Behind the Scenes

Did your mother nag so much when you got home way beyond your curfew?

Did your friend screamed at you when you make fun of them in front of his/her crush? Or in general, just screamed when you say or do something you think okay?

We all have been there. That’s why we apologize for our mistakes whether we are aware of it or not. Because each of us has a different culture, experience, trauma, or sensitivity to something.

Back when I was around 9-10 years old, my old house was located near a border between a rural village and urban house. The village was 10-steps away, bordered by a steel fence which would be closed at 10pm for security reasons. But in daytime, the people living in the village are free to roam.

I vividly remember when I was in 2nd grade (8 years old), my father bought me a McDonalds and got a toy from it. The toy was my prized possession. Loved it so much.

Then there was these village kids, approaching me and took my toy away. There were two of them, angered by the action, I ran into one of them and he would throw the toy to his friend, then I ran to the other and he throw the toy back to his friend, and it would repeat for minutes. I felt helpless and cried. A hate then grew.

I kinda remember my neighbors had the same experience with the village kids, since then, we were in constant war with them.

One day we even fight physically when one of the village kids didn’t accept the fact that they lose a competition. I didn’t participate, one of my friends initiated the fight after an intense trash-talk. The trash-talk, by the way, kept happening for years every time we met. A friend of mine who initiated the fight even screamed to them saying “you son of a dick!” or “anak setan! (Son of devil!)”, looking back at it, it was a strong word for an 8 years old.

In other occasion, after the constant war between us and the village kids subsided, an internal altercation between the neighbors broke. The friend who fought with the village kids attacked one of my close friends, he would ride a bicycle and when he passed my close friends’ house, he would scream “dasar rumah ngontrak!”. Again, such a dirty mouth for a kid.

Fast forward years, in junior high school, young people of my generation used to search for each students’ parents name and would use the name as an ultimate weapon in a battle. I remember successfully protecting the identity of my parents and people couldn’t mock me back then. But as for me…. Well, I had fun throwing off parents’ name and managed to be a double agent in finding those names. Let’s just say I had my own fair share of being a bad person.

Once, my friends and I were sitting on a pavement near our schools’ field. There were other student whom parents’ name are well-known and frequently made fun. When people made fun of his parents’ name, I joined the bandwagon and laughed. Within a moment, that guy pushed me and was about to hit me. I was surprised. However, I did the same in other occasion, but my friend, who was the target, didn’t give any reaction at all. He just calmly accept and sit in silence. Dick move, bro.

It happened to me as well. After being a straight up jerk, tables had turned.

Senior high school, 6 years ago. I broke up with someone, and when asked why, she only said because her close friends didn’t like how I look. For your information, in 2011, I was only 40 cm away from a dwarf, with zero sense of fashion (and zero budget for it, too), a look someone couldn’t be proud of. “Alright” I told myself. Worse, it didn’t end there. Weeks after the break up, I know from a friend that actually her parents also expect a tall, white guy with presentable looks.

The pain was amazing. Not because of how I looked, but how my parents’ would react if they know their ‘hardly produced’ (There’s a back story for this) child was considered “didn’t have presentable look” or in better vocabulary, “ugly”. That night I cried imagining my parents’ reaction to that. It was painful, even just a word.

That event was a wake-up slap, a total wake-up slap for me. After knowing how hurt it was, my mind started to think about the past, people who were a victim of my sharp mouth or (in my perspective) comedy. I even remember what Quran said about keeping your mouth from saying anything unnecessary, because our tongue is a sword.

Who knows if your nagging mom had experienced her worst nightmare getting home past their curfew and only wanted to protect her children from it?

Who knows if the village kids that my friend shout “son of a dick!” and “anak setan!” at cried hard, because their parents’ had passed away and they lived without their parents? Or who knows if there was a traumatic event that made the kids cried because we aren’t sensitive enough about that?

Who knows that my close friend, whom my other friend shout “dasar rumah ngontrak!” at cried because he knew his family was in financial breakdown? Or they had a struggle in paying the monthly rent? Who knows?

Who knows that the guy who pushed me for making fun of his parents loves his parents so much that he protect the pride of his parents?

Or a friend of mine who couldn’t react when I mock his parents’ name? What if his parents were sick at that time and he was thinking about his parents’ so much that he couldn’t react and just smile when I did that?

You know, people HAVE many considerations before they react to something. Ever confront an office boy who accidentally spilled a tea on your Marc Jacobs shirt? Why didn’t they react? Maybe they feel bad, they feel useless and if they react, their supervisor would push the “FIRE” button immediately, and they’ll lose the job.

