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The Biggest Prize on Earth

14 May

Mostly due to very busy days at the office, I’ve been forsaking blogging for much too long.  I certainly miss it, although for now I’m forced to consider it as a luxury that I can only afford every once in a while.

But not for one moment I will miss penning down my thoughts on the biggest competitive prize ever graced the world of sports:  The Football World Cup come this June.  No, not if I profess to be a football fan.

It is certainly exciting, if only because it is the first world cup to be held in the land of Africa.  Beside the concerns of logistics and security (the incident of the shooting at Togo team’s bus during the African Nations Cup quickly came to mind), the very distinctive ambience and climate alone could prove trying to the traditional giants of football.  Remember the USA World Cup where the temperature gets so high until it broke all the record of how many times the players take a break for drinks?  Then, the high temperature could be argued as having a negative effect of the quality of the games.  Of course, one could always argue that it’s just one of the excitement of the game: only the fittest survives.  But to push such argument is beside the point.  After all, I would still like to watch beautiful football where not only winning matters.

That being said, this World Cup is really an example of how peaceful the world could be if we can just accept our differences and focus on things we have in common.  I mean, where else do we see the United States and North Korea playing on a same field, with a same set of rules?  Come next month, we’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, celebrating the most beautiful show not only on technical skills, but also of human spirit.

As to the strongest candidate I can think, my choice would still go to Spain.  Oh, yes.  In the past, people laughed at me for my silly candidates to win a major football tournament.  But after the French victory at ’98 and Spain’s at Euro ’08; I stopped to worry about it.  Here’s why I think they would win.  Of all the 32 teams battling for the title, Spain has the best qualifying campaign.  They secured a perfect 10 wins out of 10 matches.  Conceding only five goals, and scoring 28; – any nation would tremble to face the deadly pair of Villa and Torres upfront, the vision and flair of Xavi and Fabregas, or the strong physical prowess of Puyol and Ramos.  If there’s a weakness at all in their play, they should pay particular attention when defending in dead-ball situations.

Next on my line is England.  Again, laugh all you want.  But the English have been hungry for far too long that in fact it’s rather easy to imagine them performing a feat as amazing as Spain did in Euro 2008.  And please, never underestimate the man called Fabio Capello.  With the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, and Rooney; the English can do big things this time.  I would also mention their defense which could be the strongest in the world if Terry and Ferdinand play at their best.  What they need to work at is their determination, as it’s rather too often we watch them become needlessly complacent when things go their way.

My third choice for the top spot is equally divided between Argentina, France and the Netherlands.  Messi would prove a nightmare for his defender, but Maradona still needs to prove that he’s as good manager as he was a player.  France remains a strong contender albeit weak qualifying performance.  The finals might be a place where they can redeem themselves after Henry’s notorious handball that led to a goal that brought them here.  Nobody doubts Sneijder and van Persie for the Netherlands, although they have to remember that skills alone do not win the game.

The dark horse of the tournament will be of course Brazil.  I might be stoned for saying this, but they’re facing quite a struggle with their tough group matches against Portugal and Ivory Coast.  I think they will go through, but then run into a lot of trouble from injuries and suspensions which will led to a slump of form.  Oh, and make no mistake.  Pay close attention to Ivory Coast and Ghana.  Africa is their turf, and they will fight to defend it.

There you go, my two cents about the oncoming World Cup.  I might write more about some interesting matches, but until then, let’s pray that the opening day will come sooner than later…

Your Eye

27 Feb

So there you go.  My first piece of drawing after all those lost, turbulent years.  Don’t expect too much though, my hands have already become shaky, and I don’t shade as well as I used to do.  Still, I am hoping to achieve a good form with steady, regular practices… Enjoy…

Tools :

– Derwent Dark Charcoal Pencil

– Faber Castell Graphite Pencils : HB, F, 2B

Daily Life Redux

22 Apr

Some things are better left unsaid. Or aren’t they ? I’m not totally sure about this, but sometimes I think what happened to me may be too personal to write for the world to know. So I’m sorry if I disappoint you somewhat for not sharing the exact inspiration to this post. Suffice it to say that recent events spurred me to take more control of my life, holding the reins soundly in my hands.

Of course, one could argue that there’s only so much a HIV-positive man can do with his life. His is certainly very limited by his handicap. It is easy to hide behind the fact that I could not work in a regular office job like everyone else, for example. And while I could not be blamed ( at least not totally ) for the way my condition affects my family, there must be something else I can do to help them get what they need. I decided to start by re-arranging my daily life schedule.

