I don’t know him. At least, not as well as I can be.
He’s quiet, reserved – but never calm. In fact, he’s scornful to his delegates. He turns boiling angry easily, especially if you don’t do what he asks you to do ASAP.
He releases his anger through a religious routine of weekly morning golf sessions. Golf is all he could think of. No matter what he must get the ball into every hole he aims.
The man is always impatient and works overtime everyday. Always trying to solve his own problems by himself; never asks for help. He has proven he could do it all alone, well, not exactly alone. He started his own company with his brother from nil. They are part of an extra-large family of fourteen, excluding their parents. They didn’t finish high school, but earned billions within less than a decade, thanks to their fierce commitment and an unstoppable spirit to achieve financial independence.
Almost a decade later, his brother set out to venture something else. His brother asked, “Do you want to join me?”
“No,” he murmured, stuck on his current project, perhaps a glitch on the company cash-flow.
Very well then, they parted ways, though still sharing a certain percentage of earnings with each other – because a family is still a family.
In the blink of an eye he grows out white hair. No, he’s now bald with little chunks of white hair, and wears glasses. He’s still making money that can feed more than a household. In fact he’s just bought a new car, a modified sports car, something I would never imagine a man his age would drive.
He’s still mad all the time. He’s still running the company he started from nil. He’s still obsessed with golf. He’s brought home dozens of gold medals for his perfect strikes and made his dresser looked presentable. He’s still quiet, leaving only the much-adorned dresser speaks for itself.
He has never been mad at me. He’s never scolded me in any way. He always forgives, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – he never fails to smile at me, even if it’s a little one. I imagine a very bad weather in his mind, but a degree of warmth exudes whenever he’s around me. He’s quiet, of course, but whenever I ask a question or a Barbie doll, he would always answer with a “yes.”
At times it’s a “no”, especially when I’m being impulsive. Then I would get angry and demand immediate gratification “I want a car ASAP!” But a No is a No.
So I kept quiet. I started to review my initial question: “Do I really want this? Am I really asking for that? Why did I ask? What do I want now?”
I became restless. I thought of many things to put on my wish list, but I wait before I ask. After a certain amount of time thinking, I always cross out that item on the list. And the next item. And the next.
I learn to go slow and be patient with the art of running long. Every week, at least once, I run. No matter how far it is, I must know where I’m heading, what I want. I know my teacher will never show me how to get it, because I have to go it alone, but he’s still in charge of disciplining me.
Whenever I’m on the run, I am all by myself. I feel stronger with each stride. I don’t think I need assistance other than that from barrels of drinking water.
The more I see the horizon, the larger it looks. Materialistic wishes are small and short-lived; what I want is something that lasts, something big to make my teacher proud.
I consulted him, and he gave me a sad smile. “I just don’t want you to be like me – just do what you love. You don’t have to worry about money.”
Thanks to my teacher, I learned a lifetime of lessons on how to develop the unstoppable spirit it requires to achieve the things that last. I glanced at my tattered Barbie dolls. Them flashy clothes and smiling faces looked fake. I spotted a tiny scratch on his sports car. Then I turned to study the wealth of gold medals on the dresser.
The man is a mysterious figure to most. Even I will never fully understand him as a person.
However, the man is my father, and I truly appreciate his love.
This is the second big assignment from my writing class this last spring. This is may be fiction, but I’m pretty sure you can tell where I got the inspiration from (if you’ve been following this blog, of course). Enjoy.
Every Sunday is a family day. We were on our way to brunch in daddy’s new Mercedes-Benz, when mommy turned her head and asked, “What would you like to eat?”
“What do we have?” said the eldest.
“Anything and everything,” said my mommy.
“That’s a lot of choices. ” My brother turned his head away from us, interested in the traffic outside the left car window.
“I don’t know. You decide. You’re the youngest.” My second elder brother on the right said to me.
If there are anything and everything out there, I’d still prefer a familiar taste.
“I don’t know. Thai?”
“Thai it is,” mommy affirmed.
