Confettis of words

the bits and sketches in life


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58 [REVIEW] A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Lagi pengen baca buku bertemakan fantasi, gue pun mencoba untuk baca A Darker Shade of Magic dari V.E. Schwab. Gue belum pernah baca karya dia sebelumnya, tapi yang bikin gue tertarik sama novel ini adalah kemampuan si tokoh utama Kell yang bisa berpindah-pindah ruang. Di dunia A Darker Shade of Magic, beberapa orang beruntung (atau malah sial?) terlahir sebagai Antari, penyihir dengan kekuatan yang bersumber dari darah. Para Antari juga diberkahi dengan kemampuan untuk berpindah ruang.

Alasan lain yang bikin gue akhirnya memutuskan baca novel ini adalah latar tempatnya. Schwab merancang empat versi London, yaitu red London (tempat Kell tinggal, di mana sihir ada), grey London (London dunia kita, dan orang-orangnya tidak percaya sihir), white London (ada sihir, tapi dipergunakan bukan untuk tujuan baik) dan black London (kota yang hancur dan dikunci). Gue suka konsep tentang dunia alternatif, jadi awalnya gue anggap novel ini bakal menjanjikan.

Sebagai novel fantasi, A Darker Shade of Magic memang menghibur. Banyak adegan aksinya, dan kadar romansa di antara Kell dan Lila, pencopet wanita yang menyamar jadi pria, juga cukup walau terkadang Hollywood banget. Nah itu, banyak unsur di novel ini yang terlalu Hollwood, terlalu stereotipikal. Pangeran Rhy, saudara tiri Kell, salah satu contohnya. Pangeran tampan berkulit gelap yang suka seenaknya dan playboy? Memang karakter Rhy menggoda tapi we’ve seen this kind of character so many times. Belum lagi tokoh-tokoh antagonisnya yang begitu datar dan tidak punya alasan ‘menarik’ untuk jadi penjahat. Dua saudara Athos dan Astrid digambarkan begitu jahat tapi pembaca tidak diberikan motif yang istimewa mengapa mereka sejahat itu. Mereka kejam karena mereka haus kekuasaan. Ya udah begitu saja, gak ada kesannya. Hasilnya konflik antar protagonis dan antagonis pun cenderung membosankan.

Bagi gue Kell cenderung karakter yang datar. Dengan latar belakang kehidupannya sebagai anak yatim piatu yang diangkat raja dan selalu merasa berbeda, Kell sebenarnya punya potensi untuk disayang. Tapi sayangnya gue gak bisa merasakan simpati ke Kell, gak tau kenapa. Mungkin karena karakternya tidak digali terlalu dalam. Schwab memberi pembaca berbagai motif tapi menurut gue emosi Kell dibiarkan mengambang, ditambah hubungan dia ke beberapa karakter (seperti orangtua Rhy) kurang begitu diekspos.

Sebenarnya ada banyak faktor yang bisa bikin A Darker Shade of Magic setenar seri Harry Potter sebagai novel fantasi. Kalau saja Schwab melakukan eksplorasi terhadap karakter-karakternya dan tidak menjadikan mereka sebagai sekadar tokoh hitam-putih, mungkin gue bisa lebih jatuh cinta sama buku ini.


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57 T1ST0RY Bangkok, Here I Come!

Alhamdulillah, finally I got the ticket for TVXQ Special Live Tour in Bangkok: T1ST0RY! For days I had been anxious about this, afraid that I wouldn’t get the ticket that I wanted. Actually I’m fine to watch from any zone but the closer, the better, isn’t it? I got the tickets in SJ zone, while initially I was pursuing tickets from SL zone. But by the time I clicked it, all seats in SL zone were fully booked! Still wanting to find seat in front rows, I immediately clicked SJ zone and thank God they still have some seats left. So I grabbed two seats for me and my friend, yayyyy! From the beginning I didn’t hunt for A zone, the floor seats, because I want to see the stage as a whole. And I skip Standing Section as well since I don’t think I’ll have the energy to compete with the young girls now hahaha.

I know for sure this concert will be emotional for me. First reason, because it’s TVXQ, my ultimate K-pop group! Secondly, because it’s gonna be a perfect rendezvous since the Tokyo Dome concert in 2013. Been two years since I last saw them, wow. Time moves so quickly in a way we can’t comprehend, doesn’t it? The last one, and the most important, I think T1ST0RY Bangkok will be my last chance to see Yunho before his enlistment. Rumour has been circulated that he will enlist in June so I guess after the encore in Seoul. I just don’t want to skip this opportunity to see him onstage again. I’m sure my fellow fangirls will understand this kind of situation!