And what a start that seemed to be. I know that the topic of daily grind of living your life may seem banal to many people, but consider this for one second : What if your daily schedule can have a huge impact on your health ? That is, what if, – say, you will get sick if you force yourself to work longer than you can ? That’s right, you’re beginning to get a picture of this life of mine. I myself have no idea if I can do what I need to do to help my kids stand on their own feet when my time comes. God knows I want them to have something tangible to hold on to when I’m not on their side anymore.

Hence the radical change to my daily schedule. I was always an unstructured man. I prefer a loose method of working than a rigid schedule of my days. My disease, if anything, did not help at all. I am supposed to take my pills on a definite time, but other than that it just ( sometimes ) kill my energy to the point that I could not think in the right state-of-mind to work. It’s easy to imagine that this needs to be changed. What I decided to do is incorporate a routine in my daily life where I will work on scheduled time slots on my book, – and whatever else I get my hands on at the moment. After planning it, my typical working week looks something like this :

I can almost hear some of you laugh after seeing it. I know. Don’t imagine for a moment that I’m able to work 8-10 hours a day like I used to do 4-5 years ago. This schedule is a mere peanut compared to some of my friends who sometimes are still on a meeting at 10 pm. What I would give to be like them.

Yet, this new schedule of mine is still a far cry from my current loose take on daily life. In fact, I don’t know if I can do as I planned to do. I have the will, but there are so many other variables that may affect the result of the equation. Just bear with me for now. Let me just try. It is my prayer that this small decision I made today signifies something much bigger : that I will have more control over my life. That it will enable and empower me to be a better provider for my family. Someday, when it happens, it just won’t get any better than that. Trust me.

YOU DOGS !!

29 Mar

Anjing-anjing itu kembali lagi. Mereka memang tak tahu diuntung. Seenaknya datang, apapun yang orang pikirkan tentang mereka. Dipimpin oleh seekor anjing geladak hitam besar hampir raksasa yang selalu menyeringai, mereka menyebar begitu saja di sudut-sudut lingkungan tempat tinggalku, seperti air yang selalu mencari tempat yang paling rendah. Aku tak pernah berhasil mengetahui nama si alpha male pemimpin ini, walaupun pernah aku memancing untuk mencoba bersahabat dengannya lewat sepotong sirloin sisa makananku semalam. Yang aku tahu cuma satu hal yang aneh dan tak relevan : ada satu selipan daging busuk di sela-sela taring atasnya. Setiap kali aku melihatnya, serpihan daging tadi selalu ada di sana, menjuntai tak keruan seperti umbai cacing dari usus buntu manusia. Ah, nanti akan kubersihkan gigimu dengan tusuk gigi setelah kau kubunuh.

Ya, aku memang berencana membunuh mereka. Keputusanku telah final. Walaupun mungkin besok aku harus repot membersihkan bangkai-bangkai beludak itu dari lingkunganku, tak akan aku mundur dibuatnya. Telah lama aku membenci mereka yang kencing di sembarang tempat begitu saja. Atau kawin-mengawin tepat di bawah jendelaku di siang hari bolong. What the fuck were they thinking ? Ah, entahlah. Yang pasti, aku jengah dan muak mendengar gonggongan mereka. Ya, hal itulah yang paling kubenci dari kirik-kirik peranakan Cerberus ini. Bunyi mereka. See ? Itulah masalahnya dengan telinga. Kau tak bisa menutupnya begitu saja seperti kau memejamkan matamu saat seseorang mengiris daging pada bagian betismu tipis-tipis. Atau apakah itu adegan dari film yang kutonton malam tadi ?

Aku tak peduli bahkan jika pengadilan kota menghukumku dengan pekerjaan sosial sekian ratus jam pun. Mau dituntut kriminal pun boleh-boleh saja. Anjing toh bukan manusia. Paling tidak ini berarti bahwa aku melakukan suatu hal untuk kepentingan orang-orang di sekitarku juga toh ? Manusia kebanyakan memang begitu. Mereka sebenarnya selalu mendambakan untuk melakukan satu hal yang kotor, namun tak pernah punya cukup nyali untuk benar-benar melakukannya. Coba saja kau berkeliling dan tanyakan kepada orang-orang yang tinggal di sekitarku apakan mereka ingin anjing-anjing itu mati. Mereka tak tahu, bahwa yang menjijikkan bukanlah kegiatan membunuh anjing-anjing tadi, namun kemunafikan mereka yang esok hari akan gantian mencercaku atas nama perikebinatangan. Ah, fuck you, Body Shop !

