It started out when I proclaimed my love of owls about 2 years ago. Since then, my friends had been tagging me whenever they came across cute owl pictures or videos, or ended up buying random owl-stuff when they were traveling because they were reminded of me when they spotted one. Today, I realized that my owl collections has grown quite rapidly. It is dominated by lovely accessories like rings, necklaces and bracelets–though I also have owl bedroom lamp, owl clutch, owl coffee-tumbler, owl pen, owl bedroom-slippers, owl lip-balm, owl postcards, owl ceramic paperweight, owl magnets, owl wallpaper, owl bookmark, owl paintings, owl nail buffer, owl shirt, owl scarf… you name it!
I decided to keep these owls inside this beautiful jar and put them next to my bed, so I can have a look at them everyday–as soon as I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. The lights will make them glow in such a serene way, it makes me feel warm at heart :) These owls always remind me of my friends’ lovely thoughts and kindness–and so, how can I not be grateful every time? Moreover, these owls had traveled from everywhere: Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Pakistan, Turkey, US, UK, Brazil… it makes me feel like all the kindness in the world can actually fit nicely inside a small transparent jar!
For my lovely friends who have carried me (and my love of owls) in your thoughts, thank you very much. I am so blessed to have you! :’) The owls will always remind me of you, too! *kisses*
When my girl Ollie (a successful business woman and an author of more than 20 books) asked me to talk at Nulis Buku Club’s gathering at Urban Icon Store Senayan last week, I kept my cool and said, “Sure!”. Little did she know that I was actually panicking. I always find it challenging to talk about writing. I mean, who am I to talk about such thing? In the end, that was exactly what I did not do. I did not talk about writing. I got everyone to write instead.
I do not want to talk about writing because I don’t think we learn about writing that way. Learning about writing is similar to swimming or riding a bike. You don’t learn how to swim by reading books or follow instructions. You jump into the pool and get drowned and then you get it. You find yourself floating. The more time you spend in the pool, the more you feel comfortable and confident. Soon, you want to explore the sea and swim with the fish. Or jump from the top of a waterfall to a river underneath. You’re becoming more courageous and adventurous. The same goes with writing. You just have to do it, everyday, to find that level of comfort and confidence before even starting to push your limit and go for the extreme. (I am a sucker for Natalie Goldberg’s book on writing simply because she doesn’t give instructions about characters or plots or outlines. She wants us to write. She’ll give us a list of words or images or memories to play with and she’ll let us write about it, incorporating our authentic life experience into the pouring sentences on our notebook.)
There are loads of different ways to tell a story, but I believe that there’s only one way to write: by being honest. I guess, we always think that our lives are dead-boring and other people’s lives are far more interesting; thus we keep on finding ways to tell other people’s stories; because we think it will sound more interesting. But no matter how good we are in telling other people’s stories, we are not those people. We do not have their drive, their voice, their experience, their childhood, their tears. However, we have unlimited access to our own memories, our own childhood, our heartbreaks, our fear, our failure, our imperfection. We have our so-called boring lives that are rich with smells, colors, sounds, feelings, details. We can always try to sound like someone else. We can even imitate Hemingway. But we can never be him. We can never be as good. We can only be the best at being ourselves, by telling our own stories.
Now this doesn’t mean that we have to spill all the dirty secrets and be brutally honest about every little thing (though that would be effing interesting, too!). It’s more about that sense of authenticity. About seeing things from your eyes, feeling things with your heart, writing things down from your real experience. Being sad has very little to do with standing by the window, looking at the droplets of rain with instrumental music playing in the background (I committed this kind of sin in my previous writings, too, but I promise not to do this again!). When I came to think about it, the last time I was sad, I didn’t take a shower that whole day. I didn’t wash my hair. I drank too much instant coffee and I made myself instant noodles with 20 chilis so it would be both super spicy and stingy, and I finished 2 packs of Maicih super-hot casava chips. Then I stayed in bed, watching depressing movies on DVDs and listening to 30 Seconds to Mars’ From Yesterday over and over again in maximum volume. I turned off my mobile phone and cursed the whole world. You have your own way of looking at the world when you’re sad. We can’t all be sad the same way. So tell your version of being sad instead of going mainstream. Or else we would end up in our elementary school days, when the teacher asked us to draw the scenery and we all turned in two mountains, a road, a small house, two rice fields (left and right), the sun between the two mountains, three-shaped birds and blue-colored clouds.
