Saturday, December 16, 2006
I was in the toilet (don't ask) when I started reading Arya's textbook (again, don't ask). Geert Hofstede was explaining about a research conducted in nine European countries. What would you prefer, freedom or equality? Of course the most preferrable is both, however if you had to choose, would you choose: A. Ensuring freedom for all, that is, everyone has a chance to develop themselves; or B. Ensuring equality, that no underpriviledged gets left behind.
The results were that the more individualistic the country, the higher possibility they would chose freedom. The more collectivistic the country, the higher possibility they would choose equality. Thus, freedom is a typical ideology held by an individualist country and equality is a consistent ideology held by a collectivist country.
Of course, Inaya would self-reflect (self-centered as she is) and deduct the findings on a personal level as today she was especially bugged. I wrote a paper with everything I had, I structured it the best I could, I proof-read it, I did my readings - but I got a 7,5. Which is not bad... Until I peeked to the grades others got...
The disappointment that surged into me because I knew I didn't do as good as other people did - as an academic I would objectively say the reaction falls into the indicators of individualist behaviour. Competition, the concept of winning and losing. While in my head, theoretically speaking, I am a strong arguer for cooperation as opposed to competition, discussion as opposed to debating and so forth (you get the idea). But on a personal level, it is pretty astonishing to see how I can't even be consistent applying my theoretical frameworks into my empirical everyday life.
I guess knowing things doesn't necessarily mean you could incorporate it comprehensively and consistently in all aspects. Maybe knowing is one step and applying is the next step.
I talked this over with Arya and he argues that he would characterise me as masculine (assertive, aggressive, competitive) which to some extent also relates to individualistic behaviours. Then again, how come I choose feminine (collective, caring, social) fields to work in (NGO, education)? The inconsistencies bug me tremendously.
Perhaps it's personal preference, at the end of the day - about knowing yourself and what you want. Personal validation and ways to cope with failures. It's what you're aiming and ways to achieve them. If I want to share, therefore individualistic ideas cannot accomodate that purpose. If I want to excel, then individualistic ideas are mandatory. Or maybe it's never that simple. You might need individualistic characteristics in certain situations and collectivistic in others.
Perhaps the main rationale is: what it is you want and what means you should adopt to achieve them. After all, there is no absolute right and wrong. There are alternatives and considerations and consequences. If you are really lucky, you might learn something in the process. And sometimes, or at many times, that's the thing that counts the most.
My sister's nose and her husband's lips (and some Chinese dude's eyes). I cannot wait to see her with my own eyes. I hope she grows fat and healthy enough to come visit me (kenapa gak kebalikannya? Hahaha kan udah healthy and fat).
Kisses from abroad, little one. You will meet your auntie in time.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Note: Every winter, my sinus gets worse. Sometimes my voice can become especially nazel that, of course, catches the attention of the extraordinary auditory-sensitive Greek, Lena.
Inaya: And then he said--
Lena: *meniru dengan suara yg cempreng dari idung* And then he said--
Inaya: Stop doing that, I don't sound that bad.
Lena: ET.. Phone home.. *lengkap dengan jari telunjuk style*
Inaya: *ngambek mode on*
Lena: You should know that many singers take lessons so they can sound nazel for French medieval songs.
Inaya: Is that supposed to make me feel better?
Lena: Who wanted to make you feel better?
Inaya: Well at least I don't laugh with one eye shut *offense is the best defense*.
Lena: Well at least I am not short.
Inaya: What are you talking about, we have the same height you freak.
Lena: No we don't, I'm taller! *berdiri penuh harga diri*.
Inaya: All Indonesians are short. There I'm the tallest. They're as small as my thumb.
Lena: *gak dengerin* Thera, who's taller Inaya or me?
Thera: Who cares, I'm still taller than both of you.
Agne: *rokok di tangan kiri, red wine di tangan kanan. Lidah melet2*
I am going to miss these girls so much when everything is done. I hate goodbyes.
Course : Emotions in News (group assignment – research proposal)
How did the Netherlands and English newspapers portray ‘the Zidane headbutt’ during the World Cup 2006 final?
Event Analysed (Brief Description):
During the final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, French football player Zinedine Zidane notoriously headbutted Italian football player Marco Materazzi in the chest. The incident was vastly referred to by the media as the ‘Zidane headbutt’.
The particular game was Zidane’s last appearance on the field, as he had previously announced that he would retire from professional football after the 2006 World Cup – this is one of the assumptions as to why the event has become a worldwide incident since Zidane was one of the world’s best players.
After the final, President Jacques Chirac hailed Zidane as a national hero and called him a “man of heart and conviction’ (Washington Post, 9 July 2006). Chirac later added that he found the offense to be unacceptable, but that he understood Zidane had been provoked (MSNBC, 9 July 2006). President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria expressed his solidarity with Zidane in a letter of support (Reuters UK, 11 July 2006). Countless different opinions on the event was vocalised by the French as well as international media. However, the underlying assumption that motivated this research is well-put by a commentator for TIME magazine, who regarded the incident as a symbol for Europe’s “grappling with multi-culturalism” (TIME, 13 July 2006). Zidane’s image as both a football hero and an immigrant caused many controversies which have been portrayed differently in various media.
Material to be Analysed:
The assumption our group consented upon is that, aside from technical linguistic limitation, the French and Italian media would most possibly have ‘emotional’ responses to the incident. That is why it would be interesting to study how the media in two European countries, other than France and Italy, known for their football culture and pride have portrayed this event. What the emotions in the news of these countries are, despite having less cultural and national involvement in the incident. The countries chosen are the Netherlands and the UK (England).
The type of media chosen is newspaper, specifically those that are of highest selling – assuming that they have the widest coverage then they must be representative of public emotions. The two highest grossing newspapers in the Netherlands are the A.D. (Algemeen Dagblad) and the Telegraaf and the two of UK are The Sun and its main competitor the Daily Mirror (Newspaper Marketing Agency, 2006).
Method of Analysis:
The group has decided to analyse the written text of the newspaper by means of discourse analysis; for example the power relations within the text, the oppositional stances and means of delivery.
 Zinedine Zidane’s parents immigrated to France from Kabylie, Algeria.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I remember that feeling in high school. Choosing your friends. You dress the same, you listen to the same music, you go to the same events... You even hate the same people and adore the same idols.
Your identity is that of being part of the group. It is what sociologists call 'collective behaviour' or early adulthood psychologists call 'peer pressure'.
Some people grow up to be part of a group and that's not wrong. I am and always will be part of my family.
I was clicking and musing on people's Friendster photos and how hard it is to see which one is your friend because most of their pictures are 'foto rame2'.
Is it the feeling of not wanting to be alone? Is it the fear of being different? Of not being accepted? Is it the feeling of insecurity? Is it not having a solid identity independent from 'a group'?
Is it all of the above?
