Don't you know that you have a fetish?

an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion
(Merriam Webster)

Yes, you do have a fetish.

I find it amusing that we (and I'm talking about the entire humanity here) share this same fetish. It looks childish to most of us who are grown adults, but we never really grow out of it.

Be forewarned: This picture may awaken the inner child in you. Don't get so agitated, now.

As a matter of fact, the entire humanity loves it. You may be a four-year-old boy from Bangladesh or a 35-year-old bank manager from Sweden, but you still love popping bubble-wraps anyway.

The only difference would be the fact that the bank manager prefers to pop them in secret...when nobody else is watching.

Don't you just love to pop her? Oops.
I mean, her dress.

For further unleashing of your fetish, click here.


Toshi's wrap up of Year 2009

I described last year as "bittersweet" and "unproductive".

For this year, I'd say that it is a Year of Change. It may not necessarily a change of who I am inside, but it does change some ways I think about things.

Right from the beginning of the year, I start to see my life as one ironic comedy.

Because what you think were the good stuff were actually one chain of mistakes commited one way or another by the people around you, including yourself.

And that the bad events that cause you miserable at first are actually there so that you can dig up what was actually pleasant underneath it all.

July 2009 was hard on me, especially with the change and moving and adaptation and all, but once you actually get over it, it is not as bad as it once looked.

November 2009 was the nastiest month ever, it was filled with a lot of incidents for me.

But in retrospect, if I were given a chance to go back in time, would I knowingly let those incidents happen?


Because as I've seen, if those incidents hadn't happened in the first place, I would not be in such a good shape as I am today.

They were meant to happen, so that my December would not be the worst month of the year.

And as someone once said, "Perhaps this is one form of mercy God is granting us".

Indeed they are.

Whatever softwares God has taken away from me, He has returned in some other updated versions.

Not necessarily an exact replica, but at least they are more virus resistant now...

~post'script Despite the many changes, one thing stays the same though. You're still the same person for me, and I don't exactly know why it has not changed yet. Even the years and the distance and other person(s) involved don't necessarily change the way I think about you. There is something about you that is so unique that I can't let go of you, and I wonder why... Is it kismet?


Song of The Year 2009

I pick "Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus as the song of the year 2009.

Other than the obvious fact that I like Miley, its lyric is also significant to what I'm having this year and it is also the favourite song of two of my special friends.

So be it (^_^)


A blessing

May you always have enough happiness to keep you sweet,
enough trials to keep you strong,
enough success to keep you eager,
enough faith to give you courage,
and enough determination to make
each day a good day.



on Borrowing (and renting) DVDs

I've gotten used to borrowing DVDs from the library these days. They are free, and the libraries here have a large supply of movies, ranging from the classics to animes and sometimes, new releases too.

And they have TV series too. Right now I'm rewatching some of the episodes of Xena:The Warrior Princess which reminds me of my childhood...I just love it.

But how unfortunate, the library doesn't have that many supply of the newly released movies. So there is this new movie rental that I start to frequent, and it only costs $1 to rent two regular DVDs for five nights (and $1 per DVDs for the most popular titles).

Which is a good price, really. Even better, new members of the rental can borrow them for half the price for the first month.

So on average, I only pay $0.25 to borrow a DVD for five nights! Not bad at all.

The good thing about the rental is that I only need to show my ID card and give my cellphone number, and that's it, I automatically become a member! No membership fees whatsoever.

I've rented some titles such as Casanova, Burn After Reading, The Pianist, Smart People, and The Devil wears Prada. The Pianist is a very highly recommended movie, really.

I would like to get some horror movies to watch too, as they have some interesting titles such as Freddy vs Jason or The Autopsy...but too bad I live by myself at my apartment. Now I understand fully well how it gets pretty creepy when you live on your own.

Probably I'll watch them after I get a new roommate, haha.


How gloomy or cheerful are you?

I found this interesting psychology test one day. It asks you to fill in the blank below:

COFF_ _ ; SK _ LL ; GR _ VE

What do you fill those blanks with?

Answer key in yellow font (Try not to cheat before you answer!):

If you fill it with Coffin, Skull, and Grave, it shows how pessimistic and gloomy you are. If you fill in those spaces with Coffee, Skill, and Grove, that means you are an optimistic and cheerful person.


Free drinking water

One of the best things about living in a first-world country is that you can have drinking water for free, whether from the tap or a cooler.

That saves a lot of our money.


on Taylor Swift

A lot of Indonesian youngsters do not really have much penchant towards American country music, but I guess Taylor Swift is an anomaly. A lot of Indonesian youngsters like her.

I am not a big fan of country either, but I like Taylor Swift.



Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference

After one bloody month of battle, what was the answer?

My manager Rachel called me the other day.



"I'm afraid I have some bad news for you"

I nodded slightly.

She continued, "The..other store is currently not accepting new transfers."

I took the news for two seconds, and I shrugged nonchalantly, "Oh. Okay"

"Strange, you don't look that disappointed..I thought you really wanted the transfer?"

I only smiled.

I already have another reason why I should stay in this store, and I think it is worth it. (^_^)


on Being suicidal

"Guess what...", as I slammed her silver Matrix door shut. She had been waiting for the car to warm up.


"I just bought a Häagen-Dazs cuup!!" I grinned.

"Are you fucking kidding me? It's 20 degrees [-7 degrees Celcius] outside.. You're suicidal!" she snapped me in the head, complaining.

"Haha... I know. But who cares? Nobody really cares anyway"

"I do"

"You do?"

"Mm-hmm", she nodded.

"So you wanna keep this piece of ice cream for yourself, then?"

"No way, I ain't crazy like you. Just promise me you won't get sick okay?"

"Okay duude", I smiled.


on My personal favourite

You're not the sweetest girl on earth.

But somehow I'm surprised myself to find you still there, occupying a rather...uhm awkward position in my life.

It is not rekindling of anything, nor it is the way I look into an adopted sister like me and Sis R.

And also unlike getting all occasionally hot with my "friends with benefit" Linda (who coincidentally happens to be my childhood crush).

No wonder it was to a great distress of mine when I was inquired to put a certain "distance" between you and me.

Ah, what the hell.

I haven't had anything on you for quite a while, and I can personally attest that fact to everyone with certainty. Because once I've been over heels with somebody, I know what it feels like when those stuff are gone.

Anyway, no matter how pissing off you might be, how nonchalant your attitudes usually are towards stuff, one thing stays the same... I still favour you.

For a reason that I don't even know.

I'm not even being possessive of you. You can have a crush on anyone and I don't care.

I may even date somebody else totally new someday, and still find you as someone special whom I put in such a favourable light.

An adopted sister?

I don't think so. That somehow betrays some of the ideals I have now.

But when that time comes, I just have to be careful as not to make a large-scale drama out of it. Your presence in my life has to be kept in a low profile, as I usually do..

'post~script yes, this post is originally intended to coincide with the special occasion. I know I have made it a policy for this blog not to glorify any anniversaries, but I guess you have seen one anyway.


on The security camera

After working here for three full months, I finally realised that Sparta actually have a security camera.

Amidst making sandwiches, I asked my manager, "Rachel, I'm wondering if the store have any security cameras? Because I haven't seen any"

"Well yes there is. See the one over there?" and she pointed out to a tiny alarm-like device that is attached at the centre of the customer service department.

"We only have one?" I gave her a puzzled look.

"No,there is another one in the back, but that's only to keep an eye on the employees. So that nobody would be sneaking any food items behind, you know"



"But it's so small... It's not supposed to be able to see what we're doing in detail for the entire store, right?"

"Oh yes it can Toshi. You know, the other day I went and see the camera TV room and it is quite advanced that you can actually see the entire store, 360-degrees, and zoom in right onto the little holes on your nose. It can see every single thing on the store, unless you're hiding behind the aisle shelves, of course"

"Ow great", I uttered.

She chuckled, understanding some of my favourite 'sins'.

So the camera had actually seen me munching some dough nuts, texting on my cellphone at the back of the deli, and gulping mashed potatoes, all caught within a distance of 50 metres away. I should stop doing that then.

Thank God those watching the camera video aren't actually aware of anything, haha.


Winter solstice

In exactly a week from today is the Winter Solstice, which is the "official" start of Winter season for Northern countries.

I wish I could escape to Okinawa, but what the hell. Limited on coffers.

Anyway, am I ready for winter?


Firstly, food.

I have purchased over $100 worth of food in over the course of less than a week, filling my refrigerator and cupboard to its fullest. Mostly pasta (ranging from Rotini to Rigatoni and Vermicelli) and noodles though.

Hence, I will still have a food supply for one full month even if (God forbids) I get stuck in my apartment for a whole day, being unable to get out due to a blizzard.

Secondly, medicines and vitamins.

Since I still live without a roommate, it dawned upon me one day that I'll be a dead meat if one morning I wake up and find myself having a high fever.

