I know questioning of who is entitled to feel depressed right now (surely not me, with my clear lungs and sufficient Gopay balance) is unproductive. But I’ve concluded is that denying our emotions only underlines them.
I’m telling you, to plan a curriculum can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining. Teaching and doing the management at the same time from home in the past two months was barbaric.
It is definitely not a job for everyone, or a career that you start ‘because you didn’t know what else to do’, as many uninformed people tend to say. Like myself 12 years ago.
If you want to be rich, stop right there. Private school teachers do get paid an ok salary. No high, not low, just ok. I think it’s pretty similar to lecturers who teach at long established private university. But if you look at public school teachers, it’s a whole different cringe-game.
If you want a work-life balance shit, nu uh. It’s very possible for a teacher to get a nasty combination of burnout, loneliness and broke-ness.
I wish you – over-involved boomers – are more civil and appreciative.
I’ve spent hours of re-consuming movies as a kind pilgrimage or a sentimental journey. Rob told me that I had this habit of watching Friends over and over whenever I felt broken (or in his term ‘potato’). “You feeling potato hon?” asked him, while part of his face peeked in the corner of the bedroom’s door. “Maybe.” answered me which often followed by my usual “Don’t ask.” look.
Then usually I was drowned to the word “maybe”. I’m not sure whether I felt potato or not.
I’ve been rewatching Friends over and over again for more than two decades now, I don’t know if that’s normal but truth is I don’t really care.
The least complicated reason is that I really like the movie. Or maybe because I’m a creature of repetition (I fear of trying new food– I don’t know there’s something new to try– especially if the ideas come from a foodie). Yes sure, repetition seems like it would make it lost its newness surprise. But repetition also requires less energy to process, easy to digest and I consider easy entertainment is good.
Sometimes they’re like habits, like praying the same prayer before bed every night– regular and automatic. Sometimes I watch familiar movies or series to extract fondness about the way things were– the warm particular nostalgic feeling when we exposed to scenes or songs from our younger days. A time machine to revisit a memory.
Then there are rituals, like watching all 8 Harry Potter movies after seeing The Cursed Child, watching Lost In Translation before going to Japan for the first time, The Family Stone on Christmas, binge-watching previous series before the new ones, or re-watching a movie after finally reading the book which inspired the film.
Anyway, just wanted to share screenshots from movies I re-watched this week during quarantine. Also, listening to the CMBYN’s soundtrack was a good detour from Sufjan Stevens’ latest album which I disliked. :/
Emotional excess may harmful but so is emotional depletion.
Friends’ apartment sets from Pinterest. Screenshots from Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Frances Ha (2013), Carrie Pilby (2006), Call Me By Your Name (2017).
While I have some drafts I’ve been working on for this blog (means that I clearly had zero talent in writing but know if I put some nice pictures it would help give nuances to it), I just wanted to share one of my source of joy during this quarantine.
A friend in the past introduced me to DW’s music and I instantly loved the spacey sound of his guitars, the echoing lines and how his songs created such a peculiar mood. I didn’t listen to him from Osker or Fingers Cut Megamachine but I do enjoy all albums under his own name.
Last year, I Google search him a few times a year to see if an album has dropped and he is hard to follow (essentially absent from social media except an inactive Facebook page and he doesn’t have a website). Then one day I received a notification from his Facebook page and he posted some updates regarding his upcoming album and he’s on Instagram!
After a six year break A Tear in Fabric was released. As written on his Bandcamp page, the break was defined by a series of changes: the birth of his daughter and the illness and eventual dead of his father.
My favourite songs from this release: Domesticated, Slow Motion, In Babylon.
Devon Williams’ live stream from home on Instagram, May 2020. Photo: Devon Williams
I had this photo of him taped on the wall of my desk. Aryaduta Semanggi A37A, 2017.
‘In Babylon’. Captured and edited from the video, courtesy of Slumberland Records, 2020.
Now it’s been more than two months since we were reminded to ensure physical distancing as a measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19 which has restricted our movements and created new challenges.
“Excuse me, I’ve been practising social distancing my entire life, these aren’t challenges.” I said to Rob, like an idiot.
I’ve been thinking about a particular effort of physical distancing of mine lately. Coming from a Javanese family (or any Indonesian family?), we often let our parents dictate our life decisions. They wanted us to get a degree in economics, climb the corporate ladder, an expensive wedding and eventually have children waaay before we could afford them.
Moving out of my family’s house wasn’t initially an attempt to be independent of my parents, although it was obvious that I wanted some freedom.
I’ve always wanted to go to art school for a degree so when I found out that I wasn’t fond of the one in Jakarta, I know there’ll be a good chance for me to spend my young adult life outside the capital. I was so excited.
