Life

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Dear Poy,

Today would be one of the last times that you’d sleep beside me. I know, many times I’ve complained of my inability to get a good night sleep with you kicking me every three or four hours. But now, as I sing you to sleep (and yet you still refuse to close your tired eyes), I begin to feel a pang in my heart.

Today would be one of the last times that I’d get to sing you to sleep.

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I’ve always dreamed of being published, yes, but I haven’t had the chance to dream of being on air.

Nevertheless, the opportunity came along for me to talk about my book on UFM 947 radio, a Jakarta-based radio for mothers (yes, their target market is 25 to 35-year-old women, most of them moms), and I had so much fun talking on it.

Honestly, I prepared next to zero. I have no idea who the host would be, what questions would be asked, nor the tone of the talkshow. Since I knew nothing, I decided it would be better to just do nothing. I jotted down some points I’d like to talk about, then I went to sleep.
But when I walked into that studio the next day I realised that I didn’t need to prepare a thing, as the radio host has masterfully prepared the segment to be as smooth sailing as possible. If you listen to the talk, you’ll realise how much effort he has put into researching this book—he literally read the book from cover to cover, picked the juiciest bits to talk with me about, created a storyline for the 60-minute segment that covered everything, and was able to make me at ease throughout the talk.

Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better host.

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I’m a proud person.

How proud? Well, I’ve immortalised my tendency not to ask for help in a chapter on my book. Yes, it’s that extreme.

On that chapter, I wrote about my reluctance in using ‘connection’—for example my father’s or my friends’—to get a job. I argued that if I’ve gotten a job due to someone’s help instead my own ability, I would forever: a) be indebted towards the person and b) be questioning my own skills as I don’t know whether I’m good enough for the job.

So I rarely ask for a favour.

And if I do, I’d make sure that the favour is something that’s easy to do for the other party—something that’s not going to take too much effort for them. Something like asking for information.

But apart from those information-seeking questions, my lips are sealed.

Yes, I’m odd.

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I feel like writing. At the same time, I don’t feel like writing.

I feel like reading. But at the same time, I don’t feel like reading.

Have you ever had that feeling? Of wanting to do something desperately, but at the same time rejected the very idea of doing it? Then you’re contemplating whether you should do it, toying around the thought of actually doing it, only to back out to make a cup of tea, to turn on the television, to listen to another song. You procrastinate, although you know very well that you’ll think about doing it as soon as your head hits the pillow tonight.

You’ve never had that feeling? Lucky you. I’ve had this feeling like twenty times in a day.

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Some years ago, I went through my closet and took out clothes that I couldn’t and wouldn’t wear anymore. The ‘couldn’t’ clothes were easy to choose: most of the things that didn’t fit should go. I said most, because I was definitely still keeping that dress that I haven’t worn even once because I’ve gained weight since. One day.

The ‘wouldn’t’ clothes were more complicated. I know there were a lot of skirts that I’ve outgrown, but they were still in perfect condition. And I’ve probably only worn them twice my whole life. Not to mention the t-shirts and baggy jeans that have gone out of style.

After a few hours of deliberating, I’ve finally made my decision. It wasn’t bad—I actually managed to take out two tall piles of clothes, which were going straight to the donation bin.

Then Mom came.

My mother saw me tidying up, so I asked her to go through the pile, just in case. ‘This one’s still good,’ she said, taking out the red tank top out of the pile. Then she noticed the baggy jeans and made a disapproving look. ‘That one’s quite expensive, you know,’ she said, putting it on top of the red tank top. And so on.

In the end, three-quarter of the clothes went back to my closet.

That day, I learned two things. One, is to never show Mom that you’re doing spring cleaning. Two, is that the original hoarder in the family is my own mother.

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Parents with young children, I understand you now. There’s no such thing as enough time.

For the past few months, I feel like I have a kid. The kid is my three-year-old nephew, who has ten times the energy of an almost twenty-five year old. He could climb up and down the stairs, jump around for ten minutes and run around the house without even sitting down. Me?

Well, I’d have stopped chasing him after the second stair-climb.

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Twenty-sixteen is the year where I choose family.

It’s the year where I decided to go back home to Jakarta, away from my fiancé, to spend more time with my parents before saying yes to forever.

To be honest, it’s not easy to choose family, especially when you’re still adulting. There’s still pressure for me to perform, to tick the boxes and to compete with my peers.

On my two decades of living, twenty-sixteen is one of my least productive years. Yes, I finished a minor thesis and yes, I graduated from my Master’s degree. But apart from those perfectly planned achievements, I have no other thing I can tuck under my belt.

Nada.

Well, it’s hard to be in this life’s season.

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I WAS sending my fiancée home when I brought up the honey incident for the third time that week.

Passionately, I told him that my Facebook comment was marked as spam and that the Twitter representative stopped replying after I asked for the complaint procedure. I told him that I had filled in an enquiry form through the website—that I had asked an acquaintance for their email address and sent my complaint.

He was listening silently. Then looking towards the road, he said, ‘I think it’s too much.’

‘What?’ I said.

‘This. I think you need to know when to drop it.’

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In 2013, evolutionist and atheist writer Richard Dawkins created a fuss on Twitter because he was not allowed to ‘bring his honey onto a plane in his carry-on luggage’. We learned the lesson and we put all our honey jars inside our checked-in luggage, yet I would still end up creating a fuss.

My family—my grandparents, my parents, my sister and my baby nephew—were about to fly back home to Jakarta after spending their holiday in Australia and New Zealand. They decided to buy manuka honey as it is a well-known souvenir from this region.

My mother wrapped each jar of honey with duct tape to prevent a leakage, put all eight jars (of 500g each) into a small box and then placed them into a bigger box with other souvenirs—Tim Tams, Lindt chocolates, Kiwi biscuits and more.

We went to the airport, paid AUD 14 to get the box to be wrapped nicely with plastic and walked to the Garuda check-in counter.

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Before I go any further, I’d like to talk about why I’m talking about death.

The first reason is I’m a younger sister of a legit medical doctor, and I’ve lived with her for almost five years when she’s practicing medicine. I have heard many stories on patients dying told over dinner, car ride and on the phone while instructing me what vegetables to chop for dinner that day.

One of the things I remember my sister said to me is this: ‘Die of a heart attack.’ Don’t get cancer, don’t get neuroblastoma, don’t get an illness that makes you progress slowly but surely towards your death. Most of all, don’t get diseases that progress in the brain. That’s the worst.

Of course, everyone wants to die of old age when they are sleeping, but the stats says that out of 70% of Australians who want to die at home, only 14% eventually did. And only a fraction of those 14% would die peacefully.

So the next best thing is dying of a heart attack.

Not that we can choose how we die.

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