Domestic & Boring = Best Me

Lately I've been finding it really amusing at how my present self would appear to my late teen self - probably very boring, and very content with very little. I'm actually incredibly pleased by that. 

That's not to say I don't demand a lot when it comes to certain things - Casa Hope has always been very picky about having an insanely good TV and sound system for our insanely good video games. We cook good food well and often and oh god now that I've written this out, I've realised. We're actual hobbits. 

As a result, my blog will never be filled with pictures of myself in new and exciting locations because I'm really content at home. I do love seeing my friends' pictures of their travels but it's personally taken me a lot of travelling to get to where I am now, literally. 

What's next? That's a question that's been on my mind so much this week. It's been two years of waiting for this exactly moment that I guess I didn't have enough space in my head to think about what I'd do now. I've been applying for jobs and working hard at the things I to do like making art or crafting fancy new things. 

I have to take it as it comes, I guess! 

In the meantime, enjoy my doodles this week:

Mad Max, The Witcher and All The Cheeses

It's been another week here and time is really flying by. No job yet, but a lot of interesting developments at Casa Hope-Salam. 

Yaaaas Charlize yaaaass!!! 

The first real thing I have to cover is Mad Max: Fury Road which I watched yesterday with no small amount of anticipation at the tiny Odeon here in Salisbury. I have to say, this is the first film in a while that's actually lived up to the hype. 

Not being a fan of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) as such, Age of Ultron didn't really interest me, so I guess Mad Max was the only real popcorn offering I was looking forward to. I definitely heard and read all about the 'negative' feedback it was getting and decided I had to watch it straight away. 

Reading the trivia and certain tidbits about the film definitely make its weird, fast paced, frenetic and fresh taste make so much sense. The last time I watched a film that 'felt' this weird in a good way was Snowpiercer, and anybody who knows me knows that I loved that film to bits.

So I don't think I'm spoiling anything for anyone when I say that the film is basically one long action scene, and I was totally okay with that. The skill of the cinematography, art direction and editing combined meant that every second was exciting to watch. I don't think I'll ever get over the combination of aesthetic and comedic genius behind guitar guy. You'll know what I mean once you watch the film.

One thing I always find about action films is that, you get to a certain point before gunshots and explosions become boring. I didn't feel that way about Mad Max at all. The tension of every action  scene had me sitting up and gleefully gripping Russell's arm (sorry babe). The comedy of certain moments while minimal made me giggle, like Tom Hardy's frantic filing at his metal muzzle while in the middle of a major chase. And Charlize Theron, once again, is a stone cold bad ass.

Bad parts of the movie? I've yet to think of any - and fully thought the movie achieved everything it intended to be. I definitely can't think of anything I would have done differently. 

So? Watch it already! I give it 4 out of 5 fuel tanks. 

Apart from some serious holiday eating, I've once again been doing some major game playing. It's been nearly three years since I've had my hands on a Playstation, so when plopped in front of an awesome TV and sound system and a shiny PS4, can you blame me for indulging? 

I'd finished Tomb Raider (excellent, can't wait for the next instalment), inched bit by bit through Alien Isolation (really excellent if you're into being terrified and pooping your pants from fear) and was dabbling in some Destiny (still on the fence about whether 'shared first player shooters' are my thing) when The Witcher: The Wild Hunt came out.

"Should I get the meat supreme or the tandoori chicken sizzler..." 

Holy medieval boots, it was all that it said on the box and more. The developers really weren't kidding when they said the world was huge. I'd been exploring the beautiful vistas of Velen over horseback for a few days before I remembered I actually had a main quest to do because I kept getting sidetracked. 

I think the main thing that took me by surprise about The Witcher, was the actual writing. I really love it, so much so that it's making me want to track down the series of novels it's based off. From interactions with major characters, to the decisions you have to make right down to things overheard in conversations between peasants, the world building is incredibly rich and detailed. I fully appreciate the extent of work that had to go in to this game because I have yet to be disappointed by my experience. 

It also made me realise that in an open world RPG, you don't necessarily have to start with a character made from scratch provided you can get invested very quickly and also have a large amount of customisation in other areas, which I really enjoy greatly. For some reason making alchemical potions excites me in video games. If only I'd felt the same way about O-level chemistry.

My only quibble is that the Witcher does tend to feel a little 'spongy'. You certainly can't move stealthily, for example. 

i'm really excited to see where the main story goes, but for now I'm going to keep distracting myself with shiny objects and fighting water hags and other beasties. Maybe I'll write more about the storyline once I'm farther along. 

So far, I give it 4 out of 5 drowner brains. 

