January 09, 2013

Wish Revision

Just a short update on my last post about the end of the world...

It has just come into my attention that Rhoma Irama and Farhat Abbas will both run in the Indonesian Presidential Election 2014.

Now I wish the Mayans were right...

January 01, 2013

2012 was not the End. Yay?

Last year, I must say, was interesting. It was predicted that the world as we knew it would come to an end on December 21, 2012. And I was worried… although I didn’t admit it, not even if you put a gun to my head. But I was. Worried.

So I guess for the first time I realized that I was getting old after all. Despite my resistance, I constantly worry all the time these days. The surest sign of ageing is not the lines around your eyes or the wrinkles on your forehead or those flabby arms. Those can easily be fixed. No. The surest sign of ageing is the fact that you worry about things that didn’t worry you at all before.

I’m not saying that I truly believed the Mayan prediction of apocalypse. Just like many others, I laughed at their prophecy and often made fun of it on Twitter. But the truth is… deep down… there was that constant and annoying question: “what if it turns out to be true?”

The question was loud within me. What’s worse, it triggered many more questions; mainly about death. Am I ready to die? Would I ever see my daughters again before I die? (Considering that both of them don’t live at home anymore) Does dying hurt? And how about the kids? Would they die, too? How would they die? Would they feel hurt at the face of death? Cause God forbid I don’t ever want to see them suffer. Would I be able to give them a call in the last few moments of life and exchange a few tender “I love yous”? You know – just like in the movies?

And as December approached, I secretly hated people who made fun of it, thinking… hey, stop it! It could be true!

In short, I was an emotional wreck the whole year last year because of that damn prediction. If I took it out on you, I'm sorry... :p

But here we are, in the beginning of 2013. Nothing out of the ordinary happened in 2012. People still logged forests and exploited coral reefs. Palm oil was still the liquid gold. Animals were senselessly slaughtered. Politicians and (most) businesspersons still lied through their teeth about it. The Indonesian president was still SBY and he was still as useless as ever. Humans continued to prove to be the worst species that ever walked the face of the Earth. But Mother Earth didn’t split her crust to swallow us all. The sun didn’t launch a massive solar storm against us. Sure there were natural disasters everywhere. But those happened every year at different places. So nothing out of the ordinary happened in 2012. We’re still here.

Does it mean I will stop worrying this year? Probably not. Haha. If it’s a privilege of getting older, then I’m gonna embrace it, damn it! And worry about everything. (I can see my kids frowning. But yes, I’ll worry about you guys, too!) But at least in 2013 I don’t have to worry about the end of the world anymore. I don’t, right? No one has found another old scripture from ancient times that said anything bad about 2013, right? RIGHT?

Mostly I’m just talking to myself here. I’m not suddenly turning into an optimistic person. After all, I still firmly believe that optimists are basically people in denial. Nevertheless, I’m still hoping for all the clichés. So here’s to all of us. May we all have the perfect clichés of health, happiness, love, world peace and all of that good stuff. Cheers and happy new year!

PS: To all of you who are saying, “Hey, Rin… Age gracefully…”, drop dead now and go to hell! There’s no such thing as ageing gracefully. And there’s nothing graceful about growing old. It sucks. And that’s the truth.

December 28, 2012

We're Still Here!


December 21 came.

And went.

No solar storm.

No shift of the earth crust.

Nothing special. Rained a bit in Jakarta.

But that was it.

Not the end of the world.

We're still here!

*iye garing bener deh gue*

December 21, 2011

A Link to (possibly) the End of the World


If everything goes exactly as the Mayans had predicted, then in exactly a year from today – on December 21, 2012 – the world will come to an end.

So, I’m “planning” to post “something” everyday, until that day. I call it #366DaysToDoomsDay. Why 366, and not 365? Because 2012 has an extra day, which is Feb. 29.

“Planning” – in quotes – because I’m not even sure I can keep this promise. It’s only a plan. If I fail to write or post anything, it means the plan has changed. Please don’t hold me accountable.

“Something” – also in quotes – because when I’m lazy (like today) or simply uninspired, it means I can post just about anything. Links, photos, or a short sentence like “go to hell!” *grins*

Anyway, if the world as we know it is still here on December 21, 2012 – which is the 367th day from now – I'll... I'll... hmmm... not sure yet what I'll do. But I'll post something, to let you all know that hey! we're still here!

