The Art I Master In One Year of College

The video above sums up the major lesson I learn from the first year of college life, albeit the excessive use of the f word is not a part of what I learn. To keep my posts suitable for all ages, from this point onward, I’ll replace the f word with fish.

Four years ago, back when I was in high school, I was taught to give a fish to almost every people and every events around me. Not without any purpose, those lovely seniors who taught me expected me to reduce my indifference. As a minimum requirement, I was expected to know the condition of my friends or colleagues. If it had been possible for me to help him/her, I would’ve felt obliged to do so. In one way or another, giving fish to something that is not my business at the first place is shaping me to be more social. It makes me easier to do unnecessary good deeds willingly. The impact of giving a fish to almost every single thing to my habit is not so surprising though as it is actually basic physics:

Newton’s First Law of Motion
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I constantly give fish to people, thus it’s easier for me to give another fish to other people the next time.

However, one thing my seniors forget to teach us is that we actually need to consider who (or what) get more fishes than others. Some people or some things aren’t worth giving the fishes! Sure, it’s okay to give tiny weeny lacking omega-3 fishes to everyone or everything; it doesn’t cost that much. Giving tiny fishes for free is kinda good though if we consider it as an act of charity that might bring smiles on people’s faces. But although there are plenty of fishes in the sea, our access to the most nutritious fishes is limited. Our resource of good quality fishes is scarce; we must manage it well enough to keep it sustainable.

Entering college let me acknowledge diverse interesting things that can actually easily seduce me to give them fishes for free. But as a year went by, I get more assured that those appealing things aren’t worth my fishes. Sure, they might seem shining shimmering splendid (you peeps are an old school if you get this), but they don’t need my fishes. They’ll still be working fine without mine. Plus, many of things I met won’t give me anything back for a return (knowledge, tranquility, attention, etc), so why should I give mine?

Some may say that giving or not giving fishes based on the rule I set up for my self is too transaction-al. But, hey, guess what! Life itself is a transaction between us, human being, with The Creator. We obey The Creator’s rules to reach heaven as a return; why can’t we apply those rules on daily basis? All I say is that we really should start investing fishes on things that matters or to things that need it the most. That way, zero fish is wasted.

Ciao! lookingbackfromnow,didIaccidentallyenrolltocollegeoflife?

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I Am Sarahza: A Proof That The Butterfly Effect Exists

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(Disclaimer: this post is written in Indonesian because I Am Sarahza is also written in Indonesian)

Saya tidak akan me-review karya keenam Hanum Salsabiela Rais dan Rangga Almahendra dari A sampai Z karena saya yakin banyak orang yang bisa melakukannya lebih bagus dari saya. Alih-alih, saya akan merefleksikan perjalanan perasaan saya beserta beberapa bulir hikmah yang saya garis bawahi ketika membaca I Am Sarahza, sebuah rekam jejak perjuangan Hanum dan Rangga menanti buah hati selama hampir 12 tahun.

I Am Sarahza merupakan ‘buku sejarah’ perjuangan Hanum dan Rangga menanti keturunan. Sebagaimana semestinya perjuangan, novel ini menceritakan perjuangan dalam rentang waktu yang panjang, yakni sekitar kurang lebih sebelas tahun. Cerita diawali dengan pertemuan Hanum dengan Rangga di parkiran FKG UGM dan diakhiri dengan kelahiran putri mereka, Sarahza Reashira, sebelas tahun kemudian. Di antaranya? Perjuangan hebat seorang perempuan untuk go straight outta hell alive: 5x inseminasi buatan, 20x terapi herbal, dan 6x bayi tabung (IVF).

Kenapa harus banget pakai diksi go straight outta hell ya karena perjuangan Hanum masyaallah banget. Gimana enggak? Kesuburan seorang perempuan itu—setuju nggak setuju, percaya nggak percaya—sebuah aset berharga, sebuah nilai plus bagi seorang perempuan. Dalam I Am Sarahza, Hanum menceritakan dengan gamblang sebelas tahun pernikahannya yang dihantui oleh pertanyaan “suburkah aku?”. Selama sebelas tahun, batinnya bergulat mempertanyakan nilai dirinya sendiri, nilai yang seharusnya bisa ia banggakan sebagai bagian utuh dari dirinya.

