Where I failed in one thing, I succeeded in another thing

Okay, so I know my blog has been passive for a few months. And I did promise some of my (few) followers that I was going to update my blog soon. Here it is!

I thought I was going to finish my novel by August, but I was wrong. I postponed the deadline to October for my dad’s birthday present. Sadly, I still could not finish it. I postponed it to end of October so my writing teacher could read it, but still, I could not finish it. I disappointed my dad, my teacher, my readers, and myself. But where I failed in writing, I carried out another reason that I resigned from my old workplace. I traveled, and I traveled hard!

The following are the things that I have been doing for the past few months:

As some of you know, I did a writing month challenge with my brother in July, and I followed through until the last few days of the said month. On the 26th of July, my brother, his friend and I went mountain climbing to the third highest mountain in Indonesian’s 7 summits (which, by the way, is not exactly the third highest in Indonesia, but according to Indonesian’s 7 summits, it is). The mountain is called Rinjani, it is located in Lombok Island, East Indonesia; I have another whole update on that trip. We went up for 3 days, got to meet great people on our tour, and spent a couple days in Lombok, where my brother had a fever. He was supposed to stay in Lombok and waited for my dad to come and both of them were going to climb another mountain on a nearby island. However, since my brother was sick, we went back to Jakarta, and I thought to myself, that I couldn’t let my dad climb a mountain by himself. So a couple days after I got back to Jakarta, I flew back to Lombok and then to Sumbawa to accompany my dad climbing a mountain called Tambora. Interesting fact about Tambora; its eruption in 1815 affected the world’s climate and that year was called the year without a summer. Recently I learned that Napoleon Bonaparte lost his war with the Russian after many of his armies died due to the coldness. My dad and I spent a couple days on the mountain, and when I got back, I wrote a short story based on my experience of climbing those two mountains. I extended my trip to Lombok for a few more days and wrote another short story based on my discussion with my dad. (I haven’t posted them online).

When I got back from Lombok, I had been away from home for more than two weeks, and as if it was not enough, I had to fly to another city because my mom was sick. I won’t bother with the detail, but basically, those two weeks I did not touch my novel. When I went back to Jakarta, I tried to write, but I could not do much; I met up with ex-colleagues, friends I got to know from my trip to Rinjani, or lazed around.

A few days before August ended, I did another trip to Bali for my cousin’s wedding that took place early September. Before the wedding, I went to a small island in Bali’s region, called Nusa Penida. The beaches were amazingly beautiful. Too bad we only spent half a day on that island and we only visited one place that has two attractions called Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. After the wedding, I extended my trip and went to a few places with my friend; the temple by the cliff called Uluwatu, a beach called Blue Point (apparently it was famous among surfers and it’s used for world championship), and two waterfalls in east Bali.

I went back to Jakarta on the 5th of September, and I experienced a little relationship problem. I had no will to write or even open my novel. I got stuck. I could not force it even if I wanted to. For about a month, I spent my days and nights watching movies, went to the mall, and tagged along with my cousin with his job. Sometimes I tried writing again, but it was hard, and I wasn’t as productive as I was in July.

My motivation came back when it was almost my dad’s birthday that took place mid-October. But, again, I did not meet the deadline and instead, I decided to travel again. I went climbing another crater in Banyuwangi, East Java, I also visited its coffee festival and beaches. I continued to travel to another city and helped my dad with his consultation job (where I got a real decent pay). The job got me to Mount Bromo, and I climbed it as well, only to realize that I’ve climbed that mountain before.

That whole trip was a week long, but two days after I went back to Jakarta, I traveled again to Bogor, where I spent five days doing a writer’s workshop, facilitated by an old friend of my dad’s, Mr. B. He gave me a book by Sol Stein (How to Grow a Novel). On that workshop, Mr. B did not consider me as a student; I was more of an assistant for him. He was teaching how to write an article; the map, the opening, the thesis statement, etc. And I realized that I had never written an article. Surely I’ve written assignments, but my assignments had no flow like how a good article supposed to be. So I asked my mom for a topic, and she gave a topic, and I wrote it in less than an hour (A Happy Jomblo). I showed it to Mr. B, and he hated it because there was nothing to improve; I was proud of myself. I showed him a couple of my short stories, but he had not seen my novels (the finished one nor the work in progress).

