I’ve moved!

To all my readers, I’ve moved! Yes, I have finally bought my own domain,www.marcellapurnama.com, and starting now I will be posting my random thoughts about life there. I’m so excited!

Only a handful of my posts from this blog is transferred to the new website, but do not fear, I will never delete this blog so you will be able to browse through my old posts anytime. But I wouldn’t post new stuffs in here, so just bear in mind that this blog would resemble a little bit of ghost town…

Remember, the website is now: www.marcellapurnama.com.

And if you’d like to, please subscribe to my new website by clicking this link (via email) or through RSS! I’m still trying to figure out how to transfer all the subscribers there, but so far it’s quite troublesome and I don’t want to be giving you any spam, so if you’d like to get in touch with me, don’t forget to subscribe, ok?

And if you haven’t, show some love and like my Facebook page! That way you can easily get up to date to what I’m publishing without really having to leave your Facebook chat!

It’s really an honour to be able to write, to entertain, and to be read by you all. I’ll be seeing you all in the new website real soon!

cheers,

M.

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The 3 people I adore

Let’s play a game. Name the famous people you adore, they can be alive or dead, and they can’t be someone that you know in personal basis (friends, family, mentor, or colleagues). How many do you have?

I have three.

Curious to know who my heroes are?

Jeff Goins

photo by Ashley Goins, taken from goinswriter.com

A writer on goinswriter.com, Goins has influenced my writing a lot, as he shares his life journey. While coming to his blog accidentally, I end up browsing on his site for hours, downloading his first ebook, The Writer’s Manifesto, and buying his just published book, You are a writer (so start acting like one).

While there are countless of people who blog about writing and dropping hints and tips here and there, I haven’t found someone whose tips are simple, and yet able to stir something inside my heart. He’s the crazy one who tells me that I must believe that I am a writer, a term that I’m still uncomfortable with because deep down I still think that being a writer is not self-given, but it’s earned.

Mitch Albom

A die-hard fan of Mitch Albom, I have read all his novels at least twice. While his novels are easy to read, the stories that are written are very sincere, and every holiday I crave to read at least one of his books again. Five People You Meet in Heaven is my personal favourite.

But not only a writer with best-seller novels, Mitch Albom is also a sport journalist, and he is actively involved in many charity projects.

Randy Pausch

Everyone who knows me must have heard me quoting Randy Pausch at least once. I mention his name a lot in this blog, as well as to many other people. I have always encouraged people to read his book – The Last Lecture, that I accidentally discovered while browsing in a deserted bookshop, and to watch his final lecture.

As a virtual reality professor in Carnegie Mellon, Randy Pausch has inspired many people about living. If I can have dinner with someone who has died, it would be him (not Walt Disney as I used to answer). While having lost his battle towards pancreatic cancer years ago, to this day I would still watch his lecture at least once every three months, and re-read his book regularly.

He is truly someone that I look up to.

Do you have any famous people that you adore?

Ps. Dear readers, I’m currently migrating my site to: www.marcellapurnama.com. Look out for the official web-warming invitation in the next week!

The second-last exam I have ever needed to take

This is the story of how I died.

No, it’s not as bizarre as it sounds, and it’s just the tale of how my bones were buried in the exam hall, collected, and resurrected after walking out of the sacred gate of every-student’s-nightmare.

No, I haven’t graduated. But next semester I only have one exam, which officially made this the second-last time I have ever had to sit down on a pain-striking experience that destroyed every mental barrier I have ever built in my twenty years of studying career.

June 16th, 2012. The comatose experience.

It was Saturday. Such a wrong day to be having a coma. While the others went to the cinema, had brunch with some friends, or went to the zoo, I woke up at 8.30am, realising that I only had two days to live.

Panicked, I took a long shower, and went to a journalism training at 10. I would feel guilty if I didn’t go. Even though I only had two days to live.

Two days.

I was agitated for the next two and a half hours, trying to console my mind for the fact that I still have two days to live. I hadn’t finished studying, heck, I hadn’t even finished 20 per cent of it.

Halfway through the training, I took my leave. Went to the city to have brunch. Wrong choice.