I’ve promised myself that I will focus more on my life after Yunho’s enlistment and spend my time & money more on something else instead of fangirling stuffs. I guess five years of epic, crazy fangirling life is more than enough for me. Thus, please God, let this upcoming concert be a moment I will never forget 🙂


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56 Lima Pelajaran dari K-Pop

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1. Loyalitas itu sangat penting, banget.

Kalo di dunia politik, ketika seorang politikus pindah partai maka kesetiaannya akan dipertanyakan. Nah, di dunia K-pop gue sering menemui kasus yang kurang lebih seperti itu. Misalnya, beberapa tahun lalu sempat ramai ketika banyak ELF yang akhirnya jadi suka EXO juga. Mereka pun dicap tidak loyal terhadap oppa dan dijuluki mudblood, yang konotasinya buruk. Mereka yang setia sama idolanya (dan nggak menganut paham multifandom) dianggap pure blood.

Pasti ada sih satu grup yang lo suka banget banget, dengan kata lain ultimate group (TVXQ for me, for example). Tapi dengerin karya grup lain juga gak masalah toh? Bukan berarti lo udah mengkhianati oppa. I mean, as if they knew about it … Menurut gue kalo lo hanya fokus ke satu grup gak bakal ada perbandingan untuk tahu sejauh mana grup idola lo sudah berkembang. Emang sih di kancah K-pop yang udah rame ini bakal susah mengamati semua grup, tapi at least open your mind to other groups’ music. Biar gak bosen 🙂

2. Shipping adalah isu serius.

Gue sendiri bukan shipper (lagi), tapi kalo temen-temen gue shipper ya gak masalah. Syukur-syukur kalo mereka nge-ship gue sama Yunho kan? (abaikan) Tapi kadang yang gue anggap konyol adalah kalo sesama fan berantem karena mereka nge-ship pasangan yang berbeda. Adu mulut di Twitter-nya terus heboh banget, ngalah-ngalahin sidang DPR di Senayan. Beneran, shipping itu masalah serius dan sensitif sekali di fandom K-pop. Memang hanya di sini masalah yang awalnya dari imajinasi fans kemudian menjadi seperti masalah bela tanah air.

(nulis ini sambil ngaca karena sendirinya gak suka banget sama Yunjae)

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3. Lighstick adalah identitas fandom.

Seperti yang gue pernah tulis sebelumnya, unsur visual itu penting banget di K-pop, termasuk warna dan bentuk lightstick. Warna ocean ketika konser akibat cahaya lightstick menjadi penanda identitas fandom. Oranye untuk Shinhwa, merah untuk TVXQ, biru safir untuk Super Junior dll. Dan ketika ada grup rookie yang warna ocean-nya sama dengan grup senior, timbul-lah masalah. Fandom senior merasa warna/identitas mereka diambil atau ditiru. Masalahnya adalah grup semakin banyak tapi warna kan terbatas? Maka beberapa grup pun mengambil langkah kreatif dengan memodifikasi bentuk lightstick mereka, Block B dengan bentuk sarang lebah atau Bangtan Boys dengan bentuk granat.

4. Ketampanan oppa/kecantikan unnie itu alami. Yeah right …

Banyak fans yang percaya kalau oppa/unnie mereka emang cakep dan cantik dari sananya. Kalau kayak Sungmin SJ sih gue percaya. Kalau yang lain sedikit banyak pasti udah pernah dirombak, mulai dari yang ringan kayak perbaiki susunan gigi sampai yang mayor kayak ngebentuk rahang (selalu ngilu ngebayanginnya). Gue pribadi sih berpendapat itu sah-sah aja dilakukan karena bagaimana pun penampilan kan aset utama mereka dalam bekerja. Lagian itu muka atau tubuh mereka sendiri kan? Mereka punya hak untuk merekonstruksi muka atau tubuh mereka.

It’s totally okay to admit your oppa/unnie has been under the knife. Admitting it doesn’t mean belittling them.

Tapi biar gimana pun gue masih lebih suka ngeliat mereka yang penampilannya alami, walaupun mereka dianggap tidak memenuhi standar kecantikan/ketampanan masyarakat. Ambil contoh, Daesung BIGBANG. Walau matanya sipit, hidungnya besar dan dianggap gak cakep, tapi Daesung punya kepribadian yang lucu, menyenangkan dan punya suara yang hebat. There are many reasons why we can love a person, not just from his/her appearance 🙂

5. Oppa masih perjaka. Yeah right again …

Kids, just so you know your oppa is a twenty-something man and has sexual drives too.