It led me to think of what to teach to my children or myself. It's never wrong to be part of a group but it's important to be able to think for yourself. To define right and wrong. To stand on your own two feet. To be autonomous. To be able to perceive free of pressure. To be able to construct an argument. To be strong. To be persistent. The qualities you need in life to accept failure when needed and assess the qualities gained from the scar tissue surrounding our your wounds.
The more you are exposed to difference, the more you comprehend your own framework of life. The more you comprehend your own framework of life, the more you realise the realities you take for granted - thus questioning the authorities you conform to.
Perhaps metaphorically, it is like walking down the street focusing on your destination. Your view remains horizontal as you are walking on ground. When you are above the street, your view is vertical. You see the people walking in several directions, including you, and you establish the patterns that are obvious and the deviant behaviours of people not knowing where to walk.
You no longer see life as a focused destination. You start seeing life as a journey. No matter where you end, you always knew you made sound decisions. Because you always 'questioned'. Because you always 'knew better'.
Identity is a complex matter perhaps related to more than just culture or human behaviour. But it is not inherent and what is not inherent can eternally be challenged.
'...Most surely there are signs in this for people who reflect.' (Koran, The Kneeling, 45:13)
It was a rainy afternoon. I was sitting in De Jaren with Agne, looking at pedestrians passing by. We were talking about our plans after our programme ends. I told her (one) of my fears of coming home is the questions on having children.
Inaya: It's a given in Indonesia for people to assume that after you get married, you want children. And I know I am coming home to those questions.
Agne: If there is something I learned from my therapist it's that people project themselves on others. People judge because they're scared. People who have no fear, don't judge.
Inaya: *berpikir dan mulai tertarik*
Agne: Those questions they ask you... When are you having children, when are you getting married, when are you graduating... These are projections of their own fear, because these are the choices they have made in their lives. They want to make sure they made the right choices - they need validation.
Inaya: So it's never about us, it's always about them.
Agne: Exactly. So when they ask you these questions, just give an answer they can understand. It doesn't have to be your whole reason behind your decision on when to have children, because that's your own private space. They just need a validation, so give it to them. Say you're planning to, while smiling, and slowly shift focus to another topic close to children. Perhaps how cute your sister's daughter is (laughing).
I think she is right. I think we do project ourselves on other people. And it's never about us. Comments of us being fatter/too thin, it's because the people commenting are insecure about their bodies - or else they wouldn't pay attention to yours. Comments on why you haven't found a job yet - perhaps it's because they're not happy with theirs (misery does love company). Comments on your unorthodox views - it's because they don't want your views to shift theirs.
It's never about you, it's always about them.
So the best way to deal with this is to attempt to understand this pattern of thinking - and by not making it about you. Make it about learning more about other people's fears and use it to improve your communication skills, perhaps. Or to better understand difference.
Or to simply be more content with who you are.
It was an ordinary lunch on an ordinary Sunday...
Inaya: Ya, kalo kita gak bisa punya anak, mau adopsi anak darimana? Ambon? (Dalam hati: Wah gawat anak gue item2 (Double parenthesis: not like if it were my own it wouldn't be))
Arya: *sembari mengangkat bahu* Liat rejekinya aja.. (typical Arya answer)
Inaya: Dari Aceh aja kalo ngga, anak2 korban Tsunami.
*Inaya berpikir sebentar*
Inaya: Ya elah, udah udah berapa tahun nanti anaknya?
Arya: Suaranya udah pecah, umur 18 tahun. *suara sok diberat2in* "Mamaaaaa.."
HAHHAHAHAHAHHA Males amat.
No one can argue with the fact that we are most uninhibited when we are sleeping. We become ourselves, we stop thinking, we stop questioning, we just 'be'. Since di kala tidur kita sama sekali tidak bisa menyadari kita melakukan apa, menjadi penting untuk mendengarkan komentar-komentar orang yang sering tidur bersama kita. If the premise that 'we are most uninhibited when sleeping', then one may hypothesise that 'our true characteristics will surface during sleeping'.
Or will it?
Kata Arya, pernah ada kejadian di malam hari ketika gue mendorong-dorong dia towards his side of the bed so that I have enough space for myself (and by 'dorong', I really mean 'dorong'. Kaya dorong lemari). Ternyata, di saat tidur itu, gue menyadari bahwa daerah gue udah terlalu besar dan gue mendorong-dorong dia ke tempat yang lebih kecil daripada tempat gue saat itu. Arya claimed that in my sleep, I said, "Oh. Sori!" lalu tidur lagi.
Arya: Bahkan di saat tidur pun kamu gak mau daerahnya diambil orang lain.
Inaya: *tertunduk malu*
Berpikir. Lima menit kemudian;
Inaya: Tapi kan setelah sadar aku minta maaf! *lame attempt for validation*
Menarik aja mencari tahu apa kebiasaan kita dan apakah itu mengungkapkan what kind of person you are. Perhaps in my case, well, territorial apparently. I know some people yang 'meringkuk' kalau tidur (my sister). Ada juga yang ngompol (nah lho) dan ngorok (different people, fortunately). I know some people yang kalo tidur tangannya naik kaya bayi (Zaki & Tata), though I don't know what that actually means. I know some people who are civilised (Dad) and always cold (Mom); again, don't know what that means. But I am sure when psychologically tested all can be interpreted in one way or the other.
Anywho, what is your sleeping behaviour?
After a tiring day in Den Haag arranging data collection for my thesis, I finally took a seat on the train back to Amsterdam. Listening to Spinto Band's 'Oh Mandy' and daydreaming for a bit alone in a four-seater... Life is all well until 5 seemingly 10 year old children 'yang bau matahari celingak-celinguk' and talked to each other loudly.
Don't sit here, don't sit here.
"Zullen wij hier zitten?" yelled the boy with the blond hair.
I closed my eyes.
So I kept ignoring them and enjoyed the view. I was alone with my playlist but could still here some words mumbled in the background.
"MEVROUW!" three kids yelled at me. From their grins I could tell this seems to be the third time they tried to talk to me.
Little girl with Afro: Acharhsarhuerhjf (something in Dutch).
Little girl with Afro: Acharhsarhuerhjf (repeated that something in Dutch).
Inaya: I don't speak Dutch very well.
Little Indian boy: You going to Amsterdam Central?
Little Indian boy and friends: *sigh of relief and proud that they didn't make a mistake*
My heart skipped a beat. They are adorable. I started paying more attention to them.
One Indian boy with black eyes and black hair, one very Dutch boy with blue eyes and blond hair, one African-Dutch girl with a Fro and huge hoola-hoop earrings and two blonde Dutch girls that look too much a like.
I think they're a good example of how the Dutch are. Despite them being bad dressers with a culture of 'basa-basi', they are by far the most diverse society in Western Europe. These kids, in front of me, are a walking example of how multicultured the Dutch are.
The nice event made me reminisce a bit about my first flight to Amsterdam. I was sitting next to an Irish man named Neil (or so I would remember him with that name) who was telling me about his son in Bandung.