So that was what the participants ended up doing at the writing club gathering. They wrote. For 3 to 5 minutes, on a certain topic. The challenge was to keep your pen moving, not to stop, not to think to much, just write things down, write whatever that crosses your mind, write from your memories.
It was intriguing to see how people were hesitant at first, having their pens hanging in the air instead of scribbling something on the paper. “Come on, keep your pens moving! Don’t think too much, just write!”—and it was amazing to see how they become more confident and write more freely during the second and third exercise. It was even more surprising when some of them stood up to read what they had just written: those were great stuff; written in only 3-5 minutes. I felt goosebumps when some of them read their piece; because they were so honest, so blunt, so bare… and yet they were beautiful, unique, and authentic. You could almost see this person and get the feel of who they are just by listening to them reading their piece.
Eva wrote about her experience that day:
“Write first, keep writing what’s in your head, don’t stop.
“We can worry about the other stuff, like plot, grammar, characters, etc, later in the editing process.”
We then did three three-minute exercises on writing, which I would invite you to try.
First, it’s about original details. Pick an object and write — without stopping — as much details as possible about it. This is what I wrote that night:
The lamps. Hanging right in front of me, slightly above. Silver with yellow-ish light. If we pay closer attention to it, there is one big lamp, surrounded by smaller ones.
At first I thought there were only five lamps, but a closer look would reveal there are two more, slightly hidden. Hanging on a black string. They are not that bright, swallowed by the other surrounding lights. Not as blinding, but still cool as accessories to the room. It does not really make the room brighter, except at exactly where it was. (And time was up as I finished that sentence).
Second, it’s about working from memories. Pick an object and write what it reminds you of. Three minutes. Go:
The last time I noticed this type of lamp was at a meditation retreat several years ago. My mind then jumped into something completely different. I remember my love for taking photographs of lamps and reflections, in all shapes and forms. Low light photography and reflections of mirrors, from building, structures, and so on, wherever it may be.
I looked to my left and saw the very reflection of those lamps in the mirror. A different angle of the same object. I remember taking pictures with my friends at her campus in Paris. A huge silver shining ball. That was so fun. The ball is of three meters in height. We experimented with distance. What if the camera is close to the ball and we are further away. What if one of us is closer to the ball than the other. What if one is standing on the left, and the other on the right corner of the camera lens. Reflection is so interesting. It provides a distortion — often more interesting than the original! (Time was up).
You wouldn’t believe what came up from the audience. It is evident that we are all writers. Beautiful, with a variety of styles. Mine feels rather factual. But I was just getting warmed up.
Third exercise: use object (I am a…) and write how it feels to be that object. This is mine:
I am but letters “F.O.S.S.I.L” — You look at me but you are not really looking at me. You are looking at me and you remember the remains of animals and plants from million years ago, turning into coals and oil; being put in the museum for display, lab for study and books to read.
You look at me and you remember, well, bags.
You look at me but you’re not really looking at me. I am but a six-letter word, written in black. I am written in ALL CAPS. But obviously, it is still not loud enough for you.
I was astounded. I have no idea how it came about. The exercise reminds us how rich our mind is. All we need to do is put our thoughts in writing, without any self-censorship.
Two years ago, I started bringing a notebook with me, where I could just write mindlessly while waiting for a meeting or a delayed flight. I write about a guy sitting across me at the airport, the conversation a family is having at the table next to me in an Italian restaurant, memories that wells up inside of me when I spot a guitar case… and the notebook is full of random stuff like this. When I read the notebook again after some time, I am always surprised knowing that I can come up with such writings or realizing that I can recognize such minuscule details. The notebook becomes a rich source for me to spice up the scene I’m working on or inserting ‘authentic’ conversations into my dialogues. Moreover, the notebook becomes an amazing portrait of my mind, of what’s going on inside of me, of how I see the world from the reality I choose. It helps me to see myself from a different point of view; and it reminds me of who I am, who I was and who I am capable of become.
