more of the nineties, etc.

it’s my day off today, and i decided to push myself to sew despite the fact that i didn’t really feel like it. it turned out quicker and nicer than i thought.

self-made cut-out tunic, Marimekko tights, Daisho socks, ASOS shoes, unbranded necklace, earrings handmade by my friend Eliza K.

i meant to make it a bit more loose, but it turned out to be this tight… so i suddenly got reminded of the nineties. particularly the rise of the gothic fashion. as always, just for fun, i dressed up accordingly. black eyeliner: check. choker: check. skeletons: check. weirdly cut dress: check.

the fabric is (i think) acrylic knit, and i used no pattern at all. first i started drawing on a paper how i wanted the shape to be, and after that i just started cutting the fabric. it only took me around 2 to 3 hours to finish it (from cutting the fabric till the very last stitch). that’s gotta be the quickest sewing i’ve ever done!

it made me feel good that i can still accomplish something even when i don’t really feel like doing it. and of course this photo shoot was fun to do, i haven’t dressed up in goth for a long time. plus, it’s a good reason for me to show off my new earrings.

*sigh* aren’t they just lovely? <33 they’re handmade by my dear friend Eliza Kesuma, the designer behind Moody Monday. i love how she can turn ordinary things (or even things some consider as junks) to beautiful pieces of art. her brand Moody Monday mostly sells interior stuffs like wallpapers, cushion covers, etc. which are also handmade by her, but in the early days, she actually also sold some handmade accessories. i have had my eyes on these ones from years ago, but due to various reasons i didn’t order them yet from her… until one day i noticed they’re not listed on her online store anymore. 😥

but then some weeks ago, i received a package from her, and among the stuffs she sent were these pretty earrings! they’re even more lovely than in the pictures, and when i wore them the next day to work… people loved them! so Eliza, if you’re reading this, i really think you should definitely consider doing more accessories like these for Moody Monday, or as a ‘side job’. 😉

one trivia: i just remembered that when we were kids (10-11 years old?), Eliza actually sold earrings too, though they weren’t handmade by her back then. i remember my mum bought some (or was it me?), and now 20 years later, history repeats itself, LOL.

my husband and i also made another batch of matcha ice cream. you wouldn’t think people would even dream of eating ice cream when it’s winter, but let me tell you, Finns do. 😀 as for me, i guess i’ve turned into one, because i do enjoy ice cream in the winter, too.

we ate it with Fazer blue chocolate bar, and it was just yummyyyy… almost like eating matcha chocolate. 🙂

another thing i made (not today, but last Sunday) was this little collar thing.

i know, the trend has passed for these detachable collars, but i never had the urge to make it until now. and i’m not really a trend follower anyway, so i don’t think there’s any harm in it. it’s made of cotton fabric (a small scrap that i’ve been keeping for, oh, 5 years?), and the button is from one of those odd (and old) button collections sold in tubes in flea markets. again, this was made when i actually didn’t feel like sewing, and again, i was pleased with the outcome. maybe i should always keep that in mind, to sew when i don’t feel like sewing, since the outcome is usually more satisfying than when i actually feel like sewing. maybe it’s because i don’t expect anything, and then when the result is actually good, i would be positively surprised?

anyhow, time to wash my goth make up now and head to bed. bye bye nineties once again!

yes, we serve racism

starting from the first day of 2013, there’s been discussions, critics, debates, and all sorts of talk about racism here in Finland. it all started when a famous Finnish author wrote an article in one of the best & well-known Finnish newspaper about her own experience(s) in Finland, how she and her daughter had been subjects of racist comments for far too many times that in the end she decided to move out of the country. i’m not gonna write about the whole thing here, and neither am i going to comment on the issue itself.

after i read the article for the first time, i talked about it with my husband, and after a while, my husband said something like, “i wonder why it’s always viewed as ‘racism’ when the subject is African, or Asian, or from any other background than the people from the Western world. what if the subject is a westerner? isn’t that also ‘racism’?”