It amaze me how a mere word could cause a major pain for a person. You’ll never see the chain reaction of that word because it isn’t for you to feel or see. If you ever confronted because of that, you’ll say “baper amat” or “it’s just a joke, bro” and decides not to care about it. But behind the scenes, behind the door and on the corner of the wall, you will never, ever know how that person would feel.

Was told to care, but I’d rather not.

If anyone ever interested, I was a graduate of international relations.

During 4 years of my college years, I had a fair share of uh… criticizing policies, made a dilettante-level analysis about things from political matters to personal behavior of a world leader. Had a dream to be involved in high-level political meetings, or at least be the one who critically criticize and see through bull-craps of politician.

Philosophy also had a fair time residing in my brain, read and instill several tenets from philosophy, apply it to real life and get a pair of contrarian spectacles. You know, the tenets of philosophical thoughts that made me see through bullshits whenever I see one. Though I’m not sure about its accuracy, but my intuition in smelling bullshits seemed accurate.

Combination of both above mentioned provides a brand-new way of looking, perceiving, and predicting things for me. At a moment I could be ultra-sensitive and suspicious, questioning everything as if I’m a Sherlock Holmes. Other moment I could have goosebumps feeling extreme cringy whenever I see something like that overly formal and unnecessary dialogues from cheaply produced bad (Indonesian) soap operas. And other permutation that I couldn’t name it here, but has happened.

Back in college, this sort of perspective helped me went through college and feeling like high caliber political pundit or anything. I continuously told people that politic matters, kept quoting Aung San Suu Kyi’s infamous quote. You know, “politics may not be important for you, but politics is all about you” that sort. Told my analysis to people (Now I feel it was uncalled for) about this and that.

Ugh, now I cringed.

Especially, when it comes to recent sequences that happened subsequently. It’s distress–no, actually it wasn’t distressing for me. I just happened to found a bigger picture than this whole world combined. A religious perspective of course, which I believe is the utmost truth, and I’ll stick with that to the end of my time.

Sticking to that perspective makes me feel like anything earthly isn’t as important. Plus, the world’s getting rough and worse, too.

And people…. They are making assumptions (backed with logics, okay) on literally everything. They’d write thousands of lines on their social media, voicing out their thoughts–which is okay by the way, but a bit bugging. Instead, I found it to be my latest pet peeve. The other user then would share it, act like it is true (sometimes it does) and would echo the message anywhere. A perfect day for discourse to set itself in the motion. Voila, then you got yourself a public-made opinions… and a changed mind.

Being tired of that, I decided not to care anymore. Like, this world has been taken care by millions of people. Why would I still think to spend my precious amount of energy to make fuss something that’s: 1. Not my forte 2. Not my cup of tea 3. Don’t affect me much

I would rather take care of people I cherish and just go on with life. I’d still elect, think about the economy, but delve in like I used to? Nah, I’ll pass.

Seoul Talk Concert (Guest Star: Eru, Red Velvet)

 

(Breaking news that breaks my heart: Cleveland Cavaliers (I root for LeBron) just got its first loss since post-season from the Celtics after blowing out Celtics in previous two games, come on..)

So, last night I went to a mini-concert/talk show named “Seoul Talk Concert”. The event was intended to promote the sister city of Jakarta, which is Seoul and its top spots, foods, and the beauty of the Seoul itself. It was attended by two main guest stars: Eru and Red Velvet. To complete the Seoul promotion, several representatives of Seoul including its Vice Mayor.

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Event banner

Before we going to the main part of the show, I’d like to tell you some back stories before I got here.

THE STRUGGLE

After the sudden announcement from Eru’s official LINE account that he would attend a event along with mistyped “Read Velvet” (whom I thought was a cover-dance group), I got a bit nervous. Firstly, the event was completely FREE, and there were only 964 seats publicly available. Even though Red Velvet’s fanbase aren’t as big as that of EXO’s or SNSD’s, but Red Velvet has surely attracted many international fans with their talents, visual, and their personality. Plus, I have seen a bunch of Indonesian who comments on every Red Velvet music videos. Which adds to my nervousness.

The official ticket handler was Kiostix, whom already experienced in selling tickets to many events, its name also is quite as big as other ticket provider in Indonesia. Kiostix announced that they were going to start the ticketing on 10th May and 13th May. Starting from 1:00pm until sold out.

Completely FREE means everyone has the same chance to get the ticket, fans or not, cash or cashless.

So I predicted that the traffic would be outrageous, the website would be down for the entire sequence. At 10:00am on May 10th, simultaneously doing an interview, I started to refresh the webpage of Kiostix’s. From the phone. Which was not a wisest thing to do.

