Belajar Menulis

This page is basically a documentation of me learning to write. See I always love to express my emotion (ps: I am a drama queen) and everyone around me will testify that I constantly talk to express myself. I feel comfortable talking. Unfortunately I am not quite so good at writing because of two reasons:

  1. writing makes me self aware
  2. I find it more difficult to transfer emotion as I write compare to as I speak
  3. I am not quite adept with writing in English

Hmm, that’s three reason… Apparently I am not good at math either 🙂

Why do i want to be good at writing? Let’s go with another three reasons:

  1. I am inherently greedy and want to be good at everything
  2. I like when I read something and think “I know how that feels, I understand that!!!” and I thought it would be great to create the same feeling.
  3. Although I put this last, I think this is the biggest reason… I just want to leave a footprint. If “I think, therefore I am”, I want what I think to leave a mark. See, few years ago I still hold on to my childhood belief that I will win Nobel prize and that will be my mark. Now, I am not sure that I will anymore. But this is not a sad thing. I just realised I have yet found who I am and I am not sure I will. Now I am just enjoying the journey of trying to figure it out. In case in the end of the journey I still haven’t figure that out, I want to share the worry, joy and passion of me going through it – and by it I mean my erratic and confusing thought. I have this fear that noone will hear me and it wold be too easy to forget my existence.

I guess I just want to be remembered. Why? For me no one said it better than Frederick Buechner..

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. 
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way.” 

Finally, I would love to hear any comments you might have on my writing. Again I have three reasons why (I am a bit crazy about “three reasons why”).

  1. Because I am quite narcissistic – I love hearing anything about myself (good or bad). 
  2. Because if there’s plenty of comments, this blog wouldn’t look too sad
  3. Because I believe that the best way to communicate is to share how you think on how I think…. (see number 1)
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Obedience

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe there’s only us”
– William Golding, Lord of Flies

I grew up in a country where people believe in all types of mythical evil. It is really difficult not to be scared of all these dark creatures. Luckily, in my family, education, community and even my religion, I was being given the recipe of fighting all that is evil… obedience 

Obedience has always been symbol of what is good. Sometime people will mock at it, and argue that it is cowardly. And I can see how it may not be the bravest thing to do, but it still the good way, or at least the safe way. Until I heard these…

No soap, Radio

“No soap, radio” is a classic prank to see how people respond to peer pressure. This prank is usually done by two or more people to fool a victim. One person will play a role of someone who tells a joke to the victim and the other people will have to laugh at the joke after hearing the punch line, “No soap, Radio!”.

The joke is not funny and most of the time it does not make sense at all. However, in most of the cases, the victim will laugh just because all the other people are laughing. 

Well, in all fairness, it is just a laugh….

The Asch Experiment

In 1950’s Solomon Asch 35 people, one by one, a number of very easy questions. The trick was, the person who were asked the question was surrounded by a group of actors who would shout wrong answers – without that person knowing that his surroundings are a bunch of actors and that he is the subject of the experiment. 

In that situation, 75% of the participants gave incorrect answer to these easy questions.

Well, it is just silly questions

The Hofling Hospital Experiment

In 1966, Charles K. Hofling conduct an experiment. He created a situation where an unknown doctor called 22 nurses and ask them to give “Astroten”, a fictitious and unlisted drug to a patient twice the recommended dose, written in the bottle label. 

Despite the fact that the doctor is unknown, the drug is unlisted and the dose is double the recommended, 21 out of 22 nurses obey the doctor’s command.

Really? Nurses in the hospitals? Really? … I have a feeling it’s about to get worse…

The Milgram Experiment

In 1963, Milgram conducted the Milgram Experiment. He asked a number of people to join an “experiment”, without explaining what is the experiment about. In that experiment, he put them in a “teacher” role who had to ask a series of question to another person in a “student” role. Every time the “student” gave wrong answer, the “teacher” have to electrocuted the student in an increasing voltage up to maximum 450 volt. Of course the electrocution is fake and the “student” is actually an actor who just pretend to be electrocuted. 

In this experiment, 66% of the “teacher” electrocuted the “student” repeatedly to the maximum voltage despite the student’s screaming. And NONE of the teachers, even those who refuse to electrocute the students, ask for the experiment to be terminated. 