OK. Sekarang tinggal menimbang-nimbang seperti apa aku akan melakukannya. Ada tiga hal yang siap digunakan di tanganku. Racun tikus, parang dan pistol yang berisi dua butir peluru. Jangan tanya dari mana aku mendapatkan benda-benda tadi. Kita tak punya waktu cukup untuk menceritakannya. Tidakkah kau dengar lolongan menjijikkan mereka ? Really, it’s more than enough to drive a man crazy. Lebih baik kita melakukannya sekarang, sebelum aku berubah pikiran. Racun tikus adalah pilihan yang paling aman. Parang dan pistol akan membuat segalanya terlalu berantakan. Bisa – bisa terlalu banyak pekerjaan yang harus kulakukan untuk membersihkan tubuh mereka yang berantakan. OK, kalau begitu racun tikus. Mari kita mencampurnya dengan apapun yang kumiliki dalam kulkas.

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Ah, bagus, There you go. Si Hitam pemimpin mendekati piring penuh makanan beracun itu dan mengendusnya dengan penuh minat. Namun harapanku langsung runtuh waktu kulihat ia mundur dua langkah dan berpaling pergi. Para pengikutnya pun seperti manut saja dan pergi mengekor tanpa menengok ke belakang lagi, tak seperti istri Lot yang berubah menjadi tiang garam. Ah, mungkin memang lebih mudah meracuni keluarga si Lot tua itu daripada seekor anjing. Atau mungkin memang aku yang tak mengerti sistem peranjingan, lantaran kebanyakan menghabiskan waktu hidupku untuk memanipulasi manusia. Ah, persetan ! Sudah terlambat untuk mengubah pikiranku sekarang. Kuambil pistol yang terletak di bawah cermin riasku di sebelah sisir dan botol parfum. Lantas kuiisi dia dengan dua butir peluru yang kumiliki.

Percobaanku dengan racun tikus yang gagal tadi memberiku satu pelajaran. Yang harus kulakukan hanyalah membunuh Si Hitam tadi, dan pengikutnya pun akan pergi sendiri, terkaing-kaing dengan ekor terselip di antara kaki belakang mereka. Dus, bahkan jika aku mencerai-beraikan jeroan si Hitam dengan peluruku, pekerjaan pembersihan yang harus kulakukan setelahnya tak akan seberat yang kuperkirakan sebelumnya. Omong-omong, sudahkah kuceritakan bahwa aku belajar menembak dari tetangga nenekku yang pada masa mudanya hidup sebagai pemburu, – persis seperti di cerita-cerita Jack London. Saat aku meninggalkan rumah nenekku dua belas tahun yang lalu, ia pula yang menghadiahkan si Haram Jadah ini sebagai kado perpisahan, – julukannya untuk sepucuk pistol hitam yang kini kugenggam di tanganku.

Jadi, kenapa aku masih gemetar saat aku akan membidik Si Hitam itu ? Apakah karena ada nyawa yang akan tercabut karenanya ? Stop it. Kamu banci atau apa ? Benar. Kenapa sekarang harus kupikirkan alasan-alasan yang meringankan untuk binatang terdakwa itu ? Kuangkat pistolku, kubidik Si Hitam tepat di tengah-tengah kedua matanya yang memandangiku kebingungan. Ah, matamu ternyata berwarna coklat seperti tahi. BAM !! BAM !!

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PRAGUE, 6 March 2009. A man was found dead in his lone apartment in the fifth floor of Melantrich Apartments. Apparently just woken up from his sleep, there are no indications of a break-in and homicide. In fact, the authority said that everything pointed out to the possibility of suicide. The victim had two bullets lodged deep inside his brain and his wall was so full of two words written in red lipstick : You Dogs !

Trembling Inside : My Life Today

19 Feb

When I started this blog and chose a tagline for it, one thing that I promised myself is that I’ll be honest in my writing. I take my promise seriously to the point that if I feel I couldn’t write honestly, I won’t write anything at all. Now I’m going to make good of the oath, strip myself bare for once and let you catch a glimpse of my naked, ugly self.

