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Monday, March 30, 2015

I Love Your Smile

I love your smile.

I can't tell you enough how much I love your smile
I would gladly spend all the minutes and hours that I have to tell you I love your smile
But then we won't have time to laugh
Or to joke around (with plenty of teases)
Or to go on adventures (like playing hide and seek at grocery store)
Or read silly stories and watch goofy videos
Or eat delicious foods (and some weird ones too)
Or other kind of things that will make you smile

Your smile is like the morning sunshine
Gracing the earth with warmth and glow
I know, I know, it is so cliche!
But don't think that it's because I don't know what to say
Or to properly describe the majestic that I see daily
It's because that is how I feel about your smile
(Then again, may be I don't know what to say
Your smile, indeed, is truly intoxicating)

Have I told you the fuzzy feeling I have every time I see you smile?
Or the illogical belief that everything is going to be alright?
Or the absurd thought that my heart will explode and propelled me to the stars?
That's how I feel when I see your smile, that and so much more
Like the tears of happiness that dangerously flooding my eyes
Or the sudden angst that I might not be good enough for you
I am not who I thought I am yet I am truly who I am
Whenever I see your smile

Sometimes it is hidden, replaced by a frown
Not unlike the sun that was hidden by dark clouds
Or like our cat when our son come to visit
Totally, absolutely gone without a trace
Then I tried to remember the last smile you gave me
And thought hard to myself, again and again:
It can't rain all the time, not for the sake of the world
The sun will shine once again, and that's the truth

Your smile is the morning sun that I see
Every morning when I open my eyes
Your smile is the serene moonlight that I see
Every night before I rested my soul for the day
Your smile is the reason for rejoice
And to be happy and joyful and appreciate life
Your smile is the reason to hold on to
In the darkest despair, in the saddest condition

I am greedy, I know
I need your smile like a cat needs its nap, or its catnip
I don't mind sharing though, just so you know
There is endless happiness that could be shared from your smile
And I couldn't care less what you are smiling for
As long as I can see that treasure of mine
I want to. I have to. I NEED TO SEE IT

(Pardon the psychopath that broke free for a moment there
You are more than welcome to have a gloomy day
Because you are still lovely even in your gloomiest
And it reminded me yet again how precious your smile is
But your smile truly is wonderful
And if I went too far in my effort to make you smile
Please remind me because this addiction could be dangerous
I simply can not think straight when your smile is at stake)

So smile for me when you hold me in your sleep tonight
Smile for me when you tease me and tell me you love me
Smile for me when you are laughing at my goofiness
Smile for me when you know I am sad and broken
Because your smile is the northern star that guides my way
Because your smile is the spring where my river of joy started
Because you smile is the most beautiful thing in this world
Because I love your smile, so very much

Smile for me Love :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Apples and Oranges on Your Hand

There was a man in the library today. A homeless man. He was always at the library every time it was open, probably taking shelter and a brief refuge against the bitter life outside. He would sit for hours, reading French books and Shakespeare plays and other 'intellectual' books. Just last week he manage to get hold of big, thick paper where he wrote: "Tell Judge Moneybag I said Hi". I was guessing that he might be in trouble of some sort, a citation perhaps for God knows why. Today two officers (I'm guessing from the sheriff department) came to him. "You know why we are here, right?" said one of them. "Somebody called again regarding your belongings." The homeless man wrote his answers in a piece of paper, unable or not wanting to speak. Then the two officers went away and said to him, "See you soon." He continue to read on his wheelchair.

For a moment, a flare rise in my heart. Why the injustice? Why the snobbishness? The Library that I am at is indeed located to a nicer part of Los Angeles, an orderly suburb where all the houses are delightfully pretty and the road is impeccably clean. The homeless man's 'belonging' consist of at least twenty plastic bags, if not more. Some of those bags were piled nicely on the edge of big table I am writing on right now, while the rest are piled on the entrance of the library. It is carefully hidden yet apparently still an eyesore for this respectable Stepford neighborhood. I am angry. I am mad. This is unfair. All lives are the same. He can't go anywhere else, and at least he tried to make the best of his time by studying. It is unjust.