So we went to a Thai restaurant, and the food was superb. Pineapple fried rice tasted exactly like nasi goreng, if you leave out the pineapples.
Occasionally, my father takes weekends off. He can have that because he’s the owner of our family’s import/export business, specializing in auto spare parts. That’s how he affords a Mercedes-Benz and weekly getaways to five-star hotels, like the one we’re having now.
We got a top-floor, double-bed suite. Our deck manifests the long stretch of white sands and azure waters us Balinese are proud of. It’s like a whole new world.
Back then, mom and dad slept on the same bed, and I would have my eldest brother on my left and my second brother on my right. We would get through the night in the comfort of what felt like home. Home is wherever we are, as long as we stick together.
“Daddy will sleep on the couch. You stick with momma.” My mother chirped while unpacking her toiletries.
Daddy’s practically attached to his phone all day, and my brothers were stuck in front of the TV. “Sauna?” My mother takes my hand before I said anything.
My mind wandered to places in the mist. Warm bubbles massaging my body, the loud burbles deafening my hearing. I rest my head on the edge of the tub. Everything I see starts to blur.
I don’t see mom and dad talking to each other much anymore. Maybe dad’s busy, or maybe mom’s having her period. All she talks about to me these days is period, period, period. How long is a period, again?
I got up from the tub. My mom wanted to stay there a bit. Just before I took the first step off the wet floor, I slipped, hitting myself on the head. I heard the loudest thud ringing in my ears for a moment, and everything went white. Why would they choose a glass tile for a sauna room? I opened my eyes. My vision became clearer.
Mom was panicking. She immediately called dad, and then everything fell into place after that. “No it doesn’t hurt, mom, And dad, I’m fine,” I said.
Finally. They communicate as a happy couple would do.
Both of them were caressing me as they discuss only the terrible things in the future, like finding a doctor in Jakarta and selling the Mercedes-Benz, if ever I should slip again.
Sundays are now nights out with my mother alone. We never have weekly brunches or getaways anymore. My brothers are overseas to further their education. They each have their own lives. We get in touch through the occasional text messages, like “How are you?” and “When will you come back?” My phone’s ringing silence is the usual reply.
“Do you think it will ever be OK if mom and dad separated?” Mommy asked while we’re on our way home from dinner. She was driving the Mercedes-Benz, the old one my dad gave her as now we have two flashier cars in the garage.
I’ve gotten used to hearing mommy and daddy’s screaming voices through my wall. Over the years, the wall grew silent. Whenever I go into the master bedroom to choose a midnight snack (they have anything and everything in their fridge – I don’t have to go to the kitchen downstairs), I would watch them sleep on that same bed they’ve had for years, each head facing opposite directions.
One night, I went back into my room and decided to make my night productive.
I tore the five heads on the family photograph into separate pieces. I tore many other jagged scraps of blank papers. Then I threw them away, but the five heads stay.
I pasted the these heads together using a double-sided scotch tape at the back to hold them all into one piece. Then I used superglue to attach this piece onto an empty drawing board, a huge artboard for me to draw anything and everything I want.
Hello, peeps. No, not another photo stream post from spring break. Just random stuff I’m going to mention. But I’m warning beforehand that today’s post is going to be a little too philosophical, spiritual, or whatever you want to call it. So if you’re snacking on Dorritos while reading this, save this page on your Reading List and read it some time later.
Let’s do a warmup first. By warmup I mean story that requires no critical thinking and understanding.
The surprising thing that happened on the bus while I was on my way home:
Some kiddo attempted to snatch a lady’s mobile phone right before he got off the bus. The lady was sitting right across me and just beside the exit door. The lady’s been texting on her phone throughout the ride and it was only then that she looked up. She held on to it so tightly that the kiddo did not succeed. He got off the bus and the people on the bus were like, what was that all about?
I was the only person on the line of empty seats beside me that the lady can turn her face onto. She was waving a quick goodbye to the kid, saying, “Nice try!”. And then she turned to look and me and laughing. She said, “It happened to my husband once. The key is to lock your phone with a password.”
And then she went on: “There have been a lot of these things happening on the MUNI.”
