Oh, how I miss blogging (and other news).

You have no idea how many times I typed and deleted the first sentence of this post. I haven’t been blogging for a while. But I can’t let it go. I can’t let go of blogging and I am not sure why. Mine is not the most important and popular blog anyway, so perhaps it’s just me. No one else would feel like they’re missing out on something if I didn’t continue to write this blog.

One thing for sure, I miss my friends in the blogosphere. It’s weird, I haven’t even met them. I’ve only known them through Writing 101 free online class, but I feel like I can easily communicate without any hesitation. Yet I have so many friends in real life whom become distant. It feels awkward to start communicating with them again. I suspect they might assume that I am selling some multilevel marketing products or having other hidden agenda. We’ve grown so much apart anyways. I am not sure I would understand the best gesture that I must perform in front of them and vice versa.

I remember back then, I’ve written in my diary about how weird it is to have some text messages, quotes from e-mail, friendster and facebook written as part of my day-to-day stories. I owned my first cellphone in 2004 and it’s quite late. Perhaps it is a sign that I am basically not an early adopter of new technologies and prefer to wait a bit until I feel like I really need it. Also, in general, I am never keen on being submissive into peer pressure that demands me to always be among the first customer of latest trend. Nope, I’m out.

It’s different with earlier technologies. I used to communicate through line phone, and sometimes I wrote part of the communication on phone in my day-to-day stories that I chronicled in diary. It never makes me feel weird. What makes it different was perhaps the fact that it still has a human dimension, a voice, unmistakably belong to a person. It makes me sure who am I speaking with. And it’s instant: you speak, I listen, I respond, I speak, you listen, you respond. There’s no gap, no delay, not even second-thoughts of erasing previous message, etc. But strangely, the same thing goes with longform written letters, though it could also be written by someone else, I’ve never met my penpals, it is not instant and there’s a gap time between sending the letter and receiving a reply. Where’s the human dimension? What makes me so sure to whom I am communicating with? There’s so many questions better left unanswered.

In a way, I see my blogging friends like my penpals in the past. I need to blurt something out and my preferred way of communicating is blogging. Maybe I am a blogger at heart, who knows?

What I am about to tell you is, I’ve got an awesome news. I got a 5-years PhD scholarship from NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) to study at Wageningen University. I am thinking of documenting my process in becoming an independent researcher. My philosophy is not to find the answer but to learn how to find the answer. And the blog would not only be about my research project. You see, the way I perceive other people is I stretched their particles into a wide spectrum and then I reconnect their image as whole. I also feel the same way about myself, I mean, there’s so many dimensions that makes a researcher. In my case, I am not a linear thinker and my life is not linear either. The same thing goes in my research. I might read a fiction about a hen that dreamed she could fly and use it in my research that is not about fiction nor hen. I can sit down at the public library floor, observing my baby who crawls and trying to stand up, and from this observation learn a thing or two about my research. I don’t know about other researchers, but that’s how my brain works.

Now, the cause of my silence is, I am considering to start over and make a new blog for above-mentioned purpose. Should I move or should I stay? (please let me know what you think). If I stayed, the blog would definitely have a new focus and identity. Is it okay to have an overall non-cohesive blog that has been evolving over time? Will it scare away my long-time friends? If I make a new blog, what am I supposed to do with this one? It’s been with me since the very first time wordpress was introduced, perhaps in 2006 (almost 10 years!).

Another thing that bugs me is: should I make a new blog in my native language, considering my friends who ask me on how to get the scholarship? But I am not sure my Indonesian friends would be interested to read the process, the becoming, the day-to-day life of a PhD student (who is also a new mom). Or, they might read it but not giving any interaction. I suspect they only want a quick how-to answer: how to get the scholarship? how to make a winning motivation letter? how to get published in international peer-reviewed journals? what to say during interviews? If I provided them with answers, they might be surprised because what I did was not congruent with the general guide to get a PhD scholarship. And I think those stuffs are such a bore to read, let alone write. Don’t you think so many other people have written on the subject? Let’s move on.