So today, because I’m lazy, I’ll just link you to this great article about the countdown to Dooms Day. Enjoy! J

December 13, 2011

#SaveForests + #SaveCoralReefs

Following up on my post last night, I just want to remind you all that the orangutans are not the only species that need our attention, love and support.

The Sumatran tigers, the elephants and the rhinos are among the most critically endangered species on the planet. The tigers, especially. There are only 400 left in the forests of Sumatra.

And MOST IMPORTANTLY, saving species is not about taking them home, feeding them and cuddling them (try to cuddle an adult tiger, I dare you!) It's not even about putting them through a rehabilitation program. It's about SAVING THEIR HOMES.

The forest.

That's all that they need.

And saving forests is NOT about planting a million trees. It's about - first and foremost - preserving all the forests we have left.

And preserving forests that we have left is NOT about putting barb-wired fences around them, but about MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES in our everyday lives.

What we buy, what we eat, what we drink, how we travel, where we travel, what kind of lifestyle we choose - these are the simple everyday decision that will decide whether all the remaining trees in our forests can or cannot stand proud and tall for generations to come.

So do make the right choices. I don't need to elaborate further, because we all can google. :-)

#SaveOrangutans + #SaveTigers + #SaveElephants + #SaveRhinos + #SaveTurtles + #SaveSharks + #SaveEtc = #SaveForests + #SaveCoralReefs.

#SaveOrangutan: Is It Good or Bad?

Wow, this is amazing. Never in my lifetime did I even hope that people, especially Indonesians, would actually care. Let alone starting a movement like this.

No, really. I’ve never had that much faith on this country or its people. Well, I’m not that crazy about people in general. They annoy me. And if I busy myself in various conservation efforts, from the reefs of Raja Ampat to the mangroves of Aceh; from the once-mythical flesh-eating dragons of Komodo to the Bornean orangutans; it’s because I love Mother Earth. Not because I love Indonesia. Just wanna make that perfectly clear to begin with.

So this movement – the #SaveOrangutan movement – caught me off guard. At first I thought this would be a temporary thing… You know, something that’s gone in a few days, replaced by a new issue. But this movement has gotten bigger, stronger and (sometimes annoyingly) louder every day! In fact, it has become a trend. Meaning that if you support the orangutans, you’re cool. You’re in. You’re it.

Indonesians from all walks of life talk about it – on campus, in the mall, in the streets and even in public transportations. And just the other week, my MOM and DAD talked about it – in angry tones, wishing all oil palm plantations’ owners to be given death sentences! Now, THAT’S something. You see, my mom and dad are my worst critiques. They always think that I’m wasting my Computer Science degree on a bunch of useless animals. Not to mention wasting their hard-earned money that they spent on my overseas education. And every time I bring home a strayed cat or a wounded dog, they get angry. So to see them speaking out FOR the orangutans is… definitely a jaw-dropping moment for me, to say the least.

Anyway, so is this – movement – good or bad?

Well, I’ve heard a lot of criticisms about it from those who think that this movement is motorized by loud-mouth no-brainers. Yes, we’ve had a lot of media coverage, but no substantial change has happened. No one has gone to jail, or even to court. No oil palm company’s license has been revoked, or at least suspended. The government is still sitting on their lazy asses not doing much of anything, other than granting more and more forest exploitation permits, of course. The status of the orangutans is still the same; it’s protected. The status of their habitats is still the same; they’re mostly unprotected.

The private sector, especially the palm oil industry, is laughing at us openly. Can’t you hear them? You think they have suffered revenue loss because of this movement? Think again! NGOs are still having a hard time raising funds in this country and still heavily rely on overseas funding. Most Indonesians stop at “awwh, how cute… “ and/or “awwh, so sad…” Once we ask them to contribute by adopting an orangutan – which only costs around Rp116,000/month or equivalent to 3 cups of coffee at Starbucks – they recoil.

So what good has this movement done for the conservation of orangutans?

Let me tell you, this movement has done wonders!