Neil: It's amazing how much children can teach us. I put my son in public school in Bandung and his friend drew him a picture when he moved to Jakarta. In the picture, all of the children had black hair but he drew one of them with blue eyes. Isn't it astounding how he sees all his friends, including my white son, as the same. And that the only thing that distinguished my son is the colour of his eyes.
Inaya: *Menangis tersedu2 dan gebuk2 lantai* (ya gak lah)
As we are forced to grow up with bills to pay, chores to do, food to prepare, we forget how nice it was to just, well, be kids. To see things simply as they are, not with pretentious glares and judgemental thinking. If we can no longer be one, let's just learn from them. If we get real lucky, we might be able to see the world as a big playground like we used to.
PS: Kaindaaaa lihat fotonya deh. JC Penney heiwheihwe..
Chandler: Now, that's so funny, because last Christmas I got the gift of space. We should get them together and make a continuum.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friends are good objects of comparative analysis. If you've had the opportunity to get to know people from as many levels of social and economical status you will come to the conclusion that happiness is subjective to each person, regardless of how much acknowledgement or money they have.
For example, we all know this typical prince and princesses who don't have to lift a finger their whole life and live off daddy's money (pardon my poor stereotyping and bless them for their good hearts). Who lunches amongst those with designer handbags and pursue to maintain their standar of living. We also know those who grew up in slums with tough characters and drive to success who pull themselves out of their situation with hardwork and perseverance.
When I was 17 I asked my wise pop, "Who is more fortunate: those who grew up rich and didn't have a chance to know how hard life really is or those who grew up poor and know how hard life is?" Being the zen person he is, he answered, "The most fortunate is those who know how to use what they have and help not only themselves but other people as well."
Let us drink the goodwill of his comments and start the argument from here on with the best of intentions and as little judging as possible (tee-hee).
I had the chance to make my own money, and sadly be cut off allowance, since I was 21. My goal, at that moment, was to save as much money as I could, invest it and live off the interest so that I could really save the money I made (sick as it is, that is actually what I used to do) thus being able to one day own a house and car. In a nutshell, making money made me happy. I could buy things without having to consent to anyone, make my own budgeting, plan my own investment methods. All was nice and simple.
But then life has its twists and I married my bestfriend instead, left right after to get my early Masters Degree. It was then on had I learned that money means nothing...
At first all we did was fight about budgeting because both of us were used to our own way. I realised that mostly the problem was in me, because I still couldn't control my ego and let go of what used to be 'mine'. I learned the hard way that, for me, investing in my relationship is 'more profitable' than investing in my savings account. Perhaps more that nothing is actually ours so its most beneficial to plan carefully where you want to allocate the temporary fundings you have now in order to bring back the best return in the future. May it be friends, family, a house, a vacation - it all heads to one target: happiness or what we perceive it to be.
The argument for my choice is that money is nominal. Humans have the nature to be unsatisfied and want more. Once you reach 1 you will strive for 2, reached 2 strive for 3 and so forth. In terms of money, with it being nominal, the rationale is perhaps: nothing will ever be enough. You could be the richest person in the world and you would still be thinking of how to make more money and buy more things. You could say now that the only thing you want is a house or your own car or to afford a baby-sitter, but tomorrow when those are fulfilled you would naturally move to the tertiary level and subscribe to sattelite TV or save up for a media room.
You would never be satistfied.
At this point of my train of thoughts, I decided that it is best to just take a deep breath and be thankful of what you have. Sometimes the things you want distort you from appreciating the things you already have. It is then when you disregard how fortunate you actually are that they slip away. Perhaps logically, it was because you weren't paying attention to them hard enough.
Of course having targets is mandatory or else we will be the same person for the rest of our lives. Growing, through any means, I argue, is the basic motivation to living. But it's one thing to want too much and lose what you already have. Perhaps in my case, wanting security and losing satisfaction.
To think that all of this pondering I am doing came up by simply overhearing Richard Ashcroft singing:
Trying to make ends meet
you're a slave to money
then you die
There you go.
You might realise the change of address or I might be too self-involved to assume so but yes, Arya and I just moved to a new apartment. Long story short, it was then, during the period of not knowing where to live when we had to move within 2 weeks and not knowing if Arya could stay in the Netherlands considering the long bureaucratic procedures of residence permit, when I realised that Arya is the person for me and I for him.
In the beginning of our relationship I was the person constantly reminding him how, in life, we have to have targets - it turned out this is not what I need in a partner.
Perhaps I am over-generalising by arguing that most of my friends who are well-oriented and fast-paced are pretty much the opposite of street smart. They know how to be this month's employee but don't know how to fix a leaking sink or calculate the most efficient way to arrange boxes when moving. When I am cleaning, Arya is the type of person that would stand up and do something too. Not always, but he realises the neccessity to appreciate other people's effort, especially his partner's. He doesn't see me 'only' as a wife but he sees me as a partner, who is able and at the same time is entitled of appreciation.
If I had to choose between being 'target-smart' and 'street-smart' as a quality necessary in a partner, I would choose the latter. Perhaps because I am not so or for some other reason. But the bottomline for me is, you could work on your life target together with your partner but you can't teach them how to empathise without them being raised to appreciate other people.
For that, I thank Arya's parents for raising him as the self-sufficient rational smart-ass he is. Kudos to Mr. & Mrs. Toekan.
When I whine about something, he is the type of person who would shrug my unnecessary bickering off. He would remind me that I am being ungrateful instead of nurse my feelings. For someone who strives to become independent and strong, this is the way to go.
I suppose it really depends on what kind of person you want to become and finding the right person to cooperate with you in order to become the couple you see yourself part of. I am glad we had the opportunity to be given 'tough love' here and prove how good we can cooperate under immense pressure. Sure we have our quarrels but when the going gets tough, the tough in us really gets going.
Oh and here is our new place (the exact same spot I'm sitting now)...
I was biking home with Arya after doing our groceries one day when my mind drifted off...
Should the supermarket be point A and our house point B, there are 2 possible routes to take - let's call the first route X and the second Y. If Arya takes route X and I route Y, who will arrive first?
Mathematically, you can calculate the actual distance of the two routes, the margin of Arya and my biking speed, the weight we were carrying at the moment (assuming the more grocery weight we carry, the slower we bike), our muscle volume and, perhaps, wind power (please alert me if there are other definite variables). I just found it interesting that these variables are calculable and by contemplating them we can estimate who will arrive first to point B.
Interesting isn't it?
Then again, there's always the unexpected factor. It might rain, a pigeon might be crossing the road and we have to hit the brakes a bit, we might get muscle spasm, etc. And this unexpected factor is undeterminable.
Deduction: nothing is predictable. Even when you may estimate and possess the means to estimate, it is never absolute.
I began to think about relationships and how when we get to know our partner, we assume 'they know how we think and what we think'. In a quarrel, we often argue with: "Ya kamu kan kenal aku..." atau "Ya kamu kan tau aku kan orangnya emang gitu.."
