The Wild Angle (of Writing)

Willy Pramudya taught the whole staff how to write popular articles today. As an exercise on angles, he asked us to draw our water bottles as we saw them in front of us.

I knew I didn’t want to draw it standing up, because that would be boring. My guts told me to draw the bottom of the bottle, but I couldn’t find the reason immediately. Would it be pretentious? Would people even recognise my drawing as a bottle? I shelved that thought and drew it upside down instead.

I was one of two participants who drew the bottle upside down. The others drew the bottles with a glass, different bottles, even a discarded bottle. I told him I wanted to ignite the readers’ curiosity, why is the bottle upside down? He appreciated the thought, but he was disappointed no one drew the bottom of the bottle, because that would be a wild angle. Then I realise that I could draw the bottom of the bottle because people rarely pay attention to it.

Oh, dear. As someone who writes, no one was more disappointed about it than me. I should have dared to take that wild angle.

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Gue Suka Headshot (No Spoiler)


Gue cuma lihat trailer Headshot sekali dan ga punya ekspektasi apa-apa. Maaf, tapi begitulah sikap gue tiap nonton film lokal. Tantangan terbesar dari filmmaker Indonesia dalam bikin film Indonesia untuk penonton Indonesia adalah mengaktivasikan suspension of disbelief, simply karena kita sudah familiar dengan setting-nya. Inilah kenapa, demi apresiasi, gue ga mau punya ekspektasi apa-apa.
Lima belas menit pertama gue ga yakin sebetulnya. Ceritanya tidak langsung jelas. Tapi bolehlah usaha artistiknya. Ishmael (Iko Uwais), karakter utama, koma berbulan-bulan, bangun-bangun pengen berantem. Wah, Kill Bill amat. Tapi ternyata ceritanya belok jauh.

Dinamika kelahinya tipikal, seperti video game. Mulai dari lawan yang paling cemen sampai big boss. Tapi gue salut sama ceritanya yang menunjukkan rasa hormat pada setiap level kelahi dan konflik. Ishmael selalu dihadapkan pada situasi yang sulit. Nyaris ga ada deus ex machina. Beberapa perkelahian, physical stake-nya tinggi. Namun saat keadaan fisik tidak terlalu terancam, emotional stake-nya yang dimainin. It’s a nice trick, and I appreciate it very much. Beberapa perkelahian juga terjadi di ruang sempit yang gue ga ngerti mereka pasang kamera di sebelah mana, but it’s good.

Ceritanya ternyata straightforward, tidak melebar ke mana-mana. Penyampaiannya aja yang ga berurutan, karena ceritanya si Ishmael ini amnesia. Karakterisasi sendiri tidak terlalu kompleks, tapi nggak dua dimensi juga. Kelihatan mereka masing-masing punya kedalaman. Ada beberapa karakter yang jelas banget plot device. Tapi kalau ga ada plot device itu, ceritanya ga maju. Maka sekecil apapun kontribusinya, gue hargai keberadaan karakter-karakter itu. Bahkan karakter ‘ga penting’ ini juga dikasih kesimpulan. Gue semakin melihat rasa hormat yang mereka berikan terhadap cerita.

I appreciated the details they paid attention to in the story. What they showed and focused on are what they used in the movie. Granted, ada yang bocor juga dan sebetulnya bisa di-cut tanpa merusak plot, tapi sampai sini saja gue sudah hargai usahanya.

Headshot ada dramanya sedikit, jadi mungkin ada kesan menye-menye. Gue sih demen bagian menye-menyenya. Tapi itu mah selera ya :)) Dialog juga ga macam-macam. Secukupnya aja supaya ceritanya jalan, asal efektif menggambarkan karakter. Beberapa one liner-nya bahkan gue suka banget.