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55 Stand by TVXQ

I like many K-pop groups but the one that always stays in my heart is TVXQ, the duo. I first entered K-pop fandom in 2011 through Super Junior (yes I blamed them for pushing me into this black hole!) then some Youtube exploration led me to TVXQ’s Keep Your Head Down MV. I was really impressed by their masculine looks in it. However, it’s Before You Go that made me want to dig about them more.

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From MVs, I started to find out about their history and found out there used to be five members in the group. Then I listened to their old songs and got into JYJ. Yes, you read that correctly, I was previously a fan of JYJ. For your information, my first bias in TVXQ was actually Yoochun, not Yunho.  I guess at that time a sensitive, melancholy guy attracted me more. There was one moment in my fandom journey when I was an avid OT5. A friend supplied me with their past variety shows and all day I just couldn’t stop talking about the five members. So as you see I moved from here to there before finally taking the happy TVXQ train.

I think the turning point was after TVXQ’s fanparty in Singapore. The experience of seeing them right in front of me with their awesome and breathtaking performance has turned me into a fan of TVXQ and in the end, I left JYJ fandom. And because my feeling for Yunho was illogically too big I ended up hating Jaejoong. I despised everything about Yunjae hahaha. What was more ridiculous was my hatred to JYJ became bigger, influenced by some articles and speculations that I read at that time. (even though I hated JYJ I was cool with some of my friends who were their fans!)

Do I still hate JYJ now? I’m still sensitive about Yunjae things, but I no longer hate JYJ. I mean, what’s the point of personally hating people who don’t even know you? Fans will never know what actually happened between the two groups so I guess it’s better not to recklessly make a hypothesis about the case. It took time to arrive at this point because erasing hatred from your heart is not easy. Yet after going through some process I finally chose not to hate. I might not care about them anymore, but it doesn’t mean I hate them. In a way I simply don’t care. I just prefer to follow Yunho and Changmin’s career.

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Yunho and Changmin never disappoint me as their fan. When they decided to stay, they’re scolded as SM’s dogs. But amazingly they never talk back. They prefer to work hard and they finally gained the respect due to their dedication and achievement. This is the main reason why I love and admire Yunho and Changmin, why I choose to stand by them. Instead of talking nonsense they let their actions do the talk. I’m so grateful that in a span of five years they’ve improved amazingly a lot. With constant struggles and determination, Yunho and Changmin turned the ruins into a throne, their very own own throne 🙂

Stanning TVXQ has made me do things I never thought I would do. I had never been to Hong Kong but the eagerness to watch them live motivated me to go there, even if I had to go on my own. I planned everything by myself and travelled miles away alone to experience my first TVXQ’s full concert in 2013. Truly an unforgettable experience. My first trip to Japan was also because of TVXQ. I call my Japan trip to see Tohoshinki (as they’re called in Japan) as ‘Summer Dream’ since it still feels surreal to have been a part of the glorious red ocean in Tokyo Dome.

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We’re all aware that the group will be on hiatus due to Yunho’s enlistment. After Yunho, then Changmin. And we will have three or four years without TVXQ. Sometimes I feel sorry because I didn’t take the chance to watch Tree Tour while I actually was offered the ticket.  Sometimes I want to slap myself for leaving the fandom in late 2013 because that made me miss some precious moments. But I also repeatedly remind myself that I’ve experienced many wonderful times with them. I can’t promise I will have time for K-pop (and fangirling in general) and be there by the time they come back. However, I know that in the future when I recollect my days of stanning TVXQ, I will remember them as the good, no, great old days!

I left TVXQ once or twice, but the fact that I always came back to them is a proof to me that in K-pop fandom, they’re my home 🙂


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54 [REVIEW] Hotel The 101 di Yogyakarta

Tanggal 9-11 April lalu gue sempet liburan ke Yogyakarta. Karena bareng nyokap, gue memutuskan untuk menginap di hotel yang bagus dan nyaman buat orang tua. Setelah menimbang dan memerhatikan kondisi keuangan, gue memilih untuk tinggal di The 101. Dari foto-fotonya, eksterior dan interior hotelnya terlihat oke, dan sebagian besar ulasan juga bilang kalo layanan hotelnya bagus. Dan yep, gue puas banget menginap di The 101 🙂

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Gue memesan kamar lewat Traveloka, dapet kamar Deluxe dengan 1 Queen Bed menghadap kolam renang. Karena gak mau repot, gue juga memesan kamar yang langsung dapat sarapan (jelas lebih mahal tapi gak nyesel!).

