Movie Review: Cars 3

“Cars 3” is a typical Disney family movie with good vs. evil/bad/bully and a happy ending for everyone. The difference this movie had was the happy ending came with an unexpected twist. Do you still remember the movie “Cars” back in 2006? I watched it on Netflix 10 years after the first installment was out, and I was still very much entertained. Until now I can’t say that I’m familiar with the movie characters and story lines. All I know that whenever my kids get invited to birthday parties, they often come home with the face of Lightning McQueen, the Rust-eze race car number 95, on their goodie bags.

In 2017, Lightning McQueen was not as fast, as heroic, as amazing as he was. The movie opened with McQueen meditating before a race, joking around with his fellow veteran racers, and getting ready to take on the 500 laps. He was leading until right before the finish line a rookie racer, a new car dubbed Jackson Storm, went faster than McQueen did and won the race. McQueen was taken aback by the fact that a rookie beat him and he didn’t see it coming. Storm, being arrogant and such, bragged to the reporters about looking up to McQueen as his childhood hero and he suggested McQueen to just retire, because the race track now belonged to the newer and more modern cars.

Storm’s statement got me thinking: how old was Lightning McQueen actually? In one scene, it was stated that he was a childhood hero of a car-kid. In another scene, the soon-to-be his trainer, Cruz Ramirez, said that she had seen him racing on TV since her grandfather’s days. Was McQueen that old? Well, I guessed car age was supposed to be different than human age. After the shocking result of the race, McQueen went back to his hometown and tried to think through about the meaning of being old and needing to retire. His friend, Sally, encouraged him to go back to Rust-eze, which he did, only to find that Rust-eze was already sold to Sterling. Sterling as the new owner wanted McQueen to train like the rookies, with simulators and a dedicated trainer. There came the role of Cruz Ramirez, a female (although the name suggested it’s a male) racing car trainer who was responsible to increase McQueen’s speed to match Storm’s.

It’s interesting to see how McQueen training under Cruz, and to see Cruz exercising her claimed competences as a trainer. First of all, she’s not a racer herself, and that made her, I think, lacking the credibility to teach other cars to race. She might be good in theories, but I could tell that she lacked the intuitions and she couldn’t embrace the unknown factors in racing. That was shown when she accompanied McQueen practicing racing on the beach. Seeing her reminded me of the teachers I had back in school, who were never involved in any kind of industry but were supposed to teach us about industry and its complexities. McQueen and Cruz started to get to know each other and she admitted to him that she wanted to be a race car. She participated in a race once and right there she knew that she couldn’t do it. She asked McQueen how he knew that he was meant to be a race car. McQueen’s answer was a total gem: “I never thought that I couldn’t.” And that, people, was one of the best motivational quotes I’d ever heard coming from a cartoon character.

McQueen underwent several peculiar ways to gain back his confidence, including taking part in some village’s phenomenal race in the mud, and finding Smokey who was once a mentor to Doc, McQueen’s mentor. I particularly liked how Smokey and the other veteran cars encouraged McQueen to get his head back in the game by providing him with the basic training, i.e. driving in the middle of the woods without any headlamps on (they only relied on the moonbeam to show them the way), and driving through a herd of car-cows (I must say that it’s hilarious to see cars in the shape of cows. My kids and I rolled out with laughter all through this scene). During McQueen’s training with Smokey, Cruz was appointed to be his training partner and in doing so I believed she found again her long-forgotten passion for racing. Cruz unintentionally got a firsthand training on how to become a racer; a trainer who got trained by a real racer to be a real racer and not merely a teacher. That’s interesting.

The day of the racing arrived; McQueen, Cruz, and the rest went to Florida to participate in the racing which would determine what McQueen would be doing next. Would he lose and be forced into retirement, and have to spend the rest of his car life selling car-related cleaning products? Or would he win and be given other opportunities by Sterling as his new sponsor? Even right before the race started, McQueen hadn’t gotten back his confidence. He didn’t race wholeheartedly, was very much influenced by what Storm had been saying to him during the race to mess up with his head. The funny thing was, he suddenly decided that it was his time to step back and let someone who’s actually been prepared for the race to take his place. On the pit stop McQueen told his team to prepare Cruz to race for him. They quickly painted the number “95” on her, ignoring the protests and discouragement from Sterling, her boss, who kept saying that she’s supposed to be a trainer and not a racer. Second moral lesson here; don’t let anyone put you and your dreams down. We can do much more things than we can think of as long as we have the confidence.

