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thoughts

A lot has happened since the last time I was able to commit to myself to sit down, open my laptop, and jolt something down in this dusty, neglected site.

(To be fair I did write in other medium (hence not mentally burdened by the “write more” goal of 2017 I imposed upon myself) which you can find here. That bit is actually quite cool — I convinced myself to participate in a 15-days writing competition about energy, my field of work where I am passionate about, and apparently got selected as a finalist! Two of the articles I cross-posted on Kompasiana also got featured in their homepage, Twitter, and Facebook which made me excited and nervous at the same time, as these babies got viewed by thousands pairs of eyes. Anyhow, that’s a side story.)

Early last year I got engaged — and in the process of convincing myself that this isn’t a decision I would regret, I wrote down my thoughts hoping that those words would serve as a reminder should I start to falter and freak out (it did help, by the way).

To cut the story short (and no, I won’t delve into the vendor-hunting bits of it), we got married on the eleventh of November last year and as of writing we’ve been married for half a year (shy of one day!).

This is the clichéd part of the blog post where I say “time flies”.

—–

If you ask me, then, how does it feel being married?

To be perfectly frank with you, it feels nice. It is indeed a very anticlimatic and boring choice of word, but it does feel nice.

I used to freak out at the thought of being committed to someone “for the rest of my life” (paraphrasing my engagement post), but many of these days when I see Andhika doing house chores or simply sitting there with his laptop open, I feel grateful that he’d be there for the rest of my life. (A-year-ago-me would feel icky typing that, but well as I said, you can’t logic your way out on this subject.)

It feels nice that someone understands that the number one thing you hate most is doing laundry, and that he’d willingly do it for you. Likewise, I have to understand that he has… different anatomy leading to sleep apnea and rendering you to wake up due to his loud snores.

It feels nice that you can discuss on which Hyrule shrine you should go to next, and hours later in the middle of the night discuss your Individual Development Plan for work and plan your careers together. Sharing notes and lessons learned from our own mentoring sessions are quite productive, too!

And as there won’t be rainbows without rains, there were, of course, down days — those that are more than petty fights over failed dishes and small daily annoyance. I think it’s inevitable — after all you are putting two people with different personalities together in an extended period of time. I still stand by my opinion from years back that these fights will only make you stronger.

We spent more than half of our married months so far being physically apart from each other. I got an assignment in Singapore (another big life update from the past year!) and have been working here since January. This role also requires me to travel quite a bit. Likewise, Andhika’s new job (in which he moved job partially to find a workable arrangement to join me in Singapore!) requires him to travel every now and then, too. This, on top of the first few months of the year where he was still based in Jakarta ends up in us meeting only on few weekends and not more. Some people frowned at this thought of me working abroad and us living separately — certainly not ideal for a newlywed, they thought. However, Andhika and I had agreed before getting married that the marriage should not restrict us in our career and that we’ll find a way to work it out. And after all, there isn’t one model ideal type of marriage and more often than not, overthinking about what others expect you to do don’t get you very far.

More than one person warned me that being married will limit and prohibit you — from reaching your goals, from taking daring decisions, from hanging out with your friends, … and the list goes on.

I would beg to differ. If any, I feel like it expands us. And in a crazier way still, I feel like it grounds us, giving us a firm standing — and in turn propelling you to roam, fly higher. It gives you assurance that there’ll always be something, someone there to return to and catch you should you fall. It strengthens and heals, at once.

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I was afraid.

I will be lying if I tell you that yesterday, when a terrorist attack in front of Sarinah happened and afterwards, I was not.

I was afraid. I was afraid that there could be another bomb, that there could be more lives taken, that there could be more mothers out there that lost their sons and daughters, that there could be more children that would have one less parent.

I passed Sarinah in the morning of 14 January 2016 on my way to a meeting in Bunderan HI area, where my taxi stopped in the red traffic light and people getting off the busway en route to their office. It was a normal morning. I even thought of going to the Starbucks that morning. So, having learned later on the day that the very normal crossroad I passed through was the ground zero for some open gunfire, bombs, and grenades, it was nauseating. I lost my appetite for lunch that day, and was surprised that such thing could happen to my city.

It was also surprising for me how my fellow Jakartans reacted to the attack. It was initially fear (obviously, especially some of us were in the vicinity of Sarinah), and then a sense of unity (for which I applaud), and then spirit to “fight” back (for which I really admire). The hashtags came, from #PrayForJakarta (which I personally think, wouldn’t really affect the exchange rate) to #IndonesiaKuat (strong Indonesia) to #KamiTidakTakut (we are not afraid).