But then I calmed down. There are reason, completely valid reason on why people want their neighborhood clean and orderly. We easily called it snobbishness, and although it might even be true to some extent, the real reason is that disorderly invites chaos. Sit down a moment and reflect. Scattered items create a great breeding ground for pests. Anyone who is messy (just like I do) would have a lot of "Oh yuck!!" moment when trying to clean the room or the house every once in a blue moon. When the outside is messy, it invites people to do unnatural things. For instance, you would feel more convenient to urinate outside in a unkempt area with tall grass or abandoned building. You will feel less likely to do so in, say The Rose Garden in Exposition Park or the glitzy Getty Villa in Malibu. Nobody would say a word when you do it in the dirty, chaotic, unkempt area; but you know for a fact you will 'get it' if you try to do it in the nice area because those people do their hardest to keep their building/area clean and beautiful. And that's the key. When you think people won't scold you for doing things you will start to do crazy things. The homeless man got reprimanded because the people don't want crazy people think it is okay to get wild thanks to the homeless man's scattered belongings.

When you look at it that way, you will feel helpless and trapped. It seems there is no way out, right? You sympathized with the homeless man because he is a victim of life, yet you should understand by now why the good people wanted him to stop 'ruining' their neighborhood. Everyone struggles in its own way. There is never, never one truly 'Right' way to do things because everyone has their own agenda, has their own concept of what's right and what's wrong. Feeding the homeless sounds like a noble idea, but then some of them adapt into doing nothing except waiting for the handout. Farm raised fish is considered bad for your health and bad for the fish too, but then a report like this showed up and tell us how some wild caught fish is actually caught by slaves. Real life slaves and not just metaphorically speaking. For every action there will be a reaction, and since the world itself is very complex, you might have more than one reaction and not all of them are favorable to you.

What can we do then? Do we just close our eyes and pretend we do not see anything? Do we let ourselves lost in despair knowing that nothing that we do will ever fix the world? In my honest opinion, yes. At least yes to knowing and acknowledging that we can never fix the world. One part of it is because it is too complex, and it would be impossible to correctly calculate all the variables and factors involved just so we can reach our goal the way we want it to happen. Another part is because the world is not broken, so there is no need to fix it. To say that the current humans of the world is broken is also incorrect. Human has always been human. You would only need to look at old literature like holy books or even mythology and folklore to realize how evil human can be, how deceitful and how determined human is in order to achieve what he wants in life. We just noticed it more thanks to the technology that allowed people to show who they really are i.e. the culture of oversharing. 

But the world do get depressing sometimes, especially when you have a caring heart and want everyone to be happy and joyous. Things that you can't helped (like the homeless man in the library) or things that you can't escape from (like the people who judge you and considered you as lower than them), life is full with disappointment and whys. When it happened and you feel like it drags you down, take a moment to sit down and observed your hands. There was a joke that goes like this: "If John has six apples in his right hand and seven oranges in his left hand what does John have? John has very large hands." Get it? Now look at your hands again and think how many objects you can put in your hand. Not many, huh. You can try to smooth/stretch your palm in order to held more objects, but then the object(s) would easily fall. And of course, the smaller the object is the more you can hold it in your hands, but they too will have a limit. So does your problems and all the wrinkles in the world that you want to smooth out; you can only have so many of them and it is alright if you can't handle them all simultaneously, it's aright to choose on what battle you want to fight for the moment.

Knowing our limit, and acknowledging it, is an important step to find peace in ourselves. There are things that we can't change or fix because of the nature of the things (e.g. a self-destructive friend), and there are things that we can't change or fix because we are unable to take the case. One can only have so many things in his/her hands err plate. Understanding this will also stop us from sharing our burden (both intentionally or unintentionally) with another person that might not be ready to have more things in his/her plate. It's a road to self-sufficiency, with a handrail that prevent us from falling to the murk of despair thoughts. We can't change the world. We can help ourselves and try to help others, but there will be time when we can't help other, and it is alright. Little by little hopefully the things in your hands will get less and less, until finally you can use your one empty hand (or even both hands!) to give the best give ever: caresses and compassion. Until then, the smile on your face will suffice. You can't stop the misery in this world, and it is not your job anyway. Your job is to stop the misery within you and glow like a little sun, making your life and everyone's around you a little brighter, a little nicer, a little more worthwhile. Shine, my friends. Shine. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Indonesia: Kedigdayaan dan Pengaruh Barat