So, to the end of the movie Cruz was racing in McQueen’s place. Before the finish line, she went body to body with Storm. She tried hard to ignore Storm’s mocking her as just a girl in the custom (kind of reminded me of the “Wonder Woman” movie), drifted with him, flipped over him, and won the race. McQueen and Cruz won the trophy and he confirmed himself as her trainer from now on, just like the late Doc did for him. Third moral of the story, know yourself and know when to let it go. I had expected the movie to end with McQueen winning the race and claiming back his long profound glory, but the twist went unexpectedly with Cruz shining as a rookie racer and McQueen volunteering to train her.

The plot holes were only when Rust-eze was suddenly sold to Sterling, and when it suddenly dawned on McQueen that he had unintentionally trained Cruz to be a racing car and not the other way around. I had suspected that Sterling also sponsored Storm and he just wanted money from both racers. I guessed I forgot that “Cars 3” was a children movie after all, and an ulterior motive would be hard to understand by children. And I didn’t expect McQueen’s realization would come so suddenly in the middle of the race when he was supposed to focus more on winning. Oh well, just like I said, the happy ending came with an unexpected twist. It was an okay movie for me, a wonderful movie for the kids. After accompanying the kids watching “Cars 3” and accompanying my husband watching a horror movie “Annabelle: Creation” yesterday, I’m determined to go back to my original taste of movie.

“Battleship Island” starring Song Joong Ki, I’m coming for you tomorrow!

Date Afternoon

My husband took a day off from work today after two consecutive weeks of traveling abroad. Our eldest left for school at 7 AM and finished at 3 PM. Our youngest left for school much later, at 11.15 AM and came home at the same time as his sister. I was supposed to go to Bogor to run some errands this morning, but (as usual) I slept very late last night, causing me to miss my taekwondo class and lose all interest to drive for hours (approximately 2.5 hours one way) to get there. Why would I leave the house if my husband, whom I hadn’t met in two weeks and whom I hadn’t dated properly in about eight years since our eldest was born, was staying at home all day? I’d rather do something more worthwhile for me and for the rest of the family, than sit in my car and get stuck in the traffic jam.

So in the morning I raided our wardrobe, got all of our clothes on the bed, and kind of forced my husband to choose which clothes to keep and which clothes to donate. It took us some good 1.5 hours to go through each shirt, short, etc. etc. and we ended up with three laundry bags. After the closet cleaning and downsizing, we hurriedly left for the theater. The movie options were either “Atomic Blonde” starring Charlize Theron or “Annabelle: Creation” starring unpopular actors.

For your information, he is an avid fan of horror movies. I mean, a really devoted fan up to the point he’s not easily scared anymore. Every time he’s watching this genre, he could pretty much predict the plots, started to guess the action sequences and the main ghosts, and eventually googled the “behind the scenes” acts. How odd. The last time he watched a horror was last year (The Conjuring 2), when I had stubbornly refused to go with him because I saw no point of paying somebody to scare me off. He ended up going with a colleague and, to my surprise, they had a wonderful time. The colleague moved to another city and my husband lost a companion to watch horror movie. Until today. I didn’t know how he talked me into it, perhaps by reminding me how terrible Charlize Theron was in Fast & Furious 8 because he just saw that movie last weekend during his flight home and he read the movie review I wrote. We were very disappointed with Charlize Theron that we became skeptical if her newest movie was any good. Long before it came out, I read somewhere that “Atomic Blonde” was supposed to be the female version of “John Wick”. Huh. Nothing compares to Keanu Reeves, and I pretty much doubted Ms. Theron could surpass the golden standard Mr. Reeves had created for this genre. To make it short, I decided to give the horror movie a go.

The last time I watched a horror movie was in 2006, also with my husband (then my boyfriend). It was “The Grudge 2” and I couldn’t sleep for days after we went to see it. For our date this afternoon, I brought along the kids’ blanket from our car just in case it got too cold inside the theater. Nah. The truth was, I brought it because I was already scared to death even before the movie started. We bought popcorn to distract my mind from being too tensed. It didn’t work. I couldn’t eat anything; I was afraid that I would choke while I was eating because the ghost made me scream every now and then. My head throbbed, I had neck and shoulders pain because I was terrified by the movie. Do you want to know what it was about?

It was about the daughter of Samuel Mullins, a wooden doll maker, who died young at the age of 7 due to a car accident. The beginning of the movie portrayed how well Samuel did his job, how happy he was playing with Annabelle and his wife, and how devoted Christians they were. One Sunday on their way home from church, their car broke down. Mrs. Mullins, on her attempt to stop a passing car to help them, didn’t realize that Annabelle was running to the middle of the street to chase a bolt gliding from her father’s car. The scene was closed with a loud thud and it moved forward to 12 years later. Annabelle’s graveyard with a cross with her name written on it was the first scene before a car filled with a priest, a nun, and six orphaned girls was shown traveling to the home of the Mullins. The youngest of the group were Janice, whose legs were limping due to polio, and Linda. The other four girls seemed bigger and much older than these two. The nun and the girls were welcomed to stay at the Mullins with restriction; they could never go to that one room on the second floor. “It is locked and it will stay that way,” said Samuel Mullins. Mrs. Mullins was unable to walk, spent her days in her bedroom, and she rang the bell every time she needed assistance from her husband.

