Holiday Project

First of all, I think I ought to explain about the holiday since I once read a post in WordPress that August is a no-holiday month in the States. Here, the no-holiday month is the cruel July. But this year in August, we have this national holiday to celebrate Islamic big day, called Idul Fitri, or Lebaran.

Wikipedia explains that Idul Fitri “is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm).” So exactly a month before this Idul Fitri, moslem people would start fasting for a whole month, and by Idul Fitri, they finally break their fast. Idul Fitri happens on a different times every year, so next year, Idul Fitri might not happen in August anymore.

Normally in Indonesia, during Idul Fitri, people gather with their family, and this has created quite a chaos in the traffic for years, since in order to gather with their family, people who go to another city would return back to their hometown, hence creating traffic jam–sorry, I mean massive traffic jam. This year, the traffic jam is no different. Normally–or usually, traffic jam in Indonesia only occur in big cities, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, or Bandung, but on Idul Fitri–or  a couple days before Idul Fitri, the traffic jam happens everywhere. And the only city left with no traffic jam is, in fact, Jakarta.

Everybody is so anxious to get back home to see their family that they get very impatient while driving. It’s not rare to see multiple cases of accidents on the road, and even train hijacking.

Long story made short, it’s annoying.

But anyway, I made it back to my hometown, safe and sound, and now I got approximately 4 days to be with my mum with nothing to do, really. It’s my 2nd day at home, and so far, my mom has been trying to make me acne-free and fatter by feeding me foods as long as I’m awake. I don’t know whether it would make any difference, though. All these time, I always eat and eat and eat, and I even have late-night snacks many, many times, yet people keep telling me I’m getting skinnier and skinnier.

Other than hunting for new local coffee shops, and trying to get a wi-fi connection every day so I could access the internet, open, and read sarticles in order to make some money even during the holiday, I don’t really have many choices other than browsing the internet and idling at home.

So yesterday, I managed to persuade my mom to visit our old house in the city, where my novels and knitting yarns and needles are stored. I was also successful in convincing her that I didn’t bring too many novels with me and that I would finish them as soon as possible while I’m at home. So here’s my holiday-to-do-list for now, in my hometown:


  1.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (currently reading),
    I have actually watched the movies–The Millenium Trilogy–but I happened to watch the third part without reading the novel yet because at that time, I already moved to another city for work, so now that I got time to read it, I’m so relieved that I watched the movie before I read the novel. Apparently some parts in the movie are very different than the ones in the book, and if I had read the book at that time, I would doubtless not able to enjoy the movie. But since I read the book after I watched the movie, I am a fan of both the movie and the novel.
  2. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad,
  3. And The Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave,
  4. The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski,
  5. Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier,
  6. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling,
  7. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux,
  8. A compilation stories of Sherlock Holmes.


  • Border Wedding by Amanda Scott

Knit a scarf (the white yarn) and redo the old one (the blue one).

The novels are those who I own from long time ago (bought them, given or lent by a friend) yet I haven’t got the time to read them all, and the blue scarf is the one that is still halfway finished, and I plan to redo it since I think it’s a bit too wide. After I finished that one, I’m going to make a white scarf. I usually sell the scarves after I made them, but if no one’s interested, I’d definitely make them my private collection. I think it’s kinda cool to own scarves that I made myself, don’t you think?

Twinkle, not Ciki, A Dog With A Vampire Teeth

Or maybe I was just exaggerating, since I don’t really know what the exact term would be for this dog’s teeth.

But before you read further, let me make this clear: I’m afraid of dogs.

Yes, yes, you might be confused, or you might not believe it at all, really, how could there be anyone on earth who hate dogs?

Well, I do.

I like looking at dogs pictures, especially if they are cute, and I love some movies with dogs as the main character. I know how loyal they could be–or at least, I’ve read that somewhere–and how adorable they really are, but  their presence alone intimidates me.

Yes, I’m serious. As serious as a heart-attack.

I’m afraid of dogs, with their fangs, and their barks, and it really makes me insecure whenever they’re  running or jumping towards me. Hell, they following me around already makes me feel like running away as far as I could, but I never really do that. They say dogs can smell fear. And once, I’ve almost got bitten by my cousin’s dog, for she smelled my fear and anxiety whenever I’m around her.

In my country here, I’m not the only one who’s afraid of dogs, fyi. There are many here who are just like me.

I know, perhaps it still puzzles you.

One of my American friends once told me that it took her some time to get used to the idea that there are others, out there,  who really are afraid of dogs, since most people she knows never really had any problem with dogs. So the idea of this fear of dogs was like a brand new thing for her.

Not that I’m offended, really. But soon I learn that I ought to stress how the presence of dogs alone could really distress me, to anyone who own dogs.

The only time I’m not afraid of dogs are only when they sit in silence, and simply watch me walking pass them. As long as they don’t bark, and as long as they don’t follow me everywhere I go–including running and jumping towards me when I enter the house, I’m cool.

I’m getting quite used to my cousin’s dogs for some time now, for they only keep the nicest and tamest dogs inside the house, and soon they also got used to my presence in their house, so they never really bark when I came.

Like today, when I visit my aunt and uncle, I was actually terrified that they might have new dogs who are not  acquaintance with me yet, and that they might bark and run toward me. But instead, I found this little dog, simply looking at me while she sat near my aunt.

Since shehe didn’t bark, nor did shehe run toward me, I found myself completely… unalarmed with herhis presence. As a matter of fact, I noticed one unique thing about herhim as I observed herhis back: herhis teeth.

