Why Americans are not soccer suckers

I never hesitate to reveal my less-enthusiastic side when it comes to sports, including the now much hype football/soccer matches thanks to the World Cup. I often say, "Yeah, the players are cute, but why would you watch 22 big, tall, good looking men fighting over one single ball? Just give each of them a ball to play with!". OK, this is my personal opinion and I will resent any possible advise that it represents women's general view on soccer. I know many girls who are crazy about the game and only have little time to check out the players, so please throw away such sexist perspective!

Now, back to the subject (if you don't know what the subject is, look up to the title, for God's sake!). Americans are famous for not being so fond of soccer matches. (Funny, this doesn't make me feel comfortable or at home, surrounded by fellow non- soccer fans). Some argue that this is partly due to the country's arrogance, leading to an almost rejection to anything not home-grown like basketball or American football. (Oh, I'm sure those narrow-minded pricks would love to absorb this idea and even extend it to other non-related matters like the Iranian's nuclear development issues.. geeze! Just sit back there and read on!). But it's hardly that. Just see below the hilarious piece I got from The Christian Science Monitor:

Backstory: Five good reasons Americans don't watch soccer
(Chuck Cohen)

1. We didn't invent it.

Americans love their inventions. Which is why we like baseball. And why we're not big on foie gras. Why we can't live a day without a microwave. And why we can, and have, lived for centuries without lederhosen. The problem with America and soccer is that we can't say we had anything to do with its genesis. Unlike, say, our pride in both Chicken McNuggets and Ryan Seacrest.

2. We have unattractive knees.

Although Americans have tried to hide them for years, we have, as a country, bad looking knees. As opposed to the Brazilians whose motto is, "Look At My Knees, Please!" Or the Germans who will use any excuse to bend their knees and shout something both incomprehensible and lengthy. Americans' ambivalence about their knees explains the attempt many years ago by US soccer coaches to make capri pants an official part of the uniform. This suggestion was met with hoots of derision from all soccer playing nations, except Italy, which thought it wasn't a terrible idea, but wanted to accompany the tight pants with a snappy bolero jacket.

3. We're not good with our feet.

America is much more a land of hands than feet. Although renowned for our hand gestures, we have been sadly lacking in people who know what to do with their feet, let alone their toes, ever since Fred Astaire stopped gliding around floors. (The toe puppet craze was extremely short-lived.) As a result, the growth of both soccer and ballroom dancing has suffered. Attempts to merge the two "sports" fizzled in the late '60s. The Fred Astaire Soccer League was a spectacular failure, drawing somewhere between two and three fans to its inaugural, and final, match. This despite the innovation of requiring both goalies to wear toe shoes and stay on pointe for 50 percent of the match.

4. We are not good at kvetching.

If you've ever watched an international soccer match you know that kvetching, aka complaining or oy yoy yoy-ing about being hurt, is as important to soccer greatness as being married to an attractive model. And yet, as much as American players writhe on the ground as if run over by a Panzer division, all our efforts produce only "are you kidding" headshakes from referees. The truth is our athletes are not very good actors. Ever see a Shaquille O'Neal commercial? Barry Bonds deny taking steroids? Not exactly Oscar-winning performances.

5. We don't understand the rules.

From an early age, we learn it is important to know the rules of the games we play. Why, for example, after you hit a baseball you should run to first base rather than the hot dog stand. Unfortunately, as hard as we try, we still haven't figured out the rules of soccer. What exactly is an offside? Why does the game continue after time has run out? And, most important, why isn't there a seventh-inning stretch?

Judging from the above passage, you should have mercy for these poor creatures. By the way, I'm not in the same league with them. I have better legs! Hehehehe...

ps. Picture is taken without permission from the Christian Science Monitor. Sorry, guys :(.

Mengatur Hati

Sudah pada nonton film "Click"? Adam Sandler? Saya baru lihat trailernya sih *pura-pura malu-malu* dan belum berniat mengantri untuk film ini. Terus terang, buat saya "Click" cuma salah satu opus Adam Sandler yang baru. Tapi konsepnya yang -- sebagaimana banyak film komedi lain, mungkin agak berlebihan -- imajinatif membuat saya terpikir untuk menerapkannya ke masalah lain.

