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Monthly Archives: August 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

(I made this note more than two years ago on Facebook. As I re-read it, I find it surprising that little to none has changed since then. Every single word remains true, and every single wish, un/fortunately, is still something I’ve been hoping to come true.

Tonight, among any other nights, I feel like sharing this to, ahem, more readers. For the sake of preserving the note in case I decide to close my Facebook account, here it is:)

what do you want to be when you grow up?

ask me this question back when i was in kindergarten up to the first few years of elementary school, then the answers are those of commonly found:

“i want to be a doctor!”
“i want to be an astronaut!”
“i want to be a policeman!”
“i want to be a president!”
“i want to be a scientist!”

okay, i lied about the last one. how can i say that, when it took my teacher hours and hours to explain the law of gravity to me?

luckily, she did not need to encounter such a painful experience again, for she never found out what i wrote on my friend’s notebook when i was 10 years old:

“i want to be a good husband and father”

as long as i can remember, i wrote the words down very quickly. i did not hesitate a bit, or took a peek of what my other friends had written before me, something i had always done before i chose any of those typical and ideal professions.

at that time, i never knew why i suddenly had the urge to write that. and it has taken me years to find out the answer, which is hardly any surprise to me:

i looked up to my mum, my dad, and their relationship.

this year marks the 35th anniversary of their marriage, a considerable feat these days, although it was once considered a common occurrence in those good old days. for me, it is a tremendous achievement, yet it is also something i am not *that* surprised to see.

my dad does not say much.
he perseveres through the hard times in his life that had already started in his childhood, yet he never shows his signs of fatigue and tiredness. always insists that he “is okay, no matter what”, i saw him struggling with his own effort to keep the family up and running, while loving my mother with all her antics.

of course they are not the wicked kind of antics.
yet, as opposed to his character traits, my mum is the vocal ones, who often gets the action done, cracks a joke or two, and when she is being opinionated about something, sometimes she loses her train of thought. to say she is a survivor is merely underrated, but to say she is strong and brave is something i will nod in agreement.

and they love each other, despite a few, way too subtle incidents that let slip once in a while.

my dad might have felt a little uncomfortable when my mum’s ex showed up and showed off him being financially successful, yet he hid the feeling very carefully.
and for a slightly more obvious turn, while being covered in jokes, my mum must have felt jealous with any of those female college students who rented our rooms who happened to look above average, fearing my father would be attracted.

they knew, i knew, but what did they do?

they sailed through the temptations, and like many parents, they acted, not pretended, as if nothing happened in front of the kids.
they may have stopped saying ‘i love you’ in romantic manners as suggested in film and music since, i don’t know, thirty years ago, maybe, but they believe on many other things:

beyond love, there’s a respect to each other.

beyond love, they honor each other, for each of them has role and presence in this unit of marriage they had decided to embark on.

beyond love, they have mutual understandings that they cannot live without each other.

beyond love, they substitute with dreamy kind of happiness with a much more real one that is based on faith and assurance.

and twenty years later, after i wrote down what i had wanted to be, i realize that i want to be the kind of husband and father my dad is, with a touch of my mum’s side, in a relationship like theirs.

of course, it takes two to tango, and a miracle to create that perfect click. so, for whoever you will be in my future, this is what i want to say:

“allow me to step in to your life, not for being the kind of guy you’ve been used to go out with, or being your ‘type’, but simply for being the guy who accepts who you are, where you come from, how you are, and how you are in your family.

call me crazy for declaring that, but i am much more interested in your future, rather than your past.

of course, it’ll be nice to have your future spent with me, but even if it is not, you know that i am still looking after you from afar, until someone else may change the course of our lives.

“allow me to offer you a steady companionship, and not the killer moves or kisses, for all i have is an assurance that i come home to you, that in the morning i look at you, and that at the odd moments of time, i call, text, pop up and say the most heartfelt ‘hi’ to you.

think of me as annoying maybe, for both my stubborn silence and bitchy words are guaranteed to equally bug you. think of me as disturbance maybe, for both my passive and active moves will end up similarly in disappointment.

i will end up bearing belly fat, while you end up being the gorgeous one. but you won’t find anyone more comfortable with however you turn out to be.

i will end up doing my dangling dalliances at some point, which you will do, too, to channel out your boredom of me, but let’s make a pact that we will come home to this same pad.

