Sunday, 30 January 2011

chinese festivities


When I was working for Shangri-La Hotel & Residences, Jakarta, we used to have this big celebration every Chinese New Year's Eve and Day. Lion dances and dragon dances would dance and bless all parts of the hotel and apartment, including our offices.

I always thought Chinese New Year back in the property was a delightful and superexciting celebration. And then I went to San Francisco.

So there I was, coming home from my Dance Conditioning class at FCBD and weekly grocery shopping at WholeFoods; I had my gym bag, yoga mat, two HEAVY shopping bags, and one overcoat slung over my arm (it was raining and extremely cold in the morning). I was tired (the Dance Conditioning class was exhausting, but so fabulous), but when I saw the street filled with stalls and people everywhere (they even installed a tall slider and ferris wheel!), I had a big smile on my face.

I missed the Dragon and Lion dances, but I'm entertained by the Chinese songs sung live from the open stage. I don't know any of the songs or understand the language, but it was so fun.

You've seen the view from my room: I can't really see anything from up hear, but I can hear the songs and now they're singing English / American songs with upbeat tempo.

I love street fairs. They're just so exhilirating and most probably filled with pickpockets. It's also a good chance to meet people. I may not be Chinese (or Vietnamese - for some reasons there are also Vietnamese stalls here), but I'm Asian. And that's enough to make me homesick.

Oh my God, they're singing Bob Marley's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright". I feel like crying.




Saturday, 29 January 2011

a demonstration and a new do


It was drizzling in the afternoon when I walked to the Market Street BART station to head to ODC Studio, as when I walked out of the Mission BART station to the studio.

When I got back to the hostel, it was still drizzling in the Tenderloin, but apparently the drizzle didn't dampen the spirits of 400 something protesters (mostly Egyptians) on Market St. / Montgomery St. They were shouting, "Hey Hey Ho Ho Mubarak has to go!" all the way.

I gotta say, that reminds me of the demonstrations back in Jakarta. Although, in my city, even ten people holding picket signs in the famous Bunderan HI, is enough to cause a traffic jam in Thamrin area (about 1 km in perimeter).

Apparently, the demonstration is part of the Emergency Demonstration for Egyptian Solidarity. There's been awful lot of riots going on in Egypt right now. People demand Hosni Mubarak to step down. Please don't ask me why - I'm not really sure why. I'm ignorant in political issues.

Come to think of it, it's really sort of ironic. The demonstrations happen over weekend (Friday and Saturday - SF time) and there's also an Egyptian Dance workshop in Jakarta (featuring Nigma - organized by Dancewave Center & the velvetRAQS) on the same days! (Friday and Saturday - SF time which means Saturday and Sunday - Jakarta time).

Oh, and I just had a hair-cut. My hair was starting to look all weird and too long. When I was in the Mission district, I saw barbershops and hair salons that cost USD 5 for a hair cut. So I thought the price for that treatment in the Tenderloin wouldn't be too different. Boy was I in for a surprise!

So I went in to a hair salon not 1 minute walk away from the Hostel and asked the Chinese lady for a hair cut. She said it was USD 12. I guess I was too desperate for a haircut that I let her cut my hair (for less than 10 minutes).

The result is... well... too short (and manly) for my taste. But it's practical. I guess I won't have to have a haircut for another 2 months. Yay!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

this is what i came here for

The applications to University of San Francisco and St. Mary's College of California were sent.

Somehow, the check to St. Mary's got lost and I thought it was in the hostel. It turned out to be in one of my notebooks. So I ran all the way from the Hostel on Ellis & Larkin to Van Ness & Post. Google said that there was a FedEx on 333 O'Farrel. That turned out to be untrue. I have to thank a very nice gentleman in front of 333 O'Farrel for pointing me to the right direction.

I was told that FedEx's working hour ends at 5.30 PM, so that gave me ten minutes to run (I arrived at the Hostel at 5.15). Luckily, I arrived on time. The FedEx guy said that the mails would be picked up at 8.00 PM anyway, so that was really relieving.

Anyway, yeah. I've made it to this stage. This is why I came all the way to San Francisco. This is why I enrol in the EF University Preparation program. I gotta say, I've met very interesting teachers at EF. I have to expand this entry to include a little bit of Award thank-you's here. Well, to Ms. Pamela Astarte, obviously. Without her help, I wouldn't be able to get through all the tedious paperwork (and on-line work) required for all this shebang. To my recommenders, for taking their time to actually write the letters of recommendation. To my parents for being so responsive in dealing with the Bank Certifications, etc... And of course, to my boyfriend for being just adorable and supportive.

Okay, that's the music. That's my cue to go.

I think I'll treat myself to a Chinese (food) tonight.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

down with sickness

I always get sick whenever I embark on long trips. When I was in Bournemoth, I was so feverish one night that I went from being extremely cold to extremely hot. And then there was the long-awaited London excursion and I almost got hit by one of those black taxis. The fact that everyone hated me (yes, including those from Indonesia) didn't help. I was alone the entire time.