So now in my cabinet I can find every single medication that may be necessary for any kind of fever, cough, asthmatic symptom, flu, allergic reaction, or wounds and scrapes.

I also take some multivitamin to help me get thru the day, and occasional sleeping pills whenever I find myself back home at 3 a.m. in the morning and have trouble to go to sleep (Though our body is tired, human mind usually remains active at those ungodly hours, which is a damned ironic thing)


Can't stop working



"How can you stand working three jobs?" I asked her, "I offence here, but you don't seem like you have a good physique to stretch yourself that hard.."

Apart from being a part-timer as my coworker, she also babysits during the morning and work as a shoe company saleswoman on certain days. But one thing that me and some folks knew is that she does not have that much of a good health: she has a heart problem and a weakened kneecap.

"That's the irony, T... I just can't stop moving unless I fall asleep. If I stop working, I'll be in pain for being still"


"Uh-huh", she nodded, "That's what my doctor told me"

Wow. I never know that there exists such a medical condition.


To thee I protest, dear Fatma

I was on my ride to work when I noticed that there was flag in front of an apartment complex at the Florence suburbs.


It was a simple, trivial thing, but of large significance to me howsoever.

Unless when I am on the phone with my Indonesian folks, I haven't spoken a single Indonesian word for months. I don't speak a word at all, not even in vulgarities, because all my profanities are almost always in English.

In multicultural cities like Chicago or Phoenix or New York, the chances to have some gado-gado are almost the same as having the Scottish Haggis.

But in a mid-sized Midwest town of 25,000 people in Northern of Kentucky? Almost zero.

So was the mirth to find that there might be somebody else who also shares the love for tempe bacem in town?


Now let me share a bit of history first.

They have two theories for how the Indonesian flag.

First, it came from a torn Dutch flag, which has red-white-blue stripes on the order from top to bottom. The Sulawesian nationalists torn the blue stripe, and proclaims the new flag as an Indonesian one.

The second theory is that Fatmawati, one of Soekarno's most beloved wife, had sewn it.

Both theories are truthful in a certain way, though some people believe more in one than the other. I tend to believe that Fatmawati had sewn it, and after the red-and-white flag was established, then the Sulawesian nationalists made it famous by their tearing of the Dutch flag.

But oh my dear Fatma, if only you have learned Geography more.

Because after second thought, it dawned upon me that the red-and-white flag I saw that day might have been the flag of Monaco.


Look, I know I have written on the different dimensions on both flags last year, but when the flag is hanging on the pole, how can you measure the size of the flag?

So the apartment complex I saw might have been an Indonesian complex, or a Monegasque one. I guess I'm going to come find out someday.


You always know a dumb blonde when you see one

"Can I help you, ma'am?"

She was a blonde lady in her early 30s in a white outfit, high heels, and deep red lipsticks. One would say that she's well-dressed, if not for the way she talks.

"Umm...lemme see...I wanna order chicken"

"Do you want to have an 8-piece fried chicken or barbecued?"

Frowning, she said in a serious tone, "I don't know...I don't know anything about chicken. Just take whatever seems nice"

Then she giggled.


After I got her order done, I asked, "anything else?"

"Yes...salads. I like salads!"

She continued, "But...I don't know anything about salads"

And she giggled again.

"Hmm...perhaps you would like a potato salad, or cole slaw?"

"Alright, cole slaw looks great!"

Another giggle.

After getting one pound container of salads for her, I asked, "what else would you like to order"

"No, thanks. Byeeee!" she showed her sparkling teeth as she walked away from the deli counter.


After the lady left, Taylor approached me from behind.

"Taylor...that lady.."

"I know"

"You're thinking what I'm thinking?" I asked her.

"If I were to get 10 customers like her in a day, I'd soon get a brain damage"

And we laughed.



"Taylor", I called my pal after the Spartan's radio advertisement featuring Santa Claus.

Cleaning the fryer, she glanced at me, "Hmm?"

"That Santa's 'ho-ho-ho''s not a very good phrase to teach to the kids, ain't it?"

"Depends on whom you direct it onto", she laughed.


Accidental friends

One of the best things in America (which is rare in most of other countries) is that you don't have to approach strangers in order to make friends.

Strangers approach you.

Sometimes I just talk and banter lightly with them, but sometimes we exchange phone numbers too.

Now that's what I call "accidental friends". A smile a day, kicks the loneliness away...


on Drinking

Now in retrospect, I found myself a totally different person I become when I start intaking alcoholic beverages.

I turn into somebody else with the potent to destroy and do the most malevolent thing I could ever terrifying it was!

So I decided that from last month onwards, I'm not gonna drink anymore.

Well perhaps I'll drink in a social context with the guys, but not with the intention to get an escape from life's problems.



Mark told me about this funny poem the other day that he found when he was taking a shit in a department store toilet cubicle.

Here I am down and broken-hearted
I cannot shit and yet I farted


on The hot Russian ass


My first thanksgiving

"Dude, do you know how Thanksgiving first started?"

"'s the sharing of food between the Europeans and the native Americans, right?"

"Yep. Actually it's only the native Americans who share their food. Those Europeans killed them after that", Mark, a white American himself, remarked.

"Such ungrateful bastards", I teased, and we laughed it off.

So it came last week. The days before Thanksgiving are not very pleasant for those working in the food industry actually, because those days are the busiest with all customers ordering Turkey dinners (though they do provide massive revenues for our bosses up there).

I went to Kerry's, and had some food till my belly was about to explode. And a lot of the American adults asked me whether I also celebrate Thanksgiving in Indonesia, to which I answer, "As a matter of fact, there are only two countries in the world that celebrate Thanksgiving, which are USA and Canada".

Turkey. Home-made macaroni. Lasagna. Mashed potatoes. Mousse. Pumpkin pies.

All in all, more than I could ever eat during the last two months.

And somehow, the Thanksgiving dinner had a side effect that still lasts till this day: I have an enlargened belly that made me unable to stop eating. Which is a weird thing, since I'm past my puberty period of teenagehood already.

Hence, my insatiable appetite. I may even think that I'm pregnant.


The birth of Toshi's French-language blog

This comes from an idea that had been hanging on the back of my mind for quite a time. I firstly thought of making a French-language post every once a week, but that would betray my pure ideals of having nearly 100% of my posts in English.

Moreover, writing in French could potentially discourage some of you my loyal readers from reading or subscribing to this main blog any further, since a non-English post would be unfamiliar to the general audience in Peru or Philippines.

So the solution...voilà! A brand new French-language blog was created.

Now the blog title per se has quite of a story to it.

When the consideration of title first came to mind, I was determined that the initials has to be SS. Not the SS that stands for Schutzstaffel of Nazi, but something that can really stick to people's minds.

In other words, they have to be catchy!

Because to be honest with you, using Foreign Prophecies as the title of this blog has been one of the greatest regrets in my life. I cannot change it, because that requires a huge task of asking numerous people to change my link in their blogrolls, especially those that are already fixed (such as the ones where I translated President Obama's biography).

It is not catchy at all, and to non-native speakers of English, oftentimes I have to spell the "P-R-O-P-H-E-C-I-E-S" and still get a blank stare.... What the hell does Prophecies mean?, they ask me.

Hence learning from my experience, I decided that my French blog has to be catchy in people's ears. And for that, I went to great lengths into opening a humongous Oxford dictionary of French in the library, and scouring for every single adjective and a noun that begins in S that can match when paired.

A sign of OCD? Indeed.

I took notes of some of them which are quite descriptive, poetic, or simply have a nice ring to them, such as sabre (sword), sonate (sonata), satisfaisant (satisfactory), saisonnier (seasonal), or stance (stanza).

My first pick was Serein Soleil (Serene Sunlight). It was not until later on that I remembered that I was supposed to put the noun in front as Soleil Serein instead.

And what on earth does Serene Sunlight mean anyway? It has a highly poetic touch to it, but does not really mean only shows how stupid the blog author is.

So I looked for another.

I decided that my second pick has to be musical-themed. Second Sonata would be nice, but too bad it's in English. In French, it turns into Deuxième Sonate, which is not a very good idea because:

  1. Its initial is not SS
  2. The French word Sonate would rhyme with the Indonesian word SUNAT (circumcise)
Thus, it's another No.

For my third pick (which I hoped was the last one), I decided that the SS had to represent me or my writings in some way.

Then I stumbled upon the word Scorpion. And hey, I'm a Scorpio!

So be it, I fixed my noun on Scorpio.

What would be the adjective then? Sain is a good adjective, but it's weak. Healthy Scorpio doesn't really mean anything.

Scorpion Saisonnier is highly poetical at first ring, but if you ponder the sounds as if I'm a piece of durian. Seasonal Scorpio? Come on Toshi, you can find a better one.

What about Scorpion Subtil (Subtle Scorpio)? This almost become my final pick for the title, before I decided that it's kinda hard to pronounce.