Deep down, I know it is important to write in my native language, not only due to my Indonesian friends’ requests but also because there’s so many myths about PhDs in Indonesian society. For example, PhDs are supposed to be a know-it-all who are ready with answers, answers, answers on this, and that, and everything. Not me, I got the scholarship perhaps due to my well-thought questions. I am the person who always ask thoughtful questions of something that is already absolutely obvious according to all the rest of other people. For them, I might not be the epitome of a PhD student. I am more of an annoying idiot slow-thinker bug. Another thing is PhD is supposed to be for old people who are already advanced in their field. When I did my masters in the Netherlands, I found a lot of my PhD friends are still in their twenties, so forget about the imagination that a PhD should be the next Karl Marx or someone who crushes and shatters Marx theories into pieces. (Le sigh, Unbelievable). Also, the myth that a new mom should not do PhD. Well, it’s such a different climate, at least according to my experience, in the Netherlands. The social structure (and my husband, got to mention it ;-) ) are supportive. One of my professor mentioned a colleague of his who is always becoming more productive during her pregnancy and baby-caring times, as in she always managed to published a book exactly during those supposedly overwhelmingly hectic period. The last myth is not exactly a myth but it still bugs me to write a blog in my native language: the notion that Indonesia’s lacking researchers. To be honest, I am not sure it is lacking. What I am not in favor with is the absence of process-stories, the becoming-stories, stories of researcher-in-the-making. What I sense is the government want to get a quick product and that product is “a researcher”. They send people to school, get a degree and that’s it. They signaled that they need more researchers but, seriously, what for? It seemed like the climate where I used to do research in Indonesia are allergic with questions, so how are you supposed to get more researchers? Perhaps you would get more people with degree but you won’t get any researchers if the only thing you would like to enforce is obedience.

So those things have been going on in my mind. It is important for me to document this process of PhD studies, but the question is how: in English or Bahasa Indonesia? In this blog or new one? And why am I making such a fuss of something that is only significant for me and totally insignificant for the rest of human being? If the last thing is true, than everything is clear. I would write for myself, no caring of getting any reader but me. But on the other hand, not less importantly, I would like to reach out to other PhD communities and people in my fields, and I would also like to get to know more of them who are Indonesian, so I can’t go totally “whatever” in this blog. I want it to be non-linear (the way my thought-process goes), but still neat. I want it to be rich but also focused.

I want it to be this and that all at once and perhaps I am just wanting too much.

Please help! What’s your thought or experience? Your suggestion would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Yours truly.

Hiatus from the blogosphere over and ended with a good news.
Thank you thank you thank you ….

WordPress Weekly Photo: Treat

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Treat.” Treat and indulgence can take many forms, share yours with us!

I have a lot of indulgence, one of which is food. I am a foodie. I eat a lot but I am naturally skinny, so over-indulgence is never in my dictionary (I’m thanking the universe and my genetics for this).

Here, I like to go to the farmers market once in a while to indulge myself in Greek spanakopita, but actually the real reason I went was to enjoy the ambience. I found all food sold in Perth are nothing special and fall pale in comparison to what my husband cooks. Most of the time, I am not at all interested to eat out because he makes authentic, traditional, tasty food at home which never fails to make me drool and satisfy my palate + tummy.

If I really have to eat out, I would choose to go to the Chocolateria to have a cup of warm chocolate, and you could also order any form of chocolate that you could imagine. It actually tastes so good! Another option would be ice cream. Last week on my way home I tasted Chicho gelato at the Twilight’s Hawker Market in Forrest Place. The Strawberry Lime flavor was so fresh! What’s a better indulgence than chocolate or ice cream?

For now, to give a shot or two at the WordPress Weekly Photo theme, I present you a taste of home (see picture). I would let you guess the first picture, while the second is (of course) tropical fruit punch. Cheers!


Unlearning: Looks are not more important than leadership quality

One day at Booragoon station with my baby in the pram, I was waiting for the bus together with a lot of school kids. When the bus arrived, other school kids were rushing to enter, but one girl who were not conventionally pretty calmly and firmly said one word to them, “Guys.” Only then did other students held on and let me in first.

In Australia, when the bus opens its door, depending on the passenger, it will set up a ramp for people with wheelchair or baby in pram. They are prioritized to come in first.

I used to feel that people who are unconventionally pretty are less lucky than people who are conventionally pretty. That afternoon I changed my mind because of one school girl who were not conventionally pretty but had the most consideration and leadership quality. She’s the one whom people respect. With only one word she could make everyone else follow her lead.