The experience traumatized me a lot. Even my mom admits that I don't make friends easily, but when I do, I'll keep them close to my heart.

Right now, I'm trying hard not to get sick. My sleeping pattern has gone down the drain and so has my eating habit. I'm trying hard to eat on time but everytime I want to cook something (usually at 8 PM or 9 PM), the kitchen is always full. People seem to hang around there. In the storage room, even. I was trying to get some bananas the other night and there were two girls just chatting there in front of my storage cube. Blah.

And then there are those who just won't bother with cleaning up the frying pans and those who leave muck in the sink. Icky, greasy muck.

And don't get me started on the Frenchies.

I'm not the only one who complains about the French people. They're loud and all over the place. It's a funny thing, really, because when I was in France, it was always the Americans who were loud and obnoxious... And all over the place.

Are they having a citizen exchange or something? By God.

But then again, maybe I'm just xenophobic.

I just finished my Chinese pancake with egg dinner. I had that for lunch and it was too much so I kept it for dinner. Neat, huh? In about 15 minutes, I'll have my daily dose of Vitamin C and probably take a cold pill or something. I'm not feeling too well.

lucky ones

I was undecided whether to call this entry "Lucky Ones" or "Burnt-Out". But I guess I'm not burnt out (yet) and lucky ones best describe those people I'm going to write about.

I'm talking about the lucky people in general. There are factors like hard work, talent, and perseverance, but I gotta say, luck does come in handy. I mean, you know what I mean, right? I don't have to explain.

And I'm not one of those people.

I guess somewhere in the blog where I wrote something about xenophobia, I said that if I were in a hostage situation, I'd be the first one who got shot or blown up to smithereens. I always think I stand out for all the bad reasons.

I've finally made a few friends here and somehow, some of those new friends also said the same thing: enrolling in the EF program (whether General English or University Preparation) is the only way for us to be in San Francisco, or USA.

Some of them realized that the universities are just too expensive or that they wouldn't have good TOEFL / SAT / GMAT / GRE or whatever score they need to be admitted in the colleges and universities of their choice.

Whereas for me, I feel I just won't be accepted at all because of my unimpressiveness. Yes, I can write, probably above average than many Indonesians (especially in English), but that doesn't mean that I can beat 10 other people in my league (University of San Francisco and St. Mary's College admit 10% of applicants). And I just don't feel I have that L-Factor. I just don't feel I have luck.

But while I'm here, I'm going to just work on my dance and the EF programs, and make the most of it. If I get accepted: yay! If I don't: well, no worries, at least my time will have been well-spent.

Here's a video I made. I had fun with Windows Live Movie Maker and found that the original length of the video (54 seconds) matches with the length of one of the songs in Coraline's soundtrack.

Coraline's one of my all-time favorite movies, too. Just so you know.

And I really have to remember to make more wide-screen videos.

video

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

i cried

I just received an e-mail from Dad and I cried. Yes, apparently, I can cry.

It's not sad news, really... He wrote about how Kenji is becoming clingy to Mom and yet doesn't stay inside the house at night and goes out with Mita. Kenji usually stays inside the house and sleeps with me. For those of you who don't know, Kenji and Mita are my cats. I have six cats at home.

I miss Kenji the most. He is very close to me. He strangely embodies all the traits and characteristics that the previous cats who were very close to me had. It's just so weird. In him, I see all of them. I see Poussy, Heidi, Monchi, Mimi, Luna, and even Cuplis.

He's this very clingy cat (he likes to sleep on my armpit) and I like to tease him a lot, blow kisses (and kiss) his furry tummy and just make him mad so he'd chase me around.

So yeah, I cried for the first time.

I knew I was going to be homesick sooner or later. In 2003, when I arrived in Nice for the first time, arranged the room I was give, and basked on a sofa in the balcony, just relishing the warmth of the sea sun, I almost cried. It was very quiet and peaceful and I missed home.

Now, with the internet, I could hold it for about 3 weeks. But I really miss my family and my cats.

Here, I don't really have a friend. I have acquaintances. I talk to some of them, I always play nice, but I always keep my distance with the students who always bunch up with others from their country or from other countries that have the same language. I always have the notion that I'm her to study, not to make friends. But it's always the right thing to be nice to everyone.

And I'm nice to everyone. I even say hi to every single bus driver. I even said hi to the one particular immigration officer who wasn't nice to me back in the airport.

But I can't help it. I see the positivity of Flapjack (from the Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack) and Spongebob Squarepants. And I want to immitate it. I want to bring positivity and positive attitude, not just to people around me, but to me personally as I need a positive attitude in the middle of this uncertainty.

So yeah. Today, I also introduce a new label: homesick.

learning to cook

Not many people know that I love cooking. Well, I LIKE cooking. I don't really like the cleaning-up afterwards.

Currently, I'm living in a hostel. That means there's the communal kitchen, refrigerator, dish-washer sink, everything in it. During busy hours (breakfast / lunch / dinner), the kitchen gets... busy. So we sometimes have to wait to use the stove or the frying pan or the pot.

