(*) this imaginary conversation between Mira and Anna was composed by Mira through their email conversations, actual ones, and Anna’s blogposts. This is written as Much Love Exhibition curatorial notes. Following us in one of our imaginary walk and through the random thoughts is another way to look around the exhibition.
“Anna, what do you think about love?”
It's what gives life color. It's doing what makes you happy. It's unselfishly caring for someone. It's being honest and opening your heart.
“So, I guess, to you, it’s more of feeling good rather than just about this feeling between two people. More about delight and the simple or sometime mundane things in your daily life that you enjoy doing. I like that. Some people maybe need to be reminded to that. People can actually be obsessed by the complication called love, you know. Getting hurt, being afraid, go on an endless quest and probably so consumed by it that they forget that love can be as simple as having the tea fix in the way that you want it to be, or working on a project with all your heart and it feels warm inside each time it’s progressing. That might be love, but it might also be happiness. But, both are two very heavy words —heavy with expectations and ideals. When it can actually be simple.”
There's that moment of happiness that crashes through like a surprise. It is unexpected and wonderful, and possibly the best feeling ever, and the flipside becomes the past and a valuable lesson that can't hurt you anymore. When that happens, keep it. Hold on to it. Make sure this moment is etched in your memory for always. Appreciate it immensely because you deserve it.
“Tell me about Much Love Monday”
Much Love Monday is a weekly blog post series, intended to start off each week with some positivity instead of the typical Monday blues. To join in Much Love Monday, simply do a blog post that includes a picture of a heart and mention something you love. I have decided to end Much Love Monday... at least for now. Since starting this series in 2010 (or earlier, just in a different format), I don't think I missed a single Monday where I didn't post a love heart and shared something I love, and I have LOVED seeing how others have participated in it with me. It's just come to a point where doing these posts have gone from being fun to becoming like a repetitive chore, sometimes forced, it's become harder to constantly find that positivity, and it's starting to get boring... and I'm sure some of you think so too as the number of participants have dwindled over time. So basically, it's time for an ending and time for a change. I've honestly enjoyed doing Much Love Mondays, even on those days when Mondays are sucky (let's face it, it happens, but even bad days have something nice in them if you look hard), and it always makes me ridiculously happy whenever I get a comment or email from a reader saying that my Much Love Monday post is something they are inspired by and look forward to. I'm not putting it to a complete end. I will likely still post a Much Love Monday every now and then. I won't make any promises on how often, and it might not be in this exact format, but it will simply be when I feel like it.
“Why heart shape?”
Maybe, (because) it’s the most recognizable symbol of love.
“When I ‘met’ you on the blog, I never thought we were actually neighbors. I’ve never seen you on picture aside from those balloon-covered portrait, or the double exposure and the mirror kind of photographs.. which makes it hard for me to tell where do you come from. That’s the funny thing about the internet, you can be anyone, really, and be yourself completely despite all other identity and label in society. So, I must have concluded from your photographs and the way you’re writing your blogpost. Some people say that the sun shines differently at the different part of the world, that the picture you take will feel different. I always thought that’s a very funny way of thinking. There is one sun. Yet, it does beam on a different way that makes things looks different at the different part of the world. In your case, I guess it’s not just about the sun. It’s your way of living. Maybe, it’s not just about the sun but also about the people behind the lens and what captures their attention. At the end, you are a Melbournian who was born in Jogja. But that is not merely what makes you who you are today. Even when you are back in Jogja and taking picture of your hometown, the sense is pretty much the same with where you are taking your other pictures anywhere in the world. And when I finally met you, you are a little bit of everything else—there is a touch of Japanese kind of cuteness and calmness and French girl kind of persona (although I guess almost every girl has that French-girl-persona dream inside of them). You, and me, and other girls in our generation; we are growing up watching Disney, reading Andersen and Enid Blyton, and grew up watching Amelie, Coppola’s and Ghibli’s movie among others. We read similar magazines, and books, and browse the internet, and it shapes us from a little bit of this and that to who we are today. You (Anna) and your online persona (Much Love Anna)—do you do things differently?”
I don't think I'm much different online and offline. My online persona is still me, but it highlights a particular side of me. It's a side that is positive and sees the joy and sweetness in the every day. Life is obviously not constantly filled with cupcakes and pretty sunsets, there are many days where I am far from positive and as a super-sensitive person, I've had my fair share of tears and bad days. There has been times when I mention bad days on my blog, but it's never been something I'm comfortable with sharing in detail. I'd rather use my online platforms as a happy place to delight others (and myself). My social media presence is very visual (instagram, pinterest, photo-heavy blogging), and I find it to be a fun and stimulating creative outlet. I'm as sensitive as they come. I'm one of those people who can instantly well up just at the thought of goodbyes. But I've also never been one to apologize for being as I am, even if it means crumbling a little more than others, I take it as a sign that whatever experience/people led to those waterworks must've been pretty darn meaningful, and I'd rather be so annoyingly sensitive so I can fully appreciate those moments in life than not at all.