I don’t know what people called herhis teeth, for it’s unusual to see dogs with that kind of teeth. Abnormalities? Nonetheless, it’s really cute. And the way shehe was so calm and quiet while shehe was observing me, only makes herhim even more adorable than any dogs I’ve ever encountered. The name is CikiTwinkle, by the way.

Hi everyone, I’m CikiTwinkle.
Oh, in case you haven’t noticed, I have the cutest teeth in the world.
And this is how my teeth looked like from the left side.

P.S. I’m still afraid of dogs, btw.

*edited August 30th, 2011. I wrote this post as “Ciki, A Dog With A Vampire Teeth” since my cousin tipped me by saying that the dog’s name is Ciki and that the dog is a she. Apparently, after he saw this post, he later texted me to correct the misinformation. Turns out the dog’s name is Twinkle (God knows why he’s named Twinkle) and that she is actually a he. Dear Twinkle, I’m so sorry for giving public a wrong information. I hope you wouldn’t mind being mistaken as a female-Ciki for several days!

Rice Fields on The Way Home

I was on my way back to my hometown yesterday, sitting in the  train and looking out the window when I saw a vast view of rice field on the way. I’m quite a fan of nice pictures of… mostly anything, really, including rice field, although walking on it is quite a different matter. Perhaps it was the sun, or the idle state I was in which make me think that the rice field looks very green and even more beautiful than any rice fields I’ve ever seen in my life, so I thought I ought to take some pictures with my lame 2 MP camera phone–really, that’s all I have for now–to preserve the view.


Random Story #4: Phone Call

   She has been starring at her cell phone for about five minutes now. Had anyone paid close attention, they would notice that she was not really starring at her cell phone. She looked at that thing in her hand blankly, as if something occupied her mind.

   And it was. Something. Fill her mind.

   As a matter of fact, it was what appeared on her cell phone screen which made her lost in deep thought.

   Her dad, to be exact.

   The old man had been calling her for at least ten times this morning. Which she did not get. None of them, since she barely heard her cell phone rang.

   She knew this would definitely upset her dad. But she was downstairs, taking a long bath when her dad called her ten times. Since it was Sunday, after all, she thought she could use some extra time to get a nice, comfortable hot bath, which she clearly could not do during weekdays, for she got up early in the morning, break her fast in a hurry, and tried not to be late to the office. Then she did what she ought to do, every week days, until the clock told her it was six o’ clock already, and that she could go home to rest.

   Surely her dad must know that she had been unable to take his calls.

   At least he should’ve take the hint after at least five unanswered calls.

   But no, she sighed as the thought came to her mind. Her dad wouldn’t understand.

   She had been thinking whether she should wait for another call or to call him back instead. Talking to her dad has not been the most pleasant events in the world to her. She’d rather he left her alone and mind his own business instead of hers. But he was her dad, after all, and in the name of courtesy and propriety, she ought to pay the old man some respect and at least try to call him back and explain why she hadn’t been able to take his calls.

   She had decided to call her dad back when her cell phone rang again.

   Her dad.

   Grimly, she pressed the green button, taking the call.

   “Hey, dad.”

   “What the hell were you doing!? I was sick-worried, you know! I could be thinking that someone had kidnapped you, or that your cell phone had been stolen, and–”

   “I know, dad. I’m sorry. No one’s been trying to raid my phone, and I’m fine. I was in the bathroom, you know, and I sure couldn’t bring my cell phone there. That’s why I didn’t hear you call,” she explained.

   “What the devil took you so long in the bathroom!? God, I’ve been trying to reach you since three days ago! Couldn’t you at least texted me, simply to tell me that you’ve been doing okay? I was dead-worried thinking you might be sick since you haven’t contact me since last week!”

   “Geez, dad! It’s only a week! Please, don’t exaggerate things!”

   “It’s only a week! It has been a week without any news from you! Surely you can’t blame me since you never really tell me what’s going on with you! It’s simply in your nature to keep things from me, even if you got sick and could barely get up from bed!”

   “Dad, please. I’m fine!”

   “Once you got married and have kids of your own, lady, you’d completely understand my action, and, pray, don’t seek for my advice! You ought to know better!” He scolded her again.

   Sure, she thought. If I ever got married. But she kept that thought to herself. She knew better than anyone else not to mention even the notion of the idea to her father. It would drive him mad.

   Instead, she sighed.

   “Dad. I’m fine,” she repeated, trying to emphasize every word.

   She heard a sigh from the other side of the line.

   “What’s up?” she asked her dad, trying to sound casual, yet she was actually burned with rage, for the scold she got earlier.

   “Nothing. Just want to catch up,” replied the old man.

   She sighed and rolled her eyes. Just want to catch up!? What’s with all the fuss, then? He sure made an impression that a gang of mafia just tried to rob him and he wanted to make sure that they hadn’t robbed her, too.

   “Oh,” she said instead. “Well… Nothing’s new with me, actually.”

   “Oh,” said her dad. Then silence. Nah, an awkward silence, to be precise.

   “Well,” finally the old man said, breaking the silence. “You know, it’s been a while since you’re home, young lady. You’re still gonna go home this weekend, are you?”

   “Yes, dad,” she said. It’s the fifth time he asked her that very same question, and now it has begun to irk her.

   “Well, then, have you prepared for the things you’re taking with you?”

   “I haven’t, but I still got time. It’s still a week ahead, dad.”

   “Well, but… you know, you should’ve started to prepare things, right?”

   “Geez, dad, it’s still a week later!”

