Wake me up when September ends

— 5 minute read

Or, when 2021 ends. Whichever comes first.

Oh hello weary world. It's been about 4+ months since my last blog post. I'm trying to figure out what has happened between May and now, but the shifting sands beneath my feet have all but covered the tracks.

Somewhere along the way Malaysia's daily cases went up to 25,000. Somewhere along the way the political system underwent another upheaval, the overthrowing becoming the overthrown. The musical chairs that happened among the politicians fortunately did not disrupt covid mitigation from the vaccination point of view. At the current time, more than 80% of the adult population of the country is fully vaccinated, and daily cases are down to 13,000ish. Retail businesses and dining in are opening, almost as gingerly as how their patrons are venturing out.

For most of this time we were in a fairly strict lockdown. I don't remember when we opened up. Was it two weeks ago? A month? In any case, when we finally went out, the air was much heavier than what it was before. A long-standing Indian restaurant in the neighbourhood had shuttered. A nearby hawker centre had lost its owner to Covid. As we counted hundreds of new deaths every day, invariably stories of death and dying got closer and closer. I just checked the death count, 228 people died today and we're at 25,159. My numbed sensations can only muster up gratefulness that my immediate circle of loved ones is still intact. Life goes on for those who live.

As I type this I am recovering from a minor surgery (even though, as I've discovered, no matter how minor it's still invasive and the body still needs to rest) which hopefully will improve a deteriorating health condition. The surgery was not planned, so out of nowhere work skidded to a halt and I had to spend a few days being horizontal. I'm thankful for the rest and that work folks have been so accommodating.

Since mid-August I've been working with WWF-Malaysia on a short term project on net zero pathways for Malaysia, re-entering the environmental field after leaving it for some time. I can tell that after all these years the tide has finally turned. Oil and gas is now considered a high risk sector to invest in. Carbon pricing is no longer a crazy fringe idea. The private sector is finally participating in the conversation, in a language that they know - of investors, consumers, import/export tax.

It is still painfully obvious that we are running out of time, and things aren't changing quickly enough. But working in the field again no longer fills me with the same levels of despair and angst.

In terms of personal projects, to be honest I can't keep track. About two months ago I bought a sewing machine and had been sewing quite intensively (I'd spend five hours sewing on a week night - only half joking when I told Leo I was a researcher by day and ran a sweat shop by night) until I had to go for surgery, when all things froze in place. Within the six weeks prior I made a top, a reversible skirt, and two pairs of shorts. Sewing calms my anxiety down. Powered by nerves and enabled by Youtube tutorials, I went from hand sewing to pattern-making and sewing my own clothes in a fairly short amount of time.

Before that, I was working on a project to collect writing tips and inspiration into a book that I was going to bind with a DIY book-binding kit that I had got. Project is stalled because I am stuck at the cover design. And then there was a story that I was building, set 150 years from now, complete with vampires and the eternal pursuit of the meaning of life and of art. With the excitement of the new sewing machine I put the story in the backburner.

I've also been tinkering with natural dyes, so last week I dyed four pieces of cotton with marigolds (from the garden), mangosteen peels (from food waste), butterfly pea flowers, and roselle (the latter two were from dried flowers meant for tea). The idea is to sew them into some sort of garment, maybe a top, a skirt, or even a dress.

Read a few books, in particular one on microbes on the human body and that was a really interesting read. Binged on some Master Classes because my friend Jessie shared a one-week pass with me. Built a vertical structure for my cherry tomato army and they are finally producing now.

I have a vague feeling that I really enjoyed myself along the way, but can't tell for sure because I can't remember. Things were done, learnt, made. And then forgotten.

The above was written two days ago. I am determined to not let it die as a draft and so I need to post it now.

By the way, the 12th Malaysia Plan was announced yesterday and we are targetting net zero emissions by 2050. It feels momentous - finally the wheels are turning - even though, yes, 2050 is still close to three decades away. And greenwashing, and short policy cycles. But I'm still optimistic. These things don't happen overnight, and there is always a possibility that a tipping point may happen along the way and things may pick up speed when enough of players take action.

Just keep going. Just keep going.