Although all participants, in various different stages during the experiment, stated their objection to electrocute the students, they continue to do it whenever they are being given one of the following verbal orders:
“Please continue.”
“The experiment requires that you continue.”
“It is absolutely essential that you continue.”
“You have no other choice, you must go on.”

Crazy, isn’t it? Don’t stop reading! You are about to read the last one…

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Philip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971. He asked 24 people to do a role play. Some of them become the prison guard and some of them become the prisoner. They are being put in a place in Stanford’s basement that was made to look just like prison. Within few days, the experiment grew out of hand. The guards became sadistic and inhumane, even though they did not know any of the prisoners before the experiment and they do not get any benefit for being cruel. They verbally and sexually humiliate the prisoners, deny them mattress and even sanitation. Zimbardo who were also take part in the experiment as super-intendent said that he, himself, gets absorbed in the experiment.

Not only the guards, the prisoner also fell into sense of helplessness. None of them quit the experiment even after being told that they will not get their money compensation. The experiment ended in 6 days, instead of planned 14 days.

If I were in the position of the guards in Stanford prison experiment, will I be different then they were? If I were the teacher in Milgram experiment, will I choose not to electrocute? Will I asked the experiment to be stopped? If I don’t understand an order from authority, just like the nurse, will I just follow it? If I don’t understand a joke, will I laugh along? 

Why do I do what I do? How obedient have I been in life? 

 

 

No soap, RADIO! – it’s my cue to laugh along 

The R-word

 

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” – Oscar Wilde

 


 

Whenever people find a particular word that should not be said, they just mention the first alphabet of the word – like the N-word or the F-word. I find that to be a very convenient arrangement because people can understand what you say without you having to utter the word in a apologetic (but look like constipated) expression.

However, that mechanism can only work if you can clearly pronounce all alphabets A-Z. See, I cannot pronounce “R” because I have a speech disorder called “Rhotacism” – which btw is a weird name. I mean we cannot pronounce “R” and they call us “Rhotacistic”. It’s kind of like rubbing it in our face, don’t you think? Anyway, so it comes to my mind, what if there is an R-word. I won’t be able not to say the word and just refer it as the R-word, cause then people would get more confused. “What? eww word? egg word? erg word?”

So I decided to do a research on whether there are R-words out there and whether I should seriously be concern about this. Throughout my comprehensive research, I manage to find 3 R-words:

1. Relax

In a famous Sex and the City wannabe movie, Cashmere Mafia, the guy who were about to marry Lucy Liu was warned never to mention the R-word. there is a lot of credible body of research supporting this suggestion. To name a few, Men’s Health in the “Five Things You Should Never Say to Her” and the allwomenstalk.com in the “Top Ten Lines a Woman Should Never Hear from You”, rank this R-word in number one list of what not to say to a panic/angry woman. Both articles argue that when you say the R-word to a panic/angry woman, you will anger her even more. You send a message that you think she is irrational – and no one like to be considered irrational. In fact, starting from now on, we should never say irrational. Let’s just refer it as the I-word

2. Racist

Although Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, in the movie Avenue Q, acknowledge that “everyone is a little bit racist“; saying someone racist is considered to be very offensive. That is why we have to constantly strive not only not to be a racist, but also not to be a racist accuser, or someone who accuse people to be racist accuser. Having that said, I am not going to write anything else about this matter as I am getting quite confused.

3. Retarded

There is a massive R-word campaign to stop people from saying “retard” as an insult to someone else. Mental retardation, or a more politically correct term intellectual disability, should not be a bad word. Using the word to hurt someone will only reinforce the prejudice and discrimination against the people with intellectual disabilities. Campaign against this R-word have led a lot of people to boycott the movie Tropical Thunder by Ben Stiller, as it uses lots of the R-word.

So those are the R-words that I found. Finally, I want to close this note by saying something deep and meaningful. But seriously, I was writing this because I can’t sleep and I don’t have any message that I want to send across. So… this is a bit awkward but I am just going to stop writing.