“People sometime think that an online persona is an alteration of the offline one. But to some, it actually is a glimpse of how they live their life; seen through an artistic sense and taste of taking picture within yourself.”
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” A quote (by Theodore Roosevelt) that has nothing to do with these photos, but I really really like it. Let's take a break from the comparison game. We all have our own stories and our own journeys.
“How do you see yourself as a girl? What do you like about being a girl?”
I'm what a lot of people would see as a typical girly girl. I love the color pink. I love wearing dresses. I love flowers and pretty things. I guess I have a lot of the "feminine" qualities, being soft-spoken, gentle, emotional.. and I like all of that. Some would see these "soft" qualities as weaknesses, but I don't, I'd rather see them as what makes me who I am, and even as strengths. Along with all of that, I like to think I'm also independent and stronger than a lot of people give me credit for. Just because a girl is quiet doesn't mean she is not fiercely ambitious. I never want my gender to define how much I can achieve in life. In my professional field, I'm used to being the only girl in a team of guys, but I never think that I'm less capable than any of them. I'm all for equality. I'm all for mutual respect. I use the skills I have and I work hard, even if I sometimes prefer doing it in a pink dress!
“Hear, hear, girl! Just like a feminist isn't always supposed to be manly, there are girly modern girl living a life in equality. I don't work with 'woman artist' as much as I wanted to but I personally don't believe in that term: 'woman artist'. An artist is an artist; just like a good work is a good work, no matter what or who make them. Like a good photograph is a good photograph, whether you are labeled as a photographer or not. For me, you making photograph compulsively, with such intensity, probably trying to remember a moment or keep a trace of it—or almost like a reflex. And I like that. Seeing things through your eyes. Like, you’re sharing a glimpse of the mysterious world of yours. It is very fun to and refreshing to do. Boy's mind can be a fun reading, but a girl's mind has a certain complexity that even other girls find it intriguing to read-- yet, we understand them; we feel them. And it is somehow liberating to think alike and squeal at the same delights, sigh for the same quirkiness, and share each other's mind through literature written by woman.”
Basically what we have here is a dreamer. Somebody out of touch with reality. When she jumped, she probably thought she'd fly - Jeffrey Eugenides
“Well, basically, if you take a closer look, Jeffrey. There are two dreamers in this conversation. Maybe that is how Anna and I are connected. But, at this point, I find what Jeff said is highly relevant. Let’s take another one of his (!!) quote.”
We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.
“His, Anna! Don’t you feel betrayed with the fact that The Virgin Suicide is actually written by man? How strange it is that one book I keep on quoting for girls is actually written by man. How could it even possible? We are creatures of complexity. He took the neighbors’ boys voice in telling the story, I know.. but he practically is the one who wrote their diary, right?
He understand these Lisbon girls and their thought—he is Jeff, of course, not the neighbors boys. The neighbors boys are just boys—they’re clueless. Or are they? Or maybe Jeff is not that special after all and the boys has actually crack our code? Oh, the horror! Anyway… that was a very random thought. On a lighter note, do share your random thought..”
Okay.. 5 random thoughts, now!
1. Taylor Swift makes very catchy songs; 2. I need to stop playing with my hair; 3. I can't wait to go to the Doraemon museum; 4. It's sad when friends who used to be close now won't even reply to my emails; 5. Small talk is hard
Every now and then, I catch the sight of the early morning Melbourne hot air balloons on my way to work. On good days, there's a cluster of them, and closer and bigger looking too. It makes those frantic weekday commutes a little nicer.
“How does being home away from home make you feel?
Never belonging, always curious and searching, sad when lonely but proud when I'm independent; yet, I feel comfortable.
“Do you get homesick?”
Yes. I still often get homesick for Jogja. Not so much for Jogja the location, but for my parents - my ultimate source of support - and the familiar comfort of the house I grew up in. Jogja shaped me in many ways, it's stuck as part of my personality, so I'll always identify myself as a Jogja girl who will always see it as home.
“Tell me a little bit of your travel story”
On our first stop in Paris, we rented an apartment in Canal Saint Martin. Admittedly, I was initially attracted to Canal St Martin because of the classic pebble-skimming scene out of Amelie (a.k.a best movie ever). But it certainly has much to offer. It's a little bit out of the busy touristy areas, which was quite refreshing. It has a relaxing and laid back feel about it, and you see a lot of locals especially during the afternoon sitting by the canal having a picnic, fishing (yes, apparently there's fish in the canal) or walking their dogs.
“That’s the thing with the sidestream kind of travelers. Going to the touristy place is not exactly interesting, but knowing the way people actually live at the other side of the world, that’s the best! What new things you discover on your travel?”
