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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Black Friday

I am pretty much sure that this year is the first year I heard this term “Black Friday”. (“Hellooo ... where have I been before?”  ) I instantly got attracted by this ‘occasion’ because it was very much connected to the Thanksgiving Day!

When I was pursuing my study in American Studies Graduate Program in Gadjah Mada University (2002-2005), I ‘(un)luckily’ attended the ‘commemoration’ of Thanksgiving Day at least twice, if I am not mistaken. In the first commemoration, the students of my batch (2002) made a small drama illustrating the coming of the ‘Pilgrims’ – the first settlers migrating to American land – by Mayflower ship. The Pilgrims then were helped by the Native American tribe to survive by planting corns, potatoes, etc as well as fishing. (poor those migrating British people didn’t know how to cultivate lands because they did not have lands in their home country). No Pocahontas was narrated in the story though.  (Too bad, I do not have the pictures of our performance. I got only a little role, but in fact what Ibu Tati said was correct, I will always remember the commemoration.)

Black Friday 2011
The problem was as far as I remember, during my study, my classmates and I never talked about ‘Black Friday’. What the heck is this? Why ‘suddenly’ appeared this year in my life? I was thinking that perhaps this capitalist day started booming in America after I finished studying in American Studies Program.

Thank to the huge library in the internet. It is very easy for me to find the little history of Black Friday.

Wiki said that Black Friday is one day after Thanksgiving Day in every year when most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 a.m. or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season. Although it is not a holiday, some non-retail employers give their employees the day off, to increase the number of potential shoppers. “It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005,” Wiki claimed. Nevertheless, the use of the term in fact started before 1966 in Philadelphia and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975.

Belanja Lebaran 2009
Well, many people say that Thanksgiving Day can be compared to Lebaran holiday in Indonesia in the case of ‘mudik’ (it is said that on Thanksgiving Day many family members hold special dinner so that they will go home from wherever they live in order to gather with the parents and siblings), Black Friday is also similar to some days before Lebaran holiday where many retailers offer special promotional sales so that many people will buy a lot of things to welcome Lebaran. Even the government also obliges all companies to give annual bonus to the employees so that they can become more consumptive in this special holiday. The difference between shopping before Lebaran holiday and Black Friday is that for Lebaran holiday, people buy mostly clothes, shoes, or maybe bags (I cited my own habit LOL), maybe then people also buy some other stuff, such as electronic things or furniture, while on Black Friday, American people willingly wait for hours before some retailers open to get best buy for electronic things as the main target.

Well, if in the beginning Thanksgiving Day was not necessarily related to consumptive things, but the capitalism wants to make use of the occasion to get as much as profit, Lebaran holiday that I know has been always related to being consumptive since I was a kid. But I understand if my parents always wanted to buy new clothes for their kids since their financial condition enabled to do it only on Lebaran with the annual bonus my late dad got from his job.

just a piece of thought
#menulis agar tetap bisa eksis dan narsis :-p
GL7 11.05 071211

The two pics were taken from here and here

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Burning Plain

the poster of the movie

Is a woman still a woman without her breasts?

Apparently this case – breast cancer – triggered an affair between Gina (Kim Basinger) and Nick Martinez (Joaquim de Almeida); this affair then made them die in a fiery explosion in a trailer where they usually had dates. The death of these two people who were deeply in love made their kids lose their mother (Gina had 4 children) and father (Nick had 2 children).

If the reason is clear why Gina was involved in an affair with Nick – a married man – the movie doesn’t give clear illustration why Nick did that. Although Gina lost her left breast due to cancer, Nick loved her passionately; always gave her warm sensation and sexual satisfaction every time they dated. This was absolutely very contradictory to Gina’s husband who lost his passion toward his wife. Doesn’t everybody deserve to have and enjoy wonderful lovemaking with someone they love? Someone who has successfully made them accepted and loved just the way they are?

Without Gina and Nick’s knowing, Mariana (Jennifer Lawrence) – Gina’s eldest daughter – knew their affair. She even found out the place where they dated: a trailer located in a very spacious open plain. This made Mariana lose her respect toward her mother. In order to make Gina ‘come back’ to be a loyal wife to her father and a caring mother to the children, Mariana did something to stop the affair between her mother and Nick that accidentally killed them both.

young Mariana and Santiago

Deeply devastated due to the accident that made the two families hated each other, Mariana surprisingly accepted Santiago’s invitation – one son of Nick – to have a date. Not long after that, Mariana and Santiago (J.D. Pardo) even fell in love with each other and ‘copied’ what their parents did: having a forbidden love affair. When Mariana’s father found out this affair, he would kill Santiago. However, before this happened, Mariana asked Santiago to run away together. They went to Mexico to continue their life.