That was just the preface. The problem started when Janice broke the rule and went into the room of the late Annabelle. There she freed the scary, kid-human sized doll in a white dress which was previously locked inside the closet with pages from the Bible plastered all over the door. The dead Annabelle then started to scare Janice off in order to acquire her soul, and one night the evil spirit threw her from the second to the first floor, causing Janice to be unable to walk permanently. She had been trying to tell Sister Charlotte, the nun, that an evil spirit was present inside the house, but the Sister didn’t believe her. Nobody did (like typical horror movie). The evil finally took Janice’s soul away, and started its hunting spree on the other girls. The focus of the story then shifted to Linda and how brave she was to defend herself. She even took the scary doll to the field, threw it into an old, abandoned well, in a vain hope that it would stop disturbing everyone inside the Mullins house. The doll, of course, escaped the well, managed to kill the Mullins couple, harmed Sister Charlotte, and almost killed one of the remaining four girls (Nancy). How did the story end? Did the doll kill everyone? Did it escape the exorcism performed by Sister Charlotte? You’d better see it by yourself, because writing about the plots right now just gave me the goose bumps once again.

I meant it when I said that it’s ridiculous to pay somebody to scare me off. I think paying to watch a horror movie is one of the worst ways to spend money. Unlike romance or crime genres, horror genre is something I can’t grasp and enjoy for any reason at all. Lucky us, there were only fifteen people inside the theater; otherwise I would have been kicked out from it because I screamed too often. The movie was heart-pounding, nerve-wrecking, and making me want to puke. I really thought the worst actors to play the roles of criminals and ghosts are children. They’re supposed to be innocent but the characters they’re playing were displaying extreme evil that I couldn’t stand it. It felt pretty much the same with when I watched “Logan” and saw mutant kids killing the soldiers hunting them. It’s not right; it’s not supposed to be like that.

For those who are into horror movies, I can only relay to you the opinion of my husband. He said that the movie was not as exciting as “The Conjuring 2”, which was actually meant to be the sequel of “Annabelle: Creation”. The last scenes of “Annabelle” did reveal the opening to “The Conjuring 2”. He also said that the movie was kind of predictable, in terms of the number of ghosts and from where they appeared. Believe me, when he made this review he put on a poker face while I quietly trembled because I could still see the scenes replaying in my head. My husband joked that my cycle to watch a horror movie is probably every 11 years (2006, 2017, and perhaps 2028), just like the 12-year cycle in “Annabelle”. To that joke I feverishly shook my head and replied, “Sorry, but I’m so done with horror movie.” I really love him, but he will need to find another companion to watch this genre.

Selamat Hari Ayah

Kata orang, jangan jatuh cinta karena penampilan fisik seseorang. Semua orang akan menua, dan kecantikan/ketampanan fisik akan memudar suatu hari. Ah, omong kosong. Pasti ada ciri fisik yang menarik yang kita lihat dari lawan jenis dan membuat kita jatuh padanya.

Buat saya, yang menarik dari fisik suami adalah lengannya. Waktu pertama kali bertemu dengannya 11 tahun lalu di Cafe Bon Ami, Surabaya, lengannya adalah salah satu hal pertama yang saya perhatikan. Dia tidak duduk persis di depan saya, namun dari sudut mata saya bisa memperhatikan dia saat sedang makan. Biasanya orang jatuh cinta karena pandangan mata, karena senyuman, karena rambut panjang, karena ukuran betis (kisah nyata!), namun saya jatuh cinta karena lengannya yang kokoh. Mungkin karena waktu itu dia masih sering fitness, haha.

Cerita dipercepat beberapa bulan kemudian saat kami memutuskan untuk berjalan bersama, dan 2 tahun kemudian saat kami memutuskan untuk menikah. Memori pada hari pernikahan kami sudah memudar dari ingatan saya kecuali pada momen-momen saya harus menggandeng lengannya: karena selop saya berhak tinggi jadi badan saya tidak seimbang, karena saya gugup sekali menjalani hari itu, karena saya yakin dengan berpegangan padanya saya akan baik-baik saja. Lengannya saya gandeng erat mulai dari saat dia menjemput saya dari kediaman keluarga saya, saat kami tiba di gereja dan saya keluar dengan susah-payah dari mobil pengantin (sungguh saya tidak pernah terbiasa memakai kebaya dan songket), saat kami menaiki tangga menuju ruangan pemberkatan pernikahan, dan saat kami berjalan menuju altar untuk mengikat janji sehidup semati.

