“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” – Milan Kundera

This book was part of the reading list I mentioned in the previous post. Damn, to think that I’ve missed out! And to think that he ended up being a favorite author, alongside Kazuo Ishiguro and Dianne Wynne Jones, after only reading one book.

I think it was a beautiful book. The whole premise centers on infidelity, which is a theme I’ve come to be familiar with. But then, it explores human relationships and that dreadful feeling that you are not you because ‘you’ are defined by the relationships with everything around you. But is it actually that dreadful? Sometimes, I think it can be beautiful. ‘You’ are defined by how people see you, yet people perceive you differently. How many ‘you’-s are there?

After reading, I realized that there’s a movie based on the book. Damn, I really missed out so much!

And so, I’ve compiled my favorite quotes from the book:

  • If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.
  • The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
  • He said to himself, I’m sick with compassion. It’s good that she’s gone and that I’ll never see her again, though it’s not Tereza I need to be free of- it’s that sickness, compassion, which I thought I was immune to until she infected me with it.
  • But man, because he has only one life to live, cannot conduct experiments to test whether to follow his passion (compassion) or not.
  • We all reject out of hand the idea that the love of our life may be something light or weightless; we presume our love is what must be, that without it our life would no longer be the same […]
  • Our day-to-day life is bombarded with fortuities or, to be more precise, with the accidental meetings of people and events we call coincidences.
  • No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.
  • In spite of their love, they had made each other’s life a hell. The fact that they loved each other was merely proof that the fault lay not in themselves, in their behavor or inconstancy of feeling, but rather in their incompatibility.
  • But when the strong were too weak to hurt the weak, the weak had to be strong enough to leave.
  • […] Love was not an extension of public life, but its antithesis. It meant a longing to put himself at the mercy of his partner.
  • He listened eagerly to the story of her life and she was equally eager to hear the story of his, but although they had a clear understanding of the logical meaning of the words they exchanged, they failed to hear the semantic susurrus of the river flowing through them.
  • From tender youth, we are told by father and teacher that betrayal is the most heinous offense imaginable. But what is betrayal? Betrayal means breaking ranks. Betrayal means breaking ranks and going off into the unknown.
  • Noise has one advantage. It drowns out words.
  • Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes!
  • That’s why one banned book in your former country means infinitely more than the billions of words spewed out by our universities.
  • […] Beauty is a world betrayed. The only way we can encounter it is if its persecutors have overlooked it somewhere.
  • Living in truth, lying neither to ourselves nor to others, was possible only away from the public: the moment someone keeps an eye on what we do, we involuntarily make allowances for that eye, and nothing we do is truthful.
  • Even if Tereza were completely unlike Tereza, her soul inside her would be the same and look on in amazement at what was happening to her body.
  • In other words, flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee.
  • She took things too seriously, turning everything into a tragedy, and failed to grasp the lightness and amusing insignificance of physical love.
  • For what made the soul so excited was that the body was acting against its will; the body was betraying it, and the soul was looking on.
  • Did her adventure with the engineer teach her that casual sex has nothing to do with love? That it is light, weightless?
  • People usually escape from their troubles into the future; they draw an imaginary line cross the path of time, a line beyond which their current troubles will cease to exist.
  • For the edifice rested on the single column of her fidelity, and loves are like empires: when the idea they are founded on crumbles, they, too, fade away.
  • Whether they knew or didn’t know is not the main issue; the main issue is whether a man is innocent because he didn’t know.
  • Is a fool on the throne relieved of all responsibility merely because he is a fool?
  • How defenseless we are in the face of flattery!
  • When you sit face to face with someone who is pleasant, respectful, and polite, you have a hard time reminding yourself that nothing he says is true, that nothing is sincere.
  • “You know the best thing about what you wrote? Your refusal to compromise. Your clear-cut sense of what’s good and what’s evil, something we’re beginning to lose. We have no idea anymore what it means to feel guilty.”
  • “No one could be more innocent, in his soul and conscience, than Oedipus. And yet he punished himself when he saw what he head done.”
  • Is it right to raise one’s voice when others are being silenced? Yes.
  • Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.
  • What happens but once might as well not have happened at all.
  • Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.
  • A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.
  • We can never establish with certainty what part of our relations with others is the result of our emotions- love, antipathy, charity, or malice- and what part is predetermined by the constant power play among individuals.
  • True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power.
  • The longing for Paradise is man’s longing not to be man.
  • Perhaps all the questions we ask of love, to measure, test, probe, and save it, have the additional effect of cutting it short.
  • Perhaps the reason we are unable to love is that we yearn to be loved, that is, we demand something (love) from our partner instead of delivering ourselves up to him demand-free and asking for nothing but his company.
  • We all have a tendency to consider strength the culprit and weakness the innocent vitim.
  • The sadness meant: we are at the last station. The happiness meant: we are together. The sadness was form, the happiness content. Happiness filled the space of sadness.

