Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The 'Artist' Within

I have discovered recently that I am, naturally, a very lazy person. It’s probably very obvious, but it’s never too late to find out these things. If I had my choice, I could be ultra lazy and ultra can’t be bothered trying new stuff, going to new places or meeting new people. So the question is, what makes me want to do stuff?

Here’s the story…

A couple of days ago I was super duper cranky at work. What happen was that, while I was away on holiday, someone had taken my artwork and modified them without my permission to sell. It’s wrong, but I shouldn’t complain because we are working in the same company, and if the company makes money then who cares what we sell. It’s all about what the customers want right?


I think this whole grabbing my artwork without my permission is a lot of crap. I’m so angry how everyone these days just treat artwork like it just fell out of the sky or something! We artist have to have the talents, the vision, the idea! We have to read, research, dream, go through trial and error process, be in the mood to come up with these things, and then some thoughtless, heartless people out there just take them like art is just something that comes from a mass production factory somewhere. Cheap!

Anyway, I don't really mean to go on about that.

That situation brought me to the next natural progress of spilling to my boyfriend over skype after work. As he was trying his best to respond accordingly ( which he’s getting better at by the way) he said, “Well… obviously there’s this little artist inside you that’s trying to get out”

The title ‘little artist’ just kindda stuck with me. Suddenly it made me see little creative fairies living in me.

I never really see myself as an ‘artist’ until early on this year. I went through some really tough times last year and as I was trying to find ways to make my life easier. So yes, basically I was having an identity crisis at 23. What I decided to do was to go to my parents holiday house, by myself, in the mountains with a book my aunt gave me about self-discovery. For 3 days I was evaluating myself and the situation I'm in and figuring out why I was so miserable.

I came out of the 3 days more confident than ever knowing for sure that I am an artist- not because of what I’ve done, but because I’ve been born that way. Some people may have issues with me believing that. Some people think that you can’t be born an artist, you have to earn it. Maybe it’s true for some people, but for other people that I’ve met and know, they just are.

So, about the little baby fairies… they have always been there, and they’re keeping me going. If I don’t respect my art, express myself in music, create things using my sight, hands, my voice, hearing, they will start to cry. And if they cry, it really hurts.

Ok, so it may sound like my being is divided into a couple of different void, but that’s exactly what keeps me going. I don’t want to be drawing, or singing all the time, 16 hours a day. I’m not some crazy art maniac and I still want to live it up a bit, but if I don’t do art, something within me is starved and I could literally go crazy. This could be one of the reason why art can be depreciated. Some people survive on art like we survive on food. Honest and true artists would keep making art even if they don't get a commission or ever be rich.

That's the same little faeries inside them playing in...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wedding Bells in February

By this December, Greg and I would have been going out for 3 years, which is for us, is an Ok amount of time for not being engaged yet. But apparently, 3 years of waiting is a little bit too long for most of our friends.

It’s only October, but it looks like my Calendar is already full for next year’s February. All these wedding dates are flying at me only in the past couple of weeks, and they all happen to land on February.

Greg’s sister, Joanne is getting married to Henry on the 6th of February. They had been going out for 3 years and the relationship has been striving through a painful long distance since Henry lives, and is from Bangladesh. They met at Bible school in Australia. They’ve been trying to get married for awhile but Henry has been having problems in applying for a VISA to get in the country to get married. Their July 09 wedding is delayed till February 2010.

Our friend Nick is getting married to Anita on that same day. That's a photo of Nick there, the only one I have of himself.... Actually, I don’t really know this couple. I’ve seen Anita around at church years ago but never really had a proper conversation. I don’t even know Nick. When I recently came to Canberra for a visit, Nick randomly appeared to crash my lemon dinner party. It was rather surprising since we don’t even know each other but now I guess I’m entitled to go to his wedding if I wanted to. I think it’s only been a year since they’ve been going out.

This Tuesday at work, what I thought is going to be a boring morning turns out to be quite an eventful one. I checked my Etsy account finding a sale from Melissa’s boyfriend, Nat. He left me a message there saying, “Are you going to be around next year’s February? Wedding bells might be just around the corner!”
I… was… ecstatic!!!

My quiet American friend Melissa had only met Nat a couple of months ago. Mel spent half her life on the computer so it’s nor surprising to hear that they had met through facebook. They finally met in person a couple of months later to find that they couldn’t stay away from each other.