We assume that they know and this becomes our motivation to, well, just be pissed. Theoretically, communication can be perceived as going from point A to point B. Even when dealing with calculable variables, there is always an unpredictable factor that might screw up the whole estimation. Apalagi with something as relative as perception.
Never delude yourself by being so sure that our partner knows us thus deliberately is hurting us by still doing the thing they know we hate. Perception is relative by itself, not to mention considering the possibility of unpredictability. Perhaps on that specific day of the fight, he/she has been obsessing about something else and not being able to focus, or they had a bad day that influences their better judgement, perhaps they were overworked that day.. The possibility goes on.
Sometimes it's as simple as this: If you want to be understood, try to understand first. If you want to be listened to, listen first. Nothing is absolute except relativity. To take that for granted is to mislead your own pattern of thinking.
Am I making any sense?
After all in terms of relationship, at the end of the day, we just want to go from point A to point B, regardless of the different routes we might choose.
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
People have such different concepts of happiness, assuming this is the point of living. Family. Spouses. Parties. Designer goods. Education. Career. Knowledge. Newest gadgets. The list goes on.
Some of the things I mentioned perhaps struck a key; just by reading it. Some of them might seem unimportant to you. It is our framework in life which decides which is important and which is not. Makes you think doesn't it?
I began to think about business and the principle of investment. The basic idea is that you should put your money (resources) into a sector which you have valuable data (experience) to predict return and, preferably, profit.
Should happiness be as simple as that? Is it a determinant factor that what you give, should return to you, preferably more?
Or is it the selfless idea that you should find love in every aspect in your life that it becomes infinitive thus no matter what you lose or how many times you fail, you can always bounce back up again and continue a stronger human being.
How do you search such love? How do you find it? Is it in the things you perceive important? The things that struck a key. Is it really there?
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
When you feel drenched
But it's good to move on
To hold your head high
And take one step a time
How to blame
Whom to blame
But to stay hopeful
And see that it's actually fine
Nothing is wrong
Everything is wrong
Somewhere in the middle
As long as you belong
All that is hard
Is a living proof
That you are as strong
As you choose to be
It's not that all that hard shall pass
But all that is hard-willed
Shall endure the trial
What you think is best is not always so
Take a chance and prove it's worthwhile
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
Throughtout my (so-far-short-lived) life, I am a person who enjoys goals. I like driving myself towards an orientation - knowing what to do, where to go and how to get it. Perhaps it is the way I have been raised, perhaps it is the main example set in my life, perhaps it's just innate (if one could argue so). Nonetheless, it is a part of me that I cannot let go. At least not easily.
I find myself being attached to people similar to me. Most of my closest friends with whom I often contact for advice; people I admire - you know the deal. They are all self-driven, ambitious people. I come to realise though, as I know them, and myself, more... We are all, to some-extent, self-rigtheous.
Because we are so sure of ourselves, that of course gets us ahead in our careers, we tend to judge people who are not as fast-paced. We are a bit pretentious. We do not want to be deemed as weak, cry in public, love too much, want too less.
As hard for me to admit it, this is the one most important thing we, as self-driven people, do not possess. The ability to self-reflect in the process of achieving.
In short: we are obnoxious.
We think we know it all. We think we have all the answers. We never lose ourselves but we lose our humility from time to time. Those laid back and down-to-earth bring us back to 'reality' (or surreality?). That life isn't (only) about having goals, but loving (and being grateful of) tiny things in life that we overlook.
The annoying or sometimes beautiful things in life that make us be a better person by heart.
That lead to a life-long process of being humble. Providing space for error. Giving the benefit of the doubt to people different from us. Perceiving people, consistently by head not only by mouth, as different - not good or bad or over-analyse people's characters. Our friends are not our jobs. We do not have to make decisions for them.
We are not always right.
People have different frameworks in life.
You know these things, of course. But do you practice them in your heart?
You use them in your arguments, but do you actually not judge people who slack off? Or those who can't argue - perhaps, just perhaps, they chose not to argue because to them it's not worth it, not because, perhaps also, they realise they're not intelligible?
It makes me think.
I love having a career, knowing what to do next in my life. But I don't want to lose my desire to self-reflect either. I know we can't have both but, because life is not black and white, it also doesn't mean I have to let one go.
Perhaps the alternative goal is to learn from people you disagree with. To attempt to put your feet in their shoes and try to understand where they come from. After all, wrong is not wrong and right is not right. All of us, none immune, are somewhere in the middle.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
Funniest thing. A couple from the apartment building next to ours are moving out today and posted a 'for sale' list since last week (we bought an iron and a new sofa!). I have been whining to Arya how our current sofa, though cute and handy, is not comfortable for guests to sleep on - especially since his sister and brother are coming over.
So we picked up our couch today and they (James and Natalie from Sydney) asked us to take care of their plants. Thus, we now have added four new members to our family! It's funny how these things that can't move can just brighten the whole place up. So now we have four teeny things to look after PLUS Tata dan Satria can sleep comfily... These small things are just splendid, ah...
Friday, July 14, 2006
Friday, 14 July 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
I knoooow it's silly and over-exposed - and it seems that everyone is over-discussing about this event. But to me, it's not just soccer. It's not just sport. It's what the event represents (yes, yes. To those who wish to roll your eyes, please do).
French President Jacques Chirac welcomed Zidane with open arms; which I argue is because to France, Zidane remains to be a symbol of hope to hundreds and thousands of the country's immigrants. His focus is on what Zidane represents, not the spirit of fair-play. Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour claimed that Zidane's acts were "unpardonable"as it humiliates the country in the face of sportivity. Some argue that should Zidane's excuse for headbutting Materazzi that is the insulting of his family be true, then he is truly a hero for he chose to become unpopular and lose the opportunity to kiss the world cup for the very last time in his career than to allow someone insult his mother and sister.
I just think it's interesting how one man's acts can create such a great self-reflection from the leader of one of the most influential country in the world until members of Indonesia's mailing list. This is one man, not even a politician. It makes me think of what change one person is potential of - and it is done by just doing something you love. You do not have to do the things other people, or society, deem as the best of quality in order to make change. You just have to be yourself and do what you are good at and just hope along the way you are so good at what you do that you inspire others.
One person's golden foot is another person's golden words, perhaps?
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
This whole Miss Indonesia shenanigan made me think. Is it sad? Is it acceptable? Is it the way it is?
I started browsing the damn website and began studying other candidates' answers. Some of them stood out. They not only seemed intelligent, they seemed genuine. Well, it's either at least genuinity or they are very good at lying. But for goodness' sake, I'll go with the former.
Still. If it were true, that these pretty ladies wanted to become humanitarian workers, goodwill ambassadors, increase economic development - is pageantry the way to go? If you really want to better the livelihood of discriminated women, must you strip down to a two-pieced swimsuit and pose?
It's not that I'm against pageants, I just want to call it as it is: A Beauty Contest. I like seeing beautiful people, I like beautiful dresses and paintings and sculptures - nothing against beauty as to some extent it is a reflection of life. But calling a beauty contest as a measurement of intelligence is a mockery to the means of developing your mind.