As I write this, I am about to do a couple of huge things : quitting smoking and codeine ( a painkiller given to me by my physicians to manage my pain during my hospitalization time and outpatient treatment period ). For some people, it may not seem big at all. For myself, those two are like a couple of monsters looming over the horizon, ready to pounce at me at any given moment. Why ? Maybe because smoking has been something that I’ve been doing for 17 years and I don’t know how to function without it. Maybe because codeine operates in the same brain receptors that heroin did to me long ago, – that quitting it gets me into the same crazy, panicked state of mind. I just don’t know. I don’t even know if I can explore why I am scared. The feeling is just there, – getting bigger and more gut-wrenching as I am approaching my quit day.

I am scared of the state I am now. Of the way and situations of my family. I am scared if I won’t have any idea how to support them and fulfill their every needs, – the way every responsible father does. I’m afraid that my first son will not get the most appropriate treatment for autism there is, or that I won’t be able to afford it. I am afraid that I will not be a good enough worker for my employers that someday I’ll lose my job.

It doesn’t stop there. On the more personal, intimate front, I am scared that I will not be a good enough father for my kids, – with my emotional and psychological baggage and my inability to provide for them. I am frightened that I will be a bad husband for my dear wife; – which is so unfair because that Angel of mine has been a very strong and supporting wife for me. I am scared that I will not be strong enough not only to hug and hold her hand, – but even just to walk at the same pace as she does. I am afraid that I won’t be a good man I know I should strive to be, and get trapped in the same cycle of complacency and, yes, even self-pity. This ghost of fear is a very real one and continues to haunt me in my every waking hour in these last couple of days, – so persistent it even hunts me to my sleep and conjures itself in every possible nightmare. There I would be, waking with a racing heartbeat and forced to take at least half an hour to calm myself down.

Yet I know that there is no other way to proceed if I’m to grow and be more than what I am right now. I just have to embrace the fact that to be better feels bitter. I just pray that I will have you all with me as my friends as I stare my fears right on the eyes and do what I have to do. Thanks for letting me pour myself out this time.

P.S. : My quit date is on Sunday, 22 February 2009. Do you guys think I should take a couple of days off my work for that ? 🙂

2008 : The Good and The Ugly

17 Jan

Yeah, I know I’m so late to write about this. I was hospitalized since 25 December 2008 for a pneumonia opportunistic infection due to my HIV, – and before I knew it, the year had suddenly ended. I’m already home by now on an outpatient treatment, but haven’t been well enough to write anything in my blog until today. Or at least, that’s what I feel.

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So here we go. 2008. How would I call it ? How would you call a year when you were diagnosed with a terminal disease ? A year when they detected that a deadly virus is living inside your body ? That’s how 2008 opened for me when back in January I found out about it. I am not gonna bore you with details of what it is. The disease is already as notorious as it can be and you can find some information easily about it scattered all over the net.

Yet the tears did come. Granted, they were intermittent. I did not feel really bad about it at the beginning because I didn’t feel anything bad physically. But as the time goes by and my health deteriorated, it was exactly in the other end of the year that I got honestly scared and broke down to a grown man’s cry.

In some other things, 2008 also came with a package of difficult challenges for me. One that came readily into mind was the issue about housing. I was hard-pressed to deal with a profound question : As the head of the family, would I be able to provide mine with a decent place to live ? Especially because we’ve moved two times during the year.

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Those were some of the ugly parts. Curiously, the good things about the year were closely related to the challenges. First of all, I got helped by a long-lost friend currently residing in the US to deal with my rent, – which I was unable to tackle by myself. This fact has given me some goose bumps because I haven’t even been talking to him for about 15 years or so, when suddenly we bumped into each other over the Internet.

The second uncannily sweet thing about the year owed its existence to the time when my wife and I agreed ( and insisted ) to install a 24-hour Internet connection in our place when circumstances told us to do otherwise. It is easily imaginable that before it happened, I was unaware about the latest things and trends that were happening on the net. Oh, I knew that practically there is no limit to what you can do with it, but I hardly know what kind of an animal Social Networking is, – for example.

Until I joined some of them. Little by little, I gained some good friends who were very supportive during the hard times. In fact, remember when an American student was arrested in Egypt and got released after he tweeted the news ? Something in a close resemblance happened to me when later on I found out that those online friends were helping me not only psychologically, – but in a very real and practical way. I am not going to tell you how they exactly did that, but suffice it to say that they helped me go on through my lack of resources in some of my bleakest times.