Plot "Click" cukup sederhana, berputar pada seorang gila-kerja (tentunya diperankan Adam Sandler) yang menemukan sebuah remote control universal, yang membuatnya bisa mengatur
perilaku/gerakan orang lain sesuai tombol perintah. Jadi kalau dia merasa istrinya terlalu cerewet, tinggal tekan tombol mute. Atau bila ingin memperbaiki suatu kesalahan yang telah lewat, tombol rewind. Dan seterusnya.

Belakangan ini entah kenapa saya bertemu dengan beragam kisah teman yang berkaitan dengan urusan hati masing-masing. Ada yang sedang ambruk dan berusaha bangkit lagi setelah ditinggal kekasihnya. Ada yang terjebak dalam keruwetan "ya" atau "tidak". Ada juga yang sedang berbunga-bunga, menghangat, dan khawatir karena pelbagai perbedaan dengan pasangannya.

Saya mengatakan satu kalimat yang sama kepada kedua teman yang mengalami kepelikan di atas: "Kenapa harus menyiksa diri sendiri dengan bersedih karena orang yang tidak memikirkan kita atau perasaan kita?" Ah, saya mungkin kurang sensitif waktu mengungkapkan hal itu, terlalu didorong emosi sendiri, karena merujuk pada pengalaman pribadi yang belum tentu sesuai dengan kondisi teman-teman saya. Hanya saja saya kira saya memahami gejolak batin mereka sepenuhnya, karena saya pernah terjebak dalam situasi serupa. Dan pernah melakukan hal yang sama. Maju, mundur, maju lagi karena didorong kata hati yang ternyata salah, dan akhirnya mundur setelah menghadapi kenyataan yang sebenarnya: saya tak lebih dari satu sosok dua dimensi dalam hidupnya, cuma cerita tanpa makna lebih dalam.

Saya pikir, alangkah senangnya kalau ada remote control untuk hati. Bagian yang sakit bisa ditinggalkan dengan cepat menggunakan tombol fast forward. Tombol rewind dapat digunakan untuk memutar kembali kenangan yang indah -- tentunya sepanjang kita inginkan -- atau untuk memperbaiki kesalahan yang lalu. Sekiranya ada ada tombol erase, dapat dimanfaatkan untuk menghapus bagian yang tidak kita inginkan.

Ini tentunya khayalan ngawur yang tidak akan pernah terjadi. Hanya saja, tanpa disadari, kita semua -- termasuk saya -- kerap memakai remote control imajiner untuk melewati tahap-tahap yang memedihkan. Misalnya dengan menganggap sesuatu tidak pernah terjadi, tahapan itu tidak pernah ada, seseorang tidak pernah berwujud.

Tapi apa itu solusi yang tepat? Mungkin "remote control" ini cuma akan berdaya guna sementara. Cuma satu upaya melarikan diri dari persoalan. Toh suatu saat saya harus menghadapi kenyataan lagi. Dan itu yang harus saya lakukan: menyikapi masalah dan menangani emosi saya dengan cara yang benar. Seperti apa? Kalau untuk kasus saya sendiri (cuih, kasus! Hehhee...) terus terang saya belum tahu. Namun saya mengerti bahwa hasilnya selaiknya seperti ini: mengakui tahapan itu ada, sesuatu itu pernah terjadi, dan seseorang itu pernah hadir dalam kehidupan saya -- dengan pikiran yang bebas, merdeka, segar. Atau -- mengikuti jalan pikiran Jeng Ninit -- bersih dari sampah hati yang cuma bikin capek.

Saya masih mencari jalannya nih. Click!*power off, sementara*

From a headline.. to an inside article?

Very interesting. The Early Sunday Edition of the Washington Post had put an article on Papua, written by Ellen Nakashima, on its front page, making it the headline. I fumbled through its website on Saturday to find the article nowhere (I had figured it should've been there -- the online version is usually a bit advanced than the printed one).

It appeared online several hours later (after it's officially Sunday, of course, hehehe...) and came the papers to my door. Guess what? It's now on page 17, aka the World Section, with different title. In the Early Sunday Edition it was titled "Indonesia's Continued Problem", and now it is "In Remotest Indonesia, Unfinished Business."

I haven't checked whether there are also differences in the article itself. I doubt there would be, but.. well, who knows? (I'll update it later).


No changes were made in the substance, apparently. I'm still curious why they removed the previous title. Hm. Huh, sometimes I hate riddles, especially when I can't think of an answer, kekekkekek...