When we met Nat, we immediately thought that he looks, talks, and thinks exactly like Mel. I thought this is kindda creepy, because I always thought that Mel is very unique, but at the same time, this is really cool stuff! I told my German friend, David about this via skype. His response was,

“So… Mel is getting married to herself?”- as if he wasn’t sure of what I just said or something.
“Well... more like the male version of herself.”

The couple is flying over to Boston this November to meet Mel’s parents, and if it all goes smoothly, then just like Nat said, there’ll be an extra wedding bells ringing by February. If they do get married by then, that means they had been going through the whole 3 process of going out, getting engaged and getting married within 9 months.

Half an hour later, I got an email from my friend Sally who is currently living in London with her boyfriend. “Good news! We’re engaged!”

…And apparently that’s not enough ‘good news’ for the week.

Today Greg sent me an sms saying, “I have good news! You better ring me back!” but then I never did cause my phone died and I never get that message. 4 hours later when I turn on my phone and did find out that there is a good news, Greg said to me, “Actually, I can’t tell you about it now cause they rang me back saying that they wanted to let you know themselves.”

…I think I nearly died with curiosity. My imagination ranges from my best friend Lyndell is pregnant to my friend Caroline (who is happily single) is going out with Greg’s cousin (which is just impossible really). It was really killing me! I had to ring Greg and begged him to tell me who's the person involved in this 'good news'. I think Greg took pity on me and have kindly rang the mysterious person and ask them if he can just break the news to me. But instead, they just went, "It's killing her? Good! Tell her we'll ring her on skype by 9pm, otherwise you can tell her"

I finally got a call from Skype… slightly past 9pm though. It turns out to be none of all of my guesses. It was one of my really good mate, Fizz who’s been living in Sydney. He is now engaged to his girlfriend, Sarah. He knew me well enough to know he’d get a mad reaction out of me when he break the news. I found myself taking deep breaths and yelled at him over and over again for keeping me in a torturous suspense, “DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN!!!”

And guess what? They are getting married at the end of January or February.

So now, I am freaking out. How the hell am I going to get back to Australia this February?!?!?!

And by the way, later in the evening Greg said to me, “Maybe we should get married in February… it seems to be the way to go!”

The Cats Who Own Me

I’m starting to find things that I can appreciate out of living in a slightly chaotic place like Jakarta. As far as I know of, we have zero urban animal control. We have lots of strayed cats and dogs running around everywhere. A couple of years ago in Singapore, they had mass killings of strayed cats. They would chipped the ears of the cats that they don't kill to mark them. In New Zealand it’s very important to track all cats in the country to protect their birds. In Australia, they had mass killings of kangaroos because there are too many of them around. Recently they’ve decided that it’s a good idea to eat them. So now Australians can buy kangaroo meat in their supermarkets. Subsequently kangaroo meat is cheaper, and a good substitute for beef.

While it’s very hard to buy or keep a pet in modern countries, it’s very easy to adopt one here if you’re not fuss on what type of cats and dogs you want. You just pick them off a street... that’s how my family got our cats.

It started out when my little brother Vincent came home with a mommy cat from school that just gave birth to 2 little kittens. When the kittens no longer need their mum, we kept the kittens but return the mum to the school.

Vincent had named these cats, but I never knew what they are. I naturally call the guy cat “Fatty” cause he’s got a small head but has a fat belly that made him look so disproportionate. I named the girl cat Mimi as she is a very self-centered cat. She always meow’s “Me, me, me, me…” and looked at me like she needs something. But really, she just wants to get into my room and hi-jacked my bed. Then one day, mum decided to take the cats to the doctor to get them sterilized. The doc asked her what the cat’s names are for documentation purposes. Surely enough, she had no clue what they are, so she made them up on the spot…. And that’s how our cats ended up with 3 sets of different names.

A couple of months later, as I was going for a morning stroll in a tea plantation with Simon and Daniel, a little boy kitten approached us. That kitten followed us for the whole walk as loyal as a dog. The walk wasn't easy, it was very hilly and rocky. When we nearly reached the end, he lied down and stopped following us. We didn’t have the heart to leave him there as he looked very tired and hungry… so we took him. After watching Ice Age 3 the night before, we christened the cat as ‘Rudy’, and unlike the other cats, his name remained consistent thus far.