After we finished the workshop, I went back to Jakarta, and the following day, I accompanied Mr. B to Bali for his holiday. We were going to discuss my writing, but we were too busy visiting places (another temple, a waterfall, an ICT center) and relaxing. We did discuss my finished novel(la) on the flight back to Jakarta, though.

We went back to Jakarta on the 8th of November, and on the 9th, I flew to Jogjakarta to visit friends and spend more money (the latter was obviously a joke). I climbed my fifth mountain, which was only 700 meters above sea level, and the view from the top was amazing!

As per today, I’ve been away from home for 23 days!

I know I had more than one free month to finish my novel, but even though now I thought of the ending, I still have to think up the late mid-end part of the story. I’d say it’s about 65-75% done. So, throw a coin in a fountain, wish on a wishing star, pray, sacrifice a virgin (again, it’s a joke), or do whatever so that I can finish my novel. LOL….

On a more serious note, thank you so much for those who have been (are) reading my blog. I love you all..!!

 

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ducky traveled the world

 

A Happy Jomblo

“When are you getting married?” a relative asked me in one of the family gatherings. I merely smiled while trying hard not to break the glass I was holding. It was not the first time I heard that question, and rest assured, it would not be the last time people ask me that.

Being a jomblo (unattached person), especially in South East Asia, you are bound to hear that question from time to time. Personally, I have run out of ways to tell people how happy I am being a jomblo. No, it’s not an oxymoron. Jomblos can be happy because they have more freedom to do anything they want, and they don’t have obligations like married people do.

Why did I say jomblos have more freedom to do anything they want? Well, I compared myself, a proud 30-something years old jomblo, to my married friends who are in their late 20s. A few months ago, I decided to resign from my workplace after almost six years working in the same position. I figured with my savings I could live comfortably for two months before I have to find another job. I decided to travel and try finishing my novel. I hopped from island to island, from one mountain to another. Can you imagine me doing that if I were married and had a kid?

Not only I had the freedom to do what I did, being a jomblo also meant fewer obligations. I did not have to think about the well being of my significant other because I had none! I only have to care for my parents and myself. Of course, if I were more selfish than I already am, I don’t have to care for my parents, but alas, I’m a very good daughter.

I’m not trying to say that being married is not great, but I saw two of my friends who are married and have babies. From an outsider point of view, it seems that their husbands need their attention more than the babies do. It’s quite frustrating for me. It’s like an unwritten well-known fact that in Indonesia (and maybe more Asian countries) married men benefit more than married women.

I guess I’m saying that being married doesn’t exactly guarantee your happiness, neither being a jomblo means that you can’t be happy. I guess, what I’m saying is that people are free to choose Whether they want to be attached or unattached without being judged. For now, being able to do what I want and not thinking about all the obligations that I have to do, personally, I think they qualify me to be a happy jomblo

Week 3 of my writing challenge

I have got to be honest. This week, I haven’t really kept well track of my daily writing progress. I don’t even remember what I wrote on which day, but I remember that I skipped 3 days: Monday, Friday, and Saturday. All in all, I guessed I wrote close to 2,500 this week. I can give so many reasons, but we all know that the main reason was that I wasn’t diligent enough. I opened the file every day (or at least I think I did), but I had no idea what to write, and I ended up re-reading the whole thing.

I was asked when will I finish my novel, and I answered with a mumble. I don’t know. I don’t even know where the story is going to, I can’t even imagine how it ends, yet. But I’m willing to finish it soon.

15 more pushups…

Week 2 of my writing challenge

July 10, 2017

As I promised, I wrote after midnight, even though I only got 400 words.

I went to my campus/old office late morning, but before that, I took my final project from the printing company and then I decided to spend an hour in a nearby Starbucks to sort which documents to be burned to CD… all these so I could get my certificate. Which was still not finished. I still had to add a preface.

And then I was with my friend for a while before I met up with my brother, and we went back to the apartment. I still didn’t write that day. Sobs.

 

July 11, 2017

I woke up after staying over in the apartment, we had lunch, went back to the apartment, slept for another 3 hours, and then I went home to take a shower, and my brother met me when I had dinner. We decided to go to a hang out place we often go to. We were there from 7 PM to 12 AM, and I wrote 238 words, but on a short story, which I didn’t finish either. Somehow I just couldn’t write anything.