   “Well, you know better, then,” said her dad in a rush, trying not to make another commotion. At least he realized how she inherited his temper.

   She sighed, then, filling the silence that came afterwards. She was clearly reluctant to break the silence, only hoping that this small talks and politeness would end soon. Not that she hated her dad, but one too many times she thought her dad was too much overprotective and he definitely exaggerated his affectionate attention toward his one and only daughter.

   Finally her dad spoke up, “So, have you heard about your grandpa?”

   Her mind jumped right away to her dad’s dad who just had a surgery last week, and she’d been dying to know how her grandpa had been doing following the surgery, but the thought that his dad would chatter endlessly on the phone was unbearable to her. She only wanted to end the conversation right away. But she knew the courtesy obliged her to continue this conversation, so she said,

   “No. How’s he doing so far?”

   “About time you ask. He’s been doing great. Tough guy, he is. You know he was walking unsupervisely last night to the bathroom while he was supposed to sleep and rest in bed? Thank God  he didn’t got slipped in the bathroom. We were worried sick, and I think I frightened the nurse for failing to notice this careless action. She ought to accompany him all the time!”

   “Slow down, dad. She’s a human being. At least grandpa’s fine now. Nothing happened, right.”

   “Well, yea, but something worse could’ve happened!”

   “Are you wishing for it?”

   “Young lady, watch your tongue.”

   “I know. Sorry,” she replied, regretting every words she had said, cursing at her stupid mouth.

   “Well, tell grandpa I said hi,” she said.

   “Will do, if only he remembered you.”

   “Well, tell him anyway.” She understand completely that her grandpa had been suffering from some sort of dementia. The only memory survived in his mind was his memories of his younger days.

   “You know, he’d been walking out to the hospital’s garden this morning, slipping away from the nurse. They were freaking out earlier at the hospital until they found him wandering aimlessly in the garden. Looking for his dad, he said.”

   “Jesus! What happened, then?”

   “Well, they took him back to bed, and as soon as I got to the hospital, I warned him not to go anywhere unsupervised anymore. He promised me that he’d stay in bed until I, or the doctor told him otherwise. Sakes, he called me ‘dad’!”

   She chuckled. Likewise, she thought.

   “Well, that’s grandpa. As expected, right?”

   “Yea. He kept asking me how his brother’s been doing, with him lying sick in the hospital. I kept reminding him that I’m not his dad. I’m his son and both his elder brother and father had passed away.”

   “Daddy! Is it wise to tell him so?”

   “Well, it’s the fact, right? It’s no good to let him believe that he’s back in the olden days, anyway. He ought to know that this is 2011 already, after all.”

   “Yea, it’s true,” she said, agreeing.

   And then another silence followed.

   God I hate this, she thought.

   “Well…,” she tried to end the conversation.

   “I met Kerry’s cousin the other day,” he said, out of the blue.

   She sighed. Apparently the conversation would last longer than she’d expected. Kerry was her cousin. Distant cousin, to be exact, who she barely knew.

   “Oh,” she replied briefly, hoping that whatever it is he was about to tell her, would be as brief.

   “She told me Kerry apparently got a job in a big, multi-national company. Sakes, she earned more than 7 million every month! Can you believe that?”

   She shutted her eyes for a while. Please, she muttered to herself, let it not be another talk of a better job. I’d prefer to choose my own profession, so please-please-please, don’t let him suggest another better job for me.

   “Well, I’m glad to hear that. I wish her every luck in the world,” she responded.

   Please stop now, she screamed inside.

   “Your aunt M has apparently back in town, by the way,” he added shortly.

   God, she thought. So what? It has nothing to do with me!

   “Oh. So?” She can’t believe she just said that to her dad.

   “Well, she was asking how you’ve been doing, and wondering when you’d come home.”

   “Tell her I’m doing okay. As to coming home, you know when I’d come home.”

   “Well, yes, I know. But I’ve been wondering…”

   No. No, no, no, no, she screamed in horror inside.

   “–whether it’s possible for you to come home sooner.”


   “I miss you, you know.”


   Yet she blew another sigh before she replied,

   “No, dad,” she said in a firmer tone. “No, it’s not possible for me to come home sooner. I’ve got work to do, you know.”

   She’d been missing her dad as well, in fact. But what her dad had said made her wish she could go anywhere but home for the weekend.

   Truthfully speaking, as much as she loved her dad, she thought she really needed a long-long break from him. May God be merciful and let him have a long life so she won’t have to regret for having the thought alone.

   “Yeah, I know,” her dad said, desperately.

   “We’ll see each other in a week, anyway, so there’s really nothing to ramble about missing me at all, dad.”

   “Yeah,” replied the old man sadly, and she regretted right away for showing him such attitude before.

   “I got to go now, dad. Talk to you later,” she said.


   “Bye,” she added, really hoping that she could end the conversation right away, but she knew she ought to wait for her dad’s reply.


   So she hang up.

   She sighed again.

   God, she thought. I’m a horrible, horrible monster.


Still related to my two previous posts earlier about coffee shops here in Malang (click here and here to read the posts),  I have to say that so far, none of them satisfy me. The good one is hostile (or at least I think they should have behave better towards their customers), while others got great service–too bad their coffee is not really as good as their service. The rest got both good coffee as well as service, but their price aren’t so friendly, which always makes me think twice everytime I wanna hang out for a cup or two coffees.

So, long story made short, I’m dying for a good coffee (as well as a good coffeeshop) here. I want a nice place, a nice treatment from people in the coffeeshop, as well as a good coffee as well.