I couldn’t access the page from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach for my laptop as well as I wasn’t in the room for the whole 5 hours. I was doing a back-to-back interview. Boy did I nervous.

Right when I could access the website, the banner showed “REGISTRATION CLOSED”. Damn. It means I should wait for another day for war. May 13th 2017. Luckily, May 13th was on Saturday, means I could go full berserk on getting the ticket.

So the day came, I woke up at early morning, did a registration on the website (I was  a fool for not realizing I should’ve registered on the website first) and opened like 10 tabs from 3 different browsers, almost as if I was prepared for total war. The ticketing, as previously happened, was opened at 1:00pm.

The clock ticks at 1:00pm. I started to refresh like crazy.

The first 30 minutes. No luck.

The first 1 hour. Still no luck. Checked the twitter, people went batshit crazy because the website was fully inaccessible. All we got was this screen.

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You’re on the right track….. baby I was born this way

The first hour coming to two, I could still think positively and calmly hit refresh each of the tab I opened, like mother bird giving worm to each of her kids’ mouth.

Okay… I got this, we got this, just let everyone raged, we have to hit refresh. refresh. And refresh.”

I thought the self-hypnosis would be effective but….. no.

Over the next 45 minutes, I got tired of trying. “Screw this”. I told myself.

But only then I remembered that when you’re tired of trying and feel like giving up, that’s when you’re closer to succeeding. This might be exaggerated for a mere ticket, but it was true!

Before I got tired, I made a mistake of clearing the browsers’ cookie. Which I thought would make me access faster, instead, I got logged out from Kiostix because the password I saved was wiped away.

However, after the tiring sequence, magically, in one attempt, I successfully relogged in and bought the ticket smooothly! Much like cutting through butter with hot knife.

I got excited but still cautious because there might be a mistake or anything.

But no! The E-Ticket was successfully sent to my e-mail, it looked like this:

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Swwwweeet.

THE STRUGGLE PART II

It all started with this clause:

Clause

That pretty much means: “if you’re late then screw you and go home”.

So, I planned to sleep early the night before and woke up early to prepare and depart early.

That’s the plan.

In reality, because I was a tad tired and got anxious, I couldn’t sleep until 1:00am. The thought of meeting Red Velvet in person made me giddy. But I managed to sleep.

I then woke up at 5:30am, did a Subuh prayer and foolishly slept afterwards and re-woke up at 6:40am. A shot of panic crept up my body. I swung myself from the bed and hastily took a short shower. Departed from home at 7:20am.

It took only 12 minutes from home to the venue, plus, Jakarta at Sunday morning has a blissful traffic which I enjoyed while jamming to Red Velvet’s songs.

Right when I arrived, I thought I would be on the 50th in line or so, but life gave a powerful slap and laughed hard while saying “you’re 300th, dumbass. Don’t dream like you’re the first to arrive”.

Suddenly I remembered early bird gets the worm.

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Taken from Kumparan.com, this was the front line, they had been here since 5:00am

I walked towards the end of the line while not believing what had just happened. Couldn’t digest the reality.

“Alright…..” I sat down.

It was 8:00am. The E-Voucher exchanging with wristbands would start at 11:00am. Means I have 3 hours of doing anything.

There wasn’t much to do, frankly. I tried to make friend with people queuing beside me, but they weren’t people of my age. In fact, we probably have a double-digit age difference. So, a small-talk attempt ended in awkward pause.

Fortunately, I brought my N3DS and a book with me. Played Monster Hunter and killed some dragons, and read a quite hefty page. But there were something that distracted me the most:

Hunger and weary.

Both gave me a serious deal of pain. Although it wasn’t that painful, but boy did I became fidgety and finicky.

N3DS and book help me got through roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes, there was 45 minutes left and I feel uneasy, changing position became frequent, my stomach screamed, and my body felt like giving up.

This was actually my first Korean concert experience, unlike my sister, I wasn’t that much of a concert goer. She had gone to like 7 different concerts, while I only 2; Taylor Swift and Red Velvet. Taylor’s concert didn’t involve a lot of queuing, we got the ticket after we bought it, then just get in and enjoy. Whilst I have to get through battles in order to get there. So, tiredness was inevitable.

After barely made it to 11:00am, the committee finally spoken and everyone rushed to stand, the queue started to move line-by-line, there were approximately 200 people lining in front of me. It was such a tedious waiting and I was getting agitated, both because I was worried that the seat would suddenly ran out and I hadn’t eat anything yet.

Fortunately, it didn’t feel so tough after I opened Reddit and read comments from NBA thread, it was legitimately funny. Call me anything, but Reddit people are always good at making me laugh. During the queuing, I laughed silently but too obvious; people were staring confusedly.

