I Dream of NYC.

I dream of NYC. My teen years and way into my college days were filled with romantic comedies set in this city. I have loved listening to the big band version of Sinatra’s ‘New York’ ever since my dad introduced me to his music which included Barbara Streissand, Andy Williams and Nana Mouskouri. I have always been fascinated with lights. Be it natural lights in the sky or man made lights in buildings and skyscrapers. My idea of a perfect date is just driving through city traffic listening to whatever’s playing on the radio, or simply walking home hand in hand underneath the city lights.

The Big Apple they say: is not as pretty as it looks on your smartphone screen. People get bullied in subways just for being Asian (insert any race here). You shouldn’t touch the subway handles or train bars because they’re full of germs. Alleys hide criminals. You will never survive wearing that hijab on your head. Sirenes go off 24/7. Finding work is brutal. Street corners reek of urine. Where are you going to stay? You know it’s hard to even get a visa to the US. But hopefully not, considering you’ve pledged allegiance for 5 years of your childhood.

I know plenty of fellow Indonesians have chosen a life abroad. Where almost everything makes more sense than here. Especially now, with religion becoming more of a lifestyle than a way of living. Where you are admitted into family group chats full of hoaxes and hatred towards a certain community or religion or people who have an opinion different than them. The group chats you end up muting year after year. Where the education system is fucked up, because it changes with every presidential cabinet. Where the majority of the parliament is out to get haram happiness.

I know how tempting it is to live a life in a kingdom far far away. What an adventure it may be. But the thought of not being able to see my family not even once a year maybe kills me. Before, I thought it would be rad just to escape it all. Find the love of my life doing what I love as a living until I become an old wrinkled raisin (coz I’m sweet like that). But then, they would simply know me as Binda Dian who lives in NY. I can’t watch Gita, Nizam, Prisha, Gaza and Nadine grow up. I can’t be there to hug them when they miss me, or when I miss them. I can’t explain why life is sometimes unfair. I can’t listen to their stories.  I can’t be a part of “the village” that nourishes their souls. I can’t be their friend. I definitely don’t want to feel helpless when I know one or both of my parents have fallen ill. I definitely don’t want to be 24 hours away when Allah decides it is their final day.

I guess. NY might only live in my dreams. In my art. In my books. In my heart. Like a fairy tale land.

Because right now. My life. My loves. Are right here.

Sendirian Aja, Neng

Illustration by @harigelita

This is day #322 of my #uni365project, where I draw every day for a year. The idea is to make drawing and art something I breathe on a daily basis. It is not easy. To be honest, I am lagging by around 15 days. So, if I don’t catch up, by day #365 which falls on April 5th, well… ermm.. nothing will happen actually. Only the fact that I am a human being with my shortcomings. However, I’ve been trying my best to keep on track and I have been feeling the burn and the benefits.

You can see here.

My art on day #1


I had no sense of pallettes, what I enjoy working with, what my style was.

Now, lets take a look at:

My art on day #322

cafe morning (2)

Practice does do you good. Daily pratice especially.

Will I continue to write? Of course!

Will I continue to draw? Absolutely.

Because 2 in 1 shampoos sells easier than a shampoo and conditioner sold separately. IYKWIM.



Ribet? Ngga juga.

Bumi berputar. Masalah datang dan pergi. Dan kita, manusia, hanya bertahan hidup dari hari ke hari. Apa yang telah dipunya. Apa yang belum dipunya. Jangan biarkan keduanya memberatkan pundak. Apa yang telah dipunya, syukuri. Apa yang belum dipunya, doakan. Selesai. Lalu kerjakan apa yang bisa dikerjakan. Yang membawa kesenangan bagi apa yang dipunya dan membuka peluang bagi apa yang belum dipunya.


Ngga juga.



Sad Girls by Lang Leav – A Book Review

What would you do if you fell in love with a boy whose girlfriend you “kind of” killed, when at the time you were already in a serious relationship with the boy next door?

A tall story meant to spice up a gossip session between close friends was overheard by an outsider and caused a snowball effect until someone got really hurt and decided to kill herself. Which unfortunately stands as confirmation to the said lie.

Poor Audrey told that lie.

At the funeral, she met the dead girl’s boyfriend. Both experiencing similar shock, went on an all night drive simply to accompany each other and, well I dunno, ease the burden? Instead, they connected on almost every level.

A simple recipe for disaster, no?

Actually, yes. But most of the story was predictable. The storyline was basic. So I was just reading with not that deep of an interest. Unlike when I read Leav’s poetry. She has a way with words. In her poetry human interactions wrench your heart and makes you wonder how deep is one’s loves to be able to concoct such words, such analogies and stir up other people’s heartache from their depths?

To sum up Leav’s first novel in one word I’d probably use the word “safe”. She played by the book. Obeyed all the plot rules. Abided to her title as the thread that binds the whole story. Almost all girls/females in the book are sad people.

The ending, in my opinion is what makes this first novel quite exceptional. An honest, realistic and simply human conclusion.

