Thursday, 16 January 2014

Catching Mitch Albom to get The First Phone Call From Heaven

No, I'm not interested in clairvoyance or anything similar to it. The "First Phone Call from Heaven" is the new book from Mitch Albom, one of my favorite writer. I started following his work since I bought his "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and was hooked on his interfaith writings ever since. I felt that I could relate to his books and agree on one thing: being religious does not mean that you need to be a religio-chauvinist to be a good person. In fact, being religious means that you respect God and your faith by cherishing humanity regardless of their race or faith.
I met Mitch the first time in Singapore, 2009 (wow that was long time ago!) when a friend, a writer, asked me to see his book signing in a mall in S'pore.


So when Mitch started a new book tour and visited Miami as part of it, of course I jumped at the first chance to see him. I begged my husband to drive me to Miami and asked Mitch to take another picture with me (or more like I asked Mitch to take another picture with him, ha!).


He was surprised enough to see an Asian lady in one of the attendees, let alone this lady had met him 5 years ago in Spore. He, of course did not remember the picture, but kept thanking me for coming and remembering him and the picture, all this time. Of course Mitch, you are one of my fave writer!

Regarding the new book though, it was not as good as his previous books. The premise itself was interesting and the plot is a mix of religious ideas with a hint of mystery and adventure. But the plot and the twist was thin and easily guessed. Good enough to read it before bed but not one that will remember years to come.

I wonder if Dan Brown is coming to town any time soon?






Wednesday, 15 January 2014

100 days in Florida..... and loving it

It's been 100 days in Florida and we could not complain. The sun does not always shines, but it is not cold. I enjoyed going to the malls (ahem, so Asian of me!) and the shopping. I like the TV too and I could relate to the culture, a lot.

The whole family just joined a fitness club... and boy this fitness club is fantastic! It has a yoga studio, a pilates studio with all these crazy things, strings, etc. Plus heated swimming pool, and a kids-town for rania. So while Mommy and Daddy are having their thing on the gym, Rania could play in the club with supervision.

Rania has been improving a lot in school. Yesterday and this morning she insisted that she would go home from the bus stop by herself. Yeah, right kiddo! Her learning curve is uncanny too, when she first came she did not know how to spell and now she can ready simple sentence. So yeah, I'm happy. She just needs a little push in terms of speaking though. This part is still a problem but I am so hopeful that one day, she will break those barriers. She has her best friend, G, from next door neighbour and both they would do mischievous little things around the house.

If I could point a complaint, it would be lack of public transport. Therefore, I would go everywhere with my bike and people would rolled their eyes every time they see a crazy mommy on a bike. Last week, on the way home from Rania's school, the tire went flat and I had to drag myself, my lazy butt AND the bike on the way home, 2 miles of it! Perhaps it's time to start those driving classes. :P









Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Project of the year: moving to Florida

When I first told people that I am moving to Miami, Florida, I got two mostly two reactions: Oh-my-god-I-envy-you kind of attitude and Oh-my-God-are-you-insane kind of attitude.
We moved anyway - and after moving for a couple of times, we really don't care what people think anyway actually.
Miami is not a safe neighbourhood, I have to admit. Dodgy area and rich neighbourhood are side by side to each other and 2 months I am here I have seen at least one occasion where police closed the street because of a possible shoot out. Do I feel safe, not as safe as in Germany nor Singapore. But do I feel happy happier, yes.
First, it was the language. I turned on the TV and could understand every single thing it said. I felt like having an Oprah AHA moment.
Second, the food. Eating out is cheap and I could fine ANY kind of restaurants in here.
Third, the SUN. This is my main reason to be happy. It's not cold, it's not dark. Yes, it rains a lot, but I can leave my sweater and jacket and hop out with my shorts and a nice pair of sunglasses. And the umbrella of course.
Now... since Miami is not that safe, we decided to find place in Broward county, even if it means 45 minutes commute for my husband everyday. In case you don't know, Miami refers to Miade-Dade county and Broward is a different county and it is a county where for example, Fort Lauderdale is located. We find a place in a small city ( or perhaps, village?) in Weston, one of the safest and with the best schools in all of Florida and in case of high school, one of the best in USA.
Rania had been showing a lot of change since the move. She was happy with the language and the food though she missed her friends and keep complaining of the "gecko infestation" in our homes. Yes, that one of the drawbacks of Sunny weather, gecko!
She enjoys having friends from the neighbourhood coming over, even on weekends and taking the school bus altogether with them. She would wake up EVERYDAY at 6AM and demanded me to take her to school even on weekends... I was like... WHATTTTTT.
Now, that's the short story of the move and most likely tonight I will update more stories on this blog. For now, I need to get my beauty sunbath.