- The Only Way to Write by Eva Muchtar.
- NulisBuku Club: A Sweet Encouragement, Classy Competition by Nana.
*) Photographs from Nulis Buku Club gathering are the courtesy of Ollie and Nulis Buku Team.
Special thanks to the wonderful bunch at Urban Icon! They came to me and said that they want to give a watch for me as a present, and I could choose whichever I want. They did not know then that I am a FOSSIL fan, and I have had my eyes on their beautiful Georgia watch for quite some time. And I hand-picked my pretty pink Georgia that evening :’) Thank you so much for this lovely surprise, folks! :’)
I always find it comforting, to be surrounded by greeneries, enveloped by silence, only to catch the faint sounds of birds, cicadas, and waterfalls. I ran away here one afternoon a few weeks ago with a friend, Martijn. A few slices of yellow watermelons, a pack of grapes, a carton of fruit juice, and Susan Wooldrigde’s Poemcrazy book were resting nicely inside my flowery canvas bag. My head was still spinning with the beautiful words from the book. I remembered one line where Wooldridge quoted Gary Snyde: poetry has an interesting function; it helps people be where they are. And suddenly, my world was bursting with pinecones, the smell of the leaves and the wet soil, the shape of the rocks, the changing colors of the sky…
I was sitting on a rock; dipping my toes into the flowing river, while Martijn went underneath the waterfalls. I was thinking about everything that had happened in my life lately: about hellos and farewells, and how curious was it that I kept stumbling upon random people who brought ‘messages’ for me and answered some questions I have pondered upon for a while through simple conversations.
I once wrote inside my black travel notebook: what if we think of everyone we meet on our journey as a messenger? What if we don’t bump into them coincidentally? What if they were sent to tell us something, to deliver a message, a lesson… what difference would it make if we stop, say hello, glance a smile, and make that connection? Don’t you think it would make you feel like you are never alone in this world? That every step you make is another chance to learn new life lessons? That everyone of us is, in one and another way, carry ‘The Prophet‘ inside, like that of Gibran’s?
Last evening, a girl on Twitter sent me a direct message, and asked, out of the blue, “What should I do when the person I care about decided to disappear?” and I found myself typing away: just pray for them to be alright, and to be happy. Maybe I was talking to myself or hearing myself asking the same question to my other self; this could be more complicated than understanding the flower petals and Fibonacci numbers–but such ‘creepy’ or amazingly coincidental things happened more often in my life lately (oh well, I never believed in coincidences anyway). When I came to think about it, I guess even our prayers (or wishes) define who we are and how we see the world. If you do believe that prayers have such a vast amount of energy that will resonate to the universe and being echoed back to you, you would want to recite beautiful prayers, wouldn’t you?
And it just happened. From short-distance trip to crossing half of the globe, I found myself enjoying traveling alone–savoring the privilege of doing whatever I like in whatever pace I want while turning strangers into friends along the way. It has been an enriching experience that helps me to become more confident, thoughtful, and considerate. Some female readers ask me what are the things they need to consider if they would like to travel solo themselves; so I think I’ll just share some tips from my experience below:
- Don’t be a bitch. No matter how pissed off you are, how angry you are, control yourself, control your emotion. You are alone in a strange country–if you’re being a bitch and making hurtful comments to someone, you’re attracting unnecessary hatred towards yourself. Just be kind, but prompt. I know sometimes guys approach you when you’re walking or invite you for some drinks; other times a beggar follows you around asking for money. You can smile and say ‘no’ politely, and then say ‘no’ again promptly when they’re still trying, or say ‘no’ again and walk away briskly. But don’t make a drama out of it. If you don’t like the taste of a local food or find the streets so gross and dirty or think that a local custom doesn’t make sense, don’t make nasty comments or ugly faces or throwing evil judgments. Accept the fact that each country is different, and respect that. Think of how you would feel if a traveler made nasty comments about your country. Don’t make people hate you. Be kind. Be considerate.