Yang terhormat Mbak Kitty,

Saya membaca 'surat' Mbak Kitty untuk masyarakat Indonesia, dan hati saya merasa gundah gulana. Yah, tepatnya sirik sih. Saya tidak tahu mbak tinggal dimana di negara barat, tapi pastinya mbak tinggal di tempat yang lumayan berada kalau sampai mbak bisa bilang: "People in the western side of the world, they don’t need a rule to line up. They don’t need a punishment so that they would throw their trash in a trashcan. And they don’t smoke in public, with or without a sign telling them to do so." Mbak pasti tinggal di kawasan mewah ya, yang semua aman damai tentram. Bandingannya kaya di Disneyland gitu deh mbak, yang kalau mbak buang sampah sembarangan langsung muncul pegawainya untuk memungut sampah itu. Tapi yah, masuk Disneyland kan hampir Rp 1,3 juta rupiah perorang sekarang.

Soal sampah, tempat tinggal saya di LA itu sebenarnya cuma sekitar 5 menit naik mobil ke Staples Center, Downtown LA, dan kawasan 'tenar' lainnya. Tapi di kawasan saya setiap paginya di'dekorasi' dengan (maaf) kotoran dan air kencing manusia. Sampah berserakan dan begitu pula 'benda-benda' antah berantah yang amat sangat mungkin keluar dari tubuh manusia. Kalau mbak pikir itu mengerikan, mbak mesti jalan-jalan ke kawasan Skidrow di LA. Skidrow dan Art District (namanya keren kan??) itu bisa dibilang berseberangan, tapi sementara Art District itu seni banget (ceritanya), Skidrow isinya tenda-tenda orang-orang homeless dan (lagi-lagi) segala jenis sampah. Nggak banget kan? Mungkin mbak akan bilang, "Oh itu Skidrow, yang isinya memang orang kulit hitam nggak jelas." Tapi saya jalan-jalan ke Arizona juga ada kok orang-orang seperti itu, daerah-daerah yang lumayan 'lawless' alias nggak berhukum bahkan di kawasan yang dominan kulit putih sekalipun.

Soal nggak taat peraturan pun semua orang pernah melakukannya, bahkan yang kalangan menengah keatas sekalipun. Kalau mbak baca Yahoo misalnya, atau Huffington Post di internet, ada kok cerita-cerita misalnya saja soal orang yang ngaku-ngaku anjingnya service dog/anjing khusus orang sakit biar dia bisa bawa anjingnya kemana-mana. Ini hal kecil memang, tapi tetap saja mentalitas "pokoknya saya senang!". Korupsi/bribe juga marak di Amerika sini, misalnya saja NRA yang melobi terus-terusan agar mereka bisa terus jualan senjata api, padahal senjata api mereka biang kerok segala gun accident/kecelakaan senpi di Amerika. Di Amerika saya tidak pernah tahu peraturan mana yang dibuat untuk menguntungkan produsen/perusahaan besar dan peraturan mana yang dibuat demi masyarakat. Paling tidak kalau ketilang polisi di Indonesia ketahuan itu uangnya kemana saja.

Saya awalnya menulis ini mau bilang kalau soal taat tidak taat peraturan itu bukan tergantung dari belahan dunia mana anda berasal, tapi tergantung dari tingkat pendidikan anda. Yang pendidikannya rendah ya pastinya nggak terlalu ngerti masalah rumit seperti kemana sampah itu akan berakhir, misalnya saja. Tapi kalau dipikir-pikir nggak juga, karena yang pendidikannya tinggi pun akan dengan senang hati tidak menuruti aturan asal menguntungkan bagi mereka, persetan dengan orang lain. Mungkin yang lebih tepatnya adalah ada orang yang tidak taat peraturan karena tidak mengerti (misalnya saja rakyat kecil di Indonesia), dan ada yang tidak taat peraturan karena, yah, fuck you. Entah karena mereka miskin dan jadi pahit terhadap dunia, atau karena mereka kaya dan jadi sombong terhadap dunia. Saya dan orang-orang lain yang ditengah-tengah mah cuma bisa menonton saja, syukur-syukur tidak jadi pelanduk yang mati ditengah-tengah dua gajah.

