the first 300 seconds

WOULD you like to know how I spend my first 300 seconds of the day? It is THE routine.

me and my faithful companion

The first 20 seconds, of course, would be wasted on trying to find my handphone, and there are two fantastic reasons for this. One, because I need to turn off the alarm. Two, because I need to check on why the alarm does not ring – I have a feeling that it’s already late. Voila, I forgot to actually set it on.

With my iPhone in hand, here comes the most exiting part: plugging in to the rest of the world.

First 60 second: YahooMail. Scanning through the inbox just in case something important happens (which turns out to be very rare, based on previous experience). Instead I spend the next minute deleting some unimportant hoax mails, the new iTunes and Borders catalogue (yes, Borders, I don’t even know which store is still open. FYI, Borders, the big bookshop, is closing one by one in Melbourne…). And do you know the problem with being The Age subscriber? You will just scan through the headlines and skim through the first paragraph, feeling like you already read the whole article.

Going on, I’ll be using the next 60 seconds to check my WordPress emails, just in case, someone drops a comment who will appreciate an immediate feedback or something. Then I’ll be checking my WordPress stats, and WordPress this, and WordPress that. Life of a blogger.

The next minute I’ll try skimming my other emails: Meld Magazine email, Gmail, Unimail, my yet another yahoomail that I use for Facebook, and my hotmail. Seeing a reminder for your next article can be a horror when you just wake up in the morning. Or yet another notification of assignment will scare you to death.

That’s 200 seconds already.

Then I’ll quickly take 30 seconds to skim my personal messages, what’s app chats, and Facebook notification. Next, 60 seconds on Twitter. Oh, Steve Jobs quits Apple. WHAT? And Melbourne is now the most livable city in the world. Wow.

290 seconds gone, and by now my eyes are overly exposed to a lot of technology with those tiny word fonts. So, I have about 10 seconds to decide whether to kick the blanket or go back to bed.

The latter wins.


just a stranger

"I Don't Belong Here" by Sadie Collins

written by Marcella Purnama
August 26, 2011

I WAS a stranger on a foreign land
speaking a language that was not mine
I walked passed the streets, the alleys, the stores
I went out there, exposed myself, and tried to blend in
Yet when the time came
I would still be a stranger
trying to spread my wings
on this uncharted territory

We had different cultures, they and I
with different values
different habits
while we were breathing the same air
enjoying the same sun
walking on the same land
still, I was just a stranger
trying to venture life
on this foreign land

Yet back where I came from
I was still a stranger
I spoke their language, ate their food, embraced their culture
But I would always be different from them
They thought
I was just another foreigner
visiting their land on a summer break
building a beach house
tiptoeing my feet on the white sand
who would never be one of them

here and there
I was just a stranger
trying to leave behind a mark
in this earth
before I went back home
to the place where I belong

love language

A language of love. image by Donald8888

LIVING in my own comfort zone, I never bother to venture the other realms. I thought I have everything that I need, right here, right now. It’s true we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, but it’s even truer that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives.

Walking into a lecture one afternoon shifted my life around. The lecturer was a lady in her 40s, wearing a red coat, red boots, and a matching red bag. She was quite into fashion, I reckoned, but that was not the main point.

She was signing.

I could see her mouth moving but there was no sound. I could see her facial expression – so vivid, so clear, but I could not understand what she was saying. Was it a happy expression? Was it a confused one? Was it a sad one? What was she trying to convey?

She mouthed what looked like, “Hello, everyone,” but I just couldn’t catch her lips.

She was Deaf, and she was signing.

Two minutes passed but it felt like hours. No one was talking. No one was moving. We focused all our attention towards the lady, but our minds drifting away. We were out of place; we couldn’t communicate; we were lost.

The interpreter then started to translate her language. This time it was English, and everyone sighed in relief.

“My goodness, I just realised that I hadn’t have any voiceover for me,” the interpreter said, translating the signing. “Now, I had a question for you. When I started to sign, and there was no voiceover, how did that feel?”

Mesmerised by the question, I was reflecting back on my own feelings. Was I afraid? Did I feel lost? Was I frustrated for not understanding?

