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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

America From The (Non) American Eyes

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide for those who have too little." ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt in his Second Inaugural Address

Like most people in my generation, I grew up with "America". I learn my English from Sesame Street, my puns and phrases from the ever delightful TV series (think Quantum Leap, Remington Steele, P.S. I Love You, Hart to Hart, LA Law, tv series that has real story in it and not just obscene shopping scenes and drunkness in various degree). I learn my wooing from US singers and songs, my jokes from Readers Digest and The Cosby Show, my sarcastic and witty humor from Garfield and Hollywood movies. I got my knowledge from National Geographic, and news from Yahoo, Time, and New York Times. Dean Koontz's Stranger mesmerize me, as well as Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. I see things Malcolm Gladwell's way and still believe in kindness due to tender-age brainwash by reading plenty of Chicken Soup for the Soul. In some degree, America helped me define who I am. 

It is hard not to be fascinated with America. No, I am not talking about the good living condition or the so-called-prestige of visiting or even staying in US. These things do not attract me. What is so rich about America is the ever going strive to be better. The pilgrims of Mayweather, the Founding Fathers, the Civil War for the slaves' freedom, all the way to the recent years of race equality, women's rights, and even sexual preference's rights. And it is not just in politics. The roaring 20s, the jazz, the swing, the hip hop beat, they all bore the same characteristic of variation and attempt to be better. A country founded by it's own people (as opposed to be founded and governed by monarch) it is not hard to understand why Freedom is such a big issue in America, and why it permeates everything. America connote with Freedom.

The Freedom and basic mentality to be better (or best) allows US citizen to grow and expand their potentials, and more importantly, to have faith in their country. My boyfriend once explained that US goverment will never make rules that will hindrance their people. Opinions aside (there can never be one rule or even anything in this world that can please everyone), I can't imagine how nice it would be to be able to have faith in your own government. Coming from a developing country, the promise of clean dedicated government which I can have faith in is an obscene luxury; as well as hearing rhetoric like the above and actually moved by it and believe it wholeheartedly (which I actually did. Thanks for giving me cause, Mr. Roosevelt!).

[Of course at the risk of sounding bias and being subjective Indonesia is and will always be my pride and joy: the vast beautiful island country, rich in resources, breathtaking in view/to see, warm in her people's friendliness, elegant and radiant in her deeply rooted cultures. I would assume a British made the same patriotically-laced comment about UK, a Dutch about Netherland, and so in and so forth. Each country in the world has it's own uniqueness and positive side, and to say one is above others is as legitimate as saying dubstep trumps swing. Each to his/her own preference.] 

I gladly admit that my opinion here can be freely dismissed as inaccurate. I am a (non) American woman, and my opinion about America is as valid as opinion of a spectator in a football match. I am not the one who ran yards away, nor getting pinned by the massive hitman erm bulky opponent and got skull fracture. But it is worthy to note that despite all the hatred and troll commenting over the internet, despite the pre-election tension and lengthy economic crisis, Americans stand on their true value: freedom. It is now back to Americans to make America a great country, one that is envisioned by her founding fathers and believed for hundreds of years by her citizens. And beside, I could always use more delightful soul-lifting-swinging-jazz ;-).

NOTE: for a glimpse of what Indonesia is all about, feel free to read below.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Swan Princess

It was another family gathering with mum, and the situation can't be more different than 10 months ago.*

*Read my demise that time at:

Just like last January, I was bombarded with questions about my relationship status (which I happily unwilling to share, I have no desire to whet their thirst for hot juicy gossips). The difference is, this time I was also being showered with offers for eligible husband-to-be. Corporate owner, civil servant, pharmaceutical salesperson, wide variety of men with various age (Q: this man is slightly younger than you but he'd be perfect! Me: oh no thanks, I'm not interested in teenagers; Q: my long lost cousin is a bit mature, but he will take good care of you! Me: Does he has nurse from retirement home on call?). As my priest clan spread throughout Bali and we are interconnected with each other, the variety is unimaginable.


It is a stark difference compared with last time. I recall trying to helplessly to get someone from my clan (the women in my clan were obliged to marry a man from our clan else being kicked out of the family), but nobody was willing to introduce me even the slightest. Now, they are busy giving me offers and wanting me within their family. Something change in me, something that made me look, ah, better. Well, I am loved. And with that I grew stronger, become more beautiful, and shines brighter. The ugly duckling has turn into a pretty swan; and with a stroke of magic and love from her Prince, the swan will become a Princess.


