Wednesday, 24 January 2018

5 Documentaries to Start Your Year Well

I don't know about you, but January is usually the month when I'm very determined to change my life. Let's just say motivation runs high. It's the perfect time to take in as many inspirational sources as possible—and I do tend to do that. This is the month I get the most job done and finish the most research. So it is crucial—heck, even critical—that I make the most of it. If you're like me too—or want to be so, I have a few recommendations of light but profound documentaries you can watch to widen your horizon and get you going for the rest of the year. Or, well, at least all through to July. These are not necessarily my absolute favourite documentaries on each topic, but they are a great introductions for newbies and a good way to kickstart your knowledge on the subject matter. Also, don't worry, they're all in English.

Where to Invade Next

Let's start with something profound, yet quite hilarious. This documentary by Michael Moore is really eye-opening. It teaches me a lot of things about other countries and, I think, if you're a US citizen, you could benefit a lot from this. It follows Michael Moore's journey himself, going from one country to another to find values and practices that he can "steal" to take back to the US. It opens his eyes to a lot of things his country is lacking—and, funnily enough, so is mine. Although it really brushes on a lot of profound and, possibly, sensitive topics, Moore manages to edit and narrate through everything to make them a bit more comedic and lighter to watch. My favourite part is when he and the crew went to Germany and Tunisia—both national values should really be applied to Indonesia, I believe. Very inspiring and entertaining!

The Next Black

As far as ethical fashion goes, I really cannot recommend anything better than The True Cost, but I do find that is incredibly jarring and overwhelming—I myself had to watch it twice to be able to take everything in. It's probably a bit intimidating to kickstart your knowledge. Alternatively, I would suggest you watch The Next Black, which is a documentary by AEG on the future of (ethical) fashion—and it's available for free! It is presented in such a lighthearted way, that it becomes a great way to learn about fashion and the environment, without having to suffer through the horrifying—albeit inescapable—parts of it. This documentary really opens up to so many possibilities, from the dry-dyeing—which sounds insane but highly innovative—to microfarming. It would leave you in awe to know that the alternative isn't actually that far away from us.

The Red Pill

Okay, I'll admit, this one is very heavy. But I just have to put this here, because I can't find any other documentaries discussing the same subject matter. You might know this from a post I wrote about it several months ago. It is the story of Cassie Jaye's journey in digging into the Mens' Rights Movement from the activists themselves. Cassie, who started the journey as a feminist, is willing to open her mind to ideas from both MRAs and feminists on the same topic. Truth be told, I find that the Mens' Rights Activists have a lot of valid points that I've never even thought of before. Their stories and experiences actually brought me close to tears. This documentary is also very controversial—having been banned in several countries, including Australia—so a lot of people have prejudices against it. I would suggest you watch it; you don't have to like it or agree with it, but you need to understand it.

Girl's Life

On the flipside, let me offer a truce through this six-part documentary series from Wall Street Journal—each of only less than 5 minutes—following a young girl's life from various countries and cultures. I know, there are probably far greater feminism documentaries out there, but I feel like this one is a very light yet profound—notice a running theme here?—piece on the subject. The girls are all around 15-16 years of age, with various economical and cultural backgrounds. I find it fascinating to see their insights on what it means to be a girl-turning-woman today to each of them, with their various aspirations and dreams. It also lets you take a peek into the life of people from different countries—and continents. It's a good introductory piece, in my opinion, into the world of feminism—especially in terms of education. Hopefully it will lead you to find more reading and watching materials on the topic.

Before the Flood

You've probably heard of this one already, since it's Leonardo Dicaprio's collaboration with National Geographic. Before the Flood is probably the second heaviest documentary mentioned on this list. It follows Leo's journey on finding out how far climate change has affected the world—including Indonesia. It made quite a headline when he came to Sumatra to see the forest fire and orangutans and got deported by our government, without so much as an excuse to why he was kicked out. Personally, I don't think this is one of those films, where the star sits on his high horse, telling everyone else to change. Politics is mentioned as playing a huge role in fighting climate change—and also why people refuse to believe in their existence. It's a good conversation starter, like pealing off the covers of oblivion you might not know existed before, to reveal the scary melted ice caps underneath. If only just a little bit.