Scorpion Suave (Suave Scorpio) also came into consideration, but it was too self-laudatory and would scare away the audience who may think that its content is nothing but narcissistic remarks on the author himself.

Then I came across Sceptique. Hyaw!

That pretty much describes me. I'm the type of person who can give my trust to anybody, but sometimes I verify with outside sources...just in case.

You can be my buddy, my mother, or even my wife, but if I feel that something is amiss or out-of-place, I would do everything to tear your walls down and verify your words with a third party, even if I have to seduce your own confidant into becoming my personal detective or hack into your school ID account (I've done both of them several times in my life and I'm not kidding you, hahaha).

I trust, but I verify.

So Scorpion Sceptique it is.

And what a pretty coincidence, both have Sc in front of them!

~post'script Just thank God it's not Scorpion Scatologique.


No more cash

These days I no longer carry a single cent on my wallet. Kerry told me it was too dangerous, because having cash means making yourself a prone target for those lurking in the darks of night. Especially with me having to ride a bike home for six kilometres almost every night.

So for every paychecks I receive, I deposited them all into my account. I am firstly not used to using debit cards for every purchases I made, but it is just a matter of getting used to it.

And it helps me save money too. Because with no cash, I can restrain myself from having to use my money for vending machines.

Ah, vending machines. What a way to promote frugality.


Indo-lyric: Coba katakan (Maliq&D'Essentials)

English translation:

Please tell me

Please please tell me that we're walking towards one reason
Don't you say that we never had a purpose

I don't wanna sit still, staring at hopes
Lured by the sweetness of love and end with despair
I don't wanna wait anything that's uncertain
It's better for us to cry and be wounded today..

Please please tell me if we really are going there,
Prove me and make me believe that we can form happiness..

Ohh.. Oh.. I don't know what else to stay..
I've expressed every single thing that I felt..
Now I only want a happy ending.. hoo..

All I want..
A purpose
One reality
Not a dream
Not a hope
Not a reason
A certainty

Please tell me.. 4x

Original lyric in Indonesian:

Coba coba katakan kepadaku bahwa kita sedang berjalan menuju satu alasan
Janganlah kau katakan bila kita memang tak ada tujuan dari apa yang dijalankan

Aku tak ingin terus terdiam memandangi harapan
Terlena akan manis cinta dan berujung kecewa
Aku tak ingin terus menunggu sesuatu yang tak pasti
Lebih baik kita menangis dan terluka hari ini..

Coba coba katakan kepadaku sekali lagi bila kita memang benar akan kesana,
Buktikan dan buat aku percaya bahwa kita bisa mewujudkan bahagia..

Ohh.. Oh.. Habis sudah semua rangkai kata..
Telah terungkap semua yang kurasa..
Yang kuingin akhir yang bahagia.. hoo..

Yang ku inginkan
Satu tujuan
Sebuah kenyataan
Bukan impian
Bukan harapan
Bukan alasan
Satu kepastian

Coba katakan... 4x


A conversation

The Islamic Sufi philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught.

Hence I took notes of what are the three biggest dreams in life. None of them seem to clash with the other, which is a good thing.

"Are you sure you want to do these three, Toshi?" a voice asked me.

"Uh-huh", I nodded casually.

"Are you really sure that they're the right thing to do?" it asked me for the second time.

And I spoke to him, "No, it's not about being right or wrong"

"So what are you doing then, making all those plans in your head?"

"Well, as it is said in the Hindu holy scriptures of the Bhagavad Gita, it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. Some people out there choose to take the so-called proper course of 'make good money, have a family, put your children up to university, etc etc' but it's not always what they wanted"

"Don't tell me you want to go off-track from that 'proper' course..You'll become an eccentric"

"I'm not saying that. I'd still want to have family like any other human beings on earth, but of course they have to coexist with these three dreams of mine"

"So are you happy with your choice now, Toshi?"

Without the slightest hesitation, I looked at him, who had taken form in front of me. Apparently, he was none other than a reflection of my inner self.

I stared at him in the eyes, smiled at him and said, "Yes, I am"



it does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble,
or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.



The day I decided to postpone my childhood dream

The morning has arrived. I looked out of the window seat to see the clouds are hanging clear, reflecting the beautiful sunrays.

"What would you like for drink, sir?" a stewardess asked me in fluent English.

"Mizu," I glanced at her nonchalantly.

Probably the first non-Japanese who spoke Japanese to her, she smiled, surprised.

Pretty, not bad, in my opinion. No wonder JAL staff are widely renowned.

Then I opened the inflight TV for a number of channels I could flick over. Uncle R was half-awoken beside me.

"Good sleep?" I asked him.

"Yeah. Ah, I can't believe I'm finally coming back after 35 years away!"

"For a transit", I reminded him tersely.

"Yes, but still..."

Our conversation was interrupted with her bringing back my water. It was iced.

"Ah...oyu kudasai..gomen ne, wasureta!" I changed my order.

Assuming that I spoke the language fluently, she answered in rapid Japanese.

Greaat. Hence I answered in a simple "Hai", totally clueless of what she was talking about.

30 minutes later, after a breakfast of sashimi and small bowl of udon (you could still choose to have the standardAmerican breakfast if you abhor those raw food), I could finally see one of the most beautiful man-made landscape I've ever seen. Streets after streets are neatly arranged in neat blocks, as if made for a Lego.

We arrived around 8.30 in the morning, when we straightaway proceeded to the baggage check. All passenger baggages were quickly checked out, but it was only my suitcase was stopped.

"Doshita no?" I asked the security holding my suitcase, ready to latch it open.

She explained about me having a sharp object inside my suitcase.

"Stupid Singaporeans", I grinned at Uncle R, "How could they miss that cutter on the luggage check there? What if I was a terrorist?"

"Heh. Singaporeans are good Toshi, but these folks we're having here are much better"

After getting my cutter confiscated without much hassle, we proceeded downstairs, where we could take a Skyrail to Terminal 2.

"What time is our next flight?"

"Let me see... 4 o'clock local time", he answered.

My (Indonesian) clock was saying 7.35, so it was around five hours to spare.

On the skyrail, I turned back my cellphone back from flight mode. No signal. Apparently, people back home were true...they're using CDMA only here. Or perhaps another band of GSM, whether it was Tri-band or Quad-band, I wasn't sure.

I tried to open a wifi connection to no avail. There was an unlocked wifi, an NTT-Docomo paid connection for 1000 yen a day. No, thanks.

Terminal 2 looked like some kind of a shopping mall, smaller than Changi's but acceptable enough. Since it was not 10.00 yet, most of the shops are still closed.

I glanced at the check-out exit, to outside air of Tokyo.



"You wanna experience Tokyo for a while? You can walk out of that door if you want to..."

"Aren't you coming with me? I mean, this country is totally foreign to me"

"Nah, my passport doesn't allow me to. But yours would"

I considered that option for a sec. There was something else I was thinking of that time.

"Hmm...maybe later."

"Okay. Just make sure you make it before 2 o'clock though. Our flight is at 4"

We unanimously agreed to go back to the terminal where we first came from.

There, Uncle R and I took pictures around the hallway and the underground floor where we could see the bottom of those mighty planes.

The Japanese time showed 10.00 when Uncle R took a doze while I went to look for a free hotspot, or anywhere else where I could find some free internet connection.

I really couldn't live without the internet.

I found a Yahoo! internet cafe where Japanese and foreigners alike can browse for free. You are supposed to show your identification though.

Pondering which passport number should I list, I jotted down my American.

There were around 30 computers inside, with a lounge next door where one can watch the planes taking off. The computers had a USB-lock each, which meant that the computer could never be accessed without one.

I opened my e-mail and Facebook while taking a look at some of the high school girls in uniform there. They really shattered those myths...the myths which say that the cutest high-schoolers in the world are in Japan.

Well, they might be pretty and fashionable, but not that enticing to me. I prefered the JAL stewardess.

After spending two hours there, I went back to Terminal 1 where Uncle R was.

I took a couple of narcisssistic snapshots myself before deciding that I don't want my memory cards to be overloaded.

So I woke Uncle R up.

"Hey, let's take lunch", as I woke him up, "I'm staarving"

"No prob. Any good place?"

I pondered for a while. On my way back, I've seen a lot of restaurants with signboards in front of them, but none are offering prices for below 1500 Yen (or US$15).

"Hmm...lots of good places, but none of them have good price", I told him.

"But we have no choice, eh?"

We laughed.

So it was a search for a good money changer first, because we didn't have a single Yen on our pockets. I asked Uncle R to exchange most of our Rupiahs off, since we're not going to need it for quite a while anyway.

At the money changer booth, there are several pieces of origami-animals in an open jar, located just in front of the booth hole.

"Are these free?" Uncle R asked the woman at booth.

"Yes please, you can take one. They're from the kindergarten students around here", she smiled.

So Uncle R and I took one each. There is a dog-shaped origami which was the cutest one methinks, so I took that one.