Mariana gave birth to a daughter that in fact made her very worried if the daughter would grow up to be like her. To avoid that, she even left the two-day baby girl with her dad.

In order to leave her dark past, Mariana changed her name to be Sylvia (Charlize Theron). She lived an economically successful life with her restaurant. Obviously, her beauty charmed many men so she had a lot of one-night-stand dates. She did not want to have one steady boyfriend because she was even worried to be heart-broken. She did not want to walk in her mother’s path either – let’s say by having a long-lasting relationship with John, one employee in the restaurant, who was married.

Sylvia in one attempt to commit suicide
Despite her success, the dark past kept following her: killing her mother and her boyfriend, breaking her father’s heart by having an affair with Santiago, leaving the family to live together with Santiago until she left her baby. No wonder if once in a while Sylvia looked depressed and wanted to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Santiago got a very serious accident. Worried that something bad would take his life, Santiago asked his friend, Carlos to look for Mariana in order that Mariana (alias Sylvia) would take care of their only child, Maria.

Could Carlos find Mariana? Would he successfully beg her to come back to Santiago, especially to take care of Maria, the daughter that she left for more than a decade?

Maria, the daughter of Mariana and Santiago

Additional note:

It is quite interesting to pay attention to the ‘affair’ between Sylvia (Charlize Theron) and John (John Corbett), her own workmate. John who was married looked so possessive and jealous every time he saw Sylvia intimate with a guy. One time when she was dating one customer of her restaurant, John could not control himself. He embarrassed Sylvia by scolding her, in front of that guy, “Is that what you do? Fuck any guy you wanna fuck? And then just go?”

Sylvia responded, “Don’t mess up with my life, John. You don’t have me! Just overcome your own problem with your wife!”

Nevertheless, when one time Sylvia ‘challenged’ him to run away together, to leave everything they owned at that time, John refused. It proved that John was not different from any other man who dated Sylvia: only to have fun. The difference was if other men didn’t show exaggerating possessive character, John annoyingly did.

GL7 10.30 251111

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Not Knowing is Better than Knowing?

I have been bothered by this 'contemplative' statement of my own, especially since the end of 2007 due to 'something unhappy' happened. (You can click the following site not-knowing.)

And this morning, this statement haunted me again while I was discussing 'Prejudice and Discrimination' in Christianity and Hinduism, in 'Religious Studies' class of grade 11. (I downloaded the material from Religious Studies ) To start the discussion, I gave two questions to discuss in pairs/small groups:

1. In Christianity, women cannot become priests.

2. In Hinduism, women are as important as men but they have different roles.

FYI, there were seven students in the class, three boys and four girls. One is from Denmark -- a brand new student -- while the others are Indonesian.

Point number 1: Women cannot become priests in Christianity.

The only student from Denmark -- a girl -- directly criticized this statement because she said she found many women becoming priests. She perhaps thought that this 'prohibition' was 'practiced' only in Indonesia. Therefore, I asked her to check the material where she read:

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

I divided the class into three small groups; the four girls worked in two pairs and the three boys in one group. The two pairs consisting of girls did not agree with the statement that women cannot become priests. They simply said that women are supposed to be equal with men. If a woman has as much knowledge and education as men, she can become priest for sure. The boys agreed that women cannot become priests because 'they look weird to be priests'. :)

And my time to 'bubble' came although I did not want to talk a lot. In the past even only some 'chosen' people could understand the Bible because it was not yet published in a language where 'common' people understood. Those 'chosen' people obviously were men because only men could study that special language. Only men got education in the past because education was expensive.

Then men -- using their male life experiences -- interpreted the so-called holy book. This inevitably resulted in gender-biased 'readings' where one of them was 'only men can become priests'.

The discussion then led us to talk a little about the struggle of Kartini. Now women in the whole world can get education as high as they want therefore women can become anything that they want.

Point number two: women are as important as men but they have different roles.

Pay attention to the word 'but'. As a language teacher, the word 'but' can always show the different treatment. Since the material mentioned

The Ramayana (Hindu text) tells the story of Lord Rama and his wife, Sita. Women are encouraged to be good wives and mothers and to follow the example of Sita.

I asked the students whether they were familiar with the story of Ramayana. Unfortunately, none of them has ever heard or red the story about Rama and Sita. Therefore, in short, then I narrated the story about Sita was kidnapped by an ugly giant called 'Dasamuka' (ten heads) in Indonesian version. After struggling to get Sita back, in fact, Rama did not believe that Sita was loyal to him. To test the wife's loyalty, Rama asked Sita to commit suicide. (Am I right? LOL.)

The end of this so-called fairy tale shocked my students since it did not end happily. Does this mean in Hinduism women must always be ready to commit suicide like what Sita did when the husband asked her to do so? The discussion made me remember the practice of 'suttee' in India long time ago (although I heard that it is still sometimes practiced in some minor ethnic groups in India?) where the wife had to throw her body to the fire to burn herself when the husband died. Everyone can guess how the information about 'suttee' practice shocked my students.

