Sunday, 27 February 2011

stupid people

I feel like I have to get this out of my chest.

In addition to being a xenophobe, I'm also an enochlophobe: I'm afraid of large groups of people.

Now here I am, away from home, in a foreign land, in a hostel filled with international people. I'm the only Indonesian. Apparently, there are many people from French-speaking countries and Spanish-speaking countries that they bunch up together in dining areas or in the kitchen, OR DOWN THE CORRIDOR WHERE THEY TALK AND LAUGH AND CURSE LOUDLY.

I just don't get people who talk and scream in front of other people's room doors. It's just so obnoxious. And then there are people who just can't hold the door and have to bang it in order to shut it. SERIOUSLY??

Just the other day, I heard laughter and loud footsteps - people were laughing while climbing the stairs running and stomping their feet. Lydia, one of our RAs, had to go out of her room and told them to be quiet. I smiled with pure satisfaction. One of these days, if I can't take it anymore, I'll do the evil eye.

Where was I... Oh yeah, getting something out of my chest. Man, that reminds me so much of chestburster from Alien.

Well, I assume those French-speakers or Spanish-speakers are filthy rich. They just bunch up with their friends and talk in whatever language they speak BUT English. And when they do speak English, well... Sounds a lot like gibberish with heavy accent. And some arrived in San Francisco the same time I did.

I assume those guys are rich because, hey, you've obviously spent a lot of money to get here and the cost of living here is just so damn high (OMG, a weekly trip to WholeFoods costs me a monthly grocery shopping at Carrefour in Jakarta).

Get out of your comfort zone, ditch your friends and walk alone, speak English! Isn't that why you're here?

But then again, it's not my problem. I only wish they'd stop hanging around in the kitchen when they're done cooking so I can cook.

and so...

So I've been lagging behind my writing for the blog. But I have my reasons!

Don't believe me? Check out my dance blog, the pinkcoinbelt chronicles.

I'll blog more soon. Trust me.

Oh, and here's a piece of advice: when walking in any street in San Francisco, avoid eye contact with strangers, avoid talking to strangers, avoid strangers who approach you (especially those with dowdy clothes; except those with maps - they might be tourists).

The reason I'm telling you this was because some guy just approached me, asked me what date it was, I told him the date, and he kept asking, "What did you say? What did you say? What did you say?" and I knew he wasn't deaf.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

the hostel

No, I'm not going to be talking about that awful movie.

I live in a hostel, and it's a decent one despite its area (Tenderloin). The building was originally an old hotel. The hostel is a branch of the Hostelling International. There's also one just a bus-ride away. If my memory serves me right, it's directly behind Macy's, on the same street with Saks Fifth Avenue and Chanel.

That's right. It's just a bus-ride away to go to the glam from the ghetto.

Nonetheless, I don't know how much it is in the Macy's Hostelling-International. Must've cost a fortune.

The Hostelling International San Francisco (HI-SF) is for EF students and non-EF-students. It's good because of the relatively fast and steady wireless internet connection, its proximity to the school in Fisherman's Wharf, and... well, that's about it.

There are three Residential Advisors (RA) for EF students. They also work as front desk people. These three RAs are way cool. There's Anthony (I forgot his last name) who welcomed me and handled my arrival. Anthony seems to be wearing black nail polish, black boots, and black slick overcoat almost on a daily basis. There's Lydia Petrovich, she's really pretty and does flawless make-up. And there's Daniel Foerste (I wonder if I spell his last name correctly), an artist with multiple facial piercings. His illustrations of proverbs from all over the world are hanging on the walls of the mezzanine dining area.

The RAs might look cool and casual, but they're also very helpful. They try to make living in a hostel, with lots of weird and severely annoying people, almost bearable: check out that star chart picture.

Theey run room checks every Thursday evening, to make sure that we don't have food or drink (except water) in our rooms. You know, to keep the bugs away. A star is given to the cleanest room during the inspection. I got a star on the first week (I won't tell you which room I'm in, though).

I guess I can be clean afterall.

Oh, and that phallic green balloon has been taped on there for four weeks. It was significantly better (and funnier) during the first week. I thought the person(s) living there would just remove it after some time. Apparently not. I have to pass this pumped penis everytime I go out of my room because the door's right in front my door. After a while, it gets boring and slightly irritating.

Well, it's still raining outside. I don't know if I want to go to ODC. And yet I have to shop for grocery for the whole week. AND MY LAUNDRY!!! It's not going to dry fast. Not in this weather.