You might argue with me that I can’t even differentiate which coffee is made by machine and which is grilled manually by hand.

I know I sucks in that.

But hell, I want a good coffee in a way that I wanna be able to enjoy my coffee other than the instant one that I consume every day at work/home on weekdays!

So finally, my friend Ashley, told me a couple days a go that she’d found a nice coffee shop which she thought is very homely, and they have good music, as well as good coffee and tea, with affordable price.

Sounds too good to be true, huh?

But then I decided to give it a try.

Decided that I dead bored in my house/office and got nothing planned on Sunday, I walked out of the house at about 4.30 PM, determined to visit this coffee shop. I walked, of course, decided that I would like to spend some time walking to the coffee shop rather than wasting two thousand rupiahs on public transportation. Yeah, yeah, I’m a cheapo, so what? Walking’s healthy anyway. Besides, I still haven’t figured out what angkota/bemo (that’s what we call the public transportation here) would take me to this coffee shop.

The name is Legipait.

Had I not noticed the massive number of benches and tables outside the coffee shop, as well as the black board on the wall which says “We’re opened from 5 PM – 2 AM,” I’d probably lost and walked past the coffee shop, for it looks like an ordinary house from the outside.

So I checked my watch, and after I made sure that it was 5 o’  clock already, I stepped in. I did asked the first woman I saw in the coffee shop, of course, merely to confirm that it has opened, indeed. It would definitely be awkward if I entered so confidently, only to find out that I’d be thrown out because it was still closed.

Thank God they said that they’d opened already.

I have to tell you the truth, though, the place is smaller than I’d expected.

When Ashley told me first that the place is homely, I still imagined a larger coffeeshop, but with hospitality from the waiter/waitress/barista. I imagined the place to be more similar to my favorite coffee shop back in Salatiga, another small city where I pursued my bachelor degree. The name was Frame Coffee shop, and it’s a very nice place. (I’m wondering why on earth I haven’t write thoroughly about that place yet since I’ve been claiming it’s my favorite coffee shop ever! I’d definitely write about that place, Frame, someday soon.)


But I surely didn’t imagine a coffee shop this small. The word “narrow” and “crowded” came to mind right away when I saw the little space provided from one seat to another. But as I walked in, I noticed a lovely bookshelf with plenty of novels in it. As the lady behind the table next to menu asked whether I’d ordered something, I asked for a pancake and a milk-tea.

Good heavens, they got milk-tea!

I’ve been dying for one.

But another thing that came to my mind made me anxious. With its not-so-grand-building, I began to doubt whether they had wi-fi. I learned, though, that I could always take a novel from the bookshelf if I wanted to read one, so I could always  read instead of surfing the net, in case they didn’t have wi-fi. But I asked them, and the answer surprised me.

“Oh yes, we do have wi-fi connection.”

That, I didn’t expect.

A coffee shop, and a mini-library–if that is the precise term–with wi-fi? Wow. Is this heaven?

So I scanned through the place, taking pictures here and there and noticed how, indeed, homely the place is. I walked around, and after taking some pictures without permission, I began to think that they might thought I’m rude, if not strange, walking around the place and taking pictures here and there. Sakes, I should’ve asked their permission in the first place! So, reluctantly, because I thought it would’ve been the most awkward moment ever, I asked the lady whether she’d allow me to take a picture of the menu to put it in my blog. (God it was indeed, awkward.)

Thank God she didn’t mind a bit.

I’ve been thinking to take a picture of the place from afar, and I regret why I didn’t do so earlier, but I’d definitely come back for a second, if not more, visit and next time, I’ll be sure to take more pictures. It’s a really nice place–nice enough to give me a good first impression, and definitely good enough to make me want to write a post about this place.

So here I am, sitting by the window, writing this post, and enjoying my milk-tea and pancake.

I think I’m gonna order coffee latte.

Outdoor seats

Outdoor Seats


The "mini-library." They sure got nice novels in it. They got Mishima's "Thirst for Love," Ayu Utami's "Bilangan Fu," Mitch Albom's "Five People You Met in Heaven," and many more. Who could expect to find that in a coffee shop? Hahaha.
They also sell notebooks! Why on earth did I spend so much money at Gramedia!?
The Menu
This is the window right next to my seat. Quite a nice decoration, isn't it? On the other side they also put old cameras on it.

Random Story #2: A Fresh Start

   T looked at her new room and told herself that she had been very lucky, indeed. At least compared to friends’ experiences. Most of them who sought for jobs in places far away did not even get an accommodation as fine as the one she had. For that, she reminded herself, she ought to be grateful.

   Well, she was thankful, indeed.

   She got a nice place to stay, and her new workplace was also very nice. She had meet her co-workers the previous day, and got a tour around her new office. She had not yet met her boss–or her boss’ boss, but she saw him walking out from his office yesterday while touring her office, and he smiled at him. Well, at least her boss showed some courtesy. He was not one of those horrible tyranny bosses, at least. That was good enough as a starter, she thought to herself. It was her first day, anyway, sure she could not expect too much. Besides, she was getting fond of her new workplace already. She had been worried that her office might be one of those dreadful offices where everybody were so busily engaged with their works that they might even be too busy even to say a simple “Hi” to the newbie. But no, thank Heaven, her office did not give her any single impression of those horrible things. At least, it had not given her that impression. Again, it was her first day, wasn’t it? And she was already in love with her new job, and her new office. Her co-workers all gave her warm welcomes and made sure she made herself comfortable in her new environment. Her boss (not her boss’ boss) was so down-to-earth and hospitable that she wondered now what she had done exactly to deserve such a kind boss. She was truly thankful for this. Her new office did not at all intimidate her just like she had imagined before. And everybody, knowing that she had come all the way from her hometown which took almost 8 hours for her to get to the city–her new workplace, to be precise, tried to make sure that she had not come for nothing. Their warm reception had made her wondering whether she had met the most agreeable people on earth. They expressed her worries about her coming from far away, and whether she had managed to find a nice place to stay, and tried to inform her about places where she could get nice food and other stuffs, should she needed any. What had she done to deserve all these, really?

