Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Stagnant.

'Abang,' I said as we walked towards the airport terminal, 'why is it after working for so many years, we still can't afford to own a BMW?'

My husband glanced at me sideways with an incredulous look. Gila ke apa bini aku ni tiba2 mintak BMW, he must be thinking.

'For all we know, those who own BMW eat a simple meal,' he retorted. 'I doubt so, they seemed to have so much money even though they started work later than us, and they own a nicer house than ours.' I replied, thinking of a couple working at the same place I work, knowing very well they can afford a nice house, hire a maid, and having two cars one of it a Beemer. While we own only a locally manufactured car, live in a simple house and can't afford a maid.

I'm not really feeling envious of others around me. I'm just thinking, why does our financial life seem to be stagnant after all these years?

While we are easily earning triple the salaries we earned when we just got married, we seemed unable to grow our wealth. Being in a long-distance marriage doesn't help too. The bi-weekly commute means he has to set aside almost 1/3 of his salary to make the time for us.

We had tried living on one-income on two occasions - when I took unpaid leave for a year back in 2013 and then when he took a year off recuperating from open heart surgery / looking for a job here in Sarawak. None of those experiences allowed us to live our dream life. While I had the freedom and less stressful life, we couldn't save up to go on our dream holidays (I'm an avid traveller, and that is something that I also pass on to my kids). And more often than necessary, he ended up paying necessities with credit cards. So we ended up in a ballooning debt. And when he was off the job market, the same thing happened as he tried not to rely too much on my income. I supposed financial management is not his forte.

So one-income lifestyle is something that we are not ready yet although something that I would so much love to make it happen. 

At the rate we are spending our money (modestly), we ought to have hundreds of thousands in our bank account. We ought to be able to upgrade our home, own 2 cars or go on overseas holiday every year. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. Perhaps because we are still unsure where our family will end up at. KL? Bintulu? Somewhere else?

So I can't invest to upgrade my house in Bintulu because we have plans to relocate back to KL. Neither can we start upgrading the house in KL because who knows when we will be stable enough for me to quit my job. We are caught in a situation of 'Catch 22'. 

In the end, we are not able to 'live' because of the circumstances we are in. Sometimes I wonder. It's too late to wonder about it, but what if 12 years back I had chosen....
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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Chaos

Hello, I'm writing again after a long, long hiatus.

Lately, I'm never in the mood to write. I'm too preoccupied juggling so many roles in my life that it consumes a lot of my energy. I'm back to square one - a single parent for most of the time and at work, (once again) an executive expected to be a head of section as well.

Most of the time, I'm in a daze - in order to cope, I can't think much. I automatically switch to robot mode. There's no time for feeling, for being me. I'm just into my roles. Day in, day out. Me - a mom, a dad, an employee, a supervisor, a daughter. Never me, Carneyz. I don't even know who I am anymore. What I used to like. What I wish to be. I don't know. It's too exhausting for me to figure out.

But somehow, tonight I just can't. I can't hold it all inside of me, and I feel like I have to pour it out somehow. Tell someone, something, somewhere. That I am drowning. I am struggling to keep it up. I'm reduced to an empty shell - a body without a soul anymore. 

Tonight, as I drove back from the airport after sending hubby, I felt like breaking down, as if I'm a dam about to overflow. But as always, I managed to keep it in check. There's a storm going on inside my head, but you won't know it because over the years since I was a kid, every time I feel weak, I put up a barrier so the outside world can't get at me. And now, I can't get out.

Bear with me, because right now all I need is just a release. I'm telling you about how I feel, but in order for you to understand, you must be wondering what happened that I can't hold it anymore inside.

Last week, my mother had a heart attack. To make it more complicated, my eldest daughter was down with high fever. And at work, work is sh*tty as usual but now, we are about to have another round of restructuring coming, and the budget cycle, the reporting cycle and all the worst things at work are about to hit me. To summarize - mom's sick, daughter's sick, work is sickening.

But I'm expected to be strong. I have to brace myself, grit my teeth and just plough on. No time for feeling weak and helpless. I had to choose between work and family and I chose family. If that is supposed to make me feel any better, it didn't. I keep thinking about the workload while looking after my family. It made me feel worse. What kind of a mom I am for not being too concerned about my girl? What kind of a daughter I am that my body is at the hospital looking after my mom and my mind is somewhere at work thinking what kind of crazy things happened in my absence?

