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Living Off The Grid In Alaska (Formspring Question)

A picture Anita Wirawan took on a camping trip in Alaska.
(View from a camping trip in the mountains Jennifer and I took one year.)

Answered a Formspring question today:

How do you and Jennifer support yourselves out there in the wilds? I am always fascinated by ppl who are somewhat off the grid because I always wanted an “alternative lifestyle” but keep ending up locked into the system more and more.


Hi, Thanks for the question:)

I’d like to say that Jennifer and I are all cool and off the grid but we actually are fairly plugged in all in all. Jennifer has a normal job and I do normal house wife stuff. If you made a movie of a random day in our lives you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that we were in AK vs. the lower 48. Well, except for the panoramic mountain views in the background :D.

The distance between Alaska and the rest of the US is quite large though, and in that way we -are- off the grid. It takes a fair amount of money and effort to even get to the next closest state let alone someplace in the south or on the east coast. This is a bittersweet thing for me because one of the qualities I love most about Alaska is it’s pristine wilderness, something that’s only possible due to it’s isolation. If I want to I can head out of town and in less than a couple of hours take a step where no human has gone yet. That’s just freaking amazing to me and my time in the wilderness has been key in recovering from what was by all accounts a seriously horrible childhood.

But being off the grid is also sad for me because there’s a lot of people that I’d like to see right now but can’t. There’s no just taking the weekend off and jumping in the car for a few hours to go visit them. Things have to be meticulously planned out and airfare saved up for. How do we deal with this? We do go to the lower 48 a couple times each year but we never get to see all the people we want to, that’s just how it is. I think this might change sometime in the future though, the internet is changing things at an ever increasing rate and I predict that Jennifer and I will have no choice but to travel more and bring more people up to AK.


So -you- want to live differently and be more off the grid? I think that being off the grid at any level starts with a change in mindset and a sorting out of priorities. Like for some people it might be relevant to ask themselves which is more important, having use of a car all the time or being more off the grid by taking a bike everywhere? Life changes a lot when you use a bike as your main source of transport, whether it’s good or bad depends on your mindset and priorities :D. I think if your mind truly changes then your life will follow and won’t be so locked into the system. Feel free to challenge me on this though and I’ll post my responses!

For examples of what extreme off the grid living is like you might want to check out any of the movies made about Dick Proenneke (‘Alone In The Wilderness‘, ‘Alaska Silence And Solitude‘ are a couple that have footage that he shot himself) if you haven’t seen them already. He’s a guy who said to heck with conventional living and lived alone out in the Alaska wilderness for 31 years until age 82! Hell yea pretty hardcore stuff lol. But even he wasn’t entirely off the grid and had a few supplies flown in every once in a while, so don’t feel bad about being tied into the system a little.


Dick Proenneke Wikipedia Article
Excerpt From ‘Alaska, Silence And Solitude’

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Going to Indonesia. And meeting my Dad. After twenty years. (Parts 1&2)

Hi All,

Over the next few weeks I will be re-posting some of the entries from my old MySpace blog here at Beginning, in hopes of keeping things as interconnected and easy to find as possible. I figured the best post to start with would be the ‘Going To Indonesia’ blogs since they are a couple of the most interesting imo.

Some ground rules for the re-posts are:

Keeping all words in their original form, no matter how embarrassing some my old writing style might be to me now :D.

Show the dates that the originals were posted.

Post the comments that were left on the original entries to provide more context and info to the blog.

Same pictures. Later if I post more pics that are relevant to the individual posts I’ll add links at the end to them.

That’s all I can think of for now. Let’s get into it!


 Going to Indonesia. And meeting my Dad. After twenty years. (Part 1) 

First posted on: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 3:20pm

Hi everybody,

Well I’m back :). For those of you who didn’t know I’ve been in Indonesia the past few weeks visiting my Dad. I hadn’t seen him in twenty years and had never met my stepmom or little brother and sister before. So as you can imagine it was some pretty intense stuff. It was like years and years worth of experiences crammed into the span of a couple weeks. I haven’t had nearly enough time to process everything…it’s going to be a while. In a lot of ways I’m still in a state of shock from reading that first email my Dad sent me back in July.