Terminal 2 had skyrocketing prices, and the least expensive menu, we could find was a 1000 Yen Japanese fried rice (the kind of fried rice with omelette and Ketchup).


There were several food stalls in Terminal 1 too, so we decided to go back there anyway.

Before we proceeded to the skyrail again, Uncle R called me.



"Here here...where's your camera? Take a picture of me with that policewoman on that security booth...You know, just as a memento"

I glanced at him with a big "Hmm?"

So Uncle R asked her for a picture together.

She seemed confused, so I offered to translate "Sasshin..sasshin o totte kudasai"

But she refused with a broken English, "No, cannot. Sorry, no. But I...I can picture you!"

She wasn't allowed to have her pictures, then.

"Ah no, thanks!" I refused her back. Uncle R shrugged.

So high was the standard for Japanese police force that they're not even allowed to have their pictures taken.

When we approached the skyrail, it announced that there would be a five-minute delay for the next skyrail to come. It didn't became apparent to us until later: The janitors here are supposed to clean the skyrails once every two hours.

Once every two hours.

Can you imagine that? Back in Indonesia, they don't even clean their Transjakarta busway once every two months.

After stepping back to Terminal 1, we had a lunch in an Oriental restaurant which offered a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean meals. Uncle R and I chatted while having until our stomachs are filled, then we went to the departure gate at 13.00 local time.

There, I dozed off for around 45 minutes in an empty sofa while Uncle R read a newspaper.

By the time both of us are awoken, Uncle R reminded me, " have an hour chance to get out of that gate if you want to. You can do it now, otherwise you'll have to wait...perhaps years from now."

I pondered again that offer.

Because for the record, I didn't even know what Japanese summer breeze felt like yet.

No, not yet.

I was only inside the air-conditioned spaces of Narita airport.

"Nah, I'll pass this time"

"Why not?" he asked me for the last time, "That has been your childhood dream, right? To visit Japan?"

The airport speaker announces in Japanese and English that the chek-in line for American Airlines flight to Los Angeles had been opened.

"I've visited Japan. But I'll only get out of that gate after I'm done with another dream too"

I glanced at that gate again sadly. I saw an African family had just went out of that door.

With a mixture of bliss and a tiny speck of regret, I rescinded my one and only chance to experience Tokyo that time.

I decided to postpone my childhood dream of stepping into Japanese soil. But it was because I had made a promise to myself to return there with a purpose.

A purpose and promise that I have altered slightly after the months to come.

Hence I will return.


on what I thought was Laptop crash

My laptop crashed last week, and it was one of the biggest shocks of my life.

Every single thing I've taken during the last three years: pictures, personal journals, and songs ripped...They were all gone in an instant.

As usual, I firstly panicked.

Due to my anger, I felt like smashing my netbook into pieces.

But then it dawned upon me: panicking won't change anything that might have been lost. It's always better to face problems with cool-headedness.

So I waited for ten minutes until I calmed down.

After I did, I turned on my laptop again. Then it showed a message that I didn't actually notice earlier: "Windows cannot access the locally stored profile"

Hence I asked myself, was it because my user profile corrupted? Or is it hidden somewhere?

A bit of googling from my cellphone revealed the trick: I only need to log in from Safe Mode and create a User Account.

I tried to create another user account to no avail.

But voila! At least I found my data, all safe.

In the end, I found out which data actually mattered most to me.

They weren't the songs, which I could always download anytime.

They weren't my personal journals, which I could always rewrite.

They were those pictures. Every single picture I have with you folks in Indonesia and Singapore, they are all precious memories.

Whether they are good or bad, they are still memories. And deleting any single one of them feels like betraying those memories.

So thank God they were all intact.

The very first data I copied to my USB was, indeed, all my pictures.


That first time

~3 October 2000~

Mr Roso, our physical sciences teacher, just went out of the class.

Sitting at the back right corner of the classroom, I was biting the pencil while watching some of the class's noisiest soccer players throwing paper balls at each others. Some of the girls are busy gossiping and others were drawing.

I was really bored, and so was she.

Out of the blue, I called her name softly.

"What?" she replied with an even softer murmur.

"You know what...there is someone in this class whom I like"

Her face suddenly brightened up. Ah, how lovely.

"What! Whoisit whoisit? Tell me tell me!" she exclaimed.

"Shht...quieten down!"

"Okay T... Sorry... So..who is it? Who's that girl?"


Why on earth did I have to start this conversation in the first place. My heart was throbbing loudly, I hoped she couldn't hear it.

I tried to look for an excuse to end the conversation.

"Ermm... But I don't want her to know..." I said nervously, biting my lips.

"Ah don't worry... I can keep a secret, you can trust me Toshi!" she smiled.

That smile again.

I glanced away from her. By now my whole body must have had reddened from the blush on my face streaming down from the veins on my cheeks to my limbs and entire torso. I just hoped she didn't notice it.


"Hmm? You don't trust me?"

"No, it's not that I don't trust you, it's just that...erm.."

"So tell me then" she showed a pout. She seemed to be getting a bit upset.



The entire class was getting louder and rowdier as the clock ticked on. Seemed that it was only me and her who was having this small, quiet conversation in the back.

"Please, not now?" I asked her in earnest.

"When? Tell me now, otherwise I won't talk to you anymore today"

I sighed.

Then the classroom door opened. Mr Phillip, the Indonesian language teacher entered the classroom, bringing a sudden quiet to the whole class.

The class stood up, dictating the obligatory "Selamat siang Pak Guru".

After we sat, she said crossly, "Okay, fine. You know the consequences"

"Hmm okay I tell you.."

I tried to look at her in the face, but I couldn't.



"It's you"

"Me what?"

"The p-personn is you," I half-stammered.

Whether she was in awe or in shock, I couldn't tell. I couldn't even look her in the eye. All I could stare was her red skirt.

And it only made me feel much more embarrassed.

While Mr Phillip was making notes at the whiteboard, both of us fell silent. And we didn't talk for the next three minutes.

"So?" I asked.

My heart wasn't throbbing as loudly anymore, but I was anxious. Now that all is said out loud, I had to get the answer.

"Mmmm", she only mumbled.

"So..what's your answer?"

"Ah cmon Toshi, I'm paying attention to the lesson now. Can't we discuss this later?"


She was never a big fan of Indonesian language, hence I knew that she was lying. After a couple of minutes of scribbling the notes, I could finally gain the courage to steal a glance at her and see that she was deep in thought.

We didn't talk at all during the rest of the lesson. Even when recess time came, she simply left her seat quickly without saying a word.

When the day finally ended, I asked her, "Have you finally gotten the answer yet?"

"I'll think about it" was all she could say.

During the ride back home, I was preparing myself for two possible answers: Whether I'm gonna get a rejection.... or whether I'm gonna get a new girlfriend!

I was smiling and laughing by myself (thinking of the optimistic answer) the entire day that my schoolbuddies gave me strange glances, "What's wrong with you, Toshi?"

At around 15.00, my phone rang.

My housemaid picked it up.

"Toshi, it's Linda!" she exclaimed while knocking my bedroom door.

My entire house (including my Mom and my sis Melody) had already known it all along about my new crush, hence my maid's enthusiasm.

I gave her a murderous 'shut-up-and-don't-say-anything' look before I took the phone from her.


"T.." I heard her soothing voice from the other line.


I could vaguely hear her mom shouting out to her, "LINDAA!! Why are you on the phone? Have you cleaned up your room yet?"

"Ermm.. I..."

"You have an answer yet?"


"What?" I gaped in disbelief.

"Yes, I accept", she said quickly, "Now if you excuse me now, my mom just called me"

Then she hung up before I could say another word.

I was still in a state of surprise when I walked back to my room. I couldn't believe it, I finally got myself a girlfriend!

But what about my pals at school? What if they talk about us? Ohmygod Ohmygod getting a girlfriend is such a shameful thing!!

She and I were only at the 6th grade that time, hence my deep embarrassment.

But finally, I've confessed and she accepted!

Smiling proudly to myself, I went to sleep well that night.

~4 October 2000~

The next morning, I woke up feeling kinda embarrassed. And my heart was beating loudly because I was about to meet her again.

But the truth finally dawned upon me.

Eliane, one of her closest confidantes, was the first classmate who told me, "You confessed to Linda? Ah too bad she rejected you...I feel sorry for you!"

"What do you mean?"

She must have been joking.

"She refused you, don't you know?"

"But...but..." I was in an utter state of confusion.

"Oh well..that means she hasn't told you yet, hmm?"

When I finally met Linda again, I asked her what did Eliane meant.

"Sorry T.. My mom was rushing me to hang up phone last afternoon... But I'm sorry, I didn't mean to give you the wrong impression though", she sighed, feeling sorry for me, "But I don't take it"

"What do you mean by 'not taking it'?"

"I don't accept you"

Then the world fell silent. It seemed as if there was nothing mattered anymore.

Now I only needed to know the reason.

"Because I don't want to", she finally told me later on during the day.