If you have any other documentary recommendations, let me know!

Also, another great way to start your year is by reading books. Check out the video down below to see the five books I'd recommend you start with!

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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Shifting Focus

This is my fourth attempt on writing this post, which hopefully will tell you how seriously I feel about the content. For weeks I've struggled to organise my thoughts and feelings on this matter, that everything I write seems wrong. I've been trying to just come up with introductions to what I'm trying to say, when I should really have just come out with it. So here it is: I am quitting blogging. It sounds quite dramatic, doesn't it? I guess it kind of is. It's been something I've struggled with in the past 6 years—on and off have I thought about making this decision—but now I've made up my mind. It seemed like such a huge deal a few weeks ago, but now it feels only natural.

Recently, I just realised that I've been spending more time on the blog than I should. I know deep inside that it's not a job, but I keep making excuses to invest more energy and thought into it. However, for all the things I've gained from it, the resources that I've had to spend on it are just far too much. Amidst other parts of my schedule that I'm juggling, it's been costing me a lot of sleep or time to actually explore my professional field and take on more work experience. It's tested a lot of my relationships with friends and family. But, most of all, it hurts to know that no one cares anyway. When I shared these thoughts on this very space, nobody gives me any kind of response. That's when I realise I've been joking myself—it doesn't matter what I do with this space.

Another reason, I suppose, for making this decision is the fact that most of my online friends have reduced their frequency of blogging or ceased to do it altogether. It made me feel less connected to this world and to them, really. I started to question the point of my blogging, especially since most of my closest IRL friends also very rarely go to social media—or blogs, for that matter. This whole time I blogged on schedule, on the premise that someone somewhere might be waiting for my blog contents on the appointed time. But I have to accept that it's never been true. 

That being said, I'm not going to stop blogging altogether, but I will not keep to my usual schedules or usual contents. It will be less structured, more sporadic and chilled. I'd still love to share some information on ethical fashion or zero waste lifestyle—although I'm no expert. Book reviews are most likely to appear on the blog more often in the future. And then, well, who knows? Thank you for dropping by from time to time, I greatly appreciate it! See you when I see you.

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Friday, 5 January 2018

With a Little Help from My (Ex-Pat) Friends

 Melly's Garden

The day after Christmas—one that, in English-speaking countries, is called Boxing Day—my Germany pals and I went out for lunch, because one of our own came home for a visit. Unlike usual, where we come up with various plans to have fun, this time—due to the tightness of finances—we decided to find a rather cheap but comfortable place at the heart of Jakarta to converse for as long as we like and catch up on various topics. It was a much-needed quality time, really, with the year ending and all I want to do is reflect and wind down. We came to yet another new restaurant that none of us has ever tried before—I found it online—located in the Menteng area. The place has a rather nice indoor and outdoor area, with a plethora of ornaments and decorations of old. It's also rather quiet and chilled, which was just exactly what we were looking for. We ended up hanging out there for five hours, chatting and laughing and causing a racket. It was hella fun! 

Book of Deer shirt // old varsity jacket + hat + shoes // hand-me-down pants + purse // photos by Edwin

These photos were taken after we had a really great time of catching up, laughing at each other and exchanging opinions on various topics—basically, when we're almost out the door, really. My friend Edwin has always been a photography-enthusiast and he's always been the one responsible for taking most of our pictures when we go on trips together. Needless to say, at occasions such as this, when we get to hang out once or twice a year, he's the one I go to for outfit photos. Thankfully, he never says no—although I'm not sure if it's not out of reluctance. On top of that, Ratri helped too, directing me on how to pose for certain photos, and Wilson didn't utter a word of complaint. They've known me since before the whole blogging thing—and being mostly out of the picture on it—yet never jeered at me, when I ask for help. I'm always grateful for friends like this. Thanks, guys, you all rock!

