Monday, May 29, 2006

Sedikit-sedikit Menjadi Bukit

Memang ada saatnya kita cuma bisa ikhlas
Ada saatnya kita masih bisa usaha

Dewasa adalah mengetahui kapan harus melakukan yang mana
dan waktu kita untuk belajar adalah seumur hidup

Monday, May 22, 2006

Warden en Normen

Sunday, 21st May 2006
10.31 PM
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.

Follow Suit

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.

Peel the Orange

Friday, 21st April 2006
12.58 PM
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

A Tribute to Mr. Rogers (1928-2003)

Thursday, 13th April 2006
10.42 PM
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 (

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." (

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. (

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...

Useful Links:

Out of the Box

Sunday, 21st May 2006
09.45 PM
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.

To Arya
With whom I can talk
about every single thing
I can come up with

Identity (?)

Friday, 7th April
11.33 AM
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?

Dream Jobs

1. Food Critic
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


Track You Down

Down came the sky
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

Bahasa Indonesia

Friday, 3rd March 2006
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'.

Iceblink Luck

Wednesday, 1st March 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

Dscn0782 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.

Working Women and Women as Mothers

Friday, 24th February 2006
12.04 PM
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.

Define 'You'

Friday, 18th November 2005
Almere, Netherlands

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.