2013: A full spectrum of rainbow

In 2013, my biggest lesson-learn is, life is not always a ban of rainbow.
And unsurprisingly, it has always been like that the year before. Or the year before. Or the year before. It has been like that for all the time.

I might not have the remarkable new year’s eve party. In addition that I did not have someone to exchange kisses with when the Times Square ball dropped and everyone cheered. It felt like another week-end in the neighbourhood and I ended up in the dive club with crappy music. The only thing to celebrate was, I was there with friends. Also, I survived another year and hopeful for the upcoming year.
I pledge for AWESOME 2013 as my punch-line, yet the year started shakily. I might not cope with winter very well for feeling extremely cold in the middle of snowball fight in Central Park. The light vanished quickly, and I hurried to the nearest cafe for emotional support of a cup of Irish coffee. I didn’t manage to brave the cold this time, but the warmth is something to be thankful afterward.
I might not succeed my mission in emergency response with flying marks. I felt tired of working for something I was not fond of and for no logical reason in the background. My product catalogue contains none and I went home empty handed. But home, is always the place where I am loved unconditionally. Here are people who hug me, laugh with me and told me that I was the best person in the world to be with. And it does not matter whether I am cute or awesome or ordinary.
Cherry Groove was one of the remarkable destinations of 2013. The Atlantic Ocean breeze, the never ending boardwalk and oh the deer! Those deer marched into the sunset, how pretty! It was a perfect mellow trip for a birthday getaway. The next day all the cozy hotel rooms were fully booked and I had nowhere to go but going back to the city. I pouted while lying on a rainbow deck, hesitant to jump into the next ferry. But, the city is my home now, and is there anything that I don’t like about it? Nope!
That I might not ended up in 2013 with the person I fell in love with in 2012. I burst into tears, and cursed John Mayer for his line: when you’re dreaming with a broken heart, waking up is the hardest part. And for once, everything was blurry. What was the point living in the greatest city of the world if I don’t live it with you? What’s the point of being wonderful? Oh sappy story of 2013, don’t tell me that you didn’t have that ;)

But they say it was the crack that lets the light in. Every slips and stumbles were merely reasons to get up. Every tears and weep worth the smile afterward. And I bravely take it as a chance to experience the full spectrum of human emotions. Surprisingly, I felt better.

And here I am at the edge of 2013. And was the best way to experience the bumpy year? To bear life with happiness. After all, it’s my favourite human emotions.

But I now know a place with rainbows scattered all around :)

Mom, you go ahead let your hair down..

And then my iPod which in shuffle mode played 'Girl, put your records on, tell me your favorite song..'. I feel like turning the volume out loud and singing with all my heart. Because, saphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams. You go ahead let your hair down.’

This is one of songs who poked and trigered big effect on me, gave me enormous power I didn't know I had before. This song made me holding on with smile, with firm steps and with positive vibe. And at times like this, I want to pinned the youtube video down on my facebook wall and tag my Mom along. Or maybe send the MP3 song via e-mail to her. Or ask my brother to play the song inside the car during their ride home.

But, Mom doesn't do youtube, and doesn't have a proper MP3 player. Hers already broke a long time ago, erasing all of her Siti Nurhaliza's songs.

And more ever, Mom might not get the lyrics, which for me are the most prominent part of the song. Wouldn’t be funny if I translate it with my limited language conversion skill. At time like this, I’m running out of clues of what to do to share strength. I suspect if I had any left. But really, all I want is to hug Mom and despite of the cliche everything has reasons, I would sing out loud to her ears “Mom, you’re gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow.”

This summer. This year.

I miss reading people personal stories. Dear bloggers, why did you quit? *sigh*
Life is too quiet for a summer, but nevertheless I think this year will be marked by my state of happiness. In many previous years I was unconsciously in the midst of it but in a constant seek. Now that I know it is there, I am swimming in the sea of joy. That was kinda chessy and exaggerating , yeah I know. But feeling is something that I can’t manipulate. I can make it go, though.