Can we still say that women are as important as men in Hinduism? (I am truly asking not judging.)

GL7 09.35 191011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Need a Lamp


There was once a rich old man who did not like to give his money to charity. He had a good son who always told his dad that he should give his money away in the way of Allah. 

The old man told his son that he could give it all away after his death.

The son told him that it would be too late for the father, for he should give it away now to be able to get the benefits in the hereafter.

The old man just would not listen.

One night the old man wanted to go out. It was very dark so he asked his son to carry a lamp and walk in front of him so he would be able to see.

The son obeyed his father but halfway he started walking behind his dad.

His father said:

“Why have you gone behind me? I can’t see! I need the lamp in front.”

The son said:

“Father! That’s exactly what I have been telling you. If you want light in the hereafter you have to give away what you have in the way of Allah before you die and not after.”

The old man finally understood what his son had been trying to tell him.

*copied from Society and Environment book D

Religious Studies Class


My experience in teaching ‘Religious Studies’ subject in one class of primary school (grade 4 now) is absolutely very different from the one of senior high school I have had since a year ago. (FYI, I did not teach the ‘religion’ or ‘humanities classes when the grade 4 students were still in grade 3.)

First, the teaching material.

Second, maturity. Maturity here can be in psychological/mental state. However it can also refer to maturity in the experience of practicing the religious teachings.


For the class in senior high school, I downloaded the material from The first topic is about ‘Knowledge, Faith, and Belief’. The discussion on “Why believe?” and “What is truth?” is expected to make the students (in Indonesia where the atmosphere in society is more to ‘religious’ than in other countries, let’s say in Britain) think critically. Why believe in something we never see? Truth in one aspect – for example ‘historical’ truth – can be something else when viewed using ‘scientific’ truth. Truth in ‘films’ (or aesthetic) can be only imaginary when seen from another point of view.

For the class in primary school, I got a book entitled ‘Society and Environment’ book D. The first topic is “Famous People”. We discussed Mother Teresa (a very devoted Christian from India), Ian Kiernan (an environmentalist from Australia) and Eddie Mabo (a hero for the aboriginal people’s rights ). The interesting thing from this first topic is that we related these three people with their beliefs. We compare a Christian, an environmentalist and a human right hero at the same ‘level’ of belief.

The following topic in senior high class is ‘Beliefs about God’ in five different religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism). As we all know the three religions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have one root – from Abraham – so that they are called ‘Abrahamic Faiths’. Hinduism is non Abrahamic Faith, while Sikhism is the mixture of Islam and Hinduism. Therefore the understanding of ‘God’ in the three religions is similar to each other since they have one root: they believe in one God. They are also called monotheist religions. Hinduism is of course very different although in the website it is also stated that Hindus believe in one true God but their God has many different forms. Meanwhile, Sikhism is also monotheist.

The following topic in grade 4 class is the discussion on Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Aboriginal Beliefs Customs and Religion. There is no explanation why Judaism is not included. The topic of Aboriginal Beliefs must be chosen to introduce this ‘native’ of Australian beliefs to children. (FYI, the book is published in Australia for Australian schools’ market.) The main discussion on the three religions are background/history, beliefs, practices and laws, also important texts/symbols.

There are eleven students in grade 4 where most of them are raised in Christian families. Two students have Islamic upbringing. Two students have Indian blood and one of them has Australian blood.


It is much more challenging to handle the religious studies class in  primary school rather than in senior high in my opinion. Last week I got a new class (grade 11) to teach religious studies subject. The first time I entered the classroom, I directly asked the students, “Why do you need to study other religions you do not adhere?” I got a unison answer, “In order that we respect other people’s religions.” The second question, “Do you have any idea why religions exist? Try to use the perspective of a non-believer because it is also important that we respect his/her choice to be a non-believer just like a non-believer also must respect the believers.”

No one answered my question.

“Have you ever thought a possibility that religious teachings are in fact only for those who cannot control the negative drives inside themselves? People who already have a high control on themselves do not need any religious/moral teachings. They know what to do and they know what to leave. The most important thing is that they do not harm others. They do not do anything harmful toward themselves either.”

“Is that why people in other countries who are non-believers do not necessarily do crimes?” one student asked.

“There! You got the point!” I strengthened her remark.

Based on the students’ maturity, I find it easy to express my opinon. However, I could not easily comment when some weeks ago a student in grade 4 said, “I don’t want to be a Muslim, Miss. It is so hard. I don’t want to be punished after death.” (Background: he is a Muslim because he follows his mother’s religion. His dad – an expatriat – apparently is not a Muslim.) I was totally speechless. I felt not right if I ‘blatantly’ exposed my agnostic view. I would not be able to say anything if the students would tell their parents, “Miss Nana, my religion teacher, said that religious teachings are not important for people who bla bla bla ...” and perhaps it would ignite the parents’ anger because I was trying making their kids agnostic.