it got me thinking. and of course, he’s right, it is also racism, no matter who the subject is, whenever someone/a  group of people treat that subject with discrimination or prejudice. it’s very rare, or at least not as common as when the subjects are African or Asian, or some other ethnic background. but it exists, too. you don’t really think anyone could get away from racism, do you? 😉

because then i remember something that happened when i was very young, in my own home country, in my own home city, in my own school. i was probably 7 or 8 years old, and i had no idea what a race means, let alone notice the differences in real life. but i could spot it when someone had a different hair colour than the rest of us, because everyone in my home country back then had dark hair (and the old ones would have grey or white hair, but that’s a different story). and this particular one was someone who went in the same school taxi as i. a school taxi, in case you’re wondering, is a small car that takes some kids to (the same) school and back to their homes, and usually the kids in one school taxi live around the same area so it wouldn’t take such a long time to drive them to and from school.

he was a kid younger than me, probably by 1 or 2 years. his mum is Dutch, and his dad is Indonesian, and that was enough to make him have blonde hair. which was not normal in the eyes of little kids in my country back then, i suppose. (though, ironically, our school was actually right next to the International School) anyway, because of his different appearance, every single day since he joined our school taxi, he got teased and bullied by the other boys in our school taxi. i don’t remember exactly what they said, but i can assure you it was no different than those things little western kids would say about another kid who has dark skin colour or small eyes, just the other way around. and since i had no idea what race meant, and i didn’t know what racism was, i’m sorry to admit that i might have laughed along with those other boys. or at the very least, i didn’t see anything wrong with it. i didn’t tell this to any parent or teacher, i didn’t think this was not right. only when once or twice it got out of hand that the boy cried did i start to think that maybe we were being too harsh on him.

one day, this boy couldn’t take it anymore, and when we got to his house, he told the school taxi driver to wait there a bit as he went inside his house. the next thing we knew, his mum came out of the house, and scolded us all in broken Indonesian language. she said things like how we should be ashamed of ourselves, calling names and making prejudicial remarks to someone just because he looked different, etc. that was the first time ever in my life that i learned what racism is. and how easy it was to ‘go with the flow’ when you’re a kid yourself, not knowing what’s right or wrong, and how close it was for me to grow up not knowing.

the school taxi was very quiet for the rest of that day, and the next day, no one dared to say anything to the boy. he was happy for a while, but then if i remember correctly, he also couldn’t stand the silent treatment he was getting in return, and finally, after some time, he never came with our school taxi anymore.

i also had another experience when my husband (back then he was still “just my boyfriend”) first came to my home city. most of the people were good or just shy to him, but once, when we were walking somewhere (can’t remember what part of the city for the life of me… i think it was quite near where my parents live) suddenly a somewhat older man shouted to us, “Dutch! go back to your own country!” luckily for my husband, this old man was saying it in Indonesian language, so my husband didn’t understand it at all. and he isn’t even Dutch to begin with, but still, that was quite something the old man was saying.

again, i’m not going to go into details about the racism itself, but the thing is, after this issue of racism came out in Finland, everyone seems to be talking about it, and how there are new kinds of racism, and silent racism and all that. even when someone asks something like, “how do you celebrate Christmas in Indonesia?” to an Indonesian is considered by some as a racist question.

so yes, i believe if you look closer and hear better, you can find racism everywhere and anywhere. not one race in this world could escape from a racist comment, and it doesn’t matter how great or pathetic you think you are. and i’m not saying that we should cover our ears and not see what is there around you, but rather than always trying to analyze if some remark someone is saying is actually a form of racism or not, wouldn’t you be doing yourself a favour by not thinking too much about it? after all, what matters is, i think, how you take those kinds of comments. take my husband’s experience for example. he didn’t understand the language that the old man used when he became a subject of a racist comment, so what happened? nothing. life went on normally. and though what the old man did was not right, but the comment made no effect to the subject at all, and so the old man’s “mission” failed. if you understand the language and what the comment means, that doesn’t mean you can’t still ignore it. that won’t change the fact that the other person is a racist, but perhaps you can look at it this way: you are better than the other person, because these kind of things don’t get to you. you can even feel sorry for them, for being so narrow-minded.

of course, i can’t say the same thing about racist acts if it goes beyond nasty comments or remarks. and i’m sorry to say, i don’t have any wise words on how to make the whole world be a better place, or how to make these racist things disappear altogether. but whenever i get to be the subject of a racist act, i always try to remember that there are millions or billions of other people in this country, my home country, in this whole world that are NOT racist. in my head & heart, these people can make up for the few that are racists. that’s much more to be thankful about in this life, than to sulk about or get hurt by. 😉