Makeup oke banget. Score dan soundtrack gue suka. Koreografi berantem gue juga suka. Yah ini filmya Iko Uwais yang kesekian, sudah sewajarnya berantemnya makin oke. Performance para aktor juga decent. Bahkan ada beberapa karakter yang minim dialog, jadi lebih berat di akting, dan buat gue mereka ga jelek-jelek amat. Khusus buat Chelsea Islan, menurut gue dia sebagai Ailin adalah performance dia yang terbaik dibandingkan sama film-film dia yang lain. I think she delivered a stellar performance here. Dan ada Rifnu Wikana! One liner favorit gue datang dari doi, “Mau ngomong apa lo anjing?”

Gue mengakui film ini ada kurangnya. Ada adegan berantem yang ga perlu. Cerita dan karakterisasi juga harusnya bisa lebih mendalam. Tapi gue selalu merasa kelemahan film Indonesia adalah bikin cerita yang koheren. Maka selama film itu nyambung dari awal sampai akhir, jelas poin-poinnya, gue akan menilai filmnya baik. Ada beberapa gap dalam cerita, tapi gue ikhlaskan. Gue ga keberatan mengisi gap itu dengan imajinasi gue sendiri. Termasuk soal Ishmael yang ditembak di kepala tapi ga mati. Gue merasa bisa menjelaskan itu, tapi nanti spoiler :))

Karakterpun juga cukup tersampaikan latar belakangnya apa, motivasinya apa, dan yang mau dia lakukan apa. Bahkan dengan dialog yang minimal, pengembangan karakternya masih ada. Terutama untuk karakter Ailin, yang gue pikir cuma di situ untuk jadi pajangan doang. Ternyata Ailin bisa mikir juga. Ishmael sendiri juga mengalami pendewasaan karakter, yang ditunjukkan secara halus banget tanpa banyak bacot. Dia ga cuma berantem aja karena terpaksa keadaan.

Gue bisa melihat kemungkinan spin off, dan buat gue itu artinya potensinya besar. Karena film ini punya ruang untuk dikembangkan lagi.

Buat gue Headshot punya lebih banyak hal untuk diapresiasi daripada kekurangan untuk disesali. Generally, gue bahkan lebih suka ini daripada The Raid. Buat gue, The Raid maksimal di kelahi tapi mengorbankan cerita dan pengembangan karakter (yang mana kekurangan ini diperbaiki di The Raid 2).

Selama nonton Headshot, gue berasa nonton live action manga. Mungkin bisa di-merchandise jadi komik juga. Sepertinya apa yang mau mereka ceritakan akan tersampaikan lebih baik lewat situ.

Gue terkejut banyak yang ga suka sama filmnya. Mungkin gue harus nonton lagi dan melihat penilaian gue berubah apa nggak. Either I missed a lot of things or I have a high tolerance for everything that Indonesian movies lack. I don’t know enough about moviemaking or martial arts, jadi maaf kalau gue sok tahu. But I did find it entertaining. As someone who writes, I focused more on story coherence and character development, and I think both are great. It’s another milestone for Indonesian movies. I would watch it again.

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Who is That Girl I See: Makeup and Hating My Own Reflection

I have to admit, the first time I consciously made the choice to touch makeup was to spite my ex-boyfriend. Make him regret for breaking up with me. It may not be healthy or politically correct, but it’s the truth. Ever since then, I’ve started a (possibly permanent) relationship with makeup.

Though it’s true some people wear makeup to lie cover their true self, I think the main purpose of makeup is to give your face dimensions. It’s not always about false perception. If you got it, flaunt it. Makeup will enhance your greatest assets. Though in some cases makeup can be a misrepresentation of yourself, in many cases (like mine, for example), makeup is a weapon tool I use to represent my true self. It doesn’t compute to me that people are okay with putting on clothes, but they go mental when it comes to makeup. It’s essentially the same.