 

July 12, 2017

I dropped Mom off at the station around 9.30 AM, and then I went to a German restaurant that I like, mainly for their garlic bread, pork chunks, pork knuckles, basically all kinds of pork. I was there for 3 hours and managed to add a little over 1,000 words to my novel.

 

July 13, 2017

Was my busiest day, had breakfast with my brother and a cousin, went to Ikea (on the other side of town) with my brother and her girlfriend, and then I met up with an ex-colleague for dinner, even after all that I still went to a mall near my house to meet up with Dad. Needless to say, I didn’t write anything.

 

July 14, 2017

I had lunch with another ex-colleague, went home to sleep, and then I had dinner with Mom, my brother and his friend in Carl’s Jr. I was supposed to meet up with an old friend from church afterward, but it was too late, so I went to the same hangout place I went to on Tuesday, by myself.

I ended with only a little over 300 words.

 

July 15, 2017

It seemed like I had another busy day, but I really can’t quite remember what I did… *thinking… *thinking…

 In the morning I was going to run but ended up browsing the Internet. I bought a couple snacks for my friend from out of town, dropped them off at her hotel, and went home to have lunch and watch the Simpsons. After 3-4 episodes, Mom asked me to drive her to a tailor and supermarket, we reached home almost dark. And then I took a nap; I think I napped a little too long. Dad woke me up to go out and have dinner with him where my brother came along and brought his friends, and then we went to my favorite hangout place, but instead of writing, we were having beers!

 

July 16, 2017

Today, despite another busy long day: Sunday service, drove Dad to the airport, cafe-hopping with my cousin for lunch (got a couple hundred words there), watched a dance performance with Mom in the evening (where I snuck out after 1/3 of the performance and wrote on the stairs in the next building), I managed to write…. *drum rolls, please* 2,020 words! That’s the most I’ve written in one day.

To wrap up this week, I missed three days. So I should do 15 pushups. If only I can lose weight as easy as I missed my writing days.

 

A mild heart-discomfort

img_9030I’ve had my shares with men. Two official boyfriends, a bunch of  ‘friend-zoned’ friends, and tons of crushes, a few of them were major, major crushes. Yet, I’ve only had my heart broken twice. Thrice if I want to count that puppy love I had when I was twelve, but really, who counts puppy loves?

Nearing my third decade of living, I was asked, what do I look for in my significant other? And for the sake of my life, I could not answer that. I could list all the physical attributes that might interest me, but nothing more than that. Well, maybe a great sense of humor, quick witted, helpful, respecting my parents, but then what? Would those be enough?

My second heartache happened recently. I’m not sure if it counts as heartache or what just a mild heart-discomfort. I met this client a few months ago. We were the same age, both single, and we started to hang out a lot. We would text each other every day. I kept telling myself that he was not my type, he was not my definition of handsome, he’s not tall, but he is dark-skinned. He was very kind in many ways. I got to know a lot about him, and I got comfortable when meeting up with him.

And as I usually do when I started to get comfortable, I shared too much. Me and my big mouth.

After a month of so, he started to back out. I don’t even know if ‘back out’ is the appropriate term or not, since we were never committed to anything. Sure, we planned to have a holiday in June, but it was not thoroughly planned. We were just two people, bored with work, in dire need of vacation and vitamin sea.

He started to take times to reply to my messages, and a few times he declined my invitation to hang out. This was the guy who asked me out a lot in the beginning and texted me for whatever thing happened. I used to tell him my plan for the night, and he would want to come along. And after a few weeks, he just stopped texting.

I would still text him, but at one time, I just figured he doesn’t want to go out with me anymore. And when I went to his office to introduce the girl who will be in charge when I resigned, he did not even want to join our meeting. I asked him to go out afterward, he declined. I knew who I am, I’m not (no longer) the kind of girl who would pursue a guy when he doesn’t want me.

That day, I almost shed a tear. What bothered me (and my friends when I told me), was why did he stop? He stopped texting me, he stopped going out with me, and he just stopped everything.

As much reasons as I came up with, they were just speculations. Maybe he was not comfortable with my family condition, maybe because we don’t have the same religion, maybe he found me irritating, maybe this, maybe that. Maybe, who knows the truth?