That's why I decided to go down at 3 AM to make some Penne and mushroom. The recipe (or lack, thereof) is courtesy of my boyfriend.

He still cooks and is ambitious about it (I love that about him... I love eating, and he is an excellent cook). I need to get back on being serious about cooking once again.

Hell, there was even a time when I would bake a cake each night for months! Of course the cake usually failed. Ha!

But this morning, I made a breakthrough. I cooked! And it didn't fail (too much). So, yeah... I think I'm pretty proud of myself.

Later, guys!


the internet and antisocial behavior

Years ago, when I was with EF in Nice, France, I had... quite one of the best times of my life. I lived with a host mom (and grandma) with a bunch of other kids. I was the oldest in that bunch. At one time, there were five of us: an American girl, a Russian girl, a Swedish girl, a Dutch boy, and an Indonesian ... teenager (it was in 2003... I won't tell you how old I was).

Since it was in an apartment, there was no internet connection. There were internet cafes (I used a nearby cafe one time) and of course, the school. So I checked e-mails and chatted with my friends mostly at school.


It was more than 7 years ago and things have greatly changed since then. I'd say that almost all cafes along La Promenade des Anglais (the main beachfront road in Nice) will have had a wireless internet connection by now and I could sip on a cafe and eat a croissant while looking at those Arab playboys seducing blonde girls and just scoff.

Without the internet, we, that weird bunch of melange, bonded.

Only the American girl brought a laptop along with her. The others didn't.

And now, I live in a hostel where there's wireless internet connection in the lobby, on the mezzanine floor, I can eat while surfing the net if I bring my laptop or my Android phone, and to make matters worse... since I moved down to the third floor (I was on the fourth), I've been getting an internet connection inside my room. How cool is that?

Now I don't have to go down to get internet.

It's a single room, which means I don't have a roommate, and I'm totally alone, and I love being alone and having my own pace.

When I had a roommate, if I woke up in the middle of the night (or at 2 AM like right now), I'd so carefully get my laptop and books (of course bumped into something here and there... I'm so clumsy, I can't help it, and the wooden floors always creak) and just go down to the mezzanine floor to do my homework.

When everything was done, like at 4 or 5 AM, I'd creep back upstairs and into bed.

I am nocturnal. I love that about myself. I've been developing this habit because I appreciate the stillness and quietness of my home in Jakarta where I live with my family and nobody is nocturnal.

And besides, people here (mostly Europeans) don't appreciate the quiet time in the hostel. Just a few hours ago, I woke up to the sound of an annoying laughter (consecutively, for about an hour, no kidding) of a girl. My new room is so great because it's near the stairs but the entrance is so private so I don't hear people going by. So that must mean... They weren't in a room, but in the hallway, doing something that ellicited a noise.

Why they were in the hallway in the first place baffled me. Some people are just so crazy and rude and crazily rude.

Anyway, we did the GMAT exercise again today, the Critical Reasoning one (I so hate this one), and I got... da da da... one answer right! That was an improvement since the last time I did that, I got all the answers wrong!

Well, GMAT's not my thing. I won't be taking it for sure, but it's really fun to learn new things, right?

I'm putting up the picture of Spongebob and Mrs. Puff because Spongebob reminds me of myself (saying "hi" to everyone) and Mrs. Puff reminds me of a teacher I greatly admire in the school.

Oh, and that's my new room and the view from my room.

Friday, 14 January 2011

what does friday mean to you?


It is already Saturday morning in Indonesia as of the time of this writing. And that means: weekend.

On a normal Saturday, I'd usually wake up at 9.30 AM, wash my face and drive to teach an Oriental dance class at Dancewave Center. If there's no class to teach, then I'll wake up at around 12 for the Intermediate class at 12.30.
Now that I'm in a foreign land, I am thinking about several possibilities. No, wait, let me talk about Friday first.

Friday is going to be a laid-back day. There's going to be only one class: Writing for GRE Essays and I think I'm really going to enjoy it. The second class is like 3 hours away, and that's TOEFL. I don't normally enjoy TOEFL because it is somewhat tedious and challenging (it's completely different than GRE or GMAT English, the three of them have different levels of difficulty, but all of them are hard).

After today's class, since it's really sunny, I am going shopping to CALA Foods and to Walgreens to get my Clipper's Card (because I've totally run out of 1 dollar bills). It's right there on the corner of Bush and Larkin.

UPDATE!!

Okay, so I just got back from watching The Black Swan over at AMC Van Ness. It was so intense. The last time I got this intense from watching a movie was way back after Matrix: Reloaded. And for the record, I hate Matrix series. So there.

I'll have to write something about the movie over at my original blog.

Now, you all know how much I get lost and stuff, right? I've blogged about it so many times. Well, there's a place called "Walgreens". It's a medium-sized store that sells basic things like tissue, food, etc, and not-so-basic things like cosmetics.

