New Moon

If people told me a year ago or so, that waiting is the most horrible job, I’d say no; probably because I don’t have much time spent on waiting; but when they said that to me last July, I’d say yes, with a deep nod, and a great frown.

After the deal on the house was made, I waste no time packing stuffs. One because I don’t have much time left, two because I don’t want to make myself crazy counting the days as the bank is processing the mortgage. Those and, I still have to think about how to make up for the (rather huge) lack of the down payment. I myself only carry three boxes. One for my clothing, one for my kitchen, and another for my handcraft things. The cats, however, have the whole house to pack for.

It’s been long days, both by the meaning of the proverb, and literally. I have to go to work, which aren’t getting any easier, especially with the change of management in my office. After work, I have to check on the new house, making sure that all has been tended properly, then I go round for the strays and feral, then end the day by packing. One box after another. If there’s emails or all, I’d go ahead and reply it, trying to keep it as simple as my mind can handle. On those days, don’t ask me about good food, enough rest, or whatever in between. I even forget the day and the date, and allow all the work zombified me.

What kept me conscious is one: a mortgage for us. For me and the Syndicate, and brand new hope for the first TNR operation in Bandung, and probably Indonesia. I have been trying to establish this operation for so very long, without support from whatever organizations that I appealed to, but if we get the house… if we get the house I can make a feeding station on the carport (now that I don’t have car) and that will officially start the TNR. The location on which I choose the house is perfect. It’s a hillside, with plenty of unopened land, and people literally dumping cats of all ages to any unclaimed land, from a red baby to a senior cat.

And I am too poor to reach out for them and offer them to stay in the sanctuary. Eventually I have to choose, but rather than just picking the straw and leave the rest on the street I wanted to make some changes. I wanted to left the ferals a tiny hole in their dark life, a tiny hole that will allow a ray of light to shine as brilliant as those who stays in the Syndicate’s home. That is, a slight reduce on overpopulation. I can only do one a month, but I truly hope that one day the Syndicate will grow large and strong enough financially to do one a week, or more. As time pass by, perhaps a year or so, at least those existing feral won’t have to deal with scavenging their own poop for food.

Certainly it all might be just an utopia, a distant dream, and most likely they will die before an minimum effect of the TNR is reached, considering how heartless people here think of animals, but if Sun Tzu started a journey of a thousand mile with a single step, I want to start that single step with a dream.

The dream was shattered again, then, when the bank call and they can only approve 80% of what I originally applied, with various reasons. I was taken aback, and get a fatal blow. So I just let my cat-crazy- lady personality comes out and talk to the bank for three straight hours, on the phone, until they agree to review the application and come back in two days.

Another two excruciating days. I am sick of all this but if being excruciated for two days can give the Syndicate a house, I’d do it. We are just gone too far to come back now and besides, this housing business had dragged people around the world into a roller coaster ride. It’d be lame if we all landed back on the pod with an anticlimax.

Meanwhile I got only a portion of what I need for the down payment, so that two excruciating days I slept on the floor (because the bed had already packed) all of a sudden I feel like I have to be a diplomat, a negotiator, in a mission  for a land for all the refugees – the cats.

Whether it’s sheer luck, or just my animal instinct taking over (people tend to give out their dormant skill whenever they are cornered, don’t you think?) or Heaven was lending me their favor. The developer agreed that I pay the balance of the down payment in installment. It throws me into a double debt: the mortgage, and the down payment. It’s a hefty tag on me, honestly, but at least the cats will have a new home. The cats who has been living roofless and loveless for years, perhaps the rest of their lives.

And then the bank. They called me again and say they need another two days…

Oh no, I snapped. So I am turning green into Incredible Hulk and crush them all with the palm of my hand. And then I call my friend the King Kong and together we kill the developers and claim the house for free.

I lied.

I told them that my rent is overdue by three days already, and I have to move out at the end of the week, so it’s sudden death. I told them that I know Central Bank of Indonesia give them a tough target on housing credit, I told them that I know how many percent the marketing is going to get if I got the deal, and I also told them I know that they too, as an employee, just like me, has to meet the target set by their employer or lose their promotion, or job all together.

And, while we’re talking about time and target, I also mention that the month of August is very short, because there’s Ramadhan big holiday, and the bank, as well as everyone else, will close business until at least the beginning of September, and so they need to consider my application because although it’s small (houses in Bandung can reach millions of dollars), the larger the amount they are agreeing to, the more their target will be fulfilled. So they have to decide now or I am changing my mind and will find another house.

Of course, it’s a bluff. I’ve got nothing on my hand, really; and you know it far too well by now.

Simplified it, profession wise I turn myself from a secretary into a diplomat, into a Goddess of Gambler. All right, not a goddess, just a gambler.

They took my token and roll the dice.

They call again that evening, outside office hour, that they can adjust the amount to reach what I am applying, legally.