“because for what we will eventually have is respect and honor to each other.

because for what we will eventually embark on is something only two of us know. well, maybe include some others, but are you sure?

because for what we will eventually choose is made based on our sane logic, rather than glorious feeling.

“and you know what i’d like to have?

because when people ask me, “what do you want to be when you grow old?”

i’d like to answer that i want to grow old with you.”

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Posted by on 08/22/2011 in English, Personal

 

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For The Two of You on Your Wedding Day


(You know who you are. If only there’s a toast tomorrow, this is what I will say.)

We thought we’ll never see the day.

How you all persevere under gigantic, huge, tremendous hardship all through the years is beyond our knowledge.
Well, actually, we may have tiny knowledge on that, but often they’re buried under your cheeky laughter, your mischievous smile, and most importantly, beneath the layers of martabak manis special double chocolate and avocado juice extra chocolate we always cherished.

Besides that, there are other items to be treasured as well. Good food, occasionally good pictures that you two take with your analog cameras, but mostly good food that we never run out of.

We may not be with you from the beginning of your relationship, but I guess we were there during the most crucial moments of your life together.
People avoid falling to the same trap twice, but man, you intentionally took that risk. Boy, you do know the risk that’s all coming against you.

But then hard times never fail to define characters. Through these precious few years, we see how you two are progressing.
This wedding is not the final or the last point. This is just the beginning. And we gladly extend and renew our support behind you two. Why?

Because we can have a couple to look up to. Someday, I envision us here to say, “hey, you know that couple? They’ve spent years fighting the currents against them, and they never fail to fight. They’re strong by being together. That’s what makes a great couple. Just look to them.”

And we’re glad that today is the beginning of a lifetime journey.

We love you all, and we will always be next to you.

Love,

Nauval.

(This is the picture of where they will live. Taken by the groom, a talented photographer I’ve been a fan of since forever. Here’s to you, you two.)

 
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Posted by on 08/19/2011 in English, Personal

 

We want to fall in love like those in movies!

Don’t we?

Especially the working-class singletons, who enslave themselves five or six days a week because being married to a job is better than coming home to an empty house.
Or a room, or a flat, or an apartment; all of which, regardless the size, will always feel too big for one.
Weekend is a thing to despise because with no one to wake up with, Saturday and Sunday feel longer than weekdays.
Looking forward to working days is something of a norm, because the job may be the sole thing that makes life worth living.

If it sounds sad, look around. It may be you, me, or anyone we know.

What we have in common is our escapade: romantic movies.

It is in movies that both singles-wanting-to-be-attached and attached-wanting-to-be-single find common ground to feel good about ourselves.

Every time we see images of two strangers bump into each other, we know what’s going to happen next: they exchange glances and smile at each other, perhaps introducing their names. Under soft light, generic score runs from being playful to glorious, enhancing mood that lasts either in a scene or throughout the entire film.

Ending, who cares about the ending? It is the journey that matters most, or otherwise, we cannot recite “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her” or wishing that everyone is looking at the same full moon, and fall in love.

We all want to fall in love like what is being done in films.

We don’t care that scenes are choreographed and edited. We know that somebody up there suddenly plays orchestral sound, but in real life, we still want that to happen. When we kiss our beloved one, deep down we wish that somebody is suddenly playing An Affair to Remember theme, and we can see ourselves if we already do deep passionate kiss the way Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift did.

Because when we fall in love, we set aside logical thinking.
Those glorious feeling inside that appears after adrenaline rush kicks in, those yearning to have a big, lush scenes of embracing our significant other by the river, we all want that to happen.

Hey, I tried that with my ex as I tried to re-enact the scene when Julia Roberts tried to find Rupert Everett in a wedding. Wrong scene, right movie, but you get the idea.

See? The seemingly small gesture is still tucked in somewhere in my memory.

Guess what we want, indeed, are those fleeting, small moments.
We want to experience magic once in a while in our real life, already hard with pressing issues in daily basis. What else can give continuous inspiration if not those movies?

Recreating gives something to look forward to. Oh, the excessive planning, the anxiety of thinking, “what if it doesn’t work?”, the time when heart beats faster.

Like everything else, it doesn’t hurt to have a desire to experience these fabricated acts in real life.
In fact, we already do the re-enactment when we keep daydreaming and thinking that we can always win over guy by long phone calls. Or going to laundry, hoping to meet the cute strangers who do not steal our undies for their fetishes. Or while queuing in bank, hoping to strike up a conversation with strangers who do not point their guns at us.

