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Two Cups of Coffee

Tracy McMillan wrote an interesting piece in The Huffington Post about single women and why they aren’t married (yet). From my own point of view, none of us should judge single women for their condition, whether they’re still single by choice or (please-please-pretty please- forgive me, for saying this) by fate. She believed there are 6 reasons why a woman is still single, and I found no. 2 (you’re shallow), pretty interesting, to disagree with..

When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.”

Hmmm.. really?

We all know that Brad Pitt (who seemed to have such a strong character when he dated Jennifer Aniston) ‘eventually‘ cheat, with Angelina Jolie. I don’t think character can guarantee anything, or that it had anything to do with staying committed. People change, both men or women. All we can do is try to maintain our relationship with keeping a healthy communication, honoring trust, and self-reminding ourselves about the importance of staying committed. Applying this healthy-style does not guarantee anyone will be faithful, but at least it can make our daily marriage-life better, not a living hell. And sometimes, experiencing the hurt of being cheated is an effective way to prevent someone from cheating. It sounds rude and confusing isn’t it, I know, but that’s just the way it is. We live in a sick world.

I also personally believe that couples who have equal financial portion in the household are less likely to cheat or be-cheated. For me, financial matters may (although not must) determine the domination pattern in a family. Those who contribute more money, will earn the power to dominate more, and have the right to treat their partner like sh*t, the right to cheat, because they’re the main breadwinner. Not all couples are like this, of course, but this domination pattern ia pretty common and is happening around me.

My advice to all of you single ladies, don’t search for someone who is a lot richer, look for someone equal to you. And don’t search for someone who makes less money than you, because you will be easily tempted by other more-financially-stable men. This way, you can minimize the risk of being cheated, and resist the temptation to cheat yourself. I know my tips sounds hilarious, insensitive and with no support from any research we can all forget about it, but think about it again and try to take a look around you. Try connecting what I said to what is exactly happening around you, hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

Now back to Tracy, she also said that most single girls (or men, too) suffered a delusional misunderstanding about an idealistic imagination of marriage. This is real life, you know. We’re not in some romantic movie.

I believe every woman -who wants to- can find a great partner. You’re just going to need to get rid of the idea that marriage will make you happy. It won’t. Once the initial high wears off, you’ll just be you, except with twice as much laundry. ~ Tracy McMillan.

That is true, Tracy. Marriage is NOT going to make you happier. It just changes your status from ‘someone’ to someone’s husband/wife, someone’s daughter-in-law, sister/brother, and so on. You’re still the same person who will have to wake up in the morning, go to work, and eat, and breath, and took a bath. Except now that you’re married, you’ll see your partner doing the same thing around you, and you need to make 2 cups of coffee instead of one. I consider myself lucky enough to have a not-so-demanding husband who allows me to be completely who-I-am even after we marry. Some people have to change their daily habits to match their partner’s. It’s okay if they willingly to change, but those who change by force, be brave!

Marriage is about sharing your most valuable possessions: yourself, and your income. It’s about giving, giving, and giving, without asking anything in return except maybe 80% of your partner’s income, which you can’t use to buy things you love, but to pay for household expenses. The good thing is, you no longer sleep alone at night and you got someone to hug you in case of a bad dream (but not everyone likes to wake up in the middle of the night for something unimportant). Bottom line is, women, single, in a relationship, or married, are still the same person. You’re not single because you’re uglier than your married friends, not because you’re less lucky, but because nobody share the exact-same life story with others.

But if you’re a single woman who desperately want to marry soon (perhaps you got your biological clock ticking?), doing a self-check won’t hurt, right? You can check yourself out with Tracy’s “6 Reasons Why You’re Still Single” article and perhaps there IS something wrong with you. But don’t worry too much about it, you still have time to change yourself, right?

Have fun.

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You, Me, and Corruption

Nelson Mandela once said, “It is what we make out of WHAT WE HAVE, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” And I agree, because for me, a real hero is someone who can liberate themselves using what they have in front of them, no matter how poor their conditions are. With a very limited resource such as poverty, sickness, and disabilities, these people are not ‘dreaming’ for changes, but they do something to change their own situation. And quite often, they eventually change other people’s lives too.