Looking back to December 2007, the conversation I had with a beautiful friend lingered. She shook my shoulders “You are settling in!” while I was feeling miserable. Then off I go to around the world adventure.

And after all years and continents I stepped on, has this adventure ever ended? Never. But don’t look at me as an all-time girl-with-backpack type. As much as I think it looks cool to have outdoorsy carrier behind your back,  I pay respect to my shoulder, my body and soul by offering them more sleep. Dear heart, don’t you like extra hours of snuggling?
So yeah, summer is thrilling, and New York is endless fun. This world is still too wide and time is too short. And I don’t mind packing up for a trip to Addis or cooking another chicken white curry.

Grumpy Kid

It was just another morning I was caught up in a long arguments in the messenger groups. We were a bunch of kids who used to sit in the same class for three consecutive years. Now, we have part as singers, researchers, moms, teachers, and life traveler.
I escaped the conversation because it was unbearable. Nothing was really serious anyway, it was just the boy kid around sending pictures of sexy girls with big boobs. But it hurts my feeling for reason I don’t know why. I shot down nasty words, and told them that they have degraded women by making them as sex objects and joke around about it. None of the girls protested while I was pretty sure if the conversation would have done in real person, I could scream out loud in high pitch voices.
 I was also scared of my self. This little girl who used to be pretty laid back and hide her words, suddenly was too vocal. Too loud. I ditched the phone into my handbag and decided to pedal my bike in a rush.
And during the ride I thought about a lot of things. About my friend who mostly now are married with kids. About how gorgeous the summer day is and one can only appreciate it after enduring the winter. About New York life that is insanely interesting. About families back in Indonesia and what matter the most to them. Then I was lost in the midst of my own thoughts.
 I thought I have learn a lot to be a better person and I think this morning I failed at best. Where is the girl who’s understanding, in tolerance and wittily smart? Who is this loud female creatures screaming out to boys and told them how to behave? Why didn’t I just laugh out loud with the others? Don’t you love innuendo and lame sex jokes?
 Apparently, getting in touch with long lost friends doesn’t always recall the feeling of a homecoming queen. For sure, I’m not the same anymore. I changed, maybe a little too much. I just can’t deal with this society who’s nosy and asks too many too personal questions. I got irritated by this guy always fishes out with bias questions, do you do sport before bed? I know he was trying to sound funny and triggered laughters from others, while in my opinion he just crossed my boundaries.

The red light flashed and I stopped by the 34th Street junction and smells a coffee lingers in the air. What’s the matter with you and the world? Who’s right and what’s wrong with the other one? I thought that life was getting very good, and probably people are just jealous, no?
I took a right and forget that I have to go straight, decided to stop by at he cafe.

Maybe it is not me or them. Maybe, it is just the kind of morning before caffeine.

To the wonder

Last weekend I hung out with a girl-friend who recently did a solo back packing trip to Mexico. It sounds so exotic, adventurous and daring. A single girl with her backpack, travelled to a foreign country alone. I smiled in admiration of her. And maybe a tiny bit for myself.

Because I did few of solo backpacking trip years back. And it felt awesome. It was scary at the beginning then I get excited once I had my 20ltr backpack in tow. I would not mind to do it again and again.

Solo or not, people tend to relate me with traveling. Maybe that based on the pictures I put on social media For sure, traveling sends me the tingles, when things look new and exciting before my eyes. It awakened the muse in me, constantly poked me to write and capture the wonder.

But the truth is, I hardly travel in the last two years. I did couple of trips, but that was just a small number in comparison to what I did, let’s say in 2007. Oh the beaches I’ve gone in 2007! Not a single trip involved turquoise water in the past two years. But nevertheless, I’ve seen pretty scenery in numerous little corners of town and villages.

And the most honest truth is, traveling becomes a n intimate and personal journey to me. It’s not anymore places I’ve been, faces I’ve seen and things I did in all the trips. It’s more about the feelings that linger. The notion I noticed between train stops, or the thought I have during the cloud watching.