There’s a lot I want to write about the time I spent in Indonesia. The insane swarm-like Jakarta traffic alone could fill a whole blog and video (and it probably will lol). But first I’m going to write about the very beginning and the very last part of the trip. I ended up having to leave Indonesia over a week early. Don’t worry, my Dad was awesome and we got along (and are) getting along really well. But getting along doesn’t always solve every problem. Can you guess what the issue was? Yeah, I never get tired of dealing with that (/sarcasm). I wonder if I’ll always spend this much of my life just waiting for one person or another to catch up with things. But anyways, I’ll tell that story in part 2.

The rest of this blog is a direct copy of what I wrote in my travel journal on the way to Jakarta. I thought it would be fun to post some unedited writing, even if it does sound a little goofy sometimes…


Anita Wirawan and Jennifer Grattan waiting in the Anchorage airport for the flight to Jakarta, Indonesia.
(Jennifer and I at the Anchorage airport.)

Friday – April 4 – Anchorage Airport

So here we are. Waiting for our plane. And the 10 hour flight. Waiting sucks but at least today is the day when we finally get on with the trip. I’m finally getting more excited about the whole thing now that we’ve actually started. I think all this sitting around is already getting to Jennifer tho. She is bored and tired, layed out on the long strip of black chairs next to me.

Oh my god, I have never ever heard anybody vaccuum so long in my entire life! (Jennifer)

The lady vaccuuming the cocktail lounge has no clue what kind of aggravation she’s inspiring on the other side of the glass walls. It doesn’t bother me, though I have to admit that he Orwellian ‘threat level orange’ announcements are already wearing me down. The tone of the announcements reminds me of sci-fi movies where the spaceship is self-destructing and everyone is being told to evacuate to escape pods.


Our plane pulled right up to our section of the waiting room. It’s nose easily filling the two windows. It’s gigantic, probably the biggest plane I’ve been in so far. The people getting off of it shuffle sleepily. Already Jennifer and I are the cultural outsiders in the group around us. We’re all impatient to get on, so we can do pretty much the same thing we’re doing now…But with less space and breathing recycled air. But at least we’d be moving, that’s something.


Somewhere between Anchorage and Taipei

A page from Anita Wirawan's travel journal on her trip to Jakarta, Indonesia.
(Written on a plane in semi-darkness on a tiny, tiny table.)

So here I am. In economy class, AKA sardine class. I think these are the same kind of chairs that they use to get confessions out of criminals. Tho I have to give props to the staff of China Air, who seem to be on top of everything. International travel is a test of endurance that you have no choice but to pass. Earlier the person sitting behind me was using the back of my chair as a punching bag, and when he wasn’t doing that he was constantly messing with the stuff in the pouch attatched to the chair. I mean damn, what the heck are you rifling through for ten whole minutes there’s only three magazines in there!

Jennifer has it worse tho. The person sitting behind her is actually gripping her chair with a wrinkly icy cold hand of death lol. I mean how fucking rude, it was so bad that one time that (s)he actually pulled her hair. Despite all this we’re still really really excited. But there’s still four more hours…on this flight lol.


**Update on the creepy lady who was sitting behind Jennifer:**

I was reading my book when I felt a presence. I looked over to my left and behind me and the lady was staring right at me!!! I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. She was surprised too and quickly looked away. (Jennifer)



It’s really wet here. (Jennifer at the Taipei airport)


So here we are. Sitting in the Taipei airport looking down the barrel of a 6 hour flight. And then we’ll be there. I should be way more nervous. But whatever.


Somewhere between Taipei and Jakarta

Wohoo, last flight! I’m actually not nearly as tired as I thought I’d be at this point. Only a few more hours and all this sitting will be over.


You know it’s a bad sign when the stewardesses run out of their workroom to jump in chairs and buckle themselves in lol.


I like the crowd on this flight a lot better than the first one. Everybody is so much more polite and, well…quieter. And it’s sad because this flight I’m sitting next to somebody with a baby and it’s still way nicer lol. The color of Jennifer’s skin is starting to attract a lot of attention now. We’re sitting in the front of the plane and I can feel the eyes on us. It’s only going to get worse but hey, it’s really refreshing to get stared at for something other than the usual crap.

About halfway into this flight I start to get nervous. We are walking into a situation with so many unknowns, who knows what will happen. And will it be awkward when I first meet my Dad? I worry that he won’t like me -a very likely thing since I’m the antithesis of what he wanted in a child. Or even worse, what if he’s not nice to Jennifer? That would be a total deal breaker for me. She keeps saying that it would be okay if they treat her weird and that she doesn’t care…but I love her too much to settle for second class treatment. Anyway, there’s too much going on in my mind and I have to make myself listen to the iPod and relax. I’ll deal with whatever the situation is like when I’m actually in it.