PS. this writing is purely my own opinion in a peaceful state of mind, and in no way meant to hurt or harm anyone, with or without any experience of any kind of racism. 🙂 and also, this is only about racism in its simplest form, and i prefer not to talk more about the deeper forms of racism here or anywhere else. thank you for understanding!

brace yourself

that’s right, brace yourself for what i’m about to write because it’s so ridiculous that it may want to make you bang your head on the wall.

okay, not really (i hope), but it is quite ridiculous. and i decided to write it down here so i could keep amusing myself. :p it’s about (you guessed it) braces, and how they are perceived in my home country. or perhaps only in Jakarta, my home city. and before i start, please know that i love my home country (and city), even if the people in it can be quite silly sometimes. aren’t we all a bit silly sometimes anyway? 😀

the first time i knew about braces was when i was probably around 5 or 6. my cousin, who was a bit older than i, had the removable kind, and as soon as i entered elementary school, i saw that some of my classmates also had the removable kind. in short, all the people i knew who had braces were kids my age, or at the very least they were teenagers. whether it be the removable kind or the traditional metal wired one. i guess i was lucky enough to not ever need one, even though my lower teeth aren’t exactly straight. so what? imperfection is perfection in my dictionary. 😉

and then my sister got braces for her teeth. she was in the university back then, and that was probably the first time i ever knew anyone who’s older than a teenager who wore braces. there were reasons for her getting them when she was older though, and yeah, i could understand them. i also knew that putting on braces when you’re older means you’ll have them on for a much longer time than when you’re younger, so my sister had to put up with it for a while (i don’t remember any more now just how long).

life went on, and 5 years later, i got into the uni myself. by the second year, something must have happened while i slept, because all of a sudden, braces became a trend in Jakarta. you read me right, a trend. suddenly, everyone wanted to get their teeth braced, and not just the ones that had problems with their teeth, but EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. even those who had perfectly aligned teeth. and of course, they had to have the metal ones, the more colourful the better. and get this: they even sold fake braces. no idea how that worked, but this is the honest truth. since the real deal costs a fortune, why not get a plastic one and charm your friends with your fake braced smile?

i already started to mentally shake my head back then, watching everyone else show off their braces and wondering what on earth was happening to these people. they were supposed to be educated enough to be able to go to the university, and yet they spent millions of rupiah for braces they didn’t even need in the first place, just to be able to have a… what, exactly? brace-y smile? again, i have to remind you, that i have no problem at all if you actually do need it, no matter how old you are. but just for following a trend? and not even a good-looking one, i’m sorry to say.

some of my classmates from my university still had their braces on when we graduated, and even when i got married and moved here. this means that they were also already in their mid twenties.

one day, probably some months ago, i was just checking my FB, and trying  to update myself with what’s going on in my home country at the moment from what my friends were talking about. that was when i stumbled upon a wall message from someone’s friend to my own friend, and had to hold myself back from hitting my head to the wall. it said something like this: “OMG, i just saw that X’s little girl got herself braces for her teeth. can you believe it? she’s just a little girl, and already she has braces!”

………………………………………………. excuse me while i slap my head. it’s the least i could do to make sure i wasn’t hallucinating.

but you know i wasn’t. and i kid you not, that message was genuinely written by someone in their 30s, who was apparently so shocked that someone so young would be given the pleasure of a million dollar rupiah braces to fix her teeth. um, right, wasn’t the whole idea of putting on braces was to fix one’s teeth when one’s still young? or have i always understood it wrong all this time? since when is it “normal” to get braces when you’re in your mid twenties or even early thirties, unless there are some very good reason (medical/financial reason) that kept you from getting them when you were younger?

i didn’t stay around to wait my friend in FB replied to that friend of hers. nor was i interested to know more. i just hope one day i’ll wake up and find that braces are no longer a trend in my home country, before i find another reason to bang my head to the wall.

pictures of you

some weeks ago, i dreamt. as i’ve written before, dreaming is like a daily hobby for me, and i can even sometimes get 2 or 3 dreams in one single night’s sleep. but this dream was one of those that stayed in my mind for some time, even long after i woke up.