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With that, I am going to wrap up and close this post. What happened to me in the past year had clearly illustrated that you can feel like you have all the bad luck you could possibly get; but if you don’t lose your faith, you will find out that you will also have all the help you need to pull yourself through. It is an undeniable proof that Divine Providence exists. God never sleeps. Just like some of my online friends who are also seemingly don’t need one.

So to all of you who were there when we badly need it, this post goes out to you. You know who you are….

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On Positive Blogging, Trolls and Harsh Words

10 Nov

I’m always so fond of mathematics since my childhood. If you seek hard enough and don’t give up to the seemingly-unsolvable problems, nothing beats the rush you feel when you finally solved it. It’s also surprising that many times mathematics will give you a clear inspiration about life.

In mathematics, negative numbers are whatever number that falls below zero. Beside negatives, there are two other types of numbers based on this particular classification. They are zero and positive numbers. This means that just because a certain number is not a negative, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily positive. It can be zero or nil.

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Let’s now take that premise and apply it to the world of blogging, – particularly in Indonesia. I get increasingly disturbed with the fact that a lot of blogs feel ( explicitly stated or not ) that they are giving something positive to the blogosphere, – when in fact they are just merely being “non-negatives”. I am talking about people who act like they are sharing their knowledge to the world, but don’t dare to ask the hard question : Am I truly giving something useful ? Or is it just cheap talk, and means nothing or zero ?

To get more specific, these are people who blogs carelessly and without responsibility. Usually they do one ( or all ) of these things :

  • Stating some immature opinions offensive to others.
  • Making their points by stating derogatory reference to other things / people.
  • Using harsh words or figures of speech.

One of the oldest arguments they use to justify it is “This is my own blog. I can do or say anything in it.” Indeed, I agree that you have the right to do that. But I’ll answer this with an illustration ( This is just a hypothetical analogy, I am by no means a racist ) :

Say that I own a house on a large street in town. Now, whatever I do within the boundary of the house is entirely up to me. Whatever I say, or whatever color I choose to paint my house, is similarly, is my own decision to make. No one can debate that right of mine. But what if I erect a sign on my lawn, clearly stating that “I Hate Blacks..!” ? Is it still within my rights to do so ? Maybe yes. But no one can blame the angry mob when someday they finally decided to lynch my house.

My point is : Rights are rights. But mankind doesn’t operate by rights alone. You can say anything you like in your blog. But if you deliberately offend others in it, then sooner or later you’ll feel the consequences. Our parents’ generation have a particular saying for this : You will reap what you sow.

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Similar logics apply to Trolls. They mostly feel that in the name of freedom of speech, they can say anything they want in the comments they make. Again, you can. It’s a constitutional right you have as a citizen. But please stop for a moment and consider : What value your comments will have to the world ? Most of the times the answer is zero, nil and non-existent.

Also, let’s get deeper to the problem and not stopping to the issues of insolence and harsh words. Some people don’t do such things, but fall victims to another kind of trap. They argue against other commenters,sometimes missing the point of the blog post completely -; just to show the world how knowledgeable and articulate they are. Sad but true. If you do that, I will say that you are not giving us anything positive whatsoever. Trust me.

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Still, there are others who don’t blog or comment actively, but belong to the same group. They are the ones who mostly are involved heavily in microblogging services or social sites. This breed is easy to identify. They mostly “broadcast” their status, telling the world how important they are and what they do, and got involved in a conversation where there is a chance to display their knowledge. Interestingly, they also tend to use harsh words.

To such people, I have one thing to say : I am aware that you are knowledgeable and learned. But really what you do is embarrassing yourself, – because you’re practically telling the world that you are not a creature of culture. And going back to the issue of doing something positive vs. being a big zero, – need I say more ?

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Let us continue to make our beloved blogosphere to be something positive. We owe it to ourselves. Positive not just for each other. But also for the world in general. Even for those who don’t have any access to the Internet and can’t read our posts.

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UPDATE :

This post is now as complete as it can be. The real-life example was kindly supplied by a Troll named Horta, – who left a half-crazed comment. Identity masking, capital letters and harsh words; you are injuring nobody but yourself there.  Judge for yourself, guys… 🙂