- Be prepared and do your homework. Do extensive research about the country/city you are about to visit. Ask around, especially to friends/families who had been there before. With sites like Couchsurfing, you can always get valuable insights from the locals about the best location to stay, local transport, customs and traditions, and so on. Learn a little bit of local language always helps–at least in the countries I have ever visited. I realized that the locals–including immigration officials, became much friendlier when I said a few words in their local language. I think they appreciate the fact that you care enough to try. Find out the proper outfit to wear. In some countries, women adhere to a certain way of dressing. In other countries, you need to wear long skirts or sarongs to visit temples and religious sites. To me, following the dress code is more about showing respect to the culture in a certain country rather than an attempt to avoid unnecessary attention (though it also helps you gain respect when you’re trying to dress like a local). I would suggest you to have your accommodation booked at least for your arrival day. This would calm you down, knowing that you already have somewhere to go and someone to contact as you exited the airport.
- Make connections. You can stay with a Couchsurfer. It’s a great way to experience a country from a perspective of a local. You can select a female host to stay with if it makes you feel safer. I would suggest you to stay with someone whose location has been checked, the identity has been verified, has been vouched for, and has hosted several travelers before. Do read people’s recommendations/testimonials about the host. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of staying with a stranger, go for hostels. You can do your research at HostelWorld. Most hostels have reception areas and common rooms where other travelers hang out. Make friends with them, chat about your itineraries and plans, sometimes you can arrange some trips together or tag along with someone. Make conversations with taxi drivers, waiters, shopkeepers. Ask them about the ‘local places’ to eat or shop.
- Don’t look lost. Sometimes we got worried, scared, confused, got lost. But, no matter what, appear calm and confident. Act as if you know what you need to do. When you’re waiting for someone, appear busy. Bring a book with you, so you can read instead of looking lost. Of course, you can also pretend to take photographs or listening to music from your iPod or fake-texting on your phone–but in some places you don’t want to flash your gadgets out. Book is rather safe. If you need to ask for directions, enter a nice hotel/inn/store/cafe and ask the concierge or the bellboy or the storekeeper or the waiter. If you’re out in the streets, ask in front of a group of people who doesn’t know each other, like in a shop, small restaurants, or bus stop–thus if someone is trying to mislead you, other people will catch that and butt in. Trust your gut. When something (or someone) doesn’t feel right, walk away from it.
- Make sure you can contact someone and can be contacted. Even if you don’t have local numbers, make sure that you can make an emergency phone call or send text messages. Have someone to contact in the city you’re in; either someone from your hostel, your embassy, a fellow traveler, or a local friend. Let someone at home–either families and friends know your plans and your whereabouts: your flights, hotels, and so on; at least they have a grip on where to find you. It will make you feel safer.
- Just remember that we are all human after all. We like to laugh and smile and be happy. We like to make friends and enjoy nice conversation. Some things are universal, like kindness. Be positive and see your next destination as an adventure, as a journey to find that kind-hearted person inside of you. Go out and see the world with this frame of mind, and you’ll be able to see beauty everywhere you go–even when it’s hidden in the most unlikely places.
I tried out this recipe from Food.com in an attempt to have a healthy lunch, and it turned out amazingly delicious. Italian-flavored tempe? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Whether you’d like to have it with warm rice or salad, it will turn out just perfect.
- 8 ounces of tempe (I used half of the usual package-size sold in the vegetable seller or supermarket)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (being me, I also added 5 rawit chili to the marinade)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (I substituted this with oregano)
- Cut tempe into cubes
- Marinade the tempe, make sure all pieces are coated, and leave it in the refrigerator for an hour
Batik (/ˈbætɪk/ or /bəˈtiːk/; Javanese pronunciation: [ˈbateʔ]; Indonesian: [ˈbatɪk]) is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009.
I had always wanted to learn how to make batik. The hot wax, the tracing of the lines, the coloring, the patience… I found the process both beautiful and calming; like a meditation practice. The opportunity to learn how to make batik came to me not in Yogyakarta or Solo, but in Ubud, Bali. Adit introduced me to Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai, who own Nirvana—a small inn/gallery hidden in the midst of Ubud’s touristy Gautama Street.
Pak Nyoman is an Ubud-born painter who works with batik, oil paint, and water color. He had been an artist-in-residence at Bondi Pavilion, Sydney and Toorak College, Melbourne, lectured at John Kennedy Hall, Guam University, and exhibited extensively in Australia, Italy, Guam, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland. One morning, together with Adit and his cousin, Uma, I spent a day in Ubud to learn how to make batik.
