Monday, July 3, 2017

Counting blessings

Today I discovered 3 of the best feelings in the world:

1. Finally knowing the title and artist of a song that has been resounding in your brain for days, without even knowing the lyrics.
2. Watching your pet sleeping peacefully next to you, knowing that s/he is healthy.
3. Making a cold coffee for yourself to freshen up and it actually fulfill your expectations.

A renowned psychologist, Martin Seligman, who is best known for conceptualizing Positive Psychology, once told me to "instead of focusing on what went wrong in your day, write down 3 things that went right, and do this everyday before you go to sleep".

Everyday I try my best to be grateful of the things that I have or happened to me, and Seligman's advice is a very simple way to be so. Once you try to spot those 3 things that went right, you start to notice other good things that happened to you and suddenly you just can't really stop being glad. Satisfied. Positive. Grateful.

I think being grateful is one of the best ways to start feeling happy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I've always woken up to the sound of someone's running: subtle stomps, squeaky shoes. But I wasn't this morning.
I came out of my room and saw a familiar door was closed─it's nothing unusual, it's always been closed. But something felt different.
I walked past a line of mugs on the dining table. All the mugs were full of water, except yours. Yours was empty. It was upside-down.
Things were different because a change was happening. A change that I've longed for so long. A change that I believed would be good.

Then I realized that it would stay that way for God knows how long.

"Good luck for your future endeavors", I guess.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I'm a Grammar Nazi

Okay I appreciate non-English speakers to try talking in English even though it’s broken English with incorrect grammars and pronunciations. I respect the courage to just even try. Even native English speakers are wrong sometimes when they write some words. Dammit, even some of them can’t differentiate “your” and “you’re”.
That doesn’t mean you stop learning and improving. 
English is not my main language either, my English isn’t perfect but at least I don’t intend to stop improving. I correct things I wrote in English every now and then. I’m pretty strict to myself when it comes to grammar (English and Indonesian), so I’m automatically pretty strict to other people, too. For me, the correct grammar applications and word pronunciations show the level of your manners and intelligence (beside your way of talking).
I’m not saying that people who talk wrongly have low intelligence, but it shows that you’re confidence enough with the skill you have right now. Maybe it’s more acceptable when you talk directly, like in conversations, because you can’t keep checking what you want to say/what you’ve said in a dictionary/Google Translate. But when it’s in writings, especially when you write important statements or articles, it just shows that you don’t double check your grammars/pronunciations in the process and you’re just confidence enough to post it publicly.
It’s not because you’re stupid. For me, I think it’s just ignorance. And sometimes stubbornness. Those are the things that keep you away from improvements (not only in this matter but in everything). Don’t get mad when people criticize you. Just take it as their way of saying “you can be better than this”.
So, yeah, never stop learning, people. It’s not hard. We just gotta have the willingness and keep striving to be better.
(If you've read this on my Tumblr, yes, I only copy-pasted it. I think this matter is pretty important and I assume my Blogspot and Tumblr have different readers (if there's even any, haha) so I think this is the way to let this out)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Reasons to hate a close friend of yours

Last night, I spent hours talking on the phone with my best friend.

Me: I'm gonna tell you something that's been bothering me in a long time. This is the kind of thing that I'm afraid to let out, because I'm afraid that the people who are close to me will hate me. Including you, actually.

Him: what is it?

Me: the truth is... I don't really like X, one of my close friends. You know I've spent a lot, like, a lot of time with her these past few years. And I'm not the type of person who hates someone easily.

Him: yeah, I kinda get that hint because you told me some of the stuff she did that you didn't like.

Me: exactly... but you know she and I are in good terms. We never fought, we never had any conflict. Some disagreements maybe, but it's normal, right? That doesn't mean I have to hate someone who doesn't think in the same way I do.

Him: do you hate her or just some things she did?

Me: it's kinda hard to separate those two... I feel like I don't like her in general, I don't really enjoy being with her, and everything she does just... annoy me. Even though she does nothing wrong.

Him: what about her that you don't like?