The leading man in my life

When I was little, many said that I was practically his copy. Indeed, I got his thick eyebrows and full lips (though not the dimpled chin which I sometimes envy). I remember one day when I performed a male role in a traditional dance, and the make up artist drew a fake moustache on me, his colleagues and friends commented on me being his young version.

That and a number of other occasions and sayings had convinced me on our physical resemblence.

There were days when this mere fact made me proud. He was the idol in the house, a figure associated with strength, warmth, coolness, and compassion. For a couple of years, I slept on his bed, forcing my mom to "change" her mate to my poor little sister, hehehe... We were close, and yet at times he could seem untouchable. I guess I could blame my mom for the latter, as she often told us not to "bother your dad, he's busy working." Hehhehe..

He didn't have a difficulty in showing his affection to his children, though on the striking contrary -- and this is a very funny thing -- he has never been easy in ACCEPTING our signs of affection. My sister used to tease him by hugging him tightly and planting hard, sloppy kiss on his cheek/forehead for several minutes, and that would make him awkward. He would giggle (yes, folks, giggle), his face would turn red, REAL red, and he'd try to release himself from my sister's arms.

He was a bit shy, though, in expressing his fondness to my mom in public. Like many people of his generation, he showed it by working hard and providing the needful things for the family. But when he does, it is sooo.. sweet. He once sent a birthday card to my mom when he was out of town for business, saying that he missed her and he was sending her a thousand hugs and kisses. That very rare gesture was of course a nice surprise.

Despite all those, yes, I did have hard times with him. We argued and debated and discussed various issues: my work, my study, my boyfriends, my sister's life, etc. I respect him, though, and thank him for respecting my decision and my opinion.

I'd like to write down here those moments I shared with him. From the time he didn't sleep all night, singing me a lullaby when I had quite a severe cold and refused to sleep unless he sings me (I think I was two or three years old), to when I went with him to a remote place in Virginia to inspect a car that I intended to buy. There are far too many, however, and all the words in this world will never be enough to describe his love and care.

I love him. Miss him bunches. Heck, I'm starting to cry typing this, hehehe...

Happy Father's Day to my current leading man (aka the subject of this post), and all other fathers who happen to be my friends, co-workers, acquaintances, fellow bloggers and chat partners. This post is dedicated to all of you too! :)

Say A Little Prayer...

Say a little prayer for me.
For courage, endurance, hopes, and faith above all.

(Ah, my dear Father, I know that I've been estranged from You these days. Please let the prayers of my friends and those who care for me carry my heart and soul closer to You. Allow Your warm presence accompany my being. Though I know that You love me more than anyone would in this universe, and that You're waiting for me to return. To You.)

my little prayer for you too..

Megalitikum Kuantum

Demikianlah, nama artis yang juga sesama keparat pemerintah itu muncul di sela-sela percakapan ringan kami, waktu makan siang. Awalnya karena, seperti biasa, isu status "jomblo" yang masih lekat pada beberapa orang di antara kami dilontarkan. Beberapa ibu muda yang pada dasarnya sirik pada kebebasan para gadis langsung menyodorkan sekian nama calon potensial.

Sampai kemudian saya menyebut nama artis satu itu.

"Eh, si Anu belum menikah juga kan? Padahal dia sepertinya oke sekali!" (saya mengacu pada sederet gelar kesarjanaan dalam dan luar negeri artis tersebut).

"Oh ya," sambar seorang ibu muda yang duduk di sebelah saya. "Istri atasan kita pernah mencoba menjodohkannya dengan si X (alias teman kami yang menjadi sekretaris atasan tersebut - red.), tapi rupanya mereka tidak cocok."

"Tidak cocok bagaimana?" kejar saya sambil mencoba meraba-raba di mana letak ketidakcocokannya. Artis tersebut digosipkan terakhir dengan seorang artis lain yang berdaya tarik keperempuanan cukup dahsyat, yang kemudian meninggalkannya dan menikah dengan seorang ekspatriat. Nah, teman kami tersebut mungkin tidak seglamor artis perempuan ini, tapi sangat menarik dan pintar.

"Rupanya si artis lebih suka perempuan berdada besar."


Saya nyaris menyemburkan makanan yang masih tersisa sedikit di mulut saya karena tawa yang langsung meledak. "Dia hidup di jaman apa, mbak? Jangan-jangan dia pikir sekarang masih Masa Kegelapan."

Teman-saya-si-ibu-muda itu mengangkat bahu sambil nyengir lebar.