Like any acquired skills, it took me a long time to be able to wear decent makeup on my face. There’s no such thing as pulling off a winged eyeliner at the first attempt. I also went through many phases of lip color craze. I have them all colors: nude, pink, red, vamp, black, you name it. I have more than 30 lipsticks, I’m too scared to find out the exact count. Then there’s the obsession of flawless complexion. I tried everything: primer, foundation, bb cream, loose powder, so many technique you need to apply to look camera ready. Then the Kardashians flaunt their sculpted cheekbones, and I just had to painstakingly contoured my face.

One time my guy friends asked me why I put on so much makeup (this was when I was experimenting on vampy looks). I told them that I wore it to represent myself. Much like the clothes you wear, I put on makeup based on how I want to be perceived that day. Do I want to look cute? Steal attention? Intimidate people? I even have this policy that when I’m meeting clients, I put on dark red lipstick, because it makes me look older. I don’t want them to dismiss my opinion because they think I’m an inexperienced child. But when I dated this younger guy, I made a point of not wearing red lipstick (nudes and pinks only!), so it wouldn’t look like he was dating a sugar mama. I wear the same soft colors when I want to look less intimidating (than I usually do).

From top left, clockwise: full makeup, vampy phase, no 'makeup' makeup, literally no makeup. I look the same yet different.

From top left, clockwise: full makeup, vampy phase, no ‘makeup’ makeup, literally no makeup. I look the same yet different.

Recently, I’m too lazy to put as much makeup as I used to, so I keep to the basic. Fill my brows, thin eyeliner or dark eyeshadow (because I’m too lazy to draw my eyes), blush (to look fresher), and soft lipstick. But even such little makeup is enough to alter the dimensions of my face. I look more awake and generally healthier. It reaches a point I don’t like seeing my bare face in the mirror. Bare faced, I look pale, like I haven’t slept for days. I don’t like it. I feel like my presence is gone without it. I know it’s not healthy. Like any relationships, you gotta maintain a healthy one.

This article funnily enough confirms what I have always suspected (and practiced). Makeup does matter in your career (and dating rate). Men tend to think makeup-wearing women are more prestigious, and I never fail to wear makeup on dates. My success rate hasn’t been bad with it lol. Females tend to think makeup-wearing women are more dominant. It’s funny thinking that wearing makeup gives you more credibility, but I personally think that those who wear makeup are competent, because I know makeup takes skills. At the very least, it shows that one has a basic skill of coordination :)) You cannot be lazy when you wear makeup (zits!). But then the article talks about how women assessment of makeup is closely related to jealousy, and it only confirms my anxiety even more. Here’s one that talks about makeup and mental health.

In another article, a study concludes that women’s biggest competitors are other women. I know that today we’re moving towards a world where women should unite and help each other. We say that we doll up for ourselves, not men. But let’s be real. In our daily life, that’s not always what happen. Call me shallow, but I have to admit there’s a little bit part of me that take the effort to gain approval from both men and women. I rarely go out without my makeup, no matter how little. It’ll feel like going to battle without my armour on.

Now I’m still looking for reading material on makeup and mental health, because I’m getting attached. I’m not at that insane level yet, where I never wash my makeup ever. But I’d like to feel good about myself, with or without makeup. Most importantly, I want to feel like myself, even without products on my face. Here’s something that Zara wrote, “Magic’s in the Makeup”. The experience is of course different, but you can see the red thread.

For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not saying that I should entirely leave makeup. It’s the love of my life. However, it’d be great if makeup and I can grow together and fill each other. I want it to be a friend that makes myself better by supporting me, but I’m still ok even when it’s away, because I know it loves me. Does that even make sense? I do think makeup is a gateway to an extraordinary self-discovery.

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The (Un)examined Life: Things I Learn in My First Month of Going Freelance

To those who wonder, I’ve finally resigned from my 8-to-5 job. I didn’t resign so I could apply for a higher-paying job. I risked leaving it for the sake of pursuing a career out of my interest and hobby, which are entertainment law and writing. I spent the better part of the year saving money. Once September ended, I thought I’d immediately jump to a new lifestyle of self-scheduled productivity. I wasn’t prepared to find myself struggling instead. Now that October’s ending, here are a few things I’ve taken notes off.