A few days ago, I located the nearest Walgreens in a map. From looking at the map, I concluded that it should've been a two to five minute walk. Well, I walked round and round with my grocery bag and I couldn't find it even after 30 minutes. So I got back to the hostel.

Today, I got home at 5 and told myself that I should do grocery shopping and buy a Clipper Card to commute. When I boarded the bus, it was already getting dark and so I was going to cancel the whole grocery shopping thing until... when I got off the bus... I turned around and saw... WALGREENS!!

So I did my shopping (couldn't find pasta for dinner, though) and got my Clipper Card. Of course I used my Bank of America debit card for the first time and... Well, here, we have to swipe our own card... And needless to say, I made a complete ass of myself.

But, I got my Clipper Card and I plan on using it almost everyday! I have to spend at least USD 70 until January 31st and then I'll have to add value into it to use it again in February and so on and so forth.

Ohhh... I post a picture of a plate of fried rice. I was walking down the Colombus Street today, looking for lunch. I remembered that when I was out walking to Bank of America, I saw a restaurant with mean pizzas! But I couldn't find it and instead, I found a Thai restaurant called Tuk Tuk Thai. Funny, right? In Indonesia, "tuk tuk" is what we call "bajaj", a noisy, wobbly three-wheeler that people take to go to places in short distances.

But the price was right (It was USD 8.5 including tax and tip) and the portion was so big but I gulped it all down. Yay!

And today's Friday, that means it's weekend. The guys over at the hostel are going out for a night in the town. Well, I no longer club. It's bad for the bones. And I don't bring fancy shirts. I'm just going to sleep so tomorrow I can go take my Clipper Card for a ride to the... ODC Common dance studio!

One more thing before I go... I was heading back to school and just walking and walking and minding my own business (and obviously looking at the gates and front doors of buildings I passed because...) suddenly I saw a sign with a very familiar language.

And so, I discovered the Indonesian consulate in San Francisco. Well, that'd come in handy.

I'm starving! I gotta get something to eat.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

everyone seems to be having a great time

Everyone, but me.

Early today just before the GRE Math class, a classmate complained that he had to bring so many books to school. Well, tell me about it!

I don't know if it's how I manage my time here, but I almost keep forgetting homeworks eventhough I've put post-its on the pages that needed to be done. Just today, after recharging myself with a long sleep, I hauled myself off the bed at 4.30 AM and started doing the GRE Math homework.

The GRE Math class is on Tuesday and Thursday at 8.30 AM. That means I have to wake up at 7 AM, eat breakfast and take a shower (or take a shower and eat breakfast). I have to be at the bust stop at 8 AM by the latest to arrive just a mere minutes away from the schedule.

The class is right next to the lounge area where they have a pool table and everything, and today, when we were faced with integers and fractions and graphs and whatever Math has to offer, I could hear people playing pools.

Being a positive person, I could see the irony so I just laughed it all away.

Well, tomorrow's Friday and that means a lighter load. And I'm smiling all the way even when I'm writing this.

Let's just hope I won't meet those crazy kids on my way back.

children and homework

I hate children. I really do.

Okay, so I used the exact same opening a while ago for an entry.

Well, sometimes there are children that are cute and just nice. These children, I can easily play along with. They remind me how joyful it was when time was on my side.

In class today (and yesterday), we read about aggression. Mr. Stephens told us a story about the day when he was out grocery shopping, there was an African-American woman with a little child. The child could walk, obviously, and the woman wandered off minding her own business. She didn't even notice that she was going far away from her child. When she finally noticed, though, she said, "Hey! Get your black ass over here!"

Wow. That really made me glad I wasn't raised in a hostile family. Strict, but never hostile.

When I boarded the 47 bus back to the hostel yesterday, it was a nice ride. I didn't get lost. The only time I got worried was when this Afro-American man (around 50 years old, big) boarded the bus and went straight to the back seats, sat there, and talked gibberish. I was so worried that he would take out a gun and start shooting everyone.

I always had the feeling that if ever, God forbid, I got caught in a hostage situation, I'd be the first one to be killed. Either by accident or on purpose.

But nothing happened, at least until I got off the bus. I walked back to the hostel safe and sound.

Today, it was almost another different case all around. I boarded the 47 bus in hopes to yet again have a nice, quiet ride so I could finally finish reading my TIME Magazine with Aung San Suu Kyi on the cover.

It was raining, but I didn't have to wait long. The bus came and it was relatively empty. After a few stops, the nightmare began.

School kids went on board. And I am certain that nobody paid the fare. They just boarded through the back entrance. I sat myself in the back, next to the back entrance. Bad choice. One girl was standing directly in front of me and she was eating something and passed it along to her friend who was standing on the doorway right next to me. She was passing whatever she ate right on top of my head.

In Indonesia, that would be considered really rude and I would most probably do something about it. But they were too numerous (they just stood there blocking the door and telling people 'no space' and the driver obviously didn't do anything to stop it) and kids could be dangerous. And... I was carrying loads of books, as usual.