12:00pm, I finally made it to the end of the line, and got the wristband. My seat number was BG 32. Located on the top part of the theater.

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After such a struggle

THE (PRE) SHOW

There was a 3 hour gap from the wristband exchange to the open gate, it was 1:00pm, I’m totally worn out and knowing that my home isn’t far away from the location, I went back home and spent like 2 hours of resting before the actual show.

At 4:00pm, I darted back to the venue and found that there were a bunch of people waiting outside the venue, mixed between those with wristband, and those who were still hoping to get the ticket (the ticket provider promised to give extra tickets on the venue). The faces showed grimace of hopelessness and at the same time, happiness.

When the securities allowed people with wristband in for (another) queuing, the scene got even saddening. You know the scene from disaster movies, where people with privilege could hop in the safety vehicles while those without privilege just wait outside, silently cursing and being judgmental, giving the “I’ll see you in hell” face? That’s exactly what happened. Worse, people with wristband and those who were starving for tickets were only separated by a glass. So we could see these people’s disheartened expression.

Sadness aside, I successfully entered the venue front side for (another) queuing. This time, we were told by the staffs to write some sort of questionnaire that would be randomly picked and read by performing guests and the vice mayor himself, with a gift from those people as the award.

There’s usually a fan union in Korean concerts. The purpose? In order to appreciate our idol, the fan union usually gave something called freebies. The freebies are usually banner, a fan, or photo card. ReVeluvs (Red Velvet fandom name) were given a banner, a photo card, and a sheet of lyric with emphasized parts inside it.

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Actually, there should be more than this but I’m too lazy to move

We were told indirectly by the lyric sheet that Red Velvet will only sing two songs: their current hit Rookie, and a ballad First Time. I personally was a bit disappointed, firstly, two songs? After all this pain? Secondly, I was hoping to sing Red Velvet’s One of These Nights. That song was subjectively amazing and all-time great. But I had to be grateful to even able to watch them live.

The time then came, 6:30pm. The committee told us to queue (again) and sequentially enter the main venue. At this point, I envied those who were located on the bottom part of the stage, you know, I thought they could see them closer.

As I entered the door that led me to seat number BG 32, I started to realize that this was a freaking theater. A theater’s seat must be stage-focused, the design must allow even the farthest seat to see the stage with ease.

And yes.

This was my view:

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Crystal clear.

Wowzers.

Better yet, there were nobody sitting behind me, so I could dance all I want and just let the hell out.

The show then started shortly after.

An old man in his fifties started to emerge, after the emcee introduced him. He was the Vice Mayor of Seoul, spoken some diplomatic words to solidify the sisterly relation between Jakarta and Seoul. Then proceed to introduce the Ambassador of Seoul, which was Gita Gutawa.

I never once doubted Gita Gutawa and turned out, it was right. Gita was a classy performer with good attitude, classified as top performers (subjectively) along with Afgan, Raisa, Tulus, and more. Her signature high-note is always her identity.

After a symbolic ceremony between the Vice Mayor and Gita Gutawa, Gita Gutawa then started to sing 3 of her songs: Harmoni, SempurnaAYO (Come on). I must say these 3 songs were perfect for the moment and with her high note ability, the crowd couldn’t do anything but clap in awe. Great choice!

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RED VELVET STAGE

With Gita Gutawa’s last song finished, and back to the backstage, the emcee again emerge. At this point, almost 90% of the audience forgot that the main performer was ERU. Not Red Velvet. So we didn’t anticipate their appearance until the last hour.

The emcee teased us about calling out Red Velvet to the stage. We took the bait but he laughed.

The emcee again teased us.

But this time, Red Velvet really came to the stage.

With some introductory video, the girls started to walk to the stage. The whole venue exploded with excited scream, I screamed to the top of my lungs.

Without hesitation and giving us fans a moment, they started to dance and here comes the first song…

Dumb Dumb

The decibel level went from 90 to 140 in just a second. We didn’t thought they would sing this song.

If you watched Descendants of The Sun before, on episode 16, Red Velvet attend the armies’ event and sing this song as well. The armies’ chanting were sounded like mine, here’s the scene:

The only difference was I screamed with passion. Ha.

Right after Dumb Dumb finished, they still didn’t give us a moment to sit.

Aaaand…. Little Little

I couldn’t scream much because this song is a Ballad. But I sang along with this enjoyable Ballad. (I actually waited for Last Love or Body Talk, but…)

Along with singing, I realized that it was the first time I saw them live. No intermediary objects, no select resolution, no, this wasn’t 720p or 1080p or even 4K, this was real.