But yesterday when scrolling through my ‘freshly-made’ Google+‘ account and shared this article, I received a comment from a friend saying “the government sucks.” The article was taken from The Jakarta Post and it popped the question on whether or not ‘corruption’ can be considered as a good fortune (rejeki) by the people who were involved with it. I began to think, that maybe corruption is more than just a problem we have with the government, but perhaps it has touched our own culture and sub-conscious mind.

In order to make it disappear, perhaps we all need to think like Mandela. If we’re sick of corruption, we must start the fight with what we HAVE instead of waiting for the government to change. With poor implementation on our legal system, more fugitives are escaping to other countries and making excuses to the media. The last thing we need right now is for our ‘noble’ government to become an example. And surely, we don’t need their help to eliminate the “corrupted mind-set” which has grown in our culture.

What we need right now, is more people supporting each other to liberate themselves from the habit of ‘waiting for a change’ to start ‘creating a change.’ Sure, we all know that the government sucks, but instead of spreading posters on the social network to remind people about it, we definitely need something else inspiring and less provocative. If we want to create a brand-new generation, we have these heroes who have started their quest and succeed. They are our inspiration, and if we want to follow their path we better start by changing our own attitude and believe in our own capabilities. Just like what Dr Michael Leksodimulyo said, “everyone is born equal..”

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The Negative Side of Passion

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When does someone turn into an adult? One thing’s for sure, age is not a reliable indicator. But courage and responsibility are two of the most obvious sign of maturity.

Yesterday I talked with an old friend which I knew since 12 years ago. A talented drummer who’s been playing for several well-known independent bands in Surabaya. He is now married, expecting a baby (his wife is 7 month-old pregnant), worked in a factory during daytime, and still play with his band at night. Things went well, until recently he felt uninspired and exhausted. He said, “Working in the factory gave me a regular paycheck, and it’s good for my family because they need financial stability, but I’m planning to quit because it’s going against my idealism.”

Turns out this so-called ‘idealism’ he have in his mind is that “people must not work for money, but for passion..” and that “if we don’t like our job, we can always quit, money is not a big deal..” has took over his sanity and made him forgot the existence of his pregnant wife. But I don’t blame him. He might be 35 year-old, but his mind is still like a 17 year-old.

It always frustrates me when people are talking about idealism, passion, and rejecting the idea that some of us have to take a job that we dislike. Well, in my dictionary, all of these sacrifices does not mean I’m compromising my idealism whatsoever, it is called “responsibility.” And if following your passion means making your family suffer, starving and sick, I’d rather not have a passion at all. People have dreams, some are lucky enough to have an occupation that matched with their passion, while some are not. Idealism is a way of life, it’s how we see things in life and how we think about certain events. It is certainly NOT an occupation, and judging someone from their occupation solely is not wise.

In the end, it’s not your idealism that will determine your maturity and how much respect people will give you, it’s how much courage you have to show your responsibility, even if it means you have to do something that you don’t like.

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Obedient Wives Club: Why I Don’t Want To Join

Nobody has invited me to join this club yet, but if I do get the invitation, I think I’ll have to pass. Not just because the awkwardly hilarious name, but because Dr Rohaya Mohamad, the founder this controversial club, seems to have a different definition of “a happy marriage.” From her statements, I see her as someone who neglect the equal position of a wife in a marriage. She thinks “happy marriages come from sexually-satisfied husbands” — but sorry to say, she is also married to a polygamist husband who has three other wives.

I agree that sexual intimacy is undoubtedly important in any marriage, but is it the only determining factor? Joining a club which transforms wives to whores is, well, seems a bit desperate and, hello.. we are living in a digital era where you can simply browse for this sort of thing, remember?

Dr Rohaya said, with easy access on prostitution nowadays, every husbands are in a critical stage to being tempted by prostitutes, and with the sex lessons offered by this club, it is guaranteed that husbands will no longer mess around with.. well, any women..