Now who the heck told me that it never rained in California?

f*ckin perfect

I don't know if viewing this video is allowed in Indonesia (sometimes it's not for many reasons), but here goes:

This song is by Pink. I love her so much. She's controversial, but she doesn't spread hatred (unlike Eminem, etc). She speaks about insecurities so many times through her songs. Plus, she's an adamant animal welfare defender. Can anyone be that perfect? Oh, and her husband, Carey Hart, is just a damn hottie.

To tell you the truth, "F*ckin Perfect" is my saving grace song for this week. I almost refrained from taking GRE. But I remember my mom - she obtained the certification of finances IN ONE DAY (!) (bless you, Mom!) and mailed it first class express so it reached me only two days later (!!). Right then and there, I told myself, I'd just die trying.

GRE is offered in many parts in San Francisco. There was one place where I could take on Wednesday, February 16. However, due to a mistake (on my part), I didn't get the confirmation from Boston University that I could submit the GRE scores later than the deadline (March 1). When I finally received the confirmation e-mail, I quickly registered for GRE and that one place was already full. The closest alternative date was February 18 (Friday) in a place called Oyster Boulevard in San Bruno. That's in Southern California. There were two alternative hours to start: 8 AM or 12 Noon. I chose to do it in the morning.

I worried about two things: getting there (I finally decided to take a taxi to go there and return by BART) and getting good score (I've only been in the GRE class for 5 weeks).

So I took a taxi from the hostel at 6.15 AM and arrived there 35 minutes later. I paid the driver USD 35 (including tip). It was hellishly cold. It's been raining since Monday. That's right. VALENTINE'S DAY! Sometimes the temperature could drop to 5 degrees Celsius. Then there was the wind that almost broke my umbrella (I bought a new black umbrella with cat pictures - so cute! The green Samsonite Mom gave would not withstand even the softest wind).

But yeah. Despite my hunger (although I ate breakfast that day), I could relax and got an okay score: 580 for Verbal (English) and 690 for Quantitative (English). GRE's score ranges from 200 to 800. Surprisingly, my Verbal score is way above the average score of graduate students admitted to Harvard. The score was sent to BU. *Cross fingers*

And surprisingly, my FCBD teacher, Ms. Anita Lalwani, also went to BU for her graduate degree.

Man, she's smart.

Friday, 18 February 2011

slippery when wet

"Slippery When Wet"

Photos taken on Friday, 18 February 2011
Using Olympus Mju 850 SW

the test

"The Test"

Photos taken on Friday, 18 February 2011
Using Olympus Mju 850 SW

*PS: I'll blog about this later after I've slept.

Monday, 14 February 2011

kiss the cook

Yes, yours truly here prays every night to God almighty to confront his fears and soar like an eagle in the sky.

One of those fears being conquered is... COOKING!

Okay, folks. This is extremely easy. I mean... I'm cooking illiterate (whatever that means. You get what that means, right?) but it's easy as apple pie. (OKAY SO MAKING APPLE PIE IS NOT EASY. BAD ANALOGY.)

Here's what I did:

I took a bunch of broccoli, chop them up and even keep the stems. I steamed them in already boiling water for two minutes until they turn bright green and just yummy. I added some salt too. After some more stirrings, I took them out of the pot and set them aside.

I bought the tofu off WholeFoods and it turns out to not contain water (or at least minimal), so I didn't have to dry it. I just dice-cut it and prepare it with some sliced mushrooms.

Now for the frying pan, I used an iron pan because I'm somehow scared of using teflon. So I used quite a lot of vegan butter to grease the pan and make it non sticky since I heard tofu can get stuck on to the surface of the pan. After the butter is all melted and sprinkly, I poured the tofu slices in and sauted them until they're golden brown. And then I added the mushrooms, sauteed a bit, and added the steamed broccoli. I also added an extra pinch of salt (I really should've bought maize powder and soy sauce to make that thick sauce), and voila! It's done!

Just for a little taste, I put mayonaise as a dip. Next time, I should learn how to cook rice. I can always buy cooked rice from the nearest Chinese restaurant. It costs less than USD 1.

I deserve a kiss!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

strangers on the streets

I don't know in which part of San Francisco Mom and my brother stayed when they went for a visit in 2004. Mom said that the city was beautiful.

A lot of things could've happened in 6 years. Or Mom and my brother simply stayed in a better part of San Francisco. Either way, I don't think San Francisco is as beautiful as everyone has said. True, there's the glamorous Union Square and there's an area called the Geary Boulevard that's just so tranquil and serene and gorgeous.

And then there's Tenderloin and Mission with scattered used condoms and dog (I hope) poo on the pavement, the homeless and the crazy, and various other gritty stuff. Whenever I walk in the Mission district, I always encounter crazy people shouting about. When I was walking back to the 16th / Mission BART station, I saw two policemen searching an alleged drug dealer. One time, I saw a man kneeling and handcuffed in front of an adult store.