Tidak berhenti di situ, lengannya telah terbukti selalu siap menopang saya (dan anak-anak) di hari-hari selanjutnya.

Dia rela lengannya saya cengkeram/cakar/cubit waktu saya menahan sakit melahirkan secara normal. Lengannya juga menjadi pegangan saya sesaat sebelum saya memasuki ruang operasi dan menjalani operasi sesar darurat. Saat anak pertama kami muntah darah kurang dari 24 jam setelah dilahirkan, saya tahu dia khawatir tapi dia berusaha untuk tidak menunjukkannya. Beberapa hari setelah saya melahirkan, dia kembali bekerja, namun dia selalu berusaha pulang tepat waktu dari kantor untuk menengok anaknya di unit Perinatal. Beberapa hari berlalu dan kondisi anak kami tidak kunjung membaik. Pada akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk mengganti dokter spesialis anak yang menangani bayi kami. Setiap hari kami berdua berjaga di unit Perinatal sampai larut malam, berharap esok pagi bayi kami akan pulang. Di hari ke-9 doa kami dijawab, anak kami bisa melepas infusnya dan pulang ke rumah.

Lengannya selalu sigap menggendong anak kami tanpa mengeluh: menembus hujan deras di Edinburgh, melewati jalan bersalju di Jungfraujoch, menghadang angin dingin yang membuat gigi gemeletuk tak karuan di Jepang, di setiap kondisi di mana anak kami sudah terlalu lelah untuk berjalan dengan kedua kakinya sendiri. Saya dan dia gugup dan gagap waktu pertama kali menjadi orang tua. Kami tidak punya pengalaman, kami harus selalu belajar, kami harus menepiskan keegoisan diri, kami menempatkan kebutuhan dan kepentingan orang lain (anak kami) di atas diri kami sendiri, kami jadi sangat berhati-hati dalam bersikap/berkata-kata/berbuat agar kami menjadi teladan yang baik bagi anak kami. Terlebih sebagai seorang ayah, anak perempuan kami akan melihat bagaimana seharusnya seorang laki-laki bersikap/berkata/berbuat. Dia akan melihat bagaimana seharusnya seorang laki-laki memperlakukan seorang perempuan dengan melihat bagaimana ayahnya memperlakukan ibunya. Hubungan yang baik antara anak perempuan kami dengan ayahnya akan menentukan bagaimana dia menilai kualitas diri seorang laki-laki, yang pada akhirnya akan memandu dia untuk memilih pendamping hidup yang tepat.

Empat tahun setelah anak pertama kami lahir, kami dikaruniai anak kedua, seorang anak laki-laki. Tugas suami saya menjadi lebih berat. Selain memberikan teladan bagaimana seorang laki-laki seharusnya memperlakukan seorang perempuan, dia juga harus memberikan teladan bagaimana seorang laki-laki seharusnya hidup. Dapat memimpin, bertanggung jawab, melindungi orang yang lebih lemah, selalu berjuang, tidak mudah menyerah, rajin bekerja, hanyalah sedikit dari sekian banyak kualitas yang harus dia tanamkan pada diri anak laki-laki kami. Saya yakin dia akan bisa melakukan semua tugasnya karena dia tidak bersandar pada kekuatannya sendiri.

Tiga bulan lagi kami akan merayakan ulang tahun pernikahan ke-9, dan dalam 8 tahun terakhir setelah anak-anak ada kedua lengan suami saya selalu siap menggendong, merangkul, dan menghibur mereka. Kedua anak kami (terutama anak  laki-laki kami) sangat senang bermanja-manja di pelukannya, dikelilingi oleh kedua lengannya. Saat anak-anak rewel dan mengantuk, pelukan dari Daddy bisa menenangkan kegelisahan mereka. Jangankan mereka, saya juga sangat senang kalau dipeluk oleh lengan suami saya, haha.

Selamat Hari Ayah untuk partner terbaik yang bisa saya minta, ayah yang selalu berusaha untuk menjadi yang terbaik untuk anak-anak kita. Jalan kita masih panjang, tugas kita masih berlimpah, boleh kan aku bersandar di lenganmu saat hidup terlalu melelahkan untuk dijalani? Awas kalau ga boleh. :p

 

 

 

Reunion

IMG_7229Last year I had a reunion with my classmates when I was on the second grade of high school from 1998 to 1999. Some of us became classmates again on our third and final year, and some others even went to the same universities afterwards. The reunion was preceded by, of course, the forming of Whatsapp group, as it is very common in Indonesia. The conversations in the group itself were totally random, covering many topics, and if I might say, fun. The interaction by texts was somehow needed to confirm that we’re still in the same wave length, or not. Could we still converse about something, or would there be an awkward silence creeping in every turn?