“Really? This is the first time I’ve ever witnessed something like this,” I replied.
“Yeah? Believe me, this happens a lot.”
And then she got off the bus, and I thanked her for the locking phone advice.
Well, turns out it doesn’t matter whether I’m far in the States or back in the terrorist-filled Jakarta, my hometown – I’ve got to be careful all the time.
Now let’s get to the real depth of today’s blog post.
First of all, I confess that I’m really inspired by Xia Xue for her courageousness in speaking her heart out – all out. Not a lot of people out there dares to speak their minds. Instead, they prioritize other people’s standards and then compromise themselves. Then they get on creating a fake self and suffered through it for the rest of their lives.
I think most women have felt that way from a degree to another. We feel like we have to please everybody around us, when deep down we know one fact that we can never please every one. We try to become the perfect girl, the perfect housewife, the perfect mother, the perfect employee, the straight-A student, and everything else society demands of us to exhaust our energy and for what? What do you get out of trying to please every single one on earth you’ve met?
Popularity for one, fame for two. Does that change anything, really?
The theme of the day, for me, is security. Doesn’t matter what form of security it is – everybody needs to feel secure. Financial-wise, emotional-wise. When parents nurture self-esteem to their kids from they were young, they would grow up to become a more secure person. Consequently they will manage better at budgeting their allowances to invest in things that will bring more income to himself than to spend impulsive buys and didn’t save a dime, didn’t give a minute to think about retirement, didn’t give a shit about eternity.
Funny how on this chilly night I skipped a few chapters ahead of Rick Warren’s best-seller, The Purpose Driven Life, and turn to the pages when he talks about us being God’s pleasure and how to earn His smile.
Bear with me for a moment on the subject.
Confession number two: I was born and raised as a nonreligious Buddhist. My identity card says I’m Buddhist. I’m not a baptized Christian, nor am I a devout practitioner of the Buddhist philosophy. I’m completely aware right now that I’m touching on a very sensitive subject here – religion. But I’ll just go with it. Everybody needs to speak their hearts out and express themselves. This blog has became that way, to some degree. I’d just like to share the joy of bringing smiles on other people’s faces. (More on my plans to get baptized in future posts. Just a point to note: faith and religion are two very different things).
Not meaning to confuse you in different contexts, but earlier today, during my morning class, I had one of those heated arguments with my boyfriend, whom I’ve grown to care a lot now. It’s vexing when you don’t hear a single word from those you care about throughout the day, probably just like my mom misses me and calls me religiously every week (but only once, because I know that she knows I’m busy with my final projects right now). I get that feeling now. My boyfriend felt that way during my first leave to San Francisco back in September. We got together last June, when we spent two beautiful months together, just starting out as a couple. Those first few months trying out the long distance thing with him made him feel insecure and super uncomfortable every time he doesn’t hear from me, and now I get that feeling. You literally can’t do anything else but think about them and how they’re doing, especially when you know they’re ill or just not feeling well that day.
The thing is, last night, which was his morning, he was just starting to feel better but he needed to go to work immediately, because the day before, he took leave. I didn’t know he went to work yesterday, and I didn’t know whether last night he slept as well as he needed for his immune system to recover, and whether it will make him function well at work. I didn’t hear a thing. And being the stubborn me that I am, my face is too thick-skinned to text or call him first. (Well, this is a whole new story, but long story short: I had never been the one calling or texting him first. In a ratio of 1:10 is the number of times I text/call him first as to him calling/texting me first. It’s not that I was thick-skinned – it’s just that I don’t really bother that much unless we really have something interesting and/or important to talk about).
So he did BBMed me, but his replies were so late. He was so busy. I was busy too last night doing my last-minute touchups for this morning’s class, but I couldn’t continue until I get some reassurance from him, some news from him. Yesterday we had a really bad connection. Skype went down, his BB hangs a lot, his Android has errors too and every call we got through, we only made it in bouts of 30-second “Hello” and “Can you hear me?”. I was so frustrated with all these electronic devices – just that I blamed it all on my boyfriend. Poor guy.