“Now I realise why you guys weren’t responding – because you couldn’t understand. Because you try to communicate, but there was no response,” said the interpreter.

Looking back, I realised that I was born in a perfect family. My parents love me, my friends like me, and money was never a big issue for our family of five. I have all my five senses working, with no defects. I have what they call a ‘normal’ childhood.

But then, sitting there with another 150 confused students, I found out that there was much more to life than just this.

“I have experienced your feelings, growing up,” said the lecturer. “I’m from a hearing family, and I have two brothers who are Deaf. I’m probably one of 90% of Deaf children who are born to hearing families.”

It made sense that Deaf parents may have Deaf children, but I was taken aback when actually 90% of them are born from hearing families.

“I was born partially Deaf, and by the age of nine, I was profoundly Deaf,” she continued. “I was the only Deaf child in a hearing school.”

I thought being ‘different’ in school as a nerdy, a weirdo, or a freak is traumatic enough. Yet this is much more than I expected.

She went on talking about her background, her community, and her culture. For the first time ever, I found no one was texting in class, no one was Facebooking, no one was talking, and no one was sleeping. Even to take notes, there were only a few of them. We, simply, just looked at her flawless signing.

She touched her cheeks; she touched her arms; she made a circular gesture right in front of her face. Her fingers did some basic number gestures, then combined with a thousand moves that I had not seen before. Yet they were all connected – it was as if she could paint using the air.

What a beautiful language.

“Deaf people have been taught to speak – to be able to fit into the hearing community,”
she said. “And I agree to certain point that Deaf people need to do those things.

“But what’s forgotten is that those people are still Deaf in the end. They may have an implant; they may have hearing aids; they may be profoundly Deaf; they may be partially Deaf. Yet in the end, they all struggle to fit in the hearing world.”

Suddenly I remember a quote that says, ‘you spend your whole life trying to fit in, and when you finally do, you realise that you are surrounded by the very people who held you down.

“Deaf people don’t see themselves as someone with disability. We don’t see ourselves as someone needed to be fixed. We see ourselves as social beings that can fit in the Deaf community, and other community,” she said.

After the end of the lecture, I found out the first thing that I should have known.

Her name was Cathy Clark. She was Deaf, yet she heard, and she spoke.

She was just doing it in another language of love.

winter wonderland

I WENT on a snow trip during the winter break. For a newbie like me who never played ski, it was quite an experience.

15 of us spent the night (from Friday to Saturday) with only one hour sleep, two at maximum, and went for a 5-hours driving trip to Mt. Hotham at 2am in the morning. It was winter; it was cold; it was 2am. I tried my best to keep being awake (for the sake of the driver not to fall asleep), but failed miserably. After taking a pit-stop at a gas station, I sat at the front seat and accompanied the driver in order to stay awake.

Arriving at the ski and snowboard rental station at around 7-8am, we immediately rented the boards, the shoes, and some of us rented the jacket and waterproof pants. Then came the important question: should I try skiing or snowboarding?

After thinking, thinking, and yet another thinking, I decided to go with ski. I felt that ski was the traditional snow sports, so I guess I would need to know how to ski first and later found out how to play snowboard on the next trip, if there was any.

By the time we got to the snow resort, the snow had just started to fall. It was beautiful, as if the scenery was taken straight from a romantic Korean movie. The weather then turned to be very sunny all of sudden, and from the lift we could see some beautiful, breath-taking scenery of the mountains. However, later during the day the weather became unfriendly, with lots of fogs and a little bit of blizzard, but I survived.

the parking spots at Mt. Hotham
the snow at Mt. Hotham

My first experience skiing was awesome. I fell down around ten times, and my mentor said that it was not bad for a beginner. By the end of my lesson, I was able to make a turn, to brake (well, still hard, I guess), and to maintain my speed. Well, it was cool! But I had no idea that a ski board can be THAT heavy.

after my very first ski session!