Drinking my too hot cup of latte made me stressed, and I totally forgot the fact that I hate excessive cheese – it made me wanted to puke. My toasted flatbread with mozzarella and meatball came. I tried hard to finish it during the next 30 minutes. Then, I desperately wanted to go home from what it seemed like food poisoning.

At about 2, I had an emotional breakdown. Instead of studying, I was on the phone with someone who desperately trying to calm my nerves. At 3, I lied when saying I wanted to go to bed, and finished reading a novel instead.

I waited.

Waited for the last minute panic to kick in and shove some sense down my throat. I needed to study. I really needed to study. And yet my brain refused to become sponge-like to absorb the lessons.

Turned on the music. Put the iPod on speaker. Maximum volume.

I spent the next 30 minutes yelling some songs and doing the crazy dance. At 4, I was desperate. I took a long shower and decluttered my study table. I gulped down Vitamin C.

65 per cent. I told to myself. I just need 65 percent to do well in this subject. I pleaded. 65.

At 5.30, I started to study. Flicked through my notes and tried to gulp a series of alien language. Nothing was retained. I made a cup of hot green tea, and tried to calm myself down again. It was 6. I tried to do the multiple choice questions, and everytime I only managed to get four rights out of 10. Totally going to be a long night.

My sister came home. Youtubed some songs. Became crazy – me from my studies and her from her work. Sang some classic songs and shook the apartment for the next three hours. Now, it was 12.

I raised a white flag and went to bed.

June 17th. The last attempt.

Woke up at 8. Went to church. Went home. Had lunch. Attempted to study. Failed. Attempted to study some more. Ended up throwing my rage at some poor friends. Attempted to study. Took a nap instead. Attempted to study. Managed to cover 40 per cent of the subject.

Took a long shower. Studied. Had dinner. Studied. Distracted by some friends who played the role of a devil. Turned on some loud music. Yelled the songs. Did some crazy dance.

At 11, I gave up, and pathetically received my destiny of dying tomorrow.

June 18th. The day I died.

I woke up as late as I could in order to not feel guilty on how I spent my last day. I washed the dishes, listened to a podcast, and did a last minute one-hour scanning of some of the subject materials.

Never in my whole life I was this unprepared for an exam. Never in my whole life I accepted defeat against studying.

I took a long shower, and began the long journey to the sacred exam hall.

Death marks. Suffocating air. Crazy winter weather. Perfect day to die.

I prayed that the professors would remember that I did my best; I prayed that all the students would know that I was in their shoes. I prayed for future exam-takers to respect my bones lying right there.

Reading time. Panic. Then, the last two hours of my life. Air was depleting; life was fading.

I fought to the last drop of my blood, answering the questions that I knew, guessing to the very best of my ability for the ones that I didn’t.

The last five minutes. I closed my eyes.

Zombie-like, I left my seats. I knew I have died together with the finished exam paper. I speedwalked through the resurrection gate, and was granted a new life.

Farewell, my brave second-last-exam-taker self. I would forever remember you as a noble companion.

Tuesday’s Tale: I will wait for you

When this video was posted by a friend on Facebook, I was reminded of my own writing a couple of months back (or maybe a year?) about how important it is for single women to actually wait for the right one, instead to settling down with any-decent-or-not-so-decent-guy (read my article Single Woman? You need to settle with the right guy, at the right time).

Here’s my article on ‘waiting’ for single women out there, on a ‘imagined’ interview with myself.

Single Woman? You need to settle with the right guy, at the right time
by Marcella Purnama

Not married and want to be? The world proposed a solution of having a backup plan: making a pact of marrying your best mate at the age of 30, just in case you haven’t found the Mr Right.

But according to a second-year Psychology student at the University of Melbourne, “backup plan is not the answer”.

The 19-year-old grows up with fairy tale in mind, that someday every woman will meet their own Mr. Right, and they will grow old together. It might not be easy, but she emphasised that it’s the risk that every woman should be ready to take.

Marcella Purnama said that women shouldn’t be settling down with their ‘last options’ in marriage, but should be settling down with the right one.