NEVER in the history of orangutan conservations has the PR Value of media coverage reached over Rp4billion in 2 months! The awareness is undoubtedly the highest ever. Sure, the awareness is still skimming the surface and not much than “awwh, how cute… “ and/or “awwh, so sad…” But we had NEVER even had an “awwh, how cute… “ and/or “awwh, so sad…” moment before this. So this is a MAJOR progress! Let them be. Let them “awwh” and “oooh” all they want. Let them do this for at least a year. Because if it can last that long, then it will be easy(er) to deliver more conservation messages to them, giving them the right information and education, steering them into having stronger desires and motivating them to take real actions. For now, let them be. Let them scream. Just let them.

Secondly, never in the history of orangutan conservation that the government has been so open and welcoming. They’re suddenly more willing to discuss anything. Okay, let’s not be result-oriented at this point. The fact that they’re willing to discuss is SOMETHING! It’s obvious that they’ve started to panic… just a little bit… but still, they’re panicking. And that’s good.

Last but certainly not least, the oil palm industry has started to worry too. They don’t want to admit it yet. But we know they worry. Some have started to issue statements. Some have made several bold agreements with NGOs. Some have started to approach NGOs. They’ve started to worry. Their income is hardly affected by all this drama, but they’ve started to worry for some of the more intangible loss in the future. And that’s good.

So, the #SaveOrangutan movement is both bad and good. But mostly good. Keep it up! And thank you :-)

January 22, 2011

Neither a Western Mother, Nor an “Amy Chua”

Well, well… I guess it takes a Chinese mother to get me to blog again, after almost a year.

Yeah, I suddenly feel the need to point out that as an Asian single mother of two daughters, I’ve only had ONE rule and ONE rule only: Don’t get Mom in trouble, directly or indirectly.

I will explain to you about that rule later. But first let me tell you why I needed to write this. I needed to let you know that I'm neither a Western mother, nor an "Amy Chua".

Reading Amy Chua’s article, titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” left me with my jaw dropped to the floor. As an Asian myself, I know her so-called “parenting techniques” are actually quite common among Asians. Denying children of their basic rights, which is to play, overriding the children’s preferences and molding them into exactly what the parents want, IS the specialty of most Asian parents.

Some parents even go beyond academic and artistic demands. They decide all aspects of life for their children. Where to live, where to work, who to work for, when to marry, who to marry, what religion to believe, and so on. But to write it out proudly like that? And to present it to the whole world as “superiority”? She must’ve been really brave, or really insane.

I admit, my first impulse after reading her article was to lash out on Amy Chua for making all of us Asian mothers look and sound tyrannical. I wanted to tell her, not all Asian mothers are like you, bitch! Then, thankfully, I read a second article by a Jewish mother, Ayelet Waldman, titled “In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom”. I was relieved.

I was relieved because I no longer had the urge to bitch on Ms. Chua. Ms. Waldman’s article reminded me that there WERE times that I too was tyrannical. I let my children have their playtimes, sleepovers, computer games, TV, and internet. I let them choose extracurricular activities. I let them do a lot of things that “normal” Asian (and religious) parents probably wouldn’t, including having boyfriends and, now that they’re 17 and 21, drinking alcohol.

So I believe I’m not as terrifying as Ms. Chua. But I TOO could get tyrannical. Need an example? It just happened last year, when I found out that after spending two precious years studying Philosophy (not to mention spending my precious hard-earned money) in one of the most prestigious universities in the country, my oldest daughter Cassey, actually failed in almost every single class! Not only that, she had faked every single exam result that she sent to me, in the hope that she’d be able to fix her grade point average before I found out. She was wrong, because the university sent a letter directly to me, threatening that my daughter would have to drop out if her GPA did not reach at least 2.0 by that semester.

Long story short, I exploded. I really EXPLODED. I called her a liar, I called her a disgrace, I called her manipulative, and I can’t remember whatever else I called her as I screamed on her face for nearly 2 hours. None of her tears could soften me. I was angry and ashamed.

But then I realized, that was just it. I was ashamed. The pressure of being an Asian, this means I would have to explain to my entire family why this happened. Why she failed. She was ready to admit her failures. But I wasn’t. I was ashamed.

That’s what triggered most Asian parents to be tyrannical. We just can’t stand shame. And so we can’t stand failures because failures bring shame.