I did couple of sacred trips that I can’t share with the world. Simply because I don’t see the point of sharing it with anyone except myself and my inner circle. I managed to accomplish cross country skiing and going downhill without stumbled out of losing balance. I had a subtle kiss looking over an aqua duct structure. Rock n roll memorabilia captivated me and I step on the hills of Star Wars shooting location. I flew down to meet a strong beautiful lady who managed to be backbone of her family. I fell in love with weaving (the handsome tutor eventually kicked us out). And oh yeah, I did jumped into frozen water couple of times.

It gratifies that destination is not important anymore. No point in showing a map of pinpointed cities I’ve visited. I don’t want my life stops when my frequent flyer miles deteriorate to none. I hope people would stop judging me based on how many pictures of me posing in front of famous landmark of the world.

Because, I want them to envy me on normal Thursday night, dressed in over worn t-shirt and boxer short. I want them to poke me, asking tips on how to spend less and stay excited on normal week nights. Also, I’d like them to be jealous when they see me walking home alone on Saturday night. How did you put the smile on? How can you live life to the fullest even without a stamp on your passport?

So, I smiled to the wanderer friend and attentively listened to her story. How exciting life is in the eyes of people who actually see the world. I turned down the volume of Fragments of Time and shook my head. No, I don’t have any plans yet for the summer except enjoying New York sun and summer fun.

Uhm, but can I have just a little one wish? Oaxaca and not alone, please.

Illusion of the day

Of all things I learn through the midst of my life recently, I noticed that happiness is an illusion. It’s a mind trick.
Have you ever feel everything is warm and the sun is gorgeous and there’s nothing you’d rather be than the street you stroll each morning you get out of the house? I secretly think, it is something like that. But it turned out, happiness is not a sum of sunshine and good weather and the smell of magnolia.
Maybe it’s in the sun, or it’s in the snow. Maybe it’s in the spring and a little bit in the fall. Maybe it’s the time you open your eyes in the morning after a recharging straight 9-hours sleep. But maybe it’s in the morning you have hangover and drag yourself out of your bed, but nevertheless you had a nice conversation the night before.
Maybe it’s in the greenest green tea frappucino you ever have ordered.
And it’s possible that happiness sprinkles you in the middle of sun salutation. It also slips in you while you sit quietly in the class with a fascinating topic that you feel like you want to do it for the rest of your life. And it could be the read between the lines after pages of good reading in Saturday morning.
I suspect, it was also happiness when I spent hours in a little cafe in the corner, and that was not because of the kick-ass tiramisu, but rather caused by a warm conversation with the owner. But as I finished the cake, and went home did the happiness evaporate? I hold on to the feeling by imagining each sensation happened in my mouth during the digestion process.
And what else do you want to feel? Contentment and relieve? Practicing compassion and kindness?  I smile to myself, because I also want to be in love. And I don’t mind to do it in a cheesiest possible way. But, how big does it add to the sum of all equation of happiness? A half heart and less brain?
And I can go on and on listing all of things that trigger that warm and fuzzy feeling. But I must stop here to remind you again. It’s all a mind trick.  Let’s face it, life is a series of disasters . Nobody ever tell you that it’s a straight road ahead without bumps and turns and always good weather. But you’ll get there somehow. Maybe you will arrive bruised and wounded, along with smile and tears. But it’s actually more up to you to decide what to feel.
And of all the things you want to feel  along the journey, don’t you just wanna be happy?

So maybe, after all, I’ll be fine and dandy. And happy.

Best read while listening to: Hard Candy Christmas - Tracey Thorn, which originally was written by Dolly Parton. Here.

Next Monday

Because it’s Monday and I only functions as good as a half brain. 
I woke up in Monday morning with the line ‘Who’s next, who’s next...” lingering in my head. I made a pledge to listen to the rest of the song by the time I get to the office. It is Oh, the Divorces!, a so much mellow song that often makes me want to stop the world just to let the feeling flow.
I didn’t remember whose song it is, so I checked on spotify. It is a part of Emma Morley mixtape, of course.
Apparently, Tracey Thorn wrote the song as a part of her solo project album. And who the hell is Tracey Thorn? She’s a half of Everything but the Girl. I hope the name rings a bell. Missing? No?
Anyway. The rest of  the gloomy Monday has been perfectly lulled by Tracey Thorn’s songs. My heart skips a beat when the Night and Day rolled. This is very beautiful.