When they were singing, I kinda realized that I was in the Twilight Zone. You know, the moment you couldn’t exactly believe.

Anyway, after singing Little Little, came the talkshow about hot spots in Seoul. Each member spoke about their favorite spots in Seoul. Hongdae, Itaewon, Common Ground, and more. The funniest thing happened when Joy were introducing nightclub as a spot to relax, the audience went “nooo Joy!” and she was embarrassed, along with this smile

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This isn’t her final form

This is the live version:

@redvelvet.smtown Joy Talk Show Cut #RedVelvetInJakarta #SeoulTalkConcert #ParkSooyoung #Joy #조이

A post shared by Muhammad Farizky Priambudi (@farizkey) on

Long story short, we didn’t expect that they would continue singing….

But they did.

Russian freaking Roulette.

Please excuse my overly hyped scream. That was intentional.

I couldn’t tell much here as I was into the moment.

Again, no break.

Then Rookie happened.

Damn straight.

Post-Red Velvet

Eru took the stage right after Red Velvet, performing his own hit songs from 2011 and proceed with cooking on stage and introduce South Korean cuisines such as Samgyetang, Bibimbap, and others.

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Eru. My apologies, I went “Who ER-U?” during your performance.

To describe the atmosphere post-Red Velvet, it was like a stock crash. The voice that was previously 140 decibel plummeted to 70 or 80, no argument there. I deducted that the committee and the Seoul people thought that Eru has a large fanbase in Indonesia, but sadly no. I personally didn’t know him much either, the best that I know from him was his duet with local comedian, Sule. That’s that.

After Eru performed with the Vice Mayor, Red Velvet reappeared! The crowd again rose from their seats and wave hands at the girls, they waved back and doing cutesy things… you know what happened after.

My Take on the Concert

The whole talk show was amazing! Besides the main gem, Red Velvet, the shows were carefully designed (I noticed the intro videos) and in my opinion, successfully attract us fans of South Korea to visit Seoul. It’s just a bit sad that there were a lot of fans who couldn’t attend the concert.

ADDITIONAL REMARKS

I’d like to recommend some of great Red Velvet songs (besides their hit), with deep meaning and enjoyable tune, my top 10 rank:

  1. One of These Nights (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xWiro_tS1k)
  2. Last Love (Wendy solo) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46AuqaVnG1Q)
  3. Because I Love You (Wendy solo) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDMLANstgGI)
  4. Body Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MM0AwoKzZTg)
  5. Would U (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu7OmSqHVng)
  6. Automatic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px2Q47O0_eE)
  7. Be Natural (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpAn9ryoB4Y)
  8. Little Little (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mskdzoFF4o)
  9. First Time (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HchJVfmSG5w)
  10. Day 1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uasFLFB4UI)

Enjoy!

Is passion ubiquitous?

Passion.

One word that make you feel passionate by saying it passionately. Even the pronunciation (and emphasizing the double S) kinda motivate you to be passionate.

Passion is a thing you’d see on motivational quotes, success people biographies, even Instagram captions. It’s a thing that seemed mandatory for people to reach success in their life.

Last night, I was watching Gordon Ramsay’s “Advice for Life” on YouTube, the video popped up 3 times on recommendation, it’s like a divine intervention that told me to get up my lazy bum to work and find passion. The video was sadly taken down from YouTube, but I remember vividly what he was talking about.

Gordon Ramsay is notorious for his F-bomb rapid fire and short-tempered Chef. He could barrage you with thousand “Fucks” and “Shits” with a velocity of 1000 Fucks/Shits per minute if you do wrong. But he does that in the name of passion. He would travel to the other parts of the world to learn other ways to cook and taste culture-filled foods, the man is just so passionate that he said “No Michelin stars, food critiques, or anything that can take me down, it takes more than that. And when people take me down, I’m gonna get up and kick their fucking ass.”. You can sense the burning passion from the man.

But then it got me thinking, “What’s my passion?”. This question was probably too early to ask to a 22 year old. Or maybe to late.

I’ve been in a various domain; I learned guitar, writing, rapping, coding, photography, philosophy, politics, business, and more. But I didn’t find anything that I whole-heartedly enjoy. I enjoy them all, but in a temporary fashion. I don’t know if this is normal like a fluctuating graph, but I feel bad for not focusing on being good at one thing. I thought being a generalist jack in all trades would be cool, but now I regret the thought.

I could remember 9 years ago, I was so into baseball that I consecutively lead the high school team for 3 years, when I graduated to senior high school, I joined local club that has a reputation. But because I saw people got hit by a stone-hard baseball and got their jaw dislocated, I surrendered and reverse the steer.