Now, as I'm writing this, I'm trying to decide whether I should go to work tomorrow or stay at home looking after my other daughter who is now sick after my eldest got better. 

I thought this year is gonna be different. Last year, at the exact same month, I was struggling with this dilemma and feeling while looking after my husband after his open-heart surgery. I thought that this year is going to be great. Why must it be one year after the other? 

So that's my life now. Some day, when I finally have the guts to quit my job, I will need to look back at this post when I doubt my decision to go. That I should be thankful that I got out of this emotional trap.

Someday, maybe I will be reunited with myself and just maybe, the real Carneyz will emerge. God's willing.
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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Panicked

Let this serve as a lesson to a parent like me, who puts work above own kids.

Bila Hubby travel je, Mak tolong ambik dan hantar anak-anak ke sekolah. Mak hantar aku sekali, sebab kadang-kadang susah nak carik parking yang dekat dengan office. 

Kebiasaannya, Mak akan ambik cucu-cucu dulu sebelum jemput aku di office petangnya tu. Yang paling awal keluar ialah Khadeeja, sebab daycare dia sampai pukul 5 petang je. Kemudian Khayla, sebab habis sekolah pukul 5.50 petang. Aku biasanya paling last sebab aku selalu sibuk especially kalau ada deadline. Walaupun aku masuk office awal, aku tetap prefer balik lambat.

Tapi somehow semalam, something unthinkable happened. Sometimes, aku terlalu bergantung dengan Mak / Hubby. Aku tak bother untuk tinggalkan pesan atau ingatkan Mak / Hubby untuk ambik anak-anak dari sekolah. Aku selalu assume dieorang akan ingat.

So berbalik ke kisah semalam. Kebetulan kakak aku dan keluarga sepupu ada di sini sebab ada jemputan wedding. Dieorang stay di hotel. By the time Mak sampai (lebih kurang jam 6.20 petang) untuk jemput aku,  terus aku kemas barang-barang dan keluar.

Aku tengok Mak seorang. Dalam hati aku, the girls must be with their aunts at the hotel. Tapi aku tanya jugak. My mom cakap dieorang semua kat hotel. So kiteorang pun gerak pegi ke hotel untuk ambik anak-anak aku balik ke rumah, lepas tu jemput Hubby di airport.

On the way ke hotel, tiba-tiba telefon Mak berdering. Aku tengok - oh, kawan Mak call. Kawan Mak tu jugak ialah cikgu kelas Khayla. Tapi aku langsung tak terfikir yang dia call berkaitan Khayla. So aku pass telefon kat Mak yang tengah driving.

Mula-mula Mak jawab call, suara dia macam biasa je. Tapi tiba-tiba Mak terjerit, 'Apa? Masih di sekolah? Bukan Wa dia dah ambik ke? OK2, kiteorang ke sana sekarang.' Terus aku dapat agak, ni mesti kakak aku tak jemput Khayla lagi. Dah la hari dah gelap.

Mak suruh call kakak untuk confirm kan yang dia masih belum ambik Khayla. Bila aku call kakak tanya Khayla ada kat sana ke tak, kakak aku terus panik. Dia cakap dia tak tau pun Mak suruh ambik Khayla. Mak pulak cakap, dia pesan jemput Khayla sebab dah alang-alang nak ke area sekolah Khayla.

Aku dah start rasa gelisah, tapi masih terkawal. Dalam fikiran aku, Khayla mesti tengah menangis kat luar gate sekolah. Mesti ada cikgu yang tunggu sama. Rasa bersalah menghantui aku sebab sepatutnya aku sebagai Mak Khayla lah yang jemput dia atau at least ingatkan Mak aku untuk check pasal Khayla. Tapi aku langsung tak teringat, sibuk je dengan kerja office.

Sampai je kat sekolah, kiteorang cari Khayla dan cikgu kelas dia. Tapi kelibat dia takde. Aku pegi kat Pak Guard dan tanya ada nampak ke budak darjah satu perempuan pakai tudung dan bawak beg pink? Dia pulak blur je. Tak de katanya. Tadi memang ada sorang budak ni yang belum balik-balik lagi. Masa ni aku dah panik. Rasa nak menyalahkan Mak pun ada jugak, sebab tak bagitau betul-betul siapa yang temankan Khayla.