Saya tidak tahu berapa lama mbak tinggal di negara barat, tapi mungkin mbak sudah lupa bahwa orang Indonesia itu sebenarnya sangat ketat aturan adatnya. Paling tidak di masa lalu. Misalnya saja di daerah Geringsing di Bali, ada aturannya untuk memanen tumbuhan untuk pewarna alami kain tenun mereka. Efeknya jelas, melestarikan lingkungan dan memberi kesempatan regenerasi alam. Semua aturan-aturan adat yang berkaitan dengan alam sebenarnya jelas alasannya, tapi karena dibumbui 'ancaman-ancaman' mistis jadi malah tidak digubris. Mistis itu bertentangan dengan agama. Mistis itu tidak berdasarkan sains/ilmu pengetahuan. Saya ditertawakan oleh orang Indonesia yang di LA saat saya bilang saya takut diganggu Leak/setan saat merayakan hari raya Nyepi di Bali, dibilang kok saya masih percaya begituan. Mungkin iya, cerita mahluk halus seperti itu cuma karangan leluhur belaka, tapi apa salahnya kalau berkat cerita itu kita bisa memberikan 'time off' untuk dunia semalam saja?

Agama modern jelas salah satu sebab lunturnya kebudayaan dan adat-istiadat di Indonesia. Namun modernisasi juga punya andil yang tidak kalah besar. Percaya takhayul itu 'tidak pintar/terbelakang', padahal dijaman dulu saat kita masih percaya sumber air dijaga oleh siluman dan roh halus mana pernah kita berani buang sampah sembarangan disana. Stigma takhayul sama dengan terbelakang ini ya datangnya dari negara Barat, yang memang tidak percaya begituan. Sekali waktu saya membaca artikel tentang Denmark yang membatalkan rencana pembangunan jalan tol karena dikhawatirkan melewati kerajaan peri. Serius ini tidak bohong. Kalau anda baca komentar-komentar orang (Amerika) soal artikel itu ya, seolah Denmark itu bodoh luar biasa. Negara Barat juga menyumbangkan kapitalisme, yang menyodorkan dunia segala sesuatu yang harus dipunyai dunia. Masalah apakah barang yang disodorkan itu berfaedah atau tidak ya urusan belakangan. Misalnya saja dulu punya kipas angin rasanya sudah surga dunia, sekarang kalau tidak pakai AC merk ternama rasanya miskin tidak karuan. Dulu yang hitam manis itu sudah te-o-pe be-ge-te, sekarang kalau tidak pakai krim pemutih dan anti kerut plus makeup rasanya seperti wanita kelas bawah. Akhirnya ya semua orang harus kerja demi membeli barang-barang yang diiklankan "Must Buy!" oleh para kapitalis. Bahkan para pemuka agama pun tidak mau kalah berjualan buku atau atribut keagamaan lainnya. Walhasil semua orang berlomba mengejar uang dan akhirnya tidak memperdulikan orang lain. Inilah western influence yang sebenarnya. Di Indonesia, sialnya, yang terjadi adalah gabungan ketidaktahuan dan ketidakpedulian. Klop.

Mbak Kitty, saya masih bingung maksud mbak menulis surat itu untuk apa, apalagi pakai Bahasa Inggris. Yang butuh diingatkan untuk berubah bukan orang-orang yang kalangan menengah keatas, tapi orang-orang yang kalangan menengah kebawah yang merupakan dasar dari piramida ini dan pastinya tidak sefasih itu Bahasa Inggrisnya. Kalau mbak mengingatkan para orang Indonesia yang menengah keatas agar mau berusaha 'membereskan' Indonesia, apa iya mereka tidak mengerti Bahasa Indonesia? Atau mbak memakai Bahasa Inggris biar lebih greget dan opini mbak lebih diterima oleh para orang elit ini? Bila iya, berarti kita dalam masalah besar mbak. Bagaimana mbak bisa mengharapkan para orang terhormat ini untuk peduli dengan Indonesia kalau mereka saja menganggap Bahasa Indonesia kampungan? Sementara di LA sini suami saya yang orang Amerika berusaha keras menguasai Bahasa Indonesia agar bisa benyanyi dangdut dengan lancar. Nasib nasib.... 