Why I said it’s a mild discomfort, was because, with previous guys, I had a long period of getting to know and being close to them, until we (or I) decided it’s time to be over. But with this guy, everything was too fast. I was introduced to him, we hang out a lot, and then when I got comfortable, we were done.

Before I met this guy, I have a laid-back thought about being married. It will be great if I find a guy and get married, but it’ll be okay for me if I don’t. I’m an easy-going person, I like my freedom, I like (some) people, I like being alone too. I do get bored when I’m doing routines, but if it’s something I like, I’ll do it over and over again. Apparently, my thought hasn’t changed after spending times with this guy. I used to want to find a great, handsome guy to show to others, but right now, what’s the point?

Until one day, my ex-colleague told me another ‘maybe’, but she was pretty sure about it: he was timid when compared with me.

That was an eye-opener.

I never thought of it that way. But is it really? Again, it’s just a speculation. Until I ask him, I would never know.

Week 1 of my writing challenge

July 1, 2017

I woke up a little late this morning, and then I got a message from a friend confirming our time to meet up. My Dad and my older brother were doing The Great Cleaning in the house, and I sneezed a lot because of the dust, so I napped for about half an hour before I met up with my friend.

After my meeting, I went to one of my usual hangout places; I opened up my iPad and posted another previously written story on Danceof3Mgirls. Then I remembered I scheduled a post for July 1st, which was about my writing challenge. So I opened one of my current stories.

I started with 17,500 words in that story. It’s been stuck for a few months; I’ve only been reading and adding a few words without actually writing another scene.

I went back home at around 4 pm and took another nap (I’m really good in bed, I can stay there the whole day). And then I took Mom to fix her glasses and had dinner. We went back home at 10 pm, and at 11.30 pm, I went out again. I called my brother and we went to McDonald’s.

By 2:30 AM, I’ve completed a scene and added another one in that story and completed another scene in another story, total words so far: 739 words.

While looking up online, one of the websites suggested to set a daily writing goal, be it 300 words a day or one hour of writing. I think I’ll target 500 words a day. Fingers crossed.

July 2, 2017

Between The Great Cleaning, my severe allergic reaction on my face, the visit to a hospital and my mom’s birthday, I finally managed to go to my brother’s apartment and started writing. I think this should count at July 3rd, and yesterday should be on July 2nd, so, technically I skipped July 1. Which means I have to do 5 push-ups, I’ll do it.

But today (my body clock is still July 2, but it’s past midnight, so, technically it’s July 3), I got almost 1500 words. I’m really excited. Although this story still has no definite ending, I’ll just keep on writing to see how the story goes.

July 3, 2017

I slept at 7 am, woke up at 11 AM, had a late lunch, then I started writing sometimes before evening in a café. But it wasn’t much. I only reread, edited, and added a few stuff. But I went to the apartment at 11 PM, and by 2 AM, I wrote a total of 1000 words. Not too bad, hey? I’m really a night owl. I yawned, of course, but my brain works better at night.

July 6, 2017

I skipped for two days, but I have a very good reason. July 4, I was playing a game the whole day. July 5, I went out with my cousins in the morning until afternoon, and in the evening I went to the other side of the city to meet my old friend from Singapore. We met up at 7 PM, and I left his hotel at 2 AM.

July 7, 2017

Well, I didn’t write yesterday either. I was too sleepy and could not concentrate. I slept from 10.30pm all the way till 7 AM. Ah, the beauty of not having to wake up early in the morning.

My day was packed, though. Went to another ‘city’ in the morning, stuck in traffic to get there, went to my old workplace, settle a few stuff, went to another place, back to the workplace, and went out with my best friend.

But before the day was over, I tried to make up for the lost days, albeit, I’ve only got 1,000 words.

July 9, 2017

I did 20 push-ups today after skipping another day of writing yesterday. I had my Japanese test yesterday, and 30 mins of exercising afterward (merely walking in a parking lot). But I posted another story on my other blog.

Today was another a long day of going out: driving Mom, family gathering, and exercising with my trainer. I’ll try to write some more, but maybe I’ll do it after midnight.

 

My other blog, in which I posted my short stories can be found here.