If life brings you down, then maybe it is in the smile recollecting moments of romantic films can make us feel good again.

Don’t we all want that?

 
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Posted by on 08/19/2011 in English, Personal

 

Life may begin with ‘The Tree of Life’

Life begins with nothingness.

So does my personal experience in watching the film. Armed with overwhelming warning, expectation, hope and other kind of buoyant adjectives that only propel further confusion, I decided to enter the darkened cinema hall with no prior thoughts nor set of presumption.

The only thing we can hold true is the title itself: The Tree of Life.

Seemingly poetic, the words that make the title unveil themselves through a series of imagery that would rival the best National Geographic photography works ever invented. We may be tempted to describe the whole film as a visual poetry. There are those, I am sure, that prefer to describe the entire film as a masturbation work of an artist under bout influence. There is a possibility that one treats the film as an artistic exhibition worth being displayed in a world-class art gallery, but not cinema.

These are examples of a few labels that may be applied to the film. These labels comprise the film. Just like life itself.

In fact, if life is a film, then it might as well be The Tree of Life.

Especially when life is filled with curiosity to explore what constitutes as mankind. Through the whisper of voice overs, the striking visual galore and microscopic close-up scenes, Terrence Malick observes life from the eyes of a child who simply wants to understand his own being.
As a boy like any other boy, he carries equal influence of being raised by a set of parents, namely Mother (Jessica Chastain) and Father (Brad Pitt).
As a boy like any other child, he carries within himself eternal attempt to balance the contrasting teachings from both parents.
As a boy like any other beings on earth, he lets nature guide his action, sometimes at the cost of his wonderment of doing things he does not wish to do in the first place.

The internal struggle of human being, something Malick has never grown tired of exploring in the past four decades, is given a larger-than-life proportion in this canvas. Alexandre Desplat’s operatic score enhances the ethereal beauty of Emmanuel Lubezki’s mesmerizing cinematography that is derived from Jack Fisk’s production design. Mark Yoshikawa orchestrates the film with various paces of editing that keep one audience enthralled, so much so that he barely moved an inch in the first hour.

Me. It should be you.

But like life, to each his own cinema-going experience. In short, like life itself, we may perceive things differently, because as the Brad Pitt character says, “Subjective is something that is true to you. Can’t challenge it to anybody, because it is coming from you.” Something like that.

Thus, watching The Tree of Life is akin to how we behave towards things in our surrounding. For every one hooked, shuddered and cried, there are others who choose to walk out. For every one that defies and denies the film worthy of entrance fee, there are those who embrace this as the film that can propel the function of cinema as a place to experience visual treat.

If you choose the latter, then you should know that the treat comes at the cost of Malick’s venture in finding God. More than just using Bible quotes and the endless images of outer space, ancient times, and other-worldly shots, the director ushers us to discover ourselves through our relationships with parents, sibling, people, and nature. Being a keen observer, he leads characters to scarcely sparse dialogue, making each line quote-worthy. The lines eventually immerse in our sense, and we begin to surrender.

Note that it was not an easy give-in process. You don’t get any spoon-fed linear narrative here. The moment you decide to stay after the first 20 minutes, mind-blowing images like how one usually describes the experience taking chemical drugs continue to bombard and leave us perplexed. Slight conventional drama follows, allowing us to take a breath while trying to connect the dots of what we see earlier. Before we may or may not succeed in doing such, another arrays of pictures set in.

“You have to be the master of your own life,” again, the Father character said. It is a continuous process that one shall undertake to make the life goes on living. Understanding the film is another continuous process one shall take to complement the task above.

Do I understand the film? I don’t. Do I “get” it? Hardly.

Do I understand life? I don’t. Do I “get” where life is headed? Hardly.

In the end, after the house light is lit up and end credit rolls, we may return to nothingness. But this time, there’s an undeniable mark within us that we are already exposed to one’s attempt to uncover life and humankind in a masterpiece of filmmaking.

Let The Tree of Life grow in us.

Let it be a start to understand life.

Experience it.

(Images are taken from the digital booklet of The Tree of Life original motion picture soundtrack. Solely used for personal purpose.)

 
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Posted by on 08/14/2011 in English, Film

 

Childhood

Have you seen my childhood?

Unless you’re born in a small town in East Java at the end of 1970s, went to the same kindergarten with me, please don’t try answering the question. You may continue singing, though.