“I think it’s a sad situation that we live in,” she said. “The ugly truth is, if you’re not finding someone by the age of 30, it is possible that you might not find someone after all. And the social stigma says ‘that woman will never get married’. Yet having a backup plan with marrying someone you don’t love is not the answer.”

A believer in the philosophy of Eve is created for Adam, so there will be one right Adam for every Eve in the world, she said having a back-up plan simply means that women are settling down with the guys they don’t even love. She argued when lovers find it hard to sustain their relationships, those who don’t even love each other will find it even harder.

“Humans only have one life,” she said. “A life partner is not for gamble if you only have one life. Call me a perfectionist, but it’s the only life that we all will be able to have. Choosing a life partner is not ‘I can settle with B if I don’t get an A’. It’s either A or not A at all.”

While people say that there is a second chance of making it right, which is through divorce and re-marriage if the situation demands, Miss Purnama is against the idea. She said that the oath taken is “for better, for worse”, and people should be taking that seriously.

“If a person is getting married and thinking of divorce as his emergency exit, then he is a very good liar. Having these ‘backup plans’ prevent people from truly trying to work out their relationships, as they believe that ‘if all else fails, I can get away with it’. This is what lacking from the generation nowadays: respect for own relationship, and commitment.”

Miss Purnama disagreed that women should not wait for Mr Right and settling for Mr Not-Too-Bad instead. Yet she stressed the point that it is not for the intention of having a 1395 checklist for the perfect guy, but with the intention of choosing wisely.

“I believe that we cannot be picky in choosing a partner. Oh, he’s too tall, too fat, too skinny, too quiet, too talkative, and yada yada yada. No, but I believe we can afford to be choosy. It’s not waiting for Mr Perfect, but waiting for Mr Right. Besides if we give up, there are always those ‘what if’ questions.”

When asked about the important checklist to choose the right partner, she told that the key is the 4Cs.

“There is this 4Cs that I grab dearly in choosing a partner. The first C is his Character. What about his self-esteem? His personal growth? How does he deal with success and failure? Can he take care of himself? If he can’t take care of himself, how can he take care of you?”

“The second C is Chemistry. Yes, you hear that right, chemistry. You name it: your heart suddenly beats faster, time slows down… that kind of stuff.”

“The third one will be Compatibility. Do you share the same hobbies and interests? How about your values and his values? Spiritual convictions?”

“And the last one is Commitment. Why commit? Commitment gives security and assurance of where the relationship is leading, instead of just playing with fire. Commitment makes all the effort you put in a relationship to be ‘worth it’.”

Upon parting, Miss Purnama said that her intention is not to convert others’ believes into hers. She simply wants to share her believes in what a relationship should be like.

“Well, guess what? I’m not the expert in relationship, but I believe in what I believe in. I believe that yes, relationship is not a bed of roses. It needs a lot of compromising, a lot of learning, and a lot of trying to tolerate each other – of trying not to kill each other, but to love each other.”

“And this is the oath that I’ll be taking when I walk down the aisle one day, and that oath will be the same oath that I’ll be holding for the rest of my life:

“I, Marcella Purnama take you, [insert the name of future husband here] to be my husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward. For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health. To love and to cherish, till death us do part. According to God’s holy law, and this is my solemn vow.”

Why gaming can make you a better person

MELD columnist and ex-gamer Marcella Purnama shares her thoughts on why video games might actually be making you a better person.

When I say I was a gamer, I really was, and not just a mild one. Was I hardcore? Perhaps. You be the judge.

I once finished Final Fantasy VIII five times just to have all the limit breaks, get all the characters’ level to 100, have all the Guardian Forces, finish all the side missions, collect all the cards, download the four different walkthroughs and fall in love with the main character, without ever touching a thing called a gameshark. After all, my dignity and pride would never allow me to cheat.

Sounds extreme? Well, I’ve done the exact same thing with Legend of Mana, Legend of Dragoon and Final Fantasy VII, to name a few. And I’ve tried to marry five different girls in Harvest Moon. … okay, that sounded a bit wrong.

