. The training is way different than a half -M because you  run till you have zero calories left to burn. Training takes time, proper post-run care, and correct nutrition on how to sustain calories midway in the run (when to eat during the run, what to eat). One needs to prep body for that kind of punishing abuse . And one needs some kind of sport therapist advice to teach you how to recuperate and prevent injury. Preventing injury is the top on my head right now.

I’m so happy everyone is taking up running. Fit sisters is for life. Happy running!

An honest reply

In the land of over-analysis, what nuances does a reply contain?

A) your interest (depth of answer/description)
B) your enthusiasm (lines of words)
C) your availability (promptness)
D) wether the person is important (promptness/returned follow up inquiries)

sometimes, a simple dinner question is just a litmus test.

“Hey, whats for dinner?”

You can’t really believe that’s just an honest inquiry about meals do you? It never is, in the history of time.

It is a gateway. We await the reply anxiously because the type of reply tells a lot things. Specifically, it is highly useful to gauge a person’s emotional aptitude on wether person on the other end is ready to continue and engage in more deeper conversations.
Like life, love, hopes and dreams for instance.

Good luck everyone and may we all pass the litmus test always inshaAllah taala.

Earth lessons

If you are a nature freak (like me) , you should understand full and well that the best of mother Earth is not very accessible. It takes a lot of sacrifice- money,energy, time, phone reception, good toilets. Why do we do it anyway? The real answer is i don’t really know. It’s not like we’re looking at something to acquire or to keep , since nature is not a tangible thing to possess. What i do know, when you finally arrived at something so spectacular, the emotion it evokes is something so special it demands another repeat.

Climbing a mountain

When i was around 18, i was with a group of friends and our mission was to hunt for mountains and waterfalls. People did not understand why i would spend hours climbing up for nothing ( it really is for nothing, because you came back down not exactly richer in money or something) , especially my parents who couldn’t fathom the very idea. I had trouble explaining why too. My dad’s response was the most epic when i fumble a reply about views.

“I could just Google Earth the view”

 

True, it was about the views, but some mountains that we submitted  was so foggy or full with vegetation, there’s hardly any view. So why do it anyway?

 

What kind of sacrifices?

Money – car rental, guide, new gears, flight tickets, mostly transportation

Time- weekends, sleep

Energy- 8 hours of climbing or walking with kilos on the back

Hygiene- Where is there a toilet in the rugged parts of the earth? The Earth is your toilet

Phone reception- Zero bar

Patience- when the weather went ugly.

So why do it anyway?

Well i don’t know guys, but without all that effort can you get the following?

 

St Anthony's , Newfoundland

St Anthony’s , Newfoundland

...or this.

Greenfield Dunes, Prince Edward Island

Oxford, UK

Oxford, UK

Kawah Putih, Bandung, Indonesia

Kawah Putih, Bandung, Indonesia

Redang Island, Malaysia

Redang Island, Malaysia

God is Great.

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What is it with nature.

What is it with nature?

Even the most stubborn knots in your head untangle,
by looking at the water lapping to the shore,
feeling solitary as each blade of the grass,
but its the fine kind of solitude.

What is it with nature?

The deepest worry can go unforgotten, after a long, brooding sit at the bench, in the most lush park with a pond a gaze away,
has a soothing hand of calm had come to caress?

What is it with nature?

Raging breaths are calmed,
brewing storms recede,
somewhat anesthetized,
delayed,
perhaps the sweet songs of happy birds that do it.

What is it with nature?

Surely when everything is losing,
Try a longing gaze at the starry night,
you will feel that nobody really loses,
and then wonder visits.

What is it with nature?

Concocted of fervent praises of The Creator ,
awash with silent prayers–or just unadulterated silence.
for what words can form through uncomprehended beauty
but hey,
what is the purpose of the worldly life, other than constant worship of You?

So thank You, because of course all of these are gifts.
What other things can fill a heart so close to its brim?

(and inspire an illiterate to become a poet)

P/s: this post was edited for grammar and some other things by the wonderful Aya Salah. JazakAllahi khair.

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Good relationships will help you.

Alhamdulillah, i just recovered from a 7 day, very interesting electrical fault breakdown. It was an intriguing case as it involved multiple parties and multiple decisions had to be weighed. It is therefore worthy to be recorded.

Day 1: Received a call at 2:30 AM from the regional control centre about a high voltage tripping in the area. Looked at the message–it’s a feeder that is relatively healthy. Had a hunch that it had to be a third party vandalism (turned out to be true) . A telco company was doing Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) for their cables and had hit one of the 11kV underground cables. Was thankful that it happened when everyone is asleep or else i would have had a field day.

Day 2: After restoring the supply with an alternative source, we had to find where exactly was our cable fault. It was found to be located under a public restroom building.

Hmm okay.

I couldn’t dig under a public building; so after much discussion we decided to just abandon the fault and lay a cable reroute.

Day 3: The team came up with a design and a route that involved open cutting a main road on one end of a new connection. But it’s not our road. I had to make a long call to the Public Works Department (JKR) and had a discussion during the site visit. It turns out that it’s not their road either, it belonged to the nearby Railway Station. Jeezus alaihissalam.

predicament

“One end found” This is where the open cutting of the road is involved.