(Info: the background of the statement of one Muslim student of mine was the reading passage entitled “I need a lamp in front”.)

Meanwhile when discussing “Aboriginal Beliefs, Customs, and Traditions” I found it challenging to make the students understand the way Aboriginal people view the creation of this universe because these people do not believe in one God. It is somewhat ‘absurd’ for them to imagine that this universe existed without God working for six days. I also encouraged the students to view this belief as valuable to believe as their knowledge from religious teachings (the so-called God created the earth in six days, and on the sevent day God rested. Then God created Adam and Eve bla bla bla ...)

However, in short, I am of opinion that teaching Religious Studies subjects is always challenging and satisfying. If only I can help create a more peaceful Indonesia when my students grow up that no need to fight over religions.

GL7 14.24 200911

Saturday, July 30, 2011

White Laws ...

In one early session of my Social and Environment subject in grade 4, we discussed 'Famous People' with their so-called 'beliefs'. The three famous people selected were Mother Teresa, Ian Kiernan, and Eddie Mabo. The discussion then led me to talk a bit about the history of Australia. :)

Everybody knows Mother Teresa and her love for all human beings in the whole world, especially the needy. Her deep belief in her God was represented in a way that she devoted her life for those who need help. Different from Mother Teresa, Ian Kiernan as an environmentalist deeply believes that we all are to live in a clean environment so that we are not to litter everywhere: waterways, rivers, harbor, bla bla bla ... Meanwhile, Eddie Mabo who is also from Australia, was struggling against 'White Laws'.

"What is white law, Miss?" my grade 4 students asked.

In the book it was already explained that during the white colonization over Australia, the white issued their own laws saying that all lands in this smallest continent belonged to no one. It meant everybody -- those new comers from other countries, mainly Britain -- could claim any land they coveted to be theirs. They did not respect the rights of the native descendents, the aborigins.

For further information about Eddie Mabo, just click here
�My very young students found it difficult to understand, though. Therefore, as an example, I told them the history of how the early settlers migrated from Britain to the east coast of America (since I am not quite familiar with the history of Australia, but I learned about American History): how those early settlers moved from their native country to the new land to get better life, to get freedom to adhere the religion they believed in; but then they called the native uncivilized only due to different way of life, different way of thinking, etc.

At this point, one student whose dad is Australian was speechless because apparently his grandma told him that the aborigins were uncivilized since they once came to the grandma's house to steal. He got more dumbfounded when I told the class that many centuries ago, many poor people from Britain were 'sent' to America, while criminals from the same country were sent to Australia.

C-net, 10.25 300711

More on Ian Kiernan, click this this.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Togetherness beats discomfort


Aiming to give memorable trip to the grade 12 students who will leave the school in less than two months, teachers as well as the principal planned the trip that involved all students from grade 7 to grade 12; consisting of 26 students altogether. Jogja was chosen as the destination as proposed by grade 10 students because most of them rejected the idea to go to Bali with high cost as the main reason.

Day 1, 3 May 2011

The 25 students – one student asked for permission not to join due to health problem – with five teachers as the supervisors left the school around 07.45 as scheduled. We were all ‘packed’ in one cute bus that had 32 seats. With quite ‘difficult’ effort all of us could overcome the problem to arrange all of the luggage in the limited space of the ‘trunk’ at the back of the bus.

The first complaint from the students was the condition of the bus whose space was really limited especially for those who had ‘big’ bodies as well as long legs. However, not long afterwards, everybody seemed settled, munching and sharing some snacks they brought, playing games inside their respective ‘PSP’ or any other game ‘gadget’ they had; or just listening to music from their respective cell phone or ipod.

preparing to enter the area of Prambanan temples

The trip to Prambanan temples – as the first destination – was good. Before we visited the temple, we dropped by first at one restaurant nearby to have lunch at 11.30. (It was quite early lunch, do you agree? But all of us needed energy to go around Prambanan temples.) Everybody was free to choose any kind of food to their heart’s content. We spent around 40 minutes here.

It turned out that many of the students had not visited Prambanan temples yet. Although they complained about the hot weather – it was sunny – they enjoyed the explanation from the tour guide, Pak Topo. They just found out that the history of Prambanan temples could be narrated at least from three different views: first; historical view (the temples were first built in the ninth century during Rakai Pikatan kingdom); second, legendary view (the temples were made by Bandung Bondowoso to fulfill the wish of Rorojonggrang, a princess that Bandung wanted to marry), third, archeological view (some archeologists predicted that the temples were built in the ninth century and from what kinds of rocks and how old the rocks were that were used to build the temples). Btw, Prambanan temples are categorized into Hindu temples.