I’ve also perfected the art of Chocobo Racing. I’ve played a bit of Gran Turismo, Tekken and Final Fantasy IX (because disc two keeps freezing and no stores sell Play Station 1 games anymore…).

I’ve gone weeks with minimum sleep. Snapped at anyone, and I mean, anyone, who dared disturb me when I was battling the bosses. Endured my mum’s wrath when I skipped dinner… yet again.

When Nintendo DS came along, I (humbly) self-proclaimed myself a good Mario Kart player, even though I didn’t actually own a DS. I even battled my (male) peers in high school and gained a respectable (if not questionable) reputation for my skills. There was only one person who I couldn’t beat. But I still kicked ass without spending hours playing the game and without drift.

Yes… you read that right. I am a Mario Kart player who doesn’t do drift.

While I didn’t think I had a problem, my parents obviously did because they refused to give into my pleas and buy me a Play Station 2. I never did get to play Final Fantasy X, but once in a while, a friend would come to my house with her PS2 in tow and we’d play Fatal Frame and Devil May Cry.

If you’ve never played Fatal Frame, you won’t know how scary it is, especially when we vowed to turn off all the lights while playing it. Dang, that game was so scary, we usually wanted to just be an observer, not a player.

I am (or was) a good Dance Dance Revolution player, both with feet and the stick, and I took pride in becoming one.

There were benefits to being a gaming addict outside of simply finding something to fill the hours with. Socialising with the guys was easier because I knew their vocab.

Clearly, non-gamers would never understand limit breaks, cross-square-triangle-circle or some other combination, boost, magic, attack, heal, potion, junction, etc.

Most girls wouldn’t even care, which put me at an obvious advantage when I was looking for a prom date.

I played Time Crisis and Initial D at the arcade, although I never become good at them (too much money would be spent playing those).

And then, somewhere during my senior high years, I just stopped playing… everything.

Age caught up with me too soon, I guess. Since that day I haven’t played a single game. At least, none that requires serious effort and brain power.

Still, I am proud to call myself an ex-gamer. Those years spent gaming taught me perseverance and the importance of trying again and again, even if you’ve been defeated by the boss 20 times already.

These games forced me to think outside the box, to complete a mission and not give up because I needed to finish in order to go to the next level. They taught me to look at the details, to master the art of perfection.

Or at least, that’s what I believe.

Not to say that it’s cool to be ex-gamer. How many girls out there are, or were, gamers? Not many I bet.

Somehow with the creation of iPad and iTouch, games have lost their spark. When children become bored of one game, they switch easily. When they’re stuck, they never want to try more than twice to overcome the bosses. Of course, this is just a theory, but wouldn’t these actions then manifest in your ideologies and attitudes towards the rest of your life?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Of course, now I have become one of those girls who can’t stand guys who play excessive video games. Not at this age. If they play and still function at a normal level, good. But if they neglect everything else to just finish a game, then there’s clearly a problem.

When I look back at my youth, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. Those hours spent gaming, contradictory to what you might think, were not lost at all. As Randy Paush once said, “Head fakes exist”.

I believe that I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for all those hours spent trying to beat the bosses.

And you know what? I had fun. I can share my gaming stories with others instead of recapping vague memories about studying and extra tutoring outside school. And if that doesn’t make it all worth it, I don’t know what does.

Do you agree with Marcella? Do video games teach us important life skills? Share in the comments box below!

Leaving on a jet plane

Tullamarine airport, Melbourne, 20 June, 9.55am local time.

I have ordered my last coffee here in Melbourne. Well, at least, it would be my last one for the next month. Ugh, coffee, I’ll miss you.

I’m sitting here waiting for my boarding time, having my fix on a freezing winter morning. It’s 6 degrees outside. And a warm cup of latte sure makes my day. Always does.

Herald Sun, front page. Melbourne’s been struck with 5.3 SR earthquake yesterday. Too bad I was too busy watching Running Man (Korean variety show) that I literally didn’t feel anything. Not even when all my neighbours have gone out of their rooms, trying to make sense of what’s been happening. Not even when a friend tried to call me frantically because I didn’t respond to his chat. Nah.

Chuckling, I take another sip of my latte. Read the news. Look at the surrounding. Life’s good.