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Monday, 1 January 2018

Moving Forward

For the longest time now—probably since junior high—my life seems to be divided by three-year marks. There were three years of middle school, three of high school, three of uni in Germany and now this. In 2016, I thought my life was pretty crap and it led me to change it again in 2017. While putting together this post, I realise that not many exciting things happened last year but, for some reason, I find myself being much happier than the previous year. There were too many moments not recorded on camera, but they're significant and precious all the same. Maybe even more so, since I forget to pull out my lens and document them. It was an exciting and profound year, that will only look boring from the outside. But, to me, it's one step closer to maturity and, being of officially quarter-life, I think it's about time.

January

To be honest, I can't remember how I felt back in January, but I think it was probably pretty busy, because I hardly posted anything online. There was a campus event, in which I was the head of the design committee, and it was...pretty boring, to be honest, because I already finished my part but had to come anyway. Aside from that, it seems my life was basically filled with assignments—one of which changed my food photography game forever. I also started to revamp my Indonesia Childhood Games Handbook from 2014. On the blog, I re-introduced myself as well as revealed 20 blogger confessions—which later on became my updated About page. Aside from that, everything is basically same old, mundane life.

February

February felt a bit icky, because this is the month I left my previous campus. While still trying to conceal this plan from most of my classmates—for whatever reason—I was knee deep in assignments, continuing on with the ICGH revamping I mentioned earlier. Thank God for Regional Election Day, because it allowed me time to slow down. After that part of my life is closed, one of my old roommates Gita came home from Germany. We weren't the best of friends from our days in Karlsruhe, but, for once, we got to hang out just the two of us this month and it was pretty fun. It's true what they say, "Tak kenal maka tak sayang" (You can't love what you don't know). I managed to hang out with Tasha again and had one of our OOTD outings. I think I started to sort out what I actually want to do.

March

This month is the start of many exciting things. First thing's first, my cousin asked me to design her wedding merchandise and I was so thrilled to do it! I was reunited with many old middle school friends—all of whom happen to be guys (lol)—in two separate occasions, but both of which weren't exactly documented—much to my dismay. God, how I miss them! I could catch up with my best friends too this month, over Mexican food—my first try! On the artistic front, I managed to visit a typography exhibition with my friend Enggar and finished an art trade with my friend Koletta. To close the month up real nice, I visited Firu's family again after too long. It's always so inspiring to talk to Firu's parents and siblings.

April

Inspired by Goethe Institut's local string of ethical fashion events, I could turn April into Fashion Revolution Month! First, I visited IKAT eCUT exhibition at Gudang Sarinah. Then I shared some lessons I've learnt from a year of not shopping for clothes—which happened accidentally, actually. Afterwards, I also attended IKAT eCUT's Clothes Swapping event. During the Fashion Revolution Week itself, I decided to do a week full of slow fashion-related posts. You can check out each post here, here, here, here, here and here. Offline, I've had a ripe old time with books. There were two huge book sales going on at the time, Gramedia World Expo and Big Bad Wolf Book Sale—the latter made me stand in line for 5 hours until 2 AM. Towards the end of the month, I managed to go on a ladies date with Koletta to Art Market 7. You can see my loots here.

May

May, strangely, became a museum-filled month for me. I visited a total of three museums by myself this month: Kite Museum, Basoeki Abdullah Museum and Textile Museum. At the end of each trip, I'd try a new place to eat nearby, including a tiny patisserie, an organic restaurant and an African specialty. I also managed to meet up with my friend Ervina who's appeared on the blog a few times, you may remember. Her life changes so quickly, it's surreal. Unfortunately, politically, things have been rather disheartening all over the world. I was so irked, that I felt I needed to say something. Online, I decided to join in on the #Mermay challenge—although only weekly. Mermaids are my childhood idol and I love drawing them! I also posted my first of the various regular booktube videos on my channel. Before I knew it, Ramadan is already here again.