From Prambanan we directly headed to the inn we would stay for two nights. It took around 30 minutes. When we arrived at ‘Wisma Martha’ and saw the ‘condition’ of the inn – quite small rooms with four narrow single beds and a very ordinary toilet – some male students directly complained very bitterly. (Compared to their ‘habit’ to stay in five star hotel when they have a vacation with their respective parents. ) Trying to calm them down was the responsibility of the teachers.

picture downloaded from

“Who thought we needed to pay low? We want comfortable rooms!”
“How could we do ‘our business’ in such very ordinary toilets?”

The two questions above were the most often-heard complaint.  aha ... it seemed that the plan to give the most memorable trip to grade 12 students worked well. :-P However, the girls were very nice; they seemed to be more adaptable. (it reminded me of the ‘theory’ of ‘Survival of the fittest’ by Herbert Spencer. The girls will survive much better than some boys under certain circumstances. )

Despite the complaint about the small rooms and the very ordinary toilet, the swimming pool and the pingpong table provided by the inn entertained the students. Some boys seemed to enjoy some games of pingpong; some girls enjoyed swimming while the rest spent some time to have the ‘second’ lunch (or the early dinner?) in the restaurant of the inn.

some boys were playing pingpong ball in the pool

After taking a shower and taking some rest, everybody was ready to go to Ambarrukmo Plaza around 18.15 although it was not included in the itinerary in the first place. However, to console the students’ disappointment – in case they really could not do ‘their business’ in the toilet of the inn, they could do it in the toilet of  ‘Amplaz’  – the teachers decided to take the students to this seemingly most luxurious mall in Jogja.

Some girls directly enjoyed their shopping; some boys had fun in the ‘game’ center;  some others had a good time in one popular bookstore, the others had sightseeing.

We arrived back to the inn around 21.30. We were all supposed to go to bed early since we had to wake up early the following day.

Day 2, 4 May 2011

We had to wake up around 04.30 since the first activity on this second day was biking along Selokan Mataram. It would be better to do it in the early morning so that we would not get disturbed by the traffic and we could enjoy the fresh air.

We left for the starting point at 05.15, 15 minutes later from the plan. When we arrived in the starting point – a spot called ‘Babarsari’ – around 05.50, the bikes already arrived there. To have this activity, we rented the bikes we needed. Since not all of the students could ride a bike, there was one teacher accompanying them on the bus.

too bad my students were not as narcissistic as me

We started biking around 06.00. There was one guide showing the way; we headed to the east. The last point was one spot near Candi Sambisari. We arrived there at 07.00. Special appreciation for one student who seriously learned to ride a bike some days before the field trip, also another student who tried his best to join the biking although he was not accustomed to it so that several times he seemed almost to jump to the ‘selokan’.  Luckily we were all safe and sound when we arrived at the last point.

At 07.30 we already arrived back to the hotel to have breakfast together. Since we would start our activity at 10.00 we really had plenty of time to have fun in the inn. Some of the students played pingpong, some others played in the swimming pool and the rest had a good time in their respective rooms. The students really seemed to always enjoy their togetherness with each other. No more grumbles were heard.

At 10 we were all ready to visit the first destination, Tom’s silver, to learn the process of making ornaments or anything else from silver. From there, we continued our journey to Batik Rorojonggrang. These two places were located not far from the inn.

Around 11.30 we had our lunch somewhere near Kidz Fun. We got surprised by the coming of one student’s mother who specially came to comfort the son.  Another surprise was the owner of the restaurant who could speak English fluently. He must have heard us speaking English so that he excitedly greeted us in English. He turned out to have lived and worked in the US for 18 years!

Some of us planned to visit Kidz Fun after the lunch. However, the hot sunshine hindered some others – especially the girls – who were not excited by the idea of playing Go-Kart. Eventually, all of us even went back to the inn to rest.

At 15.40 we were all prepared to explore Malioboro street, one longest and most well-known street in Indonesia that sell many kinds of merchandise.

At 18.30 we were invited by John’s mom to have dinner at Melia Purosani hotel. She treated all of us a grand dinner, to comfort those who complained about the inn with its ordinary toilet.  We all enjoyed ourselves until 20.00. Then we went back to our inn. It in fact was raining heavily outside.

five girls in my room :)

Feeling very tired, many of us fell asleep easily around 22.30. Before that, around 20.45 some boys and one male teacher visited Kidz Fun again; they were still obsessed to play Go Kart. (Un)fortunately, this amusement park was already closed so they directly went back to the inn.

Day 3, 5 May 2011

It had been raining quite heavily since very early in the morning on this third day. Luckily all of us did not need to be in a hurry since we would check out at 09.30. Many students chose to stay inside their respective rooms since the weather was quite cold, not nice to swim or to play pingpong. We had our breakfast around 07.15. After that we all packed our luggage.

