Monday, 31 March 2014

#21Before22List: Monthly Read (October - March)

One of the goals I put on my 21 Before 22 List is to read a book monthly. Well, actually to read at least one book a month. I made a list in my idea book to remind myself which books I've read and when. Also, I like to keep track on Goodreads to see when I started and when I finished - also very fun to give reviews to the books I've read. I thought it might be fun to share my progress halfway into the year. So here are the ten books I've read in the last six months.

As I'm typing this post, I just realised that out of all these books, I only paid for two. Also, I just realised that I tried reading all sorts of books: starting from short stories, YA novel bordering on fairy tale, historical fiction, non-fictions but, mostly, a good ol' everyday fiction novel. Here's the list of books in chronological order:
This was the last book my sister sent me (there were a total of four short story compilations) that I had yet to read. It was very refreshing, I learnt a lot about Australia - but not quite enough. Like all short story compilations, this book has some good ones and some not-so-good ones. But I enjoyed it through and through.
My friend Zahra sent this to me to read. I think this was very experimental for Jodi Picoult. As you might well know, I'm a huge fan of hers. But this book didn't sit right with me. I suppose when you're used to books with edges and harsh truths, you read this kind of story and you think there's a lot of censorship going on, sugarcoating and pixie dust. I read it quickly because I just couldn't sit any longer through it. It was categorised as YA novel but I think even teenagers wouldn't read it. Maybe 10-year-olds will but 14 and above would most probably ignore it. I'm sorry, Jodi, but this might be your only book I've ever truly hated.
This book was a birthday gift from Iva. The first thing that intrigued me toward this literary work was the cover. This one, to be precise. When I read the synopsis on the back, it interested me even more because it was located in Indonesia in the '60s. The story is very incredible, switching from one POV to another and mixing political with cultural and paternal conflicts all at once. The ending was rather iffy for me, but all in all it was such an immaculate read. I could almost imagine myself being in such a setting. I wish I could see Indonesia in the '60s somehow.
As recommended by my Dad, I bought this book on Amazon. It's a compilation of letters from a father to his daughter, teaching her how to keep love in a marriage - or any long-term relationship, really. It touched me that my father wanted me to read this. This book makes me feel like the relationship I have with him has changed over the years and now we can face each other as adults. It also touched me that he might think Firu and I have such a great thing going that we would end up getting married in the end. The book in itself was so enlightening. Some of the advice were already quite obvious to me, but some others were new. I cannot wait to share it with Firu!
Like most of his most famous books, this book by Mitch Albom is based on his personal experience as his life brushed with that of a life-altering person - a wise professor, a baseball player haunted by the mistakes he did to his mother. This time, it's his rabbi and a reverend who was once sinful. The book deals a lot with faith, no matter whatever religion you hold. Such a fitting read at the moment as I am trying to get back in touch with my more religious side. It is very eye-opening, I should say. It makes me feel like faith isn't such a heavy weight to bear after all.
Along with the book above, this was borrowed from our town library. And they say people don't go to libraries anymore, pfft! At first, I wouldn't've thought this book would place no. 2 so far of JP's book that I hate. I thought the story was about rape - which it was supposed to be - but as I read on, the rape case never went anywhere and was barely mentioned. There was very little to take away from this book, aside from some info on Yup'ik Eskimos. It went unresolved and ended as if she just ran out of papers.
Stories with Asian backgrounds or Asian settings always hit so close to home. This one happens to be partially set in Japan and, obviously, has a Japanese background. Some of it was set during and after WWII, which makes the relationship between all these people more interesting. This book shows the diversity conflicts very well, especially not long after the war. All I kept wondering throughout the book was, does the 'original' "How to Be an American Housewife" really exist? I'd love to read through it. The tips seem incredibly conservative though the title sounds modern. Also from the library, by the way, along with the book below.
  • February - March: Room by Emma Donoghue
For as long as I know, I've always wanted to read this beautiful work. It was definitely nothing I've ever read before. Such a great tale! You wouldn't understand what was going on or where it was set the first few pages of the book. Maybe you wouldn't even know some things that were happening too because it was so obscure from the point-of-view of a recent 5-year-old. The languages are really easy to understand, obviously. But his thoughts make me grow impatient at times. Understandable, though, given the unusual circumstance of his early years. The story is probably rather dark and very dramatic but Jack tells it, knowing nothing of the actual weight of the situations. Very soothing and magical, in a way.
Firu bought this book when we first started going out. We both spotted it in a bookstore back home. He was intrigued by the question on the title, while I was attracted by the whimsical illustration. We ended up purchasing that edition but neither of us managed to finish the book all these years. Just a warning: this book is a toilet book, more about the humour and less about the facts. Don't expect to find all the answers in here but just enjoy the laughs you get to have while you're on the can. Some questions I know the answer of and they don't. I wish I could send them the answer, some of the issues are just more familiar to tropical kids. All in all, I was so glad to finally put this book in my read list.
Wow! Really, wow! I understand fully why this book won the Nobel prize. Seriously, all the stories are written wonderfully and the storyline varies in an unimaginable way. Out of a total of 14 short stories, there is honestly none that I disapprove of. Every story has its own perks and beauty. The synopsis says that each story captures a life-altering moment in someone's life, which rings very true for each and every one of the story. They're told from different angles, though, so the life-altering event might not have been apparent to everyone. My mind is still blown.
So late, I know. Better late than never. It was clear from the very first sentence what the story was about. It was the in-between that we wished would offer some kind of explanation as to the girls' actions, though it never really satisfies our need for solutions. It goes without saying, the story sends chills up and down my spine up 'til the last page. Shortly after I finished the book, I watched the film, which seems a little rushed and cut up horribly. Not really a huge fan of Sofia Coppola, actually. Maybe it's both good and bad that I read the book first.