That strangers can be the kindest people you'll ever meet, that small toiletries containers are one of the best inventions ever, and that I'm capable of more than I think. You know, sometime.. I would like the ability to strike eloquent conversations with strangers.. in any language.. anywhere. Imagine the stories you could hear and things you could learn!
“That’s interesting. I never actually thought of it. Do you believe that an extrovert can actually converted into an introvert? I think I’m one of these people who used to have the ability to do small talk and have fun mingling with people. And as I grow up, I start living in my own bubble, do things I enjoy doing, and find it really difficult to talk to strangers, which was a piece of cake for me when I was much younger. I find it easier to write now and every now and then I need to recharge—be by myself. It annoys some people to see me slip out of the crowd every now and then just to breathe. It annoys me to not be able to control myself and get drained so easily in the crowd. But I always enjoy small gathering, an intimate soiree, and small group of friends who knows you best, you know..”
Yes, like celebrating a birthday. Birthdays are a funny thing. No matter how much I try to wave it off as no big deal, there's going to be some amount of expectation and pressure to get it right, memorable and happy. I admit I'm not crazy about turning two-nine (only one more year of saying I'm 20-something!). I also try not to read too much into the fact that the amount of people around me have dwindled down compared to last year's birthday, as have the fb messages. Popularity is not my thing, that's for sure... but that's okay. At the end of the day, I am glad that I got to celebrate the way I did, and I got to spend the day with 3 superbly good friends who don't mind my odd quirks and obsessive film photo taking (surely it gets annoying to have someone take your drink away because they want to take a photo of your straw! What? It's true!). It was in fact memorable and happy.
“oh, the compulsion of taking picture and how it annoys people. I suffer that too. Oh no, let me rephrase that, people around me suffer from my compulsion. We should be thankful that they are patience enough just to wait around while we stop and take picture or spend five minutes trying to find the perfect arrangement of our shared dessert before we start to dig.”
“Do you surprise yourself often enough?”
Probably not. This is a good reminder.
You know, those moments when you're so terrified and so indecisive of doing something,.. and then do it anyway. I often need to keep reminding myself that those moments are worth it. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always going to be hard and there's still a lot that I'm far from figuring out, but one baby step is better than staying put.
So today (and apparently for the rest of the week too), the weather has been very cold and very wet in Melbourne! I've had to run some errands today that required lots of walking and waiting around for public transport in the rain. Now I'm not a big fan of being caught in the rain, but instead of being grumpy about it, I found some things NICE about the rain instead... Things I love about rainy days:
1. Jumping in puddles is fun! Especially when you have bright yellow gumboots! (not worn today unfortunately); 2. It makes for lovely little cinemagram gif subject (as I was waiting for one of the many trams in the morning); 3. It makes for a moody black and white photography subject too; 4. Standing silently and hearing nothing but the rain trickle on your umbrella - as I did this afternoon at the train station platform. No one else was nearby (they all chose to stand under the covers! what fun is that?), and it was strangely nice and serene; 5. Seeing the colorful umbrellas people have. I saw a pink polka dot one and one that looked like it was covered in a rainbow of triangle confetti!; 6.Coming home and making yourself a cup of hot tea. It tastes 10 times better in this weather! And don't forget the cookies; 7. Watching and listening to the rain from indoors, with the heater turned on. What do you love about rainy days?
“Hmm.. I used to list ‘steamy pao bun on a rainy day’ as one of my favorite long long time ago. But with me; those things are mostly temporary. My favorite change a lot, regularly. I enjoy steamy pao bun in one phase, playing piano out loud when it rains in other phase, and dance under the rain in another phase (and be very ill afterward). Those are all passed. Yet, there are some of very old favorites like staring out the window, looking at the water ‘swans’ dance. You see, those little swans formed by the water when it touches the ground? My mom made me see those swans. I spend most of my childhood in bed, so, my mom usually make me daydream through stories or watching the rain falls outside the big window next to my bed. Up to this day, I still enjoy big windows and looking out of it when the rain is very heavy and makes everything looks like it was covered in white curtains. At time like that, I feel like the world just put on a pause and we can just do nothing, or read, or giggle when our cold feet touch each other while we are telling stories under the blanket. I also love the melancholic feel of driving under a heavy rain at night. It might be the light playing tricks to our mind.. but it might also because I barely can see anything but the glimmering night light falls upon the puddles. Maybe, other things rain-related outside the window is for me to wait for the sun to shine during the rainy day (which is surprisingly often), and just look at how the water looks like they’re floating. Sometime, there is rainbow too! By the way, I really like that picture of a broken umbrella on the pedestrian you took on that rainy day!”
Oh. Poor thing. Someone’s probably walking around Melbourne left with just an umbrella handle!
“..and those photographs of the Wild things?”
They strolled through Melbourne a while back. They look perplexed by all that attention and cameras pointed at them, huh? Can't blame them. They don't see many human beings where they're from, I guess.
note: the 'voice' of Anna is portrayed with the italic font