The Butterfly Effect

Perjuangan dan pergulatan batin sebelas tahun Hanum menurutnya berakar pada satu kejadian penting dalam hidupnya. Saat itu, pada perayaan ulang tahun ke-2 pernikahan mereka, Hanum berkata kepada Rangga:

“Buatku nggak punya anak juga nggak papa.”

Bum! Kalimat tujuh kata itu dengan mantap mengalir dari bibir Hanum. Diceritakan, pada saat mendengarnya, Rangga takut bahwa perkataan Hanum akan diamini malaikat yang mendengarkan.

Kalimat emosional itu merembet keluar karena Hanum pada saat itu tidak ingin menomorduakan kariernya sebagai presenter TV di bawah kepentingan keluarga, yakni mengusahakan keturunan sebelum keadaan semakin rumit. Sebenarnya, perasaan Hanum bisa dipahami. Pada saat itu, ia tengah menjalani kehidupan yang ia inginkan—berkecimpung di dunia media—setelah selama enam tahun berkutat pada dunia yang tidak ia nikmati—kedokteran gigi. Sebagai seseorang yang tengah mencicipi terpenuhinya kebutuhan akan self-actualization, jelas Hanum tidak akan semudah itu melepas sumber kebahagiaannya hanya demi menemani Rangga kuliah di Austria.

Akan tetapi, terlepas dari relativitas benar-salah terhadap persepsi masing-masing orang, tidak selalu apa yang bisa dipahami itu harus dibenarkan. Dampak dari perilaku Hanum muda yang dilandaskan pada emosi dan ego ternyata menggema melintasi ruang waktu hingga sebelas tahun kemudian dan juga seterusnya. The Butterfly Effect, suatu perubahan atau tindakan kecil di masa lalu dapat berdampak besar di masa depan. Sehingga, bisa kukatakan bahwa bulir hikmah utama dan terpenting dari cerita ini adalah selalu berhati-hati dalam setiap tindakan, seremeh apapun tindakan itu, seremeh berbicara.

The Playbook

Penantian Hanum dan Rangga yang diceritakan dalam novel ini mengingatkanku akan suatu kejadian lampau yang pernah kualami. Pada saat itu, aku tengah bersekolah di tingkat 2 suatu sekolah dasar yang luar biasa. Guru kami dan asistennya akan mengajari kami cara menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba” dari dua bilah kayu yang disilangkan dan gulungan benang warna-warni. Karena keterampilan itu perlu pengarahan dan pembiasaan sekitar sepuluh menit, murid-muridnya dipanggil secara bergantian. Mereka hanya memanggil dua murid setiap sepuluh menit. Sehingga, untuk mengisi waktu menunggu giliran, mereka menginstruksikan kami untuk bersantai di kelas. “Kalian terserah mau ngapain aja, yang penting bersantai,” begitu perintah guruku.

Begitulah kami selama beberapa jam kemudian. Ada temanku yang berbincang, ada temanku yang membaca buku. Pada saat itu, aku yang tidak sabar untuk segera menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba” tidak bisa benar-benar bersantai. Aku berusaha berbincang dengan temanku dan membaca, tetapi mataku kerap curi-curi pandang ke arah teman-temanku yang telah terlebih dahulu dipanggil untuk menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba”. Ketika teman-temanku menyebar ke segala penjuru ruang kelas untuk benar-benar bersantai, aku terdiam menunggu dengan duduk tenang dan rapi di karpet dekat guru dengan kedok pura-pura membaca. Rupanya gelagatku itu diketahui oleh guruku. Alhasil, aku harus menyaksikan semua temanku—kecuali satu orang yang kini aku lupa siapa—dipanggil dahulu sebelum aku. Ya, aku menjadi orang yang dipanggil kedua dari terakhir. Saat itu jujur rasanya sedih. Apa salahku? Bukankah aku jelas-jelas menunjukkan minat pada kegiatan menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba” itu? Kenapa justru teman-temanku yang senang bermain-main itu yang dipanggil terlebih dahulu?

Seolah melempar memori akan kejadian itu ke mukaku sekarang, I Am Sarahza mengingatkanku bahwa kesalahanku pada saat itu adalah satu: enggan mengikuti petunjuk. Boleh jadi aku yang paling berminat, tetapi karena aku tidak mengikuti the playbook—aturan mainnya—, maka aku masih kalah.