The very first thing to do is to draw a pattern on the cloth with a pencil. Since it was my very first time, I decided to draw something simple and playful. I ended up drawing Susuwatari (wandering soot/ススワタリ)—that appears in Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away; who got curious due to a sudden appearance of a lotus.
Once the drawing is finished, we continue to the second step: tracing the lines with hot wax. Dip the “canting” pen into the hot wax and make sure the canting isn’t too full, or else the wax will spill out. Before tracing the lines, blow the tip of the canting pen to make the wax flows easier. We need to concentrate during the tracing process and keep the canting pen at the right angle to ensure that the wax will continue to flow without spilling over.
Next, a more relaxing process: coloring! Don’t mix the paint with too much water if you’d like to have a vibrant color. Uma worked on a Balinese drawing with Balinese color that day—the kind you’d be seeing in cloths sold at some small shops along Kuta or Legian street stretch; while Adit worked on something more Japanese with the drawings of a fish in a pond.
Once the coloring is done and the paint is dry, we need to go back to the hot wax. The next step is to glaze the paint (colored areas) with hot wax. We don’t use canting pen for this. We use a brush instead. Dip the brush into the hot wax, and glaze, dip and glaze, dip and glaze. You need to ensure that the colored surface has been glazed perfectly. You can check this by turning the cloth over; the spots you miss will be visible. Pandjul—the son of Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai helped me in checking the missed spots and glazing them; while Bocil, the family dog, was waiting for us to finish with sleepy eyes.
After the glazing, the next step is to color the whole cloth. You can pick the color that you like. The cloth will then be dipped into a color solution of your selection.
And then, it’s time to get rid of all the wax in your cloth. How? By dipping the cloth into a pan of boiling water, of course!
After that, you need to put your cloth to dry… and then you can see the results. Adit and Uma’s cloths turned out seriously stunning and beautiful! They are so talented!
And this one is mine. My batik cloth: Susuwatari Spotted A Lotus :D
Would you like to learn how to make batik, too? If you’re in Ubud one day, come early in the morning to:
Jalan Gautama 10, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud,
Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. (80571)
Phone : +62.361.975415
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : http://www.nirvanaku.com
and please pet Bocil the dog for me!
Gloomy January with its dark cloudy skies and constant downpours made me retreated into my comfy bed, entertaining myself with a bunch of blankets, pillows, cups and cups of hot chocolate and a stack of DVDs. These are some of the movies I would put under my movie selection post this month. I’d call it Raining Romance.
1. Two Lovers
After hailing this movie as one of my all-time favorite, I found out later on that it was inspired by Dostoyevsky’s short story White Nights. And I said to myself, oh, no wonder. It’s a lonely story about Leonard, a guy with a suicidal tendency who falls for his neighbor, Michelle. Everything about this movie is lonely. From the gloomy opening act to the photographs Leonard are taking, the scene at the club where Leonard goes out dancing with Michelle and her friends. I love it when Sandra, a daughter of a family friend, comes along to Leonard’s life. I love it when Michelle’s boyfriend, who happens to be someone else’s husband, talks to Leonard at a restaurant. I adore the twists and turns a little bit too much.
I love Gus van Sant. I love reading his interviews. I love books and movies with misfit characters. I guess those are enough reasons for me to love this movie. It’s about a teenage boy, Enoch, who loves going to strangers’ funerals and befriends Hiroshi, a dead Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II. On one of the funerals, Enoch meets a curious girl, Annabel. Like, seriously, aren’t you going to be intrigued just by knowing these snippets? The movie is visually stunning; and I love every small details of Enoch and Annabel’s lives: the things they do, the things they wear, the things they talk about. And you can read Hiroshi’s love letter here.
3. Bright Star
It’s a beautiful movie and beautiful love story between the poet John Keats and his “girl-next-door” Fanny Brawne. And I love this movie so much because I love letters. Hand-written letters. Hand-written love letters, to be exact. And I am in love with John Keats. And Fanny Brawne’s cat. I am in love with the two of them. I love the recited poems during the movie and the scenes where John and Fanny walked and kissed in the woods. I can relate to Fanny. I can relate to Keats. I want that red sealing wax for my letters. I can’t stop indulging myself to read the selected love letters written by John to Fanny here.