I wonder, why Monday frequently turns on the mellow tone? Is Monday is jealous of Sunday? Sunday is easy, wanted and difficult to part.  European Sunday is less exciting but it lives a contentment to begin the week with. Party on or sleeping in, doesn’t really matter.
Last Sunday, I ended it with walking home from Otto’s bar, hand in hand with a dear friend while talking about moving on to Hawaii next year. It was a fine spring night, the first night I went out in shorts during the year. My friend walked in a funny gesture, because his boots were too tight. I told him, it’s boots-off from now on.  But he is a blues frontman, he needs boots to complete the performance.

Previously, I danced to his songs in happiness. I took a Japanese girl by the hand and we awkwardly wiggled in our shy Asian way. I goofed around and then took a rest in a sitting corner with one of  my dance partners. A bottle of free beer in hands while we were talking about life and what to do next. No, I didn’t hooked up nor fell in love nor infatuated nor went somewhere instead of home. My dear friend finally joined me with his guitar in tow and I kissed his cheek. Later in the night, a guy cornered me with a question followed by a dissappointed look “Why did you hit me?” when I said that I was going home.  I giggled and dragged the guitar with me.

So yeah, I wrapped up Sunday with a mixed feeling in my heart. A warmth sensation that I walked by someone that I wanna be with. Is this how people feel when they talk about compassion? What about love? The spring air was such a delight and I know that life is getting very good. But, I guess I broke another heart that night. Not sure it was that guy’s or mine. 
Who’s next?
Who’s next?
Always the ones
That you least expect
- Tracey Thorn


That every single moment in our life left emotional bruises or maybe scars in our cells. They eventually are healed and invisible, but you can feel they exist. And you think you have shaken them off, washed the wound and moved on with life. But sometimes the tiny particles remains and you have been dragging the guilt all around.
I have never realized this until I unconsciously checked my facebook timeline. He has just changed his cover photo. I don’t remember what the picture it used to be, but now his page has this banner where in the picture he was playing in an endless puddle of mud with a piece of board. Looking all playful and cute.
Then my brain suddenly worked in a speed mode. My cells yearn and I have this vivid memory of me and him again. I wasn’t there bracing the mud with him. That day I believe I was busy climbing mountain with my bulky differential GPS and we were miles away. During those times, we also had a burden in connection. My cellphone worked on roaming so I had limited a call reception and of course clumsy him, his cellphone fell of the muddy water. But that time, we were together.
Even almost three years since our moment has passed, the feelings remains. It seems like the muscles of my heart vibrated. Affection, attachment, longing, sharing, our mutual fondness to each other and many more. All these sweetness eventually were tangled in distance, confusion, rejection, hurts and a world apart. We ended up in a different path.
I always thought that it will be best to keep the memory alive. Sure. And I can live on with these things, because like it or not, they are a part of me and shaped who I am today. Of course I am proudly shout I have over him. Over over over him. I have fallen in and out love many times after afterward, and if you ask me would I want him back? I would utter NO without thinking twice.
But why do the feelings linger? Why does the hurt still hurts, and the sweetness makes me smile? Can I keep my self neutral or ratherly flat towards him? I am a girl with many emotions, let me be alive with my past. No?
I let go a heavy sigh. I guess, no matter how strong I am or at least I want to be, I need to do something about my past. Something brainwash and the like, remember Lacuna.inc? The universe conspire me to practice forgiveness and I am fumbling back and forth on this. What should I do to forgive him? I thought I already did.
I checked on his facebook banner once again. He or whoever wants to join, can play forever in a puddle of mud. Because though it is dirty, it is still fun anyway. But I guess not me, and  it is not because I don’t like playing with dirt. But this time, I’m gonna grab my scrub body wash and striped towel then take a long deep thoroughly hot shower instead.

counting the days

This is what winter is all about.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”  ~Rumi

Lamsenia (again)

I wrote too much about Lamsenia in this blog. Because, Lamsenia has always been my sanctuary. After I left Banda Aceh, couple of times I had this dream about Lamsenia. It often slips between my sleeps whenever I feel like diving into the lowest point of life. I rarely had the dream these recent days, but I guess I don’t mind to have a screening in my head in the near future.