Dear Mr. Kundera, you really are one of my favorite authors from now on. I’ll read more of yours works this year.

2019 Reading List

I decided to follow a reading list in 2019. The list I meant is BTS’ reading list, although most of those books were recommended by BTS member RM. I’m a huge fan of the Korean boyband BTS and, at the end of 2018, was added into a reading group chat consisting of other people who were also fans of BTS. There, I discovered about the reading list and, upon reading it, realized they were actually good and interesting books.

Adding to that, my office has been relocated to a farther place, which requires me to take the bus every day, instead of driving the motorcycle like I used to do. This commuting (which usually takes an hour) allows me to read in the bus and, so far, I’ve finished three books this year by reading in the bus. Yeay!

However, the books I’ll read in 2019 won’t be limited to the books in that list. There are 30 books in the list, some of which I’ve read before. I’ll also be reading on topics regarding mental illness (especially those related to manic-depressive, dissociative identity disorder, and trauma) and history (my brother has a habit of watching a documentary every day after work, of which I would usually tag along. I found some interesting stuff I’d like to learn more about).

I’ll blog about the books I’ve finished. And, since I’m a lazy-ass, I’ll start writing and scheduling these posts. I’ve finished three books, so in the next three weeks, expect bookish posts ūüėÄ

a look back into 2018

Hike to Lantau Peak. July 2018.
In light of the new year, I’m reviving The Midnight Pianist

It’s funny, the year 2018.

In regards to work, 2018 was a significant year. I grew a lot as an interior designer. I started developing my own style, I started to understand well what drafting means (though, I promise you, I still suck), I started to get a grasp of the design process and how an interior designer always works, and I had the firsthand opportunity to be involved in several projects and experience the dramas, the up-and-downs, and the “things you thought was a dead-end but could actually be solved”.

In regards to personal illustration/painting works, I realize that, throughout the year, I tried to follow styles. I tried following different artists and tried their ways of creating, which include: painting/drawing techniques, color palettes, themes… I even tried tidying up my Instagram feed and make it look professional, though I had no idea in mind. I even discussed with a friend if I actually had the talent for it, or was I just another person who took a picture of their so-called ‘art’, uploaded it to Instagram, and called it ‘art’?

I was not sure of myself. I even hated the sketches I made. I like drawing characters from the stories I create, but I lack the determination to draw the backgrounds because, as I said, I was only sketching. It was me being lazy, I guess. Yet then, it was something I wouldn’t dare show in public. I’m friends with really amazing artists, so to try to show my work to the world (Instagram) was embarrassing enough for me.

It took a sharp u-turn in the middle of the year, with me stopping to create illustrations and paintings. I stopped uploading to Instagram and just focused on improving myself as a designer because, as life had taught me before, you can’t have the same things at the same time on the same level for a very long time.

Only towards the end of the year, I was offered the opportunity to create paintings for an apartment show unit. It kind of opened my eyes, my mind, on the works I should create. It should come from the heart. I should continue learning. But I shouldn’t burden myself to always, always show the process in the spotlight. Because if I do so, then I’ll only create art for the gram, which would not express myself. At least, for the moment.

In regards to personal business, I teamed up with my best friend to create a fashion line, but it got stuck in the middle because we were both busy with our own lives. I can’t help thinking if, for me, was I actually busy or was I not making time for other stuff?