Day 4: I decided we just laid the cables first with the approved route and let the open cutting of the road at the last bit while i figure out who on earth i should talk to from the Railway Station to ask permission about cutting open their main entrance road. ( i got hold of that person, and they gave in after much wooing since it involved THEIR electricity supply, but i still got slapped with an email with a list full of conditions )

Day 5: This is the real interesting day. We couldnt find THE OTHER END of the cable and we’ve been digging oh so close to the border wall of the Railway Station. We have also dug deep, around 5 metres into the ground. I actually feared for my staffs’ safety, ad one shake of the earth and people could die being buried alive. When we found one shining sign of the cable end–to our great dismay–the tracer device traced the cable pipes moving towards INSIDE the walled periphery of the Railway Station.

Hence what follows is another hurdle: Are we allowed to dig inside their compounds , and so close to the rail tracks?
Dun dun dunnn.

Day 6:

The person in charge of the Railway Station relented at my persistent begging, but we had no way of bringing in a freakin backhoe into their compound. There is no road suitable for a backhoe to move without leaving a trail of destruction. So we had to knock off a portion of the Rail Station’s wall so that machinery can get straight in.
This was not an easy request to ask. Nor was it conceivable idea at first when the station master first heard it. He caved in eventually, when i gently reminded him that his electricity supply depends on the success of this repair mission.
What we did after reminded me of the music video “Another Brick In the Wall” by Pink Floyd. It is exactly that scene where the huge pendulum ball hits and demolished a wall except we did it more gently and with less destruction in our trail.

Day 7:

We dug and lo and behold, LAY SIX CABLES IN A ROW. Which one is the dead cable?
This is where we got to first use The SEBA KMT Cable Identifier device and hope it got the correct cable. I was crossing my fingers when they spiked the cable once it had been identified and not spiked a live cable ( handing me another breakdown )
Resting your most important decision on an inanimate object and having to trust what a piece of machine tells you is unnerving. But we trust our calculators’ output so i ought to imagine the whole thing as if i was using a calculator.

So we got the other end settled. The new route was completed and joint by 4:30 AM on day 6 and it was pouring unashamedly Alhamdulillah. SubhanAllah i had a great team.

Now i only have the headache of how i’m gonna find the budget to pay for all of this.

What is the lesson here?

We had a pre-existing good connection and relationship with the Public Works Department and the Railway Station which makes things a bit smoother. Imagine if we hadn’t , we would have stuck with no approval or had to bypass loads of red tape (mind you we had to struck down a piece of a wall) to just get an approval of work to be carried out. We had cooperated well in previous projects, which grant me the latitude to get away with just a phone call.

For an industry that is deeply embedded in the community,don’t be a reluctant party to help and cooperate in projects that may not concern you, or to you may seem trivial. You never know how those connections and good relations may come in handy later inshaAllah

Sorry for the horrifying grammar (and the bad doodle) ,but i wasn’t really interested in making this post a literary feat.
Thanks for reading!

P/s: i had omitted most, or even ALL of the technical part of this task due to my intention to focus on the more universal, human aspect of it. If for example you want to know more ( eg how do we electrically locate a cable fault and what devices we used ), send me a comment :)

Bayyinah TV

*At this point, at this ghastly age, i’m just writing what comes off of my head and no longer bother about structure , or creativity, or the art of being a good writer. Dear reader, i am too busy but some things need some urgent written record*

Nouman Ali Khan gave a beautiful motivation to those who want to study the Arabic in order to understand the Quran.

When the material gets tough, and when the study becomes overwhelming, remember always what Allah has promised in the Quran :

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I was a student of Arabic before, quite the serious one too with essays and stuff but i stopped at around 16 years old. I really hated Arabic–the teacher , the dryness, the rough, throaty aural sounds that it requires, and the general toughness of it all (but i had a knack at languages so i got quite good at it Alhamdulillah)

Nowadays i absolutely cannot write those essays anymore, but i can still pick up tenses and a couple of vocabularies.  (That gives me a rough idea what a sentence should talk about). However, even during the times when i was the diligent student, i couldn’t speak it for my life. It was with humongous effort of memorization that i passed the oral exam.

So let’s restart inshaAllah.

I like the way Bayyinah started it by giving the whole big picture on why do we even do this. Its a beautiful thing also that Bayyinah ensures that students start with the correct way before embarking on a study--by making the correct intentions. Not the alphabet.

Here’s to my long journey, please make dua for me.

http://www.bayyinah.tv/sp/9942-bayyinah-tv

Time

*what will follow will be a little personal*

Ramadhan is the time to leave whatever that is eating you inside.

I decided that it is time. Time to stop and move on. It’s been over a year, each month a slipping cause, and the cause of many sad, upsetting times.

Kalau tak call, maknanya taknak call.
Kalau dah tanya boleh call ke tak masih tak nak call, maknanya dah tak interested.

I may be naive, but not obnoxious.
Human behaviour ni senang, kalau tak reply maknanya tak penting.

Tu je.

I’m tired of being the one who always tries. Tired of doing all the work. Always the over enthusiastic person in this dynamic. They say expecting anything from creations is bound to be a road destined for disappointment. I know that . Doesn’t negate the fact that my mortal , imperfect feelings still get hurt.

It’s been real my friend, time to move on.

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