However, there are also homeless people in the most beautiful and upscale areas in San Francisco, such as the Fisherman's Wharf. Sitting in a cheap, Chinese-run "authentic Italian pizza" joint generically called "Pizza Zone" offers me a great view of the world. I'll be doing my homework while munching on my USD 5 slice of vegetarian pizza, looking out at birds (robins, pigeons, seagulls) and homeless people rummaging the dumpster across the road.

Looking (and videotaping) homeless people is evidently a lot different than interacting with them. One time as I was walking down Fisherman's Wharf, I walked pass a woman who suddenly stopped and called me. She said, "You! Your aura tells me that you've been broken-hearted twice, haven't you? Come here. Let me give you a reading."

Obviously, I was tempted. But I got a hold of myself and told her, "No... I was broken-hearted three times," which is obviously not true... Or half true. Or two-third true. I mean, I don't even have enough money to pay her to read me. And how on earth did she pick that number?

And then, as I was waiting for the bus on Van Ness Street this afternoon, a tall, dark stranger approached me. No, it's not as romantic as you think. In fact, it's rather disgusting. He was noisome and cross-eyed. He began with a little talk about what I was reading (I was reading the Word Smart book) and then he said my zipper was undone (my damn zipper of this particular pair of jeans always becomes halfway done though I've pulled it all the way up) and he asked my name (WHICH I NAIVELY GAVE AWAY - note to self: NEVER USE REAL NAME). And what started as quite an innocent conversation turned out to be weird: he asked for money. Luckily my bus came and I boarded it as fast as my dainty feet could carry me.

Now I'm becoming paranoid because this is where I usually wait for my bus to go to school every morning. Oh, well... I can always walk to school. OR NOT.

God, I'm such a weird-people magnet.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

bridget jones's diary

No, I'm not single or desperate for a boyfriend. I have one who loves me just as much as I love him. And no, I'm not writing this because VD (venereal disease Valentine's Day) is coming.

There's a scene in Bridget Jones's Diary (the movie, at least), where Bridget says, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces."

Well, I think I'm doing well in dancing. I'm up for the General Skills Training and Teacher Training 1 & 2 with FCBD.

And I'm also kind of doing well in the mid-term exams. I'm not really sure why. But at least I got an A+ in Writing, so I suppose I'm off to a good half-way.

On the other hand... I'm starting to have doubts and fear regarding the status of my future in getting an MFA in Creative Writing. I mean... I am not talented in writing. There are just so many things that I can learn: the styles, the way to use words to get the impact of writing, and most importantly the discipline. I know that Sylvia Plath, my hero, went everywhere with her Thesaurus. She also made descriptive notes about the places she went and people she saw and that took discipline. I want to earn that. I want to force myself to have that kind of discipline. I know it will improve my writing a lot.

Some previous entries ago, I wrote about how I hated GMAT. To tell you the truth, I've taken a GMAT preparation course back in Indonesia with Direct English and I have to say, it didn't work. The quantitative review (Math) didn't work (well, obviously - I'm just *that* stupid), and shockingly, I did bad in the verbal (English) section also.

However, learning GMAT with EF (my verbal teacher is Mr. Stephen), has been an interesting experience. I can actually tell you that I am starting to get better. Especially in Critical Reasoning. And you know what, I LOVE CRITICAL REASONING! It's even much easier than Sentence Correction.

Sadly, I won't be needing to succeed in GMAT. Or at least, I won't need it now. What I need is a good score in GRE. I mean, University of San Francisco and St. Mary's College of California both don't require GRE, which is good, and I've already sent my applications to both schools. But I need a third school and I'd like to try Boston University. I know it's in Boston - a boring city. There's no FCBD there, but there are sister studios - I've checked.

Boston University's deadline is March 1, 2011. I can still manage it, but I need to take GRE and have the result sent to the university on time. Otherwise, taking GRE will just be a waste of money, time, and energy. Although it's good to actually measure how far I am in this whole Master's Degree deal.

Then again, it's the GRE! Ken, our quantitative GRE teacher, is doing an awesome job explaining things to us that I think I'm falling in love with Math, which would've been absolutely impossible before EF University Preparation program. But it's the fact.

So I'm still pondering, sometimes to the extent where I feel malaise. I'd love to be accepted in Boston University. I know it's a good school. But I also know that both USF and St. Mary's College are good universities. However, I can't just hang my hopes on two schools. What if they don't accept me?

Well, anyway... I hate to say this, but my contingency plan is to just make the most of it. I'm in my second month here in San Francisco, and time does fly away so fast. It didn't feel this fast way back in 2003 when I was in Nice, France. Perhaps because I didn't have the internet and not this much homework and pressure.