Metaphores and childish fantasy aside, what's the logic behind my change? Is it because I am loved? Why is it being loved makes one grow and prosper? Why is it people who claimed they love each other end up in a worse state than before they are together? I believe love is important, but there I think there is one part of love that is more crucial than others: acceptance. Love is accepting someone for who they are, making them feel good about themselves, making them have more confidence and faith in themselves. Love and pampering will make a content ugly duckling; love, acceptance and proper endorsement will make her a swan.


I am very very lucky. I am lucky enough to be loved by a man who loves, accepts, and endorses me in the best possible way; but I am also very lucky to be able to acknowledge those things from him. I met so many women and men that lament how unsupportive their spouse is, even though to me I think their spouse has moved the mountain for them. Sure, it is easy for me. It's so happen that me and my partner have the same way of thinking, you can probably put half of my brain in his and vice versa and we can still live  our normal life (albeit strange tendency for me to peek cleavage and for him to devour chocolates). I know and appreciate his love and what he has done for me, and he know and appreciate my love and what I have done for him. We accept each other and this is, for me, what makes us a very strong team and differentiate us from most couple.


I will not argue that a man like him is hard to come by (and I definitely not trying to brag my luck here. I think I spent all my good karma to get him). However, acceptance is a choice. It is a commitment to find and see the good side of your partner, and to understand the bad side: what triggers it and how to ease it. Acceptance is a commitment to become "us". And as with all choices, it is yours to make. You probably can't make Johnny Depp/Mila Kunis in love with you, but you can choose to accept your partner for what he/she is even though he/she is not Johnny Depp/Mila Kunis/a hybrid of both (eerie!!!). After all, if you can't see the good side or can't (or unwilling) to understand the bad side of your partner then what is left in your relationship?


Back to the gathering, one of my distant aunt was reciting the cars that this certain potential-husband-to-be has (4 and counting. The bachelor is apparently rich). I cant help picturing a mental image of him with his car keys and my partner with his dobro. The poor bachelor doesn't stand a chance. Acceptance breeds comfort, comfort breeds trust, trust breeds loyalty. As if the prospect to be with someone who shines above the rest is not good enough, you'll get to keep him/her forever too. Acceptance is no small feat though, and my partner and I have spent arduous time to establish this. At the times where we just can't seem to accept each other, it was our commitment to become "us" (which, in a way, our acceptance of the concept "us") that keeps us in our track.


So fold your hankies and dry your tears. Throw that gin and tonic away, as well the mega triple bacon and steak cheese subway sandwich. Be joyous and hopeful as love and the joy of life is yours to keep. That is, if you choose to accept them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Confession of a "Mistress"

"Once they saw you, they would think either I got a stint in a Southeast Asia country or getting a mail-order bride." - Boyfriend

Ouch. Not a very pleasant prospect.

I met and started dating my boyfriend a few months ago, and as much as I love him I found that people's reaction towards me quite annoying. From his side of the world I was labeled gold digger, from my side of the world I was labeled gold digger as well. We had Facebook comments that clearly accusing me of gold-digging activities (or to boyfriend's sarcastic retorts for the hater: greencard-digging activities); we had people calling me his "mistress" or even suggest that he's my John in Bali. It frustrates me because, well, I'm neither.

The "Mistress" labeling was disgracing for both of us. It implies I have very low goal and ability, and implies that my boyfriend was not good enough that the only one he can get is a "third-world country gold-digger" or a "green-card pursuer". As a matter of fact, I believe that we have a much better relationship than most people, albeit the 14000 km distance. We communicate daily, only interrupted if it's bed time. We would talk about our work and goals and ambitions. We encourage each other to pursue what we do best (he's an inventor, I'm a writer). We play Words with Friends constantly and actively trying to slay each other in it. We had discussions about Christianity and religious views at 7 in the morning, and Sumerian numerical base at 7 in the evening. We love each other in such a way that we compete on showing the others how much we really care and love. What's so gold-digging about that?

