All The Things That Stuck in 2021

In the midst of tantrums, and toilet training, and juggling gigs with a day job, I held a very narrow room for impression this year. I barely managed a minute of peaceful sit down without being yelled “IBU!!”, let alone got myself carried away for hours by a whole book or an uninterrupted session of a feature film.

Still, some things prevailed to catch my attention. Or maybe I was just distracting myself from the task at hand—I’m not quite sure.

There’s no doubt that 2021 was one hell of a year, but I kind of love it. Maybe in a Stockholm syndrome kind of way, but still. I love the lockdowns—the mobility restriction, the confinement. I love the state of waiting, the in-betweens. I’m very much aware that this statement could only come from a place of privilege.

My husband and I are among the lucky ones. He’d been working half-employed/half-freelance for years when I joined him, adopting the same type of work, right at the start of the pandemic. During the pandemic, I can’t say the situation has been exactly the same. It’s been hard, of course, but it’s still there. We still have day jobs and gigs still come our way.

So yes, being at home—doing my work, minding my own business, taking care of my own family—has been a sanctuary for me. A bubble. Not only physically, but also mentally. And now that the world is starting to open up—despite the Omicron threat—I know I’m yet to be ready. After the pregnancy, I’m too far behind to catch up. Although in any other way, I don’t like catching up. I do have the same FOMO as anybody out there, but I hate myself for having that. It’s both having and hating it that eats me alive. And this cultural highlight of the year is clearly reflecting it. Blessed are the indifferents (and ignorants).

Mengenal Jajanan Nusantara by Lilih S. Hilaliah & Pratya Aprilana (Little Quokka, 2020)

Beautifully illustrated with flappables, touchables and all that sort of fun. Featuring pictures of mouth-watering Indonesian traditional cakes and cookies that successfully got my kid asking for kue lapis on every grocery shopping session. He loves it so much, he brings it to sleep with him every night.

The iconic Mulder and Scully from The X-Files (1993)

What’s a lockdown without a little nostalgia?

Starting this year, the complete nine seasons, along with two seasons revival and two feature films, are available in Indonesia through Disney+ Hotstar. I was suddenly nine years old again, picturing myself as Scully, carrying the gun and catching bad guys.

Miss Subways by David Duchovny
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018)

The X-Files nostalgia then brought me to the fact that not only David Duchovny can write, but he was also a dissertation shy of a Ph.D. in literature from Yale. He already published four novels, with the most recent was in 2021, Truly Like Lightning.

This older one caught my attention, instead. It’s light in diction and whimsical in manner, but it also has certain profoundness when talking about faith and wondering about life. It reminds me of what I long forgot about reading. What attracted me to reading in the first place. It’s not about enrichment or enhancement or even pretension. It’s about the enjoyment of reading.

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