30 days writing challenge 

A few months ago, I bought a book called “A Writer’s Journey”, by Gina Yap Lai Yoong, a Chinese Malaysian writer. I could easily relate to her journey, and I was compelled with her book. Then I started to think, if she could write 40,000 words in one month, why can’t I? She did it while working full time, I was about to have two months to focus on my writings, and  I love reading and writing as much as she does, if not more. 

I know I’ve tried so many times doing these one month challenges, be it photos, exercises, even writing. And I successfully failed each and everyone.. *sweats* of course, I’m not proud of myself, but I’m still persistent to do another one. 

I admit that I’m an extreme procrastinator, and sometimes I simply just stopped. Same thing with my gym membership: I paid one year in advance, and as my membership was about to end, I haven’t even lost a kilo.. LOL… 

But I will try to write everyday, or 5 push-ups the next day. I will update my progress weekly… 

To be kind… 

At the beginning of this month, it was a national holiday for Indonesians and the sixth day of fasting for the Muslims. I visited my friend in a hospital who had surgery the day before. The hospital was near my office, and I was reluctant to go every day to that area. But my friends in the same WhatsApp group were going, and I thought in a few weeks I would not have to go to that area every day anymore. So I decided to go.

Just as I walked out from my room, my older brother was furious that my dad did not come home, since the latter was supposed to look after Z. They turned to me. I told them that I wanted to visit my friend in a hospital, and though at first Z did not want to come with me, his father made him go. And so, we went on our way.

I reached the hospital room, my friend who had a surgery the previous day was recovering, and all my friends had come – my best friend brought her daughter along. Not long after, the 3.5m x 3m hospital room was turned into a playground; we laughed, we teased each other, and my nephew and my friend’s daughter were playing and screaming. Those two hours were really fun. But soon, things went sour.

We bade our goodbyes at around 2.30pm, my friends parked their cars at a nearby shopping district, while I parked in the hospital. I drove my car out from the parking lot, and as a good driver (or rather, as a driver), I looked to the right and I looked to the left to make sure my way was clear. I (thought I) did notice a car from my right, but it was far enough and drove slowly, so I stepped on the gas and turned right. Suddenly, at the right side of the car, a speeding motorcycle was going to run through my car! I instantly stopped my car, but the motorcycle seemed to make no effort on breaking at all! And I witnessed with my own eyes when the motorcycle hit my car, and the passenger flew from his seat to the ground.

I was stunned! I turned to see the guy who fell, and I saw someone else was trying to lift him up. I was given a course on basic life skill, and I knew that anyone who just had an accident should not be moved, there were steps to be done before the sufferer gain consciousness, but that’s another story.

I was going to get out from the car to do the steps I was taught, but alas, the collision was great enough to not only make a dent on my car but actually crashed the fender that made my door could not be opened! In the same minute, I notified my family as well as my friends (I was going to have a late lunch with one of my friends). The security then told me to move the car to the loading bay and told me to get out from the car. With a great effort (of jumping to the passenger seat), I managed to get out from the car and had a talk with the security.

My friends who got my message, all gathered not long after. I told the security that I did look right and left and did not see any motorcycle, and the crash on the fender proved that the motorcycle was at a high speed. It was not even a big road, it’s a small road where many cars go in and out from the hospital. The security then gathered the motorcycle driver and I and the first said that looking at the position of my car, I was right. They said they were going to check the CCTV.

I figured it was going to be a long process. Knowing Z would not be patient enough, I asked my best friend to take Z for lunch with thorough instructions on what to order, while the other two friends accompanied me to the security’s office to have a talk with the motorcycle driver.

The security, who was an eyewitness, told his supervisor what he saw, and the supervisor asked how were we going to settle it. First, the motorcycle driver blamed me for stopping in the middle and he couldn’t shift to the left resulting in crashing my car, and he asked me to take responsibility on his motorcycle and his passenger’s hospital bill (the passenger turned out to be his 70 years old father). I mean, who drives a motorcycle at a high speed while a 70 years old (father or not), is sitting at the back???

