The Reality of Being 37

1. It’s hard to be a superwoman. It’s doable, but it’s just not easy when you have a laundry to rescue, dinner to cook, dog to bathe, husband to care and work to tend and a kid to feed. And all, sometimes, needs to be done within 24 hours. And still have to look darn pretty while doing it.

2. I still don’t have any clue for the purpose of grey hair and wrinkles except it is a gold mine for make-up industry folks.

3. I will never be the kind of people that find a diamond ring in the 3-dollar purse they bought in Goodwill, nor the person that stumble upon a box of cash in their backyard, nor the one that found Picasso’s original painting in the attic. Nor the one that find the lottery ticket  beneath the couch that is worth a million bucks. Pffft.

4. As long as my husband, my kid and my dog live with me, most of the time there would be somebody’s socks on the floor and the socks will magically appear in my living room, kitchen and any random furniture. They must’ve bought magic socks because mine doesn’t do that.

5. Being 37 feels like being 36. Or 35. Only this time my kid is taller and gasoline is more expensive.

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I Want To Love My Belly

My belly and I have this love-hate relationship. I just wish that me and the belly were two separate items, so that when the hate feeling kicked in, I could just look at my belly and said, “I think I have to start seeing other bellies. It’s just not working, you and I. It’s not you, it’s me”. And there would be sort of brief awkward pause,  my belly would look down, and sighed, “OK”. And we would never be seeing each other again. Ever ever. Until the day I missed the belly and we agreed to see each other in that yummy frozen yogurt store by the cinema.

Unfortunately my belly has done so much in my life that I owe it quite a lot. My belly put up a lot with me, with my habit of eating funky food (pig brain, cow gut, chicken blood, chicken feet, to name a few) without protesting. My belly endured the 9-month period when my boy was in it. The belly decided to give itself a little reward by making some silver-ish broken lines all over it that I am convinced that I would not be flaunting bikinis ever ever in my life. And think about how many times my great husband is trying to poke his finger in my belly button! Even though his attempts, in so many times, was successfully stopped by kicking, kneeing, pinching him back, there are days that his finger get what his kooky brain wants. And my belly suffers. For me.

The thing is, it is only if the belly looks like the way I want it to be. (Yes I am that shallow). OK so the belly can hold all the yucky and yummy food, hold a baby and endure my husband’s finger. But on top of that, can you please stay flat, belly? Can you?? Why do you think that since you put up a lot with me, it gives you a permission to be flabby, with abstract-looking stretch marks? Why are you rewarding me with muffin top that I have no choice but sending couple pairs of perfectly awesome jeans to Goodwill? Why belly, why?

I try to do some exercise. Which I loathe doing it, so when I actually do it, I expect some respect from my belly that translates into INSTANT result. I mean instant like you-cook-your-chicken-nuggets-in-the-microwave kind of instant. And I don’t eat nuggets that often. I watch what I eat. That means Big Macs aren’t even in my vocabulary (although there are days I am willing to trade my puppy for a Mac).

But no, my belly stays stubborn. I start to think that, the belly hates me. It may think the way I am thinking. It may think that if only it and me were two separate items. It might have said something like this, “look I’ve put up a lot of shit with you, I carried your child, keep that darn hot spicy food in,and you keep torturing me with that weighted hoola-hoop and those exercises and oh by the way, tell your husband to keep his finger off me. You are such an ungrateful being! And since I cant just walk away from you, I’m going to make you miserable”.

So here it is. My stubborn belly that refuses to be flat and slender. And here I am. Trying to love my belly the way it is but alas why isn’t it flat? What’s wrong with you, belly? What else do you want from me?

I want to love my belly. I really do. So that I can think of something else, like a muffin that is actually food. Not a love handle. Or so that I can start worrying about something else. Like world peace. Or how long my car will last. Or wondering what’s the purpose of gray hair, or whether chicken can fly or do they just hover?

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This Is How I Feel About The Whole Thing

I handed my house key to Mr. O; the unexperienced contractor that my family has decided to lead the renovation of my house.