Beth moved in to a new apartment building where she met Adam, her ‘strange‘ neighbor. It is a very grounded yet beautiful movie about loving someone; and whether there are boundaries or limitations in doing so. I love all the small details in the movie: the raccoons, tea, the cleaning of the window, the theatre, those talks about stars and galaxies… and I love Adam, too!
5. Before Sunrise
Jesse and Celine met for the first time on a Eurail train and decided to get off in Vienna and spend one day together. I love the quotes from the movie, the premise of being young and stupid and carefree, the artsy shots around Vienna, the fortune teller, the street poet, the bartender, the cemetery… I’d like to go to Vienna and do my Before Sunrise tour. There’s a sequel to this movie, Before Sunset, but if I have to choose, Before Sunrise is a lot better, and stronger.
6. Like Crazy
Jacob and Anna need to struggle with their long-distance relationship that spans between US and UK. But as it turns out, maybe it’s not really about the long-distance relationship at the first place. Maybe it’s just about the relationship itself. I love the fact that the movie feels real, instead of just plain romantic or pretty. I love the characters’ mean words as they are fighting with each other. I love the silly thoughts Anna has. I love the matter-of-factly way of Jacob. I like it because this is what happens in real life. Sometimes, love sucks.
Seven months and a week after my 29th birthday, I turned 29. It happened yesterday. A Sunday. I was sitting at the dining table with a bag full of chocolate, a great book on love and heartbreak and poets and writers, stacks of hand-written drafts, and a cup of hot tea. I could see the raindrops from where I sat and sniffed the comforting smell of wet soil that was wafting in the air. And suddenly, it felt like whatever I had experienced in life started to make sense.
Maybe we don’t have to understand everything (that can be really frustrating at times). All we need to do is to believe that time is indeed a good friend. Time will tell us what each missing pieces in our lives means—when we are ready to learn another lesson, when we are ready to move on, when we are ready to know the truth (because you can’t change the truth, but the truth can change you, so they say).
And just like that, I turned 29.
And I am still here: counting my blessings; and feeling solemnly content.
Before Christmas, I taught myself how to make truffles. Though it was still a bit tricky for me to make them look good, I had to say that I was happy with my first attempt. So here we go:
- 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (high quality, around 80% cocoa), chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup of whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoon(s) of Baileys Irish Cream
- Cocoa powder
- In a small pan, bring the whipping cream to simmer
- Pour the Baileys Irish Cream, stir it in with the cream
- Place the chopped chocolate in a separate bowl and pour the cream over it
- Stir until smooth (ganache)
- Allow to cool, then place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours
- Roll out balls of the ganache with a teaspoon and place them on a baking sheet
- Refrigerate overnight
- Once it gets harder, roll in cocoa powder
There were moments when people just took off and left you behind; and you thought they were being unfair and selfish. Other times, it was you who decided to pack your bag and leave, and when they said, please, stay, you thought how annoying and unfair they were for trying to tie you down. And now you realize that maybe people are just afraid. Afraid of being alone, again. Afraid of being forgotten. Afraid of being a history…
And it reminded me of that day when we were about to swim in the pool one afternoon, but it was raining cats and dogs; and so we stood there, at the edge of yes or no, with our swimsuits and towels and flip-flops and all. The sound of the rain was deafening, the water was gleaming under the raindrops, the wind was blowing hard and cold, and so we hesitated for a while but then we exchanged a few if-not-now-then-when glances and nodded and hand in hand we plunged ourselves into the freezing water and we could hear ourselves screaming and laughing and water was splashing everywhere and we just knew that we won’t regret this because it was too effing awesome and we were not afraid to take that first leap of faith.
My dear friend Nadia asked me to write a script for her pre-wedding video. We had discussed about the concept of the video beforehand, but I had never seen the video itself until it was finished—and I needed to think about the matching script that would go along with the video’s storyline. The first thing that crossed my mind was the fact that Nadia and her husband, Deni, are totally different; they’re like each other’s opposite. But maybe, to them, that’s love. It’s not about similarities, but about differences.