 

Melanie
Melbourne 18 October 2008

Drama Queen

It is easy to be sad because you don’t need to remember anything to be sad at something, the sad feeling simply stays in your system because you are used to sad feelings and you don’t need to justify them like you would an angry feeling. That is, it is hard to be angry if you don’t know why you should be angry. You need to be able to logically justify your own feelings. But I think the sad is going to dominate (a person’s emotion) because no one has enough energy to be upset and angry for very long. When you are upset and angry your tone is louder, you are moving faster and more agitated like, you are more aggressive and looking for retribution. Anger and agitation almost need something to take vengeance on, while sadness you don’t attribute to someone else causing it. 

– Mark Pettinelli, Angry, Upset and Depressed

Defeated, misunderstood, unloved, insecurities… There is so much to be angry about. However, it is true what Pettinelli said, we don’t have enough energy to be constantly angry at world. It is exhausting trying to figure out who to be angry at and why I deserve to be angry. I just feel sad. I don’t need to justify why I am sad. I don’t need to remember why I am sad. But when something remind me of these feeling of defeated, misunderstood, unloved, ugly… it’s all coming back to me the wave of emotions and pain. And I get angry, often disproportionately, at the wrong person.

Until I forget the anger. And I just label that as PMS, dramatic turet or another grey’s anatomy episode. 

What other options are there to deal with being unconsciously sad than being a drama queen? Perhaps I can fight back against all these wrong things in my life. I can be one of those “save the cheerleader, save the world” heroes. But look at all the heroes movies, The Dark Knight, Spiderman, X-men. None of them are happy too. I think mainly because when you fight back you will have to live with that fear that the world is “unsaveable”. Just like Mr Incredibles said it, “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!” 

Well, another option would be just to numb the feeling. Living life like Karen Walker “Gosh, I don’t think that I’ve ever been stressed out. Why would I be? I’ve got practically no responsibilities, my job’s a breeze and I’ve got a KILLER rack”; or like Homer Simpson “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try” ; or like men “stop being such a girl” (okay, sorry for the gender stereotyping bit). But again, it doesn’t seem to be a viable option for me. I can’t afford to constantly pay for Jack Daniels’ company like Karen does, I can’t get out of trouble like cartoon character does and I certainly can’t pee standing and numb my emotions (apparently I am not really that sorry about the gender stereotyping thing).

So what other option do I have? Well, I can always way too much TV series and write blogs about being sad. I can also try to learn about myself. I mean the fact is, I don’t know who I am. Most of the time I put my feeling in the back door of my heart, now I am so afraid of opening it. It feels like I have a pandora box here in my chest. When I am sad, I can learn about me. I can open that can, one worm at a time – and I can see the person on the base of the can. What she wants out of life and what she scares of.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”       

 —T.H. White, The Once and Future King

What do I learn about me today? That drama is my way of coping with bigger sadness in life.

Or all these explanation is just me being all drama queen again?  

                                                                                                                  

Melanie                                
Melbourne 12 October 2008

Oreo

 

I am always curious. What will happen if you just try to write something when you don’t really have anything on your mind? But then, I think… is it possible not to have anything on your mind? Seriously, like complete blank? Let me try…. 

Okay, at first, I always imagine this blue background with lots of cartoon cloud. Then, I sorta tell my brain “blank! Think blank!” then my brain manage to focus on white background. White blank thought. WAIT!!!! White? Why does it have to be white? I mean you can have a blank black background or blank blue or blank red. Why do I think blank means white? Hmm…

Okay… No thinking. I am just going to keep a colourless blank thought… You know what? I am hungry. I sooo need a midnight snack, like oreo with milk, hehehehe…. But, no! I can’t. If I ate oreo now, it will all goes to my thighs and belly and everyone will look at me with disgust and I’ll never get married and I’ll die alone. So no oreo 😦 Seriously, if people have devil and angel on their conscience, I have atkins versus oprah. Atkins would say “no carbs, no sugar you fatso” and Oprah would argue “don’t let yourself be dictated by unrealistic standard of beauty imposed by the society” kinda thing. I bet if I am about to kill someone, atkins would say, “great way to burn calories!”. They really are like two small people on my shoulders. I wonder which one is the devil and which one is the angel? Which one wear the black or red robe with trisula and which one wears white? WAIT!!!! Angel wears white? Why does angel have to wear white? Who starts this whole idea that angel must wear white? Why is “goodness” associated with white? Of all colours, why white? Hmmm…