   Then she reminded herself, that she should not be far too excited, yet, for it was her first day. Then again, she was reminded that she had chosen to find jobs far away from home. Away. Far-far away from everybody. And most people tend to find things like this difficult at first. The first days/months/years of adjusting are always the hard ones. But not for her. So once again, she mumbled a ‘thank you’ to God, if He does exist, and if not, to whatever supernatural powers out there which had made this easier and nicer for her.

   Yes, she had decided to seek jobs located far away from places she knew. Places where familiar people stayed. She had told herself so many times before that she wanted a fresh start. Without family connections. Without interference from those people who–she knew it by heart–only wanted to help her out. People who thought that their connections or powers could help the a fresh-graduate who were–at that time–desperate for a job. And the offers were all tempting, really, but she decided she wanted to shape her own future. She thought that if she could not do this alone, that she never could. Ever. She hated the idea of relying her future on others’ hands, already. So she hardened her heart and said a firm “No” to every offers and opportunities that had come to her through the hands of relatives. No, she told herself. No matter how tempting those offers were. No. She should make it on her own. At least she ought to try. If she failed, than maybe she was not as good as thought she was. Then maybe she could turn to those relatives who had been dying to offer her thousands other opportunities. But she shivered only to think that she might be a failure after all, and that she then would have to rely on others after all.
Fate was not so harsh, it turned out, as she finally got an opportunity to get the fresh start that she always wanted. In a new place. Meeting new people. She thought her chance to finally prove herself worthy, were she worthy at all, had come after all. So she accepted the offer. Of course she intentionally failed to mention this “fresh start” and “a brand new beginning” to her relatives when they responded negatively upon hearing the news. Why ever the job should take her far-far away? Too bad she was not so lucky to get a job nearer to home, indeed. And all she said in response was a nod, a smile, or a simple “Yes,” with a sorry-look and a sorry-smile. Yes, she felt sorry indeed, to leave her comfort zone, but then she reminded herself that she ought to give herself a try, indeed, for if she did not leave her comfort zone, she might never be able to leave at all. She ought to. She ought to give it a try.

   So, after a final glance around her room, she smiled and felt content already. Yes, she was truly grateful. Then she unpacked her stuffs and arranged it comfortably in her room.

   A fresh start.

   She took a long deep sigh.

   A fresh start.

Random Story #1: True Love

   “Do you believe in true love?”

   I laughed, if not snorted, upon hearing such question being addressed to me.

   “Is this a trick-question?” I asked him, sarcastically.

   “No, of course not. What makes you think so?” He asked me back with a confused face, as if I asked something incomprehensible.

   “Because it sounds wishy-washy, and cliche, mind you,” I answered.

   Now he looked even more perplexed.

   “What?” he said, expressing surprise and disbelief.

   I decided to shut my stupid mouth with a smile, trying to look smart.

   It didn’t work, as he didn’t avert his gaze on me.

   “What?” I asked him, with a sarcastic smile on my face.

   “How could you say so?”

   I gave a snort of laughter, expressing–this time–my own disbelief.

   “Well, if you’re so sure of the notion of true love itself, do enlighten me, sir, the idea of this… so-called ‘true love’.”

   He stared at me in astonishment.

   “Well…,” he paused, struggling for words, as my previous request seemed unexpected to him. “Eeeerrrr, true love is…,” he paused again, but then continued, “…is an unconditional love. When you love someone despite his or her faults and past errors, I shall say. …or vice versa, I guess.”

   “Hmmm,” is all I say in response.

   “What? Are you telling me you don’t believe in that kind of thing?”

   “Well, I do believe in true love, if I live in fairy tale,” I answered, then quickly engage myself in papers that I need to grade, in order to avoid further questions.

   “Excuse me?”

   Fuck, it didn’t work.

   I pretended that I didn’t hear that.

   “Whatever do you mean by that?”

   Fuck, he’s not gonna give up easily, wasn’t he?

   “I mean, sir, I live in the real world, in a jungle called reality, where, I believe, the so-called ‘true love’ really is a scarce thing.” I explained after I took a long deep sigh.

   His eyes widened as he heard my explanation.

   “Wow,” he muttered. Whatever that means.

   “Have you had bad experiences in love or something?”

   God, please, I pleaded in my mind, while sighing again and rolling my eyes.

   “No, I have not, but the idea of ‘true love’ seems ridiculous to me, is all.”

   “Geez, why are you so negative?” he asked me, at the same time amazed.

   Why, oh why can’t I just shut my bloody mouth up?

   “Because I’m being realistic,” I said, trying to put a final tone in my answer, hoping this guy would take the cue.

   My answer was stupid, and thoughtless, of course. But I can’t seem think of anything else to shut this guy’s mouth and mind. Cursed me, I thought to myself.

   “Realistic? That is you being realistic!? Have you been mistreated or something in the past?”