Maybe love is not about similarities. Maybe love is about differences. About how he loves to play tennis and gets a tan… while she just sits there, cheering, and trying to be cute with an SPF 30 sun protection lotion. Maybe love is not about similarities. Maybe love is about differences. It’s about how she loves all the cute stuff; and how he just doesn’t get it. Maybe love is not about similarities. Maybe love is about differences. About how she loves to capture him with her camera lens, while he loves to capture her with the glance of his eyes. Maybe love is not about similarities. Maybe love is about differences. It’s about how she gets bored easily. And gets excited (easily, too) by random romantic lines. About him being very serious whenever he works; and about her, being annoying, all the time. About him trying to be patient and her trying to be lenient. Maybe love is not about similarities. Maybe love is about differences. About how he tries to be romantic; and how she tries to be thinner. About how she does ridiculous things (sometimes worse than this); and how it makes him smile. Maybe love is not about similarities. Maybe love is about differences. It’s about him being cool; and her anything but cool. Maybe love is about being OK with that, and being lonely without.
*)written for Nadia Sabrina.
Dim, happy (belated) birthday! I am wishing you a great year ahead, full of love and sweet memories to keep! :) And, I know it’s been a while… sudah lama kita nggak menulis untuk satu sama lain seperti dulu. Untuk ulang tahun kamu, let’s do it again, for the sake of the lovely (and awful) memories we have shared along the way.
Oh ya, Dim, ada banyak hal yang terjadi dalam hidupku (will spill all the details when we meet in Bandung)—dan mulainya waktu aku pergi untuk sebulan itu. Aku pergi tanpa mencari apa-apa (selain sedikit pantai, sedikit laut dan sejumput kata-kata), tetapi aku kembali membawa banyak hal tentang hidup. Tentang cinta. Tentang kesempatan kedua. Sewaktu pergi, hatiku kosong. Sewaktu pulang, hatiku penuh dengan setumpuk surat dan puisi yang ditulis tangan, percakapan demi percakapan yang tidak putus-putus selama lebih dari 7 jam, cokelat champagne dan es krim vanila, perjalanan di tengah hujan, genggaman tangan di pagi hari, puluhan huruf X dan D, juga film-film yang diputar di HBO.
Aku diberikan banyak pelajaran tentang menikmati ‘sekarang’, Dim. Masa lalu sudah tidak bisa diapa-apakan, masa depan belum lagi akan datang. Perjalananku membuatku lebih menghargai yang ada ‘sekarang’. Seorang temanku bertanya, what is the sense of life? Aku bilang, mungkin hidup ini adalah lebih tentang kesempatan-kesempatan yang kita raih, daripada kesempatan-kesempatan yang kita lewatkan. Hidup ini adalah tentang sekarang—tentang hal-hal yang terjadi sementara kita sibuk memikirkan masa depan, begitu kata sebuah kutipan yang entah dikatakan siapa.
Teman yang sama bertanya lagi, what is love? Mungkin sama juga. Cinta adalah apa yang terjadi ketika kita tengah sibuk mempertanyakan arti cinta itu sendiri. Mungkin cinta adalah momen. Ketika kamu tengah bersama seseorang dan berpikir bahwa dengan dia di sampingmu, kamu bisa melakukan apa saja. Ketika kamu pergi jauh dan merindukan dia, dan mengetahui bahwa jika kamu harus pulang, tempat yang akan kamu tuju adalah tempat-tempat di mana dia berada. And I-love-yous, maybe they are not forever ever after. Maybe they are moments. Moments you can never get back.
Jadi hadiah ulang tahunku untukmu, Dim, adalah saat ini. Sekarang. Nikmati saat-saat ini, ya, Dim. Setiap momen. Setiap kesempatan. Setiap jalan yang dibukakan. Setiap pertemuan. Karena di akhir hari, kamu akan mengenang semuanya. Mungkin tak seluruhnya indah. Tapi setidaknya, kamu akan mengenangnya tanpa rasa sesal. Dan itu adalah hal terindah yang bisa kita katakan tentang hidup yang sudah kita jalani selama ini.
I have not lived long in this world,
Yet I have learned to take account
Of what I got from life—not much,
But none the less, a fair amount.