The flip side is, this only happens in my mind.

At the time I was imagining all these, I was kindly conversing with another Indonesian who was about to spring to the departure gate. He asked, “Why weren’t you heading to your gate yet?”

My reply? “I just had a crappy morning and I need my latte.” I handed a $5 bill to the clerk.

Final call.

Well, the announcement didn’t go once. Not twice. Seven. In ten seconds intervals.

I was starting to panic.

photo by Wong Yu Liang

Let me back up a bit. I woke up at 6.30am for a 9.50am flight to Indonesia. By 7.25, I was out of my apartment. At 8.10, I reached the airport. At 8.12, I queued to check in. At 8.59, I was still in front of the kind service clerk lady, waiting for my boarding pass.

You see, I had an issue here. Unprintable boarding pass. How on earth could you have an unprintable boarding pass?

Double checking with the service center, done. Calling someone of higher rank, done. The person who was called coming over, did something fancy, went back to his desk, punched something on the keyboard, and left, done. Another ten minutes.

Finally. My boarding pass. Gate 8. Boarding at 9.

It was already five past.

I rushed to the international departure gate. Cabin luggage, weighed. Queuing and trying to fill out the departure form, done. Queuing some more. A call from a friend. Sorry, I had no time to pick up. What’sapp from a friend. Ugh. Sorry. Typing one word reply: immigration. Well, technically speaking, I haven’t even reached the immigration.

The worst part of the airport is unmistakably the security screening. Everyone’s yelling, everyone’s cranky, and everyone’s almost missed their flight. A Chinese lady in her forties began to cut the queue, muttered something in Mandarin that I didn’t catch. Now, she cut my line twice. Still muttering some Chinese words. I started to become annoyed.

Getting out my laptop. Replying messages. Passport, where the hell did I put my passport? Oh, it was in my hand.

Got through the security screening. 9.20. Fell into the lion’s den.

Immigration queue: sea of people. Hit the panic button. Replied some messages again. Checked the time. Checked passport and boarding pass. Checked the time. Replied messages. Panic.

9.35. Finished with the immigration. Run through the Duty Free counters. Tempted to snatch a shot of the alcohol samples. Walked straight instead. Gone past the Duty Free. Saw Cafe Vue express.

So that brought us back up to date.

The guy who chatted to me while I was ordering coffee? Sprinting for dear life to his gate. Me? Still waiting for my latte, gee, thanks.

Final call for the umpteenth time.

I really wonder if the airplane would fly without me now. If it does, it would make an interesting blog post.

9.37. Powerwalking to the gate. Coffee’s too hot. Maybe the barista is having a crappy morning as well.

Arriving at my gate. Last 16 people haven’t arrived yet. Coffee’s spilled a bit. Officer tells me to finish my coffee first. My pleasure.

Nine people show up. Coffee’s still too hot. Gulping a third of it. Now I know what it feels to drink more than 66 degrees Celcius liquid. My tongue? Okay. My throat? Burning. My chest? Volcano-like.

Final call, names announced. Officers start to pressure me to finish my coffee. Another jokes that he also needs coffee. Maybe what he really wants to say is dump the coffee and get yourself inside the plane, now. Taking another big gulp. Handing my boarding pass. Taking three big gulps. Giving the cup to the officer. Powerwalking to the plane. Another officer is walking towards me. He says not to rush. Good.

Miss Purnama. The seventh from the last to board the plane. That’s a record.

Walking to my seat. Finding my seat filled with other person. He’s now asking for me to exchange seats. He’s traveling with a friend. Sure. Finding my exchanged seat. Get asked to change my seat, again. Traveling alone, that should be a common sight.

First reluctant, second, hey, this guy also has a friend back there. At least they deserve a good flight together. Relenting. Finding my second exchanged seat four rows from the very back of the plane.

Dumping my bag, iPad, notebook, and iPhone on my seat. A stewardess is now helping me to lift my cabin luggage up. The guy who is sitting next to my seat is now asking if I still remember him.

Nope.