Leaving Germany... yay!

I cant believe that I haven't been posting for like 6 months now... Not good at all. But, better late than never.

As I mentioned in my blog earlier, that I was busy 'researching' well, here is the reason. We moved, again!
This time we crossed the Atlantic ocean, to Florida, USA.

We heard the news since late last year and the plan was only materialized by end of May. By August, we had full confirmation to apply for visa and after our annual trip from Indonesia, we applied for visa and prepared for the move.

It was not easy, but the chills that I got from moving out of here (Germany) was different than when I moving in. I hate to say this, but there were a lot of things in Germany that I could not fit in and perhaps would never fit in. I don't care what other think of this humble opinion of mine, but seriously, when we finally had the confirmation that we were moving, it was like a two blocks of bricks had been lifted from my shoulders.

Don't get me wrong though. It doesn't mean that I did not enjoy Germany. I did enjoy living here, but I don't think I could live here for good. I still cant get the fact that stores are closed on Sunday, nor did people can be racist according to me (for example, I have seen people handed racist flyer) but considered as a free speech. Or that winter is 6 months long, super cold and that people would be frowning everywhere.

However, still, when I moved, the day I moved and the day before, I cried many times. I cried because people have been so nice to me. I had friends who cooked for me, who brought me snack for the long flight, or people who took time to take me to the station. My friends who took time to clean my apartment, even when I never asked. So on the D day at the station while waiting for the train that took us to Düsseldorf, I cried, I even cried harder than when I left Singapore.

I am not a big fan of the German lifestyle. But I missed the people from Bonn who have filled my live with love and laughter while living there.

PS: I do miss the weinachmarkt, gluhwein and reibekucken. Enjoy it while you can.








Friday, 24 May 2013

Who Moved my Cheese??

Who Moved My Cheese??

No, I'm not a mouse and I'm not looking for cheese. I'm not a cheese lover though I don't hate it either.
I'm talking about the book "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson.
It's a self help / business book about how to deal with change and the book tells the story of mice and little people who live in a maze, looking for cheese and how they deal with the situation when the cheese is moved unexpectedly. The cheese in this case is a metaphor of what you have in life; for example, work, money, relationships. Unlike most business books, it's very thin and use simple easy-to-understand words; perfect for a gal who reads for the fun of it.

We are sometimes too attached to our own 'cheese' that when change comes unexpectedly, we can not accept the fact that it is gone and therefore, unable to adapt to the change needed.



Change is healthy especially if you are already too long in your comfort zone, as if you have been stuck  for a while.
Gees, I sound so serious in this post. I think I better finish my mozzarella spinach sandwich before writing the next post.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Raining of books and books

A friend of mine went home for good last weekend and for the love of God, her suitcase was almost 20 kilograms overweight! Two years in Europe surely adds some pounds to the suitcase and her stuff. Sadly for her, she needs to leave some of her stuff here and fortunately for me, most of the stuff she had to leave are  books!
So suddenly I received tons of good books - she has good taste in books by the way- which will occupied me for the next gazillion weeks! Thanks friend! From "Freakonomics" to "super freakonomics" to "Three cups of Tea", can't wait to read them, if I have time of course ;)
In the meantime though, I need to finish my current book "Poirot Investigate," typical Agatha Christie mysteries with Poirot. My guilty pleasures! The book is a birthday gift from my friends anyway, thanks ladies!

Cloud Atlas

Just by chance me and husband decided to watch "Clould Atlas" on AppleTV last weekend. Not knowing the story nor reading the reviews, we have no expectation of the flick. It lasted almost 3 hours and we needed to have a one hour break in the middle just because it's too long for us to bear. By the time it finished  hubby was already in bed, leaving me alone the last 1 hour of the movie. It is not a mainstream kind of Hollywood movie - directed by or somehow related to the guys who made the Matrix- but I kinda like it. There are six stories which are somehow related to each other spanning different time periods, from  the slavery era to the distant future / post apocalyptic time.
What interest me the most is probably the way the actors play different characters in different stories, which leave me guessing the whole time which actor play which character in which story. More interestingly, the actors would sometime play characters from different races than their own, so we are talking about 'yellowface' make up here!
For example, this is Jim Sturgess and the second pic is him in character as a Korean. (pics from movieline.com and jimsturgessonline.com).