"Why? Why not?"

"Because I have a reason", she said sternly.

"What reason?"

"Nope. Maybe next time"

I had no courage even to say that "was I too ugly for you?"

However, I seemed to know what the reason was. It was too obvious, right in front of my own eyes... I could see it.

~One day in year 2008~

We were having some snacks in a cafe while waiting for the movie in Bintaro Plaza cinema.

This was the first time I ever met her after seven years of not meeting each other.

There were a lot for us to catch up on, and we were gossiping about some of our former classmates who had become a movie star, or those who had moved to other countries, or which ones had had sex with whom.

In between, she was having her second cigarette while I was toying with her cellphone.

"T", she said, "Remember 6th grade?"


"There was this boy who liked mee...." she grinned.

"Hahaha dammit. You still remember, hmm?"

"Hehe yep. Well sorry about that time, because you were too quiet of a boy! If only you could talk a lot more!"

"Like Richard," I stated, "Richard was the boy you liked that time, right?"

"Hey how on earth do you know?" she seemed confused.

"Well", I shrugged, "I simply knew"


"Good instincts", I laughed, while taking a sip at her glass of lemon tea.


On my transfer

"You know T, white Christmas looks cool and beautiful on TV... But you know, what's on TV is just on TV!" Sally told me as she gave me a ride back home.

"I know", my mood soured, "In truth, it's horrible, eh?"

She just laughed.

Winter is coming, and ready or not, I have to face it.

Winter is one of the worst seasons around. Whether you drive a car or walk or ride a bike, getting outside is a potential health hazard... And sometimes people risk death, because the road gets very slippery.

It's just like walking or driving on an ice rink.

Theoretically, the winter in the northern hemisphere starts on 22 December every year.

But for most of us, "winter" is defined by when it starts snowing.

And unfortunately... I may see the first snowfall by 28 November, according to the weather forecasts.

Ah, I am so not going to sing the "Jingle Bells" this time round. With its chill that drops below minus five degree Celcius, White Christmas is no longer a dream: It's a dread now.

And because of the busy week of Thanksgiving, Rachel hasn't even confirmed my transfer to the closer store yet.

I hope she does, though. I hope she does it as soon as possible; I don't wanna walk 75 minutes under the snow everyday.




Deep down in my heart

Deep down in heart, I still wish that I was better in Science. But nah, science has always been my weakest point ~,~


The best things in life are available free

Uncle, can we go home now? It's gettin' reaaally late...


Demotivational poster of the day


on the Sanzeis

There have been a lot of Japanese coming by Spartan these days. Perhaps they're part of those working for Kubota, the Japanese construction company located next door from Spartan I'm working at.

Then there was this Sanzei American who came by the Spartan deli last week. A Californian-born Sanzei, to be exact. Tried to speak Japanese with him, to no avail, as the only person still speaking Japanese in his family are his parents and his brother.

What a shame.

Hence I promised myself from that day that even if I marry a Zimbabwean lady, my children have to be fluent in Indonesian.

It is my responsibility and a promise I will hold firm.

Oh wait, I won't marry a Zimbabwean.

My soulmate is, and will always be, an Asian woman. This is one belief I've held strongly since my childhood.

To be noted though: the term "Asian" here is a wide-encompassing term of a continent and not particularly specified on Oriental countries, meaning that she could either be an Indonesian, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Korean, Taiwanese, or a Thai.

Just not to give the wrong impression.


List of prices

Here is a price list of haphazard electronic goods I sighted upon on my last visit to BestBuy:

iPod Earphone $40
Gumy Earphone $11
iPod wall charger $26
Sony earbud headphone $18
Dynex audio line-in jack $10
Sony noise-cancelling headphone $50
Sony studio headphone $30

19-inch Insignia HDTV $190
19-inch LG HDTV $200

Gaming consoles
Nintendo DS $130
Nintendo DS games $10-30
Wii bundle (including remote and nunchuk and charger) $300
Wii games $30-50
PS3 250GB $350
PS3 games $20
XBox 360 $300
XBox 360 games $20-60
PS2 $100
PS2 games $10-20
PSP $250
PSP games $20-40

Macbook 13 inch, 2GBram, 250GB HD $1000
Rice cooker & Food steamer $45


If your girlfriend was a boy

"Dude, let me ask you a trivial question of the day", I said to Mark.


"What would you do if one day you discover one day that your girlfriend was a boy?"



"Yea well... I'd kill myself."

"But why? Don't you wanna kill her?"

"Hahaha that won't make any difference dude... Even if anything happens to her, I would still have to suffer the shame of being ridiculed by people who say 'Hey take a look at him, he used to date a she-man!'"

I laughed.


So joking aside readers, what would you do if one day you discover your significant other as belonging to the same sex? Question is open to answers, criticisms, or jests.


Zero privacy

On my very first days of living in this 380 square-foot apartment room, I had the window blinds snapped into two. The leasing office had previously written on my room's notes that it was a new blind, hence my bewiderment.

With my room being on the first floor and facing the parking lot, it was quite a nuisance during my first couple of days because I had no privacy at all: I cannot even undress in my own room!

Moreover, the bright sunlight of the day enters my room as soon as the sun rises, forcing me to wake up without alarm clock at around 8.00 everyday, despite my work shifts that start at 15.00.

But thank God the apartment's repairman has substituted it for a new one now.

For gratis.

Now I can finally change and wake up late.


Story of a gay guy who was married with a woman

This is one question that still makes me wonder till this day: "When a gay guy kisses a woman, does he feel disgusted just like the way we heterosexuals feel when we kiss a member of the same sex?"

Out of the blue, I asked that question to Mark, a friend at the Deli.

"Hey that's a good question. Good question, dude. I'd probably ask my gay uncle"

"Yoh have a gay uncle?"


"Is he openly declaring gay or does he have a partner"

"He has a partner. Well, it was an embarrassment to the family at first, but we finally came to accept it", he shrugged nonchalantly while cleaning the chicken steamtable.


He continued, "But not all gay guys live with another guy though. Sometimes they get married with a woman too"

"Hey yeah, that happened a lot in Indonesia!"


" know, they want to appear normal in front of their society, hence marrying a woman.."


"What?" I raised my eyebrows.

"Man, there was an assistant manager, he used to work here, and he's openly gay"


"And he was married to his wife and had a 13-year old daughter!"

"Oh my God. Does his wife and daughter know about it?"

Then he cracked up.


While suppresing his laugh, Mark explained, "There's a funny story behind it. His wife cheated on him soon after she found out that he was a gay...and do you know how he got back at his wife?"

"You mean how he paid back his wife for her cheating?"


"Nah.. You tell me"

"You see, the other guy with whom she was having an affair...this assistant manager met that other guy and had sex with him"

The story was such of a freakish nature that my mouth gaped wide.

"You mean, his wife was married to him, a gay guy...and she was cheating with a gay guy too? Do you mean it for real?"

"Yep. I heard it from his own words, man.. Apparently.."

"His wife was a magnet for a gay guys", I concluded.



Moving and costs of living

It had been quite a while since I last blogged, and it is to my pleasure to see a fellow Indonesian blogger leaving some comments on my blog... A young man from Central Java he is, with an interest in the Hallyu (Korean wave).

Welcome akhlis, and thank you for leaving your trails, I appreciate it (unlike some of you regular readers who still remain anonymous...I encourage you people to leave your footprints here too).

Now I have some updates to do.

First of all, I have moved out of my home stay location in the southern part of Florence, KY, due to some personal reasons that I cannot possibly disclose here. Suffice it to say that the family had been helpful in facilitating my move, and I am especially grateful for having Kerry as my adoptive mom, I'm forever indebted to her.

I moved out to an apartment building the northern part of the city. It is a 380 square-foot efficiency apartment, with a monthly rent of $510 (already includes water and gas) and electricity bills that is paid separately for an average of $20 a month.

It already included a medium-sized refrigerator, a stove and oven in the kitchen and a bathroom with a bath tub and a shower when I moved in, hence the only furniture I had to purchase on my own was a metal arm futon, which cost me $120.

And oh, a microwave too for $50. A microwave may not seem essential for you my fellow Asians, but believe me that when most of your food are available in instant packagings, you would want to consider getting a microwave.

Altogether my purchases for detergent, soap bars, shampoo, blankets, chair pads etc cost me a total of $260 (excluding the microwave and fridge I just mentioned). What a cost of living.

My apartment security deposit for the first month and its application fee, together with the rental fee for the month of November cost me another hefty sum of around $430, just to give an idea of what it takes to start renting an apartment in a mid-sized city of 25,000 people in America.

Costs of living aside now, I am very delighted to have my new apartment located nearby strategic establishments such as McD, PapaJohn's Pizza, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell...all of them located merely 150 metres away from my apartment building. Which means just next to your door step.