When I felt like my stop was getting near, I finally looked up and saw that they were taking out rulers and pens and... tearing off the PSA posters from the walls of the bus right above my head. That was just... what's the word... VANDALOUS. It was such an ANARCHY that I was so glad I got off the bus right then and there.

On a lighter note, I had a really nice lunch today. Well, a big one. I had cheese ravioli and a tall glass of hot chocolate (well, I had to. It was raining again today althought not as cold as two days ago). When my ravioli came, I looked at it and almost complained. But after everything was downed, I felt that the portion was just perfect, if not a little too much. Well, it'd better be. It was USD 22 including tax and tip.

I felt sleepy in the GRE English class because of that big lunch.

And I'm telling you, it's hard to get sleepy in the GRE English class. At least for now. I can say that I don't need it to get into the universities of my choice, but I will keep doing it because I'm learning so much.

The students in the class are around my age, and I feel it's just where I belong. The class is very engaging and challenging at the same time. Although I have to say, the words are... kind of otherworldly. Did you know there are 500,000+ words in English? Yeah, Mr. Stephens told us that. We were given a book that specifically deals with words and the roots of those words. It's like a mini dictionary of hard words.

I can't say that I enjoy it for the time being (wait, am I being paradoxical here? No, I guess that's the "challenging" part).

Tonight, I'll have to finish rewriting the statement of purpose so I can speed up the process of the University of San Francisco application and look into the St. Mary's College one.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

streetsmarts and sandwich


Of course I got lost again yesterday!

I always had to get lost when I had tons of things on my back. When I come home, I'll be having some serious muscles.

Yesterday, I brought the wrong books with me, and since this week's the first week for me, they kept adding books and more books. I came home with this stack of books and I had to carry them because I didn't bring a bag. I got wiser the next day and life became so much easier.

I didn't get enough sleep because I had tons of homework and I felt like I needed to work on that application letter / statement of motivation to University of San Francisco. So I did and I submitted it to Ms. Astarte from EF to review it. I sent over the form from USF to my dad to fill in with the bank statement / reference and sponsor letter. I hope that'll get sorted out really quickly.


I woke up early because classes start at 8.30 AM Monday to Thursday and hopefully just one class on Friday that starts at 11 AM. But in overall, this day is so much better than yesterday! The sun was shining brightly that I felt warm at times. I can't wait to discard my overcoat. I opened my bank account in Bank of America (I had to go through some of their policies, but I think I got the gist of it. Although it's never a sure thing with bank and legal things). I ate a very nice vegetarian burger (the patty is made of portobello mushroom and I could really taste the mushroom) at BurgerMeister down in Colombus Street. And then I got home and didn't get lost!

Yay!

One thing, though... I forgot to bring my GMAT book because I mistook my TOEFL book for my GMAT book. Gosh.

But Stephen Zannis (or "Mr. Stephen") is always cute and upbeat as ever (he looks like Sylvester Stallone... His face and features, not his body) and I think so far, I like the people at EF. Although I have to give kudos to Mr. Stephen and Ken for making TOEFL/English and Math classes less painful.

And I need to study more! There are just so many English words (words, words, words, wooooorrds!!) that I don't know.

Well, here's to Sylvia Plath and her Thesaurus.

Oh, and I've decided to cancel today's dance class at the ODC Studio because of the bad review I got from Yelp about the neighborhood. When I went there last Saturday, it did feel a bit ghetto-ish. And it was in the afternoon. I don't think I'd want to risk going there at night.

Let's just hope FCBD wants to take me on afternoons.

Monday, 10 January 2011

i hate gmat

Seriously, I do.

I hate Math, I love English and learning languages, but GMAT (and possibly GRE) English is just like hell. I've been there before.

Today's first lesson was GMAT English. I did one reading passage with three questions for 16 minutes and I got every answer wrong.

There were five of us and one teacher, named Mr. Stephens, who insisted on calling me "Jerry" because he told me my name was too hard to pronounce. It didn't stay long, though. He managed to say my name.

Jerry's my cat. I miss him so much.

The others were surprised to know that my TOEFL iBT score was 117 (3 more points and I'd get perfect). But GMAT is a really different thing altogether. I've been there before.

Mr. Stephens said something that made me understand completely why GMAT is so much harder than TOEFL. TOEFL is for people who uses English as foreign language (hence the name of test). GMAT is for native speakers. SO THERE!

I mean... Imagine us, non-native speakers, solving problems of English (AND MATH) in English for native speakers.

But, there's hope.

There's this one guy, and he's superduper smart. He doesn't speak very good English, but he got all the answers right. Granted, he said he was interested in the topic of the passage and I think my brain got frozen on the way there (it was close to 1 degree Celcius the whole day). But he gives me hope.

Although I can be stupid.

I miss home. There're just so many questions that I didn't get to ask today. I have to come early tomorrow to ask Ms. Astarte about bank, phone (probably use MetroPCS) and whether or not I should take GMAT (I won't be doing MBA anyway) or just GRE.