Mak call lagi kawan dia (Cikgu Khayla), dan tanya kat mana Khayla. Kawan dia bagitau dia suruh pesan kat hubby dia untuk inform Bapak aku ambik Khayla kat sekolah. Terus Mak aku call rumah Bapak aku, tanya Khayla ada kat situ ke tak. Tapi dieorang cakap takde. Masa ni aku rasa macam nak terduduk pun ya, nak menangis pun ya, semua ada. Rasa jantung aku terhenti. Mana pegi anak perempuan aku. Dah la anak perempuan! 

Pada firasat aku, mungkin Khayla jalan kaki balik ke rumah. Khayla tau jalan pegi ke rumah. Tapi dia tak reti nak melintas jalan sorang-sorang. Mak aku masih sibuk on the phone. Aku dah desak berkali-kali untuk balik ke rumah check kalau-kalau Khayla ada kat rumah. 

Macamana kalau Khayla takde kat rumah? Dalam hati aku bertanya. Tak sanggup aku bayangkan kalau kiteorang tak dapat cari Khayla. Mungkin boleh pengsan aku kat situ. Itulah jantung dan nyawa aku, my firstborn, my sweet, gentle, beautiful child!

Finally Mak aku habis cakap dengan kawan dia, dia bagitau ada cikgu yang hantar Khayla balik ke rumah. Apa lagi, terus kiteorang pecut kereta balik ke rumah. Tapi hampa, Khayla takde. Mak call lagi, mintak Cikgu tu tunggu di sekolah. Patah balik ke sekolah.

Dari jauh, tengok kereta Kancil... Harap-harap ni kereta Cikgu tu. Mak berhenti je, aku terus keluar. Aku tengok Khayla dah berdiri tepi kereta dengan dua orang cikgu. Dia nampak aku, terus lari kat aku dan nangis. 'Mommy ambik Khayla lambat sangat. Sudah malam!' 

Aku peluk dia erat-erat. Ya Allah, syukur anak aku selamat! Berkali-kali kiteorang mintak maaf kat Cikgu dan cakap terima kasih sangat-sangat sebab tolong jaga Khayla. Cikgu pesan letak emergency contact kat beg dan buku-buku dia. Walaupun ada nombor telefon ibubapa masa register hari tu, tapi dieorang tak tau letak kat mana sebab dia dah tukar kelas. Nasib baik la cikgu Khayla tu memang rapat jugak dengan Mak.

Dalam hal ni, aku tak boleh salahkan sesiapa kecuali diri aku sendiri. Kenapa aku terlalu mementingkan kerja sampai tak ingat nak check kat mana anak-anak aku. Selamat ke dieorang? Dah balik dari sekolah ke tak? Aku still rasa kerja tu penting ke sekiranya aku balik dan tengok anak aku dah takde disebabkan aku tak pentingkan dieorang?

Aku nekad. Following this incident, I will get each of the girls a safety watch that will allow them to contact me anytime they need. A watch that will allow me to check their whereabout so I can alert anyone if I wasn't able to reach my kids. Berapa sangat la harga jam tu kalau compare dengan keselamatan anak-anak aku.

Buat ibubapa kat luar sana, tolong jangan leka dengan kerja pejabat. Tolong ambik tau pasal anak-anak. Jangan terlalu bergantung dengan orang lain. Anak-anak tu ialah harta pinjaman. Kalau dieorang tak de, hidup pun tak de makna. 
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Personally Speaking...

It's great having a lifestyle blog, but after a while I started to realise that it's robbing me of the avenue to express my personal thoughts and stories. 

Having a lifestyle blog means I have to write nothing but sunshine and things that guests are looking for. Like where to stay. Or what to do. 

But being a Gemini, there's another more personal side of me that isn't always looking at things half full. Me. 

So many things are swimming around inside my head, longing to be out in the world but somehow I know it doesn't belong to my other blog. 

Like the state of my relationship. Or the fear of the unknown future. Things that don't jive with classy travels and food reviews. Yet is a big part of me.

So yeah. This is the new avenue. I hope it will make me feel less restless and give me some respite from being so emotionally lonely.
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