I’m enjoying the ups and downs of keeping these cats, but I'm especially close to Mimi. Maybe it's because she's a girl. She is a really good companion for me when I get sick or lonely. She’ll sit quietly on my lap as I’m beading or working on the computer. She’ll even sit next to me and put her paws on my shoulder when I’m sick in bed. She likes to meow outside my room and sit there till I open the door just to get a pat... or to hijack my bed. As you can see on the photos, she could REALLY get comfortable in my bed! I'm starting to get used to it, besides, I get to take all of these really funny photos. And the best thing is, even if they do wake up because of your flash or whatever, they just look at you, yawned, stretch a bit, and just go back to sleep peacefully, unaware of the evil things you are plotting behind their back....

When I first decided to adopt Rudy... he was never meant to live with us for a long time. I didn't know how we can keep another cat in the house. Though, over time I think he had stole my mum's heart, especially when my niece who is only a couple months old loves playing with him. During the holidays when all of us weren't around, he must've got bored and he disappeared for days. My mum got panicked and got everyone around the neighbourhood to look for him. We finally found him in a neighbour's house with another cat.

I also enjoy watching little thrills that these cats do to keep me amused around the house. Like this photo! Today was an especially hot day. As I opened the fridge for an orange juice, Rudy jumped in and made himself fully comfortable inside the fridge. Instead of immediately taking him out of the fridge, I ran to my room and grabbed a camera to take this photo. I just hope that my parents won't see this... :p

So yes... the joy of living in a country with no complex pet order is getting a free pet. My x housemate Melissa looooooooves cats. I think she's almost famous for it. But unfortunately, most rental properties won't allow pets. When she found out that I have 3 cats at home through facebook, I think she was very jealous! All I have to say to her is, "Come and live in Indonesia! You can have 10 cats for free if you want!"

I reckon this can be a selling point in a 'Come and live in Indonesia' brochure... if there is any....

Money, money, money

I’m so broke at the moment… and as much as I hate being broke, I think I deserve it. If I count my blessings and really think about how much I have and done with the money, all the travelling that I did, I should be glad that I’m broke. I don’t think I have enough room if I ever plan to play around!

I got myself a new gadget yesterday. It’s a small Wacom intuos 4. I couldn’t afford to pay for it so dad helped me. He wants me to have it anyway and it’s part of the deal that if I pay him the huge amount of sum that I borrowed of him, he’ll help me pay for the wacom. I’ve owed him a lot of money since June. I borrowed the money to pay my travels around Indonesia with Simon and Daniel, then ticket and VISA to go to Australia. I calculated it tonight and it totaled to US$1700. I gasp, thinking that it’s $200 more than I thought it was… leaving me with only $200 in the bank… plus I need to pay $60 for the beads I just ordered. Being a part time Indonesian worker, I really don’t get too much. I have to say that at times like this, I’m just glad that I’m living under my parents wing… and I’m not ashamed of it!

Though, I feel like I just got hit in the head and I’m starting to think of ways to get out of this… better get cracking with my jewelry then!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Addicted to Glass

I have a very specific urge to go learn glass bead making during my stay in Canberra. I don’t even know what is involved, how much it cost, or even if they offer a class, but I didn't think much of it. One day I found a class over searching in google and emailing people, so off I went! (and yes, I’m pretty impulsive to new ideas that comes to my head. 2 years before this, it was floristry, a year before this, opening a shop on Etsy, and now, this....)

My teacher is Mrs. Carole Griffith, and since we came in contact via email, I never really knew what she looked like before the class. While Greg was driving me to my first lesson, we tried to imagine what Carole would looke like. Originally I thought she’d be in her thirties with long black hair, rather gothic and mysterious.

Carole came a bit late... and oddly enough she didn’t look like anything I imagined. Medium height, red curly hair, chirpy, happy, and a little bit crazy. She told us she just came back from a medical appointment. They told her that she had to quit coffee, which is poison to her system. Have I told you that she’s a little crazy? I mean it in a very good way though.

Carole is a great teacher and very good in keeping an eye with beginners like me. She watches me like a hawk, even when she’s talking to other students, she would make a glance or two at me to make sure I’m alright. That made me feel secure with my beads, and playing with this torch in front of me that is blowing at 2000 degrees. I find looking at molten hot glass, observing patiently and slowly shaping itself into it’s most comfortable shape (round) is very mezmerizing and super relaxing. There’s something very peaceful in letting gravity slowly doing it’s work to perfecting this object in the flame. I met a lot of other students who’d take lessons as a relaxation or recreational thing, even a treat for their birthdays! I took 6 classes and had met two people who said that there’s nothing else they’d rather do in their birthday.

