Day – 2, Asghar Farhadi and my suffocated heart

Blog January 2, 2017

This is my second time to see film of Asghar Farhadi. And as intense as the first one, “A saperation”, in “The Salesman” he manages, with beautifully crafted events in his script, to put my heart in a small box, and then he took all the air from inside the box and squeeze it.

Feel free to try to watch it and know how does it feel to be suffocated.

Day 1 – “What now”

Blog January 2, 2017
“what now? ” That was the two words roaming around my head while all of those fireworks blooming with its loud scream above Rotterdam foggy sky.
with all of these phases,  steps,  decisions that I have taken,  the future seems still foggy from my present.
I don’t know what to answer from that two simple words.  what I know for sure I guess,  to just record, what is going to happen this year, and hoping the answer will reveal – or not- between the lines of the frozen recorded memory.
happy new year,  dear young soul.

Day 147 – Cantique de Jean Racine

Blog June 2, 2014

Word of God, one with the Most High,
in Whom alone we have our hope,

It was 7 years ago. I was eating Nasi Padang while watching a random orchestra concert in a small computer screen with my friend Ayu.
I did not remember which song was in that concert. But I do remember that the concert was very beautiful and took place in a very beautiful concert hall.

The camera shoot the performers, and then it slowly moved to the beautiful red seats and continue to the spectators sitting wearing those tuxedos and beautiful dress. 
For us, that orchestra concert in that small computer screen was not only beautiful but also strange. everyone in there seems just everything but us. What happen in that monitor was too far away from our reality then.

“That hall is very beautiful isn’t it?” I said
“Yes! when will we be there Re” Ayu asked me with her cheeky smile
“well, we can pretend to be there right now” I smile, still enjoying the concert while eating Nasi Padang 
“We should sit in front” 
“When we watch it there directly, we should sit in front so we can seed the performers closely” Ayu said seriously
“No, No, we should sit on the Podium. We will bring those opera binoculars. You know, the lens those gentlemen in hollywood movie watching the concert"
we laughed. It seems so far away.

We were young, we know nothing about music, what kind of music it is, who is the composer, what kind of genre is that, what kind of era that music is being written. We know nothing, though we can feel if the music beautiful.

10 minutes later the concert ended, we stood, we clap with our hand still oily from the Padang food

“Bravo! Bravo!“

2 days ago, 7 years later

Today is the second time I have a chance to watch a concert in Amsterdam Concertgebouw. 

It blows my mind.

It was Requiem Faure by the Bach Choir & Orchestra of the Netherlands.
Series of fortunate events letting me enjoy that concert for the second time Amsterdam Concertgebouw. 

With those fortunate evens too, I have the chance to get in through the artist entrance. 

It was complete different experience since the first time I watch a concert in Concertgebouw. This time, I entered the building through artist entrance, entering an underground maze-like alleys where a lot of signed posters hanged along the alley, passing the soloists and conductors room going to exactly the back of the stage where one of the monitors showing the stage activity. 

I can not stop thinking a scene of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas entering Copacabana. 
It gets better when we went to the Artist Lounge. It’s the place where they are waiting to perform. 
I have met couple of the singers before, and had a short conversation with them. 
“Hey Arif! Nice to meet you again. Enjoy the concert!” one of them greeted me

"I think we will start soon, we should get you to your chair” my friend said
“let me see your ticket” 
I gave him my ticket. 
“Okay, follow me”
we went to the elevator. It slowly going up before its door opened. While we try to find my seat, the speaker chimes and announce that the concert is going to start
“ You have to perform very soon, don’t worry I can find it by my self” I said
“are you sure”
My friend left me, while I asked the bailiff to show me my seat. 
He showed me the way
It was a Balkon seat.

Blog May 27, 2014

For those who doesn’t understand dutch, here is a simple translation 

Name: Arif Abdillah
study direction: Advertising

Conclusion: you are well prepared on your choice of study. In the motivation interview, you shows your affinity with the study direction you chose. 

Your portfolio shows your self-will, originality, curiosity and basic of communication ability. You also open for research.

Advise: Welcome in the academy in the direction of Advertising 

The art school result

Blog May 27, 2014

It has been nearly 10 days ago since I had a selection in Willem De Kooning Academy majoring Advertising.