Being in the digital age that we are, of course there are plentiful of memes and stories that arose, the most famous one being the satay vendor that are seen 100 m away from ground zero, already selling the food with a lot of customers waiting for their plates to be served. The point of that post was to show that we, Indonesians, are not afraid. And the day will continue to be normal afterwards.

But for me, the day didn’t. I have calmed down, but I kept my alertness up. If the agendas were not urgent, I didn’t end up going.

An attack did happen, a bomb did blow up, people did die – these are the reasons why I refuse to laugh about the attack.

What I thought was: yes, I should not be drowned in terror because that’s exactly what terrorist attacks are for, but I should not also be careless and take the attack lightly.

And I am writing and sharing my two cents just to spread the message to my fellow Jakartans, we do stand together and united, but please, please also keep in mind that yesterday was real. Although arguably in a smaller scale than what happened in Paris, it was still a terrorist attack. Please don’t let your guard down, please always be mindful of your safety and security.

I’m not trying to exaggerate anything, neither am I understating it.

A terrorist attack is not a small matter.

Stay safe.

When I was in high school, I used to dismiss and sometimes laugh at my friends who love K-Pop. For me, a group of men doing synchronized dancing with matching uniform is just too weird and feminine. The girls were too weirdly dressed and the stigma of plastic surgery made me appreciate them less. Granted, their songs might be catchy, but it was not a strong enough pull noting the “plasticity” and the “femininity” factor of K-Pop.

This was until I entered university and the Hallyu wave (or the Korean craze) hit many parts of Asia, including the university that I was studying in. My (male) friend introduced me to Girls’ Generation or SNSD – and boy, karma does exist, it didn’t take me too long to like them and their seemingly perfect legs. It was just a short hype, no longer than two months or so. However, not long after, out of curiosity I heard the more upbeat songs of GD & TOP (of Big Bang). I started with the song “High High” and really, it hooked me almost instantly! I really loved the song (from a musical perspective) (and not to mention TOP’s ultra-sharp jaw line…) and slowly I found their music to be…acceptable.

Cutting the story short, my encounter with SNSD and GD & TOP led me to the world of K-Pop. Surely the synchronized dancing is still pretty much there in the industry, so does the rumors of plastic surgery, and debates about the slavery-like contract of the idols and the immense pressure of Korean showbiz industry – but I got hooked. I find it to be very entertaining at times and I just simply enjoy it.

I have lived days where I would watch SNSD’s The Boys and their live version of Genie over and over again, ship YongSeo in We Got Married, went crazy over Jung Yong Hwa (of CNBlue). Now, I am a HUGE (all-caps, no regrets) fan of Winner (#teamMino), am patiently waiting for Big Bang’s “D” series to be launched in a few hours, am an avid listener of 2NE1, and (you guessed it) a YG stan.

Although I can tell you Song Minho’s birthday (30 March 1993) or the history behind “Banmal Song” (Goguma Couple!), up to this moment I have never really proclaimed or identified myself as a diehard K-Pop fan. I even distanced myself from being labeled as the “K-Pop fan”. When I told my friend that I like a Korean boy group, I spent about a minute or two explaining why I like their songs and how this band is the “okay part of K-Pop industry” and “it’s not what you think it is”.

I have always tried to justify my liking of K-Pop.

I don’t want people to know that I like K-Pop.

The reason behind that is that I don’t want people’s perception around me to change. I’ve always thought and observed that K-Pop has this negative stigma that if you like K-Pop, you are a superficial person that can be really freaky at times who loves feminine guys and plastic girls. It’s almost as if you’re not cool anymore. And I don’t want people to label me as the freaky fangirl.

Truth be told, when I shared something related to K-Pop be it in the real world or in my social networking sites, people would have various responses. Some were positive, some were neutral, but it’s the negative responses that got stuck with me. Some people did say “huh, never thought that you’re that kind of person who likes K-Pop. I thought you’re more of the cool girl who likes Western music”. Some said “what???? What on earth are you doing liking K-Pop??” Some would go as far as “are you really serious now? Do you need me to pour mercury into you so that you’ll come to your senses?” Thus with fear of being mocked at, I shut myself.

