Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Compass Concept, Pictures, and Titles

Firstly, I rather like these titles I make up for the blog posts. They make me feel like I'm not just writing this- that I'm actually thinking about it. I had a dream the other night that I turned this into a book and got it published by a place called Blogs to Books. It was fun. Also in that dream was me getting old, marrying, and having 4 European babies. Talk about dreaming... At least I got a book!

Let me disperse the photos throughout this entry. Randomly! I hope this doesn't annoy anyone.

Look How Pretty! This is a scene from AnywhereInMalaysia, because it's all in a Tropical Climate!

After years of training in the woods and in the towns, in houses and in the city, I feel safe saying that I’ve got a moderate to very good sense of direction. This might be some inner peace I have with surroundings, it might be genetic or even a biological sense that I’ve honed over the 16 years I’ve had on this planet.
Look! Another Wedding! Almost every weekend, now that Ramadan is Over!

This kind of skill helps out very often. In the city, I remember the ways I take and the look and feel of certain train stations and marketplaces, and often I can figure out how to get where I was before. Trains are easy, though, they usually run logically and according to some kind of pattern, and different lines are implemented to compliment that pattern. Perhaps the entire idea of having a good sense of direction boils down to that, just an eye for patterns. For music majors, that’s what’s often found in their brain chemistry. They just like patterns! I think that is why musicians are so often fantastic in advanced classes where patterns are implemented at a higher level- a level where musicians recognize their favorite past time; making up music. I could be going too far into this; pattern recognition as a psychology and sociology concept is an idea I’ve been toying with for quite some time.
Walking around Times Square Mall in KL, stumbled upon this Boutique and Couldn't Help Myself!

Whatever the reason, I’ve been good at finding my way around and I do not disorient easily unless I am under a great deal of pressure, like at school. I didn’t know my way around the Coventry Middle School until about halfway through 8th grade, my final year attending. I also didn’t know my way around the High School for the first half of freshman year. Now that I’ve had time to explore the High School, I could easily place myself in most hallways and classrooms because of the pattern it follows. Once I got to look at the school’s architecture and study it logically, I figured out the patterns.
Mullet Boy!!! Apparently, it's a style here. This is a little boy. WITH A MULLET! 

Now, after 1/6 of my year here is finished, I know my way around the school, the neighborhood within a few kilometers, and how to get to the other schools in the area, as well as the closest gas station (there’s an ATM) and the pharmacy that’s on the way. I can see that the place I live in here was set up logically as a suburban area catering to the needs of a middle class population. There are schools, mosques, and various corner stores that break up the houses in a nice, easy pattern, and with all the driving around and trips I get to experience here, while often terrifying, are giving me exposure to the commonly traveled paths.
At an Open House where the hosts were exceptionally well-off, this was the desert plate they forced into my hands. Clockwise from 12, that's Fruit in an Orange Sponge Cake, A Small Tart with Kiwi and Strawberry, Bread Pudding with Cream, Corn Pudding, and Moist Chocolate Cake. Mmmmmmmmm

 I’ve developed somewhat of an inner compass about this place that is further aided and oriented by the position of the sun, which is regular and reliable because I am a single longitude degree from the equator. The sun doesn’t sway from North to South like it does in the higher reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, or the lower parts of the Southern Hemisphere. I may have had to change how I look at the night sky, but the daytime orientations are a piece of cake when you’ve done orienteering for years.
At Another Open House, this was the set up. Again, very Sedap (Delicious)