At the end, you find yourself judging these women's answers and calling them stupid instead of appreciating their beauty.
One of the interview questions is: "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Some answer with very far-fetched answers that is obviously formulated to create an impression. But the honest answers are: to become an actress, to pursue a career in modelling, to be part of the fashion industry - these are more believable. And perhaps, these answers, who usually end up being the losers, are the ones telling the truth.
But it's really difficult to analyse the phenomenon without being judgemental. Or self-rigtheous. So what if these women choose to become beauty pageant winners if they feel that it is good for their self-development? Why do we have to be 'sewot' of their decisions? I wouldn't want people to judge my decisions so why should I? Perhaps giving the benefit of the doubt is the way to go.
Someone has to do something about the first B in Brain, Beauty and Behaviour, though. Call it a beauty contest and let's watch the pretty ladies and churn the wheel of the beauty industry. Membuka lapangan pekerjaan lho...
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
You wouldn’t believe how many times people have asked me this question since I got married last year. At first it was endearing… Makin kesini makin kesel. It was last night that I was so pissed that things started to make sense (my sentence is unnatural but whatever works for me).
Inilah percakapan antara gue dan orang yang menghargai privacy:
Stranger : You’re married?
Inaya : Yes.
Stranger : Are you planning to have children?
Inaya : Not right away, we’re trying to focus on school first.
Percakapan antara gue dan orang yang mau tahu aja (pada umumnya orang Indonesia tapi tidak semua orang Indonesia seperti ini):
Stranger : Hah lo udah kawin?
Inaya : Udah.
Stranger : Kapan?
Inaya : Tahun lalu, Agustus.
Stranger : Udah isi belom?
Sometimes it’s even an ice-breaker (more like spirit-breaker):
Inaya : Eeee! Apa kabar?? How is life?
Stranger : Baiik!! Naaa... Udah isi beloom?
Inaya : *bete trus ngadu sama Arya*
Sometimes these people even just buzz me over Yahoo Messenger to ask this question. Mind you.
It’s a good thing that the reason for me and Arya withholding pregnancy is because of school. Paling parah kita cuma keki. Things could be worse.
To those who were raised in a society where a couple’s pregnancy is a light topic, please imagine… Bayangkan sepasang suami-istri yang sudah bersusah-payah berusaha hamil tapi gagal terus. Malam sebelumnya mereka berantem besar karena ternyata sang perempuan baru menstruasi. The next morning, working in front of her computer, someone buzzed her, “Bok! Udah isi belom?”
How would you feel? There’s a thought for the day.
PS: I know it’s such a small matter and most of us do it unconsciously and with the best of intentions. So to all those yang introspeksi setelah baca ini, God bless you.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Wednesday, 14 June 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
During yesterday's game, Korea vs. Togo, after Korea's goal the camera went to a close up of a sad Togo boy. I started thinking of the concept of winning and losing - because in a game, it is either way for both parties.
The same thing happened on today's game. Spain scored the first goal and the Ukrainians who were cheering for their team just a moment ago went a bit silent. But the game goes on. The players play, the crowd cheers and the referee blows his whistle.
If only everyone could be as sportive in real life.
Losing is a must. Winning is a must. You will celebrate your winnings in life and you will raise back up after a lose. In the process, you will see other people's failures and your heart will go out to them - because all of us have been in that position.
I suppose it should always be like that. Just as in games, you should just keep on trying. Because when considering the millions of people watching and finding themselves so engrossed in the World Cup (believe me, I am no football fan and I am in between assignments and I still follow the games), isn't that worth playing for? When you can see how the game brings people together, isn't that worth playing for? When you know during the game, perhaps in life, the winners will celebrate and the losers will stand up again better and sharper, isn't that worth playing for?
Cheer when you may and cry if you must. At the end, we all aim to be stronger. Anyway we can.
Dedicated to the underdogs
Because at some point in life,
all of us have lost
and of course,
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Some get married, some have children, some stay the way they were.
Or they just simply vanish.
You wake up and realise everything is the same.
Or different. Or neither.
You sleep and dream of things that were or will be.
You cannot help but wonder, how things will be tomorrow or yesterday.
If yesterday was something you would wish for.
It is difficult to say, it is difficult to listen.
Were they yours? Were they yours?
Should you be theirs? Should you be theirs?
You grow older hoping you grow wiser.
You grow wiser realising you know nothing.
It never goes both ways.
What is logic, what is strength.
What is what and who are they.
What does it mean?
You know when it comes.
You stop wondering and start doing.
How to ask without being confused.
How to find out without having to ask.
Your body grows up or grows down.
Your hearing sensitises or desensitises.
But your mind remains the same.
Either learning or forgiving.
Though the signs are everywhere;
the changing body of a pregnant mother,
the changing colour of the wise's hair,
the humble smile of the giver's heart.
Things that change to keep everything in place.
Feelings that change to keep everyone in love.
Words are written down but meaning is a thought away.
The words are theirs but the meaning is ours.
Preserve your mind, it is the only thing that truly exists.
7th June 2006
I'm tired of saying it like it is
Ambiguity has its way
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
Arya left for Germany yesterday while I decided to stay to work on my presentation. It was a short stay anyway and it wasn't like he was going on vacation or anything.
I am startled at how much I miss him. Not the lovey dovey kind of missing your partner but the kind that makes you realise that he is indefinitely your partner. The person you talk to, the person you laugh with. It's not so much not being able to function without his presence (which is just too silly to even think about), it feels a bit like when you're in a strange party where you're 'alone with everybody'. You feel a bit naked. Like you forgot something at home. I don't know. I just think the separation is good to give a cold shower for the 'don't take things for granted' game.
Ok, back to work.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
“Do you believe in love at first sight?”
The skeptic in me just laughs it off. The value-free researcher in me replies, “Depends on how you define love.” The hopeful in me thinks nothing is impossible; when given the chance.
I was sitting on my stomach and filling in one of those damn Sudoku puzzles when I gazed to Arya sitting in front of his computer and asked, “Kok kita bisa akur banget, sih?”
He shrugged, “Mungkin karena kita sahabatan.”
It was then I realised two things: (1) He doesn’t exaggerate; then (2) It must mean it’s true.
Someone who makes me laugh and vice versa. Someone who walks into me working and could ask for a hug without making me want to strangle him for breaking my concentration. Someone who listens to my dreams, my plans, my goals without cutting my thoughts in the middle even though he knows I am somewhat selfishly planning it for the both of us. He just knows I am only saying – that I just need to be listened to and would most definitely accept his feedback. Someone who listens to me ranting about an interesting fact or theory and actually finds himself engrossed in it – and of course other times his face shows he hasn’t a clue but listens anyway. Someone who is so different from me and yet has compatible values that I can understand his points of view.
Someone with whom I can practice my stupid Dutch.
Someone who never looks down on me as he never looks up at me. It’s not his style. We’re just equals finding our way out. Neither of us have a clue and if we want to get somewhere we have to cooperate.