Personal stuff tend to get in our way when it comes to trying to establish yourself, trying to establish you own business. It’s up to us to make way for it, or not at all. I only realize this when I stopped creating artworks, because only then I could focus on this business venture and make time for it. As I did so, I realize I was not a multi-tasker anymore. I prefer to focus on a couple of things, two at a time.

In regards to life itself, social media has definitely intoxicated me. I stayed up late to scroll the pictures on my Instagram feed or explore page. I stayed up late to scroll the newest tweets on my Twitter feed. I stalked on some people, famous people, trying to get a sense of how they made it until they were who they are. I ended up with envy and despair, “why can’t I be like that?”.

It’s a kind of poison. It’s not healthy. I’m losing sleep to being in so much despair because I wanted to be someone else, without doing anything that would make me move forward. I would then forget to count my blessings and I would crave more, and more, and more of what the world has to offer. Or, should I say, what the world according to Instagram has to offer.

Yet, 2018 was blessed. Only at the end of it did I realize that the year was a climb, a very slow climb, towards becoming a person with better capabilities in the fields I’m working on. It was a painful climb. The downfall was slow, it was not significant, and yet the climb was slow that it felt I was not climbing at all.

To be in a stagnant position is worse than to experience downfall (and yes, I’ve had my downs). It’s being desperate and depressed. It’s waking up every morning and thinking that you have no purpose in life, no dreams to achieve, no objectives to work on. It’s going to sleep every night, wondering “have I learned something today”, exploring all the “what if”-s that make you regret your past, and also thinking “how can I become this person” but doing nothing.

In short, 2018 was a climb.

(also I’m going to publish my book in 2019, all the editing process had been done in 2018, and after the cover and all is finished, it’s going to the bookstores).



My dream house

Image from SF Girl By The Bay

It was a breezy workday afternoon (was it a Wednesday? Thursday?) when I was relaxing on¬†a couch in my parents’ house when I came across several articles about how¬†millennials won’t be able to afford buying a house. (Articles are listed at the end of this post)

Yes, it’s a classic case and it’s been around for quite a while, but I never actually gave it much thought because, deep down in my heart, I wasn’t sure where I was going to settle. Therefore, I was actually searching for where I might settle down in and that’s where I’ll buy my house.

However, I was also aware of the rising house prices in Jakarta (Indonesia’s capitol aka my hometown) and I, for sure, am not interested to spend¬†my future married life by living with my parents. I knew that I was going to either buy a small house in the suburbs (which means traffic on a daily basis) or buy an apartment.

The idea of buying a flat is still new to many people in Jakarta and a lot of people still oppose the idea, stating how the laws are still blurry. However,¬†I do predict that there’s a high chance that I’ll end up buying and living in an apartment. As much as I want to own my own house in my own land, I knew that unless I won a super lottery, I might not be able to afford it.

So, I was browsing Pinterest and got the idea of compiling a whole board of small spaces that would suit my style and reality.

First of all, natural lighting is important to me. They make a house look lively and healthy. Secondly, I like colors.¬†A lot of images in the internet might be about minimalism, monochrome designs, etc, but I’m more into colors and patterns ūüôā

Living Room

Image from Futurist Architecture

My ideal living room should have a 2-seater (or 3-seater) sofa with one or two extra armchairs for guests or extra members of the family. I expect a bookshelf to be there, with¬†any of my/our collection of things. I like reading, so I’ll put books. I also love¬†tableware and I’d love to showcase them on¬†the bookshelf. The coffee table should have space for a pot of plant and for food when watching a movie. That’d be ideal ‚̧

Dining Room

Image from Apartment Therapy

I normally eat on the sofa, not on the dining table, but I’ll chance that habit, hahaha! I like eating while daydreaming or staring outside, so a window by the table would be amazing. Also, a bookshelf would be functional and¬†aesthetic in this space.


Image from Ikea

I like cooking and baking. I like experimenting with food. However, I get overwhelmed with big, wide spaces. For me, small, organized kitchen spaces are enough as long as I know where things are.¬†The kitchen must have its own window for natural lighting. Also, I’m a sucker for hydraulic tiles but I also don’t want them to cover¬†all of the house’s floor. The kitchen would be one of the best places decorated with hydraulic tiles ‚̧


Image from Gravity Home

I’ve had experiences with windows on my head and I don’t like it. I prefer having a window by the side of my bed, so I can daydream and observe the surroundings before slowly dozing off. I also like having places to neatly store and organize my things in the bedroom. I don’t like a separate closet.


