The Importance Of Being Earnest

By the time this post goes on air, I’d be out of work for almost the whole month. I am standing at the threshold of a chapter in my life in which I will define my purpose in life, and re-write my legacy.

During the fourteen years in the rat race, I have grown nothing but discontent of its glass roof syndrome. The bosses manipulate their power for personal and professional greed while the workers – choked with every words of wisdom to do their best so they can climb the corporate ladder – work to the end of their lives to be just like their bosses. With brand new car every turn of the year, brand new gadgets with every turn of the week, huge bonuses, luxurious clothing, morning golf plays (and claim the expenses of their enjoyment as “entertaining the customer” or “lobby expenses”

I am not going to say that I fail the race. I climbed the corporate ladder enough during the 14 years. I started as a clerk, and finished as the personal assistant to the president commissioner, but it only make me see the glass roof clearer. If you can’t get inside the circle of those 1% (regardless of your way to get in there), you’ll finish second.

The hard fact is, the harder you work, the richer the 1%. Time and energy in the corporate were spend from the bottom to the top, but the income went to the top first while we are like the dogs who eats the crumbs that fell from their table.

So, when the hypocrisy of the corporate become unbearable, I quit the race. I ripped the numbers from my chest and turn away from the crowded running lanes. I choose to run through the green pastures, the wet soil, and breathe fresh air.

I was wrong about the green pastures, and the wet soil, and the fresh air.

In fact, the first that I have to handle was my shop’s sales flop. The shop will be my only means of income after I retire; but it seems like I had simply forgotten that God had never promises that the sky is always blue and the sun is always shining. In my haste I have forgotten to look left and right before I cross the street and I am hit right on my first step.

I got panic and the devil shows up in the body of a business associate who called me to say how shocked he was to hear that I left the company, and that if possible, he want me to join his newly found curtain factory.

I didn’t know him. He is a friend of the new boss of the company (which I just quit) who showed up in my compartment once and a while to ask for a help with his own business. See what I mean? He is not even part of the company, but because he is a friend of the boss he can roam carefree into someone else’s office and told some employee to do this and that for his own purposes; and we workers can’t do anything but do what he said because if he was displeased and talk about us to the boss, we might lose our job.

However at that time, it felt like God had taken me out from the valley of darkness and put me into the green meadow, so I jumped in and again, forget to look left and right before I cross the street.

I got the job, and I thought that God had forsaken my plea, and the only way to survive with my sanctuary was to see the glass roof again.

The new boss is a complete miser.  He paid the factory worker very low, with working standard very high, he delay payment to the suppliers, and almost all other things, he made an agreement for one thing and when that one thing is delivered he suddenly backed off and re-negotiate the price, and all over places he deal with he gave my number so people flocked to me for an explanation of the most ridiculous set of action I ever met on earth.

After the incidence when he sat on Tealca, which sparked an intense argument between us, the forbidden apple effect started to wane. The new job is at the end of the entire Bandung, and I have to go out at 6 am in the morning if I am to reach the factory on time, so I have to wake up at 2 am in the morning in order to take care of the Syndicate first. I went home immediately at 5 pm, when the work’s over, but the terrible traffic made me reach home no earlier than 8 pm. No more feeding the street cat, no more delivery blankets to them when it rains, no more time to play with the Syndicate, and I skip food even more often than before because I am too tired to just turn on the stove and made a cup of hot cocoa. I also forget my liver.

My relatives and readers remind me to get enough rest and food, and my mother text-ed me like crazy to remember my liver but the snowball already rolled. I felt like my life is going out of control and that I am gasping for air trying to handle everything all by myself.

I contracted Chicken Pox on April Fool’s day. A true gift of my ignorance.

It is the result of degraded immune system due to my exhaustion, and my condition was so bad that my fever was so high, I can barely stand, and ulcers were everywhere, including inside my mouth, that rendered me unable to eat. I survive for three days drinking water with glucose that I always keep in spare. It is only my immense will that drag me out of the house to the nearest hospital for treatment.

A few minutes after I went home, I heard a ruckus from the stall across the house, someone telling the other to “get it” but I ignore them.

cursed stall
Stall across the house. Kids ran away from school to smoke, thugs, and pickpockets often lounged there. The lady owner offered free information about nearby households.

It took me a few minutes to realize that Chase slipped out when I went back home.

Chase side

Chase was rescued from her ‘thrilling’ life as a bait for dog race, and because of this fate she learn to move with ultimate stealth and velocity, so she often slips out of the house before, but she was never far. She was always waiting for me in an empty lot just two houses away, waiting for me to frantically looking and calling out for her. It’s her signature way to get my attention, and it never failed.

With red dots all over my body I ran out. I ran out and call out her name, but no answer. I rushed back to get the keys, and go out to the street, with people looking at me like leper, but Chase was gone. All the thug-looking people in front of the stall dispersed immediately after they see me, and Chase was nowhere to be found.