Nice, no matter how much I loved it, still felt a bit hellish. My time here in San Francisco, however, is mellifluous. They put us in Tenderloin - the ghetto, seedy area - and I still love it.

And I finally activated my Bank of America card. I specifically chose The Human Society of the USA (BoA doesn't have PETA card, but HSUS and PETA are basically the same, so...). And that's my new pink Logitech mouse! I finally have a mouse! Yay! I've been doing quite a lot of shopping lately. I have to stop myself from seeing good things.

I've added a new label: Photo Essay. There are some days when I just can't think of writing anything but I still feel the need to post something, so I'll post pictures.

pink ribbons

"Kitty & Her New Pink Ribbon"

Photos taken on Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Using Olympus Mju 850 SW

"Breast Cancer Band"

Photo taken on Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Using Olympus Mju 850 SW

laundry day

"Laundry Day"

Photos taken on Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Using Olympus Mju 850 SW

blind man & his dog

"Blind Man & His Dog on the 47 Bus"

Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Samsung Galaxy 5 Mobile Phone Camera

Saturday, 5 February 2011


While some parts of the USA are experiencing severe snow blizzards, it's 22 degrees (Celcius) here in San Francisco!

I know, I can't believe it either!

Just a few days ago, it was raining and freezing and just today, I could walk home from UN plaza without my jacket on. And I was wearing my black Adidas jacket - the lightest I have.

Yesterday, it was also warm during the day. But it got colder when night crept in. I hope it wouldn't be too chilly tonight. I mean, I love the cold weather, but I'm beginning to feel bored of dressing in layers.

Oh, and Happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate it!

on losing

So I've lost two things now. I've lost one of my rings when I was washing the dishes and then my bluetooth stereo headphone when I was moving my things to my new room.

When I went home last Wednesday, I almost died. I could lose the ring and the headphone, but I can never lose my doll.

Her name is Kitty. She's been with me ever since I was in the sixth grade. I actually got her as a replacement for another doll named Kucil. I lost Kucil months before I got Kitty and when I lost Kucil, I felt like a part of me went with him. And I think I also lost a chunk of innocence when I lost him. I learned about losing and how to cope with it. I think I cried for weeks.

Kitty has come with me to many places in the world. She's been to England, France (twice), Greece, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and now she's here in San Francisco.

The thing is, the linens are replaced either every Wednesday or Thursday. I can never seem to remember. I always tuck Kitty in whenever I go to school. Usually during housekeeping days, I'd put her in the drawer with my clothes. However, that Wednesday I was late for school and I remembered that the week before, housekeeping was on Thursday, so I assumed that it would also be Thursday (the day after) and I just tucked Kitty in bed.

When I got home, I got new linens and Kitty was gone. I was hysterical. I went downstairs to the RA's (residential advisors) and they told me ask the cleaning ladies who were on the 5th floor. The cleaning ladies speak only Spanish and little English but they told me they had to check the laundry first, which is, thankfully, done in the same building. I filed a lost report on the front desk and then went back to my room. When I went out, the cleaning ladies had gone home and so I had to spend one night without Kitty, without knowing if she really was in the laundry with my linens, or lost forever. I shut my body down and just sleep. I didn't even bother to clean my eye make-up (I've started painting my nails black, worn chunky rings, and put on black eye shadow). I just slept.

I tried not to be panic when I went downstairs the next morning and asked if someone had turned in a kitten doll and the front desk girl shook her head. So I tried to eat something; I didn't eat anything for dinner. When I was done and ready to go to school, I saw the cleaning lady and I asked her about Kitty. She asked me my room and I answered my room number and she said she'd return it to my room. Although somewhat unsure, I still went to school.

When I returned, Kitty was there on my drawer.

So I went to Britex Fabrics on Geary Street to buy ribbons for Kitty and guess what I fooooooound... A VELVET BLACK ROSE!! Which was so pricey but I just had to buy it anyway.

I'd never going to go back to Britex Fabrics. It made me broke! Here the thing: It's situated smack dab in the middle of posh boutiques (Saks Fifth Avenue, Chanel, Armani, Macy's, you get the idea) in Union Square. It has 4 floors of PURE AWESOMENESS! You can get all kinds of fabrics, ribbons, buttons, just anything. But yeah, it is very expensive. Although, then again, I haven't gone shopping for a very long time and I have made a promise to Kitty and I've always wanted a black rose (AND IT'S FRIGGIN' VELVET!!) for my new Tribal Fusion costume, so... Yeah. Hahaha...

Oh, and there was another anti-Mubarak demonstration. It was bigger than the last week one in Market Street, though. This time they had a march. Someone actually brought a doumbek and played a Beledi rhythm.