Image from Decora Tu Alma

I like a small yet tidy bathroom space, with places to store the amenities (including towels and extra soaps). I don’t really like mirrors, so no big mirrors. The bathroom is also one of the best places to use hydraulic tiles ūüôā


Image from Pinterest

I like to sit down and do my stuff. I like drawing and writing and I feel frustrated to not have my own space while doing what I love. I found this image and almost got to DIY it with ladders and wood planks. However, the idea came to a halt because my bedroom is too small.


Image from Mamas Molonas

As I’m envisioning myself (and future family?) living in an apartment, I’d love to have this type of balcony. Small, yet cozy. It should have a table and two seats, the best combo for relaxing outdoors. I like plants but I haven’t really enjoyed gardening that much, so small pots and easy-to-maintain plants should be able to be¬†displayed in this balcony.

Extra: Reading Nook

Image from Thou Swell

As stated above, I like reading. My dream house (in any size) should have a special reading nook dedicated for me by me, where I can read a book and have my cup of favorite tea by my side. It sounds selfish, I know, but it’s a childhood dream to have my own reading nook. I’ll combine it with my love for natural lighting and¬†eclectic furniture ūüôā




Articles read:

  1. Millennials are buying homes but many have parental help: Survey by Josh O’Kane
  2. Why aren’t millennials buying houses? They can’t afford it. by Natalie San Luis
  3. The Affordability Crisis: What Happens When Millennials Can’t Afford to Buy Homes? by Andrew Woo
  4. Hanya 17% Generasi Millenial Mampu Beli Rumah di Jakarta by Emanuel B. Caesario
  5. 5 Tahun Ke Depan, Kamu Tidak Akan Sanggup Beli Rumah! by HowMoneyIndonesia

A chance given

Image from Fast bikes and too much coffee
Image from Fast bikes and too much coffee

I got into a minor accident on Saturday night. I’ll emphasize¬†minor, because it was minor and I’m okay and there’s nothing to worry about.

I was riding my motorcycle on an average-slow speed on the left lane, when another bike, carrying a rolled mattress on its back, passed by me from my right heading towards my left. On the process, his mattress “poked” my bike and it was sudden and I lost balance and I fell.

Shocked, I tried to get my bike up again, but during that process a car sped by my right and¬†bumped my head with its side. But I wore a helmet, a good one, so I’m okay. My head is okay. However, my¬†right rear-view mirror was crushed by the passing car.

But I became terrified at that moment. It was a long split-second moment. The moment the car passed, I thought, “Will I die now?”. I looked to my back, to see the road, to see if other vehicles were to bump/hit me like the bike and car did, and thought to myself, “Will I die rolling on someone’s car’s body, crashing its glass?¬†Am I to die now like that?”.

The fear was real. I was afraid to be in pain. I was afraid of several bikes and cars hitting me one after another. I was afraid I will die rolling on the air, onto the ground, and have my body crashed.

Most of all, I was afraid that I would die there with nobody knowing. I was on my way to¬†meet my dad, and all I thought was that will he know I’m here if I die?

But the vehicles all stopped at a considerable distance. Their lights glared at me and my fallen bike. The next moment, some men called out to me and approached me. They guided me to the pavement and took my bike. They told me to rest for a while and have water and sit down.

I cried at that very moment, out of being grateful that I’m actually still alive. That I can still call my parents and tell them, “yeah, I fell, but I’m okay”. I didn’t think of my other life goals at that moment; I¬†was only grateful to be given a chance to, well, be alive. Had I been a few seconds late to react to the bike or moved my body a few millimeters to the right before the car passed and hit my head, it would have been a whole other story.

But I’m still here and suffering from small cuts and bruises. The rear-view mirror got crushed with such force that shards flew around and some passed by my jeans and got stuck onto my skin. I only realized that because my left knee was¬†bleeding a lot (as in my jeans became wet) so I asked the men to cut my jeans and, tada, a big shard of glass stuck on my skin.

Other than that, I’m okay.