If not a 4 out of 5, I would have to give Leav a 3,5 simply because I know this is just her first, and I believe she has plenty of other stories waiting to be told. Hopefully, she will learn to get out of her safety zone and write novels like she writes poetry.



(You are not) Ruled by Hormones

Being a girl sucks. Every month we are taken on this rollercoaster ride of emotions whether we like it or not. Of course we don’t have to pay for the tickets, but we have to pay for any slip of words, sassy attitude, loss of friends we get from that rollercoaster ride.

My mom says, I should know when the hormones are kicking into gear. I have the power to control these feelings. These urges to point out everybody else’s fault except my own. The urge to cry my eyeballs out just by seeing a sentimental commercial. The need to eat everything on the menu and feeling effing fat and miserable afterwards (don’t forget the PMS bloating, where the water contained in your body is a lot more near your period making you look fatter). Then, once your period starts, you’ve lost all apettite whatsoever, for food, for life. Nah, just kidding about the last one. But the frequent trips to the bathroom, checking and changing pads or tampons isn’t exactly ‘ladida hahaha’ fun. You have to make sure not to leave traces of your monthly junk in the bathroom for the next person to scorn in disgust at. Your mom would have to engrain in your head from early on that a clean white underwear is a mark of a decent girl. Then there’s that pep talk you recieve on your first period, which contents are mainly; “you can get pregnant, stay away from boys.” My first reaction was, “Do I stay away from boys only during my period or like forever stay away from them But what about Dad?” << this question obviously was only voiced in my head.

This is what a girl has to go through, throughout her productive part of life. Don’t get me started on the ‘to wear or not to wear make up’ matter (I’ll rant about this in another post).  My PMS is rather weird if not that much different from other girls.  It goes quite like this:

  1. Two weeks before my period my boobies swell and hurt.
  2. One week before I get irritated easily. You make a mistake (especially towards me), I see it, you’re doomed.
  3.  Within the one week before, I crave spicy, sour and soupy foods.
  4. Within the one week before, I am always hungry.
  5. I feel like shit. Like, I’m the ugliest, unlovable, unworthy, piece of human being living on the surface of the planet. This is around 3 to 5 days before my period.
  6. I am bloated. So I am always considering gym memberships at these times.
  7. 1 or 2 days before my period, I can cry my eyeballs out over simply anything that hits the spot.
  8. 1 or 2 days before my period, I will feel the urge to make something. Amazing ideas or thoughts will just pour into my head, begging for release. Which usually only lasts for 12-24 hours, so don’t expect a best selling novel to pop out from that tiny time span. Perhaps just a blog post (like this one) or a neat piece of art.
  9. The period comes and I don’t want to do anything except lie down on my side or on my tummy. Not because I have mean menstrual cramps like most girls do. But I just feel drained (of course, I am only draining out my uteral lining) and don’t wanna, that’s all.
  10. I get back my self confidence on day 2 or 3, become my usual enthusiastic self. All the negativity hiding away someplace and just letting me be the agreeable, kind person I am (for two weeks).

I know all of the above is just a sign of having a healthy female body, of which I am grateful. And I have no objection to any of them. But I just feel, that being a girl (especially in Indonesia) comes with many hassles and life is not that easy on us. Therefore, we are the stronger lot.

I salute my mom, for being able to keep tending to us and everything despite being susceptible to the above wave of emotions too. But Mom, until I can be at least close to your sincerety and love, please bear with me and don’t snap at me on the above mentioned days. Even if you do, I still love you, forever.


Book Review: Malam Terakhir | Leila S. Chudori

Kumpulan cerpen ini terbit pertama kali tahun 1989. Saat saya baru membiasakan diri berbahasa Indonesia. Saya membaca apapun yang tersedia, mulai dari kolom Indonesiana di majalah Tempo, sampai “Oh, Mama. Oh, Papa” di majalah Kartini milik Mama, tak ketinggalan kolom asuhan dr. Naek L. Tobing. Tontonan siang hari kalau isinya bukan Ray Sahetapi pastilah ada Roy Marten.

Membaca kumpulan cerpen ini seperti memutar kembali tahun-tahun di mana Jakarta terasa begitu artifisial. Begitu ingin menyusul kota-kota maju dunia. Padahal pusat perbelanjaan belum sebanyak sekarang.

Saat Pemerintah seperti berguru pada novel 1984 milik George Orwell. Sandiwara-sandiwara bertajuk swasembada pangan dan mencerdaskan kehidupan bangsa tayang hampir setiap malam setelah Dunia Dalam Berita, Laporan Khusus mereka yang mau dibohongi dengan bahagia.

Tokoh-tokoh dalam kumcer ini kebanyakan perempuan-perempuan yang menolak tunduk pada norma. Perempuan-perempuan yang membaca, melihat serta mendengar sekitar. Tidak berhenti di situ, mereka ikut aktif mempertanyakan kejanggalan dan ketimpangan.

Beberapa perempuan takluk dan kalah, beberapa perempuan menemukan tempat dan tetap bertahan hidup meski caranya menerabas norma. Perempuan-perempuan abu-abu.