IF only I didn’t retreat and focus on baseball, I would’ve been a hell of a player now. That’s one of my biggest regret.

An hour ago I watched a video– a TEDtalk video called “Stop Searching For Your Passion” by Terri Trespicio. Here’s the video:

One word that I underlined from the video is:

“passion is not a plan, it’s a feeling, and feelings can change”

She also added that passion is an elitist thing, you can’t assume people who cleans the building for years as someone who are passionate in cleaning.

So, is passion really a thing? is it ubiquitous or just for a person with capital?

For great listeners, thank you.

There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break the law, we shall get into endless trouble.

The law is this: 

Always make the other person feel important

(Excerpt from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”)

That excerpt hits me home.

Everyone likes to be appreciated, praised, put in the limelight, or whatever it is that makes them the center of attention.

if only I did this earlier…” I said to myself.

Let’s admit it, we like it when people calmly listen and respond properly to our stories. A simple “Really!?” with a natural curiosity and proper expression would keep storyteller busy telling stories for hours.

I had a good memories of being in the storyteller position. The listener would only respond with clarifying questions or a simple question with tone that radiates excitement. Without realizing that I had been talking for hefty amount of minutes. It’s a joy to be listened by great listener.

However, I was enjoying too much in the storyteller position. This was my regret, never knew listening was not a piece of cake. It takes a sincere heart, if not a controlled and trained facial expression. A sincere heart of wanting to listen to various stories from many person is not easy to get. We need to go through a tedious hours and train our heart to be very accepting without any kinds of bias.

And I’m telling you, it’s hard.

I’ve tried to do as the book–or many experts said. But being such a good listener without being bored or having the brain filled with “what should I ask next?” is not my forte (yet).  The result of my attempts to do that was a bit embarrassing and cringy.

Weeks ago, I had a chance to interview a person. We had a common background as we are both a graduate of international relations, so I thought it would be a good conversation opener and theoretically, could keep the interviewee talk for a good duration.

But no. Instead of getting a niagara-like conversation, we had this awkward pause where he would clearly guess that I’m confused of what to ask next. Worse, my expression and my tone wasn’t as excited as I planned. I still had this internal judgment and busy brain deciding what to ask next instead of enjoying the talk and got excited for what the interviewee had done in the past.

The words just didn’t came out as I planned. I was embarrassed for that.

After that interview, I had another shot at interviewing another people. But because I had my chief as the main interviewer, I was responsible for creating an opening while waiting the chief to come. So I created a mental image where I would ask questions to the interviewee clearly and good questions, making the atmosphere somewhat like Jimmy Kimmel or Conan O’ Brien talkshow.

Instead, I got another awkward pauses.

You know, that small, insincere laugh with noticeable fake grin? That’s what I did.

Instead of getting deeper conversation by asking personal questions, what I ask was

“How’s the road?”

Inner facepalm.

I’m a bit frustrated by how the interviews went so far. I wish I could be like Conan O’ Brien or Yoo Jae Suk.

This made me feel like I have to be grateful and thankful of people who listened to my stories in the past. Their willingness to respond beautifully was what made my day.

At the same time, I feel bad for the listeners, too.

They have to listen to this self-obsessed egoistical narcissist who would talk about himself over and over without giving the listener the same question and listen about their personal stories.

When people made you feel important, it’s impossible not to like that people.

That’s why, we have to be thankful to the great listeners.

Thank you for being a listener for our stories. You are the reason why people are confident, sane, motivated, and feel important.

Really, you are the MVP.

Review (more like fanboying over) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Review (more like fanboying over) Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

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“Good ideas are always sounds crazy until they’re not” – Larry Page (Page 396)

If someone ask me “What was your favorite coincidence?” I would say: “discovered Elon Musk via BBC News app“.

It was in 2015, on campus’ parking lot. A story of Hyperloop and Elon Musk first popped and enter my life unwittingly. Long story short, I ran a Google search on Elon and find that he is dubbed as “real-life Tony Stark”, which I thought was overrated because nobody would ever be on par with fictitious Tony Stark and his ingenious mind.

Since then, I only know Elon Musk for being dubbed as real-life Tony Stark without ever discovering who he really is.

Last month, I strolled to Periplus, an import bookstore near the office. I have this habit of buying new books every month, but because I’m far from being financially secure, I’d run a Goodreads search on every book. The top contender was: Charles Duhigg’s the Power of Habit, Chris Guillebeau’s the $100 Startup, Freakonomics, and Adam Grant’s Originals. After finding that Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk biography scored 4.2, which, quite rare in Goodreads, without hesitant I bought this book, snatch away the plastic cover, and start reading.