I really wish that I could be accepted in this school. This is the only art academy in the Netherlands that has Advertising as its major.  

It has been half a year since I went to the open day and prepare my Portfolio to apply this art school. It was not a smooth journey. I went to the portfolio course for three months, Traveling between Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam, I had to go outside of my safety zone, I had to start from the scratch in completely new field, I had to feel those insecurity feeling knowing that I am facing a competition with those brilliant, fresh 18 to 20 years old who have been studying art for at least their whole middle school. and those insecurity feeling might not be gone very soon after looking at the art industry that seems has its drive from a big insecurity issues from its artist. 

No matter how big they are, no matter how experienced they are.

Of course there are a lot of other great advertising schools that has a great programme which I wish I can be accepted. However with the current situation, be it financially and geographically it’s near impossible to be enrolled in those great ad school (and don’t worry I have a plan for that).

Around 10 days ago I had my selection. It was quite intense. It start from 9 AM until 3 PM. I had to have 2 interviews and make 2 pieces about random theme such as “A day of me” and “make an art based on awesome thing you see, listen, read lately” (and I made a toilet paper prank). That was very different than my previous exam such as “Explain your perspective on the abolishment of Security Council or does the series of event in Ukraine should be entitled as arm conflict? Explain its implications according to International Humanitarian Law ”

It was yesterday. 
I was in Amsterdam when I got a text from my friend saying that he saw a letter from WDKA, and it might be the result of the selection. 
I rushed back to Utrecht with my heart nearly jumped out from my body. 

I was very nervous in the train, thinking about million things on a lot of “what ifs" what if I get rejected, what would I do, what will I feel, how will I react, how will I face it. 

I can’t do a thing except trying to make my self calm, acknowledge that nervous feeling, surrender to it and write a letter for my future self.
Here is what I write.

Dear Arif,

This is you in the train, 30 minutes before you open the letter from Willem De Kooning Academy. 

If you don’t get accepted, please remember that you might regret things about what you have done or said and or about things that you haven’t done or said in the selection day. 

It’s okay. You are being a human. No one ever lived  in this world who is free from that feeling. Regret.

It’s okay to regret thing. But remember that you are not facing it by your self. There are million other people rejected by a lot of things be it works, love, family, credit card application, book proposals  and may be hundreds of people also rejected in Willem De Kooning academy. It is okay for you to seek comfort in that fact. 
You are not alone.

If you don’t get accepted, remember to just acknowledge that feeling. 

It might be pain. but pain is also okay. That means you are still alive. You still have something that you take it seriously.

If you don’t get accepted and you feel sad, then be sad. It’s okay. Just remember if the sadness is too deep, and if you feel that you can’t take it anymore, or you feel that you are still falling without knowing how deep will it end, ask for help from the people around you. You have enough people whom care about you and will be happy to help you if you just ask for help.

And whatever the result is, I love you.

You have done the best that you can. You have been trying the outmost from your current ability, talent, skill and effort.

and it has been fun.

It has been fun those nights and days in the library making things. The effort of connecting people, to show your portfolio to them, to ask their opinion, and to know new people whom have different background that you do.

Do you still remember that night when you bike from the library smiling and nearly screaming with joy when you get your android app works and your Processing Programming works for the first time?

You wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.

Feeling that intense joy of eventually making things works after series of failures, that intense joy of feeling progress from a man who always get 5 in math  and know nothing about programming at 9 in morning, to a man who made something, an android app, and interactive design that you will never ever thought about making it at 11 PM.

If you don’t get accepted, it has been great 6 months to dive into the art world and make your own portfolio.

If you do get accepted,Enjoy!

Let’s worry about the next steps later.
Today, eat that Chinese food waiting at home and be happy with  people whom you care and care about you.

I love you.


NB: if you want to know the result of the selection, I post the picture above this post

Day 140 Procrastination, Pomodoro and Chicken countdown

Blog May 21, 2014

I am writing this piece with an annoying-chicken-shape-kitchen-timer ticking loud counting back besides my laptop ready to ring when the time is up. It ticks down for only 25 minutes. I feel as if I was running on a fast treadmill with a wide open crocodile mouth open waiting for me to trip and ready to send me to hell.