After that moment, something in me changed a bit. I didn’t know what.
Yesterday I read old emails realising that some of my closest friends gas pol seneng-seneng during their college years abroad because they think it’s only natural that they do mumpung gak ada orangtua.
I : Gue ngga mau anak gue kayak gitu.
N : Anak lo ngga bakal kaya gitu.
I: Gue mau anak gue konsisten. Apapun yang dia lakuin, dia lakuin karena mereka tau itu bener. How do I raise a child like that?
I was so scared that I might screw my children because I would be a horrible mother. I was scared because Arya seems so confident of having one whenever because he’s ready while I was there psychotically going crazy in my head thinking, What is it going to eat? What if I screw them because I’m such an inconsistent person, sometimes I clean the whole friggin’ house and sometimes I can’t even get off my ass? What if I say the wrong thing and I scar them for life? What if we can’t make enough money for their school, their clothes, decent living? What if they hear me and Arya fight and they lose faith in love altogether? What if they become bad people?
I started thinking of how my parents raised me and my sister and brother. I started thinking of how Arya was raised; I started thinking of how the people I respect were raised. I started thinking of how the people, whose values I find myself incompatible with, were raised. Where were their mistakes, what were their successes? How can I learn from them? How can I make sure I can do my best?
It was then I started realising that the only thing you need in order to become a good parent (which of course, is according my own values unemployable to others perhaps) is strong values. With that, a consistent set of ideas of ethics and moral borders.
All through my life, there was never a point where I didn’t make mistakes. If only, mistakes make me sharper and more cautious. The problem is, when having children, mistakes bring effects not only to myself.
A: Waktu kita mutusin mau kawin, kenapa bisa gampang? Padahal kan tanggung jawabnya juga gede, konsekuensinya juga banyak. Apa yang bikin kamu gak takut?
I: Karena yakin. Tidak ada keraguan. We have compatible values and views which is the single most important thing in life. The rest, you learn along the way.
Being a parent is just like any other process in life. You have to have strong beliefs, ethics and morals; cooperate well with your partner (if you have one) and just learn along the way.
When thinking of integrity, honesty, ethics, kindness, humility and Arya’s and my framework in seeing life; money, clothing, a car and a house seems like such small obstacles. And if Arya and I are so good in working together as spouses, why should I be afraid?
I couldn’t think of an answer.
Anything in life is just like anything else in life. Nothing should scare you. You should decide what is most important in your life and just stick with it. The rest, you simply learn along the way.
Sure, my children will see me breakdown from time to time. They’ll see me bicker at them when I’ve reached my limit. They’ll also see I’m human with mistakes and that I learn. They will understand that their parents are human beings trying to do their best, just like they should.
I realised that that is how my parents (and coincidentally the parents of the people I am compatible with) raised me. With integrity and strong values. Teaching us decision making, being consequent and persistent. Always referring to our beliefs and values and respect difference. Being yourself and having strong identity wherever you are, even if no one is there overlooking your mistakes. Yes, they aren’t perfect. My mother imposes double standards and my father is a procrastinator. Yes, I also end up having double standards like my mother and postpone everything until the last hour like my father – but I also have integrity and chose the best man to cooperate with in life; and stuck with my decision. I am a hard worker like my mother and a self-reflector like my father.
My parents aren’t perfect, neither am I – neither will I ever be. You just hope you are a better parent than you are a daughter; a better employer then you are an employee; because then there is always room for progress.
I will never be sure that I will ever be able to give the best environment and material support to my children’s growth – but I know I can do my best in teaching the difference between right and wrong; not running away or hiding when they make mistakes but facing them like adults and take responsibility.
I have found out what changed in me – I can finally see myself as a mother. Not now, not tomorrow, not in a time I can plan. But it doesn’t scare me anymore. When the time comes, I will do my best, consistently to what I believe is right. Just like I have done so far with everything else in my life.
Monday, 22nd May 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
*Responding Diana, krn sangat terganggu berbeda pendapat dengan orang yang I respect (negating own principle haha)*
That's true. That sometimes it's through the system that you can see more clearly. That was my decision utk jadi Ketua HMIK. To do what I can to make changes I disagreed with. I couldn't have done it as well should I not have been the Ketua (or maybe I can, tapi mesti deket sama Ketuanya or whatever), but I want to note that it wasn't my only option.
What bothers me is the comments of "Kerja dimana sekarang?" and the low faces when the response is "Buka usaha sendiri." Why? Why so condescending? What's so wrong about thinking out of the box? Banyak orang2 berhasil yang 'dipandang' di masyarakat karena dia berani bertindak di luar harapan orang. Bill Gates. J.K. Rowling. Ono W. Purbo. Mira Lesmana. George Bush (haha, gak deng).
So maybe it's not about cornering the decisions to follow suit and create a carreer for yourself - but it's the idea that you decided to because you want to be appreciated by other people, not because you want to. That you wanted to be seen and commented, "Wah hebat ya!" not because you actually feel the enjoyment in what you're doing. I guess the only person that can answer that question is ourselves. So there.Best wishes, always.
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
It was yesterday night during dinner that I realised how different behavioural patterns my husband, Arya, and I have. From the tiniest thing like peeling an orange - I see, psychologically, our differences.
Arya's orange skin shapes like a hand - it is only one big piece of skin and he does it conscientiously and slowly. I peel oranges like a madman. I do it fast, resulting in several tiny pieces of orange skin. Arya is patient. I am not.
It goes both ways though, all characteristics. Patience is related to consequential decisions, contemplation and self-reflection. It also relates to slowness. Impatience relates to recklessness, hassle and stumbles. It also relates to fast-working.
It really is about compatibility and introspection. I am not perfect and neither is my partner. It's how we accentuate each other's characters. I call it cooperation. Some people call it marriage.
I come to think of how we are doing good in a land not ours. I think it's because we listen and see each other eye to eye.
He molds me in ways that are not deliberate. I suppose I do that to him too but I'm not to say. He jokes of our relationship as 'Kamu yang nyemangatin lari lebih cepet sementara aku yang ngipasin kalo udah kecapean,' which I think is metaphorically excellent.
We are two people not only together because we are in love, but we learn how to maintain it.
For the apple of my eye,
the man with good dance moves
May our cooperation result in
courage, humility and so much love
that it spills to other people
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
For those, as I, who had grown up with the wisdom words and the lessons of compassion from Mr. Rogers. A man whom I, and other millions of children now adults, found had been a good teacher in life and sincerity. Should it not be for this sudden memory revival would I remember, in perfect detail according to my (then) memory of a 4 year old:
Every show he would enter his home, take off his jacket and shoes, and put on a sweater and comfortable footwear while offering a welcome for his viewers. It was as if "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was deliberately simple and straightforward, marked by Rogers' purposeful actions and soothing voice.
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor...
"We have to remember to whom the airwaves belong, and we must put as great an emphasis on the nurturing of the human personality as we can," he (Fred Rogers) said. "I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen," Fred Rogers once said (CNN.com).