A hearty homemade cottage pie with a lovely cheddar/mozarella cheese baked crust on top. 

In other news, there has been so much delicious, delicious home cooking that I'm convinced I've already gained a healthy amount of happy holiday weight. I'm actually okay with that... especially if you've seen the food I've been stuffing myself with. 

I've always associated good home cooking with a happy family life. Some of my best childhood memories are simply hanging around the kitchen while my dad would be cooking up a storm on the rare occasions that he would be home from flying. Not much has changed, but I now have a hand in the cooking too.

I can't help but see the similarities between Russell and my Dad as cooks. Although the fare couldn't be more different, I've never seen either one use a single measuring cup or a timer. This is a quality in Malay cooking called 'agak-agak' or literally, guess-guess. While Russ has had to teach me a lot of cooking, I've come up with some crazy ideas of my own with delicious results which has become further proof to me that we're a good team. I guess our future kids are going to grow up with a lot of fusion cooking.  

Fuck. It's so fancy. 

One last piece of news - we recently acquired a Cintiq 13HD. For people who are not familiar with drawing tablets, this is a really fancy piece of equipment that enables one to draw directly on to the screen. I'm incredibly excited, but also a little wary and scared. 

It's been a while since I've settled down and done some drawing with all the craziness that's been happening recently, but I have no excuse now. And that's a little daunting. I suffer from that altogether common quality of oh dang I'm really shit at drawing syndrome. Replace 'drawing' with any creative endeavour and you'll find most of your creative friends have the same thing. 

Just imagine all the things I can do with this new technology. 

I guess I just have to sit down and get on with it, and just remind myself I'm never really as bad as I think I am.

Actual evidence of my drawing prowess right here.


An Official Introduction: Family Edition

It makes sense to officially introduce the people of my life if I'm going to start blogging regularly. 

Myself, Najmah Salam. Currently 26, married, just had a tuna sandwich. Writer of this blog and also an artist and designer. 





Russell Hope, Husband. The real MVP and has the cutest gams in town. Will turn up frequently in blog posts. We've been together since 2010. 

Also pictured: Cat Friend, Actual Cat. We don't own him but he meows insistently at the door and we let him in. Very clumsy for a cat.

Jasmine and Linda, my nieces. Will also appear frequently, along with my honorary furry niece Chloe, (Linda's dog). They both live in Melbourne. 

The 'rents, who are divorced and have unfortunately been left behind in Singapore to my mother's chagrin, as this has disrupted her weekly ritual of sharing cake and tea with me and streaming Dancing With The Stars to look at all the hot dancing bods. My dad still maintains his classic Asian Dad stoicism by messaging me mildly passive-aggressive things about delicious Singaporean food that he's eating without me. 

I also have two sisters, Durrah and Wardah, whose pictures I don't have. They're 11 and 12 years older than me. Durrah lives with my mother while Wardah lives with her husband in New York. When I say my family's all over the place, I totally mean it. 

I do miss my family but if i'm being completely honest, living with them did seem like I'd never left my childhood. I'd wake up some nights in a panic thinking that my entire tertiary school experience never happened and I had to put on my secondary school uniform because morning assembly was going to start in an hour (yikes!!). 

I do have to say, there's nothing like being booted straight into adulthood again like moving to another country.

Singapore ---> Salisbury

If there is anything I should be the poster child of, it should be of completely changing one's living circumstances. 

About little more than two months ago, I was living on tenterhooks because I, like many other people, was waiting for a response on my settlement visa application to the UK. 

Before I launch into the details of it all, I first want to say that I've decided to use this platform for both my personal and professional blogging. If I've learnt anything in the past couple of years, one aspect definitely affects the other, so it makes sense to bring both into the mix. 

Russell and me being ultra cool as usual

So, the story is that about five years ago, I met a wonderful man who I'm now married to. We ran into the pesky obstacle of both being from different countries and the red tape that goes into that. A settlement visa is what someone like myself has to apply for in order to live and work in the UK.

My circumstances were unlucky, but definitely luckier than most. I had the benefit of being able to live with my family back in Singapore while trying to sort things out with my visa over the course of two years, and also having the unwavering support of many people along the way. While it did seem very hard at times, I now feel eternally grateful at the opportunities I have now.

So as you can probably guess, it finally happened for me. And... now I'm a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities ahead of me in the future. 

My current place

But, as Russell says, I'm taking a little time to get my bearings, work out the business of being an adult in another country which is always a little strange and unwieldy and get into some kind of rhythm. Besides, it's lovely being able to type with a view of a pretty cobblestone path and knowledge that Russell will be swinging by during his lunchtime so we can have sandwiches together.