Sitting down and taking a deep breath, finally, I ask him to re-introduce himself. Oh, a friend from church. That’s why his face looks familiar-ish. Telling him the frantic morning. Finding myself looking really stupid from babbling too much.

Eying a man reading the Herald Sun paper across the aisle. Front page: a black sheet with super huge white letters that say: “MELBOURNE EARTHQUAKE, 5.3 SR”. Clearly, Melbournians have never experienced earthquakes before (if I was alert yesterday, it would be my fourth).

“I’m in the plane. Flying soon.” Hitting ‘send’. At least my parents know that I’ll be home on time. Turning off my phone. Chatting with a friend who needs to re-introduce himself. Forgot to change my iPad’s service to airplane mode. Changing. Forgot to wish two good friends the best for their exams. Planning my apologies.

Now I am somewhere above the Pacific (or Atlantic?) Ocean. Beginning to feel the headache.

Just remembered that I hate flying. Nausea breaches in. Six hours sleep last night makes it even worse.

Holiday, I’m on my way.

What’s your worst nightmare at airport?

What I want to be

After two and a half years of uni, I have finally decided what I want to be. I want to be a writer.

Declaring it publicly is much cooler than saying it to yourself. And now, I’ll try to fulfill my dreams because I have made the choice.

I want to write.

The decision is not an easy one to make, especially when you know that you are not that good. But good is relative. I’m already a writer, it’s just up to me to become a better one.

The realisation came to me two days ago when I was interning at the hospital. Torn between psychology and media for all these years, I vowed to make the decision after I finished my internship. Now, I know. Psychology, with all its charm, is just not for me.

Maybe one day, I can be the next JK Rowling.

When it all started

Choosing to study Bachelor of Arts is a pure accident. Or I should really say, a pure gut-feeling. While having been admitted to Bachelor of Biomedicine in Melbourne University, one day before the application closed I decided to switch to Bachelor of Arts, thinking that this way, I would be able to pursue my interest in the media, as well as keeping my science background to live in Psychology.

I wasn’t thinking of writing, though. I have never thought of writing. The reason why I chose media is because I used to give a good presentation. I’ve done a few public speeches, including my senior high graduation speech, and I feel like studying PR, work in a television company, and become a presenter.

The reason why I decided to do a double major with Psychology, is basically because I’m interested in humans. I have always been an emotional being, and studying Psychology, in my opinion, would enable me to know humans better.

To some extent, it’s true.

Then, I fall in love with blogging, and I found out that I actually can write. Joining Meld and becoming its journalist / columnist is one of the best choices that I’ve ever made in life, and from there I learned a lot of things, more than university could ever teach me.

I told my friend the other day that even though I am doing some journalism classes in uni, it feels like because I’ve learned how to write in Meld and thus I’m able to do the pieces for uni, and not the other way around. Clearly, without Meld, I wouldn’t even pass my journalism subjects.

From here, to there

Of course, from now on, it would be a rocky path. But it would make me happy. I don’t even realise how many hours I’ve spent on deluging the news, browsing on writing articles on my iPad every night, and trying to improve my blog every day. My significant other is right. He told me that I have always been more passionate about writing, yet doubting myself for the fear of falling.

But what is life without a few risks, aye?

Now what?

There is one point that I would like to say: the years I’ve spent learning everything else are not wasted at all.

Why, you may ask?

Because I need to know for sure. Without really trying everything (learning science, psychology, marketing, and even business), I wouldn’t be as confident as now to declare that I want to pursue a career in writing. They are all merely telling me that those things are not what I want to do for life. My path lies somewhere else.

And as much as I love Psychology, I am not the type to work in an office, diligently editing research papers and organise a bunch of others. I hate the paperworks. Clinical work, even as awesome as it may sound, is just not me. One on one consultation using some theories that are too complicated to be understood is just not my style. As a writer, it’s always been my job to simplify things, not making them more complex.

I still have to finish uni, of course. But as I’ve decided which path to take, my learning would be more focused, and hopefully, more fruitful.

My biggest dreams:

1. Write a novel that would be adapted into a movie

2. Become a well-known columnist (not journalist)

3. Open a cafe that publishes a monthly broadsheet

4. Live a great story, and write it down