The core of the problem is not the electronic devices, or the fact that long-distance relationships are hard, or that it was bad timing to make calls because I was supposed to be drawing and he was supposed to be speaking with his client – the problem was made immediately when I blamed him, and the core of it was because of my insecurities.
Security – I never grew up with that.
Things you grew up with, they stick with you throughout your lifetime. I’ll just be honest here. My family and our relationships are really weird. But that’s not the main point in today’s context. The point is, my parents are no longer speaking to each other. The only reason they’re still together is my eldest brother, my second brother, and myself. They don’t talk at all, but when they do, it has to be something about either one of the three of us. Whether it’s because I need extra money for something, or that my grandfather’s ill so he needs some hospital fees. Other than that, they don’t talk. The weird thing is, they still sleep on the same bed.
Well, it’s not weird. Where else would my dad sleep?
I never had a father figure ever since I was young. My dad is always traveling and always busy with his work. In my childhood I can only remember him as my dad who buys me Polly Pockets, Barbie dolls, and pretty jigsaw puzzles whenever I get an A in my exams. Also, whatever I ask for, he will buy it. My mother, however, had never wanted to raise spoiled kids, so, of course we all have our limitations.
In the end, I didn’t become a spoiled kid, fortunately. On the contrary, I became a person who doesn’t ask for things and expect things to come by passively. Why? Because my dad has one habit my mother never fails to speak ill about: You have to nag at him in order for him to do things. Nag him three times is not enough. Nag him 100 times and he’ll take the first step. So every time I need my living cost for the month here, I need to tell him about one or two months ahead of time. Over time, I just became lazy to ask for money because it’ll come late and by then, the luxury bag I was eyeing for doesn’t seem that appealing to me anymore. So I just buy things I need. (Don’t be silly, of course I do treat myself now and then). But here’s the point – I don’t feel secure financial-wise. I know I can have it – asking anything I want and get it (because my daddy buys anything I want for me, seriously), but I’ll have to go through the nagging and stuff.
I don’t like nagging. No woman on earth likes nagging, even if they do it it’s for the nagged person’s own good. But that’s the core of who I am – I don’t bother, I don’t care much, and I don’t feel nagging is a good use of my time, unless I really need to do that. Same like money – I’ll just ask him for the amount of money that I need, not the amount I want – the grand total to support my everyday living cost, PLUS another amount I saved on the side, for emergencies (just in case, you’ll never know). So that saved amount piles up. It keeps increasing every time I asked him for his support to pay for my cost of living here. That savings right there, built up dollar to dollar, is the sum of what I call a sense of security I earned. It is only through that savings account that I feel secure, even though the amount of living cost is really enough.
Same goes with the insecurities I talked about earlier in the context of the quarrel with my boy. I blamed him for everything he does. I fear a lot of things that never happened, and I never really take in his compliments on me because I don’t feel worthy enough. It’s the nonexistent self-esteem I’ve grown up with all my life. I never really feel it’s worth to spend time asking for things, begging for things, and as time goes by, I conclude my human desires as if they are wrong, and that I’m not really that worthy enough for anything at all. Who am I to ask?
I needed to get an A for my test to drop hints, not to ask. And I keep creating all these beliefs that I’m not worthy enough to get anything I want. Even though all these things have changed a lot as I grew up, some of those insecurities sticked with me. Especially the ones that my mother passed along to me.
My mother is a very naggy person and super anxious about things that never happened. She also likes to think about the “What if”s – the bad situations that can happen. Any possible way I can protect myself from anything, even if it’s immoral, she’ll ask me to do it.
Naturally, my spirit became rebellious. I was and am still the most rebellious kid in the house. But that’s another different story too.
So at times when I feel rebellious, I feel the need to prove to my mother that I can do things, that I can get things.
I am more willing to take risks than she does – about ten times more willing. When I asked her whether I can climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a friend, she shouted back at me with her loud Medanese accent: “No lah! You idiot, you can die!”
But most other times, since I’m the youngest, I still am too young to make money and earn income to support my home, and the constant reminder that I still need my dad to support me financially… It doesn’t make me feel worthy at all.