I also like to document each book I start reading on instagram. Not all of them, though, apparently. But here are some of them. I thought I couldn't go through with this goal as I am busy working on a project right now - which I am still unable to disclose, sorry. But, it turns out, I actually read more books because of it! I don't normally keep track of how fast I read a book but reading 3-4 books per month? That's gotta be some sort of record. Or, well, we'll see. Maybe I will actually widen my horizons and read more non-fiction books too. Look forward to the next six months I'll be reading!

P.S: Those shoes will appear on the blog again soon!

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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Nothing Changes Really About Love

♫ Spitz - Sakana ♪

Ah, spring. They say it's the season of love. Then again, any season is perfect for love. The world wouldn't turn to winter and you'd stop loving your loved ones, now would you? If you do, then you're a terrible person. I'm currently reading Alice Munro's Dear Life: Stories, which is incredibly written and absolutely brilliant - no wonder it won the Noble prize. One of the stories told of a woman's reciprocated love which seemed so quick in its development. In the end, it fell through and left a permanent mark on the woman's memories. Years later, she still remembered the tremor the man causes to her heart and, upon seeing him again, she was ready to up and leave with him. Such is the story of love that I always imagined. A feeling so deep and strong it etches a little fleck on your being when it ends. This is not to say that moving on should be an impossible task. But, if you see each other years later, somehow you would either decide to finally be together - if the possibility ever presents itself - or be happy for the other person if they're happy with their current circumstance. Much like that of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy, according to Becoming Jane. Such is the love I've always wanted.