So here is why I do this. This is the second and the third day of me trying to wake up at 4 O’clock at night for 7 days. It has been slowly sliding. The plan was to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning. Instead, I woke up at 4:10 AM at the first day, 5:10 AM at the second day, and 6:00 AM at the third day. 

In one hand, it might seems like a failure. you know, not achieving the target. But in the other hand, waking up at 06:00 AM is still way better than 11:00 AM. (this being said, I didn’t try to criminalise the night people. I just try to wake up early). I only can say “Tomorrow I will try to wake up earlier”. (Note to self: May be I do need that annoying audio book from David Sedaris to still let him read the passage until I woke up.)

The first day of the four O’clock Project, I felt that I reclaim back my time from 12 hour a day to 24 hour a day. The problem is that I still think that I did not use it effective enough. I was trying to sit to write and it can go like this: Opening Evernote-> okay I need to read the previous post-> open Facebook -> “oh look a viral advertising of Hare and a bear” -> wow the music is nice what is it-> find handphone->open Shazam-> oh Lily Allen, somewhere Only we know -> who is the singer of the original version?-> go to Google-> ah Keane eh wait, i think this song also used in movie with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and so on en so forth .

And it is exhausting, make me feel bad and frustrated. Because as wikipedia defines procrastination is counterproductive, needless and delaying.

I had enough. I did small research about it. After hours of procrastination on researching it, I found an alternative solution. This solution does not wipe all the procrastination, it is just making an intentional rest, making an intentional procrastination so we have kind of control over it. the method called Pomodoro Technique

In short, how it work basically 

a) Set the count down timer at 25 minutes
b) Do your work in that 25 minutes
c) If you suddenly think an unplanned things to do (distraction), just write it down and tell your self you will asses it later
d) When the timer rings, you HAVE to have your self a 3-5 minutes rest. You can use this time for internet, making tea, or standing in front of window and pretend to be awesome philosophers. Everything but the work you are doing.
e) After 5 minutes, get back to the first step
f)  After 4 Pomodoros, (25 mins work + 5 mins rest) Make a longer rest (15-20) mins after 4 Pomodoros (25 mins work + 5 mins rest)

You will need

a) count down timer (manual is better than electronic. They suggest to use a cook timer, the one you will use in the kitchen with a very loud tick and tock, and with the manual “kriiiing” sound. )
b) a paper to write a to do list, and list to write your distraction
c) an open mind to at least give it a try in a week.

Boy, was I nervous when I try it the first time. That loud “Tick" and “Tock" intimidates me. I felt I just have to race with a short time. I feel that I will never win no matter I tried to think and type fast. That God-damn-annoying-chicken-shape-kitchen-timer just will ring without me finishing my work.

I feel like running and running, and rather than being concentrated and being very productive I felt like I was suffocated, and being reminded every second that my time is running away. That my time is not going to be back, that I will not going to be fest enough to finish my task at hand.

However, like my relationship with dietary yoghurt, I give my self a second chance to let it helps me.

The second day, I let my self think the way the Maker of Pomodoro technique want me to think when hearing that “Tick”-“Tock". He wrote “as long as you make something in between that "Tick” and “Tock” you shouldn’t feel bad, suffocated and anxious about running out of time. because it means that your task at hand is progressing.”

May be there will be more than 50% of this piece that I will rewrite later. But if I did not make it in this time, it will not make by it self.

Because you know, sometime time was just running without compassion. After work, looking at Facebook, making dinner, watching series, winding down a bit, reading magazine and next thing we know, it already midnight, and tomorrow awaits in matter of minutes.

NB: for those who are curious about This Pomodoro Technique, here are the links

Four O’clock in the morning Day 139

Blog May 20, 2014

19 May 2014.

“Four in the morning”

The hour from night to day, 
The hour from side to side
The hour for those past thirty
Wislawa Szymborska

“It’s friend you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter"
Marlene Dietricht


Today I woke up at 4 in the morning and I am writing this at 5 o’clock in the morning. The sky is blue already, and there is no other sounds except a very occasional car sound and bird chirping.
I am sleepy, my eyes are still swollen, and I would give everything to get back  to my warm blanket. Instead I prepared a whole big cup of tea to make me awake. 