At 09.30 it was still drizzling but everybody was on time to bring their luggage back to the bus. With the help of the bus’ crew, we arranged the luggage. We left the inn around 09.40 and arrived at Sultan’s palace at 09.55. It was still drizzling.

During the tour around the palace, we got one communicative guide who explained this and that about each room we entered as well as the symbols found on the gate or anywhere. We could take pictures everywhere but one building; the batik museum where guests would find any kind of batik cloth or any other thing made by the members of the sultanate.

At 12 we left the palace. We dropped by at one shop selling some ‘oleh-oleh’ such as bakpia, geplak and some others. To fulfill the students’ want to go to Ambarrukmo Paza again, the teachers decided to let the kids have lunch there. We stayed at Amplaz for two hours, 12.30 – 14.30.

Due to exhaustion everybody went back to the bus really on time.  They no longer had energy to go around the mall for quite a long time. Besides, we all missed home already. We left the parking area of Amplaz at 14.30 and headed home. To give grade 12 students more unforgettable moment, on the bus some teachers had prepared one ‘video’ containing many old pictures of the students taken at some school events some years before. The hilarious noise of laughter really filled out the bus while watching the video!

Along the journey back to Semarang, everybody seemed excited by the trip. We all arrived back at the school premises around 19.00.

Despite the exhaustion, we all had fun and proved one important value: togetherness in friendship is really everything. It ‘allegedly’ proved to beat the discomfort.

GL7 08.20 060511

Friday, April 29, 2011

Horror Movies

Watching horror movies is never my cup of tea. My reason is simple: I watch movies to get entertainment and not to get frightened. Besides, my kind of favorite movies is those based on true story; such as Freedom Writers, North Country, Beautiful Mind, Changeling, etc. Well, in fact, not only to get entertainment do I (sometimes) watch movies, but also to learn some historical background of some events (e.g. Iron Jawed Angels), and get some moral values. I believe that there is a mutual relationship between 'life' in movies and 'life' in our real lives.

The first horror movie that I was willing to watch was THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT because my students said that this movie was based on a true story. I watched it together with my students at school since we had topic 'Alive with Horror' in our English class. Well, the movie's plot was quite logical to me: a family moved to a house which was formerly a mortuary. The family soon becomes haunted by violent and traumatic events from supernatural forces occupying the house.

Well, since this was supposedly based on a true story, one can conclude that perhaps this 'event' was transferred into a movie to make people realize that it was always possible to happen where people were haunted by 'spirits' of people who did not die 'properly' or whose bodies did not get proper treatment. The spirits of these people wanted to 'take revenge' to the ones who made their souls 'rejected' to enter 'the sky' (or heaven?).

Emily Jenkins

This morning, in my English class -- with the same topic, 'Alive with Horror', I watched another horror movie: Case 39. The name chosen as the main character who had 'evil character' in her really attracted me: LILITH. It must have been taken from Jewish mythology about the first woman God created after creating Adam. Since Lilith was also created from 'soil' like Adam, she felt equal' to him. She did not easily submit herself to Adam. Even when having sex for the first time, Adam asked Lilith to be under him, she complained.

Getting a 'helpmate' who was rebellious like Lilith, Adam complained to God. God then banished Lilith and created another female creature who was exactly like what Adam wanted: submissive, weak, feminine. There came Eve. On the contrary of Lilith that had demonic and evil character, Eve was angelic.

The story of Case 39 was somewhat a twist. At the beginning, Lilith's parents were narrated to be insane people because they wanted to kill Lilith. Emily Jenkins -- a social worker whose job dealt with 'troubled children' -- saved Lilith from the murder trial done by her parents. Emily even officially asked to have the custody to take care of Lilith because she saw that Lilith felt secure with her.

Some cases of murder that happened next in fact involved Lilith. Lilith that at the beginning seemed so sweet and weak little girl changed to be someone evil when she did not get what she wanted: love from someone she needed.


My very own question since the beginning watching this movie was simple: what made the producer make such a demonic character in a little girl? Had there been any real cases of a new born baby having evil spirit in him/her? A baby who then (indirectly) killed other members of the family after growing up? A baby who had the sixth sense -- just like indigo -- but was 'occupied' by evil spirit.

Realizing that Lilith herself had evil spirit in her, Emily visited Lilith's parents in the mental hospital to investigate. Lilith's father suggested Emily to kill Lilith.

Until the end, I didn't get any clue what made Lilith evil. So, honestly, I don't recommend this movie to be watched. .

PT56 23.17 290411

Friday, April 22, 2011


'TRIFLES' is always in the curriculum of DRAMA ANALYSIS CLASS that I handle in the even semester.