But the down side of living there is the distance it has from my workplace of Spartan...which is 6.5 kilometres away, meaning 90 minutes of walking or 35 minutes of biking everyday. It has been wearing me down for the last two days that transferring to the store of Spartan in Erlanger branch, which is located just 2 kilometres away from my apartment, have become something of an urgency. Otherwise I would have to bike for 35 minutes under the snow during winter, something I could not possibly stand doing everyday.


They do have a point


On a $100 sandwich

A colleague of mine at the deli mistakenly gave a price tag of $100 to a piece of sandwich, which prompted bewilderment when a customer ran it thru the cashier.

"What on earth did you guys put on it, gold?" they asked, which tickled us all.

After the cashier took back the sandwich to the deli, my colleague then reverted the price tag back to its original price of $3.99

Otherwise, that would have turned into one of the most expensive sandwiches in town!


Milli Vanilli

Do you know Milli Vanilli?

If you are born after the 1980s, chances are you don't.

Yet a friend of mine recently told me about how this musical duo achieved its notoriety for lip-syncing on MTV stage...and the tape got stuck.

What's worse, that particular song had won a Grammy previously, and as a result of that unfortunate incident, its award had to be revoked, causing downfall to the duo.

I know it's not funny to laugh at the demise.... But it certainly is to watch the video of how the lip-syncing went awry.

You can check it out on this Youtube link.


Libraries and new hobby of collecting bookmarks

Lately I have been patronising the Barnes & Noble bookshop and the public libraries in Union and Florence.

Especially these American libraries...they are such a marvel, you can borrow 50 items at once (whether they are CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, or printed books) for 21 days!

In the libraries I usually spend the entire day -I would've stayed here from dusk to dawn if I could- but since it opens at 9.00 and closes at 21.00 every weekdays, I spend only 10 hours of my holiday hours there.

Now one thing I found amusing is my newly found obsession for bookmarks.

I've found bookmarks which advertises the library's website and some Starbucks promotion and what's so good of them is that they are free.

So now I've found what it means to be a regular guy, just like everybody else.

Because since my childhood, I've seen other boys collecting anything they are obsessed with: some ask for stamps, some collect soccer balls, others find love in kites, shoes, musical instruments, and some of those fucking rich brats always come to school with a new electronic gadget or cellphone every once a month or so.

While I was left by myself...the only male species found not interested in collecting anything.

But hey, I collect bookmarks now! I promise you people I'll upload a picture of my collection someday.


Driving on the wrong side of the road

Having to use bike or feet as means of transportation from home to work, especially without any pavements on which I can safely distance myself off the passing vehicles, I always take the routine of driving against the traffic, which is the left-hand side.

That way I can safely see the cars and trucks coming ahead to me, instead of passing from behind.

Haha, being on the left-hand side of the road using the UK system again, eh? Guess it doesn't make much of a difference whether I'm still in Indonesia or living in brain is still fixed to use the left-hand side of the road.

Now what makes me wonder is that some asinine drivers out there do not seem to be able to grasp the same sense of logic.

A couple of days ago I was klaxonned at and yelled at by a driver, who seemed to be furious seeing "this teenager who can't use his head to ride his bike on the right side of the road".

Thank God that I can't hear a single thing that he said, as he was yelling from inside his car windows. The only one who heard those cusses would be himself.


Thinking of transferring

I am currently thinking of transferring to either one of the other two branches of Sparta: one located next to a public library, and the other is strategically located within walking distances of several bookstores and gift stores, and shopping centres.

Moreover, both branches are more pedestrian-friendly: they have pavements within 50-80% of my walk/bike ride from home to each of both, which consequently makes my trip much more pleasant.

And those two other branches are around 30 minutes of walking distances each, which is around 10-15 minutes shorter than the time it takes to reach the place I'm working now.

What about the current Sparta branch where I'm working?

I tell you, it's not a pleasant one at all.

Not a single speck of pavement could be found from the house to my work place, hence I always have to walk or ride my bike on the road shoulders.

Moreover, on those road shoulders I can see rotten and disfigured bodies, and some skeletal remains of dead puppies and raccoons that has been there for months (or perhaps years), apparently hit by vehicles.


Anyway, though such a transfer between branches is theoretically possible (I only need to talk with my HR manager and conjure up some good reasons for it), it is not actually as easy to do these days.

Especially with the Sparta deli being understaffed; they need us all here!

A friend of mine whom I call Sally in this blog has also expressed an interest in moving to another branch, but that does not seem laudable, not at this point of time.

I just pray to God that there will come some new hires to this deli soon.

I'm dying to transfer.


on Pay raise

Working in the deli department of Sparta can give me pay raises of $0.10-0.25 every several hundred hours or so.

But for my first pay raise, I'll get a raise of $0.15 after working 175 hours. So far I've worked around 125 hours, so it will take me another two weeks before I start seeing more dollars on my paycheck (this translates to $4 more in my paycheck every week, or $16 a month).

The next pay raise after then would be after working 400 hours.


The winter clothes and umbrella I bought

I bought an XL-size black umbrella (which the label says to be around 55 to 68 inches in width) for $19 in Sparta.

Seems to be an unreasonable price to some of you earthlings back in Indonesia, but I found the umbrella's largeness to be very comfy, especially when it comes to me not getting wet.

Now, regarding the chill.

The season turned to the brownish autumn at the end of September, and the night temperatures often drop to 8-11 Celcius.

Considering that my buddies in Sparta could not always give me a ride back home, I am sometimes compelled to walk by my own.

40 minutes under 10 Celcius, at 23.00. Geez.

My first day, I only had one T-shirt, one long-sleeve, a hoodie sweatshirt, and thin pair of socks to walk with. No protective scarf, no beanie, no woolen socks, nothing.

And I was all gelid when I finally reached the door.

So I went to TJ-Maxx where people say I can purchase affordable winter clothes, and got myself a couple of them. Here's the list:

  1. Neck covering = $4
  2. A pair of mittens = $17
  3. A beanie = $12
  4. Thermal long johns = $15
  5. A pair of woolen socks = $6
  6. Another pair of merino woolen socks = $7
For those of you who don't know, thermal underwear is a piece of thin garment which looks very much like those worn by gymnasts. The only difference is that if you wear this thermal underwear, your body could get heated up so easily.

Because it fends the cold.

And a neck covering is like a bandana that primarily protects your neck. It works like a scarf, but it looks like a bandana.

I am not done with the list of winter clothes yet. I still need a pair of boots ($40-80), thermal undershirt ($20), and possibly a pair of ski goggles ($20-30).

I really need the boots. Even with this pair of woolen socks, my feet still get cold easily, due to the thin-layered shoes I have (one's a pair of sneakers, the other's a pair of work shoes).

Shoe Carnival provides pretty expensive boots that start from $60 upwards, so I'm thinking of trying Wal-mart sometime soon.


AT&T and T-mobile (part 2)

I've decided to keep my T-mobile for my American contacts. While AT&T is used to send and receive text messages from anybody outside USA.

If only I had found out about AT&T much earlier when I was in Miami... I could have purchased a simcard which remains active for 3 months for just $25!

And from that $25 balance, $10 can be deducted each month for my 1000 messaging package.

Which averages a charge of 1 penny per SMS, regardless of text being sent or received, domestic or international.

Sigh. Oh well.


AT&T and T-mobile

The names on the title are two of the most well-known cellphone carriers in America. It was unfortunate that I had purchased both, when I actually only have the need for one.

Here was how it went.

I firstly did an extensive research on several cellphone carriers, even to those with relatively obscure fame such as Boost and i-Wireless.

I found that AT&T and T-mobile are two of the most well-reputed brand. I initially wanted to subscribe to a postpaid service (where I am charged a certain fixed monthly fee of $40-60), but decided to rethink about it after seeing that that amount of money is too pricey for my pocket.

What I need is of course, easier and cheaper long-distance communication with Indonesia. So I researched for a data-only plan (where I only pay for the unlimited mobile internet, but without any phonecalls or SMSes) no avail.

I thought T-mobile had a data-only plan with their so-called "Unlimited Blackberry" plan, but it was no good. Apparently it was directed towards a hearing-impaired audience.

There was also another carrier that listed unlimited international phone calls as its main feature, and it got me excited...until I found out that the so-called "international" was only for 60 countries relevant to America (you know, the Spanish-speaking countries that provides USA with immigrants, the Arabic-speaking countries that provides it with oil and terrorism cause, and Japan and China and some similarly wealthy friends in Europe).

That pissed me off.

So I decided to go for a smarter solution, which would be a normal Prepaid plan, as any good Indonesians would opt for.

Postpaid got me thinking a whole week because:

  1. Though the phone may be low-priced (such as $150 for a Blackberry 8900) or even free, I have to subscribe to its carrier for 24 months in full. Which means that if I terminate the contract plan after using it for a year, I have to pay off a termination fee which ranges from $150 to 250.
  2. All the features that you have in a postpaid plan can be purchased cheaper with a prepaid plan. Who needs 1000 minutes and unlimited SMS for $50/month in postpaid when you can have the same features with a prepaid one?
Voila, prepaid is my choice.