Perempuan-perempuan di mata Leila S. Chudori adalah yang mandiri penuh kontroversi, seperti Ilona, Rain (nama anaknya sendiri) dan Dila yang akhirnya memilih mati. Di atas semuanya, perempuan-perempuan yang digambarkan Leila S. Chudori, bergerak lebih dengan kepekaan hati. Setidaknya itu yang aku tangkap.

Seperti Sita yang setia namun geram dan Salikha yang berharap gelap menyalakan Hamdani di matanya.

Heart Workout

I wonder what God was thinking when he created Eve. Not a polar opposite to Adam. But with softer features on the outside. Creating some kind of diversion to the advanced machine she has on the inside. Including a powerful heart. She can multi-task. Her mind can focus on several things at a time. She can develop a human being inside her. She can produce milk. She has strong intuition and sometimes even sixth-sense like abilities when it comes to the people she loves. And all which can only work when powered by? Yep. Love.

I have come to a point. Where I know I can love just for the sake of loving. I do not need anything in return. Love doesn’t have to be reciprocal. It would be nice to cuddle and kiss the one you love. Indeed. But it would be terrible to cuddle and kiss the one you don’t, just because your body yearns it. While your heart burns for another. But, in any condition, I advise you to simply love.

At this point, though I know I’ve thoroughly ruined my chances with a certain guy. Yet, I know I can still live, write, draw, laugh, sing and be happy and cry. Because crying, you see, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sad and pitiful. It means you’ve a muscle called the heart. It sweats when you work it too hard. The bigger it loves the harder it works. And when you work it too hard it aches, like any other muscle. However, like any other muscle, if you work it regularly, it becomes stronger.

Sometimes you just click with someone and your brain goes into autopilot and makes all kinds of connections to make you feel good, feel hopeful and expectant. Sometimes you just want to rush into things and find out if your expectations can be met. But you (always) seem to forget that great expectations can be returned with great disappointments. So why not love just for the sake of loving? Giving? And not expecting anything in return?

Don’t complicate things. Don’t assume. Don’t hurt others. Just love, and let the Universe do the rest.

Sebuah Prolog

Kuburan di belakang sekolah – kata Adi, kata Myle itu samping, kata Pak Rustam itu depan – selalu indah menjelang Magrib. Saat semua murid bergegas pulang ke rumah masing-masing. Di mana makan malam menu komplit sudah tersedia.

Adi bercerita kalau Ibunya suka mengajaknya dan dua adiknya makan menu komplit setiap Sabtu dan Minggu, dari resepsi ke resepsi. Adi baru tahu kalau ibunya tak pernah diundang ke satupun resepsi yang telah mereka datangi ketika mereka berbalik pulang saat ada sebuah alat pendeteksi bom di pintu masuk disertai pemeriksaan undangan yang tidak ibunya punya.

Beberapa bulan kemudian, Adi membaca di koran bungkus buncis, kalau resepsi yang gagal mereka susupi adalah resepsi pernikahan cucu mantan presiden. Presiden yang meninggal, dengan meninggalkan tanda tanya dan keberatan banyak orang.

Myle menyela, "Percuma kaya kalau tidak bahagia. Kalau ada orang-orang yang tercuri haknya." Tangan Myle mulai ke kepalanya, Adi menarik tangannya. Menahannya di atas pangkuan Myle, di atas meja kelas yang mereka duduki menghadap kuburan dan matahari yang terbenam di depannya, di belakangnya kata Pak Rustam, di sampingnya kata Myle.
"Cantik-cantik kok pitak." tegur Pak Rustam.
"Pak Rustam, botak tapi ngga cantik-cantik." timpal Adi membuat Myle tertawa. Pak Rustam juga.

Pak Rustam mengangkat kepala dari pekerjaannya dan menoleh ke arah siluet perempuan yang duduk membelakangi matahari terbenam. Rambutnya yang panjang dan awut-awutan seolah membara memerangkap sinar senja. Menciptakan halo di sekeliling kepalanya. Sekeliling titik botak tempat ia mencabuti rambutnya saat gelisah.

Di pangkuannya seekor kucing mendengkur pelan, kucing yang ia namai Pangeran Adi. Adi, murid tak berpunya yang sebelumnya mendapat uang tambahan membantu Pak Rustam menyapu seluruh ruangan di lantai 2 Gedung Barat setiap sore. Adi yang memilih meninggal lantaran tak tahan dibully,

"Salah, aku gak bunuh diri, aku memilih jadi kucing." Adi mengeong membela diri. Myle, mengiyakannya dengan menggaruk leher Adi dengan penuh sayang.

Pak Rustam menertawakan nasibnya harus berkawan dengan dua makhluk astral selalu yang datang menjelang Magrib, selalu di ruangan ini. Seakan ingin berbagi kehangatan yang mereka punya dengannya. Dan lucunya Pak Rustam selalu mengatur agar jadwalnya sesuai dengan jadwal mereka.