Since most of my kindergarten friends are not active in social media network, I guess I am free to tell you my version of my own childhood story. If they appear to ratify, verify or accuse me of false story, the first thing they’ll encounter is my blank stare of, “Sorry, who are you again?” I don’t remember any one of them. At all.

What I do remember is the joyous, carefree life I had. Living in the early 1980s means being confined to one TV channel that started broadcasting at 4 p.m. Being faraway from the glitz of metropolitan madness means spending most of the time playing outside, or simply taking up extra curricular activities in school.

Thus, I spent most of my time playing with my elder sister. Sometimes we rode a bike together, tried to make our own kite that only flew from the front door to our house gate. Achievement? If you think 10-meter distance is one, thank you very much. There was also one time we played host to a Canadian family with a boy of my age, and he fitted the image of Western family we saw on mediocre TV series: blond.

Being raised in a family where education matters most, I also spent my time taking a few extra private lessons. Math, English, religious lessons, you name them, and none of which felt like a burden. Well, maybe when one of those teachers gave me invoice to give to my mother, which at that time I didn’t know what it was. Just some numbers. And due dates. And no idea that I would do the same when I was adult.

In school, I wasn’t one of those bright students, academic wise. Alright, did more than average, but what I remembered most is the time I spent outside the classroom. There was a kolintang class (ha! I bet you have to Google it to find out what it is!), which to date, I am still proud of having taken the course once.

And then there was boy scout.

Truth is, I’ve never been a fan of the boy scout. Morse code is too complex to remember, all those ropes that we have to tangle to form a life support system (is it too hyperbolic?), and the uniform I despise. Ugh. Guess back then I knew brown is not good for my complexion. Hello, style-freak.

But what I cherished most from boy scout is its outdoor activities. Yes, I experienced my first outdoor camp when I was in elementary school with other boy scout members. Still recalled the first time I encountered paraffin and its use to prevent us from hunger, how to set up tent, how to stay up late at night just to chit chat with friends (nobody told us it is a bad habit), and queueing for taking a bath. Or not at all.

At the end of the camp, we had to hike. It’s a very rare thing to do, but I knew I fell in love with hiking. Guess at that time I started developing my love for long walks.
Tired? No. The fresh, clean air, the sound of bird chirping and laughter from friends redeemed all the supposed hardship.

Then we reached the destination, where we were treated to beautiful views of waterfall. Of course, when you put kids in front of waterfall, they go crazy, and so did we. This was followed by photo session, the result of which we had to wait a week or two, or never if they were never being developed. Digital camera? What’s that?

Back to school, I decided not to pursue further level of boy scout. I am forever stuck to the curb level. In fact, I was glad that further in high school, I didn’t have to wear the brown uniform unlike my juniors.

The idea of boy scout was hardly existent in my life, until a few years later in the present time, I had to handle this film: Lima Elang (Five Eagles).

When I came across the film prior to be on board for it, I thought, “Alright, another children adventure film. A kid is forced to be friends those he initially did not want to be friend with, stuck in a situation he cannot get out of, rediscover his good behavior, change of heart, and everybody’s happy.”

Little did I know that after two screenings, I was in for a treat, way beyond my salary.

A treat of memory of those precious time I spent outdoor. A treat of beautiful views of nature as seen on big screen in lush cinematic color, and seeing those kids in their characters happily running around their camp area and spacious forest, I smiled throughout the film.

Arrogantly, I smiled because I’m glad I had those moments for real when I was a kid. Also I smiled, because those child actors clearly enjoy their time there, maybe because they need fresh, clean break, out of concrete jungle and traffic jam that bring nothing but the worst in us everyday.

Accuse, judge, and sue me for being a terrible salesman, because really, it’s hard not to smile in wishful thinking looking at the kids having a good time.

Then, I don’t have children on my own. Want to, but with who? I realize it is not fair to keep pestering them with our memory. I guess when we can, we need to make time to introduce them beyond the comfort of house, air-con building, and maybe internet. Oh wait, are you still reading?

Time to end this rambling note now. Let’s try to find our own spot of nature.

Because nature shapes our characters. That is where we can see our childhood, be it only in memory.

(the picture is courtesy of The Telegraph UK. To the kind souls uploading that, thanks! I owe you one)

 
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Posted by on 08/10/2011 in Uncategorized