Pada kasus yang dialami Hanum dan Rangga, Hanum merasa bahwa ia melupakan playbook-nya, yakni kitab suci Alquran. Ia merasa bahwa selama ia menginginkan keturunan, ia tidak pernah benar-benar meresapi setiap prosesnya sesuai Alquran dan sunnah. Ia lupa bahwa ada peraturan main yang harus ditaati supaya Yang Maha Kuasa berkenan memberikan kuasa-Nya.

The Main Objective

Karena I Am Sarahza berotasi mengelilingi perjuangan Hanum mengusahakan keberadaan janin dalam rahimnya, novel ini juga berfokus pada tugas utama seorang perempuan. Pada awal novel, diceritakan bahwa Hanum adalah seorang mahasiswi koass kedokteran gigi yang merasa tidak bahagia dengan takdirnya menjadi dokter gigi. Hal ini karena ia ternyata memiliki minat yang lebih besar pada dunia media dan jurnalistik. Ketika pada akhirnya ia bisa menyelami dunia media dan jurnalistik, ia menjadi lebih memihak pada kariernya daripada keluarga kecilnya bersama Rangga. Bahasa kerennya, Hanum menjadi career-oriented.

Hal ini kemudian menimbulkan banyak rintangan bagi Hanum dan Rangga dalam memperoleh keturunan. Ketika akhirnya Hanum merasa berada di titik nadir hidupnya, Hanum mengevaluasi orientasi hidupnya dan melakukan pivot, perputaran sebesar 180 derajat. Ia kemudian menjadikan rida Allah SWT sebagai orientasinya. Padahal, dalam ajaran agama Islam, rida Allah SWT bagi perempuan yang sudah menikah adalah rida suami, bukan pada karier, ketenaran, dan segala hal duniawi lainnya. Hanum menjadi afterlife-oriented, berorientasi surga.

Kisah perubahan orientasi Hanum mengingatkanku akan game masa kecil yang suka kumainkan. Dalam beragam game tersebut, ada yang istilahnya main objective (tujuan utama) dan small errands (pekerjaan sampingan). Main objective jelas lebih susah untuk dilakukan karena ada banyak langkah rumit yang harus dikerjakan untuk menyelesaikannya. Sementara itu, small errands adalah pekerjaan ringan yang tidak memakan waktu dan pikiran, tetapi memberi reward yang lumayan. Terkadang mengerjakan banyak small errands bisa lebih menyenangkan daripada melanjutkan misi utama untuk menyelesaikan main objective. Akan tetapi, sebanyak apapun small errands yang kukerjakan, game tidak akan selesai.

Begitu pula dengan hidup. I Am Sarahza mengingatkanku kembali bahwa dalam hidup ini pasti ada hal-hal kecil menyenangkan yang bisa mengalihkan fokus kita dari mencapai tujuan utama. Sebut saja karier, kemewahan, dan kesenangan duniawi yang menggiurkan. Sementara itu, kita terkadang sering melupa bahwa ada main objective yang harus kita tuntaskan sebaik-baiknya. Apakah main objective kita sebagai manusia? Sekali lagi, jawaban dari pertanyaan ini relatif. Akan tetapi, aku cukup yakin bahwa banyak yang setuju bahwa salah satu tujuan kita di dunia ini adalah untuk menjadi orang yang pantas mendapat surga-Nya.


Ada banyak bulir hikmah lain yang bisa dipetik dari I Am Sarahza, tetapi setidaknya tiga di atas merupakan tiga bulir hikmah yang paling mengena bagiku. Ketika membaca novel ini, aku tidak menangis, sepertinya. Mata berkaca-kaca, iya, tetapi dengan sekali kejap air mata itu hilang seperti diserap lagi oleh kantung pembuatnya. Meskipun ada beberapa ulasan I Am Sarahza yang menyebutkan bahwa novel ini membuat mereka menangis meraung-raung ketika membacanya, aku tidak menangis. Entahlah.

Akan tetapi, I Am Sarahza berkali-kali membuatku harus berhenti membaca dan meresapi apa yang barusan dipindai oleh kedua bola mataku. Beberapa kali aku menjadi teringat akan kejadian masa lalu karena mendadak jawaban kejadian masa lalu itu kutemukan verifikasinya pada novel itu. Beberapa kali pula aku harus berhenti untuk beristigfar karena I Am Sarahza rupanya juga menjadi buku yang mencatat dosa-dosaku. Beberapa kali pula aku harus berhenti untuk menanamkan bulir hikmah yang kutemukan kuat-kuat dalam diriku supaya aku kelak tidak lupa.