1. Health is super important

I got sick the first couple of weeks into my freelance life. I had to take antibiotics for a week, and it made me nauseous. I felt like vomiting so bad, I didn’t want to get up from bed, nor did I eat enough because of it. It affected my mood and my concentration to work. When I finished the medicine, my physical condition improved. I also made a point of eating on time (morning, afternoon, evening) to make sure I don’t get hungry and distracted when I’m supposed to be working.

It took some time, but I’ve managed to set a relative pattern on my sleeping schedule. I make sure that I sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It’s easier now that I don’t have to go to an office anymore. I don’t do any extreme (or regular) sport, but maintaining this habit makes me feel healthy. I feel healthy and have energy to work on my tasks. The only downside is I also have more energy when I’m mad at something. LOL

2. Tests are everywhere

I’ve always known that my biggest challenge would be my own self-doubt. Will I pull it off? Looking at my saving dwindling every day also makes an effective combo to send me into anxiety. On the other hand, a former boss is offering me a job. Until today, that offer still stands. I’m certain I’ll be taken care of in that office and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else in my life, but I must take it (under my personal principle) at the expense of leaving all of the projects I’m pursuing right now. I’ve promised myself that if I ever apply for an office job again, it means I fail whatever I’m doing now, and I will not pursue it any longer. Currently, the only motivation I have to take that job is my fear of not being able to pull it of. No insightful conclusion on this one. I know this is inevitable and I have to make up my mind about it.

3. A house is a commitment

It finally dawned on me that a house/roof/home is the biggest commitment you’ll ever have to make in life. It’s your biggest expense. It’s where you sleep and safe-keep everything that you own. I have never made any housing decision lightly. It’s important for me to know everything about a house before I move into it. Where is it? How big? The price? What’s the living terms and conditions? Will I share it with anyone? What are the sharing terms? It becomes even more important when I have roommate(s). The terms, do’s and don’t’s, and boundaries with each other must be crystal clear before we decide to share this space. We have to be committed to it. And I can only live with someone who shares the same respect I have about housing. I’m so glad to have Sasha as my roommate for the last few years.

4. A clean space = a clean mind

Cleaning and tidying up the whole apartment was my priority during the first days of being unemployed a freelancer. I didn’t force myself to work immediately. I gave myself a couple of weeks (which stretched to a month, because struggling) to clean up and settled old debts.

I started with the closet, took out anything that wasn’t useful there, put them in the storage. Got a huge container to store my handbags, too. I gave away unused clothes and threw away expired make up and skin care. Now it’s clean and smells good. I even have a space to put a desk and a comfy chair in the corner. I can have a work space that is not my bed!

I did the same thing with my bedroom. No more cluttered junk on the floor! I brushed the bathroom vigorously, and I’ll try to do it every couple of weeks. We also got ourselves a carpet and we rolled it in the living room. I swear it’s so soft and comfy, you can nest there. Our living room is finally cozy and habitable. The only room left to clean up is the storage. But I have a bigger tolerance in keeping it messy, because it’s not somewhere I frequent to. And oh, clean your dishes every time you finish your meal. This is the most helpful tip for a lazy ass like me.

I didn’t execute all this cleaning project in one go, of course. One day for one room. Now that everything’s done, it’s made me more comfortable to stay at home. I don’t have to worry about dust (I’m allergic) or getting sick. I don’t have any smells or mess that distract me from my work. Most importantly, I like how my home looks.