It means I have to skip office to go to their office and sign the contract immediately (before they changed their mind) and though I am also at a pinch in the office due to the mean new CEO (more about this later) I took my jackpot.

In Japan, there’s this time that a student call “Examination Hell”. A time when they try to graduate from their school and competing to enter higher education. Their days will be filled by study, study, study, cram school, exam preparation, and more study. Plus the pressure from their parents (who don’t want to be ashamed of their children’s grade), pressure from the teacher (who will get a point or lose their job depending on the success of their students), pressure from their peer (who can do anything to bring them down so they can go up).

The Survival Game includes those who cannot cope throwing themselves in front of a running train, hang themselves in the storage house, free-falling from the school roof or admitted into a mental hospital, or run away from home and try to figure out how to live out their lives as an outcast.

All this house business is my examination hell. Packing, negotiating, working, handling sick kittens, and pressure from the landlady’s son, pressure from my office, pressure from the money and trying to calm the already stressed out mobster of cats in my house.

They feel a change is coming, they know something different is going to happen, they know that there probably be some sort of storm, but they can’t comprehend the human side of it, so they stressed anyway.

And then all the volunteers that promised me they’d help canceled out with various reasons, or with no reasons at all. An old news, but though I made “plan A(lone)” it still take a lot of effort to figure things out all by myself.

I plan to take my leave on August 8 to move, but the house isn’t ready, still on finishing. I ran out of energy to fight, actually, so I leave it on my Lord, again. Then the supervisor called and said that my house can be finished on August 8 at night, if I am willing to pay their dinner, because they took overtime it without their superior’s consent, and even if they did ask their superior, the developer won’t want to pay anyway.

I agreed. As an appreciation on their willingness and consideration, and mostly because need to go out by Friday, August 10.

I went out at once and buy them 10 packs of dinner from the nearest canteen I can find on the area, and even have dinner with them.

You see, people like them, the builders, are considered of low class here in Indonesia, unlike their professional counterpart in USA or Europe. Listening to the whole new level of jokes, of thoughts, and learning about the whole different world, the same tight money management, the same simplified lives from different perspective teach me a lot about handling tough times and trying to go with the flow, about mixing business with pleasure. The dinner reminds me of how lucky I am to have all these things that I cherish: a work with good pay, opportunity to experience, and live, in animal welfare world, worldwide supporter (oh yes, thank YOU for that), and a possibility of a dream come true.

At August 9 I woke up very early, and set out to rent some car, a minivan, to transport the cats. They had spent the night in basket, and since the journey will be long and stressful (for them, cats are not good movers) I wanted their move to be as quick as possible.

I took them all in one way, and put them all in a room inside the house. I open a window for fresh air, but left them in their basket. As soon as they smell new air they start to shift from whining to cautious, but at least they keep their brains away from being stressed.

Then I took the bus back to my rent, feeing dizzy, get myself some lunch (breakfast, supposedly) and drag myself to a truck pool nearby to rent one to move the things. Then I rode with the truck drivers, also considered a low class here, to the new house and unload all stuffs. When I paid them their fee they told me that they are surprised that a patron are willing to help them carry the stuffs. Usually a patron, mostly female, will behave lady like and watch, and let them do whatever order she gave them about unloading. Well, I am not a lady. A cat lady, perhaps, but not the kind of a lady they have been talking about. Then I invite them for a lunch, their lunch, in nearby canteen, for the heck of it.

I tend to reply a kindness with more kindness. It runs in my family.

And, I want the cats to go out of the carriage as soon as possible. And then, I want, no, need to get this done quick, before I got a nervous breakdown. I am on my limit.

By 6 in the evening, the freshly done, previously empty house looked like Titanic. I push all the boxes into one room, clean the house, lock all the doors and window, then let the cats out.

I was prepare that some of them go jump around like crazy, but it seems like I undermine their adaptability and resilience. Most of them has been moving from rent to rent with me before, so they are probably not all that nervous to have to move into yet another environment.  Still, I sleep on the floor in another room (the bed is still unpacked) with the door open. All 37 of us crumpled onto a large carpet that night. I haven’t release the cats into the backyard because I don’t want them to jump out of the house, and got lost.

Besides, it’s not quite done yet. The grasses and bushes are cleaned up, but it’s still stone and dirt.

before and after

On Saturday, however, the cats are pretty much calm, so after their morning ration, I open the door to the backyard, and have them take a look on their new home.

 The first astronaut to step on the stony moon in Neil Armstrong. The first Whiskers’ Syndicate resident who touch the stony backyard is Renoir.

first cat on the moon

As the Syndicate have a sniff on their new moon, I took the chance to arrange some of the things, and as more things are out, the cats seems to be encouraged to explore.

 exploring

Some of them didn’t come back into the house that night, and choose to sleep outside. I was a little bit wary because mountain breeze at the new house is rather cold, but it seems like the cats want to enjoy their fresh new home, away from the cage. I choose to trust their instinct.

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