I Am Sarahza merupakan buku mengenai perjuangan. Sungguh tidak berlebihan apabila aku mengatakan bahwa I Am Sarahza menjadi kado indah dari Hanum dan Rangga bagi pembaca. Kado yang dapat mencegah pembaca terperosok dalam lubang yang sama, kado yang dapat menjadi lengan bagi yang perlu dikuatkan. Sekalipun tidak ada satu pejuang pun yang langsung menang di medan perang sehingga kita perlu bantuan banyak tangan untuk berjuang. Jadi, selamat membaca dan merasakan sensasinya!

Sarahza

Moving On Is Hard; I Tried

This post is written on my 19th Eid Al-Fitr. At this point of life, I no longer take Eid Al-Fitr as the most awaited celebration of the year. It’s because… I no longer have any reason to celebrate it.

I grew up as my parent’s only child thus I relied on my cousins to have fun. Well, I did. I did have a wonderful childhood. Every Eid Al-Fitr, I and my cousins spent the night at our grandma’s house for several days. We made a fort out of thick removable cushions and slept there. It was silly how three kids were willingly to be cramped in the most uncomfortable way in a small fort whilst their grandma provided a large house for us to sleep, but it was part of the fun.

6ae72fcf9b98cf1a56f6f554870ae7c1--trains-miniatures-model-trains

One of the two loco we have exactly looks like this!

We also played with those electric trains my late grandpa left for his family. Oh, he left us with the best kind of trains! The trains were made of hard steel and it could move if only we arranged the rail right and tight. We also made tiny peoples, stations, gates, and monuments out of used papers. We were such good city planners back then.

Not to forget, we used to play PlayStation games together. I don’t really have a favourite game, but I excel the most at Guitar Hero. Oh, I’m also good at Need for Speed and GTA. Meanwhile, my cousins were very good at Call of Duty. Heh, good old times.

At the night before Eid Al-Fitr, all family members gathered at my grandma’s house. My uncles and my aunts brought fireworks for us to play. They brought different kinds of it: the most nonviolent ‘wire’ that we can use to draw light, the most common fireworks that explodes in the sky with a loud bang (we didn’t plant it though, we held it in hands; I feel so badass back then), the silent waterfall one (it seems like a falling lava, if I’m not mistaken), etc.

On the morning of Eid Al-Fitr, we all prayed together at the nearest grass-less soccer field. After that, we visit the grave of my ancestors, cleaned it, and decorated it with flowers from the market. We then headed to the house of a distant relative in the city center to greet them for less than an hour. Then, we headed back to grandma’s house. We performed sungkem (a traditional way of expressing sorry to the elderly) and ate the most awaited opor ayam (basically a dish of chicken soaked in coconut milk with other spices). After that, I and my parents headed to my other grandparents’ house near my high school before going home at last.

resep-opor-ayam

This is opor ayam in case you have never seen Indonesia’s Eid must-dish.

Well, now, the feast is no longer that big. All the magic of Eid Al-Fitr has gone along with some members of my family. Some members of my family are also unable to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with us in my hometown due to incredibly long geographic distance. What’s left from Eid Al-Fitr is only the morning prayer, the grave visit, and the opor ayam. And.. who can I blame?

As time goes by, distance grows geographically and mentally. I barely even talk to my cousins anymore and I don’t even remember why we started stop talking anyway. The one who used to make me start talking has gone (I rarely show that I’m in grief, but, really, I still hope for her presence which I believe will make things better). Maybe it is because we no longer have the same topic to talk about or maybe it is because we rarely meet. But, still, my best and favourite theory of what has happened is that… life goes on, and so does the people.

It is a bitter truth that I’m still unable to cope with. Life goes on, the people goes on too. Nothing can really stay the same forever. At some point of our lives, childhood euphoria shreds away. People come and go while I still stand at the exact point I was since a long time ago. Why aren’t you moving then? Where to? I have no other place to go… yet.

So, that sums up my feeling for the Eids these past few years. I’m so sorry for the negative thought at (what supposed to be) the happiest day of the year, but I really can’t help it. If you still feel the magic of Eid or Christmas or Waisak or else, please enjoy it the best you can before it is too late. I had a great time, and I hope you still have it with you.

Arrivederci, peeps!