I am trying to do this because I realise I have a problem. I feel that my day is only 10 hours rather than 24 hours a day.

Consider this: In off day, I woke up at 11, drink my coffee with a lot of milk, having breakfast, showering before any activity, be it writing, studying dutch or making my portfolio, and by then, I started my day at 2 PM. Where at 3 PM I will have my lunch, and then at 5 PM I will cook for my dinner. This entails not only that I finish my day at usually around 1 o’clock at night, but also big probability that I will repeat my groggy morning, and the willingness to kill just anyone who are appear to my eyes before 10.  

Now that I have finished my portfolio and I can concentrate to write again, I decided to wake up early and sleep early. As early as riding my bunk bed at 10 PM, and rising up at 4 AM.

It is not an easy business for me to wake up early. I am not a morning person. I have a lot of complain in my whole life about my hog-like sleeping habit.

One of them, When I was living in Amsterdam Noord with 4 other housemates. I was setting my alarm clock at 6 o’clock in the morning intended to run in the morning. After it rang beside my ear, instead it wakes me, it awakes Alex, one of my roommate whose room is across the hall. He end up waking me to turn of that god damn alarm. 

It also happen in my first week in Islamic boarding school where I was living with 20 people in one room. I set my alarm at 2:00 to pray Tahajjud. It awakes everyone but me. Not a good start to make a friendship.

Why is 4 AM?, I am not sure. Back then when I was studying at Islamic Boarding school, I have to wake up around 3:45 everyday to pray Subuh. I thought if could do it when I was 11, I could do it now.

Also there is this mystical urban legend about 4 O’clock in the morning, a TED talk by Rives about obsession with 4 a.m where I got those awesome poem and quote above.

So i decide to do en experiment to wake up at 4 in the morning everyday for 7 days. Yes, only a week starting this monday. and we will see how this experiment goes. 

Day One

It feels weird when I am ready to sleep with my kindle in my bed at 9:30 PM not to mention that the sun still shining outside. 

My body tells my brain that according previous occurrence, it is not the time to sleep yet. My brain keep telling me 
“it’s useless to try to sleep this early, and you haven’t finish your homework and writing. Go back to work!“

“No, I have to sleep early” I said to my self

I keep staying at my bed, continuing reading A.J Jacobs and hoping to get sleepy soon. 2 hours later, my brain gave up and I slept.

Beside my bad, 5 alarm ready to blare at 3:00, 3:30, 3:45, 4:00, 4:30.

Not as plan, I woke up at 4:41. good enough, but not impressive I must say. I make my self big cup of tea and force my self to sit in my writing table and write.

To be honest, after mid day, I feel great. I feel that I have time to do everything that I need to do. I feel I have get back my my days in 24 hours. Although I feel that I still can improve those waking time. 

I did write a little bit. but I also procrastinate in various forms. I wander in the internet, reading things I did not plan, making my other full cup of tea, organising my table, looking for the right pen, looking for pencil and eraser, and little bit of nap, well, nearly an hour nap between 9:30 until 10:30. I also do some jog around Utrecht to add the procrastination list.

End of the day one

I felt a bit bad about those procrastination. But looking at it again now, I think I shouldn’t feel that bad. I did write my first draft of this piece. I end up lost and excited about new website I found,, finding new experiment for tomorrow (on how will I tame this procrastination), doing a research for tomorrow’s project (Pomodoro Technique), got books recommendations and downloaded it, watch couple of TED Talks and u99, I run for half an hour, I lift my kettle bell, I went to my dutch class, I had a nap.

At the end, what strikes me the most is that I feel that I reclaim back my 24 hours in a day, I feel less suffocated by limited time I have, I feel more in control of my time and the best thing, is the feeling after working for four hours, and it is still 9 o’clock in the morning and I am ready for my nap.

All that mentioned,  I still have couple of things that I can improve, such as how to be less procrastinate, and how to maintain this new waking system.

I guess It’s okay. I did not expect to master everything in one day, in one go. Besides anyone who can do that in monday and not being homeless and dead of hunger should be grateful.
and I do.