I can see the reason why people accusing me of using him to get a better life. Indonesia is notoriously well known for its corruptions, poor human rights equality, and low wage. The thing is (and this is what most people are not aware of, both on my side and his), Indonesia is the most beautiful and magical place to live. At least in my biased opinion. The people are friendly as we have learned to live with different sub-race and religions and beliefs for hundreds of years; I can go to the beach right after work; I can eat delicious Balinese Paella for only IDR 3000 (about 33 cents in USD); I can go praying and indulge in the exotic aroma of flowers and incense while hearing the beautiful gamelan playing. It is not a place that I would be happy to leave, and I would probably never think of leaving if Destiny didn't come calling. I have more to lose by leaving my country: my job, my family, my friends, basically every thing that I know in life. The only thing that kept me going is my desire to be with my boyfriend daily, creating a family and erase the agonizing physical distance we have now.

To be fair, the way some women act also give bad reputation. He told me about the tacky Southeast Asian women he met there with their vacant stares and ridiculous outfits who were more crass than class. Small wonder that there were slew of memes about Thai girls or other Asian, nor should I be surprised for the prospect of being thought as mail-order bride. In my part of the world I also seen so many women who, sadly, actively pursuing foreigners (especially Caucasian). Preference is preference, I have my own sets of physical preference which I hope to (and gleefully) find in a partner. It was the heavy flirting that disturbs me, the painful attempt to try to fit in in a western world (fashionably hanging at places where foreigners hang out, dressed like one, trying to look upscale and worth dating for). And when they got one, they'll try even more to fit in and be a foreigner, some even willing to go blind eye with the partners' obvious cheating or disrespect as long as they can present the foreign dude and says, "Yes, I'm with him!!"

It all boils down to ability to see a bigger picture. When the news broke that I am in a relationship with a foreigner some of the foreign-dude women reach out for me and welcome me to their "club", which I decline politely. I am not dating my boyfriend because he is white, I'm dating my boyfriend because he's wonderful (which, I hope, they will realize and follow suits. A loving respectful boyfriend of any race will make one a wife or partner instead of "mistress"). Me and my boyfriend are well educated, competent in our work, and smart enough to live a good life and make a living. You'll find a pair like us in America, a pair like us in Indonesia, in India, in Iceland, anywhere really. Two people in love, respecting others and ready to live our forever together. It's just that I'm Indonesian and he's American, I'm Malayan and he's Caucasian. Our race and nationality has nothing to do with feelings and dreams. It's about time people learn to see pass the skin [color] and tags. Well, one could hope.


10 minutes after I post this article I got a spam of book called "How To Get Many Pen Pals and the Woman of Your Dreams in the Philippines, Thailand, And China" (which oddly show 2 Caucasians on the cover). I rest my case. Foreigners, Asian women are NOT only for mistresses only and we can do with proper respect. Asian women, please stop giving the retarded people fodder to disgrace you. Rise and shine, lovelies.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Time to Get Civilized

"And I am thankful that you can speak English because without it this will be impossible!"- Boyfriend

I receive a report that a coworker was abusing our office helper. It wasn't the first time that I heard how bad certain people treated our office helpers, and I was beside myself, yelling and cussing and basically very angry. 2 reasons: 1) good workers are hard to find, and I hate to lose them just because some idiots think they're high and mighty; 2) it's just plain wrong.

Now, why is it wrong to treat your subordinate or someone with "lower rank" disrespectfully? Can you tell me how? Why is it wrong to be ignorant or harsh to a waiter, or a bus driver, or an office helper? I believe many of you that read this probably certain you have better social status than them. Why bother then? They wont play any role to advanced your career or social status, nor would they ever be associated with you (at least in your mind). Then why you should be nice?

Because they are fellow human, damnit.

I believe all humans are created equal, and I am qualified to say this thanks to 1 full year human anatomy lesson I had to endure in my undergraduate program. If given a kidney we might be able to diagnose the condition of the kidney, but in no way we can tell whether it comes from a waiter or a CEO. It goes the same with blood. When given transfusion can you really tell where it came from? Can you say, "Oh no, I'm allergic to anyone that live at the border of poverty line. Don't give me that.". We *might* feel we're doing the world a huge favor by denying the transfusion altogether (and favor for you! What happen if you are really allergic and can actively reject the blood from low income people just like Akin's women can reject sperms from rape?!). Alas, our Hippocrates oath forbid us to have that fun, erm to conduct in such irresponsible manner.