Never Have I Taken A Commercial This Serious

Hullo! It is almost that time of the year again: holiday. Yeayyy! I have been trying to retain ideas on my mind until next Wednesday (the day I finish this semester) so that I can focus on my final exam, but oh well, I guess I can’t hold it anymore and I guess this piece won’t really bother my exam prep. So here it goes!

Around three weeks ago, 50s-90s musics were on my YouTube’s top suggestion list since I often played Sinatra’s while writing my almost-100-folio-pages assignment. If I’m not mistaken, before the never ending music suggestion list played Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, a disturbing short silence followed by a traditional Javanese rhythm came along out of nowhere.  I minimized my Word and checked my YouTube tab to find a commercial made by Blue Band Indonesia (a prominent margarine brand under the flag of Unilever) which featured my hometown, Yogyakarta. It turned out that the commercial was a web-serial with the duration of 12 minute-ish. I somehow didn’t want to click that Skip Ad button on the bottom right side, and so I watched it for the next 12 minutes.

The serial is titled Cerita Nada and it tells the story of a nuclear metropolitan family who returned to Yogyakarta to celebrate Ramadhan with relatives. It only has three episodes which is released once in a week, and I have been following that serial until today, the day it ended (I guess). I’m not going to talk too much about the plot, you can just watch it down below:

(make sure you’ve watched the episodes down below before moving on to my next paragraph as I will reveal more spoilers and pop the magic!)

As a matter of fact, compared to Tropicana Slim’s Sore which came out around a year ago, this serial is not highly buzzed among Indonesians. Although Blue Band is more widely used among Indonesians than Tropicana Slim’s Stevia Sugar (the product introduced on Sore), it’s not too surprising that Sore went more viral than Cerita Nada. Why? I guess Tropicana Slim understands the basic recipe for Indonesians better than Blue Band: love story and settings abroad.

(a peek on Sore)

Besides that, if we compare both serials, Sore seems to be crafted more artistically than Cerita Nada. Sore has a unique plot, a great choice of original soundtracks and artists (Adhitia Sofyan and Kunto Aji), and an uncommon way of promoting its product (they rarely put Stevia in its frames). Adhitia Sofyan’s Forget Jakarta on the beginning of the first episode is enough to light people’s curiosity and capture their attention for the next 12 minutes. Meanwhile, Cerita Nada is simply not that unique. Plus, the way each character interacts with others seems too unnatural. In my honest opinion, it is harder to enjoy Cerita Nada because some parts are too soap opera-ish.

HOWEVER, I highly appreciate the writer of Cerita Nada for the moral values it contains. I praise anyone who made the story for bringing up Indonesia’s latest national problem: the lack of attention towards surrounding due to gadget use. I’ve experienced it myself (being ignored for gadget and being chosen second after other people), and believe me, Key (the child in the story) and Nada (the mom, the wife) perfectly resembles what I feel. This is a problem most people have, but too scared to speak about since it is often being done by parents, older people, whom we must respect. I really hope that more people will watch this because I believe this serial can speak what we aren’t brave enough to speak about.

Another thing that I like from this serial is that it implies the idea of the importance of food as a fuel for love. Yep, this sounds cheesy too in my ears, but believe me, we really are what we eat. Back when I was a kid, my grandma (who happens to be the greatest home cook I’ve ever known ’till now) told me that “Love springs from the stomach”. She told me that the reason why she always fed her family with her own cooking is because homemade foods also contains love other than those physiologically-important nutrients. It sounds cheesy, but she’s right. You can feel the difference between restaurant’s food and your mom-made or your grandma-made food; those mom-made or grandma-made food feels like home. And here, on the series, most of their problems are solved by cookies. It seems unrealistic though, but hey, good food can lead to a good conversation–or so they say: good food, good mood.

So, bottom line, thank you Blue Band and Tropicana Slim for pioneering creative audiovisuals to promote health (and your product, of course). I truly enjoy the storytelling, and I really hope that someday in the near future our TV channels will be filled with quality contents like these.

Arrivederci, peeps! Until next week (I guess, ehehe).

Why We Race to The Moon and Beyond

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For the team behind Falcon Heavy
Thank you for giving humanity a great step forward

This is hell. If this is not hell, I don’t know what is.

We should have arrived at Aislinn’s cousin’s rehearsal dinner on time if I hadn’t begged Aislinn to accompany me watch the sun set at the hill nearby before heading there. The rehearsal is going to be held by the beach at 8 pm and now is 7 pm and we are nowhere near the beach at all.