It's been four days. Where's my independence and confidence?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

winter

Back in Jakarta, I'd do anything to get the temperature lower. I mean, what to do with all my jackets? I have so many of them, although never to the extent that I wouldn't really need them. What I've bought, I would usually use thorougly until it's not usable anymore.

But it seems that all my jackets aren't sufficient to withstand the winter weather here. I mean, it's only 5 to 8 degrees (Celcius), but sometimes I'm just freezing to death. What can I say, I'm a real tropical boy.

My temporary room-mate, Kei, just left this morning. Wow, he's really loved. I thought I would be the only one saying goodbye to him at four in the morning. But it turned out that there were at least 7 people there: boys and girls, sending him off on his way. He's already in Miami by the time I'm blogging this entry. And it's 25 degrees there. How nice.

Well, there's Ansuya in Miami... Umm... No. She's in Naples. But it's in Florida too, how far can that be? (Yeah, right).

I should probably be blogging about the pros and cons of staying in a residence vs. host family. But I'm rather too cold right now to do anything. I don't even feel like washing the dishes. Just then I was making toast, and I warmed myself there.

Well, school will start tomorrow. I hope I'll be sleeping alone tonight so I will wake-up on time (most probably) and take the bus at 8 in the morning. I should be there at 9 AM to take yet another English test so they can determine our level. I hope it's not going to be the same test(s) that I took back in Jakarta. I almost took it 3 times. It kind of got me on my nervs.

I've so many things to ask, well mostly Mom told me to ask those things, but I do feel that it's necessary to know these things: opening bank account and getting US cellphone number.

This is my only post for today? Oh, well. We'll see if I could get up later in the evening (it's already evening) to fix dinner and go online again.

Oh, and it's not like I just hung around in the room. I did some cleaning, threw some things away. There're some things that Kei said didn't belong to him but to someone else before us (how creepy) so I gave them to the front desk. And then I did the long-overdue spending report.

FCBD is closed on Sunday and Monday. I hope I'll get news from them soon. I really can't wait to start the training.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

the day of going from a to z

Okay. Probably not "z", but if you pronounce "xenophobia", the "x" sounds like a "z".

The "a" stands for "art".

Today was the first time I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). I went from Civic Center/7th Street to 16th Street/Mission, located just one station away. The round-trip costs USD 3.50. I went to FCBD studio first, and took my chances going to ODC Common's studio. I'll post up pictures and some reviews regarding the two places in the original pinkcoinbelt chronicles.

That's the art part.

Now, I'm going to share something about my share of xenophobia. I hate travelling that makes me have to leave my comfort zone. And by comfort zone, I mean business-class flight, five-star hotel, limousine transfers and pick-ups and drop-offs, and nonstop private access to the internet. I was talking with my boyfriend just then and he asked me if I was feeling at home yet and I told him that as long as I had internet, I'd be fine.

This place is not that. I have no guide, I'm used to walking alone, but this isn't like the places I've been to before. This is... The United States of America. The place where "tolerance" has no place in the law especially if you're an alien. And yes, they use the word "alien" to describe non-residents. Somehow I find that term derogatory.

I've been having problems the first time I set foot on this "land of opportunities". I mean, this is not even the Big Apple where people are more paranoid. This is San Franciso, the place with so many Asians, many of them work as garbage collectors, check-out clerks, bag boys and girls, taxi and bus drivers, and immigration officers.

And when I say immigration officers, I don't mean so people can look at them and feel at home, but more like because these people can speak Chinese (the very reason why they place Hispanic-American to speak Spanish to the non-residents). I believe there are so many reasons why the US is really protective of their citizens. After all, they can't let the foreigners rule the economy, one that is dwindling. On one hand, they need us, the foreigners, the tourists, those who will spend much and therefore make their country grow and prosper, but they have to make sure we don't stay.

After giving our money, we have to go home. Back to our respective countries.

And then there's the issue about terrorism.

You might have heard about my country. When I was still in primary school, we were raised to believe that our country was very prosperous: a jade on the face of the earth. It was green and surrounded by magical blue water. But after awhile, my generation experienced the coup d'etat and things changed.

We began the tumultuos times. And some people have taken advantage of this by doing extrawork in their agenda. That's right: terrorism. The big names of terrorism that's linked to the big ones are (or were) actually Malaysians. But Indonesia is such a stupid warm and receiving country that we'd harbor a bomb-assembling terrorist without knowing it. And we took the blame. Not some other country.

We become synonymous with Taliban, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries of bomb-blowers and jihadis.

And that very reason is why the government of Indonesia and the USA made a deal that Indonesians who enter the USA must check into the immigration office to have another registration (nothing much, just finger print and photo). But it was enough to keep me waiting for 45 minutes. Not to mention I made a fool of myself and was jokingly (?) warned to be deported on that very moment. I mean, I passed the immigration to take my suitcase without any visa stamp. Ha! That was like trespassing on US property.

But that was over. I put the Angry Birds here for some reason that makes me cringe and then laugh. I hope I'll get over it soon.