We met sometime in August, 2016 in Bandung at a friend’s house. Of all memories I had in high school, the memories I had with those people were the strongest. I had suspected that I might have forgotten almost everything about those days on the second floor of the new school building, but I hadn’t. I still remembered well the names of my former classmates, the hearsays, the gossips, the truths, and pretty much everything circulating in our classroom. After the small reunion, the Whatsapp group had become awfully quiet. Was it because we saw the reunion as a means to quench our thirst for “good, old time”, for youth, for some reminiscence of how life was before we took on more and more responsibilities each day; and after we did meet we said to ourselves that it was good enough but nothing more could be done from there? I really wonder.

Yesterday I had another reunion with my classmates from university. Unlike the classmates in high school which were rotated every year, these people had stayed with me for three years from 2000 to 2003. I went for an exchange program in Tokyo from 2003 to 2004 and came back for my final year from 2004 to 2005, completely missing out the only chance to experience the last year with them. As I looked at one of the souvenirs for the reunion and saw that the picture on the E-toll card was taken during my absence, I suspected that if I came to the event, the reminiscences and the rewinding of the collective memories would be excluding me. It was indeed true.

I had suspected myself to be bitter or sad about it, but the fact was I didn’t feel any of those emotions. What I felt was a mere curiosity and a simple delight that these classmates really did have one of the best times in their lives, that the friendships had deepened along the way as they strove to pursue good grades and the possibility to graduate on time, if not earlier than schedule, and that the bond was strong enough to call for a reunion almost two decades after they all first met. I was happy to see all those memorable and exciting moments they experienced through the old pictures and videos shown during the event, and I felt quite funny because within 14 years I had subconsciously deleted the memories I’d ever had with or about them. Blame it on the age and the giving birth factors (some research showed that plenty of brain cells died after labor. No wonder I’m so forgetful these days!), but I embarrassingly forgot the names of a handful number of people. I didn’t remember that I was in the same sub-class with them (the whole class, consisting of 100 people, was divided into three fixed sub-classes for straight four years), I didn’t remember that I ever worked in the same groups with any of them, and I didn’t remember how the group dynamics were. I didn’t remember if I had argued or disagreed with, liked or disliked anyone. This feeling of neutrality took me by surprise, because the reunion then started to feel like an encounter with new people instead of meeting again the people I was already acquainted with or I befriended years ago.

They say that in a reunion you tend to still like the people you liked back then, and dislike the people you couldn’t stand. People, who used to work well together, will likely be able to work well now, or even better. Considering the fact that I came to this reunion with a clean slate, I found it funny that I managed to strike good, meaningful conversations with people I rarely spoke with during our three years being in the same sub-class.

That led me to another question to contemplate: what kind of person was I?

Why talking and engaging were so effortless this time compared to how they were? How had I changed; how had they changed? Many things had happened within 17 years: classes, graduation, new job, career, dating, break-up, marriage, family, children, you name it. Somewhere along the way I and they had found the common ground to make it interesting enough to interact with each other this time; it was something we didn’t have long time ago. Of course I still managed to chat freely with some people who I felt were pretty close to me (my heart became warm just at the sight of them), but the conversations with some people whom I didn’t greet perhaps more than twenty times within three years had made me feel even more joyful.

Where do we go from here?

After the common “hey, how have you been”, the next question will be: what’s next? Reminiscing the times we spent in school with people we were acquainted or are still friends with, is as wonderful as experiencing the times themselves. But after saying so much “remember what we did/remember when we were”, will we still have the drive to maintain the relationship? What will be our common ground this time after we’re not being in the same classroom, doing the group works anymore? Friendship is a vulnerable and exhausting relationship, is tested by time/distance/the absence of updates, and needs every ounce of effort from every party involved to make it worthwhile. Life happened, friendship grew cold, and getting connected again with people from my life more than 10 years ago surely had its moments. For now I’m just going to celebrate the warm feelings seeping into my heart after the reunion. Thank you for inviting me.

 

Survival Kit for Wives Whose Husbands Travel A Lot

Disclaimer: This kit also applies to husbands whose wives travel a lot for work.

Back in our dating days, my husband and I worked in the same company and we traveled a lot for work. I traveled mostly around the cities in Kalimantan, while he took flights back and forth from Surabaya to Jakarta, and many times abroad. We would keep each other updated on which city we’re going to travel to next, because many times the itineraries were decided a couple of days before we left our base towns. Up to now my husband is still working in that company and his current traveling frequency is not less (or will likely be less) than ten years ago. I occasionally ask him on the weekend what his plans for the upcoming week(s) will be, and I’m pretty amazed if he can spend one whole week from Monday to Sunday without going out of town.