I said I’ve developed a compass- let’s go into that a little more. In addition to a directional compass, I think my moral compass has improved, and my personal compass has been altered. I haven’t lost sight of my original intentions upon coming here, but I’ve had to prioritize and look at my real goals, as well as the validity of the idea of goals as an accurate marker of success. Also, I’ve looked at success in a new perspective. In this process, I’ve had to have my foundations shaken a little. I now know that those values that are supposed to unite all humanity are shallow values, the ones that we seek but never expect to find. True honesty and absolute justice are things we can only rely on from deities, because these perfect values are setting a bar that we as humans cannot achieve. This is my sociological perspective. Once man (speaking in the masculine generalization, not indicating masculinity represents all of humanity) is separated from his peers and accessible authorities, he seems to make far more moral choices, decisions that represent what he is as an individual, in often stark contrast to the decisions he would make in a group. This is true for America and Malaysia, as I have seen from knowing people like my family by their outer, or group, behavior and then their isolated or singular behavior.
An Open House put on by the primary school one of my siblings attends. The little girls in the Baju Kurungs are ADORABLE!!! And the food was especially good here, in this class. I hope they win the class contest!

I tend to do this sort of analysis without realizing it, but often I’ll alter my behaviors in an attempt to conduct small experiments on society. I’ll face ‘backwards’ on a train and people will glare at me because I’m doing something, well, wrong. But unexplainably wrong, something to do with strange customs that nobody’s noticed and nobody’s questioned, like the pattern of standing facing the front of the train when riding, as if that will improve the ride or something, when it is often both more comfortable and more convenient to stand facing the rear. Sometimes I’ll stand a little closer when I speak to friends, or adopt a random accent and watch the collective reactions or people. I’ve even made this blog into a sort of experiment. I’ve tricked you all into reading something vaguely enjoyable but; and here’s the catch- you’re learning! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!

A Cultural Performance put on by the school where the boys dance around and beat drums in their best traditional clothes. I met the nicest little girl, here. The first thing she said to me was that she could speak English because her father was Chinese. She actually told me she was "Mixed" because her mom was Malay. Talk about racially conscious, this girl wasn't older than 10! I didn't know there was racism until I was that age!

Also, I’ve conveniently positioned some nice pictures in between the paragraphs of this entry. I would like your feedback, those of you who have read to this, the end of the entry. If you wouldn’t mind, could you comment and tell me how I’m doing with this? If you don’t, I’ll still get an accurate count of the people who stopped by this page and I’ll compare that to the people who commented because they read it through and felt obliged to comment. If you don’t feel like giving a brief review, could you give a blank comment or one with a jumble of letters and numbers, just let me know you’ve read until the end? Thanks. Here’s one more picture to keep the attention of some people who might be otherwise too distracted to continue to read.
One more thing, although this is partially educational, I’d like to make it clear I write this for nobody’s benefit but my own. Even if it seems like I’m doing this explaining for you, it’s really just a selfish effort on my part. Admitting that is important to me. If you’d like to delude yourself into thinking that I care about my audience as individual members of a society, that’s fine by me. Honestly, you’re just data, sometimes lab rats, and usually a way for me to bounce ideas off a blank, white wall and watch the ideas come back to me organized and properly recorded. Sorry. You, the readers, do mean a lot to me, and of course I love all of you at home, but while you read the blog, you’re fulfilling my human need for companionship and reflection, orderly and as regularly as I please, as well as fulfilling my intellectual need for both expression and feedback. I think I went over this a few months ago when this was just beginning, but it’s important enough to say it again.

Again, please take the time to comment. Although this is an experiment, it’s an experiment I’ve invested a lot of emotion and sentimentality into. Sorry this post didn’t include much in the way of news. That’s later.

Love, Peggy


  1. I like playing with the fish at the bottom of your blog.

  2. Hello! My Name is Lydia and I am applying for YES Abroad for the 2012-2013 year! I have enjoyed reading your blog very much & your addition of pictures as well~it makes the experience very real for me as I sit dreaming of being there myself~
    Thanks for writing!

  3. I read all your blog entries (Erin keeps up pretty well, too). You've got a stream-of-consciousness writing style. Thankfully, it's an intelligent consciousness. An interesting article about language, culture, and (among other things) sense of direction is to be found here:

    Does Your Language Shape How You Think?