June

June started out still continuing like it was May, with me visiting The National Archive Building—which was the longest inner-city trip I've ever taken. On the blog, I also shared the soundtrack of my life inspired by What Olivia Did—so much fun to think about! Though it may seem insignificant and small, I was so thrilled to taste (and love) local persimmons, because they were in season in June. My best friend Gina came back home for the Eid holidays, so the gang assembled and had a girls' night out. For Eid celebration, I made a hasty purchase from Imaji Studio, which I wore on the big day. Thankfully, this year I could finally reunite with the extended family again. Yaay! It also means dragging my sister to places for outfit photos, though—much to her dismay (lol). We visited Kudos CafeHotel Majapahit and Black Barn Coffee—plus one failed trip, but we don't talk about that. Lastly, Firu told me about The Red Pill and it completely changed how I think about feminism—which brought on quite an interesting discussion with various people. The excitement continues next month.

July

July started with bang, with a trip to Madura, checking out various limestone sites—and a huge scare along the way. After sadly saying goodbye to the cousins, I was welcomed home with a delivery from Book of Deer. Around the middle of the month, my pen tablet of six years finally died on me—after around a month of being vaguely stuck at the service centre. Firu gave it to me, so I felt rather emotional about giving it up. Rest in peace, my friend! As usual, Firu and I celebrated our anniversary, with me sharing some real melancholic thoughts for once. LDR is effin' hard, guys! It was the also the first month I managed to join the Goodreads Indonesia challenge, which turns out to be the number one best book I read all year. Although I've left my previous campus, my uni friends and I still kept in touch and we went exhibition-hopping and hanging out at a cafĂ©—which isn't something we usually did. This was the month the next stage of my life started to take shape.

August

Okay, yeah, August was crazy eventful—even more so than usual. First off, Tasha and I met up again for another OOTD outing. It was so much fun and I absolutely love the photos! Then Iva came home for the month and, obviously, that can only mean one thing: reunion! God, I've missed everyone so much. It was a much-needed get together. Iva and I also managed to catch some quality time during Independence Day. Then I met up with Amel, who is probably the closest local blogger friend I have, twice this month—once in Jakarta, once in Semarang. Did I mention that Studio Ghibli was coming to Jakarta in exhibition form? Yeah, my sister, her friend and I went there together. It was a blast! Also, remember my cousin who was getting married from March? Her wedding is now! Here's what the merchandise looks like. By the way, I used up this opportunity to hit up the Railway Museum in Ambarawa with my stepmom. It was awesome! Funny thing is, even with all this going on, I still managed to read and watch so much. Curiouser and curiouser!

September

September felt like a brand new beginning. I started with separating my illustrations from my blogging/personal content on instagram and created an art account—if you can call it art at all. To this day, this account is still a source of motivation for personal projects. It's also the month of rekindling or recalling things, starting with a long chatty meeting with a friend I haven't seen in 10 years. On the blog, I've also shared a couple untold trips I'd taken in Germany, one to Heidelberg and one to Fulda—both of which with friends I miss dearly. One Sunday, I visited two local events by myself: Responsible Market (where I bought local non-toxic bars of soap) and Lowlight Bazaar (where I got an analog pocket camera). Towards the end, I met up with another uni friend Caro—and her boyfriend—but only ever so briefly. It was also the month I started life at a brand new campus.