I called out for her all the way back to the empty lot but no answer, and as I walked home with even higher fever, the woman who owns the stall have the guts to appear innocent and ask “Lost your cat?”

I knew that “Get it get it” voice came from her stall back then, so she must have known what happened, and she dared scratching me for a response so she can gawk on her customer with ‘a new story’

I looked at her, and hiss “Curse thee who knows evil but do nothing. Curse thee and may thy loved one be stolen in front of thy eyes”

I curse with all my heart. I have never been more serious – take my word for it – and the woman had never see me with such fear in her eyes. I must have looked like devil.

I was at that time, and I don’t even wear Prada.

Inside the house, however, this devil cried. It is me who was cursed. Chase was stolen right in front of my eyes, and I can’t do anything to help her. I got Chicken pox, a petty illness that unfortunately take awful long time to heal, doubtless I will lose a lot of income because I can’t go out. I was made a complete fool in April’s fool day. God has great sense of humor.

Against doctor’s order, I gone out to the street anyway. Every morning and evening, the time when the cats got their rations, I put on my jacket and go round the block and nearby areas calling out her name. I was worried to death about her and besides, things can’t be worse than it already is.

Two days later, as I went out to look for Chase and bought some medicine, I caught up under the sudden rain and my cellphone was soaked dead.

I had no means of communication, nor internet for a week.

Yeah right, and I thought things can’t go any worse.

Well, things can get worse after all. And of all things that God can do, He took me down instead of up.

I was distressed; and as result I spend the whole day, and every day after that trashing around swearing at God for what He had done to me. When I am not angry I’d cry loudly like a crazy man, and in between my madness I even swear I’d stop believing in Him.

After I ran out of energy, the remaining of the next week gave me the quiet I needed.

For the first time in my life boys stop teasing me when I pass by. For the first time in my life all those men stop offering me a ride to their bed and giving me the joy of my life, for the first time in my life I own the element of power through fear, and for the first time in my life people take me as something they should not interfere, even though I was yelling with sore voice calling a cat, peeking under every car and inside every trash.

When you are happy, your friends know you, when you are sad you know your friends.

It’s true. I am very happy to know that the ones who stays are the street cats. I gave my life for them, and in return, they become the only ones who actually come over, despite my look, and the only ones to rub all over me, unchanged.

At night, when I was sleepless thinking of Chase, I remembered that last year I asked God if I can just quit my job and live from writing and crafting, the way Saint Peter did, and one of those days God actually listened. He gave me enough retirement bonus to fall back to during drier days, but it is I who panicked from the absence of the constant paycheck and jumped right into the fire, only because of one hurdle.

I found out that it is I who made myself into a fool. I want one thing but go to the other direction. I dream of being independent but is fearful of the variable checks (that might be bigger than the regular pay, if only I keep trying). I want to go through the road less taken but demand a highway covered with red carpet and fragrant roses. I promise to just do what I can, but depended on other people to provide me with food on the table, in exchange of excruciating working hour and horrendous commute.

If I were God, I’d be tad confused with the half-ass Josie, but Thank God His mercy is everlasting. Instead of striking me with lightning, I got to live another day, and another, and another.

Then, as days pass by, I regained my composure, and one by one, my anger was replaced by gratefulness.

I am not sorry to go into the job deal. It is because I took the job that I was able to meet Monday. It is because of this job that I was able to help Tealca, and Seven. While truly terrible, this job is only that “path less taken” that deliver me to the precious souls that never fails to enrich my life.

I am not sorry for the Chicken Pox either. For most, it stops the rolling snowball. It serves as a brake that I needed to stop and see where I was actually going, sans hallucination or paranoia. It’s a crossroad that take me away from the wrong path into the right one, and through it God had given me my second chance to choose where I want to end my race. Besides, hadn’t for the illness I wouldn’t have been able to help Estebel (her story coming soon) deliver her (complicated) babies, and I will be late to save Blossom (also coming soon) from going panic and step on her newborn to death.

estebel maternity
Estebel, a few hours after delivering four babies (plus one stillborn)

I decided that I need to make space for something new to enter my life, aside from new rescues. As a gratefulness for everything that has been given to me, in turn, I gave a lot of things away. I finally am able to live just with one suitcase (of daily wear) and was very happy when I found myself not panicking with what I am going to wear the next working day. I can work with shirt and short if I want to.

I come to truly enjoy my many additional flecks all over my face – a fact that my mother was horrified with.

She sent me a recipe to make soap out of natural ingredients, to help my skin heal and asked me if I can make it, otherwise she will make it and send it to me. I told her that I might not want to use that, since I am truly happy to be ugly. With this spots on my face people stop harassing me and I am now free to roam the street, feed the cats, and even gone out at night to tend to more street cats without worrying someone will try to touch me.

Of course she yells at me. Any given woman will go to all length to preserve her beauty, and I enjoy being ugly. So to calm her down, I made the gel soap, use some (it’s really nice) and send the rest over to some of my best friends all over the world. I went to some free internet and send my brothers news about my cell phone, in case they know someone to repair it. Within a few days one of my brothers sent me his old cellphone, and the other told me to send my phone over so he can ask someone to repair it.