Luck is not around us, I know that. We ran out of gas, right now, in the middle of the road surrounded by never ending rice fields. There is no one driving on this long road other than us. There is no street light at all. Phone signal? Oh you wish! We’re literally in the middle of nowhere! We have nobody to run to! We are surrounded by complete darkness with a faint hint of the moonlight!

“I’m so so so soooo sorry, Aislinn. Had I listened to you, we wouldn’t be stuck here. Had I listened to you, we could’ve had proper dinner for tonight,” I kneel in front of her who sits on the car hood. I bury my face on her lap, too ashamed to look at her face. “I know you love Sara so much and I’m sorry to make you miss her wedding rehearsal. I should be less selfish, I know that now.”

Aislinn doesn’t answer me right away. Instead, she runs her fingers through my hair and hugs me on my head. “I’m a little pissed, but I’m alright. Thank you for apologizing, I respect that,” she says as she caresses me, “Come here.”

She moves like an inch to make space for me. I come up and sit next to her. She reclines and I follow. She’s not hitting me at all, so I think it is safe to say that she’s not mad at me right now.

From below, I can see above us lie a thousand stars, tiny dim dots on the night sky. The moon stands alone, but being that way doesn’t stop it from being the biggest and the brightest among all. Yet Aislinn and I are still surrounded by darkness; the moon and its troops don’t help.

“Do you know that I am actually glad we can’t make it to the rehearsal dinner?” she says abruptly.

“Huh? I don’t know that you’re glad. Instead, I thought you’ll be mad if we don’t make it on time.”

“Mmm not really. I just want to be there for her, but I’m currently not in the mood to meet my whole relatives,” she sighs. “Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but I’m just not ready.”

“Not ready for what?”

“Not ready for their interrogative questions. As soon as we arrive there, distant relative will ask us where’s our child, why haven’t we had one, what are we up to right now, what have we achieved all these years, and else,” she rants, “I’m just so done with those kind of questions. They compare their happiness level to our lives and see at what stage are we in right now. If we’re below what they call as ‘the happy stage’, they’ll tell us what to do even if we’re not eager to reach it!”

“So, you’re fed up with what people think as life standards or basic life goals?”

“Yes, thank you very much for the conclusion!” she shouts. Nobody is around anyway, so that’s okay. “I hate it when they ask questions like that.. I hate it even more if what they ask is what I want and what I haven’t been able to achieve.”

I lie still next to her. She’s right. This world is full of people who compare one and another continuously, endlessly. They judge people’s life not based on what the person have achieved, they judge people by what they haven’t achieved.

“I haven’t done it to you, have I?” I asked. “I don’t wanna be hated by you. You’re the last person I want to hate me.”

She turns at me, her hazel eyes gleamed at me, “No, you haven’t. So far, you’re the person who encouraged me the most.”

Thank God.

“Peter, I think now I know why people are eager to start a new life outside Earth. Remember Aurora from the film Passengers? I think now I feel what she feels. Life on Earth is exhausting, and sometimes we just want to leave it all behind to live on the great unknown.”

“So, say you have a ticket to board on Aurora’s spaceship Avalon, will you still board and leave me here all alone?” I asks.

“No, NO, of course not! I’ll bring you with me, and if I can’t, I won’t go!” she pouted.

…so she chooses me above all possibility, above all chance for her own happiness? Does that mean I’m the one who give her the utmost joy? If she thinks so… I must offer her what she trusts me with.

“Say, Aislinn, after we attend Sara’s wedding tomorrow, after we land back home, will you go on an adventure with me? We can take a break from our jobs for six months and go travel to some places. I can’t promise you five-star hotels on our journey and I can’t promise you that we’ll travel the world right away, but I can promise you that we’ll be happy. We can taste the life we never have ’till now, and if we enjoy it, after some considerations in the future, maybe we’ll shift our life,” I say. “We can redefine happy. How? Do you want to give it a shot with me?”

She looks down, “Do I give you another problem to think of? I feel so selfish just by wanting that to happen.”

“No, you don’t! I think what you say is right! What’s the point of living in the city, chasing a decent life, and by decent is what I mean as what people think decent is, if we get stressed eventually? We need to spice our life up. What do you say?”

“If that doesn’t give us problem, then I think it’s a yes from me,” she says. “Thank you for bearing with me.”