“Me. O,” I said. “Here’s the key to my house. I expect you to be a good one for me; I’ll give you the money every day, please handle the money wisely. We have four days to get this done. I trust a team to work under you, please be a good leader for them. Now I’m gonna show you the condition of the house you’ll be working on.” He nodded proudly and we entered the house for inspection.

“There are four holes on the ceiling, when it rains, it drips.  There is hobo hiding in the attic, he eats my food in the fridge and wear my slippers when I’m not around. He does not clean nor pay rent. I want him gone.” Mr. O nodded and made a note.  I continued, “The fence that borders my property and my neighbour’s need to be fixed,  and please call the exterminator to get rids of the rats too”. Again, he nodded and said all would be taken care of, that I had his promise.

The following morning I came back with the money and I noticed the holes were still there. “Don’t worry”  he assured me, “I inherited this project due to the last contractor’s mess, it will not be fixed overnight. It’s not my fault, it is the old contractor’s fault.” While assuring me that all would be taken care of, he grabbed the money and start calling his team to look around. I noticed there were large group of people. “Who are these men?” I asked out of curiosity. “They are my pals, we share the same ideas and plans. The old contractor you had was a dumbo and now we have a major cleaning to do. I hire a bunch of my friends, my trusted friends, they know me well and will work for me. Now I will need a bigger budget to make your dream house happens.”

I dug deeper into my pocket and found some change. “Mr. O, here are my last pennies. Get rid of the hobo, kill the rats,  fix the border, close the holes. This house means  so much to me” He smiled widely like a used car salesman and said with confidence, “don’t worry, we are making progress!”

Second and third days, he called every morning asking if I could  get a loan to justify his ever-growing budget to fix my house. I sold my car, my dog and my last pair of shoes. “We are making progress, Miss,” he said proudly, “I call more people to work for me to clean the mess and fix the house.”

The final day I came and look at my house. There were now nine holes on the ceiling. When it rained it no longer dripped. It poured.  I found the hobo sitting in my lazy-boy couch drinking my beer wearing my favorite pair of jeans. He grinned and waved at me. The fence is no longer exist; instead, I found my neighbors and their kids having a barbeque and picking up apples in my backyard. Rats were dancing in the kitchen.  Mr. O’s team grew into a large group and they were all sitting in the shade with their sunglasses on, eating pizza by the porch with a music blaring from one car’s stereo.

“Mr O!” I screamed. “What is this mess? It was much messier now since you are in charge of this project. What happened here? How come there are more holes, why did you still let the hobo wander around and where the heck is my fence?” He patted my shoulder sympathetically and calmly said, “Miss,  this is not my fault! You gave me this mess to fix and we’re making progress. Stay with me for another four days and I’ll make your hopes come true.”

I stared at him. “If you can’t fix it, don’t add more mess to it.  It started with four holes, you made another five. You used up all my money to feed your pals and nothing gets done.  Now I’m broke and my house is trashed. Why do you think I still trust you?” He dusted off a dirt off his elbow and smiled, “because we are making progress. The next contractor will do worse than me. ”

“Mr. O..” I sighed, “You are fired. I best take my chance to hire someone new. I saw how you operated and did not like it. You obviously did not deliver your promises. I’ll take a bet with new guy”. His face went jaded. “And you know what, Mr O, if this new guy does crappy job too, I surely will fire him as well. You got your chance and you blew it. Now give me the key back  and outta here.”

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Indonesian By Birth, American By Choice

Readers,

I apologize for not writing for a long time! WordPress had been wacky, my last post got vanished and even with their two volunteers checking and trying to fix the issue, apparently my last post did not come back. So yea, I was pouting in the corner for a while. Anyway, pouting time is over, time to rock the blog!

Today is the 4th, one of the BIG day folks here in this land think as, well, a BIG day. Lawn chairs are out, grills are smokin’ and friends are gathering. Fireworks decorate the dark skies and flags dance in the wind. We remember what our soldiers have fought for us. We check the cooler to ensure drinks are still cold and the guests are happy.

And I came, to be part of this, in my adult life. I chose to be one of you.