And all of the troubles that drove me insane in the past two weeks were settled. The gift from getting yourself a quiet time that allow your every busy brain to sort things out in its own way, without the need for the latest computer with Intel I7 attached to it.

To celebrate, the first number I dialed is the meanie boss. I quit my job after only a month.

I spend a few days after my jobless day answering the phone calls of acquaintances expressing how sorry they are that I left the company, because I have been truly a blessing for them to work with (compared to a miser); catching up to emails and re-educating myself about handcraft marketing.

Along that way I got to know one of the greatest woman in the world, who – almost single handedly – spay and neuter the entire street cats in Sioux City, Iowa, USA. From a home made shelter, she now has an adoption center downtown. I was utterly embarrassed and humbled when she told me how much she admire my work, while it is her who inspired me to follow her lead.

I read a lot about sewing and making soft toys, and along the way I meet a lot lot LOT crafter who happily share their gift to their will-be-competitor (that’s me). I have always interested in soft toys and when I study, I come to realize that there’s still a lot to tap into and expand instead of cursing my dormant shop.

But the thing I am most grateful of is: I can write. As much as I want, when I want, the way I want.

The only thing I truly regret is that I lost Chase. She left a huge black hole in my heart that sucks all the happiness whenever I remember her, and that would be: every time. Even so I do not want to forget her, not even learning to let her go. Every weekend I will go around the city, where backyard breeders and pet thieves would sell their victims, from the filthiest to the fanciest, with money in my pocket, hoping to find her. I still call out her name every meal time. I still prepare Chase’s food. I live as if she is still around, because she still is. Every day the hope is suppose to get dimmer, but I still want her back. Chase is a smart cat, so I prayed that she can go home. All over the internet there are stories about lost pet got found miles and years after, and if it happened to someone else, it can happen to me. I have never forget to mention her name in my prayers, asking that she be returned.

My mother put Chase on her facebook and invite many people who had lost their pet to share their heart and come together. Now she has even more friends than I am. It’s the gift of being 60 years old animal rescuer.

I figured that learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor, and attended to with diligence.

It’s not my words. It’s Abigail Adams (1744-1818) First Second Lady of USA and Second First Lady of USA. Like I said, God has great sense of humor, right down to the wordplay.

Now that I decide on what I really want to do, and cast away all my worries, things are starting to go on a straight line.

A few days ago on one of my sleepless nights, I read newspapers online, and read about so many environmental devastation all in a row, as if it’s been lined up for me to read, and I figured God calls me to step back into the fight, by giving back to what caters to my soul.

I wrote an open letter to the Minister of Bioenvironment, cc the President, to intervene with the plan to cut down Leuser conservatory rainforest in Aceh, that will render many orangutans homeless. I also wrote him that the local authority in simplemindedly decided to close down the only conservatory for Sun bears in Balikpapan because “it is not financially profitable for the region” and plan to build a new mall on that land. The entire city, all of them, sent out a protest for that plan, because the Sun bear is their much tenderly loved “Pooh Bear” (in Indonesia, Sun bear is called Beruang Madu – meaning honey bear) but those authorities, who call themself “people’s representative” close it down already, and even boasted on their powers when facing National Geographic’s camera, citing that “all those bear were crippled, it’s not giving us any financial value”

The Sun Bear conservatory had five bears, all of them had been poached and commercialized during one point of their lives.

I am not sure if they are going to listen at all. This country has no respect of other things but their own money, but I fight anyway. I am keeping my promise to Monday: I’ll just do what I can.

Then I learn about Diane Rowles in Bulgaria, and I see a part of me in her in the past.  I can’t donate money, because I am also struggling financially to keep the Whiskers’ Syndicate alive; but I can sew, and I recently learn about so very many new tricks. So why not put them into practice?

Hence what I am going to do: I am going to make blankets and toys for the dogs and cats under Diane’s care and ship them to Bulgaria (with the help of Animal Rescue Chase). Numerous times, whenever I reached out for a volunteer, I receive a note that it is impossible to volunteer internationally. Now I am going to prove, earnestly, that it is completely wrong.

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal

~Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Two of the people I quote are Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson. You know what? they are enemies (at least politically). Thomas Jefferson beat Abigail’s husband re-election and become the third president of United States. Yes, God has great sense of humor.

I know there will be some emails asking why I decided to help other shelter while I myself am struggling. Here is the answer:

I am hungry, Diane is hungry, my cats are hungry, Diane’s cats and dogs are hungry. We are both oppressed, we are the same.  So why not?

If you cannot donate, but find it in your heart to help Diane Rowles, join me in contributing your used clothing, blankets, towels. I will turn them into toys and bedding for the animals in Bulgaria. Better yet, if you want to donate toys you made, or quilt, or whatever craft you are mastering, contact Laura Simpson (info[at] and she will make suitable arrangement for you.



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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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