Likewise, today’s society demands us individuals more things than ever before. Good looks, social status, and good family background are all a must. The pressures have been too high for me because I’m growing more self-aware through these daily bombardments of how you should be, how to please everyone, and why you must multitask while balance every aspect of your life.
During our quarrel this morning, I told my boy: “Unless I’m a Victoria’s Secret model, I will always feel insecure.” Hey, nobody cheats on VS models, or take advantage of them. They’re just angels, right?
And I blamed it all on him for making me love and care for him now, compared to the ignorant me when we were just getting to know each other. It felt good to be carefree – but let me tell you today that it’s worth much more to care more.
Not just others, but yourself.
Obviously I realize that I need an attitude adjustment. In the confidence department, I can list 100 things I don’t like about myself while others in my life can list down, on top of that, hundreds upon hundreds more lists that are bad about me.
However, I truly believe that having real confidence – not the fake-it-til-you-make-it kind – requires a 100% faith and trust in God. I can trust my gut instincts and stuff, but not a whole confident up to 100%, because no matter what, I’m still a human being with errs. I believe He embodies all the goodness of things, and whatever deal it is you’ve made with Him will become a good deal for yourself. With that, you’ll have confidence in yourself and in all the things you do. That will really solve the whole issue of being insecure.
The second thing I realized was that we all have the possibility to channel our desire to please everyone and only direct it to one dude – God.
All the while during my years of singlehood, I’ve been looking for the one whom I can put my trust on and someone worthy for me to serve through a lifetime. I have a huge desire to surrender to someone I can wholeheartedly trust. Now that will give me all the security I need to last for a lifetime.
A lifetime partner. In other words, a potential husband.
A potential husband, to me, has to have godly qualities. One of that, above all, is loving. Consistently, my boyfriend is that type of man, which was one of the many reasons why I chose him, why I kept on sticking with him. I had a tremendous desire to cook delicious meals that I’m proud of making and satisfy the belly of my future husband, from whom I will get praises about my cooking and then we can make love later one (hehe).
One thing we human beings must always remember (but I myself always forget) is that every one we meet on earth are human beings. They have flaws like you do. Things don’t always go the way we want them to, and people sometimes act the way you don’t want them to. When you have such a huge desire to please another soul and be pleased with yourself at the same time, the solution I found today is: Make that pleasure God.
I know right now as I’m typing these words down and later on when I go to bed and close my eyes to sleep He’s watching me and will be watching after me, as always. As I do with earthly people, I have that low self-esteem too during my conversations with God. I rarely feel worthy asking for things. I never ask for anything.
But He’s given me so many skills that I don’t know what to do and what to use them for. When it comes to the workplace, they definitely pay. But is paycheck the only purpose of doing these things, performing my skills? Isn’t that inflating my ego?
And then the argument with my boyfriend ended up with us talking about trust. I haven’t trusted him as much as he trusts me, and that’s because of who he is, of what he does to me.
He loves me.
For reasons I will never understand. Just like how I can never understand how God loves me, God loves you, and every single one on the surface of the earth.
And Rick Warren reminds me today that understanding can always come later. Obeying first, and understand the rule later. Obeying shows that we trust God and that we love Him.
And a voice inside me tells me today that whenever I want to cook up a really delicious meal or make a super cute illustration of a pig, just for the joy of giving the pleasure for someone I love and care about, make it Him instead above everyone else. That’ll make Him smile.
Sigh. A lot of times I’ve disobeyed Him, doubted Him.
A lot of times I’ve misunderstood my boyfriend, doubted my boyfriend.
A lot of times I’ve been unkind to myself, doubted myself.
Thankful for His grace. Thankful He’s got my back. Thankful for His mercy and forgiveness for every stupid things I’ve ever thought about.
No doubts. Just trust. Obey and follow through. That’s the whole point of pleasing.
Summary of workout today: Some hip exercises. 45-minutes elliptical machine resistance training.