   “My God, what does it take for you to quit?” I finally grew impatient and decided to show my annoyance. “No, sir, I have not been mistreated. In fact, I have been loved, if not too much, perhaps overwhelmingly.”

   “I’m quite fond of romance, actually, but I believe they ought to stay in books, novels, and movies, and I like it if they maintain their existence there,” I added quickly, before he managed to say anything further.

   And now he laughed sarcastically in return.

   “My God, you’re strange,” he finally said.

   “Yes, I am,” I decided to respond with a smile before I finally turned back to grade students’ papers.

Hoefler Text, I’m In Love

Regarding my previous post here, I suppose most of you can see that I’m quite a font-geek. Yes, I am. I was serious when I wrote that I could scan words and sentences more than once only to adore the beauty of the font style and design.

I hope I didn’t just scare you off.

Because I’m gonna write more.

In the post that I linked above, I mentioned that my current favorites are Georgia, Plantagenet Cherokee and Rockwell.

But what I didn’t tell you is that I’ve been hunting for one particular font, actually.

I stumbled across this font when I was reading the English version of Tolkien’s The Hobbit back in high school (and it was around… 2004 or 2005, I suppose), and what really captured me is (don’t laugh!) the design of the numbers of that particular font. I thought it was Times New Roman at first, but then I realize it looks a lot like Garamond, but I knew it’s not really Garamond. So what is it? I knew for sure I couldn’t find it in my Microsoft Word.

The pretty beautiful numbers

Then one day, I came across a website where you could download fonts for free (I forgot the site’s address, though, sorry), so I was extremely curious about that font and I did some hunting and browsing for that particular font.

But I was out of luck.

So finally, the search of the font was long forgotten.

Too bad, fate didn’t allow me to forget my obsession of this font since fate made me cross path with that font when I was reading the Indonesian version of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet. The font used in the latest edition of the quartet was the exact same font, although the size is much larger than the one printed in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I know the font by heart by then and if I couldn’t own the font, then at least let me adore and appreciate its beauty, I thought to myself. So perhaps you could imagine me staring at Toer’s book, looking like I was reading intently, but what I actually did was starring at each letter one by one to admire them all.

Sorry, did I freak you out? Please don’t.

Not yet, at least, because it wasn’t my last encounter with that font as I was currently reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters. Oh yes, the font came back to haunt me once again. This time, it’s worse since the font was printed particularly with the same size as the one in The Hobbit. Small fonts, with small spaces next to each other. Beautiful. Very very adorable.

Now this is the best part.

Recently I’ve been using an old iBook G4, and found out that I couldn’t really create an .xls document since the only document-editor software that I had here was TextEdit. Simple but not so fancy, I say.

So I googled. And found out that I should’ve had an iWork application. Or I could always switch to Microsoft Office for Mac, but, hey, if we could try a new one, why not give it a try, eh?

So finally after hours and hours upgrading this and that (remember this is an old, old, old laptop), I finally able to install iWork ’09.

Then I got very much excited.

But that’s not the best part yet.

So after I got my hand on iWork ’09, I started to try this and that, and finally settle myself editing and typing stories that I currently writing. Now, since this Pages application allows me to change fonts (something that I don’t think I could do with TextEdit, but if you’re a pro Mac user, perhaps you guys could tell me more?) I started to try out the fonts.

I keep forgetting that I’m not using Microsoft Windows any longer.

Turns out Apple got many, many different fonts in this Pages app. So I browse and try each one of them. (Yes, I guess I’m particularly geek in this kind of thing.)

And then I saw this font ‘Big Caslon’ and I thought to myself, “WOW. This is my font!”” because it actually resembles the one that I’ve been looking for so much.

Until I realize the capital letter “W” is different.

The 'W' I've been looking for.

Freaky, huh? I sure notice that kind of details. Especially because the capital “W” letter was the reason I thought that font resembles Garamond.

So, turns out it’s not the one that I’ve been looking for. But it’s probably the closest one I could get to my dream-font.

And then I realize there’s another font that resembles my dream-font very much. This one is called ‘Hoefler Text.’

So I clicked that font type and see what it looks like.

And I noticed the capital ‘W’ letter.

“Holy heck, that’s THE FONT!” I screamed to myself.

Turns out, when I was browsing for an image of that particular font to be put in here today, I found this explanation on Wikipedia that Hoefler Text is “a contemporary serif Antiqua font that was designed for Apple Computer to demonstrate advanced type technologies.”

How nice, Apple. Nice job. Thanks for being so stupidly exclusive. Sure this explains why I couldn’t find this font anywhere, especially anywhere in Microsoft Word. Jeez!

From Far Away (彼方から)

I’m an otaku. Or at least I used to be.


Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden

Because now I don’t really hunt or read Japanese manga as much and as often as I used to. Right now, the only mangas that I’m currently following are Meitantei Conan (a.k.a.  Case Closed) and Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden. Those two are probably the only latest mangas that I like. What I mean is that I don’t really enjoy mangas anymore as I used to, because I find the new era of mangas now doesn’t really suit me. KISS-ly: I hate the new era of manga.

Please don’t ask me why.


Okay. Do ask me. Please.

Fine, I’ll explain it anyway.

I find the newer mangas nowadays are… mostly silly and the story usually irrational.

Well, of course, that’s what mangas are all about. I know, I know that. But somehow I think… that even in a level of irrationality, there’s still a rational stage in it.

I’m talking about the romances and love chemistry in the current mangas.

The newer ones now simply put a cute guy and a cute girl (if not ugly) together in the same room, and then they simply fell in love with each other and then BAM! Happy ending.