Saya setuju sekali mbak soal Indonesia harus berubah. Kita negara kepulauan, kalau sampah dan kendaraan/moda transportasi tidak dikelola dengan baik bisa runyam urusannya. Tapi saya kurang setuju kalau caranya dengan menanamkan western influence. Kita perlu menanamkan rasa cinta tanah air, karena apa yang kita cintai pasti kita jaga dengan baik. Kita perlu mengingatkan, menjaga agar masyarakat Indonesia tetap melihat jauh keluar, melihat diri mereka sebagai bagian dari rencana alam maha besar, sebagaimana dikatakan dalam cerita-cerita dan adat-istiadat kuno Indonesia. Jangan sampai masyarakat Indonesia cuma bisa melihat kedalam diri mereka sendiri dan mementingkan diri sendiri sebagaimana gaya khas orang barat. Bukan berarti sains dan teknologi barat kita boikot dan kita anggap perusak ya. Western influence yang bisa memajukan kita ya tidak apa-apa diadaptasi, tapi bukan berarti kita harus kehilangan asal-usul kita, kehilangan jati diri kita. Dan jelas, kita tidak akan bisa mencapai hal ini dengan berusaha menjadi "orang/bangsa lain".

Mbak Kitty, pasti mbak sudah capek kan seharian ini 'didera' komentar-komentar di blog mbak? Maaf ya saya jadi menambah kepusingan mbak (duh ge-er hahaha). Jangan tersinggung ya mbak, saya dan mbak tujuannya satu kok: membereskan Indonesia; approach/pendekatan kita saja yang berbeda. Kalau mbak masih mumet, mari lho ini ditonton si Akang saya menyanyikan lagu Mbah Dukun-nya Alam. Peace out yo mbak :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Chappie : A Humanly Movie About Life

I try to make sure that I didn't give out too much info/spoiler about the movie, but it *may* have some spoiler. Sorry.

Humanity last hope isn't human. So the tagline say. Truer word has never been spoken, and I have never seen a movie so human like the one I saw last night.

It talks about the circle of violence.
It talks about love.
It talks about purposes of life.
It talks about how one got involve in criminal activity.
It talks about the need to be 'tough'.
It talks about hope and dreams.
It talks about the hatred within.
It talks about doing 'the right thing'.

All the dialogues that would have been too cheesy or eye-rolling inducing in a normal movie with humans were perfectly placed in this robot movie. I found myself gripping the edge of my seat, desperately rooting for this robot. Desperately wanting humanity to prevail.

Hugh Jackman's acting is not special, nor does Sigourney Weaver's. Die Antwoord are brilliant in their weird way. The plot may seemed back and forth. There are no dramatically amazing scenes like staged explosions in Transformers. Yet to me, the movie is spectacularly beautiful. Seating in the movie theatre the movie forced me to watch the strangest fiction ever: life.

The cry of Chappi when he was newly made and attacked was the cry of the young children that are bullied and doesn't understand why they are being harmed.

The desperate plight of Deon was the desperate plight of well-wishers like teachers or community officers when finding a child in a grip of incapable parent or stuck in a violent surrounding.

The anger Chappie felt when knowing he was about to die and subsequent banter with The Maker on why he even made to life was the anger anyone felt when they are on the verge of calamity, down to the "Why God, why?!" bit.

The war cry of Vincent was the war cry of all narrow minded people that demand the destruction of anyone who are different than them, Muslim/Christian/White/Black/Chinese/etc.

And even the laughter of people in the movie theater when they saw Chappie sitting on the bed with his mommy cruelly reminded me that yes, not all human can see things for what they really are. When an intimate bonding moment merit a laughter because one is different than the other, you'll know that something is wrong.