And then today... As I got into BART from 16th Street/Mission to go back to my hostel, again, being someone who walks rather fast and tends to not see the details (oh yes, I admit that), I got into trouble with the security because I walked into the train station using the exit gate. HA!

You know, sometimes having very recognizable Asian face makes me feel bad whenever I do something wrong here. I'm just worried that they'll have even more negative thoughts about us Asians.

But that's probably just my xenophobia talking.

Yet, in overall, I am very happy. I've witnessed and been to FCBD studio. The home of ATS. The place where ATS was born and nourished and nurtured.

And I'll be writing about it over at my blog.

on my way up there

It wasn't as far climb as yesterday's hike to EF school, but I felt that it was going to be one long road up ahead.

I went to University of San Francisco today and had a chat with one of the lecturers. I was late, of course. But this was not because I was late (as in woke up late, ate late). But I had miscalculated the distance between HI-SF and USFCA. I walked for 50 minutes and ten more minutes to find the hall where the session took place.

There were six people already and I was the seventh. The lecturer told us about the campus life, the tuition, how to write the statement of purpose, the essay. Some of the highlights were that the people over at admission do not want us to try damn hard to impress them by writing stuff like, "I've been writing from the age of three," instead they want us to write them like a friend would to one another. About the goals, the long process of getting into, what we'd like to achieve... Well...

Each year, USFCA admits 10% of the applicants. That means 30 - 40 people. I asked how many of them were Asians, he said this year, there are 3 non-US residents or international students. I almost died.

He also said that the TOEFL is not that needed by the faculty, but by the university. Obviously he'll know how good the English is through the sample of manuscript and statement of purpose.

I was rather late that I didn't even stop to take a photo of the facade. And when the session was done, I felt so cold that I decided to hurry back to the hostel to eat something. And on my way back, I saw one of Harvey Milk's centers. I also saw this a few days ago when I was carrying ten kg of grocery on my back (NOT) so I didn't stop to take a picture.

Well, I'm trying to finish my sandwich as I'm writing this. And then off to FCBD and ODC studios. Toodles!

Friday, 7 January 2011

some brown rice for dinner

OMG, damn this jetlag!!

No, wait... I have always been nocturnal.

So, yeah. after the long walk to school and back, I ate a very late lunch (of a really nice Mac & Cheese... But it was probably nice because it was hot and I was starving). And then I went to... bed. At 5 PM.

I set an alarm to wake me up 2 hours later, but... I overslept. And woke up at 10 PM!!

So I hoisted my lazy ass off of bed, went downstairs (kitchen's finally open again), washed the dishes (seriously, I used to love washing dishes. I think the feeling's back now), and put my brown rice inside the microwave.

Let's just hope I can wake up in the morning to go to the information session over at SFU. And then I'll drop by at FCBD studio and ODC.

I need to find a bank and a cell-phone provider. And I think I'll blog about the visa application thing tomorrow. Or tonight. Whenever.

dance schools

I'm not going to lie. The most important reason why I chose to be in San Francisco is Tribal bellydance.

San Francisco is the birthplace and mecca of Tribal Style bellydance. When I sent an e-mail to FatChance BellyDance (FCBD - the first ever American Tribal Style troupe), I almost fainted when I got a reply from Carolena Nericcio (the founder of FCBD, therefore the big Momma of ATS). I inquired about their policy that restricts men from joining classes. But turns out, I can do privates with them. Although it does cost me a helluvalot. But then again, why not? I'm here anyway.

Let's just hope that I can melt their hearts and make me an exception.

And then there's Jamila Salimpour (Suhaila's Mom). If Ms. Nericcio is the big Momma, then Ms. Salimpour Sr. is the godmother. She's practically the living Tribal legend.

FCBD Studio is located on South Van Ness. I've drawn a map on how to get there. Getting there would mean me taking a BART. So that'll be the first time. I'll try it out tomorrow after getting to USF. Oh my God, with this cold weather, all I need is something to warm up my mood.

FCBDS's studio is ridiculously very near ODC Common Dance Studio (Shotwell Street). Jill Parker of Ultra Gypsy (she was also an FCBD troupe member) holds Tribal classes here. I think I'll pop up here tomorrow as well when I'm visiting FCBD's studio to inquire if they accept men. *sigh*

Oh, well. I gotta go do the dishes now. My battery's running low. It's getting dark outside and possibly very cold.

of dirt and distance

Whoa, okay. I know Jakarta is not clean because it's a city in a third-world country. Somehow, that fact makes people forgive the lack of cleanliness and attitude towards cleanliness in Jakarta.

But San Francisco. I saw peeled orange skins, papers, cheetoz bag lying on the sidewalk. And I saw my first beggar. I was walking to EF at the end of Hyde Street. I didn't mind the distance. It was the hiking and the weather. I swear, I was so scared I'd die out of hypothermia and cardiac arrest.