Or perhaps it’s started a cute guy who just wanna play around, then he met an innocent cute girl, who doesn’t really realize she’s actually attractive, and the girl happen to be very naive, so the guy decided to make the girl one of his victim. In a sense that he’d play around with the girl and then abandon her after he’s… satisfied. In the end, the girl would become broken hearted, but at the same time, the guy realized that he actually fell in love with the girl, so he’d tried to win her back and bam–happy ending.

(What’s with all these ‘bam’??)

Not to mention other romance manga which are also partially sci-fi and action, and then the mangaka simply mix the genres altogether and hence, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles was created.

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle

Don’t get me wrong. I love Tsubasa Chronicles. I love it as much as I hate it. Why? Because the story is beyond complicated.

If you know Inuyasha and you haven’t read or watch Tsubasa Chronicles, believe me, it’s more complicated than that. You know, CLAMP. I love them, and at the same time hate them.


Anyway, I don’t wanna talk about new mangas that I hate or how much I detest them. But those explanations above are practically the reason why I stick to old mangas.

Wait. Correction: Those explanations above are the reason why I love mangakas from the older era. My version of older era. You know, Kyoko Hikawa, Mito Orihara, Watase Yuu, Yuriko Nishiyama, and most definitely Gosho Aoyama.

I haven’t really read any of Mito Orihara’s work recently, but I remember becoming very fond of her work because the last time I read her works, she mostly made manga in which the story are usually based on real events. We all know that most true stories which are adapted into movies and books are the inspiring ones. Ones that could make the readers shed their tears. Well, Mito Orihara did that.

And then Gosho Aoyama. I have to confess that I only read one of his work so far, which is Case Closed, or also known as Meitantei Conan. He had other works, and one of them is a series called Yaiba, but so far, Case Closed is his most famous one, I guess.

Case Closed

Case Closed, based on its name, of course, is not a romance. Or at least, it is not meant to be a romance. It’s a mystery. Criminal series, to be exact, with Kudo Shinichi, in his shrunken form, a.k.a. alter-ego Edogawa Conan, as the mystery solver. However, Gosho Aoyama sure remembers to put a little romance here and there. There’s always some romance that he managed to put inside the case, either its a love story between Shinichi and Ran, or Takagi and Miwako, and lately, Shiratori and Kobayashi-sensei.

Shinichi Kudo & Ran Mouri

What I like about Case Closed is that, despite the silliness of the romance between the characters, they never really out of place. I, as the reader, always see this romance interrupting the case seems natural, and sometimes even hilarious. And the chemistry that happen between those characters always seems natural and normal to me. Kudo Shinichi sure is charming, but he didn’t simply see Ran Mouri and then suddenly fell in love without reason. He didn’t approach Ran and then suddenly the two fell in love, or worse: he didn’t kiss Ran one second after he met her (which mostly is the plot in the newer manga these days).

Anyway, it’s not Case Closed that I really wanna talk about in this post. Here, I wanna share one of my all-time favorite manga (other than Case Closed and Genbu Kaiden), an old manga, but still very dearly loved and adored by me, a sci-fi romance called Kanata Kara, or From Far Away in the English version.

Noriko & Izark

Just a quick summary, From Far Away tells a story about a young girl called Noriko Tachiki, who was trapped in a complete different world, as The Awakening of that world. There’s been a prophecy saying that one day, an Awakening would come into that world, to force a Sky Demon to appear into that world one day and whoever got ahold of both The Awakening and The Sky Demon would rule the world. Yet, nobody knew at that time (in the first volume of the series) that both the Sky Demon and the Awakening take form of a normal human being. No one ever realized until that time that a handsome skinny guy named Izark Kia-Taj is actually the Sky Demon itself. Izark, though, understood completely from the day he was born, that he was meant to become a Sky Demon one day, with the arrival of the Awakening.

So Izark, knowing the prediction when and where the Awakening would appear, waited for Noriko and intended to kill her right away. But even Izark was surprised at the fact that the Awakening was only a little girl. And despite the cruel intention, Izark was actually a kind-hearted guy. So, realizing that the Awakening was simply an innocent girl who didn’t even know why she was there, Izark canceled his plan to kill her. What he didn’t predict was that he’d take care of Noriko herself for quite some time because he simply couldn’t leave Noriko alone.  Even though he keep complaining (to himself and to his fate, of course), Izark took a good care of Noriko.

Long story made short, Izark and Noriko finally fell in love with each other. It happened after a long struggle, though. Izark, knowing the exact fate of his and Noriko’s didn’t want to admit his love for Noriko, at first. Even after Noriko declared her love for him, Izark rejected her. But when Noriko finally realized the reason she was thrown into that world, that is to make Izark the Sky Demon, and when Noriko finally decided to leave Izark alone because she felt guilty not knowing about the fate yet she kept clinging on Izark over and over, Izark finally realize he couldn’t stand losing Noriko.

What really interest me is the parts afterwards.

I know. When I first read the manga, and those scenes I described above happened in volume 7–I thought that it was the ending. An open ending, to be exact, as at the end of the book, Izark and Noriko were shown to travel by themselves, trying to figure out ways to escape from their horrible fate. So as a reader, I simply concluded that the ending would be a typical happy one: as they travel and make their own journey, they would soon be able to change their fate and live happily ever after.

But it turns out that’s not the end. 

Which kinda sucks, yet at the same time, it really touches me.