I can say that it’s quite a challenge for me to stay at home with two young kids and not having him around as much as I want to, but humans are resilient creatures and I’ve managed to build my own resilience over the years. I did manage to squeeze three tips out of this integral part of my life to be my survival kit.

  1. Acceptance

My husband’s current career might not be what he (and I) had in mind when we got married, but I was there when he made the important decisions regarding his occupation. I was there when he told me that the kind of job he would have would take a lot of time traveling for meeting, supplier audit, factory visit, you name it. I know his deepest interest, passion, and ambition, and I’m in every step of the way to support whatever he does career-wise. Grumbling that he’s never home long enough will not benefit anyone. Complaining heavily cannot make the traveling duties go away, so I might as well accept the fact and be a strong guard for our home and children.

  1. Sufficient groceries and medical supplies

What task in this world is more challenging than doing monthly grocery shopping with two very active kids in tow? I say, none. Ever since my boy could get out of the shopping cart by himself (sometimes unnoticed), I started to do groceries all by myself, one hour before the hypermarket closes at 10 PM. That way I can save myself from the hassle of calling out for my daughter who stayed too long in the children’s shampoo/soap section because she hoped Mama would eventually buy her the Cinderella’s theme shampoo (it’s never going to happen, darling, sorry. Johnson and Johnson still has the best hygiene products for children), and finding my son who went missing in the toy section because he’s too busy eyeing the Hot Wheels cars, Thomas the tank engine, etc. etc. My son had gone missing several times in the Hypermart near our home while I was paying at the cashier, that the security guards kind of remembered our faces after the third time I asked, in great panic, for their help to search for him. He didn’t go that far, by the way; he was just playing with some batteries at the cashier next to where I was paying for my stuffs. Therefore I always make sure that food and medical supplies are always sufficient at home, or at least for as long as my husband is away for work. I’d prefer having oversupply of food and medicine than having to go to Alfamart/Indomaret late at night because we run out of bread/cereal/milk/diaper.

  1. Do things that will keep my sanity intact

I keep telling myself to do things that will give me comfort, that will give me enjoyment, that will help me release my stress after long turbulent days handling the kids and the house all by myself. My husband, being supportive and everything, will always try to call/video call to check how I (and the kids) are holding up. Some days are good, some days are better, and some days are worse. Kids’ homeworks, after school lessons, play dates (rarely), house cleaning, laundry, and cooking are the major errands I run on daily basis. I’m on my feet most of the time and my down time is when I go to Taekwondo lesson three mornings a week or when I have lunch with my friends. The feelings of being lonely and exhausted can creep in anytime, so it’s important to keep my spirit up by doing things I like as refreshment. I like watching K-dramas or Star World while sipping Bailey’s/hot tea as a way to wind down before I go to bed. I also write blog posts or continue writing the novel I’m working on as a way to do something for myself after an almost full day living and breathing for my sun and my sky.

I’m sure there are a lot of other wives out there with similar experience with me. I’d love to know the survival kits you guys have up on your sleeves!

*) Picture above was taken from his IG account. He surely loves to take pictures of the early flights he often takes.

Living with Two Young Kids

I never thought of getting married and having children, but here I am, ending up with them and revolving my life (well, most of it) around them. I’ve got a couple of kids who are 4 years apart and the quite significant age difference doesn’t seem to stop the siblings bickering (I cross my fingers that the bickering never ever evolves into rivalry). They say that if the first child is a girl, she will tend to be more considerate toward her younger sibling.

FALSE. IT’S ONLY A MYTH.

My eldest is as fierce as her brother in defending her rights, her toys, her book, etc. etc. She was much more thoughtful when her brother was a little baby. But as he turned 2 and his mischievous acts started to surge, my daughter decided that the time to play nice was over.

Living with the two of them has its ups and downs. Here are some particular changes I’ve noticed over the course of four years.

 

  1. My bedroom is not my bedroom because they say it isn’t.

How many bedrooms do we have in our home? Three, one master bedroom and two others for children. We even provide a bunk bed in the boy’s room and a single bed with its own trundle bed in the girl’s room, to accommodate them sleeping in the same room for the first few years after my son was born (the children bedrooms also serve as a guestroom, which we lack of). We thought by providing two beds in each bedroom, the kids will take turn to sleep in one of the two bedrooms and the bedrooms will be used quite fairly.

WRONG.