Waktu itu saya tak habis pikir, bagaimana seseorang dengan tingkat intelektual yang tinggi dan pergaulan yang sudah pasti luas masih mensyaratkan hal-hal fisik pada calon pasangannya, daripada barangkali kriteria lain yang lebih penting. Namun bila ditinjau kembali, di sisi lain hal tersebut tentunya hak yang bersangkutan. Wajar-wajar saja sebagai manusia kalau kita cenderung tertarik pada fitur-fitur tertentu, termasuk ukuran dada, hehehe.. tapi alangkah sayangnya bila pemberatan pada fitur tersebut membuat kita menutup mata pada aspek-aspek lain, terutama rasa kenyamanan bersama. Yah, entah kalau ukuran dada ikut menentukan tingkat kenyamanan itu ya.

Bagaimanapun percakapan ini mengingatkan saya pada sebuah artikel lain yang saya baca baru-baru ini mengenai seorang pengacara terkenal yang kurang setuju pada hubungan puteranya, seorang aktor muda, dengan artis muda lain. Kalau alasan klasik seperti "mereka masih terlalu muda untuk memikirkan pernikahan" saya kira semua akan maklum. Namun ternyata kemudian diembel-embeli, "Saya ingin isteri anak saya nanti adalah ibu rumah tangga penuh, tidak perlu kerja."


Pertama, bukankah siapapun nanti yang akan diperisteri oleh anaknya, sewajarnya merupakan pilihan sang anak?

Kedua, sang pengacara terkenal yang notabene (lagi-lagi) memiliki kadar intelektual tinggi dan pergaulan yang (juga) luas, ternyata masih memiliki pola pikir jaman batu. Ingin menjadi pengatur rumah tangga penuh waktu atau paruh waktu (alias menjadi bapak rumah tangga atau ibu rumah tangga) sejatinya diserahkan kepada pasangan yang berkepentingan. Kepentingan orang tua terletak pada kebahagiaan anaknya, bukan sekedar kebahagiaan dan kebanggaan pribadi.

Jangan-jangan fenomena Megalitikum Kuantum alias melompat kembali ke Jaman Batu ini sudah pada level yang memprihatinkan. Ck.

Invasion to One's Personal Space

A few days ago I almost got robbed.

Well, at least that's how I perceived it: I almost got robbed.

It was 11.15 at night (almost midnight). I just parked my car and was about to turn the machine off, when somebody knocked on the car's window.

I lift up my eyes and there was an African American guy, wearing red t-shirt, making gestures with his hand which I interpreted as asking me to get the window down. As I thought that he wanted to ask something (which is not unusual, you know), I made this facial expression while saying, "What's up?".

You see, normally when somebody asks for a help or raises a question, to a stranger, he/she will wait patiently until the other person is fully ready to hear him/her, unless some dead-or-alive matter forces him/her to do otherwise. Right?

He, instead, shouted: "Open the door!"

Shocked, I replied: "No way, man!"

He shouted again, even more loudly: "OPEN THE DOOR!" and stared at me.

I got terrified and yelled my rejection, retreated the car (I had not turned off the machine, remember?) out of the lot and headed to other direction. I remember my thought at that time: what if he didn't move? Will I hit him? Luckily he stepped aside as my car moved. I couldn't get a space near my apartment building, so I went to my friend's (which is next to mine and shares the parking lot), rang him to ask him to accompany me parking. I was afraid that the guy was probably waiting for me to go back there.

I don't need to tell in details what happened next as I managed to return to my own apartment, safe and sound. But that horrifying experience has affected me in this particular way: I lost some part of my self-confidence, became more alert if not a bit paranoid.

It is interesting that when I reported the incident to the police and they asked whether this guy had made threats or pointed any weapon to me, all I could say was: No. Yet his gestures had made me think that he was going to rob me. As I thought about it again later, he could possibly be panicked about something and was actually crying for help. Or, of course, he had this wicked intention but didn't have the chance to go further.

Either one, I learned one thing: we get more and more sensitive about our personal space. We feel invaded quite easily these days. Sometimes, even a soft, innocent touch on our ankle could trigger an anger or fear. Living in cities like Jakarta for several years will surely construct your perception on things. DC is actually a lot more secure, though it was once labeled "the criminal capital" due to its high criminal rate, and in my one and half year of living here, I grew more and more confident of going places myself at unusual hours. But this experience has managed to take away that secure feeling from me. Well, it could be a blessing in disguise: I become more careful. I make sure that I lock the car before I start the machine. When I arrive home late (which is, like, everyday :p) and I can't get a place closest to my apartment, I'll try to find a spot somewhere else that is well illuminated and near Giant or CVS (both are within my apartment's complex).