I have a close relationship with my dad in my teenage years. He was still in his early 30s when I graduated high school. He had a cool job as a photographer even though his major was in physics and famous among my friends (he has long hair and a face that resembles bits of a few local celebrities). He kinda knew I would thrive later in life if I could make up my own mind. So he would pick up a fight with mom whenever she questioned my own choice including my school’s major.
So off I went to an art school in Bandung. Living from one rented room to another by myself. Had the freedom I wanted. All this while my parents paid for a roof over my head and the additional living costs of course and I’m grateful for that.
Then there was graduate school. Then the first jobs. Then the boyfriends. Then the proposal. Then any reasons really for me to stretch my stay in Bandung, for my freedom (the one that doesn’t involve being a well-funded failure on so-called academic career pathway in a state university).
It wasn’t about my parents until it was.
Fast forward to 2013, I went back to my family’s house after almost 10 years living by myself. It was pure hell, even more for my parents. I had to listen to my mom’s rant about everything I did/wear/said, even the way I seat on a chair? About her generation was the best and ours were weak, spoilt and entitled (you know the usual talk). We would fight over dinner, screaming or not talking for a week over silly things like the way I made the bed or I got the wrong towel for Rob when he spends a weekend. Even my dad was a different person, he becoming bapak-bapak it made me angry.
While there are certain advantages of living together with them, it is also pretty clear how this can hold me back. At their home, my parents had power over me. I felt pressure to conform to their sometimes outdated thinking. I usually spent the next hours or the rest of the day in a bad mood- making me extremely unproductive.
So when I got this teaching job in a newly-established university– with help from my highschool friend who works there– I found my way to finally move out again. The room was so small that to open and close the cupboard door I had to move a chair that had no other space. It was hella expensive compared to my last pavilion room in Bandung but street food vendors were just around the corner. My commute time was short I could practically went to a theatre, had dinner somewhere else, run errands or laundry and all finished before 9.30 PM. Life is good again.
It made me realise the only way to escape the need for my parents’ approval and a piece of sanity is to create a distance. A physical one. Something I maintain to this day.
Physical distance improved my relationship with my parents. Now, I made the conscious effort to spend quality time with them. It made me crave of their present. One of the best things about moving out? Much more headspace. Headspace is my oxygen!
Apart from my effortful physical distance from my parents in years, I am more accustomed to – and comfortable with – spending my time alone. I’m not shy but I’m socially anxious. I actively avoid get-togethers activities. I enjoyed going to the theatre alone. I reject invitations to have an after office coffee from coworkers. Because that just not relaxing to me.
The morning I officially went into self-quarantine I feel relaxed and kind of hopeful because I’m safe, my employer made the right decision and took good care of me and my colleagues. I stay energized for days. I sat in front of my laptop wrapping things up until noon. I cooked three times a day including my very first attempt of sambel terasi which was da boom.
The first week of quarantine was easy. So many of the conversations I had with colleagues have circled around how productive we were, as academic worker, working from home. Teaching using Classroom was cool. We were laughing at the messy laundry background or at the noise from our student’s kitchen/mom/chickens in our Meet sessions.
Reeled into the second week, Rob had a panic attack along with a severe GERD condition and we were forced to spend an evening at the ER in this Covid-19 referral hospital. This was our second ER. The first ER we visited rejected us as they were in a complete shut down following some Covid-19 positive cases in their hospital which were resulted in the tragic death of a nurse there.
It’s been daunting to try to getting my head around what happened that night. And for some time, I was so anxious by the prospect that we might have contracted the virus from our hospital trips. This stay-at-home order was a peril to Rob’s regime and he’s struggling under the weight of remote work (he had been working since he was 22 in the same industry, same working environtment). I guess he felt horrible and ashamed for feeling horrible.
Dissolve the image of me relaxing in my bed-office after a week of dilly-dally, replace it with the image of me hugging my pillow every night like a lost child, watching Rob who slept next to me to make sure he was breathing.
This virus hurt proportion of our incomes, I contemplated the risk of unemployment and frantically forecasting how we could stretch our savings. I’m so grateful we can afford to cover our rent, food and other luxuries such as proper neighborhood for our morning walk routine and to get our food supplies while avoiding crowd. Three weeks in quarantine actually felt marginally better (I think it had something to do with our newfound house rules including attending Sunday mass online). We also managed to create a little nook in our bedroom as a work station it’s so cozy.
On a final note, people with kids or more responsibilities than me, I bow down in respect. This physical-social distancing made me realise that I clearly wasn’t as independent as I thought I was. I want my mom.
Photos were taken during my morning walk routine around the neighbourhood. I never had any interest in naturesque visual compositions but hell it was therapeutic.