Our nonsense at Pavs

Tina: I am pretending to be a pet. I am a cat pet!

Xue: Nagea, do you want to be a pet, too?

Me: What’s the advantage of being a pet?

Tina: Xue will feed us every day with unhealthy snack

Me: Awesome. Sure, which pet fits me?

Tina: HAMSTER! Hahahaha.

Me: …

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The lyrics of my favorite song

Gue baru sadar kenapa nangis itu bikin capek, soalnya banyak anggota tubuh yang kesakitan saat gue lagi nangis. My heart aches, my head hurts, my eyes burn as if there is some hot laser pointed at them, and all my body tremble. It is a traumatizing experience, so traumatizing that I’d do something else, mostly eating and watching funny TV shows, before I am about to cry – so I won’t cry.

While writing this very line, I went back and forth with my writing. Starting the paragraph with English, and then realized that I am better articulated in Indonesian, that I can express more feelings and emotions in my native language. And I realized that I am really not that good anymore at expressing myself in Indonesian – no matter how much Indonesian movies I watch during winter break and all those Pram’s book I read. But I am also no better in English, and most importantly, I have no emotional attachment to it.

That just describes exactly how I’ve felt the past few months – I don’t belong here in the land of the free, but the land I call home seems so far away and unreachable, literally and figuratively. And for the very reason, I can’t help the tears from falling despite the many bags of pita chips and pirouline I’ve eaten and the number of cheesy dramas I’ve watched – they can’t even be a good distraction for me anymore.

The past few months have been the loneliest days I have experienced in my life. Being a student in the US for almost two years now does not change the fact that I am not white, it does not change the fact that I am not wealthy, it does not change the fact that I am a Moslem and I can’t do most of the bonding or “fun” activities people like doing here, it does not make me feel connected when a classmate talked about delivering $600 pizza from Chicago for someone’s birthday. Being here for almost two years still does not make me feel like I belong here. I am still a quiet international student who observes and makes comment on the topics I know for sure – which mostly is not of most people’s interest here. I don’t belong here.

Being far away from home for almost two years still make me think of my family and friends at night. It still makes me think how nice it would be had they been here with me, to congratulate me when I got my first distinguished performer grade ever at school, to tell me “everything’s gonna be okay” when I got the lowest score for accounting class, to share my joy with when I became a finalist for an entrepreneurship competition, and to tell me “you did great and you’re a winner to me” when I did not win that competition.

At this point, there just have been too many times that I wanted to share my frustration with someone I trust and would be able to understand me other than my therapist, someone who knows me. But that person just don’t exist. They did exist, until two years ago.

The difference in culture is no joke. Difficulties connecting with locals is incredibly frustrating. But, distance, too, is no joke. It turned me into a stranger to people I’ve known for years – people I’ve been calling friends and best friends. Every time we talk, it seems like I irritated them most of the time. I felt like I irritated them so much that I just don’t want to ruin the friendship that way, that I’d just rather keep it all to myself. Cause too much negativity will ruin their feelings, their day, and our good relationship. What is a good relationship, btw? Maybe these days, in the days of my age, a good relationship is one just showcasing all the positive side of you, cause hey everyone’s got problems of their own. But no, I’ll just blame it to the distance. It’s not people, it’s distance and other circumstances in life. Or maybe it’s just me being an overthinker and drama queen.

Anyhow, I guess… somehow I’ve grown apart from one of the best things in life: a true relationship. I don’t know what a good relationship is, but I think a true relationship is a relationship where you can become your true self, expressing your true feeling, and still feel safe after that. I guess the absence of that is the one that made me feel lonely and made my heart ache pretty badly, and messed my brain quite seriously.

But then I think to myself, it must just have been one of those days, the days when you forgot the lyrics of your favorite songs – it frustrates you. But the lyrics will come back one day. The day that I hope is not too far in the future.

I Was Pretty

I was checking my facebook and was reminded of pictures from 5.5 years ago when I was only 24 years old. I had long and thick black hairs, fairer skin than today, and was much skinnier than I am today. I was wearing my favorite black blouse and blue batik mini skirt (yes, I was confident enough to put on minis). The only make up I wore was black pencil eyeliner – I did not know how to put on liquid eyeliner then. I was pretty. I never really thought of myself as pretty, but I was pretty in that photo.

These days, I have been thinking a lot about physical appearance (thanks to Korean and Japanese drama) and somehow I am so close to being obsessed to be someone with a much better physical appearance – you know, skinny, thick hair, clear acne-free skin, smaller thigh, better calves… All that I am not… All these thoughts frustrated me enough to not even start working on it.