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Salah satu ulasan bilang kalau ukuran kamar The 101 sempit, tapi menurut gue ukurannya pas. Kalau lo bawa koper ukuran besar pun masih bisa mudah dibukanya. Desain interior kamarnya terbilang simpel dengan banyak cermin yang bikin kamar terlihat luas. Gue gak inget ada dekorasi bernuansa Jawa? Menurut gue sih kamar-kamarnya memang cenderung dirancang untuk terlihat modern, bukan tradisional.

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Pemandangan dari kamar 3011, adem ya?

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Ini kolam renangnya di malam hari. Just pretty! Waktu Jumat malam, ada band yang bawain lagu-lagu Top 40. Dari kamar gue kedengeran banget sih, tapi untungnya band-nya enak jadi gak begitu mengganggu. Waktu itu gue juga udah kecapean banget abis keliling seharian, jadi tetap bisa tidur walaupun ada suara genjreng-genjreng dari bawah.

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Oh iya, seperti tadi gue bilang, gue gak nyesel sama sekali harus tambah biaya untuk sarapan. Menu sarapan di The 101 bervariasi banget dan enak-enak! Ada sarapan Indonesia kayak bubur dan ketupat sayur, roti dan sereal untuk yang makan gak terlalu banyak pas sarapan, beberapa pilihan kentang, lauk dan sayur. Pokoknya lengkap! Kalau gak inget kondisi lambung mungkin gue udah nyobain semua jenis sarapan di situ :p

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Sarapan sambil menghadap kolam renang 🙂

Jarak dari The 101 ke Malioboro bisa dicapai jalan kaki (sekalian olahraga). Tapi gue yang pemalas ini memilih naik becak atau becak motor yang memang sudah disediakan oleh hotelnya. Masalah transportasi, di depan The 101 juga ada halte Trans Jogja yang jalurnya langsung ke Malioboro, Prambanan dan bandara Adi Sucipto.

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Kekurangan dari hotel ini adalah pembatas antar kamar yang kurang tebal jadi suara orang dari koridor bisa terdengar. Ini yang mengganggu kalau kita udah mau tidur terus di koridor masih ada yang jalan-jalan atau cekikikan (orang kan yang cekikikan, bukan yang lain …?)

Overall, I really enjoyed my stay there. Pulang ke kamar hotel yang nyaman setelah lelah berjalan seharian keliling Malioboro dan komplek Prambanan itu nikmat banget, and The 101 Yogyakarta Tugu provided us that!


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53 [STORY] The Last Tea

Mrs. Webb was looking proudly at her table. Tea cups, tea pot, sugar, milk, lemon, and of course, the tea. They’re all already there, waiting for the guests to come. Today’s a special day for Mrs. Webb and her daughter, Laura. They’re going to receive Laura’s boyfriend, Tim, and his father, Mr. Lawrence. Tim just proposed Laura last week (which Laura accepted happily), and today they’re going to talk about the upcoming marriage. And for special people, she’s going to treat them with her special tea party.

Mrs. Webb took a glance at her watch. They should’ve arrived ten minutes ago, she thought. Tim’s father lived in Manchester, so Laura and Tim picked him up at the airport. Mrs. Webb remembered Laura’s face this morning. She looked so bright and excited to meet her going-to-be-father-in-law. Then Mrs. Webb recalled her own days, when she’s about to marry David Webb, Laura’s father. She’s happy as well, but ecstatic? No, I wasn’t, she sighed. Laura’s father was a great man to be with, but he wasn’t the man …

The door bell rang. Mrs. Webb was taken back to reality. She rushed to the door after seeing herself at the mirror and feeling content with her new blouse. She opened the door slowly and saw Laura, who gave her a big smile even though her mother knew she must be very nervous.

“They’re here, mom.” Laura kissed her mother then gave a way for Tim so he could kiss her too. Tim was a tall young man with dark brown hair and cheerful green eyes. He smiled at Mrs. Webb and gave her a warm hug. Mrs. Webb was glad Laura has found her prince charming. Then, her eyes moved to Mr. Lawrence. Now she understood why Tim’s face was so familiar.

“This is my father, Mrs. Webb.” Tim gently took his dad’s arm. “Dad, this is Laura’s mother.”

“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Webb.” Mr. Lawrence smiled. Like his son, he also had this captivating beam.

“Nice to meet you too, Mr. Lawrence. Please come in.” She couldn’t do anything but smiling back. “I’ve prepared something very special for you.”

“Oh yes, I heard from Laura that you’re an expert in tea brewing.” He stepped into the house and took a look around. He observed Mrs. Webb’s living room. There was something on his face that suggested relief and peace when he spotted the tea set on the table.