My wonderful half Dutch half Indonesian professor said to me on my (tentative) thesis (Children, Media and Globalization: the Empowerment of Children through Transnational Programmes in Indonesia), "To some extent, all theses and writings are an autobiography."
It is true. It is beginning to make sense why I have been consistent in the field of children and the media (especially television). Perhaps it is my child-self wanting to do something about 'it'. Of getting the chance to learn many-a-beautiful things through Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street in the mere age of 4 (or maybe even younger). Wanting these little people I accidentally meet to receive the fortune I had during my childhood. Of friendly faces, soothing voices, someone to teach you, in a non-pedantic way, the ways of life, love, loss and death. To learn how to make sense of things around us in the simplest, sincerest ways possible. Everyone is our parent and we are parents to more children than we ever could imagine.
"Children are going to mimic what the adults in their lives do," Rogers said. "And so the kind of ways that you have of expressing your anger will probably be the kinds of ways that your children will express theirs. And that's not all bad. But I do think that it's very important for us to be up front with our children and give them words for their feelings." (NPR.org)
I am in awe, how a man not physically present in my life can be such an inspiration in a subconscious manner. It can be because of two things: 1) The mind-boggling effect of television, or 2) The mind-boggling effect of the gesture of kindness and sincerity.
"I do think that young children can spot a phony a mile away," Rogers once said. (CNN.com)
When seeing his smile, I can hear his voice singing and I can feel me being a child again. Remembering the world in an honest way. May his kindness trigger an endless cycle...
Sunday, 21st May 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
It was that when Ludi told me the phenomenon called Radithya Dika had I realised the option to make things happen for yourself.
Here he is, this 21 year old guy who, in my most humble opinion, constitutes as the perfect every-guy. He has published 1 book and another is in waiting. He_is_funny.
Then I started asking myself, What is so wrong with this? Why is it, that for twenty something years of my life, the dominant paradigm in my head is to graduate, work and get your masters degree? Is it really what I want? Is it really what we all want? Why do we have to work for other people? Why do we have to wake up early in the morning, sit on our asses during traffic jams, sit on our asses all day in front of the computer and be miserable, go home exhausted, and do it all over again the next day for the rest of our lives?
Why can't we make it happen for ourselves, like this guy named Radith?
It is the security, I agree. To know where the next paycheck is coming from. Life becomes a responsibility of buying food and paying the electricity that you lose yourself in the process. Who you are. Your identity.
Not so long ago I was still dreaming of ambitious jobs; most of which consists of working for someone else. Yes, I want to work for international or regional bodies like UNESCO or ASEAN - but there, I work for someone else. I am a tool. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but why does it have to be my only choice?
I have been trained in my Research Masters Programme to generate research ideas feasible and novel in my field. Each week I had to prepare presentations, audio visual examples, talk in front of my peer of people knowledgable of what I am talking about, and able to criticise me, and finish in a timely manner so that the next speaker has enough and the show goes on. It's tough love. This week I had to create a thorough three optioned themed conference. I started browsing and that is when I realised my options. I am not being trained for nothing. There are so many South East Asian research bodies that call for papers and organise conferences searching for people like me. There, I am a researcher, I present myself, my own thoughts - and the best of all, I can make it happen for myself and not by being a tool for someone else.
I started weighing the highs and lows. Managing my own time, being able to monitor my children's psychological growth - actually being able to resolve sibling quarrels not by saying "Udah, ngalah aja sama adeknya," just because I'm too tired to try after an exhausting day's work. Being able to attend to their questions and finding answers from books and the internet together. If this isn't a carreer, I don't know what is.
I am not saying that being a corporate tool is a disgrace - I am trying to say that it is not our only option. Truly ask yourself what you want, acknowledge what your potentials are, what distinguishes you from others - and be that person because of choice, not because of a societal paradigm of what is better.
When I was 20 (not like it has been that long ago) I saw my carreer path as a straight road with obstacles which in the process I find ways to overcome them. Little did I know that that straight path has intersections, left turns, right turns and, bottom line, choices. New perspectives that I would never have known should I not have arrived in that spot, during that time. Things that come to you by cause and effect, not by plan. You interact with new people and open up your mind, only to realise that life isn't black and white and thinking out of the box really is possible.
At the end of the day, you should do what you enjoy to do - because in each and every interest of ours exists division of labour. We should not allow external factors impose their values on ours. Right and wrong is too subjective to share; there is only what is good for ourselves and what benefits ourselves the most. If you're really lucky, you get to benefit others as well.
With whom I can talk
about every single thing
I can come up with
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
I was just wondering why all-people-with-children's social networking profile photos always have their children dominating it?
Is it because when you have children, they dominate your life?
Is it because your identity no longer is about you but about this tiny little thing?
How is it supposed to be?
Questions, questions. Maybe I can only answer them when I have one of my own.
I don't care. I'm never going to be ready. Full stop.
So, change of topic, shall we?
2. Book Reviewer
3. PhD Student at London Education Institute for Children, Youth and Media
4. International Staff for RNTC
5. Communication Division Programme Officer for UNESCO Indonesia
6. Senior Consultant for Media Policy
7. Programme Manager for the Indonesian National Library Revitalisation (if there were any)
8. Programme Manager for the Western Europe and USA's Goodwill Academic and Popular Literature Publishing in Indonesia (mulai ngayal berlebihan)
9. TV Producer for Children Education Programme
10. Elementary School Teacher for cute, healthy, discipline and smart children (diskriminatif)
11. An interior designer for housing project with an unlimited budget and absolute power in decision making (hahahahha this is so much fun)
12. Programme manager for Asian Film Distribution in South East Asia
13. Freewill writer
14. A Freelance Columnist for the Djakarta Post (yang boleh menulis kapanpun ingin dan tidak usah kapanpun tidak ingin)
15. Cooking Assistant to Jamie Oliver
And all you did was blink
I would cry like I never do
In order to stay true
But everybody has their own opinion on such
They're all much alike alike alike
One hundred of a million is worth penning dead down
So why am I writing to the moon?
Down came the sky
to whack us to attack
While we cried in-between our cheeks
I was red and bleak
We often joke it's over but it's never enough
I take it you are afraid afraid
of everything I am and of some things I am not
A fear I share before I go to bed
When tears are pretzels pouring down each time the sweetness is returning
at times when you appreciate that you survived
Tricks tend to track you down
Even when you're high
It's the reason they made it all easier
You'll never know the hit
Tricks they track you down
Tricks they track you down
Down came the sky
And everything went black
I saw you, you saw me
And you were naked, which was weird
But in that space in time we played the strangers again
In oceans of oh I see I see
When my words lost their meaning on their way to your door
yours lost their way out of your
I don't want to want you to go
But I think you've left me without options
Things that you should know by now
That I never told
Tricks tend to track you down
Even when you're high
It's the reason they made it all easier
You'll never know the hit
Tricks they track you down
Tricks they track you down
On the playlist in my head
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
Bahasa Indonesia is very inefficient.