With the big "black vs police" issue in US, anyone who is concerned with the situation should watch the movie. It clearly explained how violence is taught, not inherited. It clearly shows how we can fix the situation. It clearly tells what happen if we don't fix the situation. 

I see my little son in Chappie, and I see what he could become in this world full of malicious people. I guess that is why this movie is interesting to me, because I see the main character as itself. I didn't see him as a robot, I see him as an equal. Just like District 9, it is significant only if you can relate yourself to the prawn and understand their struggle. 

In the end Chappie said, "It is only a temporary body." He is right. This body will die and decayed, but our conciousness will live on. What we say and do will be forever etched in someone else's memories. Pretty deep for a robot movie, huh?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lunch for The Travelling Girl

Dear lady who bought me lunch today,
Thank you for the gesture.

You saw me panicking and ransacking my bag at the cashier earlier today. You must have seen all the mess and chaos in my backpack: the cables, the books, the computer, the plastic bags from my recent purchases. You asked me if I am a travelling girl and offered to pay for my lunch. I tried to refuse but you insisted.

I don't even know what 'travelling girl' means. I really don't. Does that mean that you think I am homeless? Or that I travel around by myself to see the world? But I have a place to come home to. And I did not travel around only armed with my backpack. I was only in the area to wait for my husband to finish his work hour.

Yet in a way, I am a travelling girl. I am thousands of miles away from the place that I called my true home. Everyday is a learning experience for me these days as I try to adapt myself in this new found land. Two years and counting, and I am still 'travelling' in this country called USA. Every time I hop on a bus or train I would armed myself with my backpack, all ready for the world. This is a habit I have ever since I was a young girl in my hometown Jakarta. You'll never know what the road has to offer, especially when you are so far away from home. Every time I am out there, I see all sorts of things: smiles and sadness, amusing things and shocking things, the beautiful and the not-so beautiful. Every time I walked outside my door the world open itself before me just like a mystery chest. I do not know what the day would bring, but I know each day is an adventure, each day teaches me something new, each day is another special day. 

Even within me I also travel. Each day my soul travel further within myself: understanding more about myself and people that I love, going further and deeper to achieve the peace and happiness. Debating and reasoning and then accepting, are those not a journey that one must travel to? As a writer, my journey does not end with myself. I tell the stories to my reader, and embarking in another journey with them in hope that they too can find the way to their happiness, to achieve understanding and acceptance in order to finally see the beauty of life and the peace within. I do not travel by myself, I also travel with others. I traveled both physically and mentally, and the journey never ends. It can be tiresome and lonely, and I've started losing myself little by little. But then you showed up, dear lady.

Today my travel taught me about kindness. I could have said no to your offer, dear lady. I have enough money to pay for the lunch, and I suspect I am not a travelling girl in the way you might have thought. But it all happened so fast and I was so perplexed that I blurted a 'Yes' without thinking carefully. If you ever read this article, you might be disappointed in me. If you are, I beg your forgiveness dear lady. I want you to know though that your kind gesture leaving me feeling emotionally satiated. I want you to know that I have unknowingly harbored negative and cynical views of the world, thanks to the hatred and ignorance spread in every media around us. Your kindness wiped it all away. 

I am but in the beginning of my journey, and there will be trials along the road. And if I stumble along the way, if I ever break down and wanted to give up, I will read this post for my strength. I will remember the kind lady that showed me the world can be a nice, giving place. I will remember her smile and how she said I am such a sweetheart when I flustered and repeatedly told her 'thank you' in my goofy way. I will remember that I am loved and that I am too, precious in my own way. Thank you once again, dear lady. I will spread your kindness to another 'travelling girl' at the first opportunity I have, but for now, please accept this humble thanks for the kindness you have shown me. The lunch only cost you less than $6, but the kindness that you gave me is priceless. 

Thank you so much.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Skid Row Shooting: Walk the Talk

Sometimes you just need to tell a story out. It may not be worth it, it may offend other people, but you need to speak up nonetheless. This, the shooting in Skid Row, is one of those moments.