But then, when I look at these old pictures, I came to a realization that beauty does not last. I was once pretty, probably for around 2 years when I was 24-25 years old, but then somehow the beauty slowly fades away – maybe because I age, maybe because of the troubles I’m facing, maybe because of heartbreaks. I don’t think I could be that pretty anymore, no way I would have that youthful beauty again. But it’s not just me, I saw the same things in others too. In my mom, in my aunts, in my crush, in my friends, even in celebrities… I saw physical beauty fades away.

It fades away, yet we put soooo much attention on it. It is as if it were the second most important thing to keep us alive and dignified as a person. Some of my muslim friend (especially guys) would probably say this: Allah SWT likes beauty, so we should too. Let’s be honest, just between the two of us, you really don’t mean that. You just meant: I like beautiful girls (or beautifying myself) cause I deserve that, so just don’t mess with that thought.

It fades away, but we base a lot of important decisions off of it: to date or not to date someone, to hire or not to hire someone (remember how companies ask for your picture), to partner or not to partner with someone at school/business/life, to befriend or not to befriend with someone, and the worst is to treat or not to treat someone nicely and humanely.

It fades away, yet we invest so much of our time and money on it. When was the last time you bought lipstick or skin product – for you or for your wife/partner/girlfriend? And when was the last time you bought book that will enrich your view, or apps that will make you content or closer to Your Creator, or even a simple takeaway from your favorite restaurant for your parents? Yeah? I thought so, too.

– Gea, the ugly swan (or duckling still?)

 

Ngalor Ngidul Rindu Indonesia

Entah kenapa beberapa hari ini saya rindu sekali dengan Indonesia. Padahal baru 6 bulan saya di sini, di Amerika. Kualitas hidup secara fisik di Indonesia memang tidak bisa dibandingkan dengan di Amerika, kita jauh sekali tertinggal. Mungkin kualitas mental juga masih jauh – antri, kritis, memberi tempat duduk bagi orang lanjut usia seingat saya belum lazim ditemukan di Indonesia. Tapi, tetap saja hati saya berlabuhnya di Indonesia.

Tetap saja segala ketidakberaturan dan ketidakmerataan kalah dengan cantiknya nada-nada pentatonis, dengan hangatnya pembicaraan dengan pengemudi ojek, dengan segala perasaan yang membuat saya akan selalu memanggilnya rumah. Bisa jadi ketidakberaturan dan ketidakmerataan tersebut juga adalah yang membuat saya menyukai negara ini – karena ini berarti peluang untuk berkontribusi, ada masalah yang mungkin bisa saya pecahkan. Saya menyukai negara ini seperti saya menyukai nada-nada disonan.

Seharusnya saat ini saya mempersiapkan diri untuk wawancara internship dengan salah satu perusahaan terkemuka di Indonesia akhir minggu ini. Seharusnya juga saya membaca dan mengerjakan studi kasus untuk kuliah besok hari. Tapi pikiran saya kali ini sulit sekali untuk diajak kerjasama. Satu paragraf membaca lalu pikiran saya langsung melayang ke Jakarta. Lalu setelah sadar dari lamunan, saya kembali membaca. Satu paragraf dan kembali melamun. Begitu terus.

Memasak masakan Indonesia, mendengarkan lagu-lagu Indonesia (Guruh Soekarno Putra sungguh adalah salah satu pencipta lagu terbaik di Indonesia), hingga berbincang dengan orangtua dan adik di Indonesia sudah saya lakukan. Tetap masih rindu.

Akhirnya saya jadi membaca berita-berita terkini dari tanah air. Tentu yang sedang marak adalah mengenai pemilihan gubernur DKI 2017, berikut segala turunannya – penistaan agama, syiah, dan Ira Koesno. Beberapa perusahaan bahkan dituding memiliki keberpihakan terhadap calon tertentu tanpa ada fakta yang jelas, dan tentu saja tudingan tersebut disambut tanpa pertanyaan oleh berbagai kalangan masyarakat. Rasanya mau marah kalau baca berita seperti ini. Marah karena kita tidak dibiasakan berpikir kritis sejak kecil; marah karena kita diharuskan menelan bulat-bulat apapun kata guru di sekolah – sekarang ketika sudah selesai sekolah, otomatis pemberi informasi adalah para jurnalis baik profesional, amatir, ataupun -jurnalisan. Tidak heran jadi target hoax.

Saya lihat-lihat, sepertinya dua calon memiliki kans yang cukup besar meski memiliki gaya yang berbeda. Saya jadi penasaran dan mencari-cari tahu visi misi dan rencana kerja mereka apa saja. Tidak sulit mencarinya. Butuh tiga klik saja: klik tombol search setelah mengetik kata kunci “visi misi calon gubernur dki 2017”, klik berita nomer dua teratas, klik tautan yang menjadi sumber di berita tersebut, dan sampailah saya disini.