Esprit shirt (old, Mom's) // vintage cape via lucedalevintage // H&M socks // vintage brogues + skirt

An impromptu outfit this was. I somewhat threw it on to do the groceries but ended up just taking pictures and having some snack out instead. What? The sun was so beautiful and it lured me out. It was honestly a tad too hot to be wearing capes out. But you know spring, the weather could change like that (snap finger here). I turned out not to be too wrong, since the wind started blowing mildly toward the evening. Obviously, during the day, people all stared at me for wearing a cape, for two reasons. The first reason being the aforementioned weather condition and the second being that nobody wears capes anymore. I know it's impractical and a little fussy, but capes are just too adorable to pass on. This is the location for this post too, by the way. I tried finding it ever since but somehow couldn't. I was even half-convinced that it was actually a different realm. By pure chance, I found it on this day. How bout that? Also, I'm at Firu's at the moment. God, I've missed that dude for the two months that we hadn't seen each other. Oh hey! By the way, I just started joining ModCloth Style Gallery, come check it out and follow along if you like!

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Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Truth About the Creative Process

Making something - anything at all - needs a process. That also goes for artistic or literary products. You cannot expect a result to come without any work. Some processes are faster than others. But everything requires a process, even art. People who don't understand that tend to think that an idea would just fall on their laps if they just start working on something. Trust me, I used to be one of those people too. But, before you can do that, there are other steps you must take first so that you have more of a direction on what to work on when you start. It's not much different from making a skeleton of your thesis before you start researching and, later on, working on it. Here are the important steps of a creative process:

1. Inspiration

Also known as procrastinating. This might seem like putting off work. Excessive procrastinating will be putting off work. The key is to keep your project in mind. Procrastinating, though unproductive, is important to gather inspiration, come up with ideas and refresh your minds. What I like to do to procrastinate is read a book, watch a movie, play video games (Android games are seriously addictive!), take photos, write blog posts (yeah, like this one!) and browse through the net. It's easy to get carried away, though. So I must stress that you need to keep your goals/projects in mind. If you have a deadline, keep it in your calendar or the back of your mind. Do not get carried away!

2. Brainstorming

Personally, I believe this is the most important step. There's an illusion of unproductivity during the brainstorming step but it's where you make actual progress. For an art student-to-be, it is important to know that professors will want to see your progress. They will want to know the way you think, before it's all pretty in a packaging of a finished product. The brainstorming process is your mind at its rawest, where it's a just a vomit of thoughts on a piece of paper, you still trying to figure things out. It's the draft to your end result so it doesn't have to be pretty. Actually, you needn't finish your draft before you decide to go to the next step. You can always change it halfway done, you can start before you've got everything figured out.

3. Working

Now is the real deal. Obviously productive. There's no reason for the first two steps if this step doesn't come along. Procrastinate and brainstorm as you want, if there's no end product, it's not a creative process. This is the part where you need to put most effort out. You might get rather fed up with this step, you might get a little downhearted and unmotivated. That's natural, working is working, after all. Neil Gaiman even gets fed at some point of writing his books and is always convinced to abandon the book. But you have to pull through! You will get a product that you can be proud of and love through and through.

This post was mainly written because a.) I needed to procrastinate, b.) everyone who wants to pursue the creative career field should understand that artistic products don't fall from the heavens all wrapped up nicely, working is working no matter what you do; and c.) people who do not understand the creative process keep thinking, "How can drawing be stressful? You love it! It should come easily to you!" Well, I'm here to set the records straight. Just because we love doing something doesn't mean we don't need to work hard to do it, even if we're really good at it. Talent is just half of the battle, we need effort as well. And so, people, I hope you all understand the creative process now.

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Everything Is All-Red

♫ Everything Is Alright - Motion City Soundtrack ♪

What's up, guys? Life has been rather pressing on me. Unlike January and February, which moved sluggishly, March is flying right by. I've got three projects in mind - two of them part of an even bigger project - and I am losing my mind. One of them is almost done but I'm still trying to figure things out. The other one is in the process. This one's an independent project so I feel more relieved with the freedom that I have. It's been kind of eating at me at the back of my mind. If you want to guess, I'll give you a hint: this second project is part of my 21 Before 22 List. Killing two birds with one stone, eh? In Indonesia, we call it "Paddle once, 2-3 islands passed." Islanders, am I right? The last project is something I'm planning with my sister and my stepmom. It's huge and something I never thought I'd do but I am so excited! I'll share it all with you guys, soon as I'm done. Promise.