(Carole's treasured glass supply that we can freely use! :D )

For the first lesson, Carole just got me to make normal beads over and over again... and I was ecstatic! When Greg picked me up after class to go for lunch, my brain was on a roll. I got really jumpy and happy and won’t stop talking to him about what I learnt, and telling him what Carole is like. It feels like I just met the guy of my dreams, and I’m stupidly head over heels in love!!! Except it’s not with a person, it’s with glass.

I took 6 lessons in total during my stay and out of that 6 lessons, I only made a couple of beads that I can actually use. Most of them are random beads, and lots of complete stuff ups which breaks my heart everytime I look at them. I learnt how to draw dots, raised dote, flowers, putting air bubble inside the bead, making multiple colour bead, make lentil beads, shaping beads, making stringers and drawing with the stringers.

I was the only student on my last lesson, and I had a great time with Carole. There's this really nice guy next door who's a violin maker. I see him almost every class for coffee breaks and he always order a small flat white. Carole was getting upset for not being able to drink coffee or chocolate, and this guy said to her, "Carole, why don't you just except the fact that you can't drink coffee, and embrace drinking tea instead!" His words must hit her straight in the head because 2 days later, she came into class with a couple of grams of the most expensive tea in the world, glass teacup, tea heater, and around 500 tea lights because it's cheaper in bulk. Being a tea lover, I thought I was in heaven. We were sipping hot tea out of this funky mug that's made by some madman in between making beads.

Aaah... this is life, how can anything be any better than this?

Now that it’s all over, I really miss, and crave to make more beads. I’m just sad that they cost a lot to set up, and I have no idea how I would supply the materials to make these beads, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll work it out sooner than later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jewelry photoshoot session for Etsy, in Canberra

I've been trying to make the most out of my time here in Canberra, and getting a jewelry photoshoot was one of those attempt.

The original plan was to take photos outdoor in the beautiful Canberra landscape as the background. Fresh green spring grass on the hills and clear blue sky. Not just that, but I wanted to have 3 models with 3 different skin tones and getting them to change their costumes that fits my jewellry... basically try doing whatever I can't do at home.

As it turns out... things aren’t as simple and romantic as my head makes it to be. I didn’t know that I was asking pretty much the impossible until my friend/photographer Ben said, “Ok... we’ll try to keep aiming high now...”

As he said that, the 5 of us (me, 3 of my girl friends as models and Ben) were standing in this patch of grass next to our flat freezing our head off trying to take photos out door. It was super windy... and it’s 6’C outside. There goes my plan...

There’s a lot of things that I wish could be done better. First, the weather. I should’ve hired someone to chase the wind away.

It has been forcasted to rain days before and no matter how many times I’ve prayed, it looks like it’s meant to be cold, windy and raining... but at least we are allowed small dosages of sun. It’s been 20 plus degrees in the past couple of weeks in Canberra, but then it decided to drop down to 6 degrees on the Saturday, with an occasional drizzling rain and horrible wind blowing Bens prop away while we’re trying to take photos. Plus, because the wind is blowing very hard, the clouds are moving very fast which change the lighting very quickly. So Ben would instruct us, "Hold the prop, take it out, put it back on, take it out..." - something like that...

Second, timing. I wanted the girls to be sorted out before Ben arrived. I slept in and woke up 15 minutes before the time I said for everyone to meet up. Melissa is an American and she lives with me so I had no problem with that. Prabha, the Indian-Singaporean arrived half an hour late with her boyfriend Brendan. And since she’s in the middle of doing her PHD thesis, she got her laptop with her to check on her experiment simulations when I needed her to get change. Sienna is a Phillipino who lives outside of town and she was feeling quite ill the night before so I didn’t expect her to come, but she came anyway, although she was an hour late. So... when Ben rocks up, the girls aren’t ready and I panicked. I didn’t realize how much stuff I had to do either. I had to allocate who’s going to wear what jewellry, with what dress. I had to put make up on some of them and also directing the photoshoot itself.

So, note to self: the more organised you are, the better... and I guess that rule can apply to most things that I do.