now i don’t remember the whole dream anymore, but i remember the feeling. it’s the feeling of missing someone so much, and a devastated one when i realized in my waking moment that this someone is no longer with us in this life. and these feelings were caused because of someone i saw in my dream at that time.

i dreamt of my sister’s late husband, Victor.

he passed away last year in May back in my home country, while i was here, in Finland, working. it was a sudden one, not of some accident or cancer or any other sickness that has a long process. he was still in his 30s.

i’ve never had a brother, and as i’ve also written before, for me there’s always only been my sister and i, no other sibling. so when he came into the picture and started dating my sister back then, i began to know & treat him as a brother i never had. of course we didn’t get to be as close as a  brother and sister would be (how close could a brother and sister be anyway? even my husband isn’t that close with his sister :p), but we laughed at the same jokes, discussed the same absurd things, and had the same appetite for weird and bizarre foods. of all the times he was there for my sister, i never doubted his love for her even once. when they got married, it felt so natural to welcome him as a family member.

about half a year before i moved to Finland, my sister and her husband moved back to live with my parents and me. two weeks before moving here, my sister gave birth to my lovely niece, and so i also witnessed it firsthand, even if only for a few days, how my brother-in-law turned into a father.

while i started my new life here, he started to take on a new hobby: photography. just like how he was in real life, his photos were simple, modest, and nothing “fancy”, but so true and heart-warming. he mainly took pictures using analog cameras and black & white films, which i suppose inspired the name of his Multiply account, Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen. (he’s 100% Indonesian, but one time he heard about a Finnish band who sang a song about beers, and became a fan of Finland from then on :D. that was why he named his Multiply account in Finnish language.)

he also developed his own negatives, which to me set him aside from other hobby-photographers i knew (and know). he was a street-photographer, though not for fashion… far from it, in fact. he took pictures of the true life on the streets of Jakarta, my home city, and sometimes of the nature just outside of Jakarta, too. he mostly took pictures just as they were, and most of the time he would actually spend time to talk and get to know his (living) objects, such as the street vendors, the lady at the wet market, the balloon man. this was also what made his photos special: there’s always a story in it. sometimes, it even depicts someone’s whole life. someone, who would otherwise never cross your mind, who would otherwise never make you stop to think about. he made THOSE people’s lives special in a way, and in the most honest way.

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needless to say, i was a big fan of his photos. i always looked forward to seeing his new photo albums, and looking at them would make me feel like i was missing nothing from my home city. seeing the people and scenes through his lens felt almost the same as if seeing those objects with my very own eyes, even when they were in black & white.

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his daughter (=my cute niece) with her friend at their holiday home just outside Jakarta

it took 4 years until i finally had the chance to go to my home country again after moving here, and during my stay for 3.5 weeks there, i could count my meetings with my brother-in-law with one hand, due to his busy work life. on the last night though, before i went back to Finland, i still got to meet him. we talked about how we MUST go to this small island (can’t remember the name now) together one day to take pictures together, since my husband was also interested in photography. my husband and i said that we would surely do that next time we went to Indonesia.

little did we know that it was our last meeting with him, ever. he passed away two weeks before i & my husband were supposed to go to my home country again for the second time.

it’s been 1.5 years now after he’s gone, and i still miss him, and his photos. i still can’t understand why he had to go so soon, i still dream of him, and cry about it.

but seeing his old photos helps. seeing things through his eyes makes me again laugh at the same jokes as what he must’ve had in his mind when he took some funny pictures, and think about the same absurd things that must’ve crossed his mind when he took pictures of some uncommon objects. in a sense, it makes me feel as if these pictures are pieces of him. they don’t move, but they have stories. HIS stories. these are pictures of him. he was, and will always be, alive in these pictures, even if we can’t really see him in them.

to put the whole him in one post would be too long and probably take forever, so i invite you all to see his pictures instead.

and why today, of all days? because today is his birthday.

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the photographer himself

my sister had worked for weeks or even months to prepare the pictures he had taken, and now, finally, right on his birthday, they are to be seen in his old WordPress blog:  Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen (Expose for the Shadows; Develop for the Highlights).

so happy birthday, Victor! thank you for leaving behind your “eyes” and “stories”. we miss you, and will always remember you.

PS. all pictures shown here in this post are taken by Victor Lumunon, and used by permission from my sister, aka the photographer’s wife.