I was born as Indonesian citizen. I carried this until my 30s.  I speak the language, uplift the culture and drove in the left side of the road. I cook spicy food and everyone was born with black hair, tan skin and dark brown eyes. I know how to hail taxi, run across the road during busy hours and stand by the bus’ door (yes it was that jammed packed) all the way to destination. I know how to identify pickpocket and I carried a box cutter in my purse, just in case. I was living in Indonesia. The nation over 13,700 islands lay, big and small.  I grew up in the capital city, to be precise. Where traffic jam is considered a lifestyle, pollution is horrendeous and crime is skyrocketing, but also a place wherever you drive for few hours and you’ll bump into beach. The place where cats and chicken roam free on the road and pork meat is hard to find.  The place where over 700 local languages exist and almost everyone can speak in more than one language.  You think bilingual is something special? Not where I came from!

Then I moved to US.  The land that gives ample of fresh clean air and squirrels all over the place.  The one that is kind enough to give me the best man I can call my husband. The place that force me to drive. The place where I made my first big loan: A small house to call my home. A small Cape Cod right by the city limit. This is my new life. A new root of life has been planted.

Then came the time when decision could be made (along with paperwork to be submitted and fees to be paid). Why bother inquiring citizenship when I actually can stay being a green-card holder, you say? This land has been a home for me. My husband and my child were born here. I could still be happy and provided the same being a green-card holder, but being a citizen, I could give more. I can take a part and voice out my choice when election comes. I can work for the government if I want to. I want to belong here. In the land that has been giving fresh air, squirrels on the yard, pretty flowers by the highways and good education for my child. It’s my sense of belonging, justified by a piece of paper and a passport. I became American, by my own choice. I chose to be American.

So here I am today. Still cooking spicy food and I know to how to cross a busy street (which make drivers nervous). Still talk in more than two languages and yet you will, I assure you, find one or two grammatical errors. I adopted the Old Glory as my own.  This is my land,  my home.

Happy Birthday America, from someone who chose to be a part of you.

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Girlfriends Time!

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Maid Day (No, it’s not a typo).

Why the title, you ask, dear readers?

Weekend is also called a maid day, in my household. No, it’s not like we’re celebrating maids, it’s more to do house chores that I wish a maid would do it instead of me.

Not that I’m looking down at this profession. I actually give a lot of credits to maids. I grew up having maid working for my parents. Yes, stick your tongue at me, I was one of the kids out there that did not make my own bed or did the dishes or clean my room. My maid did all of those. And on top of it, my parents have never been rich and my mom never works in the office her entire life. But we had maid. In several occasions, we had two. Having a maid (or two) in our home enabled my mother to enjoy what she likes the best and ensure her daughters and husband are still living in clean house and having clean underwear and fresh, warm, healthy food served in each meal time. Having a maid enable her to concentrate watching her daughters grow up.

I think that’s the advantage, back in Indonesia, of living in a poor country. Poverty actually  gives an opportunity for middle-class people to become an employer and live a mess-free house. Of course same advantage can not be applied here in the great ol’ USA when you have to go thru loopholes, provide so many and perform the FBI-level of background checks to have someone mop and dust. And add the free tax payer money government giveaways programs as the frosting on top of your cupcakes – it’s so hard to employ someone poor since they can just receive the fish and not the fishing rod. No hand-outs means people actually are more willing to work to support their own life.

And the fishing rod is what my mother provided them. They are usually girls or young woman (my mom prefer not to hire older woman – they usually did not last long, always use husband and kids as an excuse to visit their village quite frequently – and guess who is footing for the transportation expenses). My mom not only teach them how to cook, but she teaches her how to sew clothes, bake cakes and do gardening. Bed and shampoo and soap are free courtesy of my mother and we welcome them to watch TV with us and whatever we eat is what the maid would eat. Extra money for holidays and if they work really well, it would be gold earrings once a year for them (“all girls need a jewelry” my mom said). When they stop being a maid, they have so many skills. They can bake or sew to support themselves or their own family when they get married.