THE STORY HIGHLIGHT

Like any other biographies, the book solely focused on the life of Elon Musk. Elon Musk himself was born in South Africa, way far from the United States of America, but he moved from there to Canada, and eventually, the USA.

The story began from his childhood, as per usual, the “bullied kid” narrative could be found here, and Elon was bullied hard because he was this quiet, nerdy, and ordinary kid with no billionaire symptoms anywhere. He never took any leadership position, be on the podium beside the brightest kids from his class, or any signs of “oh-he’s-going-places”. He’s just usual.

Apparently, he’s doing that on purpose. He said “I just look at it as ‘What grade do I need to get to where I want to go?’ There were compulsory subjects like Afrikaans, and I just didn’t see the point of learning that. It seemed ridiculous. I’d get a passing grade and that was fine. Things like physics and computers–I got the highest grade you can get in those. There needs to be a reason for a grade. I’d rather play video games, write software, and read books than try to get an A if there’s no point in getting an A“.

He was fed up growing up on South Africa and went to Canada and USA instead, where he could find something more interesting. Which he did.

Long story short, he and Kimbal Musk, his brother, went to found Zip2, an online city guide company in 1995, and then sold to Compaq for $307 million.

Elon then found X.com afterwards, an email payment and online financial services company. Found a competitor named Confinity, founded by Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Luke Nosek. Both then merged to be the world-renowned online payment service, PayPal. Which then acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion.

With fortunes acquired by Elon from Zip2 and PayPal acquisition, he then started Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX, holding his conviction of carrying man to Mars.

Almost right at the same time, he also start building electric cars with a company he invested on, Tesla. Up until now, Tesla has produced several cars and will produce more. Replacing gas stations, Tesla built Supercharged station for recharging, spread around US and soon, worldwide.

Together with Rive brothers Lyndon and Peter, Elon founded SolarCity, now second largest solar power system provider in the USA. Elon is the largest shareholder there.

And just recently, Elon unveiled Hyperloop, an ultra-fast transportation that looked like an MRT, but with a pod and super high speed.

MY TAKE ON THE BOOK

I will always remember this book as one canonical business book that establish my fondness of starting a business.

You can tell me Dale Carnegie’s book is all-time best, Jack Welch’s MBA book is a must-read, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habit is on best seller list. But no other biography or business books that will give me tremendous amount of effect than Elon Musk’s.

I’d have to thank Ashlee Vance for tailoring sentence after sentence eloquently that it became an obvious page-turner for me. I enjoy reading Elon’s childhood, the rising of Zip2 and X.com, and mainly the Tesla and SpaceX arc.

Pestering is what I loather, but I share some trait with Elon, albeit his 14 hour work per day is unparalleled, his love of technology, being geeky, likes to be different, are traits I share with him. That made me feel like I was standing in the same ground (but different dimension) with the business magnate, and every time I read a page, I feel a significant increase in confidence.

It is somewhat blasphemous to place Elon with other big business owner, I mean, in terms of net worth, they are probably on par or even above the par from Elon, but if we’re speaking vision, Elon has the upper hand.

Elon said that human could be a multiplanetary species, he work on it, he incrementally make it true. That’s the thing I admire the most from him. He walk the talk–no, he run the talk, in lights speed.

The fact that he hold a top management position in 5 different companies is beyond imagination,  even being a CEO in one company is tremendously difficult and a hair-falling journey.

His work ethic is…. ineffable. Putting 100 hours a week for years straight is insane! But he nailed it anyway.

Oh, I couldn’t even tailor words properly to describe how I admire Elon Musk. Not merely because he’s a business magnate and I’d like to be on his position sort, but more like he’s a prove that being geek is starting to be cool and outplay the quarterbacks and muscular and shredding guitarists with eargasmic riffs.

But even with all that winnings in life, a price must be paid, too. All that relentless hard work and demand for perfection makes Elon’s attention to human relation a bit abandoned. He had two wives, Justine Musk and Talulah Riley which had divorced him because of different way of life. Justine had been with Elon for eight years, while Talulah spent an on-off four years.

Elon is also known for having sky-high demand for his employees, high standard, high working hours, despite high earnings. Temper problem is his feat, too. He had some quarrel with former co-founders such as Martin Eberhard of Tesla, former designer of Tesla, Henrik Fisker (who eventually establish his own electric car company, Fisker Automotive) and a lot more.