When I began my trail, I saw the beggar. She was sleeping, covered in layers of blankets although I believed those layers weren't enough to keep anyone, including well-fed people, out of the cold. And about 50 minutes later (yep, it was that far), on my way back to the hostel, she was still there. Her position was almost unchanged. I wondered if anyone ever bothered to check if she was dead.

Although I knew nobody cared.

So yeah. Today's adventure is quite well. I'll be having brown rice I bought at CALA Foods Nob Hill. I'm having Softies donuts to stuff my face with. I just found some more grocery stores that have even better rating than CALA and they're also within walking distance. There's City Supermarket on Geary St. and Tsunami on Turk. So I'm going to try them. Tomorrow... Or Sunday.

Should I or should I not go to University of San Francisco today? I'm so damn tired.

And is the kitchen opened yet?

breakfast on a friday


So after a bout with brisk insomnia due to the fact that I'd slept all day, I decided to let my room-mate sleep while I went downstairs for breakfast.

I didn't find anything nice to eat, so thank goodness I bought strawberry cereals and soy milk. Had that for breakfast. Tasted like strawberry ice cream (heaven).

Last night, when I was going to ask the front-desk officer about the status of my room (need to follow-up on that) I made hot tea and found San Francisco's Guardian lying around. I opened it and was delightedly surprised to see an advertisement of University of San Francisco's MFA in Creative Writing. They're having an information session tomorrow (Saturday, January 8) in their campus. So I'm planning to visit the campus today to make sure I have the right way to walk.

And I'm just going to take the time right now to say that GoogleMap rocks!

I think today will be a day filled with walks. First the USF, EF San Francisco, and finally FCBD studio. Or maybe I can postpone the FCBD studio tomorrow, right after the information session at USF.

This truck passed by my window when I was eating breakfast. We're on the junction of Ellis and Larkin. For many people, it's easier to mark the destination in San Francisco by the junction of the two roads, because all two roads will most likely cut into each other and the blocks are mostly squares.

As for me, since I have no sense of orientation whatsoever, I always think that I will get lost.

A Miller Beer truck. You don't see that in Jakarta.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

hello there


I should've written this yesterday but I was just too tired and decided to have a little messenger session with my boyfriend and some friends.

After long hours of bumpy airplane ride (I hate flying but it was not that bad), I finally arrived at the hostel. HI-SF City Center (HI-SF stands for Hostelling International - San Francisco). It's located at the downtown, with Chinese, Viatnamese, Thai restaurants and food shops. Although, no convenient 24 hour shops like the Kwik-E Mart.

I specifically ordered for a single room, and imagine my surprise when I opened my room door to find that the room was... A MESS!! It was even messier than my room back in Jakarta (if that's possible). And after a double check, the front-desk guy said it was going to be temporary.

My (temporary) room-mate turns out to be very nice. He's a 21 year old Japanese who takes a break from university to study English. I told him directly that I'm gay and I snore. And he didn't mind (he's straight). It's currently like hell downstairs, what with so many students checking-in and the front-desk people are working like crazy, so I decide to just tell the hostel peeps that I'm okay with my room although I'd appreciate it if they could give me the new room soon (it's being repainted and will be ready on the 15th of January).

So yeah. This is my second day (or evening, since I arrived here last night), and I promise to blog every single darn day. If possible. If only a drop of note or something. Or some plurk-like or something.

Today, after an intense jet-lag induced sleep, I finally managed to haul myself up, take a shower, and walk to the "nearest" grocery store. Of course, it doesn't matter where I am, I'll still get lost. It was a STRAIGHT WALK to the store and I still got lost on my way back to the hostel. Lost. With at least 6 kg of stuff on my left shoulder.

And finally, after at least 45 minutes of walking home (it only took me ten to go there) I saw the beacon of hope: the HI-SF City Center building. And on my way there, I noticed Subway Sandwiches. So I stopped by to get a to-go Veggie Delite meal. I chowed down a footlong. It was either I was hungry or the sandwich was extra good. Probably combination of both.

And after that... I went to hibernation. And yes, I blamed that on the jetlag. I was supposed to go to FCBD's studio today, but I got up at 20.30 something and hurried down to a Chinese/Viatnemese restaurant to order, what else, vegetarian fried rice.

I should be off to FCBD's studio tomorrow. I don't know if there'd be people there when I arrive, but at least I know the directions. Maybe I'll try going to school too.

Oh well. This is one day, or two days (?), down. I'll post something else tomorrow. I was thinking of taking a picture of my room, but since I'm now occupying a temporary room, I'll just take a picture of my "real" room.

I so miss my cats.

Here's a little footage of what it looked like outside when we were flying from Singapore to Hong Kong. It was pouring so hard. The pilot warned us that we would be flying around the heavy clouds (that were about two square miles) but it would cause much turbulence. It did.

video

It's not that late here. Barely eleven minutes after midnight. I'm watching Flapjack on Cartoon Network. That's one of the advantages. Back home, Cartoon Network (USA) doesn't allow me to watch their cartoons on the website. Now I can! Yaaay!!

Okay, then. I'll blog later.