It taught me to perceive the good,
Gave me a glimpse of learning’s wealth,
Put love for justice in my soul,
Gave me two Eands to work and health.
It gave me friendship, mutual love,
Although not always strong and deep.
It said: “Go sow thy seed, although
Thy hand may not the harvest reap.”
It also gave me enemies
Who cursed and persecuted me;
It gave me friends who yet were prone
First their own interests to see.
Yet over all I value most
The cup of unjust suffering
Life gave to me, that truth and light
I might perhaps to others bring.
~ What Life Gave, by Ivan Franko ~
Models: Katya, Inna Buryakovska, Julia and her friend, Francois Bellemare, Fransisco Garcia, Kyryl Kurinniy, Ieugenia Petrikina. The people I stumbled upon in Kyiv, Ukraine.
I was on the road for a month, came home for a while to unpack and wash some dirty clothes, then headed out again with clean laundry in my bag. I was traveling alone, again. It began in Kyiv, Ukraine, to El Nido, in the Philippines, and ended up in Ubud, Bali on October 7. The journey had been amazing. It was both mind-blowing and heart-warming. I could not imagine how does it feel for those who had been on the road constantly for 8 months, a year, two years—and I met loads of them along the way.
When I started last September, I thought when I got home I would be busy writing as well as posting stories and pictures, because—why, of course there would be so many things to tell, and too many things to share!
But that was not the case.
The truth is, I still couldn’t get myself to write anything about the places I had visited, the people I had met, or the things that had happened to me—because I simply wasn’t ready.
There were days when I just left my camera in my hostel room; or days when I actually carried it in my bag; but didn’t even bother to capture anything—just because I wanted to be ‘here’ with the whole of my being. There were days when I left my guidebook on my bed and just strolled along the city I barely knew; tried to strike conversations in local language with random people I bumped into; welcomed some strangers’ invitations to hit the street and explore what each crossings had to offer…
The journey had been both liberating and overwhelming; in a sense that: well, I experienced much more first-times in one single month compared to what I had experienced in the last 5 years. That was surprising. Such an eye-opener. And it seemed like wherever I went, people kept sending me this message: “Enjoy the moment. Relax. Don’t rush.”
So, I did. And the result was just amazing, it hit me so hard I felt like I had become a new person. I had become more of myself.
Apart from eating, writing, reading, and sleeping, I spent my Lebaran holiday trying out this Red Velvet recipe from Magnolia’s recipe book (a present for my 29th birthday from Ri). It was indeed quite complicated, so many ingredients, and took quite a lot of time to finish, but it turned out surprisingly well!
Red velvet cake recipe:
- 3 ⅓ cups flour (not self-rising)
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons red food coloring
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- In a bowl, sift the flour and set aside (a)
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixture (medium speed), for around 5 minutes, until it’s light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time (b)
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla, add to (b)
- In a cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. If you have difficulties in finding buttermilk (like me), you can replace it with 1 ½ of milk + 1 ½ tablespoons of vinegar (cider vinegar) and wait for 5 minutes before using it. Add this and the flour (a) to the batter (b). Beat until the ingredients are mixed well
- In a small bowl, stir the cider vinegar and baking soda, then add to the batter (b)
- Bake the batter in the oven, 180oC, for around 20 minutes
- Let it cool
Vanilla frosting recipe:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Beat the butter (medium speed mixer) until it’s creamy and smooth, around 3 minutes
- Add the vanilla extract and the milk
- Add the sugar gradually
- Refrigerate for around an hour before using
Well, you can decorate the cake as usual, meaning: cut the cake in half and spread the vanilla frosting on it. On the other hand, I love love love this cute birdie jar Nia gave me for my birthday, so I decided to store the cake in a jar.
I layered the bottom of the jar with vanilla frosting, then put some of the cake on top of it, and covered it with vanilla frosting, and then the cake, and the vanilla frosting, and the cake, and so on. Then I refrigerated my cake-in-a-jar and used the ice-cream scoop to serve the cake—thus, the Red Velvet Scoop-Cake, served cold! You can have around 30-35 scoops of red velvet with this recipe. Perfect for a lovely summer party! :)