So, as the journey went on, Noriko and Izark met many people who turns out to be hopeful people, who always believe that fate is not an absolute thing, but something that people determined based on their mind, want, and action. So, Noriko and Izark became more and more hopeful that they could someday change their fate.


Meanwhile, one major antagonist, named Rachef, began to know the existence of The Awakening and the Sky Demon in their human form, and so he began to chase them. After realizing that Izark’s weakness is Noriko–that he would do anything to ensure Noriko’s safety, including losing his conscience and sense by transforming into the Sky Demon–Rachef tried to separate Noriko and Izark. When he succeeded, he tortured Izark and made him powerless so that he could be thrown into darkness and then transformed completely into a Sky Demon. This, however, was the turning point.

As Noriko struggled and finally made her way to get to Izark, Izark saw Noriko and finally realized that what he’d been doing all these time were wrong. He shouldn’t reject his fate and the prophecy that came with it. Instead, he should’ve accepted his faith and embraced it. After that, he would soon able to change it instead of trying to escape from it. So, Izark finally broke the chain which had bounded and tied him to his fate as the Sky Demon and fled with Noriko.

This is the exact scene after Izark freed from the chain.
Izark controlling fire

The funny thing that I couldn’t get out of my mind is that the fact that in the manga, Izark was described as a very handsome man, and also absolutely strong. Other than Izark, people in that world are exactly the same normal human being like the ones in Noriko’s world (the same world as ours). Izark had his super power such as controlling and wind and fire, as well as being incredibly strong because he was the Sky Demon. So, it’s actually the typical love story where the guy is perfect. Good looking, awfully strong and at the same time, incredibly kind and loving. Oh, yes, Noriko is a very lucky girl. That’s what I thought.

But then, as I continued reading the manga, I realized that it wasn’t a mere “luck.” Many things has happened between Izark and Noriko. Izark and Noriko didn’t fall in love with each other coincidentally.

Falling in love with Izark sure is an easy thing. I know I’m very much infatuated with Izark. But falling in love with Noriko is a special thing.

As the story goes on, it would soon revealed that despite his strong and perfect appearance, Izark is actually very fragile and sensitive inside. It is stated many times in the manga that when Noriko was out of sight, Izark looked like a lost child, looking for something to grip. Something to hold onto. Izark might be strong physically, but Noriko is stronger mentally.

Izark fell in love with Noriko because she was still much in love with him even after she knew he was a monster. Sure I would love to have someone as gorgeous as Jared Padalecki. But if he’s a monster, I don’t think I would still stay by his side and accept him as he is, knowing that behind those handsome features, there’s a monster inside.

Well, that’s a metaphor, though. I might as well fall in love with a monster one day. Who knows.

Anyway, let’s focus on Izark and Noriko.

So, what strangers and friends might not know is that, Izark was strong because of Noriko. It was Noriko that supported Izark mentally. She accepted Izark as he was, and she understood Izark completely, including his weaknessed which he didn’t realize himself. This was shown very obviously when Izark decided to fight a monster alone, refusing others’ offer to help (and he didn’t really need their help, indeed, since he was really strong), and went ahead to the war zone itself. Noriko saw Izark running very fast ahead, leaving Noriko and their friends safely behind, and she thought to herself, “Izark is strong. Incredibly strong. But with that strength comes the consequences. He’s really strong that he thought he should manage everything himself. He didn’t realize we’re here to help him. He didn’t realize I’m here to help. Poor Izark.”* Izark didn’t even understand the feeling of self-pity!

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but I really love the roller-coaster of emotion that Kyoko Hikawa offered in this masterpiece. There’s reasons behind reasons, and there’s consequences. One thing relates to another, and they all make a unity.


Of course, the story doesn’t merely focus on Izark and Noriko relationship alone. It tells the story of the world in the book itself, about the conflicts that happen in the country–how darkness pushes the good in people, and these makes honest and loyal leaders from many countries being replaced by evil, manipulated, corrupted people. And there’s this one man, called Jeida–a very wise man–who said, “I felt very helpless to see how this world became corrupted and that there’s nothing I could do to change the world and make it a better place. But the more helpless I feel, the more upset I feel toward myself. I ask why I don’t have any super power to save this world. But after I tried to accept myself as it is, after I tried to accept my limits, I realize that with that limit, I should do whatever I could. There are others, most definitely, who feel the same as I do, and would try whatever they could to change this world. These actions might not worth much, but when more and more people do the same, these actions would be noticeable and would finally become worthy. And together, these actions would finally able to change the world.”*

I know it’s a simple things, and a simple saying. Perhaps I’m exaggerating it by adoring the words so much, but I really think it’s very meaningful.

What I’m really amazed at is how Kyoko Hikawa could convey these moral messages in a fun way, in which otaku like me could enjoy. At the same time, I’m amazed at her concept of Izark’s world–the same way I’m also amazed with the world of James Cameron‘s Avatar. To me, creating such concept is not an easy thing, so when I see works, stories, or whatever masterpieces with such (almost) flawless concept, I’m so much in awe. I really am.

The end of From Far Away is rather boring, though. You know, starting from half of the series (volume 14), the stories become very much predictable and there’s really no climax or conflicts in it anymore. It’s all anti-climax and happy endings for everybody, so, yeah, it’s rather boring. But without that last volume, Noriko and Izark wouldn’t have their closure, and From Far Away would never end. So, I admit I really am satisfied with the story. And Kyoko Hikawa, I’m in awe.


*The dialogue might not be exactly the same as in the manga as I wrote it down based on memory, but the message and the ideas are basically the same.