And that shame erased the other wonderful things that she had done that year. She had accomplished so much that year! She published a book. A best-selling book! She won a blog competition and had her writings published in a prestigious English newspapers in Jakarta. She was recognized everywhere as a rising and promising talent, not only as a writer but also as a photographer. She had accomplished so much. And my shame almost erased all that.

So eventually I realized what I must do. I talked to her, not screamed at her. We eventually came up with a “win-win” solution. I still wanted her to get her degree, but it didn’t have to be in Philosophy. So she finally decided to transfer to a different college, the Indonesia’s Institute of Art, studying her first love – Photography.

So, yeah… I also could get tyrannical. My Asian blood with all kinds of expectations running through my veins, coupled with memories of my own upbringing, could make me tyrannical at times. The fear of shame gets to me sometimes.

And that’s where the rule fits. My rule. Well, at least it fits me and my family. The rule that I created when they were little. I’ve always told them that they can do whatever they want, as long as they obey this ONE rule: Don’t get Mom in trouble, directly or indirectly.

What does that mean? Let me give you a couple of examples:

1.     They can watch TV as late as they want. But if they can’t wake up the next morning to go to school on time, they would get me in trouble. Because then I would have to either wake them up by force, or write a letter to their teachers, lying that they’re sick. So if they do this, I’d have the right to be angry and get them in “trouble” too. They’d be grounded.

2.     They can drink their heads off. But if they get in an accident or any drinking-related mess, they would get me in trouble too. Hospital bills, possible run with the police, etcetera, etcetera. So if they survive this disaster, I would get them in “trouble” too. They’d be punished.

There are many examples. In fact, when I finally talked calmly to Cassey about her options, she admitted that my rage over her failures was also the result of her “getting me in trouble”. She dragged me into problem and shame, which could be avoided if she would just tell me the truth about not wanting to continue to study Philosophy. I would probably still be a bit angry, but I certainly wouldn’t explode. And I would be able to transfer her into that art school a lot sooner.

In the end, I know I’m not a normal, conventional mother, by any standards. Asian or Western. My “rule” has been questioned and ridiculed by friends and families. My ways of raising my children have been criticized. But one thing that I know, that simple rule has given my children the ability to think for themselves, decide for themselves, make mistakes, and face consequences of their actions.

Since they were little, they’ve decided their own bedtimes. They’ve decided many things. As long as they don’t “get me in trouble” because of their decisions, they can do pretty much whatever they desire. I have also learned a lot by applying this rule. I’ve learned about what they like. What they don’t like. What they can handle and what they can’t. And many more valuable lessons in the 21 years of parenting. I love them to bits for that!

So… I’m neither a Western mom, nor an “Amy Chua”.

But I’m certain, my ways of parenting work. It may not work for everybody, but it surely works for my family.

May 13, 2010

The End-of-Year Journey to West Bali

Dec. 30, 2009 – Jan. 2, 2010. My new year’s eve’s journey. The journey to close the year 2009. I’ve been talking about it, tweeting about it, yet I haven’t written it here. The photos have been selected and edited, and even posted onto picasaweb. But not here. This space, this blog, is too personal. Because writing it and posting it here would force me to admit the intense blackness of a cursed year, to expose my bleeding heart, and to own up to the decay of faith and hopes and dreams. So I’ve been procrastinating, postponing a story that should’ve been written and posted since the end of last year. The end-of-year journey to West Bali.

So here it is. By the end of last year, my arms reached out frantically in despair, seeking for strength or something substantial to enwrap me in compassion. By the end of 2009, I wasn’t looking for heavy-duty partying scene as I used to. I was looking for silence and solitude, or maybe familiar sounds to comfort and console. The familiar sounds of silence of the underwater world.

Therefore, I skipped the trendy “golden triangle” Kuta-Legian-Seminyak. I ignored the cool and breezy air of Ubud-Kintamani-Bedugul. I even paid no attention to the underwater kingdoms of East Bali, Amed-Tulamben, because they would certainly be packed with touristy divers at that time of the year. Instead, I headed west, to the sleepy town of Pemuteran and the tiny Menjangan Island. Silence and solitude.