I told him that I made no mistake, and my car was totaled as well, there was no way I would be responsible for his fault, too. Then the motorcycle driver said that he would take care of the motorcycle, but I should still be responsible for the sufferer. I still said no, and I was helped by my friends, though I was worried that they overdid it as well. It was a dead end at the moment, so I told them if this continues, it’d be better to just bring the case to the police. The motorcycle driver said if that’s what I want, then he’d go along. So the supervisor told his supervisor and we were to write a report on the event.

My friend WhatsApp-ed me, told me to give the motorcycle driver some money as a ‘condolence gesture’, but I didn’t have to bring the case to the police. On the other hand, my best friend had a little trouble handling Z. So I told the motorcycle driver, what my friend told me. I told him that I had other things to do, I would give him condolences money, and I wouldn’t bring the case to the police. And he said, it depended on the amount of condolences money he got. Doy! I was trying to be kind, but he was insolent! So I said that we might as well just call the police.

The securities asked if I was certain. I claimed that I already offered to settle this “family-way”, but the motorcycle driver did not want to accept my offer.

The securities showed me the CCTV recording, and it was shown that I was already in the right way, and the motorcycle driver was on the right lane too, except that he drove too fast. I was certain that even if we went to the police, the police would side on me, I even found out the number of the police who helped me the last time I had accident.

Z came back with my best friend some times later while the motorcycle driver was in the emergency room. Z kept on asking when could he use gadget. And I tried to explain to him that the predicament was not good. What if I had to go to jail, because even if I was right, there’s a sufferer caused by this event? Z insisted that I was right, and he tugged the supervisor’s arm telling him in Indonesian language that I was right. I was going to stop him before my friend told me to let him be. He was learning to be assertive. But Z got nervous in the middle that he started to stammer and speak in English.. lol.. poor thing, though. I asked him what did he want to tell the supervisor, and he answered that I was right and shouldn’t go to jail. So I told the supervisor, who was all the while smiling.

The security told us that the police had arrive and we’d better go the emergency room. As we walked out, my father came. He left his meeting and went straight to me. I told him that we called the police and we were going to the emergency room. He said it was better to see the patient, and he said that I should take care of the matter myself, which I intended to do.

When we got there, the motorcycle driver’s brother had arrived too. The patient had gained consciousness and sat up, but he had a large bump on his forehead, and his whole body was in shock. He had not been treated except his wounds being cleaned. It turned out that his family worried about the hospital bill.

So, we all gathered at the hospital doorway, and discussed what to do. The brother still claimed that I should help with the hospital bill. Then I said I didn’t want to, because it meant that I was wrong and I had greater loss. This debate went on for quite some time.

Then my father said that he would check how much was the bill so far, because he felt sorry towards the patient, and I went to my friends. My father came back to me and said that he would take care of the bill. I asked him how much it was, but he didn’t want to tell me and I kept on asking, finally he answered, it was predicted to be five million. Five million rupiah! That was almost 500USD! Naturally, I said no. I said I should take care myself, and I didn’t want him to bail me out every time this kind of things happen. But my father was more persistent, he said there was a guy that needed help, that it’s a holy month, and it’s never wrong to do good, etc, etc.

I went to my friend, pouting. I told him about my father’s decision. I said that I was not happy, disappointed, even. How would the motorcycle driver learn his lesson if we paid the hospital bill? He could do the same thing and blame the next person. But then, my friend said that my father was noble, he saw beyond who’s right or wrong, because in accidents, no one wants to be wrong. Especially in this case, there’s a sufferer. My friend said no wonder my mother loves my father, he’s a very kind man, and he acted what Jesus would have done. I was almost crying when my friend said that, because I knew I was hard hearted and I failed to be kind when there’s an opportunity to do so.

So, my father went to the cashier, the patient was being treated, and we waited. My father came out with a weird look in his face, he told me that he only paid 360 thousand rupiah for the medicines. 30USD!

After everything was settled for the time being, and the patient walked out, my father told me to talk to the patient. I was going to do that without him telling me so. Anyway, I walked towards him and asked how he felt. He said he still felt some pain in his body, and I wished him speedy recovery.

Then in the car, my father said, we would never lose to be good. He was actually helped by an acquainted doctor in the hospital, that’s why he didn’t have to pay for the doctor fee nor the room, just the medication. And somehow, I still wasn’t moved. I rebutted by telling him that when I was living alone, I served in church, and yet, I still experienced disasters.