A stranger who happened to pass by helped me take this photo. Thank you, kind sir!

Fashion to Any dress // C&A coat // DIY scarf // vintage penny loafers

Today's outfit theme is red. Red from practically head to toe. Can you believe I'm still wearing a coat? Everyone in Europe seems to have shed their coats. I just haven't got the memo. I just had to wear this outfit before winter officially ends because I love the way this scarf looks on this coat. There's just a sophisticated feel to the whole silhouette. This is a farewell to this coat until next autumn as spring has arrived. Time to trade it with a lighter jacket. The boots have already been kicked off. I cannot tell you how much I miss these loafers. By far the most comfortable and beautiful shoes I have. But I do have a more beautiful pair, which I cannot wait to wear this spring. Not only that, this dress must also be worn one more time before spring and summer come. It's backless and everything but it's made out of wool, which means it will be too thick and hot for spring. The stranger who helped me with my photo asked if I made the dress myself. Oh wow! What a flattery!

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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Heart's on Fire, Leaving All Behind You

♪ Step Out - José González

Hey, guys! Do you miss me? No, I'm not quite back yet, sorry to disappoint. But I've missed posting outfit posts for so long. These days I just don't have the time to think about outfits and, since I've been pretty much holed up in my room anyway, I never bother to dress up. Really, all you'd ever find me in is a combo of t-shirts and sweatpants. Sometimes I inevitably have to go out to buy food, in which case I just replace the sweatpants with one pair of pants - always the same. That's how lazy I am. But I'm powering through my current project and, on this day, I was done early with my last illustration so I quickly grabbed lunch and dressed up. Then the sun, which was shining so brightly not ten minutes before, disappeared behind this huge, dark cloud and gusts of wind went past. And then, after all is said and done and I was on my way home, the sun popped out again, proud as ever. Right...

Needless to say, I've been watching a lot of movies and reading a lot of books - literary update coming up later this month. I just finished my last book and am starting on Room by Emma Donoghue, which has been sitting in my to-read list forever. I'm surprised with how many books I find myself reading these past five months, as I thought I'd be too busy to read. I stand corrected. Also, since I'm a major multitasker, I've been watching a lot of things alongside my work: starting from blockbuster movies, Sundance films, Youtube channels, talk shows to Japanese drama. Saku-chan recently recommended Ama-chan to me, which tickled my tummy and turned me into a Japanese. When it ended, I wished it would go on. The story was very intriguing and also...Koike Teppei! Kyaa! ( ⎠≧ ∇ ≦ )⎠ I could've hugged my screen. Sorry about the sudden fangirling.

Primark blouse via Kleider Kreisel // Brave Soul sweater via TK Maxx // H&M shorts // thrifted purse + boots

Anyone noticed I cut my fringe? It's gotten far too long but I was too reluctant to do anything about it. The other day, I finally gave in and chopped it off. Every time I cut it off, it never looks the same as before, as if I deliberately change its style instead of just trying to shorten it. This goes beyond my control, ladies and gentlemen. But this style of fringe simply makes me want to tie my hair into a ponytail. Every. Time. Exhibit A. Nothing wrong with the ponytail, I like the bouncy feel to it, actually. Just thought I put that out there...for some reason. About the outfit itself, there's not much to say except that I find it ironic that I came up with the perfect outfit for a class now that it's the semester break.

Winter has been coming and going these past few weeks that bringing a coat was such a dilemma. On this day especially. So the sun was shining before and the air was rather warm. I thought of not bringing a coat, but seeing the huge lump of cloud looming over me, I feel like a coat would be my safest bet. Since I haven't really been 'out' in so long, I didn't notice the change in nature. But I think spring is coming faster than I realise. I see some flower buds on some trees already. There are even already some flowers on the grass around town. Man, I hope spring comes soon. Cannot wait to show you guys some very beautiful new stuff - that I didn't buy but won in giveaways.

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