I have lived in LA for roughly about 6 months. It is not at all like they depicted in movies and TV show. Apart from its swanky downtown areas and high-end neighborhood like Beverly Hills, LA (to some people) is dirty, unkempt, horrific. Visit Westlake Theatre on a weekend for instance, and you will see a lot of people selling things on the sidewalk, with a ragtag collection of merchandise that made you strongly suspect that the items are stolen items. Or Pershing square with all the homeless people. Even Angel's Flight's garden are hidden behind a fence, since there are too many homeless people take shelter there. But nothing, nothing compare to the horror that is known as Skid Row.

The bus that I took for work took me through Skid Row, and every working day I see the squalor living condition which serves as a constant reminder of me how bad life can be. Then I will look inside of my bus, and be reminded how bad people can be. Skid Row is not a nice place to be. People of Skid Row are not exactly perfect as well. There are almost always verbal altercation, some kind of drama with the people in the bus. One evening a black man taunted and insult a white woman who choose to stand in the middle of the bus. He yelled, "Are you afraid of the blackie? Do you think the blackie will hurt you? White people scared for nothing!". I lived in Jakarta for 25 years, a city much bigger and (probably) more ruthless than Los Angeles, and one of my survival rule is to stay close to the exit. Maybe the white woman think the same way too. Maybe her stop is not that far ahead. Yet somehow the black man choose to taunt her for her race. Then there was a black woman that decided to get offended when a Mexican man pushed her as he tried to walk to take a seat in the back of the bus. She's calling him out and yelled that he has no manner when she herself made the whole bus uncomfortable with her yelling and screaming. Of course, another black man chipped in and defended her, telling her that the Hispanic is impolite and un-American, whatever that means. It was one of the worst bus drive I ever took. 

Does the racism surprised you? It shouldn't be. When you are white and clean (have money) in LA, be sure to get ready for constant stream of harassment and mockery. My white husband get asked for money more times than me, a brown skinned Asian. But then again, I get offered fake IDs more times than he does. It is stereotyping at its best: white people have money and brown people need fake ID. What's not stereotyping is the hard cold fact that people who asked for money is predominantly African American, which speaks a lot because we live in Westlake where the residents are predominantly immigrants. Or that the actual racist slur and show of hatred are done only by the African-American, usually towards the Mexican. The whiteys on the bus or on the street, knowing that they are fish out of water, are usually more subdued and quiet. Except for the crackheads. The one time we had a danger of bodily assault was by an African American, in a broad daylight.

Was I being racist? Not at all. Let's forget that the perpetrators are African American. Choose a race, any kind of race. Make it a random one. Now think, what would you do if at least 5 people ask you for money every single day, every time you walk in the city? Some are menacing, some are pleading, but they all just took the money you gave them and left as if they actually deserve your money. That it is your job to share your wealth with them. What would you think if it happened after a long day at work and you are worried whether you can pay your rent this month or not, while the people who asked you for money smelled of weed and liquor and you know that they will just use your money to buy more drugs and booze because they don't have the responsibility like you do? Would you feel good about being nervous when driving in a certain part of the town or took a certain bus route because you are not welcome there due to your skin color? As a person that is legally here in US, with absolutely no connection of whatsoever with African-American history or any part of the illegal immigrants conundrums, it is absurd and infuriating that I have to worry about my safety just because I look Mexican.

The commentators in all the articles about Skid Row shooting basically screamed the same thing:
a) It's Obama's fault
b) It's Democrat's fault
c) Police should use less violence
d) Mental health system needs to be fix
e) It's the illegal immigrants' (read: Mexican) fault

They are such adorable ideals, aren't they? It doesn't matter that Skid Row has been there for decades (eliminating A and E), or that I don't think I have ever read about Beyonce or Kanye or other notable African-American celebrities trying to help their bros and sis in Skid Row (adding the list of who's to blame on B), or that gun drugs and liquors are rampant in US and all of these increased the risk of violence that the police has to deal with (to fix C), or that there is not a single country in this world that has a perfect health care system (eliminating D). Anyone who pictured the (mentally ill) people in Skid Row as angelic poor misguided souls that need help most likely have never had any bad incidents with them or even walked in Skid Row before. One time I helped with free lunch there, and it saddened me that even though it is free and nutritious, some of the people that came still throw away some of their food to the trash can. I mean, seriously? It is free. You can share it with other people even if you don't like the taste. I never volunteered at that place again.