The weather was so horrible but we tried to push for it anyway... 20 minutes later, we came back inside. Ben helped me decide to take photos on the verandah cause there’s not enough light inside the flat and it’s too cold to be outside. So, there goes my romantic outdoor photo session. But Ben was right, we started to get a lot of results in the verandah. I’ve learnt that it’s either you change your costumes or you change your venue a lot. Originally, I wanted us to go out for a walk around the area and find nice background to take photos against, but thats not going to work because the girls need to get change in between shots. So it's easier to stick to one venue in this case.

I love the tiny camera remote thing that Ben's holding. What an awesome gadget to have!

Now this is the bit where I write about how thankful I am to my friends who are willing to stand in the cold, letting me take photos of them, torturing them just to take some photos for my Etsy shop. I guess I went a little too overboard. But I couldn’t say that I didn’t do this without laughter. The flat became full of people going in and out. Our boyfriends were there making us girls laugh and smile and not shiver as much when the wind suddenly came gushing down. My friend Caroline is making us tea and amazing mini lemon meringue cupcakes keeping us full and warm. Oh, I really love these moments. Ben is angel sent really.... unlike me, he came very prepared. He even bought a new prop to experiment with during my photoshoot. He has an eye for detail and lighting that I definitely don’t have. I also like him because he has and always been so full of wisdom I dare not disobey his commands and suggestion- which helps a lot because I’m often very indecisive.

Taking photos is always something that I never look forward to when it comes into listing items in Etsy, so whoever thought that I would be working this hard in taking photos that is probably not worth the money the jewellry is worth. Ben said to me, “Do you love it though?” The indecisive me for once answered a very confident “Yes! Ofcourse!”

Well, At least I don’t have to take the photos so I’m not sure what I was answering yes to... Probably organizing this whole thing.... Getting stuff done and allocating people to do jobs that I can’t do. it’s a lot of fun, good experience and brings people together. I love my friends, and being around them makes me happy.

... and thanks Mel for all the great shots in documenting this photoshoot. You're awesome!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Back home

27 Sept 09... around 2am

I’m currently on a vacation in Canberra right now. I’ve been here for 2 weeks and I’ve got another week to go. I don’t feel like I’m on a holiday, it feels more like being back home. I haven’t been back here for a year, which means that I haven’t seen a lot of my friends for a year and have been apart from my boyfriend Greg for 9 months. It’s insane to think that we’re still together really.... I almost forgot what he looks like 3D.

The first couple of days here I felt so incredibly happy it’s almost ridiculous. I’m so excited about every little thing that I’m doing and getting to know what my friends had been up to. There are times when I couldn’t stop smiling, talking and laughing like an idiot until my friends think that I was drunk. I pity them for not having experienced extreme happiness :p. There’s a lot in Canberra that I’ve missed while being in Jakarta. A lot of them are simple things that I’ve never noticed when I was living here for 4 years. I love it how everything in here is so systematic. I love it that when I go grocery shopping, I don’t have to decide if I want to buy ‘import’ or ‘local’ of the same type of vegetable. I love how Australians are actually proud of their Australian 'made' or 'owned' products. I love the fact that the mall is not the only place to go shopping, and just being able to look up to a clear, clean blue sky for a change makes me feel very happy.

I’ve done a lot of things in the past 2 weeks that I thought, “I have to come back and do this again soon” like, catching up with certain people more than once, having fancy dinner with my boyfriend, go to that market, this bead shop or book store more than twice, watch movies... but of course it’s not as if I'm going to fit them all in in the my last week here. I'll just have to come back again... and God knows when that will be!

I felt that even in this midst of happiness, I can’t really grasp this feeling because I know it’s going to be over. Besides, time flies when you’re having fun! I feel like being happy is just so fantastic but they’re never long enough. They always come and go as fast as lightning. I’m trying very hard to keep this feelings last. I make sure that I have my camera in my pocket every time I go out. Not in my bag, in my pocket- for easy access. Every time I see something that makes me happy and instantly daydream I have to immediately take photo of it... and then continue daydreaming.

Right now, I’m sitting on a sofa bed at Greg's parents house in a farm of 4500 of acres wide. Their farm is located just outside a little town with only around 3500 population called West Wyalong. West Wyalong is 3 hours drive away from Canberra. The feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, with all this space is just so novel and peaceful to me.

I’ll be going to church and spend a lot of time with Greg’s family tomorrow and on top of that, I’m looking forward to drive around the farm and speed like crazy.