As if (2) = Seolah-olah (5)
Currently (3) = Belakangan ini (6)
Somewhat (2) = Kira-kira (4)
Note: Do not emphasize on the amount of characters but on the amount of syllables. It would be interesting to do an analysis on the relations of Bahasa Indonesia's vast amount of syllables in conversational sentences with the culture of 'basa-basi'.
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
It's been consistently snowing for 2 hours and it's pretty. I will take a picture of it in my mind and record the children's laughs outside as well.
Wasn't so nice biking this morning to class though, it kept getting in my eye and I had to squint them but not close them or else it'll be just stupid. I love living here more today.
I love it I love it.
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam
First thing's first. Happy birthday, Anggie. May the age 24 bring more wisdom, courage and humility.
Here I am in my apartment (my little corner of serenity) typing away with so many thoughts and so many study texts to read. I choose the former obviously.
I am in desperate attempt not to whine about the amount of work load I must do. Why did I sign in for an exam rewrite? Why did I say yes to the translating job? Why did I take 4 courses this semester when I could barely make 3 last time? Why did I.. Why didn't I?
Because I chose to do, that's why. Choices, like any other things in life, are irreversible and consequential. It does not always result in error avoidance but it almost always results in personal growth. We all make mistakes but only few actually learn from them and move on quickly and efficiently without regret.
Think about it. When was the last time you made the wrong choice without dwelling in it for some time? It could be 30 minutes, a day, a month. Wouldn't make a difference. If it were a true choice, it should have been made with realisation of consequences - hence, no regret if it doesn't end with the best of results because the possibility of downfall was estimated. As ideal as it sounds, it is almost robotic. Human error is inevitable.
I came to think about a woman's choice to domestic life. Agne Zekonyte, a Lithuanian student in my programme, asked me one day, "What do you think of women wanting to become house wives? After all their education, work and self-actualisation in society - they chose the role of a full-time mother."
Femminism has forced us, the women of the 21st century, to look down on domestic life. Especially women like me and Agne, who came all the way to another country just to study and learn through a well-established institution in order to progress in our academic/professional life. We are both married and we are both sound self-actualisers. It is only appropriate for us to avoid such choices. Or is it?
Never in my mind would I consider being a housewife prior to my life in Amsterdam. My priority is me. I must learn effectively and efficiently the 'how to-s' of surviving the competition. To be independent and even dependable financially, professionally, intellectually - all aspects regarded as direct contribution to the social system. What I got after marriage, is different.
On those days of scrubbing and writing assignments, I have gained respect to both lives. My life as someone's companion and my life as someone's pupil. It is just as hard to maintain a healthy relationship with food on the table, deep conversations over coffee, who cleans what when and which space is whose. That of dreams, wonders, fears, plans, sincerity and sharing is, to me, as hard as, if not harder than, working overtime due to a hardcore deadline and presenting a proposal the next morning in a language not your native.
It is, then, a matter of priority. Priorities shift with time and is relative with each person. Each person possesses different sets of framework and each cannot be imposed on the other. That's the art of it.
A woman letting go of her chances to become productive in society to raise a child 24-7 is not be looked down on by those who choose career. She dedicates her life to the betterment of another's without personal advantage. Such sincerity and courage, when looked down on, tells something about the person who does.
A woman letting go of her chances to give birth or raise a child to be useful for hundreds or even thousands of other people is not be looked down by those who choose to raise a family. She dedicates her life to the betterment of others whom she might not gain advantage from. Such sincerity and courage, when looked down on, tells something about the person who does.
Then there's someone like my mother. Who does both and juggles her life as a leader and her life as a mother to a teenager going through what might be the roughest time in his life. A woman who lives with the thought of not being able to give 100% to either roles, regardless of how good the results are, is not to be looked down on. Such sincerity and courage, when looked down on, tells something about the person who does.
None should look down on the other as none is the wiser. They are all equals with trials and errors and learning and failing - strength is too relative to judge with limitted indicators.
Life is about choice and choices are with but one characteristic - you can never have it all.
To my mother,
who is magnificent because of one thing -
she never does less than the best.
I love you with all my heart.
All textbooks, no matter speaking of what topics in which contexts, they all start with the establishment of common ground. The writer will always start with defining the variables they are talking about. The purpose of this act is to make sure that the reader shares the same perspective, or at least, understand the writer's. This is basic knowledge of structurising an argument. Especially when it comes to something with high relativity.
Then I thought about the interaction between two strangers. In order to achieve the goal of understanding, they must first establish their common ground - to minimise misunderstanding (just like in textbooks). Defining themselves.
"What defines you?"
If you had a chance to define yourself briefly, what would you say? What defines your views, your life, your beliefs, your stance, your values, your.. everything? How do you make someone else understand who you are?
I started observing, or moreover, reminiscing, some of the most basic examples of the people I have in my life. It's so easy to do, just browse through the photographs they've uploaded in their social networking profile. It suits the format, that this is the window from which they allow other people, strangers, to peak into their private lives. This is the common ground they wish to establish.
Some of them put in pictures of family, friends, best friends, them with a certain way of smiling, a good side of their face, them in what I assume to not be daily clothes, them with the 'right' crowd, them with 'something' to make a point in showing who they are.
It brought me to think about which is which. Do people actually need object to define themselves? Do you need to wear the right clothes in order to make yourself heard? Do you have to read the right books, listen to the right music, wear uncomfortably expensive shoes, smile with your head tilted to the left, in order to project a certain representation to other people? To make people think of you they way you want them to.
Do you? Do I? Do you feel the need to hide a part of yourself or show another to make people respect you? Do you? Do I?
It's a very sad thing to realise, that you (I) have no integrity, self-esteem, pride and value to have to fake yourself to be accepted. What is the source of all this chaos? The fear of being different? The fear of being judged? The fear of not being able to agree to disagree?
[Agree to disagree. Such a beautiful notion.]
You do not have to put on fake colours on your face to be beautiful, you have to change the way you see yourself. Through your values and compassion.
You don't have to cut your carbs to fit into a dress. First thing you need to do is buy a bigger size. Second thing to do is to start paying attention to your health.
You don't have to say the right things to be in the hip crowd. You need to redefine your definition of being hip. Being hip is respecting difference and seeing everyone as equals.
You don't have to look perfect to make the right person fall in love with you. You need to find yourself and see who is attracted by your true colours. They, I promise, will stay a lifetime.
You don't have to read all of the books in the world to be intellectual. You need to find out the things your interested in, share them with other people and you'd be surprised how much you've learn from them.
You do not need to buy designer handbags to feel confident. You need to take a walk down the suburbs and see how your precious handbags make hungry people want to steal.
To live moderately, honestly, respectfully, would be an ideal way to define yourself. I wish it were as easy as typing these letters.
It boggles the mind though, whether you are as good a person inside as you project to other people. It honestly does. And by you, I mean me.