Then I bought a T-mobile simcard in Walmart (which comes together with its Nokia 1661 phone) for $20, with $3 initial balance. This means that the Nokia came for $17, which wasn't a bad deal, considering how plastic it is.

I also bought a $50 prepaid refill card for T-mobile, a move I regret now.

What a waste of money.

It may not be true for some other areas in USA, but T-mobile does have a poor signal reception inside the house I'm living in right now.

Then they also charge a hefty fee to send SMSes abroad to Indonesia.

So I researched more on its arch nemesis, AT&T...and look what I found, a messaging feature package of $10 for 1000 SMSes!

And it lasts for 30 days.

And I found that in Kaskus, fellow Indonesians are giving testimonials of how they have found a "leak" that the SMS package can also be used to send texts abroad (to numbers outside America).

Now that I have found that AT&T has a good signal reception in the house, I'm sticking to AT&T. Just as not to let my T-mobile phone go to waste, I may keep the number alive till its expiration on late December...or I may choose to discard it by then.

But oh well, even if I want to keep both phones active, I only need to dig $10 for T-mobile and $25-50 for AT&T every 3 months. Which in total, I only need to pay $35 at most.

Which averages $12 a month.

Not a bad deal. Not expensive at all. I can now SMS as much as I like to Indonesia!


Pay raises

From my current rate of hourly pay, I'll get $0.25 more per hour after working 175 hours in the Sparta deli.

Not bad. Averaging 40 hours a work week in the deli, I can get paid $4 more every week after I worked for four weeks!


Weekly, Biweekly, or Monthly paychecks

In Indonesia, there is only one method of paying your salary: Monthly.

It's paid either early of the month or late of the month. Which is a bad method, because I think some people tend to overspend their monthly budget for leisure and other unnecessary expenses.

In other words, for people with poor money management, after they get their monthly paycheck and pay their monthly bills, they tend to splurge it on everything else.

While in America, there are three methods of paycheck. Once a week, Once every two weeks, and Once a month.

In Sparta I get paid once a week, every Thursday.

Which is a good thing, really.

Let's say that my monthly pay is $400, then instead of getting $400 on the first week but having almost spent so much (especially with my poor money management) for three weeks after my paycheck, I get $100 to manage every week.

And another thing.

One month does not equal four weeks (with the exception of February).

It is equal to 4.28 weeks (for 30 days) or 4.43 weeks (for 31 days).

Which means that if you get paid $400 monthly, that doesn't mean that you go home with $100 every week.

You go home with a bit less than $100.


How I willingly picked the hardest job when there were other options available

The other day I was wondering what the hardest job (or position) in Sparta is. You know, other than the deli or bakery clerk, we also have those cashiers, CSRs (Customer Service Representatives), pharmacists, meat clerks, florists, janitors, baggers (those who help customers on bagging their purchased items), and even fuel clerks!

Then I asked Sally.

"The deli" was her firm answer.

She went on to explain that we are the only ones who are constantly and steadily busy for most of our 8-hour shifts other than the cashier. Except the very fact that cashiers are not required to clean their counters or stand up for eight straight hours.

That makes the deli job a hell lot harder than any other jobs in the supermarket.

"Then why did you choose to work in the deli if you know it was the hardest?" I asked her.

"Because it was the only job available when I first came in here. I would've chosen to become a pharmacist instead, if there were an opening in the pharmacy...And why did you choose the deli job"

" was a random pick"

Yes people, that was right.

The hiring manager gave me freedom to choose whatever job I wanted to take in Sparta when I was first interviewed, and I willingly and haphazardly chose the hardest job there.



Working two jobs

As some of you my blog readers have known, I am working two jobs at the moment. The first job (which gives me a full-time 40 hours a week) is as a Deli clerk in Sparta, an American grocery where I work for five days a week.

And the second job is a part-time 10 hours one as a Sandwich maker in Pinara, an American franchise of sandwich eatery, where I work for the remaining two days.

So, I'm working 5+2 days a week (for a total of 50 paid hours)...This leaves me with no holidays at all!

Hahaha, that doesn't matter much though. I don't need holidays.

In Indonesia I needed those holidays every once in a while, because holidays there could be well-spent by visiting relatives or hanging out with a bunch of friends in the mall.

In America, I no longer need such holidays. I need the money more, which is why I am being 'harsh' now by not even allowing myself to make any room for holidays.

Both are located within 40 minutes of walk from my homestay residence, and usually I either walk to my work places, or I ride a bike.

Now here's the fun part.

My regular shift schedule goes like this:

  • Sunday : 15.00-23.00 in Sparta
  • Monday : 16.00-23.30 in Pinara
  • Tuesday : 15.00-23.00 in Sparta
  • Wednesday : 15.00-23.00 in Sparta
  • Thursday : 15.00-23.00 in Sparta
  • Friday : 11.00-14.00 in Pinara
  • Saturday : 15.00-23.00 in Pinara
That may seem like a bad deal for some people to see me coming home late at 23.00 everyday (except Friday), but I actually kinda like it.

Yes, it usually gets really windy and chilly outside at those hours, but at least it gives me the luxury of staying up late everyday.

Because I hate going to bed so early in the night. Haha.


My work places: Sparta and Pinara

Currently I'm working in a supermarket as a deli clerk and a sandwich eatery as a sandwich maker.

In America, blogging about your office or work life, especially if you happen to bitch a lot about your coworkers, your boss, or your company; could land you either in a discharge (read: getting fired) or a lawsuit.

Now, I want to feel free to blog about my life in both places without sacrificing my own jobs.

Hence, I have chosen to call my supermarket (which I've never named here anyway) with the pseudonym of Sparta and my sandwich eatery with the new name of Pinara.

If I happen to mention my mates, they will be given their own false names.

Both names are adapted from ancient Greek city-states. Don't bother looking for the correlation between those city-states and the companies in real life, because they were just haphazard picks.



Out of my total salary (which is paid every Thursday), 24% goes into the state taxes, federal taxes, and several other deductions made by US of A.

Such a high tax for a country with a poor health care system, eh...


Move to deli

I originally applied for the Delicatessen department, before I realise that I would rather be handling breads, cakes, and cookies.

I thought that "Deli" and "Bakery" were synonymous.

But they're not.

So during my first four days of work, I asked my manager to be transferred to the Bakery, which is not troublesome, considering that Bakery is actually a part of the Deli department as a whole.

Then I saw that being on the bakery had a couple of disadvantages:

  1. I have to deal with both extremities of the temperatures in a consequent manner, meaning that straightaway after dealing with 150 degrees Celcius on baking doughs in the humongous oven, I have to take new frozen doughs from the freezer (which goes around minus five to five degrees Celcius). That is definitely not a good condition for my sinusitis.
  2. In the bakery, the only available shift is the morning shift, because the bakery people have to finish baking the breads by 6.00! Which means that my shift starts at 5.00. What an awfully early schedule.
Since it is an eight-hour shift, 40-hour workweek, I am obliged to wake up at 4.00 in the morning for five days a week... And I could not stand it.

My first day started out fine, since it was an 8.00 shift, but my second shift onwards start at 5.00.

Considering that my bike ride from home to the supermarket takes around 20 to 25 minutes, that means that I have to leave home latest by 4.35 in order to reach my work place on time.

And just like in Indonesia, the summer mornings in Kentucky are execrably freezing, I tell you. I got sinus for the entire day, which may not prove to be good, considering that I am in charge of handling processed foods.

So that's it, I asked my manager (who happens to be in charge of both the Deli and the Bakery)...can I move to a later shift?

Fortunately, she said yes.

So for the Deli, my shift starts at 15.00 and ends 23.00 everyday, with holidays every Monday and Friday.

I know it's kinda late to ride a bike home at 23.00, but what the heck. At least I don't have morning sinus any longer.


Being in a female-majority world

I wonder what kind of gift (or curse) God is bequeathing upon me...seems that everyday I go, I am more entrusted to live in a female-majority world.

Whether it was on my French class, at my neighbourhood, or in my workplace.

Even in the Deli department I'm working now, everybody is woman except me and another guy.

Well, there used to be one other gentleman working here, but he just got fired, so that leaves me here alone with him as the only hunks around.

But oh well, since all the women working here are married housewives aged 30 or older, you can expect that I'm not as delighted as you think I am.



on Food-dumping

I used to think that food-dumping (the removal of food products considered beyond the expiry date) by bakeries, restaurants, or the likes to be appalling; considering that many people in the Third-World countries are still dying of hunger every single day.

But nah, apparently that's a strict standard.

We have to dispose of those food products if they have gone beyond the selling date.

And that is a sad thing, considering that I work for the Deli-Bakery department. I see doughnuts, French breads, and baguettes which are only good for a day...and they all have to go into the dustbin on the next day.

Sounds sad to put those food to a waste, but yes, that's a protocol I have to adhere to.