“I have promised to live by you for the rest of my life, haven’t I?”

Above the car hood she then snugs to me. “You know what? Being here, stuck in the middle of nowhere with you is fun. I like this.”

“Tonight is not too hellish then?” I asks.

“Yeah. I think I need an escape from everyday routines every once in a while. And to think about it again, I think all the escape I need is you.”

“So, we’re each others’ spaceship?”

“Yeah, definitely.”

What We Have But They Don’t

852

“Aislinn, what makes us work?”

I felt some weight shifted from the side of my body. Aislinn pulled herself, making us seemed like two individuals sitting properly on a couch after how-many-hours-only-God-could-count spending the rest of the Sunday being two individuals clasped in one wrapped by a thick white duvet, looking like a potato made of snow. “Huh?”

“What makes us work?” I repeated.

“I cannot see where this conversation is going,” she said blatantly. I don’t blame her. My random question might have distracted her focus from solving Tommy and Tuppence’s case narrated by Agatha Christie inside the thin N or M novel she had on hand.

“We were once complete strangers, but now look at us! We’re the dynamic duo, two relationship virtuoso.” I saw her smile broadened a little. “So, I was wondering, what is the thing between us that makes us work?”

Aislinn put her book down and she then gazed at the ceilings. Her eyesight might be limited by white-painted walls around us, but I exactly know that her mind was wandering freely to the edge of the universe, seeking for answers. That’s just the way she is, a deep thinker, a great companion slash lover.

“Is it our similarities?” I asked again. “I know that we’re not so much alike, but is it those small similarities that makes us work?”

She then turned at me. Her eyes were locked at mine.. and I was lost. I was lost at her warm almond eyes. I know that ‘similarity’ was not the answer we were looking because she was diving to the deepest part of me by looking into my eye. She often did that, as if my eyes held all the answer she needed.

“I know what makes us work.” Funnily, we both said those exact words at the same time.

“What do you think it is?” she asked quickly.

“I think we have big enough hearts to understand each other. We digest information from each other thoroughly before we reply.. and I guess that’s why we’re able to understand each other well enough.”

“Hmm, similar,” she said. “I think we work because we listen. Honestly, I really appreciate it whenever you stop looking at your phone every time I called your name. It might be something very simple, but it means a lot to me. It’s a proof that you’re a good listener, and that’s all I need.”

“Oh, I just don’t want you to take my phone away just because you’re mad at me for gaming all the time,” I said. Oh, teasing her was always fun!

“If that’s so, you’re such an arse!” she sneered, sticking her tongue out at me. “But really, I think people nowadays should stop taking public speaking classes and start taking public listening classes instead, if there is one. We always want to be heard ’till we forget to listen. We humans are too selfish, aren’t we?!”

She started ranting for like a whole five minutes, condemning humanity. That’s one of the thing I like about her: she’s fully aware of anyone’s flaws (including hers) and she’s eager to mend it. She is like a program which automatically knows when to hit the refresh button.

“You know what, Aislinn?”

“Hmm?”

“I really appreciate it when you answer my silly questions seriously,” I finally said. Really, I’m truly grateful for it. Finding someone who would listen to your dorky dreams or silly stories is like seeking for a needle on a haystack. It’s hard, nearly impossible. Dear Good Gracious God, what have I done that makes me deserve her? “Thank you, love.”

She didn’t reply, but what she did next was enough to light my heart the whole evening. Our random Sunday discussion ended with her bright smile addressed to me.

Yes, to me.

Why “The Greatest Showman” Is NOT The Greatest

Disclaimer: if you haven’t watched “The Greatest Showman” and you don’t want any expectations ruined, you better skip this post and go ahead.

Okay, okay, before I elaborate the reason why I ‘mock’ everyone’s favorite lately, I must inform you that I watch this movie without any expectation. I hadn’t heard anything about The Greatest Showman until the day I accidentally saw the trailer on a local cinema while I and my dad queued for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The trailer didn’t enchant me the way Pitch Perfect 3‘s enchanted me (which happened to roll on the screen right after The Greatest Showman‘s trailer). Just compare it yourself:

To me, The Greatest Showman‘s trailer is lacking of conflicts and baits. The trailer only emphasizes its audio and visual aspects, it doesn’t sell the story. On the contrary, Pitch Perfect 3‘s trailer has everything a trailer should has: short and catchy line(s) that describes the whole conflict the movie is about. It also has interesting puns (thanks to Amy!)(but I’m fully aware though that puns won’t be available on The Greatest Showman since both of them are on the different pole of the genre spectrum).