To me, D and E are the most noble and ideal ideas, and therefore, a mere rhetoric that one would easily spout from the safety of his/her computer in his/her cozy home. How about eliminating the two cause of violence and mental illness: gun and liquor? Only a number of policeman in Indonesia carry guns because almost all Indonesian doesn't have guns. Consequently, in US even the slightest gun threats is considered as 'dangerous'. One time we called 911 because we saw a kid in our apartment complex brandishing a gun. We explained that it is probably a toy gun, but still there were 3 police cars and two helicopters coming in, even though our apartment complex was located in an extremely safe and peaceful part of the town. Everyone have guns in US, it makes the police officers jumpy and rightly scared for their life. Will you ask your soldier to go to Iraq without guns and other means to protect themselves? Will you boo them if they have to take action necessary to disarmed threats and protect themselves? If no, then why do you complained and cuss the police officers here who were trying to protect themselves? 

That goes the same for liquor. Indonesia has liquor, but drinking till drunk is considered as a fatal flaw in the character, not a way to have fun. When I was 13 my dad went into mid-life crisis and drank beers every night, the equivalent of a mere 2-3 cans of beer. But I hate it so much that I walked to him, knowing fully well that I could get harmed, and told him that I don't want to see him drink beer anymore because he looked weak. My dad stopped. Here in US drinking is equivalent with good time and fun time and coolness. Guess what, the easiness of access to get your 'happy drink' also means the easiness of access for these people who actually need to be sober enough to pick up themselves from the abyss that they are in. In Indonesia, liquors are also more expensive than regular meal. A can of a local beer could get you a decent home-cooked meal with meat carbs and veggies. So if you raise the price, the homeless people everywhere could be 'assisted' and well on their way to sobriety. Isn't that great?

Suddenly everything sounded so uninteresting, huh? The homeless need to be helped, but not on our account. Not by limiting gun and alcohol. Let the police magically use less violence even if it means risking themselves in their home country (even though we applaud the use of violence in someone else's country). Let the government fix the mental health system even though if the mentally ill can easily tempted to self-medicate themselves with alcohol. Let's blame all to the rhetoric that can never be achieved, because taking it on ourselves is too much for us to bear. Let's cuss the police while we are busy taking a video to be uploaded in Facebook and YouTube instead of trying to help the person 'abused' by the police. I mean, 6000 people in Skid Row can't possibly fight against 6 armed police officers right? After that, let's march to protest it and be sure to hit the swanky street to gain attention, instead of acknowledging that Skid Row is a problem that needs to be fixed or help those people to stop living like that for their own good. Let's do that. We are, after all, (not) our brothers' (and sisters') keeper.

Oh, by the way, if you think I am racist I am actually not. I can't be. I have only been here in US for about 2 years and have absolutely no contact with an African-America before. Before moving to LA, my only contact with African American were with my husband's ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, both who are professionals in their fields and are pretty impressive. The negative perception towards the African-American that I see in Skid Row and LA is a direct result to how they act towards me. Sure, there are cool African-American. Will I be scared of an African-American if he/she dressed nicely or at least talked politely and smile at me? Absolutely not. I have met several cool ones and I am not at the very least afraid of them. They are human. And yes, I will also be scared of a Mexican or a whitey or a Chinese/Asian if they look menacing and obviously dislike me for my skin color/appearance. When I feel threatened, I am not threatened by skin color, but by appearance and attitude. Those who preached about not associating blacks with criminals should also do their hardest to make sure that the blacks are not associated with criminality and avoid the thug life so to speak. This advice comes from a person born and raised in a country where a lot of the citizen doesn't even have clean water and electricity, let alone a chance to study/better themselves or even basic health care, and being treated as second class citizens by foreigners/tourists that visit the country. Any complains?

These articles below is what I am talking about. I respect this man, and I wish there are more like him in the society.
HONY - Why I didn't go to jail
HONY - Why my son (hopefully) won't go to jail

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