An impact of the incident that bothers me is that I've started to develop a kind of racial prejudice. Yes, it was my very first annoying encounter with an African-American in which I was really targeted. Before, it was only like me witnessing these people screaming at and cursing each other. I have to admit that now I tend to be suspicious when an African-American guy approaches or is near me at nights when no other people are around. Saddening, isn't it? Despite the fact that I'm head over heels in love with Collin Powell, Denzel Washington and Will Smith.

I look forward to regaining my security, fully. And getting rid of unnecessary paranoia, without sacrificing my cautiousness. I want to be able to see other people the way they are - human, not member of a particular ethnic group with all its stereotypes.

I want my personal space back.

Bicara Tentang Pilu

Berbicara tentang bencana yang menimpa saudara-saudara kita di Bantul, Yogyakarta, Magelang, Klaten, dan sekitarnya, saya sedang tidak bisa merangkaikan kalimat indah seperti isian Dinda dalam blognya. Sumpah, membaca tulisan itu, dada saya terasa sesak.

Pulang ke kotamu
Ada setampuk haru dalam rindu
Masih seperti dulu
Tiap sudut menyapaku bersahabat...

Saya bukan penduduk asli Yogyakarta. Keberadaan saya di sana lebih banyak berupa singgahan. Tapi Yogya telah lama memikat saya, dan saya tidak pernah merasa bosan di kota itu. Lepas dari segala perubahannya, beserta berbagai fenomena baru yang tak pelak lagi merupakan bagian dari perjalanan zaman, bagi saya Yogya seolah-olah menetapkan peraturan sendiri mengenai waktu. Tidak diam di tempat, tapi melangkah dengan santai, dan membiarkan waktu yang mengikutinya.

Mungkin karena itu saya merasa sakit memikirkan kesedihan dan ketakutan yang saat ini membayangi Yogya dan daerah lain di sekitarnya. Gagasan mengenai memandang bintang di tengah keluasan langit malam di atas sawah kehilangan keromantisannya, berganti dengan gambar sekumpulan orang yang menengadah ke atas karena tidak ada pilihan, dengan kecemasan bercampur kepasrahan: adakah Sang Khalik masih berkenan mengaruniakan lebih banyak hari untuk mereka lihat?

Walau kini engkau telah tiada, tak kembali
Namun kotamu hadirkan senyummu abadi
Ijinkanlah aku untuk selalu pulang lagi
Bila hati mulai sepi tanpa terobati...

Banyak hal lain yang menusuk perasaan saya lebih dalam.

Ketika orang mempertengkarkan kepantasan pemberian predikat "bencana nasional" untuk bencana ini. Bencana adalah bencana, apapun skalanya. Nyawa satu manusia sama berharganya dengan seribu nyawa manusia. Kenapa harus membiarkan rasa keadilan yang lebih banyak dibentuk oleh ego ini mengalahkan simpati dan belas kasihan untuk mereka yang kehilangan sangat banyak?

Ketika kesusahan dieksploitasi. Dengan rasa hormat kepada teman-teman yang benar-benar peduli (dan saya tahu pasti Jeng Okol adalah salah satunya), entah kenapa saya merasa banyak organisasi kemanusiaan, khususnya yang berpusat di tempat saya bermukim sekarang, yang cenderung memanfaatkan keadaan ini untuk menarik lebih banyak donasi. Oh, ya, saya tahu bahwa mereka toh akan melakukan tugasnya dengan sebaik-baiknya. Tapi saya muak memikirkan bahwa penderitaan sebagian saudara saya memberi keuntungan kepada orang lain yang tidak berbagi tanah air dengan saya.

Apakah ini post yang berisi kemarahan? Tidak juga. Hanya mengeluarkan unek-unek, sambil menyiapkan malam dana besok :).

Selamat berakhir pekan, kawan. Dan terima kasih atas seruan-seruannya. Saya merasa dimiliki kalian, orang-orang yang mungkin tidak pernah saya lihat bentuk fisiknya, tapi yang saya tahu memiliki ketulusan pertemanan dengan saya.