Hal pertama yang saya lihat adalah profil – pendidikan, moto, pengalaman kerja, dan penghargaan. Menarik sekali melihat keenam calon (gub-wagub) memiliki latar belakang pendidikan yang sangat berbeda, tapi pada akhirnya sama-sama duduk di kursi yang sama – calon orang nomer 1 dan 2 di provinsi nomer 1 seantero Indonesia. Ini semacam memberi saya harapan – semua orang bisa menjadi apapun yang ia mau (dan yang dikehendaki Allah) kalau ia mau berusaha, dan berdoa tentunya.

Berikutnya yang saya lihat: visi, misi, dan program kerja. Sebenarnya perbedaan antara ketiga calon cukup signifikan baik dari gaya kepemimpinan dan struktur berpikir, tapi siapalah saya ini untuk menilai. Yang menarik perhatian saya justru salah satu kutipan yang ditampilkan salah seorang cagub bahwa Bank Dunia memperkirakan 70% dari masyarakat Indonesia akan tinggal di daerah kota. Urbanisasi. Menurut data BPS, tahun 2015 Indonesia berada di angka 53.5%. Saya jadi terbayang Jakarta tentunya akan menjadi lebih penuh sesak lagi – 40% lebih penuh dari saat ini jika kita mengasumsikan penyebaran yang merata antar kota.

Saya jadi kepikiran, saat pulang nanti mungkin Jakarta sudah makin penuh sesak. Kejomplangan sosial ekonomi juga mungkin semakin terpampang nyata. Dan daerah-daerah lainnya di Indonesia tetap tidak banyak peminat. Kecuali jika ada yang memulai.

Seketika juga terbayang kesibukan-kesibukan saya di Jakarta. Selalu ada yang dilakukan seusai pulang kantor, selalu ada yang ditemui, selalu ada kedai kopi untuk dicoba. Siapa yang tidak terbuai? Terbuai hingga menjadi seorang jomblo pun tidak menjadi masalah besar buat saya. Ah jadi semakin rindu. Tapi kembali teringat angka urbanisasi yang membikin enggan untuk kembali ke Jakarta. Enggan ke Jakarta, bukan ke Indonesia. Bagi saya, tidak ada tempat yang lebih nyaman dari Indonesia – tempat saya bisa berkomunikasi dengan kepala, dengan hati, dengan senyuman.

Lalu, kalau bukan ke Jakarta, kemana? Sebagai seorang big city girl, saya tentu tidak muluk-muluk untuk tinggal di tempat yang sama sekali terpencil, bahkan tidak kota kecil sekalipun. Balikpapan dan Surabaya terlintas di kepala. Hmm, mungkin lebih ke Balikpapan karena sepertinya kota ini sedang berkembang pesat dan saya percaya pembangunan harus bergerak ke luar pulau Jawa. Pertanyaan saya berikutnya adalah pekerjaan apa yang bisa membawa saya ke Balikpapan? Pekerjaan yang tentunya tidak akan menyia-nyiakan 2 tahun saya mengejar gelar MBA di salah satu sekolah bisnis terbaik di Amerika Serikat.

Mungkin lain waktu saja dipikirkan lagi. Rindu saya terhadap Indonesia sudah sedikit terobati dan ini sudah pukul 00:48. Sebaiknya saya membaca kembali bahan kuliah dan segera tidur agar tidak kesiangan esok hari. Semoga malam ini mimpi indah, mimpi Indonesia.

 

What do I do?

Meeting people makes me happy. But it also kills me.

Being with people enriches me. But sometimes it is too much that I value myself less.

Not talking to other humanbeing  makes me lonely. But talking to humanbeing many times makes me feel even lonelier. Makes me feel weirder.

What do I do?

berhenti.

Sepertinya sudah saatnya untuk gue berhenti mengucapkan hal-hal yang gak benar-benar pengen gue ucapkan. Hal-hal seperti basa-basi, atau pernyataan setuju ketika gue sebenernya sangat tidak setuju, atau pura-pura seru sendiri ketika ngobrol (langsung ataupun lewat dunia maya) padahal asli gue lagi ga pengen ngobrol, atau pernyataan yang gue keluarkan agar gue kelihatan tidak tahu apa yang gue lakukan. Entah kenapa sih gue suka banget melakukan ini, terus sebel sendiri ketika dianggap beneran tidak tahu apa-apa sama orang lain atau dianggap tidak punya pendapat pribadi atau dianggap bubbly (I am a complete opposite of that – my thoughts are pretty much dark). Dan sepertinya juga harus berhenti cengangas cengenges dan senyam senyum setiap ngobrol. Kalo kata pelatihan Asia Works sih, berhenti pake topeng.