For two weeks, my car was in the workshop, the interior was dented and they didn’t have the spare parts. Closing to holiday, the workshops were fully booked, too. And my car could have stayed in for three months.

If you ask me, I had no idea what I’ve learned. But a few days after that, I heard a sermon by a Muslim preacher nearing the break fasting hour. He said, why would anyone constantly fast, constantly pray in the mosque, if he is not kind. And I felt a slap on my face. It’s like, God is trying to teach me something that He even used a preacher from another religion for me to hear!

I still have a lot to learn. I know I’m not a perfect human being, but then again, no one is. I know every week I said I wanted to be better, and yet, every week I failed. I think I’m going through a journey, I don’t know what, but I do hope to be a better person.

– Dum vivimus vivamus, dum vivimus servimus –

My Nephew

My nephew is one of the smartest kids I’ve ever known, and I’m not just saying that because I’m the proud mamauntie (yes, I created a unique name for myself when he was born). He is my older brother’s first born.


Z was born in 2009, his mother taught him sign language when he was a baby, and he quickly picked it up. By the time he was three years old, he knew his alphabets and he could read children’s books by himself.


He really likes space and galaxies; he can recite all the planets in the Solar System, including the Dwarf Planets. He remembers the circumference and diameter of each planet, including the rotations and revolutions; how many Earth days (or years) for every planet to rotate around the Sun. One time I came back from Japan, and I brought along with me a puzzle of the Solar System’s picture that had the circumference, the days, etc. Z was happy when he got it, but quickly he noticed that Jupiter’s fact was wrong. He told me that instant and asked for a pen so he could correct it. He was not even seven years old when that happened.


Z chooses his diets strictly, he only eats what he wants to eat, and the options were usually very little in a period of time. For example, there was a time when he only liked pizza, rice and celery, and fish. And he could eat them every day for a few months without getting bored. Lately, he only eats eggs (boiled or omelet), canned tuna with rice, and chicken nuggets (from McDonald’s, meal no 4, and the drink has to be lemon tea). There was one weekend when Z’s father was out of town, which leaves Z in the care of my younger brother and me. Z ate his breakfast, but by 11 o’clock, he was hungry again. He whined that he was hungry, but he didn’t want to eat anything we suggested. And after persuading him, he finally settled for rice and tuna. But since we hadn’t cooked rice, Z whined again. He said he was getting sick if he doesn’t eat soon. Then he took a nap for half an hour while waited for the rice to cook. And when he woke up, he was having a fever! My younger brother and I were confused. I forced Z to have lunch and then rest.

While we were in the bedroom, my younger brother came. Then he said, “Z, why do you get sick after you said you were getting sick? It might be just your suggestion.”

Z then asked, “What do you mean by suggestion?”

My brother replied, “You know, it’s all in your mind. You were not sick, but you think you’re sick, so you got sick.”

“You mean placebo?”

Both my brother and I were surprised.

“Where did you learn that word?” I asked.

“I read it on the Internet.”

The following day when I told this story to my dad, Z overheard and then he said, “What I did was nocebo.”

That was a word I didn’t know. “What’s nocebo?” I asked.

“It’s a negative version of placebo,” he said.

I Googled it, and boy was he right!


One time we went out of town and ate in a restaurant. It had unique patterned wallpaper. I asked him what the pattern looked like. He said, “it looks like cubes, but they are actually hexagons.” Again, my eyes were wide opened. Apparently, he knew his dimensions as well.

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One of the things that I like to do to Z, is to help him be independent and to have critical thinking. I was raised that way, and with his intelligence, I believe Z would be a great person if raised properly. Last week, we had a scavenger hunt, three scavenger hunts to be exact. Z just loved finding things. When he was having trouble finding a few things, I would say, “It’s around you; you were looking, but you did not see.” For the first two scavenger hunts, I accompanied him. I told him to take pictures of the stuff he found using my phone. I taught him how to focus on the objects and in a way, composition (just the basic, center of interest).

The last one, while I was doing my work, I sent him off without my phone. I told him to thoroughly describe the things he found: where did he find it, what color, where did he find it, what was the object doing (if it were an animal), what brand (of the black car), etc. He still could not describe too well, but with a lot of practices, I’m sure he can give better descriptions. 🙂