Cue: this is the part where you should get defiant and said, "I deserve to have what I have right now, because I'm not just a [put a negatively-linked verb here e.g. Lazy Useless Uneducated] like they are!"

To which I would reply: you just got lucky. No, our achievements and hard work is ours to brag. That is most certain. The thing is, there are so many other variables that we were born to, and we can't choose that. Some were born into good education, some were born into wealth, and some were born into hardships of life. A child in a median level family will have access to adequate education, enough affection (as the parents can afford more time to be with them), good self esteem, and definitely well nutrient food and vitamins; which all probably lacked by a child in poor family. I am among the lucky ones that were born into an ideal condition that helped me expand my potentials (English included), but there are others born in an even more or even less favorable condition. But can we really choose our parents? Or the level of income we were born to? We can't. Thus it is absurd to judge people based on the chances that they don't have, nor for the
opportunity that doesn't knock their door.

Cue: ok, altogether now: "but they ARE useless and brainless and just made me ick!"
Yes, I believe the @Queen_UK probably think that way too about you. The difference is, she'll be too classy to even care about you (gin o'clock everyone!)

In my life I found 2 type of people: The Knows (those who know they are rich/smart/etc) and The Thinks (those who think they are rich/smart/etc). The Thinks stink. They will be the ones that raise their nose so high, or see you so low. The problem is, they only think they are great, they don't know it for sure. Thus they need to ascertain themselves and their greatness by belittling others. I had clients that treat me like servant, and I have super powerful clients that treat me like equal. I met men who judge my carefree look and thin budget, I have a boyfriend who sees my quality and damn proud of me. The Knows and The Thinks are so easy to differentiate.

For whatever reason, it is just wrong to treat people in a degrading way just to assure your dominance or social status. You can't make yourself richer by deliberately make a harsh remark of how poor one is, or be smarter with rude remarks about uneducation. If any, your judgement towards others will not show the worth of the person you judged, it will show your worth instead. Nobody likes rude degrading comments towards other (true, some malicious personality will have a field day), but nobody will resent a warm sincere smile and nice words (except the malicious dudes and dudettes who will scattered like a group of cockroach under the flaslight).

It's the 21st century for Godsake, we human has been here for millenias. It's about time we get civilized.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So This Is Goodbye

So this is goodbye. The coffee's getting cold, and your scone turns rock hard. But you wouldn't even look at me, we just sit here in silence. No forced last smile, no false sugary wishes that hope all will be well, nothing. Just silence. I would prefer your wrath honestly, instead of a cold degrading silence. Do I really deserve this?

Gone were the days of our laughters, the rosy view of tomorrow. Days of when we believe in each other, and rely in one another. Where did they go? Now they're merely fragment of dreams: melt away in the first sunlight, dripping loose from my memory. Even our photos cannot revive happy memories. I looked and I looked and all I can see are alien faces and surreal smiles. Were they really us? Were we ever this happy?

I can only remember days of bickering, of lost expectation and bitter dissapointment. You change, I change, and what used to be the perfect set of cogs in a machine become a wrong set of cogs, blocking each other. Were you wrong? Was I wrong? Maybe we both are. I remember crying for help but you won't listen, and I was so desperate to make us work. But did you cry for help too? Did I fail to listen as well?

I was hoping we can go through the separation in a civilized way, was hoping that this is not the end and we still can be friends. Such a romantic fool I was. Your hostility amazes me instead. Why can't we part in kindness? The others before me parted in lies and hatred and agony, why can't we start making a better ending? I still care. But the unpleasantness runs too deep. Whatever I say can not change your judgement towards me, and whatever you say cannot mend us. Like a shattered coffee cup, you can mend it but you can't use it anymore. That is why I have to go.

Goodbye then. Thank you for the exquisite years we had together. Thank you for the experiences and lessons you gave me. There is no point of speaking ill about each other or forcefully stated the other part held full responsibility for the breakup. None of them will bring us together, none of them will mend us. Would you look into my eyes once again, can I see you smile once again, just once? The silence. You still intently looking at the coffee, so determined that I wouldn't be surprise if it somehow boils under your fiery gaze. I guess it's a no. Don't worry, it's ok. I'll just be on my way. Wish you well my dearest. I will part with a smile. Wish you well.

Disclaimer: It is not about romance. Go figure ;)

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