Me: when I see her, or listen to her, it all feels... fake. Like, everything she does feels fake, it's as if she's acting the whole time to make the best impression. The way she does things, the way she talks, the way she thinks... feels not genuine. I mean, I know she had helped me with so many things, and when she's helping me, it feels sincere, not acting at all. But other times, like how she lives her life in general, doesn't feel that way. It's weird, right? I don't even know if that's true.

Him: maybe you're jealous of her? Is there something she got or has that makes you feel envious?

Me: I don't think so. Every event that happened in her life or everything she has that I know of is not what I want for me.

Him: hmm...

Me: there were some things she said that elevated my feelings of dislike... Like, if usually my level of dislike toward her is 5, and then she said something that triggered me so it rose up to level 10. But then in general it lowered down to 5 again.

Him: probably you're just incompatible to each other, you know?

Me: incompatible how? I lasted 3 years being close with her and we barely fought each other!

Him: maybe both of you are just very different in many ways. You're just too A and she's just very Z. All this time you expect and assume her to be A but you never realized that she's actually Z. So when she does Z, it annoys you. And then the environment forces you to be close with her because you're in the same group of friends. That way you're with her all the time, whether you like it or not.

Me: I see your point, it's like two same poles of magnets. The closer they are, the stronger they repel each other.

Him: yeah, except that you and her are two extremely different poles, which makes this weird...

Me: lol no kidding. So what do I have to do?

Him: just act normal, you know. I know you often say mean things to people even though you don't mean to hurt them, but just be aware of what you'd say to her. Don't hurt her on purpose. It's not her fault to be the opposite of what you are.

Me: yea... okay.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don't call us "ghosts": a review of "Gerbang Dialog Danur"

Yesterday I bought a book entitled "Gerbang Dialog Danur" written by Risa Saraswati (click on the name to visit her blog). I finished reading it in a day because it's quite thin for a novel and the writing style is pretty light. Despite it's horror-themed (I'm actually a coward when it comes to ghost stuff), for me it's not actually very much horror. There are life lessons that you can learn from this book that made it not so scary.

Hasil pencarian dari Google Images. It's eerie, I know.

My curiosity about this book and its author started 5 days ago when I hung out with my friends from college and my friend Citra started this conversation about an allegedly indigo lady named Risa Saraswati. Risa Saraswati is somewhat famous for her ability to see "what other people can't see". She makes songs and books about her friendships with "them".

A bit later I realized that that wasn't the first time I heard about Risa Saraswati. I found out about her band, Sarasvati, around 2011-2012 and saw their music video, called "Perjalanan". The song was too creepy for my taste but the video itself was interesting; it was made using stop-motion technique. I'm a sucker for Indonesian indie bands and I think that's how I found out about Sarasvati. But that was it, that was all I know. I never had any idea that their songs are based from real "ghost stories".

So I read "Gerbang Dialog Danur" yesterday, expecting it to be scary and was prepared if I couldn't finish it. But my expectation wasn't met.

The book made me cry. I friggin' cried reading a book that supposed to be scary.

Most of the chapters were very sad... and the ending was so sweet it melted me into tears.

Basically, it tells the stories of Risa Saraswati's friendships with her 5 "ghost" friends when she was still a little girl. Those "ghosts" were all Dutch boys that lived in Bandung during the time the Netherlands invaded Indonesia. It is said that they were all murdered by Japanese armies when the Japanese were trying to take over Indonesia. Her childhood friendships with them were considerably happy although it kinda messed up her social life with the living people. The book also contains some stories about her friendships and meetings with "ghosts" other than those 5 boys.

I'm not gonna lie, some chapters about her meetings with other "ghosts" are friggin' scary because of their depicted appearances, not to mention that some of them just came out of nowhere to "tease" Risa. I mean,WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, RANDOM "GHOSTS"!? Have you gotten so bored that you decided to just pop out and distress people? Ugh.