Right. Our beloved husbands will not cheat because they have their own personal, free, and ready-to-use prostitute at home by the name of “a wife.” Not because they have strong commitment to keep their promise which they have said in their marital vows. Instead we are enforcing the husbands to think: “Why bother paying a lot of money to prostitutes when we already have one at home?“– which straightly pops a question to my furious mind: “Is that how we want our husbands to see us? As a FREE prostitute?” What if someday, we suddenly got into a terrible accident and lost our sexual skills? Come to think of it, many normal women are already victims of polygamy, what will happen to wives with disabilities? No question, the holy bond of marriage will sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

A sexual connection is supposed to bring mutual satisfaction, hence it is also must be conducted without any domination from one person. My understanding of a healthy marriage within the Islamic law is perhaps scant, but I believe one of the main responsibility of a husband is to make sure that his wife feels safe, secure, and sufficient within a marriage. Therefore, she can contribute to the family and at the same time serve her husband’s needs –not just sexually– but also in terms of making decisions and providing ideas/solutions.

Sex is important, and yes, a wife must obey her husband. But to what extent? If Dr Rohaya thinks that a happy marriage is a result of a sexually-satisfied-dominating-husband with a depressed wife at home taking all the pain so that she can go to heaven some day, I rest my case. I’d rather go to heaven with my husband at my side holding my hands. Because a happy marriage is a result of two people having the same/equal responsibility to take care each other mentally, financially and sexually.

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The Paradox of Hedonism

Before completing his final examination (UN), my 13 year-old nephew was already excited when his school announced that after UN, all 6th grader students will have a trip to Malang. For parents with no money issues, this sounds like a good plan. But what about those who do have money issues? Well, they will borrow, they will sell something, bottom line they will not care about their own capacity. They have bills, loans, and they add it with more loans, as long as their child can join the trip.

Ridiculous? Yes, but somehow more people are doing it!

On 2007, I have a 1993-Honda-motorbike. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s not broken and I can still ride it anywhere. But when my husband got his first job, we sold it and use the money as the down payment to buy a new one. It was one the most foolish mistake we ever made.

The satisfaction of using a “new” motorbike vanished in just few months, but the burden of paying the installment lasted for 3 damn years.

Another ironic example of this inappropriate life style is visible during Idul Fitri. I’m a Muslim, and during the fasting month we are learning on how to control our passion to eat, control our anger, and also lust. But we all know what happened, right? A week before Idul Fitri, everyone visited the mall. And you know what? I have a friend who already plan to spend all his THR (annual bonus) of Rp 2,5 million, to rent a car, so that he can take his family during Lebaran vacation to visit his parents, his in-laws, and some recreational places.

This plan came from the same friend who just sent me a text message this morning, saying “I need to borrow Rp 500,000 because I’m running out of money. I will pay you back next week.”

There are enormous examples around me which made me wonder on how fragile we are to being hedonistic, and that this kind of life style had influenced everyone from the rich and famous to the poor and the needy.

Some people are very much intrigued by pleasures hence they forget on how to prioritize.

I have a neighbor who just bought a brand new car, but everytime we met in the morning she always complained on how expensive it is to enroll his 6 year-old to an elementary school. The rich are lousy planner with no plan on how to prioritize. While the poor, are worse. Not only they don’t have enough money to support their lifestyle, they are using loan money to cover unimportant expenses. if there’s anything that we can and must remember, is that “The pleasure may stick for a while, but the burden will stay longer.”

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Letting Go, and Just Doing It, Anyway

I’ve started, sustained, sputtered and stalled. I’m sick of trying, sick of failing, sick of picking myself back up and dusting myself off. Yes, this is where I am today – this place of over-and-over-again – this place of where-do-I-begin-now – this place of fear. ~ Katie Tallo, Momentum Gathering.

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My mind is like the TransJakarta bus today. Full of people, pushing oneself against another, scrambling madly and jostling for comfort. Yes, I am here, at the moment where my predictions is again, not completely correct.