It was Mary Beth Brown, former right hand of Elon Musk, a woman who devoted her 12 years to SpaceX and Elon, who witness this first hand. She was indirectly fired from her job for asking a raise. There were two version of this story, one from Elon’s side (written in the book and a Quora answer written by Justine Musk herself) and other narratives who said that Brown was fired right away by Musk. From the book, Musk said this:

“As Musk recalled, “I told her, ‘Look, I think you’re very valuable. Maybe that compensation is right. You need to take two weeks’ vacation, and I’m going to assess whether that’s true or not.’ Before this came up, I had offered her multiple all-expenses-paid vacations. I really wanted her to take a vacation. When she got back, my conclusion was just that the relationship was not going to work anymore. Twelve years is a good run for any job. She’ll do a great job for someone.” According to Musk, he offered Brown another position at the company. She declined the offer by never showing up at the office again. Musk gave her twelve months’ severance and has not spoken to her since.”

Former employees found that Elon’s harsh, too. He would fire someone whom he think being an obstacle.

However, most of people, including me, found that it was not because Elon is a major league asshole. More like because he’s so driven that he knows what to do and sweep away the gravels from his road. Besides, when you work at the company who wants to move humankind to a new planet, which CEO would love to see you be a laid back person?

I found it funny and feel honored when Musk said that Artificial Intelligence is a threat to humankind, this may not be widely covered in the book but, my bachelor thesis covered that same concern, too. Yet people still being pessimistic and skeptical about that. I was wondering why, but now I know.

VERDICT

For those who wanted to get motivation on business and previously feel like “okay, this idea is not gonna work”, I’d recommend this book in any given day for your panacea. The only flaw of this book was you’d feel like you read a writing of someone who has a crush, fangirling/fanboying. But I jumped on the bandwagon, too. I couldn’t help but be a cheer squad for Elon.

This is a book that I would read more than twice, because it is my surefire panacea for being insecure about starting a business.

The trials (of being a self-proclaimed rational and an utopianist)

“Ugh, and they believe to celebrity barging in to someone’s instagram live and say hi? People really believe that?”

“You call yourself a mother? When what you do is lashing out your anger to your child as if they are a punching bag?”

Those thoughts are always there with me. When people say their inner critics mostly put anything you make under scrutiny and most of the time, bad-mouthing your creation, my inner critics are doing a multitasking; one time ripping off everything I make, the other time whipping what others do.

This feature was not given, though. More like acquired. Like a skill your RPG game character get when they level up. I remember it started to pop up when I read more books and articles than I usually did.

It all because of philosophy and other non-fiction, self-help-ish books. My mind created a ‘perfect’ mental image of how things should work and should be. The mental image is also reinforced by years of knowing the ulterior motives behind good deeds, which makes me question almost everything, and being a mega-skepticist.

For example, when Obama came to Indonesia in 2010, he said “Nasi goreng!, Bakso!, Sate!” or all Indonesian cuisine because he had a childhood relation with the country. People would go crazy over a familiar word spoken by him, creating a massive loud scream. I don’t. My mind would steer my thinking to a rational mode and say “come on, Obama is exercising his soft, subtle power by saying something that would make you feel like standing on a common ground with him.”

At some point, I would hold back the thought because sometimes it doesn’t work that way. But when you are already in the habit of thinking that way, reverting back is hard. So it keeps on bouncing back and hard to contain.

I would also point things that should be fixed whenever I feel like it should. There was this mother who would snap to her son whenever he wanted to play or just jumping around. The mother would scream loud and “command” her son to keep his voice low. All of that was done while fixing her eyes solely to the cellphone.

That successfully made my adrenaline level increase. I mean, that’s not how it supposed to be. It’s your friggin son. By giving birth, you committed to keep and nurture your son! Come on!

The other thing that would make me cringe hard is how conventional wisdom plays out in Indonesia. Some of the conventional wisdoms are noble and good to follow, but the others are just…. irrational.

Like how people think students are measured by the scores, low scores mean stupid or brainless. Come on! This is a well-known cause of educational destruction here. Students would rather spend time chopping a tree with a dull ax than sharpening it then chop the tree effortlessly. Worse, the tradition keeps on rolling up until this very second.

I also just heard that my friend went through a breakup because the boyfriend is socially considered inadequate due to lack of will to finish college and not having enough income source. He’s just 22, come on.

My rant could go further than this, but I stop it right here.

Though it is useful as a bullshit-piercing bullet, having this way of thinking is also agonizing at times.

Lost a lot of opportunities because of that. Because I was acting gingerly.

Lost a friend. Because I was once thought that true friendship is when a friend could understand you so well, and I haven’t found one.

It was hard being genuinely interested to what people say, because I knew people doesn’t actually interested in talking to me.

This was the condition where I thought I have two personalities. Like, an alter-ego.

However, starting from this year, I really really want to change. I don’t want to be trapped in my own ego, the thought of me being a special being for thinking like that.

Yes. I have to change.