October

Favourite month of the year alert! In principle, anyway. Much like last year, I joined the whole Inktober challenge, with a theme—all of which you can see here. On the blog, as usual, this month will be filled with birthday-related posts and this year it was fantastic! I shared some lessons learnt on managing money, some young adult and German books, 24 before 25 recap and 25 before 26 list. Oh, yeah, I'm officially of the quarter life now. This was the year I just give in to the bad mood that comes with my birthday, because my unrealistic expectation of the day is just through the roof. My sister did well treating me to a loaf of cheesecake, though. I joined a workshop on tea and visited a typography exhibition too this month. I also managed to hang out with my best friends a couple times, including a low-key, quite shady halloween bash—which sort of reminds me of Halloween in 2013.

November

November was quite busy and stressful, so there was barely any documentation of it. This month was quite Japan-themed: I could finally visit Japan Film Festival—watched two films in total—and I posted fanart of Ranma and Rinne. It was, however, also midterm exam month and I was going insane—mostly because the exams are group projects and, well, if you've ever done one, you'd know they usually suck. Smack dab in the middle of it, though, I had the opportunity to teach a creative workshop for children and teens. It was a really nice break from all the assignments and studying, although a bit stressful to commit to. Overall, let's just say November wasn't the easiest of months. Honestly, I think I lost sleep this month more than any other month.

December

So, I think I've been either sugarcoating it or completely disregarding it in the past, when I say that December is a hard month for me. It's hard in the sense that it always reminds me of seeing Firu again. Every year, since I got back from Germany, December strikes and my mood is dimmed significantly. That is, however, what happens in my mind, physically here are a few things I did. First of all, I joined a couple workshops on campus—a surprise box workshop and a basic lettering workshop—which are quite casual, but rather fun. One of my classes also organised a field trip to the newly opened Marine Heritage Gallery, checking out some artefacts from lost Indonesian history. Think Spice Road! Towards the end, I got hang out with some of my Germany pals, because Ratri came home. It was really chilled—just talking for hours—but absolutely much needed. And then New Year's rolled around and I find myself bracing for the future.

If I had to describe 2017 as a whole—like I did for the previous years—I would probably say it's about "moving on." While in 2014 and 2015 I was forced to adapt, 2017 was the year I was starting to make peace with the life that I now lead. Moving on, in this sense, means not only from the life I was used to in Germany, but also from so many other things that may have come to an end afterwards. While I did rekindle a lot of old friendships this year, I am sad to say that one of my previously dearest friends stopped talking to me altogether—you may know who I'm talking about, if you've paid close attention. I also had to leave my previous campus, due to financial reasons, jettisoning me to an entirely new life. From this recap, I realise, it must have seemed like a low-key year, huh? I guess it was; I did stay home a lot. But also, I felt a little less motivated to document my day-to-day on social media or the blog, so there wasn't a lot to go on. Now's the time for them resolutions:
  1. Constantly seek out and try out more opportunities 
  2. Consume less, produce more, use wisely 
  3. Find time to get inspired 
  4. Try to understand Firu better and work harder to see him ♥
  5. Be more considerate of others and stay humble
I'm not entirely sure if I sought out more opportunities, but there have been a lot of those coming my way this year. I've tried out a lot of them—even unpaid ones—because I thought it would be nice to widen my network and be a great way to practice. This goes both for my illustration work and blog. I've been making most of my own food and drinks at home this year—especially for Meatless Monday, which I'm still doing religiously. I've also utilised used containers from food and drink products I bought in the past. Also not entirely certain if I spared time to get inspired, but I did visit a lot of exhibitions and explored new places this year, so I definitely got a lot of inspiration. The whole Firu thing is so much easier said than done, but I gave it my best effort to do so. Going to Germany is still something of a dream, though. Again, how do you know if you've accomplished this? I don't think I did, really, because there have been too many misunderstandings last year. But I'll try harder this year!
  1. Make an illustration for every important date/holiday
  2. Get a second income source/job
  3. Create monthly goals (and accomplish them)
  4. Have a healthy and supportive relationship with Firu ♥
  5. Take care of myself physically and mentally

May 2018 bring us opportunities and happiness. What do YOU want to achieve this year?

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