Of course the chores are not comparable here and there. It’s always manual work back then – clothes are manually washed, hung and ironed. We live in tropical country and no AC, so all windows and doors are usually opened, thus, sweeping and mopping need to be performed in daily basis. No such things as dishwasher, nor TV dinners or drive-thru grocery shopping and  Roomba did not even exist in our wildest dreams. No Costco so all have to be bought in daily basis – hence the daily trip to the stores (now you will think it’s so hip and French, believe me, Asian countries are doing it too) by foot or by bike.

There’s actually not much to do in my house that require a professional cleaning lady to clean my house in regular basis. I just prefer not cleaning, simple as that (although I must admit, vacuuming give me a weird relief feeling when I’m stressed out). My house is small I’d sometimes worry it’d give a panic attack for claustrophobic. Cant stand being in an elevator, you say? Well I might have to scratch your name off the dinner guest list. Ha! But aside from actually having few rooms and furniture to clean, I just don’t feel like cleaning, and if I have time to do so, I prefer getting my beauty sleep caught up.

So the Maid Day usually starts sometimes on noon-ish,  on Saturday. Right after I wake up. It usually start with me trying to compose a grocery list and send my husband on his way to the stores. Sorting the laundry by the colors (dark, lights, whites,  jeans and handwash). Then there’s the bathrooms cleaning and if we’re lucky, vacuuming (although recently vacuuming becomes a Monday event). Have you seen my vacuum cleaner? If you have, you’d understand why I don’t like hauling that thing up and down the stairs. My handsome husband usually does the outdoor stuff – cutting the grass. There is not enough money in the world to make me go outside and cut the grass when the sun is still up. My son will have his own territory: his room that always manages to mess itself up and he has clean dishes to put away. This whole ritual usually get so many distractions (including nap time) that they got done only by Sunday night. So little house, with all the appliances, so many hours just to finish them.

So I may need to exercise anyway and cleaning does burn energy. Or  I may need to compromise with my control freak-ish tendency so my husband and kid can keep their sanity.  So what if there are legos or socks or towels on the floors (I can freak out over this).  After 5 days of working and studying hard, weekend is something we look forward to, two days to relax and enjoy and not getting stressed to do the cleaning. And that’s perhaps, my friends, why I need a maid. So I can actually relax with my family during the weekends. Or dare I say, WE need a maid?

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..In The Argument Why I Voted YES For Marriage Amendment.

Dear readers.

NC just passed an amendment, defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. For some reasons this made an uproar especially in the internet. I’ve seen comment like NC people are racist, bigots, homophobic, idiot, backward and unconstitutional. WHAT?

First of all, do your homework before you call me any of the above.  They still teach history and civic in classrooms, right? NC is NOT the only states in USA that has this specific definition. We are actually the 31st. Did you call any residents of the other 30th states the same name-calling yet? If USA has 50 states. and 31st has similarities with NC, then do you think most of the USA are bigots, homophobic, idiot, backwards and unconstitutional? You sure you still want to live here?

Secondly. Did you even vote? If you are that passionate about this issue, why didn’t you? No time? Nonsense. The voting opened almost the whole day. It was a quick in-and-out. Sitting in burger chain might take longer and not good for your gut anyway. Voting is free, quick and effective. Does not contain MSG nor fat and surely not sugary. I am passionate of what I believe, and I had a chance to voice it out, I went voting, I got what I wanted, and you are upset? We had the same opportunity  to voice it out. I did, a lot of people did. You chose to snooze, you lost, and you are upset and call me names.

And did you know, the amendment isn’t against anyone, but pro-marriage and pro-North Carolina. Government did not make this. North Carolinians do. The people who cares about their state do. The amendment doesn’t change our marriage laws, but preserves our historic understanding of marriage by securing that definition in our constitution. Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, and this amendment doesn’t change that, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of society.  This was taken from this link: http://www.voteformarriagenc.com/docs/nc_faq.pdf

I believe that God created Adam and Eve. Oh, you said there is NO God? Then explain how the Big Bang Theory created humankind. Did man just popped in out of thin air? Man came from monkey, you said? Then how did monkey come to earth? From amoeba? I must be sleeping during the class when they explained it to me. Just because we do not see God, you can not rule out that He is non-exist. Hey, I never see your brain, should I rule it out too?  And I would like to follow what is right according to the Bible. I guess I’m more worried of what He’d think of me than what you’d think of me, so I went ahead and vote YES.