It feels great to be stronger. I slept really soundly last night. I woke up feeling great. Not emotionally, but physically great. I didn’t feel any sort of soreness anymore, just still having plenty of those negative thoughts in my mind no matter how hard I push my body. Maybe I haven’t been pushing it enough. Or maybe I just need a good pull.
Maybe I’m just bored and feel really misplaced at this point of my life.
I know what I want to achieve before I die, but how do I cross over from my current state to that haven?
In the last months of 2009, I planned out exactly what steps I have to take to publish a children’s book. But I was too chicken to take those steps, saying that I’m too busy with school. Well, yes I actually am very busy with school. Schoolwork takes over more than half of my time, and besides that I run a lot and my body takes its toll to the point that my mind is in a haze 80% of the time. I lost focus, I risked my health, and it kills my psyche from head to toe.
I grew obsessed with living my dream. I think that’s how I become a journalist-wannabe. You have a piece of writing you’re writing – a shitty draft. You thought of doing something, and you control your situation to make it all happen. Then you put it all down in the shitty draft and your thoughts suddenly becomes real, because you took those actions while you’re editing that shitty draft. So it’s not shitty anymore and it deserves to be published.
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to writing in general – I have to brainstorm my ideas by hand, not by typing on the computer. Same goes with planning the actual draft. I have to let the words naturally flow as it does in my mind and it should on paper. So, before it’s too late (I’m 22 this year! OMG! I could’ve accomplished so much but ok, whatever. Time waits for NO ONE) I’ve written a calendar/planner on my laptop (because I spend most of my time in front of the laptop; my work/school makes me do so) so that I keep my focus at all times.
It has been a while since I’ve last made something special for my mother. Ever since I have a boyfriend, or, well, ever since I’ve lost my mind in the past couple of years, I haven’t made anything to her. Just a mere “Happy Birthday!” text message to her.
Despite all the trouble I have at home, with my mom and dad acting weird throughout my adolescence up till now, I remember very clearly that there was this one day, when my mom is pouring her heart to me and all I want to do is just listen, she tells me there’s this one year when nobody, I repeat, NOBODY… Not even my brothers, not even me, not even her friends, wished her a happy birthday on time… that my dad sent her a brief message, saying: “Happy birthday!”.
It’s cute. It’s simple. Despite everything, it still shows love. She was so happy while she’s telling me this.
I hate to be the kind of child who forgets her when age takes over. Which is one of the reasons why I want to come back here for good in Jakarta.
So, on top of my head: a piece of art – or a journal. An art that symbolizes a mother’s and daughter’s love. Or a written journal that requires plenty of research about giving birth, hidden “interviews” with her, why she always goes crazy about what I do, and why is it that her passwords are always under my name. My instinct tells me that the latter is a better idea.
I think I can achieve that goal.
Another one is taking advantage of my physical fitness again. I think I can run at least two races within the next 6 months. It doesn’t have to be that great of a distance, but I have an eye for half-marathon, at least, before I leave San Francisco for good.
Thank God I’m taking a writing class next semester. So my dream of publishing a collection of essays is taken care of.
Okay, now, everything doesn’t seem boring anymore. My adventure has already begun! (Plus possible working partnership with my long-time friends, who’s starting new ventures in this growing third-world country economy).
In other news, my brother is back in Jakarta. I see a little change in him. Not just physically, but overall in a positive way. I wish he’s going to take the decision he wishes to take. He has two decisions: Either to go back Japan and work part-time there while still taking Japanese classes, or take a Master’s degree over in the U.S. I know I’m biased with my opinions about the States, but he said it himself that he’s thinking of changing his mind, because he loves his life in Japan so much. He’s met all kinds of people from around the world. He even made a song with another friend of his who’s a pianist. They just need some lyrics and a great recording studio.
Oh well. I’m glad that my family is well.
My biggest goal: I need to focus on finishing school! School is no fun without any adventure. Adventures aren’t only for boys. No girl should allow a stupid boy to interfere with her adventures.
You know, adventures like flying around the world to see new people, new places, and new things you’ve never seen before.
That’s what my mom does all year round, traveling around the world and all.