I don’t remember all my dreams about Lamsenia precisely, but there was one that I remember the details. This one appeared during a tough time of my master thesis in Netherlands. It was winter.
As usual, the dream started out quiet and slow. The early scene was dark, then after a while there was a dim light. The dominant color was greenish, very similar with the actual Lamsenia. Through out the dream, Lamsenia was captured with a grey vignette and a thick silence in the background.
I guess it was early morning of Lamsenia, I was in my overworn red t-shirt with Palm Beach written across chest. I broke the silence while running towards the creek of Sarah river, shouting “Abaaaahhhh!” in high pitch voice and high in endorphin.
Of course, Abah was there, sitting quietly on the edge of a giant rock. Looking cool in his scarf and shorts. He looked at me and smile. We are always happy to see each other, for no reason at all. I sat beside him and interrupted his fishing session. We chatted a little and cracked together with inside jokes immersed in local dialect. He was a piece of home in this northest part of Sumatra island.

Spontaneously I jumped into the water. A failed attempt to create a massive splash but I plunged into the lake happily. The water felt a bit cold, sunrise has not shared enough heat yet. But I felt nothing but warm, and content. I did several duck dives until tired, then decided to do my favorite activity ever: swimming on my back. I swam backward while staring at the sky, the beautiful rocks and a thin smile of Abah. I swam in circle ‘till I had nothing to think about, to fear and nothing was important but me soaking in the serenity of nature.
I heard Abah called me, he finally catched some fish. I was all hungry and jumped out of the water following him to prepare grilled fish. In the dream, I watched the girl in wet red t-shirt climbed on the rock then walked jumpily beside Abah. Both had glowing smiles and illuminated faces by the golden ray of morning sun.

I woke up with a strange feeling in my heart. It felt like I had gone through a deep meditation as if I was trying to reach a bliss that buried under my skin. A spot inside that contains a positive vibrant energy. A gentle reminder, that I know life has been tough, but this lucid dream of Lamsenia always manages to convince me that everything is gonna be alright.

not-so-fun part of nyc life

this got nothing to do with nyc, but this happens in nyc.

Somehow I miss the secure feeling of living in Kebon Sirih. How I love my fave spot, my corner and every inch of my room. My room to grow. I miss the time when I can always depend on Tanti and Niken and whatever we’re going to do in the house.
I miss those time when I have no burden on my shoulders, nothing but simply enjoying, exploring the city. Why oh why, recently life seems to be harsh at me. It seems that every turns bring surprise. Not always a terrible one. But not always the good one.
I miss the time when I used to sit or walk or sleep beside Niken. Because with her present, there’s always this serenity in the air. That I know there’s a sincere person who will always lend her helpful hands without hesitation and nothing to expect in return.
I miss the time when I can hide behind Lioni, knowing that her big body and bold personality protect me really well. That she always speaks the truth, bitch-slaps us in the face for our own good. That is the fact that she has huge heart and only wants the best thing happens to us.
I miss the time whenever I can drag Mindang to do anything, and anything we did was alway fun, with laughters as rewards. That this world is so much fun to explore, and there’s always happiness in every corner we seek.
Hhh... I miss the time whenever the four, or rather ten of us are together. That I know I have all the best people on earth to complete my life. That I know we can always count on each other, have a good time together and face the world not so alone.

That Rockaway feeling

I can feel it’s ending. That Sundays, when everyone rushed to the beach just because we had unseasonably warm weather in late September, ...