I shut myself and conveyed the message that I like Julie London and Ella Fitzgerald (fyi, I honestly do) so that people would still think I’m the okay girl. It is sad that I have to partially conceal myself so that it will be more acceptable to people.

I succumbed to public stereotypes and I let people’s judgment dictate what I do and what I project to the society.

It took me perhaps a couple of years or so to finally realize that my hiding and denying of my musical preference (for God’s sake it’s just a simple thing – music!) is me rejecting a part of me. How would I expect people to be okay with it whereas at the same time me myself is busy denying it? I rejected, looked down and laughed at myself for something that I honestly enjoy! I was not even at peace with myself!

For something as seemingly simple as a favorite artist or musical preference, it was such a drama (ahem, I just made a 804 words long blogpost above to admit that I like K-Pop) and it made me realize how evil judgmental behavior could be. Extending it beyond musical preference, I realized how our millions of little daily activities and decision making is heavily impacted by fear of other people’s judgment or perception on us – what we are wearing today (will this make me look fat? Is this cardigan outdated already? What if people think this is a cheap dress?), what we tweeted or posted in the social networking sites (will this tweet make me look witty? I don’t want to sound stupid or superficial. Is this post consistent with the hipster image I’ve been trying to portray?), what we post in our blog (will this blogpost make my friends laugh at me?).

Let the avid cosplayer cosplay their favorite character; let our romantic, poetic friend post their pages long poem; let our girl friends who love make up do a make up vlog in YouTube; let our activist friends support the cause they believe in. Really, your life is yours to enjoy – don’t let people limit them for you.

K-Pop is just an analogy. Every day, everyone is dealing with stereotypes and judgments. It’s tiring, useless and vain to keep up with what people are expecting us to do. I have finally came to terms with myself –

And finally admitting, I love K-Pop.

P.S.: through this post, please allow me apologize to my high school friends whom I used to laugh at for liking K-Pop. *bows*

P.P.S.: here’s one of my favorite performances of Winner (especially love that first song – Go Up):

Loneliness is bliss.

While people beg for companion, while today’s youth’s problem is almost definitely about love and finding a partner, while people are arguing who’s the better friend, today I am faced off by the fact and premise that loneliness is bliss.

The less we get to be involved with people, the less pain we will receive.

Less expectations unmet. Less promises broken. Less conflicts. As my friend, Santhy, put it, people need to learn not to cling to other. We must learn to not have dependency upon others. The less emotional transaction we have, the less chance for us to have conflicts, hence the less chance for us to get hurt. As selfish it might sound, but, who would want to get hurt? Who would want to feel pain? And yes, this is a justification for being selfish.

People would argue that the less you get to be involved with people, the less happy you will become as well. No.

Being less involved means that you are willing to be more lonely than you were, that you want to be lonely, that you embrace loneliness along with its consequences. Once we are aware of that, we do not expect other people to be our sole source of happiness. Once we are aware of that, we find happiness, or whatever positive emotion, in emptiness.

Different with ignorance.

Ignorance is, for me and a friend of mine, Mirza, a state where you happen to be lonely when you actually want to be heard, want to be with someone else. Ignorance does not embrace emptiness. Ignorance is not ready for the consequences that follow. Ignorance is more of a forced result than a voluntary action. And as far as I understand it, I conclude that ignorance is not bliss. Loneliness is.

Beberapa bulan lalu ketika saya (masih) on-fire mengerjakan Tugas Akhir saya mengenai Museum Sri Baduga, dan didorong oleh keinginan saya untuk menegakkan hak saya pada UU no 14 tahun 2008 mengenai Informasi Publik (karena baru magang di Open Government Indonesia), saya ingin meminta data mengenai pengunjung museum di Indonesia. Ketika itu, yang saya tuju adalah Kementrian Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata. Terdengarnya enak di kuping, Budpar, Budpar, Budpar. Selidik punya selidik, Budpar udah ngga ada bung.

Memang dasarnya telat, saya jadi baru sadar bahwa Budpar sekarang sudah ganti jadi Parekraf dan “Bud” berada di bawah Kemdikbud.

Padahal, saya sudah kesenengan sendiri karena saat lagi browsing http://budpar.go.id, ada data lengkap mengenai pengunjung Indonesia. Melihat header page-nya yang “Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif”, saya jadi ngeh dan langsung ganti alamat ke http://kemdiknas.go.id. Yang saya kesali adalah, serius Kementeriannya ganti tapi websitenya ngga?