But the stories about her sincere friendships and about how the boys lived, the way they thought (I'm sure all of those things were told by them but Risa wrote it in a more... literature-y way), I mean, they were all just boys when they died. The oldest one, Peter, was only 13 years old. The way they thought and acted were only things their parents taught them, they only just learned how to act or think in certain ways that were deemed acceptable at the time. They didn't understand why they were taught to hate the indigenous Indonesians. They didn't understand why they were killed by people they had never seen before.

Okay so here's what I learned from "Gerbang Dialog Danur":

  • People weren't born racist. Racism is taught and learned and it is nothing but bullsh-t. Those boys were taught racism but one of the things that made them "survived" as "ghosts" was their friendships with someone they were taught to hate.
  • I see the stories about those boys more like an anti-war message than horror stories. Almost like when watching "Grave of the Fireflies". War is the most selfish thing that can happen, so selfish that it sacrifices innocent people who don't really understand what's going on.

Lastly, apparently "Gerbang Dialog Danur" is gonna be released as a movie. The trailer is up on YouTube.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"Even if it's not stylish... keep on living." - Hideyoshi Nagachika

People often say, "even if the going is tough now, keep living, and it'll get better".
Easy for them to say.
Just living is the most painful thing.
If it would release me from my regrets, I'd gladly die right now.
- Kakeru Naruse

So in the past year I'm hooked to a manga/anime series called "Orange". I accidentally found the manga when it was still ongoing like a year ago. Turned out it has one of the best story ever written in manga history (for me. And I'm not just saying this because I'm kind of an otaku.). It has a live-action movie adaptation, too.

Here's a poster

Aww look at that group of friends, they look so happy and cute together, all laughing like that. "Orange" must be a cheerful comedic story about these guys, right? WRONG.

It's one of the most tear-jerker movies I've ever watched. And I've watched a lot.

"Orange" has a theme of friendship, a tiny bit of romance, depression and suicide. Dang, right into the deep stuff. But yes, it's true. It's very deep but oddly relatable. It tells a story from a girl's perspective, Naho Takamiya, where she suddenly received a letter from herself in the future. Yes, it has a sci-fi element to it but not too much, not so illogical so it doesn't make the story ridiculous. The letter told her to save her friend/crush, Kakeru Naruse, from depression and to prevent him from committing suicide. Originally, Naho is already a group of five with those people in the poster except Kakeru (the one sitting in the middle), while Kakeru  has just transferred to Naho's school. As a very shy person, Naho has to overcome her shyness and save Kakeru with the help of her friends. It's very touching, really. I cried a bucket reading/watching all its franchises.

Kakeru Naruse

The thing that hits home for me is about handling the person who suffers from depression. I met two people who had it. One I was able to give a hand to, the other one I wasn't. That other one tried to took her life one day but thank God she was able to be saved. The day it happened haunted me so bad because she's someone I get to meet literally everyday, and I just talked with her in the morning of. I felt deep, deep regrets because I actually knew about all her problems, how she was being abused by her husband on daily basis, mentally and physically, but I didn't help her. Partly because I didn't know how to, and partly maybe because I was an ignorant jerk. Thankfully she's all better now, she said she gained her will to live once again and I still meet her everyday.

One other thing that I think relatable to real life is how the depression itself felt. In the 12th episode of the anime, there's a part from Kakeru's perspective where he does the narrating. He tells the story of how he feels what he feels right now in chronological order, and he describes how it feels (which is what I quoted in the beginning of this long babble). I for one have never experienced depression myself. As a psychology student, I only know the symptoms of depression from text books. And what Kakeru depicts in the whole story... matches all the symptoms. How he starts to lose interest in his passion, which is soccer, how he thinks he's somehow hurting the people he loves and it makes him isolating himself, and other things.

All I'm saying is, if you would like to get a better understanding about depression and how to help people who suffers from it, read/watch this. If you're not into anime or if you think reading the manga would be too long, just watch the live-action movie. It's altered a bit but you'll still get the point. I personally recommend watching the anime because the screenwriter and the director put some funny conversations in it, but any form at all, dude.
Green Tea