This one-act drama written by Susan Glaspell tells us about a murder of a husband, John Wright. His wife, Mrs. Wright -- her maiden name was Minnie Foster -- was the suspect since she was the last person seen when a neighbor -- Mr. Hale -- found Mr. Wright dead in his house. The following day after the finding, Mr. Hale came back to the house together with the Sheriff and County Attorney to gather evidence -- either to make themselves convinced that Mrs. Wright was the murderer or on the way around: they might find fingerprints of the 'real murderer'. These three men were accompanied by Mrs. Hale -- the wife of the neighbor -- and Mrs. Peter -- the wife of the Sheriff. The two women were about to collect some personal belongings of Mrs. Wright who apparently was already in custody; these personal belongings were, among other things. clothes, some stuff to quilt, etc.

Glaspell intentionally showed the contradictory traits between men and women: the three men paid more attention to anything 'big' or 'serious' to collect evidence, because the crime done was also a serious one: murder. On the contrary, the two women took a very close look at some 'trivial things (alias 'trifles') such as, preserves, bread set, a large sewing basket and a piece cloth Mrs. Wright was quilting. In the end, it turned out that the women even found the evidence that strongly showed Mrs. Wright was the murderer from those trifles, while the men did not find any. However, to show 'loyalty to the same gender' -- as accused by the County Attorney when Mrs. Hale defended Mrs. Wright when the County Attorney said bad things about how messy the kitchen of Mr. Wright's house was -- the two women kept the evidence for themselves.


From the conversation between Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, one can conclude that John Wright had a contradictory trait from his wife, Minnie Foster. Before marrying John, Minnie was a very cheerful girl, singing in a choir, wearing pretty dresses as well as colorful ribbons on her hair. Meanwhile, John belonged to a very quiet man. He refused the offer of Mr. Hale to 'go on a party telephone' by saying that 'folks talked too much'. Apparently he didn't like noise at all.

Because of that, it can be concluded that during their marriage -- for about thirty years -- Minnie was forced to be someone else who was not herself in the past. She could not sing, she could not enjoy having a company -- let us say when a neighbor dropped by at her house. Mrs. Hale herself as a neighbor said that she did not really like visiting the Wrights' house since John did not like it.

When the two women found a dead canary hidden inside a box in the sewing basket, they directly drew a conclusion what made Minnie killed her husband. John killed Minnie's only entertainment. (Mrs. Hale said that only a year ago Minnie bought the canary, 29 years after the wedding, after 29 years living in a quietness and being repressive.) It can be interpreted that John killed Minnie's soul. No longer could Minnie control her emotion, she killed her husband.


The choice of 'kitchen' as the main setting by Glaspell refers to the setting considered as the only women's sphere in that era. 'Trifles' was written in 1916, the decade considered to be important before American women got their right to vote in 1920 after struggling to get it since the first summit in 1848. Despite the fact that women had spent some decades for that demand, the government did not really pay attention to it.

Through this play, Glaspell wanted to criticize the government that it was high time for them to give right to women to be involved in 'men's spheres'. Although 'only' gathering evidence through trivial things -- homemaking stuff -- in the so-called unimportant setting, the two women found evidence as well as the motif why Minnie Foster killed the husband.

A woman indeed will be able to do anything that people might think impossible when she is cornered, when she is forced.

PT56 21.24 220411

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kartini and the exposure

When discussing a poem entitled AN OBSTACLE by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in my Poetry Analysis Class, I didn't give the students the background of Gilman at the first place. This was to show the students that in analyzing some poems by certain poets, using biographical approach will help critics to understand poems better.

Here is the poem:

    An Obstacle

    by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    I was climbing a mountain path
    With many things to do,
    Important business of my own,
    And other people’s too,
    When I ran against a Prejudice,
    That quite cut off the view,
    My work was such as could not wait,
    My path quite clearly showed,
    My strength and time were limited,
    I carried quite a load;
    And there that hulking Prejudice
    Sat all across the road.
    So I spoke to him politely,
    For he was huge and high,
    And begged that he would move a bit
    And let me travel by.
    He smiled, but as for moving! –
    He didn’t even try.
    And then I reasoned quietly
    With that colossal mule:
    My time was short—no other path—
    The mountain winds were cool.
    I argued like a Solomon;
    He sat there like a fool.
    Then I flew into a passion,
    And I danced and howled and swore;
    I pelted and belabored him
    Till I was stiff and sore,
    He got as mad as I did---
    But he sat there as before.
    And then I begged him on my knees,
    I might be kneeling still
    If so I hoped to move that mass
    Of obdurate ill-will—
    As well invite the monument
    To vacate Bunker Hill!
    So I sat before him helpless,
    In an ecstasy of woe—
    The mountain mists were rising fast,
    The sun was sinking slow—
    When a sudden inspiration came,
    As sudden winds do blow.
    I took my hat, I took my stick,
    My load I settled fair,
    I approached that awful incubus
    Win an absent-minded air—
    And I walked directly through him,
    As if he wasn’t there!