Sadar nggak sih bahwa addressnya masih Budpar dan Kemdiknas?

Ketika saya browsing situs Kemdiknas, makin kesal. Setengah mati nyari data-data tentang kemuseuman! Kebudayaan saja sedikiiiiiiit sekali disinggung. Adanya tentang pendidikan, pendidikan, pendidikan. Bukannya sentimen dengan pendidikan, tapi kalau namanya Kemdikbud, boleh dong saya mengharapkan porsi yang sama antara Dik dan Bud?

Misalnya pada halaman ini, mengenai rencana strategis kementerian. Sebagai seseorang yang sudah mentok membuat Bab 1 – Latar Belakang, saya berharap bahwa pada halaman ini akan ada rencana pengembangan museum oleh Kementerian tersebut. Ternyata, judul halamannya saja “Rencana Strategis (Renstra) Kementerian Pendidikan Nasional tahun 2010-2014”. Bete, ngga?

Header picture-nya pun LJK dan siswa sekolah. Mana dong, budaya dan bahasanya? Semakin bete lagi melihat gambar ini:

Struktur Organisasi Kemdikbud

Tulisannya mungkin agak terlalu kecil dan strukturnya sendiri lumayan rumit, namun yang hijau-hijau itu yang berhubungan dengan Kebudayaan. Dengan dibawahnya ada “Kemuseuman”, “Kesenian dan Perfilman”, “Sejarah dan Nilai Budaya”, serta “Diplomasi Budaya”. Nampak sangat banyak dan luas untuk sebuah Ditjen.

Sebagai seseorang yang suka ngedumel sendiri kalau melihat permuseuman Indonesia, reaksi spontan saya adalah “ya jelas aja museumnya ngga jelas kaya gini…”. 

Museum di Indonesia konon katanya di artikel yang saya baca (karena di situs Kemdiknas.go.id ngga ada hihihi) ada ratusan. Bahasa di Indonesia juga katanya ada ribuan bahasa dengan lebih banyak lagi dialek. Ada bahkan bahasa yang penuturnya tinggal hitungan jari, sedangkan bahasa adalah suatu elemen budaya yang intangible sehingga jika penuturnya sudah tidak ada, akan sangat sulit bagi orang awam untuk mempelajarinya. Elemen budaya di Indonesia tentu banyak. Sebagai negara yang memiliki banyak sekali suku dan memiliki sejarah yang lamanya sampai ribuan tahun lalu (Homo floresiensis, anyone?), tentu banyak artefak, baju, dan rumah adat yang Indonesia miliki. Cagar Budaya pun begitu. Mulai dari candi hingga gedung-gedung 1920an, Indonesia memiliki banyak ragam cagar budaya.

Pandangan saya sebagai orang awam, elemen-elemen budaya ini agak terlalu luas dan kurang begitu koheren dengan pendidikan. Pendidikan sendiri sudah begitu banyak, begitu luas, dan begitu rumit. Kurikulum 2013, misalnya. UN yang katanya kacau, misalnya. Ketidakrataan tingkat pendidikan, misalnya. Guru di desa terpencil yang tidak digaji, misalnya.

Jika dilihat pada situs kemdiknas.go.id pada bagian berita, jarang sekali terlihat update mengenai isu budaya, melulu isu pendidikan. Saya melihatnya seperti Kemdikbud sekarang tidak membagi fokus dan perhatian yang cukup terhadap isu budaya.

Kalau boleh saya memilih, saya lebih memilih agar “Bud” kembali ke “Budpar” dan bukannya “Dikbud”. Agaknya “Budpar” lebih memiliki ranah yang cukup dekat dengan beberapa elemen budaya, seperti Cagar Budaya dan Sejarah. Budaya dapat mendukung pariwisata dan begitu juga sebaliknya. Menjauhkan kedua hal tersebut dan malah mendekatkan Budaya ke suatu ranah yang scope-nya sudah sangat luas dengan masalah yang terus-terusan berubah, menurut saya, salah besar.

“Bud” jadi seperti tidak ada batang hidungnya di pemerintahan.

Huf.

Don’t expect too much of a someone. Don’t expect the world will go according to what we have in mind. Don’t expect that people will change. Wait, people change. Don’t expect that they can adjust to your demand.

Lower your expectations. Lower your demand. Try to meet it halfway. Understand people’s capability, otherwise the pain will rebound back on you, leaving you alone, in pain, clouded with all what-ifs and should-haves.