Arriving in Pemuteran early in the morning of Dec. 31, the last day of 2009, Neptune the Sea God seemed to be welcoming me with stunning deep-blue skies and incredible windless sea. And as I rode my boat on the short 20-minute journey to Menjangan, for just that moment, my soul stopped drifting aimlessly in hopelessness. For just that moment, my soul came back. For just that moment, it stopped searching for meaning and truth, accepting the fact that it would find no direction. Only Mother Nature could do this, giving me warmth in times of want. Only Mother Nature could envelop me in sincere affection, as if apologizing for failing to grant my desires. I smiled, and prepared for the first dive.

The Coral Wall
Three other divers – Charlie, Carrie, and Shiho – were going to join me on the first dive of the final day of the year. We reached the jetty of Menjangan at 9.30AM. Flocks of local people arrived almost at the same time as we did. They were going to perform some kind of Hindu ceremony in the temple on the otherwise- uninhabited island. As it turned out, that day was also the day of a full moon. The ritual was the full-moon ritual.

Deep inside, this coincidence pinched me a bit. It was like a huge sign over my head. The message from the universe could be unbearably cruel sometimes. But fortunately, I had no time to pout. The dive master from Yos Dive led us to the sea. We were going to start the dive from the beach, walking slowly from the shore, then snorkeling in shallow water, gradually heading towards the deep sea, where we would eventually plunge into a steep vertical drop off. This was the renowned multi-layered coral wall of Menjangan.

The underwater scenery was simply fantastic. I knew the area was famous for its giant gorgonians, yet nothing could’ve prepared me for this extraordinary vista. The abundance of colorful gorgonians, the staggering variety of fish and corals in crystal clear water, flawlessly intermixed with dazzling rays of the sun that came out to maximize the brilliance of the colors. For that moment, just for that moment, I was healed. It was too rude not to be happy.

Pos II
The second dive started with a back-roll from the boat. The site was Pos II, where we dropped over a vast underwater garden, dominated by vibrant soft corals. If there was such a thing as “The Garden of Tao”, this would’ve been it. Here, amongst sunburst anthias (Serranocirrhitus latus) and lyretail anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), amid enigmatic butterflyfish (Johnrandallia nigrirostris), and an assortment of many other species of fish, I pacified my emotions. The sound of my heartbeat in serene quietness of the sea was the only witness to my existence. My exposed heart trembled. And my soul, in its most primitive form of self, revealed a beauty nurtured within.

Funny. Sensing a touch of animation, I felt like starring in the film “Finding Nemo”. Surrounded by Nemo (clownfish), Dory (blue regal tang), Gill (Moorish idol), Peach (starfish), Bubbles (yellow tang), Bloat (pufferfish), Crush (sea turtle) and many other sea friends, I was spirited. The best feeling I had all year.

By the end of the dive, the coral reefs had succeeded to bury my pity within the fertile soil of Menjangan. The euphoric effects wouldn’t last. I knew that. But at least for that moment, just for that moment at the end of 2009, they restored my broken heart, shielded my fragile soul, and wilted upon my scars, allowing my own garden of hopes to grow again. As a skeleton, in slumber, I awaited the cycle of rebirth, the moment in space and time where winter was unwelcome and decay was impossible. For that moment, just for that moment at the end of the year, I breathed the harmonies of nature. And my spirit, lulled of the year-long tortures, was truly free.

Happy (belated) new year 2010! No, I'm not okay. But I'm still here. It would take a whole lot more to get rid of me.

May 10, 2010

And That’s All I Ask

One thought
One sentence
One phone call
That’s all it takes
A reminder that you still think of me
And that’s enough
That’s enough
And I’m happy
And that’s all I ask
You need not need to do anything else
Because you already own me
Everything in me and about me
Belongs to you…

Thank you
I had a great birthday
It was great
And it was enough
Because of you…

April 18, 2010

How Tarot Cards Work

Tarot-card Philosophy

How can randomly drawn cards have any relevance to someone's life and what's happening in it? What most readers say, the Tarot can enlighten you about the choices you have. The cards don't tell you what you should do or what specifically is going to happen in your future, but rather the possibilities, depending on the path you take. Let's look at some of the theories behind how Tarot cards could possibly work.