Anyway, let’s just go back to not thinking. Blank thought. Blank. Hold on!! I say blank… in English. I just realised I think in English! Why am I thinking in English?? It’s not even my first language! Okay let’s try to think in Indonesian. But why should I? Does my nationality suppose to dictate the way I think? But if I think in english, is it really a form of freedom or I am subconsciously being dictated by the dominant white culture. WAIT!!!! Why did I say white again? English is the national language for Singapore and Philippines too. Why do I relate english to being white? Hmmmm…

You know what? This whole not thinking is not working well. I might just grab the oreo. It’s only white on the inside 😉

Melanie
Melbourne, 21 September 2008 

This post is an attempt to make a light humor out of how I feel that the world is being white-washed. I sometime feel that the world is not meeting in the middle. Multiculturalism only goes so far as “I’d listen to your culture as long as you can explain your culture in my language and in a way that I can understand”. People need to speak in particular (read: white) literary, economic, political and pop-culture language in order to be considered smart, to have friends, to have “career” and to earn your damn living .

Many people told me not to make a dichotomy between white and non-white (in whispery conspiratorial tone: “that’s racist”). But in my (could be racist) eyes, that is the way the world works. I have to master in English like it’s my mother tongue – just to get basic job. I have to be acquainted with western literary, art, philosophy, economy and latest hollywood gossip, so I can be understood, so I can tell my story in a language that the world understand.

But learning the languages takes all of me, there is basically any left to have the story I want to tell to the world. We have so many variations: oreo, coconut, banana. But in the end, it’s all white on the inside. (Melanie – 12 October 2008)

Amnesia

“A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight

A room is a still a room, even when there’s nothin’ there but gloom
But a room is not a house and a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart”

– Burt Bacharach and Hal David (1964)

How strong can you love a home? In “Gone with the Wind”, an American novel by Margaret Mitchell, love to a land can change a spoilt brat into a tough hardworking woman; it can give someone a reason to live; and it can console a broken heart. Burt Bacharach, through Dionne Warwick’s voice, claims that a house can only be a home when there are people that “hold you tight” and “kiss you goodnight”. I wouldn’t argue that people that you love can warm your home. But separate from the people, can’t you just miss your home’s chair? Can’t you miss your toilet? Can’t you miss your bed and all the stupid spots in your ceiling? 

Home is your memory. Throughout your lives, there are so many good things and bad things. Ray Barone, in “Everybody Loves Raymond” season 7 when Robert was married, said your memory does not just store things that happen. They edit it. They keep the good memories and they blur the bad ones, unless you choose not to. My first instinct, hearing this the first time, is to throw him the sad stories of my life and ask him why my memory does not edit them. But then I realize, in one way or another, I do not want to edit them. Partly because I don’t want to forgive some people, partly because sometime it feels good knowing you can be really sad and really hurt. 

However, with my home, just like my childhood, I store the good stories. With my childhood, I remember my christmases, my first storybook, and some of my sad stories, but not the pain. And that is what my home does. I enter the door, and I automatically access all those excitement when I open the door for the food delivery guy, the relief of finishing the days, the feeling of now-I-can-cry-cause-noone-will-see-me, or the yes-I-can-get-out-of-these-stupid-heels. The memory may be in my brain. But my door hold access to it. My chair, my tv, my toilet, my bed, my ceiling. 

Without those memories, “a chair is still a chair” but it is not “the chair”. And yes I can create new memories with new chair. I can build new stories. But until I have that new memories, I have amnesia. And people who have amnesia do not feel sad. because it is hard to feel sad if you just don’t remember. They just feel a bit lost. Me… I have a great life. I have everything I can dream of. But I feel a bit lost. 

“Lost in this world 
I even get lost in this song 
And when the lights go down 
That is where I’ll be found 

I get lost in this world 
I get lost in your eyes 
And when the lights go down 
Am I the only one 

“Lost”
Sang by Anouk

Just a bit 😉 

 

Melanie
Melbourne, 14 September 2008