Here are some more pics I got from nytimes.com

Definitely a must watch!.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Star Trek into Darkness


Thanks to my Mom who is here on vacation, I was able to watch "Star Trek Into Darkness" in cinema last Sunday eve, leaving Rania under her care and dragging hubby of course to accompany me. 
It's probably a bit weird to see a woman in her 30's going eagerly to see a Star Trek movie. Have to admit, I'm a trekkie. I have always showed an appreciation towards science fiction movies or stories since I can remember. When I was five, I saw this Japanese robot TV show and decided I wanted to be an astronaut to explore space. I did not become one but I ended up taking Physics as my major, and graduated with a degree. Pfffuuuh. Not bad for someone who chooses physics as major, expecting to discuss warp machine, time travel and klingon in the classroom (which were of course, never discussed). Mom said that when she was expecting with me she read "Close Encounter Of The Third Kind" and that probably explains my tendencies on science fiction babble. FYI, the movie is about making physical contact with extra terrestrial. Ahem.  
Anyway, about the STID movie, I loved it, totally totally loved it. It cleverly shows a good combination of action, mystery and drama. I like the fact that the characters stay true to their known personalities and some connections to a previous movie, in this case "The Wrath of Khan", are added.  
Of course there are some inside jokes that only a Trekkie would understand, such as when Chekov is asked to put on a ‘red shirt’, but the rest are reasonable.  
A friend who happened to watch the movie in the same theatre told me, a reason she watched it is because of the actor of one of the main protagonist: 
Benedict Cumberbatch. 
He’s probably best known as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series “Sherlock.” 
I, along with other 30-40 millions female viewers who have watched the show went head over heels with his blunt, sharp gaze and deep voice. 
Here he is as Sherlock.
 And here he is as "John Harrison" in STID
He can be seen again in Season 3 of "Sherlock", but in the meantime, I will have my twinings tea and watch a re-run of Sherlock season 2. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Another "guilty" post. What matters most.

...And it's been another 4 -5 months after my last post. *raise hand and scream "Guilty"*

It's been a little hectic nowadays, except for my home-office work, I've been busy doing some 'research' on something. I'll tell all later what the research is all about when the time comes  :))

My book has been doing well but I'm stuck with the nationwide distribution, though many have sent me their praises privately; and for me that's what matters most.

Once you get older, life is all about priority and putting what matters most upfront and what less behind. Yeah, now that I'm a year older 2 weeks ago (happy birthday to me!!), I have some thoughts spinning in my head such as, work vs Rania vs my book vs (taking care of) house vs other stuff. Of course Rania and the house should come first and the rest second and third and forth and so on.

Perhaps not everyone knows that my little cupcake is not the easiest child to manage in her pre-school, as she is unable to speak to certain teachers or adults in some situations. Since she is now 4 years old and next thing I know, tomorrow she'd start kindergarten and primary school. So I'm really thinking to 'drop' everything and focus on her and her alone. You see, Rania is different to other child her own age when it comes to personality. She's an introvert girl who sometimes unable to express her feelings to total strangers or people she does not trust. Sadly, most of the adults who sees her behaviour thinks that she has this stubbornness or resentment towards authority figures, such as a teacher. And this makes her behaviour even worse in some situations.

Now, about what matter most. During my birthday two weeks ago, I learned that it's important to surround yourself with people who are smarter than yourself, friends who love you and respect you for who you are, friends who are sincere and won't expect anything in return. Life is too short to spend it with friends or people who suck out the happiness out of your life.


Monday, 14 January 2013

Oh my God!

It's been 5 months since my last post! I'm so guilty for being lazy!

My book has been published and I'm so grateful for it. I have received my first pay check (royalty) for the book, it was not much but it gave me goosebumps, literally. The book at the moment is only available thru this link but it is in the midst of becoming an e-book and to be distributed to national book stores. Let's keep my fingers crossed!

The weather has been so nice and unnice (is unnice even a word) at the same time because we have snow though it is not so cold (yay!) but the sun doesn't shine, hence, it's depressing. But at least the temperature doesn't plunge to below zero like in Russia or Korea, I could not stand wearing thermals any more.

We went to Paris for the Autumn break and Disneyland. And for the new year we went to London, which was lovely as always.

Talk about new year, I don't have any resolution for this year; I think I have stopped making resolution since 2010 because I know I hardly hold on to it (yes, I am that indecisive). I would though, love to brush up my German thought I don't think I have the time ( and the dedication, hehehe) to attend a full time German class, but the only one-on-one tutoring offer I received doesn't come cheap either. So I have to stick with my on-line class I guess. Another thing I might do again in 2013 is Toastmaster. I used to be member of Toastmaster back in Jakarta, so it's gonna be interesting again to come to a meeting here in Bonn. Let's see.

What's your 2013 resolution?