5. A work space is just as important

In the beginning, I thought I would enjoy working at home by myself. Besides, it’d save a lot of money, rather than working at Starbucks or a co-working space. Turns out it depressed me. I woke up and spent my day alone, because every one was away at the office. I didn’t meet anyone. If it continued, I’d go insane. Suddenly that co-working space rate doesn’t look so expensive anymore. I realise it’s not about the space, but about meeting other people and interacting. I’m still a social person after all and I need to have conversation with people daily. I also need a work space that is far from my bed. It’s too easy to lie down and turn on Netflix instead of working. I’m still figuring out where and when to go to that work space though.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself

I’m starting to think I may have a slight obsession with productivity. I read every article on productivity hack. I’m seriously considering to consult a shrink about this. Nearing my last day at the office, I made a mental note of what my new schedule would look like. It was a pretty strict picture. I would wake up, write, eat, work, relax, hang out, and a sleep at specific time. And I would track my time for accountability. Then I found out that it’s not an easy schedule to follow.

I tell myself again and again that everything takes time. I don’t have to put myself together now. I’ve learned that it’s ok to take it one step at a time. So I threw away my mental schedule. Now I spend the days how I want it, and hey, I’m starting to see a schedule/pattern that seems to work with me!

In the past, I would’ve been bored to death by the first month of being unemployed. But I’ve been enjoying this process, especially knowing that I’m doing this to make a new work for myself. One that is dictated by me. Come November, I should hold myself more accountable. It doesn’t have to be about a lot of stuff. Reduce the workload, keep it down to a few manageable and accountable ones. Then pat myself on the back for doing a good job. I also need to put more effort in the sustenance department. Gotta pick up the ladle and cook myself more elaborate meals again. Coincidentally, next month is also time for NaNoWriMo. The best month to test your discipline.

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Current Position in Life

I guess it’s been a good year. I got so much to do. I have a bunch of business I’m trying to jump start. That is why I want to quit my day job. For the last two years, I’ve been employed in a small law firm. Initially, it was good to gain experience. But after a year, it became boring. Klikonsul’s been doing not so bad either, and Kemaro is still going strong. In 2016, I decided to leave the law firm.

I discussed my resignation with the boss last week, after months of saving up. I’ve saved enough to last me half a year unemployed. I want to spend my unemployment writing and working on my startups. I was worried leading up to the discussion with the boss, because he’s been so nice to me. I didn’t want to appear ungrateful. I was ready to make up reasons for my resignation, but I decided to tell the truth, because he deserved it. It was an unexpectedly difficult conversation, because he wouldn’t let me leave.

Firstly, I told him that I’m not the conservative type of an employee. Office hours feel like a cage, I don’t like it. He said, “Have I ever complained all the time you come late to the office?”

I told him the second reason, that I have a lot of projects outside of work. I would feel better if leave the law firm, because it’s not my priority anymore. He said, “That’s ok. I’m alright if you have a lot of projects. Develop yourself!”

Third reason then, that mom is starting her own business and she wants me to assist her there. He said, “You just manage your time, half a week here, half a week there, I don’t mind.”

Oh, wow, he’s really not letting me go. He asked me to consider it again, even though I told him that I had considered it for the better half of the year. In the end, I asked him if he would mind my working from home. He needed sometime to answer that.

A few days later, I asked him again, and he said that he didn’t mind. But he had to talk to the foreign counsel first. The foreign counsel is a Japanese, and you know how the Japanese work. I know that the boss wouldn’t mind, but I do realize that whatever arrangement I’ll have with him in the future, we have to communicate it to the foreign counsel, because my work comes from him. I’m pretty sure though if they allow me to work from home, my productivity would rise. I don’t enjoy commuting to work at all. It depletes a lot of my energy in the morning, leaving me cranky through the whole day.

I’m going to talk to the boss again tomorrow. As soon as he agrees to my new work schedule, I will start planning a new timetable. I really can’t wait for it, because there’s a lot of things I want to do away from the supervision of bosses at the office. I need flexibility, because I get bored easily. And I have to start my own business, so I can stop getting salaries from others. That’s no way to get rich. xD

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