We had a break and went for lunch. We lived in a cottage with two rooms, and the guys sacrificed themselves to be sleeping on the sofa and sleeping bags (thanks, guys!). Food was brought back from Melbourne, the menu included pasta, instant noodles, bread, lots of snacks, chips, drinks, sushi, and much more.

the cottage

I greeted the second session, the night skiing, with such an excitement. Yet, my feet couldn’t do much more. I guess there was something wrong with my shoes (they were quite uncomfortable, but oh well…), and in the end my feet hurt so badly that I couldn’t even make a turn, brake, or attach my shoes to the ski board. I guess I have reached my limit by then, and decided to enjoy the rest of the night scenery. It was beautiful nonetheless.

The second day, I woke up with such pain aching in all parts of my body. We had breakfast, and started to pack our bags. After that we had some photo sessions and made a snowman, Jr. I did not know why but it was so hard making a snowman. Seriously, it took the three of us around 2-3 hours in order to make one small snowman. Later we found out that it was actually easier to make a snowman when it snowed. And it snowed by the time we finished making it, so…. there you go.

the people who went for snowtrip!
all of us ;)
me and mr. snowman, Jr.
a close up look on mr. snowman, Jr.

My snow trip was awesome, I had a good experience. Next on the list: snowboard!

Hotel Rwanda (2004): A Million Voices

rating: 4/5

“They said: ‘Many are called and few are chosen,’
But I wish some wasn’t chosen
for the blood spilling of Rwanda.”
– A Million Voices, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ soundtrack

Upon watching a movie titled “Hotel Rwanda” last Sunday, I found yet another heartbreaking story. For those of you who didn’t know, the history tells us there was blood spilled in 1994, which is called the ‘Rwandan Genocide’. It took around 800,000 lives, and another 2 million people lost their homes.

Seeing the desperate cries of the innocent children, I began to think, how could they do that to their own brothers. They were from the same countries, just from another tribe.

One day, my sister was doing her ward round in hospital and examined a veteran. He told her that, “Horrible things happened in war.” And yes, I agree.

Even though humans are the most intelligent beings in the world, who are able to learn from others’ mistakes, from the histories, and from past experiences, we, humans – most of us learned things the hard way. We still kill others slowly by our words at work. We still discriminate others by choosing and being exclusive with a group of friends. We are selfish beings; we don’t want others to succeed.

And yet when humans know that their actions will hurt others, we will still do it anyway. “It’s none of my business,” we often say. We know the consequences we will inflict to others, but we pretend as if we do not care.

What I learn in my Psychology classes, could not even describe the complexity of humans. We may dislike a person, do not want to be close to them, or even explicitly show them that we don’t want to befriend them. Yet we know that when people behave the way they do, they have their own history, their own context. But we judge them before we know about their story. We just simply, do not care.

We sometimes say, “We are still humans, we make mistakes.” Yet, don’t use it as an excuse over and over again, to justify our actions for neglecting the need to change, while knowing, that our action costs someone else’s heart.

“There will be no rescue, no intervention for us. We can only save ourselves. Many of you know influential people abroad, you must call these people. You must tell them what will happen to us… say goodbye. But when you say goodbye, say it as if you are reaching through the phone and holding their hand. Let them know that if they let go of that hand, you will die. We must shame them into sending help.”
– Hotel Rwanda

yet I am a writer. so I write.

“It costs almost nothing to become a writer, and almost everything to be a good one.”
– Stephen Parolini

I DIDN’T remember the first day I become a writer. Even now, it’s easy to see myself as a writer, and yet in the same time feeling that I’ve not yet reached the standard of being one either. I guess it’s true – writing about something is easy, writing about something and gives some justice to it is another story.

Tracing back my very first blog post in February 2010, I think that my writing career began when I delivered that senior high school graduation speech in December 2009. I was a year 12 fresh graduate, with high hopes and dreams for the future, and thinking of majoring in Media and Communication. Well, it was time to learn some real writing skills.

I’ve always been fond of writing, that’s for sure. Looking back at my six journals, I encountered the most ridiculous writing that I’ve ever written. Hey, what did a 10-year-old know about writing back then? A couple of love poems, fancy tragic stories that were translated straight from Korean drama series, and other seriously you-got-to-be-kidding-me short stories.