I have nothing against LGBT community. I believe a lot of them are good people. They stand up for what they believe, why can’t I? If they cheers when other states allow same-sex marriage, why can’t I cheer for NC decision? Where’s the equality here? Do I have to be ‘tolerant’ for they beliefs, will they be ‘tolerant’ of what I do believe? I think it works both ways.  If they really want to get married then I believe with all my strength that it would not be a problem for them to take a quick trip to any of those states that allow them to do so. That’s the power of love. It should conquer all the obstacles and follow the rule of the land. I applaud the wanting to do it right – get married for whatever reasons you may have. People also elope to Vegas for whatever reasons. I respect that. Can you respect mine? Before NC allowed lotteries, people travelled beyond the state line to buy their tickets.  Still same thing here for fireworks. At the end of the day, we will excercise our option and do the extra yard for something that we really wants. NC defines marriage as union between man and woman and that’s it. I vote YES.

 

 

 

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My Life Without TV (that is ending soon).

We’ve been living without TV.

Yea, that skinny black big square in the living room is no other than a decor. We used to stare at that ‘idiot box’ for hours each day, feeding ourselves passively with junk news, so-called reality shows, cartoons and in between. I found my husband snoring on the couch numerous times with clicker in hand. Or watching my son dragging his pillow from his bedroom upstairs, to watch his River Monsters. Or find myself amused on how big those houses that any ‘real’ housewives on TV had.

And every month we found ourselves unhappy with the TV bills. With 70% of the channels we did NOT care to watch. And I guess the beautiful scenes of what Discovery Channels provides nor the awesome clips that the History Chanel wowed my son, it was not good enough for us to shell out seventy bucks each month.

So, before new year, we said adieu to the magic cable.

My living room suddenly turned into lego room, congklak room, magazine room and popcorn room. We changed from passively being fed by whatever the producers chose to display, into an active chatting room between hushand and wife, or a battleship between lego A vs. lego B. My living room became alive.

I would be lying if I told you I did not go into withdrawal. I did. I used to wake up around noon just to drag my behind to the couch and looked for the clicker. Waiting for my coffee to brew and browse around the channels. Sipping my coffee and stare at the colorful box. The first week was rough – I had my coffee but nothing to stare at. My colorful box turned into an empty, black, silent box. So then I sat in the dining room. Then the coffee left my household. No TV, no coffee. I paced back and forth for few days then I realized I actually gaining extra sleep since then. No TV, no coffee = more sleep for me.

We got by, by visiting library. Books to read, and if we were THAT bored, we went to the third floor, renting some movies for free. It expanded our horizon a bit actually, from all the international movies we watched. The DVD usually are clean and scratchless (guess not many folks here in town interested in anything beside hollywood craps) and we learned a tiny bit about other culture. People look at us funny for not knowing what’s hip and on in the theatre but we look at the funny as well for not knowing the free, good options that are available for them to enrich their mind. Guess we both lost to the arguments.

I thought we were settled in this TV-less household.

Until yesterday afternoon, a lightning must’ve hit my husband’s head and he wanted to watch TV. Off he went, dialing and talking. Then it’s all set: we are hooked up to cable again. This time we got half of the price we used to pay last year with almost triple the channels. With HD’s for free. For some reasons I’m not THAT excited. The TV guy would be here on Thursday then we should be good to go in catching up with whatever my TV has to offer: the shows, the news, cartoons and whatnots.

I liked watching TV. I liked not having TV bills and I liked the absence of  TV. I liked that my husband would be able to watch his History Channel and my son would be able to watch his fishing show soon. I do, however, not having anything to look forward to.

Welcome, me, into the TV world again.

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Furniture Market, Y’all!

Dear readers,

I apologize for not being able to get back to writing sooner. Last week I had a gig during furniture market, and between 14-16 hours of work in two places, chauferring my son around and trying to squeeze in 4 hours of sleep, sitting and writing were not something I could afford.