Gilman mostly used straight-to-the-point words in her poems, without complicating flowering figurative languages so that it will be a lot easier for critics to understand her poems. After giving the material to the students, giving them 15 minutes to discuss the poem in groups of three to find out what the poem is trying to tell its readers, I got an explanation that I wanted to hear: the poet is struggling something in his life. He found it hard, however, he didn't easily feel discouraged. He kept moving on.

I intentionally used the pronoun 'he' above since the students thought that 'Charlotte Perkins Gilman' was a man. They thought that the name 'Charlotte' is androgyn name, just like 'Nana' can be used for both male and female. 

After knowing that in fact the poet was a woman, the students still did not get what was the 'thing' to be struggled by Giilman. To find out more, I gave them another poem by Gilman. In this case, I planned to combine to explain the function of biographical approach as well as comparative approach; in this case, especially comparing more than one poems written by the same poet. (Another kind of comparative approach is comparing poems having similar themes from different poets.)

Here is another poem:

    by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    Can you imagine nothing better, brother,
    Than that which you have always had before?
    Have you been so content with "wife and mother,"
    You dare hope nothing more?
    Have you forever prized her, praised her, sung her,
    The happy queen of a most happy reign?
    Never dishonored her, despised her, flung her
    Derision and disdain?
    Go ask the literature of all the ages!
    Books that were written before women read!
    Pagan and Christian, satirists and sages–
    Read what the world has said.
    There was no power on earth to bid you slacken
    The generous hand that painted her disgrace!
    There was no shame on earth too black to blacken
    That much-praised woman-face.
    Eve and Pandora!–always you begin it–
    The ancients called her Sin and Shame and Death.
    "There is no evil without woman in it,
    "The modern proverb saith.
    She has been yours in uttermost possession–
    Your slave, your mother, your well-chosen bride–
    And you have owned in million-fold confession,
    You were not satisfied.
    Peace then! Fear not the coming woman, brother.
    Owning herself, she giveth all the more.
    She shall be better woman, wife and mother,
    Than man hath known before.

This second poem more clearly shows what Gillman struggled in her life: equality between men and women. 

"Did she struggle for 'emancipation' just like what Kartini did in the past?" one student asked me.

Perhaps because this is April, a month where most of Indonesian people commemorate Kartini's birth on April 21 as one date to encourage women's equality to men, this particular student of mine mentioned the name 'Kartini' while in fact I didn't think that way at the beginning. (How coincident! I was explaining some fundamental approaches in analyzing literary work -- especially biographical and comparative approaches -- by choosing Gilman's poems in April. FYI, you can guess, I never pass up my literature classes not to discuss literary work by women; that can be viewed using feminist approach.)

Then I explained a little background of Gilman. She was born in 1860 and died in 1935. She started writing poems, short stories, articles as well as novels by the end of the 19th century, to release herself from the nervous breakdown, a mental illness 'attacking' her since she was in her early twenties. It became worse after she married her first husband.

Women movement in American started to rise with the first women summit in 1848 in Seneca Falls. Gilman was born with such exposure. As we all know, American women got the right to vote in 1920, after that first summit, more than 7 decades later.

Kartini got some privileges in her life:
  • was born in an aristocratic wealthy family so she could go to school, although only in primary school
  • could speak Dutch so she could correspond with her Dutch friends

(In that era, people who were not born in aristocratic wealthy families could not go to school, moreover women. They would not be able to communicate in good Dutch. They would not have friends from the Netherlands. They would not get any exposure to books from the Netherlands, let's say.


I believe her intelligence as well as those privileges gave her an idea to set up school for girls. I believe she got exposed to books from Holland; she also got exposed to news or information about how women in other countries at that time struggled for women's betterment; one of them could be Charlotte Perkins Gilman's writings or other 'feminists' from England or other European countries. Gilman's writings as well as her lectures she gave by traveling to all over America and also England reached Kartini.

Unfortunately indeed that Kartini could not refuse her father's instruction to marry a married man although she realized that polygamy was just one way to show women's degraded position; her father who gave her the privilege to be able to go to (primary) scholol, the same man who gave her privilege to correspond to her Dutch friends to get know what was going on in Europe.

When Gilman got 'baby blue' when delivering her baby, but she could not on living to continue her struggle, Kartini had to die at a young age after delivering her first baby.

Happy Kartini Day, my folks. Let's continue struggling for our betterment in our lives in the future. Let us empower ourselves!!!

GL7 08.57 210411 

To read my interpretation on AN OBSTACLE, click here.

To read my interpretation on REASSURANCE, click here.

To read more writings of mine on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, click here.