For the past one year they’ve been huddling in my bedroom just because the bed is the largest in the house. So, almost every night the kids will be tucked in my bed until they fall into a deep sleep around 11 PM. Then my husband will move them to one of the two children bedrooms, but by 4 AM they will come back to my room; my daughter after she goes to the toilet, which is right next to my bedroom, and my son looking for his mommy to comfort him. So before the dawn breaks, my poor husband has to move to the kids’ bedroom because the poor super king size bed just cannot handle two adults and two very active young kids. For the sake of everybody, my dear man decides to sleep by himself and let the kids sleep in the master bedroom, leaving me with neck pain almost every morning. The bed has become their own battle field, people. I wake up about 3 to 4 times every night trying to shift my son from kicking his sister on her face, or shift my daughter who places her leg on her brother’s stomach. No wonder I always get sleepy around 8 or 9 AM; a good night sleep is such a luxury for me these days.

 

  1. Toys and books are literally everywhere in the house.

Haven’t we assigned a credenza with four large drawers for their toys? Yes, we have. Not only that, we’ve also added a big black box from IKEA hidden under our 140-centimeter long sofa for big-sized toys like the golf sticks and fire engines, and two containers for LEGO alone in the eldest’s bedroom. Where do we assign the playroom? In our home library, inside the hole under the table placed on the tatami (so the messiness of the whole situation isn’t that obvious to the people coming to our house). However, the playroom more often shifts to the living room, to the TV room, to the kitchen, to the indoor garden, to the main bathroom, and recently to the master bedroom. Like this morning I woke up with a giant LEGO block on my back, a story book on my feet, and a son who was practically wailing because he couldn’t find the new police car he brought to sleep last night. As I tidied up my room I discovered almost a dozen of the said LEGO under the blanket, two more story books on the floor, and a detergent bottle waiting to be painted by my daughter on my dressing table. That’s from last night alone. Some mornings I would find a set of Hot Wheels cars lining neatly on the foot of the bed, two Barbie’s sleeping next to my pillow, and a LEGO police car crushed under my son’s body due to his all night long twist and turn. When will this end? I predict, not sooner than four years from today. Considering my daughter’s habit to sleep with her treasured toys and stationeries (and that’s including sketch book and pencil case, not only Barbie’s and stuffed animals) until she’s 8 years old, my son will probably follow the same pattern. However, I do hope they will soon get tired of my spacious bed and move into their own respective bedrooms. I miss sleeping in the same room with my husband, ha-ha.

 

  1. One kid is getting exposed to his sibling’s extracurricular activities.

My daughter has four after school lessons occupying four of her seven days in a week. She was learning ballet for almost five years and her brother would go to her lesson every single time ever since he was born until last June (almost four years). The distance from our home to where the lesson took place and the duration of the lesson itself (only 1 hour) made it ineffective to be driving home back and forth twice a week. The ballet teacher and my eldest’s ballet classmates had grown affectionate toward my boy, especially when he’s not acting up and making so much noise while we sat on the waiting room. I remember that the first time my boy could stand on his own wobbly feet was in his sister’s ballet studio while leaning on the studio mirror. It was such a fond memory.

We do the same thing for her piano lesson which is only 30 minutes, once a week. My son will wait there with me, and the piano teacher is giving him candy treat every time he comes (Friday is the only time I allow my kids to eat Sugus, ha-ha). But what he’s most enthusiastic about is the taekwondo lesson, twice a week. He will hold on to the gate heading to the dojo, wearing his saddest face and puppy eyes, calling out for his sister, and begging the teacher to let him join the practice. He is a physical kid and physical activities excite him. My poor boy; the teacher told him that he’s too young and he had to wait another year before he could join the lesson.

I don’t have any help at home, so all the time I will take my boy when I need to drive my eldest to and pick her up from the lessons, even if it means disrupting his nap time. The good thing is, he gets exposed to other activities than school, and recently he found his thing. My boy was once nervous to get into the water, but after his sister took a swimming lesson and is now joining a club, he’s been playing by himself in the kid’s pool with his own float and flippers. He doesn’t hesitate to float or dive anymore; so that’s a great improvement.

 

My daughter mostly complies with Mama’s two commandments ((1) localize your play area and (2) tidy up your mess), but my son’s obedience is still a work in progress. The days when the house is clean and tidy will come, but not today or anytime soon. All I know and care about right now is to savor this very moment while it lasts. I know that I’m going to miss them making a mess in our home when they’re growing out of the house and leaving me with a big, spotless space.

 

For friends with kids, what are the major changes in your life after the kids were born? I’d very much like to hear. 🙂

Our Obsession with Numbers

Not everyone is good with Math, but almost everyone is familiar with numbers and incorporates them in their daily lives. We cannot escape its importance; we need them as much as we need the alphabets to form words, then sentences, then ideas to say the least. Numbers are used to communicate as effectively as words. For a tourist who travels to a foreign country while he understands no word of the local language, numbers (especially the price tags of goods) become a mutual language understood by both the locals and the tourist to conduct transactions. Numbers convey message and drive decision.