So for all of you that are outside NC, High Point Furniture Market is something that, well, basically fuel up my city’s business. Downtown is lined up with showroom (furniture showrooms, that is) and twice a year we open our arms for buyers coming from simply saying all over the world. Homeowners flee to the beach and renting out their houses, hotels are fully booked, locals bumping elbows with visitors that speak French or Japanese in grocery stores, restaurants are counting their skyrocketing profits and good luck finding an available rental car.

And this spring I had an opportunity to smell and dive in the most anticipated weekend in town. I knew a lady that owns a showroom for Antiques from Asia countries, and with my background, I got the job. It was a humble experience and I honestly learnt a lot. I learned about the business, the sales and marketing,  the preparation, and the things in between.  I talked to a lot of designers interiors, buyers from inside and out of US, magazine reporters. I learned about antique and repro furnitures, home decors and story behind an item. I learned about order processing and importing from the eye of the buyers.

I also learned that this event was the only event I’ve been in – where alcohol is permitted,  flowing freely from time to time,  and yep you can drink it in your workplace (I wish I could, but alcohol lost its charms to me a while back ago). I guess a happy (tipsy?) customers are happier to shop? I don’t know. Between luggage-dragging, namecard-sharing and price-checking, a tall glass of wine and a box of  chocolate would do the trick. Maybe.  I don’t know. I’ve been so accustomed to sit behind my computer at night and cuss at my stapler if it got jammed, that weekend I was faced to another side of working: talking to fat-walleted tired buyers that wanted to order this and wanted to know that. And trying to figure out how to work that little do-hicky that shot the bar code and let you know the price and whether it was still available or oversold.

Again, last weekend was a humble yet exciting experience. All of them were close to my heart; the origin where that desk were made, the statue that came from my province, the wooden deco that I also have in my living room, the thingymajig that Indonesians used to pound the rice after harvest. The stories I told my customers. The part of me that yearns to see my hometown – that in small tiny portion was soothed by selling furnitures from where I came from. Who would’ve thought.

So, the weekend is over, I earned few extra bucks that I bought my son a box of Lego set and perhaps something for myself? Still contemplating 🙂 I can’t wait ’till autumn comes, I may do it all over again.

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Happy Easter, For Ones That Have Taught Me About Life.

Happy Easter to all my ex-boyfriends, that taught me about heartaches, a pain of breaking up, all the bittersweet memories and all the winding roads that led me to this wonderful human being that I took his hand and vowed to be his wife for eternal life. You played a role and taught me to be stronger, so I can appreciate all the little things in life matters, every kisses in the morning he gave me, and a privilege to be a mother of his child.

Happy Easter to those who once has hurt my heart, intentionally or not, that you gave me a foundation to stand on, to look for truth in your eyes, and realize I can not please anyone. You have shown me that there are options in life and I don’t have to follow your footsteps.Words are hurtful and actions sometimes are painful, but when it’s all said and done, you have made me a stronger person.

Happy Easter to those that taught me about kindness, loyalty, honesty and a warmth of hugs. I am honored and humble to receive the blessings you shared, unknowingly or not, that I can be a better person, and pay forward all the goodness you poured on me. Every little touch matters and you have no idea that yours have shaped me in life.

Happy Easter to my husband, child, parents, sisters and brothers. For all the things that you give to me, in daily basis, for all the tumbles and falls we have together, all the headache and leaking pipes and bills to pay, broken-down truck and bruised knees. For that I see that I have a home to go to, someone to hold and bed to lay; for crying eyes and good-night kisses, for all the bad things only lead to good ones, for all the tough time only brings us closer together. And when the day is done, you are what matters in life.

Happy Easter to those who has judged me, looked down on me, misunderstood me and doubted me. Thank you for all that you do, that you showed me that half knowledge is dangerous and making assumptions are hurtful. For that hopefully I grow wiser.

Happy Easter to those who has walked in and out of my life, to those who will walk in and out of my life, for that I know that you are sent here for a reason. I will let time tell and mystery of life reveal itself, that I know that either good or bad, having an opportunity to have you, will be a blessing in disguise.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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