However, since I don’t want to miss any Oscar-potential movies, I decided to watch The Greatest Showman too, without any expectation. Plus, people say that it is even better than the anticipated Insidious 4, so why not? Turns out… I like it! Despite the trailer, The Greatest Showman gives me more satisfaction than Pitch Perfect 3!

Yes, I admit it, The Greatest Showman is totally a movie worth watching. It is great, really. But why do I still think that it is not the greatest?

Now that I’ve watched The Greatest Showman, I put it on the same class as La La Land. Why? Because both of them are musicals and quite phenomenal.

Comparing those two makes me notice flaws in The Greatest Showman. But before I go, I must inform the great things about The Greatest Showman to make it fair:

Its audio and visual are really pleasing.

The great thing about The Greatest Showman is that the crew managed to find the perfect cast for the characters. All of them are so good on screen: eye-pleasing, great at acting, and able to sing!

You can see the chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams when they’re on screen. I see that both of them are suitable for each other ’till I and my friend (who I went to the movie with) panicked when P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) started being flirty with Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). You can also see the chemistry between Zac Efron and Zendaya when they sing “Rewrite The Stars”.

Plus, the colors of the scenes (although still not good as La La Land‘s) are able to make us feel the mood the story wants us to feel. Bright colors coated with upbeat lyrics and tones really make me want to sing and dance (although I can’t). Dark Manhattan sky with some household fumes make me feel like I was suffering the way they do. The depiction is great, honestly.

The set is neatly arranged too. I can see that the crew put lots of effort on it, mostly on the costumes. Dang, the costumes are so old fashioned (and it is a good thing, of course, considering its era of the story)! I wonder… is it possible for The Greatest Showman to win the Oscars for The Best Costume Design this year?

The last great thing about The Greatest Showman is the lyrics of the song they sing. The lyrics really speaks its singer’s heart.. it is the kind of song that touches your soul, kind of. When I heard it, I feel like I was waiting for the next part of the song because I want to know what can possibly happen next. Although the lyrics are better than La La Land’s or Beauty and The Beast’s (another musical you must have heard of), I don’t find it as catchy as La La Land’s.

Yes, The Greatest Showman is great, but for me, there are still some flaws that keep it a little lower than La La Land on my personal chart:

1. The story can be easily guessed.

Since the very beginning of the movie, everything seems so smooth. Although P.T. Barnum has lots of misfortune, he seems like he’s able to overcome his problem eventually. You won’t see a lot of his struggle on the movie and that will make you feel like everything is kinda easy for him. The father of the girl he likes disapproves him… but hey, look, he get her eventually! He’s fired from his job… but hey, look, he has a tricky idea! And so on. It is unlike the characters in La La Land or in Sing whose struggles can bring out our empathy.

So, as I watched the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking “What is the big conflict which he cannot overcome easily?”. And until the end, I don’t see one. There is too many small conflicts until there’s no big fat conflict as its main attraction.

2. Unexplained cases and unfinished conflicts.

  1. When P.T. Barnum mails Charity regularly, what is his address? Isn’t he homeless? How could he still receive messages from her?
  2. What does he, a poor little boy, do on his childhood and teen age ’till he can walk up to Charity’s parents’ door to ask for her with a clean suit and a fancy hat attached to his body?
  3. Okay, what’s wrong with P.T. Barnum and apples? You can see two apples on this movie: one when P.T. Barnum is still a boy and one when P.T. Barnum is already a dad. The problem is, you don’t get to see him finish eating the first one! Undoubtedly, you’ll mistaken the second apple as the first one because the second appears on screen not long after the first!
  4. Why does people keep saying that he is a fraud and his circus is fake?
  5. What happened to the protesters? Does moving the circus to a tent on the outskirts of Manhattan silence them?

I wanted to add “He’s very stupid because he buy a lavish gigantic house instead of paying his debt” to the list, but that won’t be fair.

The flaws aren’t that many, but those still disturb me from completely enjoying the movie. Nonetheless, the great things about The Greatest Showman can still cover its flaws, making it still eligible as one of the movies you recommend to friends.

If you have watched the movie and you agree or disagree with me, tell me on the comment section below! I’d love to know what you think. (Wow, I sound like a YouTube-er). Arrivederci!