I just want to share the experience of having a near-death moment, followed by a sense of being grateful to be given another chance.

I’ll be more careful hitting the road next time.



You think you have lost your faith, but you have not.

You have only misplaced your faith & you can’t find it, where it lays now, deep in your soul.

And the way to do that is through the simple process of love.

Love yourself, forgive yourself.

You can’t love & forgive people if you don’t, first of all, love & forgive yourself.

You have to realize that people are fallible beings – they make mistakes.

They have to be excused for these mistakes and allowed to continue on to the quest for a better life & forgiveness.

Love yourself & then love other people.

Please forgive yourself.

Go on a journey of finding love & forgiveness.

From It's always darkest before the dawn
From It’s always darkest before the dawn

I found this quote from the music video to be¬†very inspiring. It continues to become a kind of ‘mantra’ for me. It’s magical and fits well with the song, which I’ve been listening to since¬†it first came out. Florence is truly magical, and the magic she presents is a blessing to the music world.



Novel-writing Workshop by Reaterary

Hi, all!

I attended a novel-writing workshop this weekend in Bandung. This workshop was¬†organized by Reaterary, and it was mentored by the well-known/famous editor Jia Effendie¬†(I once participated in a competition she held when she compiled short stories about ‘Transit’. My story never made it, though). The venue took place in Co&Co Space, which I’ve mentioned in a post before. The workshop¬†lasted for 2 days, with each session lasting 3-4 hours.

One of the modules given.
One of the modules given.

Starting the workshop was, of course, introduction.

Then, we moved on to describing “What makes a novel a novel?”, taking a¬†novel that we consider as¬†the model and ideal novel, and analyzing as to how it becomes our ideal type of novel. I chose Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Thief” (and¬†the next books in the series, but we had to mention only 1 novel so I chose the first book) as my ideal novel. To me, “The Thief” presented an excellent background/setting,¬†solid characters, and a plot that you thought went that way when in reality we’ve been guided to the other way. One of my favorites ‚̧

The workshop
The workshop

Then, we discussed how to make the ideal character: how our character should be a tri-dimensional character that readers can believe in. It’s important that the characters we create can actually be someone the readers can relate to. It has to be someone that the reader can believe exist in the real world. We were given a set of clues to write the ideal character, and it includes that the must possess physical, sociological, and psychological traits.

We also discussed “Conflict” and what type of conflict would best be featured in our story.¬†A good conflict should make the main character grow, and this is why we have to think of the conflict in our story carefully.

Then, we were introduced to the idea of a premise. A premise is the main reason why your novel is written; it is a statement that should be proved by the story. Its message should be able to be conveyed to the readers and, therefore, should be decided at the beginning of writing a novel.

The venue was a co-working space with gorgeous and inspiring decoration
The venue was a co-working space with gorgeous and inspiring decoration

A story has to be dramatic as well, but we have to remember to give our characters conflicts that make them grow. If not, what’s the point of it?

We also discussed dialogues and the good use of dialogues. It is important that dialogues convey important points of the story and should represent the emotional state of the characters. Dialogues in novels shouldn’t look like dialogues in plays.

At last, we discussed about proofreading and self-editing. This is the final step. Once you finish your first draft, you abandon/keep it for a month or two, and then you re-read it again and edit it. You should do this several times (until around 3?) before deciding to send it to a publisher. While doing so, we can also send it to families/friends/relatives to read our draft and let them have their say. Their critics will help us develop our story.

I won a novel titled "Melankolia Ninna" (Ninna's Melancholy) written by Robin Wijaya. I'll start reading it once I finished Lafcadio Hearn's "Kokoro" :)
I won a novel titled “Melankolia Ninna” (Ninna’s Melancholy) written by Robin Wijaya. I’ll start reading it once I finished Lafcadio Hearn’s “Kokoro” ūüôā

It was a fun workshop and it was especially really productive. I was in one of my happiest states attending it, and my imagination kind of exploded that I created 2 novel outlines for 2 different stories that I had written but never finished.

I hope that with this type of kickstart, I can finish my manuscript and have a novel published this year ūüėÄ

Participants and our mentor, Jia Effendie, posing at the end of the workshop.
Participants and our mentor, Jia Effendie, posing at the end of the workshop.