But yeah, I did put something on the paper.

Now, after 16 months of blogging, I could see some improvements towards my writing. Some were major, some were just undetectable. Yet to write, or not to write, is a complicated set of feelings and emotions – the words reflected the author’s soul: to give a glimpse of what’s hidden.

Considering oneself a writer is such a hard thing to do. You know millions of other people who can write moving, deep, emotional stuffs like clapping their hands, compared to me who needs to focus all inner strength and energy to do so. A writer is blessed with the talent to write. Me? I’m just another girl trying to grasp the tail of the wind, writing on the air that might vanish in a minute.

Somehow, I don’t have the sense of authority to write, or yet, do not manage to find one. I love writing, but loving to write and being able to be a good writer is two different languages altogether.

To be honest, I never dreamed of having a blog, or to write about my life so passionately. I just simply – want to write. Dis-classifying myself, I know that I’m just simply a writer. A good one or not, I give that judgement sheet to the readers.

That said, I guess the most important question is, why do I write? People write for many reasons. Some do it to earn money, some write for pleasure, some write for their passion in movies, music, or politics. A simple question, with a million answers.

Randy Pausch once said, “I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. If I were a musician, I would have composed music. But I am a lecturer. So I lectured.”

Yet I am a writer. So I write.

first love

I DIDN’T know why I fell in love. Maybe I was naive, maybe I was just trying to reach him – even though I knew it was an impossible task to do. Yet I did, and like Utada Hikaru said, you will always be my first love.

He was 17, around 170cms tall and black was his favourite colour. He used to wear black shoes, black pants, white t-shirt and black jacket with its collar trimmed in white fur. He even wore black gloves. His hair was a little bit brown, and he was, what they called, a very good looking guy.

So sad but true, he would never lay his eyes on me. He was far too famous to do that, and his cold, blue eyes reminding me of my unreached love.

I was nine, and I had fallen in love.

I tried to go inside his life, but he wouldn’t let me. When he sat down on one of those stairs, alone, I could see his painful past. I wanted to know about his life. I wanted to heal his broken wounds. Yet I could only stare at him from far, for he would not let me in.

Even though he was being nominated as the coldest person by his friends, he was also the most trusted one. Being one of the youngest in his group, he was appointed as the leader. He never showed it, but I knew, deep down, he cared so much about his friends.

Later I found out that he didn’t want to be attached to anyone. Not didn’t, but he couldn’t. His past reminded him that eventually the people closest to him would have to leave him behind, and he wouldn’t want to paint the scar one more time.

Then finally, she came.

She was a cute girl, at the same age as him. She had a black, medium-length hair and she was the life of the party. She was the total opposite of him – an honest, kind-hearted girl, with a beautiful smile.

He met her at a ball, and she asked him to dance. I still remembered the fact that he couldn’t dance, but learned it the hard way, of course, to impress the girl. Then I saw a look that I would not forget – a curious, warm look that he never had in years.

She lifted him up; she helped him to ease the pain; and she taught him how to live. I silently sighed in relief, well, at last, he had found someone.

Yet being a guy with such high pride, he messed up a couple of times. I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad, but I knew, deep down inside his heart, he wanted her to to be a part of him. He just didn’t know how to communicate. He just didn’t want the possibility of her going away.

But one day, she was gone.

It was not her fault, the situation demanded it. He convinced himself that he just simply didn’t care, but I guessed he had learned his lessons. If he wanted her back, he had to earn it. And that was what he did, he brought her back, saying, “I’ll be here. If you come here, you’ll find me. I promise.”

I caught them standing at the balcony the other day, just looking at the stars. Suddenly a star fell down, and she smiled towards him. He didn’t put a mask anymore. He smiled back, the most heart-melting smile I had ever seen, and I knew, he had found his fairy-tale ending. It was time for me to find mine.

I kissed him goodbye, and left.

Happy birthday, Squall Leonheart, August 23.

Ps. If you didn’t notice, I was talking about Final Fantasy VIII game. Oh by the way, the girl’s name is Rinoa Heartilly.