“Would you sit down, Mr. Lawrence? You could sit down there, next to Tim.” said Laura.

“I’m sorry, but I think it’s Mr. Webb’s arm chair? I don’t think I’m allowed to sit here …”

“It’s okay, Mr. Lawrence. You may sit there.”

Hearing Mrs. Webb’s reaction, Mr. Lawrence hesitated at first but finally sat on the arm chair. At first, he felt a bit uneasy, but when Mrs. Webb was preparing the tea, he was back to his usual mood. The warm and friendly Arthur Lawrence.

“Dad, I’m sure Mrs. Webb’s tea will make you want for more.” Tim whispered to his dad.

“Oh, I think so, Tim.” Mr. Lawrence watched as Mrs. Webb arranged the tea. The way her hands moved brought him back to the good old days. The days of warmth and bliss.

Mrs. Webb pour some tea into the cup then offered it to Mr. Lawrence. He tenderly took the cup from her hands. “Sugar, Mr. Lawrence?” asked Mrs. Webb. He nodded, “Of course”. Mrs. Webb put three sugar cubes into the cup.

“Wait, mom, I think you put too many sugar cubes.” Laura cried. Mrs. Webb looked startled. She seemed to just realize something. She looked at Mr. Lawrence, who weirdly also showed the same expression.

“No, Laura, it’s fine. I like heavy dose of sugar in my tea.” Mr. Lawrence smiled calmly at Laura.

“Don’t worry, Laura honey. That’s my dad. He likes everything too sweet he always gives me the toothache.” Tim grinned to his girlfriend and gently rubbed her shoulder. Laura smiled back at him. They didn’t realize that Mrs. Webb and Mr. Lawrence  also smiled at each other with some indescribable look gleaming in their eyes.

***

“Honey, let’s go see upstairs. You have to see my dad’s book collection.”

“Is it okay, Mrs. Webb?” asked Tim.

Mrs. Webb nodded, “Maybe you want to see it too, Mr. Lawrence?”

“No, I think I’ll stay here. My old knees are too weak to climb that high,” he sighed.

“Aw, it’s too bad. Mom, could you please accompany Mr. Lawrence here?” begged Laura.

“Sure, no problem.”

The couple climbed the stairs, holding each other’s hand. Meanwhile, Mr. Lawrence sat back. Again, he studied the tea set in front of him. Subsequently, he looked up and his eyes met Mrs. Webb’s eyes.

“Your tea is still the best, Katie.” He grinned widely.

“Thank you, Arthur. And you still bring toothache to people with your high sugar consumption.” She chuckled. Now there’s only the two of them the barrier seemed to be tumbling down quickly.

“I didn’t know you’re Laura’s mother!” Mr. Lawrence cried.

“Well, neither did I know that you’re Tim’s father!” she responded, “But somehow there’s something familiar about Tim’s eyes. Those are your eyes.”

“Those were wonderful days, weren’t they?” He stared at her, smiling weakly.

“Yes, they were.”

“I hope Laura and Tim will be as happy as we used to be.”

“No, they should be happier than we were.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” He took the tea cup from the table then sipped it. “Their days should be more wonderful than ours.”

***

“Thank you very much for the tea, Mrs. Webb.” Tim kissed both of Mrs. Webb’s cheeks.

“You’re very much welcome, Tim. I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“I hope you enjoyed it too, Mr. Lawrence?” asked Laura.

Mrs. Webb looked at Tim’s father, who seemed to be very quiet after their conversation.

“Of course I did, Laura dear. Your mom makes the best tea.” He smiled at Mrs. Webb. “I hope I will still have the chance to join your tea party again, Mrs. Webb?”

“No doubt about that, Mr. Lawrence.”


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52 Why I Write

There are many reasons why people write: to express, to persuade, to escape or to be immortal. Similarly, I write for various reasons. Sometimes because I need to jot down and arrange the things juggling in my mind. In another occassion, I write because I want to share my stories. But most of the times I write because I feel it’s the right thing to do at the moment. I’ve been recording significant moments in my life in a diary since I was in elementary school. As technology improves, I’ve been writing in a personal blog while still keeping a traditional diary.

Writing is in a way a sort of mental remedy. Some psychologists have asked their patients to write a journal as a part of the therapy. Lately, during my GERD treatment process I noticed how true and helpful it is. I’m more an introverted person and most of the times I find it hard to be straightforward, even to people who are close to me. I also think I can’t always burden other people with my complaints and rambling. That’s when I feel I should write. Relief gradually comes after I poured everything through writing. It’s emotionally therapeutic. I believe somehow it will help my healing process.

And you, why do you write?