In Between

152 articles in category In Between / Subscribe

YESTERDAY, MY MOM CALLED, asking what I was doing. I was in the middle of steaming my homemade custard buns, so I hung up the phone and Facetimed her instead. I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to just show her what I was doing.

She told me that she was going out of town for the weekend, and filled me with news and gossips on family and friends that I had missed since I moved back to Melbourne.

Then she asked, ‘How’s the job hunting? No reply yet?’

Erm, no. Not yet.

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MOST QUESTIONS ABOUT ONE’S life revolves around two things: relationship status and employment status. This is especially true for those who are in their mid-20s.

I know, because after being asked about my married life, the question that follows is this: What are you doing now?

Depending on who’s asking, I would answer differently, ranging from: unemployed, slowly getting into the job market, or enjoying life. And they are all true. Actually, the latter is the most accurate description of the three.

I am what you call a stay-at-home wife. I don’t have kids, but I stay at home. Thankfully, my dear husband is (currently) okay with this.

A typical day for me includes being kissed good morning by the husband before he goes to work. I’d wake up at around nine, then proceed to make coffee. I’d wash the dishes, then open my laptop and browse the net. I’d have leftovers for lunch. Then I do a bit of cleaning, laundry, or anything else that needs tending to. In the evening, I bake, or drink tea while reading a book. At around 6, I’d ask when the husband is planning to be home, and cook dinner. We’ll then eat while watching TV.

‘Aren’t you bored?’ a friend asked.

Of course not.

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Coffee in hand, I proceeded to write an email to the wedding band that my fiancé and I just saw yesterday. Yes, we’d like to put a deposit. And can you recommend the singers that would fit these songs?

Then I copied and pasted the song list that we had created, and told the band manager of our first dance song choice.

I hit send.

Okay, one done.

Taking a few more sips of my coffee, I logged in to my bank accounts and transferred money here and there. I looked at the transaction record for the last few days and checked if they were correct. They were. I switched to Facebook and scrolled through some updates. Oh, it’s a friend’s birthday today. I sent a happy birthday message.

Okay, another done.

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Do you know the meme of ‘What my friends think I do’, ‘What my family thinks I do’, ‘What I think I do’, and ‘What I actually do’? It’s usually funny but sarcastically accurate at the same time. Last Saturday, I was invited by …

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It always comes as a surprise to me that most of the people I know never live alone. And that includes my partner.

After helping him move last month, I came to realise, again, that he has never lived alone. He always has housemates, living with friends or with a guardian uncle who took care of secondary school kids when he was in studying secondary school in Singapore. But even after he moved to Melbourne to study and eventually work, he always shared a place with friends and acquaintances.

‘I don’t like coming home to an empty house,’ he said defensively. Well, it’s not like I attack him or something, but I’m a real advocate when it comes to living alone.

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Last weekend, I helped my partner pack up all his possessions as he was about to move to another place. As I put both meaningless and meaningful stuffs in different bags and boxes, I started to develop a new sense of appreciation to my own apartment.

I’ve never moved before. Well, not completely.

When I moved from Jakarta to Melbourne for the first time in March 2010, I still left half of my possession at home. When I moved back from Melbourne to Jakarta in December 2012, I left three-quarters of my stuff here.

Every time I move, I am pampered with the fact that I don’t have to vacate the place. Both Jakarta and Melbourne are home to me, and I have actual, physical homes at both places. That’s a wonderful feeling.

I’ve never realised how liberating it is, until I help my partner move.

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Last year, I won second place of a poster competition and received a $100 gift voucher to be used at the university bookshop. I was so happy. I bought some books and saved the remaining money for another time, thinking that I would buy more books in months to come.

As I’m nearly at the end of my university journey, today I went to the shop with one objective: I would spend the rest of $39.44 and never think of it again.

I didn’t realise the experience would bring me so much pain.

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After submitting that thesis, my life has been put on hold. I’m still not yet done with university—there are two more assignments due on June 7th—but for the most part, I’m living like a college graduate. I cook, I bake, I clean the apartment, I watch TV, I spend the entire morning drinking coffee and staring blankly at ‘Add New Post’ page and I send a few emails.

So what’s on the agenda for this bright and beautiful Monday morning? (I have no work and the sky is literally blue; I can say that it’s a beautiful Monday.)

Today, the agenda is decluttering.

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Two years ago, I wrote and published a short ebook titled Swimming with The Sharks. It was a 20,000-word PDF file containing stories of my life after graduation—how I got my first full-time job and threw it away, and how I got my second full-time job and threw it away. Ah, life was good.

Two years later, like all writers out there, I Googled my own name to see what the world know about me. (Ahem, don’t tell me you’ve never Googled your own name before.) I found my website, my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter account and this: a Goodreads page on my ebook.

There was a review on it, a good one, and I was excited. I took a screenshot and sent it to my fiancée. He disappeared from the What’sApp chat for two minutes. The next thing I knew, he had straightaway went to Goodreads to rate the book.

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I walked inside the office room – the room in the corner of the first floor which window looked down directly to the front gate of the university. At one end of the wall was a huge bookcase full of academic books, and at the other end, well, the big window.

Professor Mark sat down on his L-shaped office table, glued to his Mac, as per usual, before he noticed me, smiled and said, ‘Ah, Marcella, come on in.’

I smiled and mumbled that I’ve been good, and put down my two bags and took out a draft of my third chapter. It was the most important part of the thesis. I was so proud of it, but I didn’t know what he would say about it. I had sent the piece on Friday and enjoyed the long weekend. Today was Tuesday, and I would find out the verdict.

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