When me and my husband finally have enough money to pay the down payment of a house (which we’ve been planning since last year), we started searching for the “perfect” house, and had a rough time negotiating the price. And by rough time, I was talking about the accidents which happened to our son, and to ourselves. My son tore out his lips, while we, his parents, fell off our motorcycle when some crazy dude just suddenly cut our path at the road.

So I thought to myself, okay, maybe all those accidents were some “colors” to make our journey more exciting and memorable. And when the seller eventually agreed with the price we want, we said to ourselves: “This is our time. This is when God finally made our dream come true.”

But then my son was again, sick. He got measles, not a severe one, but still, it kinda fill my head because as a first-time mom,  I still worried. And it doesn’t stop there. One afternoon, my mom called to inform that my dad was injured in a motorcycle accident, and broke his leg. He’s fine now, after the surgery, thank God, but we still need to think about the hospital charges. And for our so called “dream house” the KPR process is not as easy as we thought.

I suddenly felt sad and confuse. Part of my selfish side said “Why does this happen to me now? At the time when I was pretty close in getting what I want for so long?!” And part of my “dedicated daughter” said “This is the time to show how much I love my parents and pay back to them..” But more to those conflicting sides, I suddenly realize that nothing, I repeat, NO-THING, in this world is EVER “certain.”

And I got scared. I began to lose hope, and questioned the essence of fighting, praying, believing… Until I hear Martina McBride’s song “Anyway” with its highly inspiring lyric.

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
when I pray, it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
but I do it anyway..

This world’s gone crazy, and it’s hard to believe
that tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway..

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And I agree. Our journey in the ocean of life will always be full of high tides and storms. But it doesn’t mean that we should give up hoping and cease our efforts in pursuing our dreams. Things change, to be better, but it could also be worse. Nobody can ever be prepared for it. But we must keep our faith that things will be better anyway. It is true, however, that in the end we will be forced to finally “letting go” of the result, but if we did our best, and the result still does not match our expectations, we will not feel any regrets.

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Blame It On The “Religion”

In a country where poverty, unemployment, and traffic jam have become common issues, Indonesia is also known as one of the world’s most populous and religious country.

What does this mean?

In my simple words, it means that we, Indonesians, believe in God. We use religion as guidance on how to live this life. But in my skeptic words, it means that you keep a religion just to be safe from hell. Now, which are you? Those who keep religion because you need it, or those who are afraid of the punishment?

I read this morning in some blogs, that in order to create a “noble” and successful generation, parents must stress the importance of religion to their children. According to the writer, our lack of morality was caused by parents who have neglected and forgot to stress the importance of religion to their children.

I don’t blame him, or parents, or whoever-you-are to have believed this “religious” strategy, but I’m not perfectly sure of the result either. If you use religion and its fear-of-punishment strategy to protect your child against modernization devils such as teen pregnancy, pornography, homosexuality, and even criminality, you should be prepare for unexpected results. Why? Because it eliminates the “common sense” factor of human biology, media influence, and the increasing accessibility of modern information technology.

Moral issues isn’t something that can only be taught through religion, although religion does teach us about morality. But what about the universal law of “do unto others as you would have them do to you?” To me, it is pretty clear that you are not allowed to steal anything from anyone, not because religion forbids you, not because you’re going to be fried in hell, but because you are causing pain and discomfort to other people!

That is why I prefer basic moralities concepts first and religion later, as a strategy to guide anyone to be kind, polite, and, properly behaved according to the society. I also think that it is better for children to learn about religion at later stages of their life instead of being bombarded by doctrines since the very beginning of their life. I don’t disagree with religious parents, but if you don’t give your child adequate reasons which was based on the universal law of kindness, be prepared if one day fear itself will not stop them from being and a**hole loser (or a bomber, your choice).

Without a proper and sufficient understanding about basic moralities, anyone could possibly get lost in religious doctrines. This theory has recently got its support with the outbreak of NII and their brain-wash strategy. It’s amazing how religion and its fear-of-punishment could do to someone, isn’t it? It haunts them and took over their common sense, making them believe that killing in the name of God, and hating someone else for having different religions, is acceptable.

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