What a strict world we are living in. I'd still rather donate those food to the charity.

(In case anyone is worried about the health safety of those products, I can tell that food products are still on an edible condition even for a day after the original expiry date. So if your cheese has an expiry date of 25 December, you can actually eat it until 26 December. Don't worry, it's not rotten yet, unless it is kept in an inappropriate temperature)


DVD-devouring days

My pastimes are mostly spent watching DVDs here, since the family has rented and bought some new DVDs, Eagle Eye and State of Play being two of them.

Eagle Eye is one I would very much like to recommend. A gripping movie with an excelent storyline.


Indo-lyric: Dewi (Alexa)

English translation:


I've planted my heart, and grown with you
it won't be plucked till the last of my breath
listen... did you hear
as long as the world keeps spinning, you're still mine

Goddess.. open both of your eyes
take a look at this space in my heart
Goddess.. devote your breaths for me
so that I could inhale it with you
with you... continually with you

listen... did you hear
as long as the world keeps spinning, you're still mine

Original lyric in Indonesian:

Kutanamkan hatiku, tumbuh bersamamu
Takkan kupetik hingga akhir masa hidupku
Dengarlah.. kau dengar
Selama bumi berputar, ku tetap milikmu

Dewi.. bukalah kedua matamu
Pandanglah ruang di hatiku
Dewi.. berikan nafasmu untukku
Agar kuhirup bersamamu
bersamamu… terus bersamamu

Dengarlah, kau dengar
Selama bumi berputar, ku tetap milikmu


A new leaf and inching to the close of summer

So the northern hemisphere is inching to the end of summer, and here I am, anxiously waiting for autumn that is widely known to be the start of my long, cold days.

And it's lonelier without you guys here.

I already have a job now, working in some food department in a supermarket just 20 minutes of bike ride away from my home (or 45 minutes of walk or 4 minutes of car ride).

It does not pay very well, but what the hell. Just anything to get me started...paid by the hours, I can even get a raise after 1000 hours of labour.

Working a full-time 40 hours a week, it means I have to strive for another 25 weeks before I get that raise.

25 long, arduous weeks. Without you guys.


American collations

I haven't uploaded any of the snacks collection I have here.

Yes, you see Americans eating their snacks on TV, and some of them even exists in your own supermarkets...but are they really of the same brands?

Hence for today, I took a picture of some of them.

Well, I purchased them all at the Meijer's supermarket this afternoon.. So they really are still virgins by now.

Oops... I forgot to put an alert for those of you who are fasting!



Ah anyway, I think it would be too late for you to close this blog by go on...scroll on...

Snickers. My second wife. (The first is still Kinder Bueno)

Despite the fact that Oreo's mother company, Nabisco, originates in Indonesia, I can safely say that uhm....these two "special editions" don't exist in Indonesia.

As a matter of fact, Indonesians don't even care to produce their own Lebaran or Christmas or Nyepi "special editions" of Oreo.

Which is a sad fact, really.

This is not a chocolate-based product (though I've seen on its main website that they also have some peanut butter cups with chocolate on its ingredients).

Hence, I can safely say that Reese's is not my wife. I only marry chocolates.

She can still become my mistress though.

Seen this giant on the Cereals section, definitely an emulation of Koko Krunch (just like the way Milo does it in Indonesia). Haven't tried it, yet planning to have some munches tomorrow morning.

So...your stomach's grumbling now?

My apologies; but you are the one who continued reading till the bottom, aren't you?


Conglaturations [sic]

AGhostbuster oldies-game capture I took from 11 Points. Pay attention to the L-R confusion.

Another picture I found to be relevantly...irrelevant. Or is it irrelevantly relevant?

But anyway, it's the first picture ever uploaded onto the internet.

And I also happened to chance upon the first ever search engine, which can only generate searches from Polish websites. Ironically, it was in English and was created by a Canadian, who has no relations whatsoever with Poland.


Indo-lyric: Bukannya aku takut (Juliette)

English translation:

It's not that I'm afraid

I just don't care
if I really love you so much
I just don't care

I am like this
if I really love you so much
I just don't care
whatever I want you'll give

It's not that I'm afraid that I will lose you
but I'm afraid to lose your love
perhaps that time you're playing me around
as if you could repay my love

You won't understand
what I've been feeling all this time
I just don't care
if only you'll give I want

Original lyric in Indonesian:

ku tak peduli
bila ku benar-benar cinta mati
ku tak peduli

ku memang begini
bila ku benar-benar cinta mati
ku tak peduli
apa saja yang ku inginkan kamu rela

bukannya aku takut akan kehilangan dirimu
tapi aku takut kehilangan cintamu
mungkin saja saat itu kau mempermainkan aku
seakan kau bisa membalas cintaku

kau takkan mengerti
yang selama ini aku rasakan, pasti
kau tak peduli
bila saja yang ku inginkan kamu rela


List of relevant places in Northern Kentucky

Below is a list of all relevant places I have to visit on a regular basis in and around Florence, with their exact locations on Google Map:

  1. St Timothy Catholic Church
  2. Boone County Scheben Library
  3. Wal-mart
  4. Save-a-lot (low-price supermarket)
  5. Kroger's (supermarket)
  6. Job place [not available yet]


on Wild honeysuckler

There is a body spray in the bathroom with the scent of wild honeysuckler, and it emits exactly the same aroma I smell when going to Indonesian traditional wedding ceremonies.

I wonder if that really is the fragrance they use in those ceremonies...wild honeysuckler.


Now available in black

Found this on a joke shop in Florence Mall. Apparently, it's a postcard.


Indo-lyric: Cintaku (Chrisye)

English translation:

My Love

I'll go on with this song
an epitome of my deep feelings
like a world artist
who holds love in high regard

how nice it feels
to be consumed by love
like the morning dew
touching the grasses

love is what I'll give
for your peaceful heart
my love is passionate
as beautiful as the evening violet
no power could overcome
the beauty of making love

how I long for your presence
in every nights of mine
I am lonely

I don't want my soul to be anxious
hoping you'll be mine

Original lyric in Indonesian:

Kan kujalin lagu
bingkisan kalbuku
bagi insan dunia
yang mengagungkan cinta

betapa nikmatnya
dicumbu asmara
bagai embun pagi
yang menyentuh rerumputan

cinta akan kuberikan
bagi hatimu yang damai
cintaku gelora asmara
seindah lembayung senja
tiada ada yang kuasa melebihi
indahnya nikmat bercinta

betapa kudamba hadirmu
di tiap malam-malamku
sepi diriku

tak ingin risau jiwaku
mengharapkan engkau menjadi milikku


Gelid summer

Florence is located in the 38th parallel line of latitude, yet it ranges around 18-20 degrees Celcius for the last three days.

What a cold summer.

Every Americans around me tell me that this is the most suitable climate for them, but apparently not for me.

It even dropped to 16 degrees Celcius this morning, and I had to wear long-sleeve and jeans, while every other Americans around me are wearing T-shirts and shorts.


Last day of waterpark

Today is the last day the Florence waterpark opens. Apparently, most (outdoor) swimming pools in the northern part of America only opens during the summer holiday season when it is more profitable to let them open.

The kids originally planned to swim today. Too bad the plan doesn't work.

~post'script: The weather has been eerily cold for the last two days, despite being a Summer day. It was 20 degrees celcius yesterday, and 18 degrees today.


Dishwasher and Vacuum Cleaner

So far, the two new appliances I've learned to operate here are the dishwasher and the vacuum cleaner, two electronic items which are only found amongst the highest social strata in Indonesia (but common in USA).


Current height and weight

I currently weigh 61 kg (131 lbs) and stand at 174 cm (5'8''), which is kinda close to the ideal body I long for.

Another additional 3 kg would make my body ideal (with a difference of 110 digits between my heights and weights)


When the dogs no longer bark

When the dogs no longer bark, it is a sign of acceptance.

Sarah and Dusty no longer bark at me. They don't even threaten to bite as they used to when we first met.

That's a good sign.


A Florence update

As for today, I've stayed in Miami for eight days, Covington for three weeks, and Florence for five days.

So far, the Florence experience is the most pleasant one of all.

I won't go into any depths telling what kind of travesty I had to traverse during my Miami and Covington days, but I'm quite glad to say that those days had passed.

Now I indulge myself in the daily routines of having these activities below:

  1. Practising my basketball shoot
  2. Tossing American football with David
  3. Watch plenty of DVDs for night marathons (I have a TV for myself here)
  4. Doing some house chores
  5. Biking
  6. Go online
  7. Reading a good book from the library
  8. Playing Nintendo Wii
  9. Waiting for the job call
Is that all?

Nope, I think I left out "swimming" and "strolling by the creek" and "going to the drive-in theatre"... But that's all I could elaborate here.

If anyone is wondering in whose residence am I staying now, I would like to make a long story short that I'm staying with a family friend.

Or, as I can sum up my whole Florence experience in one word: Homestay.


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