Carl Jung believed that in addition to the repeatable cause-and-effect relationships on which the scientific world is so strongly based, there is also another connecting principle that does not share that cause-and-effect relationship. He called this principle synchronicity. According to Jung, synchronicity explains the guiding forces in the universe. Things we might see as coincidence are actually signs that can help us make decisions and guide our lives -- if we recognize them.

Jung believed that quantum mechanics could be a possible explanation for the phenomenon of synchronicity. (Quantum mechanics explains the relationships of particles and their random interconnectivity, with behaviors being probabilities rather than certainties.) There are those who believe that because the forces of quantum mechanics affect the reality of physical objects, Tarot cards might play the role of showing us paths and patterns and helping us understand the meaning in those guiding energies. Although, according to the principles of quantum mechanics, once you see the possible outcomes in the Tarot reading, you've changed the probabilities. While Jung did not study Tarot, he was interested in I Ching (another divination tool) and suggested that synchronicity could be an explanation for how I Ching might work for divination.

Some say, it all boils down to your subconscious mind. Arguably, how we perceive things relies heavily on our subconscious, and there are those who believe that with Tarot, the subconscious projects its own interpretations on the Tarot cards. As a person receiving a Tarot reading, your interpretation of the cards is a result of the factors in your life that shape who you are and what you are about. The questions you have about your life (usually the reason for consulting the Tarot in the first place) are projected onto the pictures, so you define answers from what you see. In this way, the Tarot is useful in helping us tap into our subconscious to find answers that we might never consciously think of. The
 Rorschach inkblot test uses a similar principle to look into the subconscious. Whether you believe that Tarot cards hold any power or ability to shed light on your life, your problems or your future might depend on how easily you can open your mind to the idea of it. Many Tarot-card readers have differing ideas about how or why the Tarot works. In fact, some say we only need the Tarot to help us until we learn to get in touch with our "inner guide" on our own.

Tarot-Card History: Are They Really That Ancient?

According to Tarot historian Tom Tadfor Little, traditional playing cards were first seen in Europe in 1375, having been brought over from the Islamic societies where they had been used for centuries before that. These cards were not, however, Tarot cards. At this point, he says, there is no evidence to show that Tarot cards had yet been created, which goes against many claims that ordinary playing cards evolved from the original Tarot deck.

It wasn't until 1440 that the cards that were most likely the origin of Tarot cards were first mentioned. In a letter from the Duke of Milan, there was a request for several decks of "triumph" cards to be used at a special event. The letter differentiated triumph cards from regular "playing" cards.

It does appear, however, that the first Tarot decks were created as a game. There were four suits with cards numbered one through ten and also court cards that included a queen, king, knight and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. The decks were used to play a game called triumph that was similar to bridge. In triumph, 21 of the 22 special picture cards were permanent trump cards. The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe. People began referring to it as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530.

In 1781, in France and England, followers of the occult discovered Tarot cards. They saw the symbolic pictures of the cards as having more meaning than the simple trump cards they were used for at the time. They used the cards as a divination tool, and occult writers wrote about "the Tarot." After this, the Tarot became a part of occult philosophy.

There are also those who believe that Tarot cards originated in Egypt. In some circles, they are thought to be the sole surviving "book" from the great fire that burned the libraries of ancient Egypt. In this theory, the cards are considered to be the hieroglyphical keys to life.

For more information on Tarot cards, Tarot-card reading and related topics, check out these links.

·         Aeclectic Tarot: Tarot Deck Categories, http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/categories.shtml
·       American Tarot Association, http://www.ata-tarot.com/
·       Crystalinks: Tarot, http://www.crystalinks.com/tarot.html
·       The Hermitage: A Tarot History Site, http://www.tarothermit.com/
·       Learning the Tarot, http://www.learntarot.com/course.htm
·       RealMagick, http://realmagick.com/main/home.html
·       Salem Tarot, http://www.salemtarot.com/contents.html
·       The Skeptic's Dictionary: Tarot Cards, http://skepdic.com/tarot.html
·       Synchronicity Times: What is Synchronicity?, http://www.ropi.net/st/what_is_synchronicity.htm
·       Tarot Certification Board of America, http://www.tarotcertification.org/
·       TarotMoon: Quantum Physics, Synchronicity and the Tarot, http://www.tarotmoon.com/articles/Quantum/quantum.html