On planet earth only human beings use numbers as a mean of communication, and recently I contemplated on the numbers we are obsessed with in life. They can differ from one person to another, yet they can be similar among strangers. One person I know is obsessed with the number of children she’s going to have; another person is obsessed with the number of extracurricular lessons her children are having. One person’s obsession might look strange, but it’s a personal obsession driven by personal experience and preference. Therefore it should never be criticized.

What numbers are modern people obsessed with? I define modern people here as people who live in urban area (city and town), are sociable, are well-educated, perhaps travel often, and the criteria go on. I’m not saying people who don’t fit those descriptions as less modern people; I just made up the criteria based on my personal observations.

In my opinion, modern people are obsessed with these numbers:

  1. The number in our bank account
  2. The number on the weight scale
  3. The number of reactions towards our social media post

The number in our bank account matters because we need the money to fulfill our needs (and wants). Parents let their children open their own bank account under their parents’ name, as early as elementary school age. In many cases, university students are obliged to open a bank account in a bank appointed by the university they are attending. The bank account will be used to handle any financial matter as long as the students are listed in the university. Students who come not from the area where their university is located need bank account to have money sent by their parents. Bank passbook becomes important, the number in it is even more important. It shows how financially stable a students is. When the number increases, he is relieved because he can pay for the living expense and indulge himself in his hobby/interest, for instance. When the number decreases, he is worried because he still needs money to buy books, food, etc. The number, although useful, becomes his source of delight and worry. The trend continues as one finishes school and starts working. The number of salary offered is one of determining factors whether he will take the job or not. The considerations of using the number are quite the same with when one is still in college: living expenses, indulgence, and saving. The third consideration is crucial because a person has to prepare for the rainy day in his future life. Nevertheless, as the income increases, so does the consumption. For example, when one’s salary is still 7 figures per months, he is able to take a loan to buy a motor cycle. If his salary increases to 8 figures, guess what, he will take a loan for more expensive things, and the trend goes on and on. Consumption is good; it drives the economy. But living beyond one’s means is dangerous, especially if one is having plenty of credit card debts without any growth in his income.

The number on the weight scale is ridiculously important for women. I’ve never met any man who is worried about and is obsessed with his weight as much as many women in my life. We’re not talking about getting in shape, or about body mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight of adult men and women) here. The number of the weight scale alone can make women frustrated and think it’s the end of the world. I was once like that. When I got married I was 60 kg. The number went up, went down, and reached 63 kg after I gave birth to my second child. A year ago I was in a pretty depressing/unhappy/unhealthy state that I gained 10 kg more. I then started doing ballet, taekwondo, and occasionally swimming, and now my weight is still above 63 kg. But I know that I’ve gained enough muscles to replace the fat, and that information is not displayed on the weight scale. If I had been obsessed by the number on the scale alone, I would have driven myself crazy thinking of ways to reduce my weight. What’s more important than the number pointing how much my weight is? Body mass index is an important indicator and our overall well-being also matters. Weighing much (according to us) is not a problem if our body mass index is ideal and our body still possesses strength and agility.

The number of reactions towards our social media post is the typical obsession of anyone who’s been exposed to social media. I won’t speak for myself because it doesn’t matter to me whether my posts garner attention, or not. I post what I want to share regardless people see/like it, but I know people who will share even the most embarrassing and inappropriate moments in their lives just to get those likes. It’s their choice; it has nothing to do with me. What I personally find distasteful is people sharing pictures of a deceased person or a victim of road accident. For picture of a deceased person, I personally think it’s better to get permission first from his/her immediate family before taking any pictures of and/or with the deceased. When my late Namboru (aunt) passed away a couple of weeks ago, I saw people taking pictures of her blatantly up to the point they opened up the fabric which was covering her. And those people were not even related to us! For the sake of my uncle and cousins, I withheld myself from snapping at those rude people. And for picture of a victim of road accident, we can agree that most pictures of them are grotesque and most pictures depict suffering and pain, so why do people keep posting them? It’s a world’s mystery for me, but I have a good guess that they do it to get the likes. Before Facebook added reaction buttons from only “like” to “love, haha, wow, sad, and angry”, people gave their thumbs up for pictures of deceased people. Even if the person sharing the post is somehow related to the deceased, what does “like” we give to that picture mean? That we are taking part in the mourning, or we are delighted because of the loss? Either way, that’s just not right.

Are we happier because we have more money in our bank account, because we weigh less, because we get many likes on our social media posts? I have presumption that those numbers are somehow related to the happiness of modern people, and I wish there has been or there will be research to prove their correlation.

I’m currently obsessed with the number of words I can write in one hour, and so far I haven’t reached a satisfactory result.

What numbers are you obsessed with nowadays?