The plane lands. We’re here. In Jakarta. Holy crap. Literally the moment we step off the plane we feel the heat and humidity covering us like a blanket. Dad said he would meet us at the gate but he’s not there. We can’t stand around worrying about that right now though since we need to hurry and get our ‘visa on arrivals’ done and get to our baggage ASAP.

The visa line is full of pushy people and cutters. Who knew that getting a visa would be so treacherous? Damn it’s like dog-eat-dog in this thing, but at least the line’s moving fast. Soon we’ve got our bags and are thinking about what to do next. Once we go through customs there’s no getting back into this part of the airport so we do one more search and then head out. Damn I hope my Dad’s around here somewhere or else things are going to get a lot more complicated real fast.

After the screening we’re funneled into a hallway that gives us a choice of going right or left. At the far end of each one are crowds of Indonesians. Jennifer and I stand in the middle with our heads going from one side to the other. Finally she says, ‘Um, which way should we go?’ Hell if I know, but I’m about to make a decision when we hear somebody yelling from the left side. ‘Hey, over here!’

We’re the only ones milling about indecisively so that must be for us lol. As I get closer I see my Dad standing behind a long waist-high metal barrier. It kind of looks like a gate.

So here it is. The moment. What’s it going to be like? Just a few more steps and we’ll close the gap of almost 20 years between us.

Hi Dad.

Hallo, let me take that for you.

Oh no it’s okay I got it.

No, let me take.

Meanwhile Jennifer’s off to the side giving me this wide eyed look like ‘OH MY GOD just let him take the damn bags!’ She’s a little stressed right now.

So I hand them over and we follow him as he leads us out of the crowd of people. All the while Jennifer’s whispering behind me ‘You should give him a hug!’ I know. But we have to clear the crowd first. My impressions at this point are: he seems really nice and kind of shy.

How about a hug Dad?

A hug? Yes of course.

Nice to see you again. Finally.

Nice to see you too.

Yay the hug wasn’t awkward, that’s a good sign. I introduce him to my wife and we head over to a taxi.

A picture of Anita Wirawan with her father Joe Wirawan in Jakarta, Indonesia.
(My Dad and I. As you can see the grumpy demeanor is definitely hereditary.)

The drive really ushers in the fact that we’re in a totally different environment now. It’s not just the landscape that’s changed, but…well the funniest thing keeps happening. Whenever somebody that’s driving by sees Jennifer they will literally crane their neck to stare and her. If I write about this in my blog I’m not sure how to describe it without sounding like I’m exaggerating. I’m talking about shocked, potential accident causing stares here.

I mean, I had warned Jennifer about this because I remember what it was like for mom to be a bule in Indonesia…but I had forgotten about how intense it was! It’s so hillarious I can barely contain myself. I’m thinking that breaking into hysterical laughter at this point might send the wrong message to my Dad. He’s in the front seat making really nice conversation with me, totally unaware of the hillarity going on in the back. Remember that Eminem song that goes ‘Y’all act like you never seen a white person before!’? Yeah.

It’s an hour’s drive before we even get to the house Jennifer and I will call home for the next three weeks, but already so much has changed…

[ End of part 1 ]


 Comments (from the original post):

 Fox:  Oh Nita! It’s soooooo beautiful. I can listen to your storytelling all day. I love you, miss you, so glad you are HOOOOOME!

Your 1 blog fan,
Posted by fox on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 – 3:40 PM


 [ Anita ]:  Aw shucks :), missed you too. It’s funny ’cause your travel blogs were one of the reasons that really I got into writing again, way back when.
Posted by [ Anita ] on Friday, May 02, 2008 – 7:57 PM


 Debra:  I am hooked. You are a very talented writer and the subject matter, my god…
thank you for letting us in on your experience.
Posted by Debra on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 – 4:06 PM


 [ Anita ]:  Thanks!!!
Posted by [ Anita ] on Friday, May 02, 2008 – 7:58 PM


 Jennifer:  Wonderful Honey! Its amazing how well you are able to capture my exact feelings….and kinda creepy (wink, wink) :).

Its so crazy how much you take after your dad! He is such a sweet man, and i’m glad to have met him and shared in this wonderful experience with you!

Love you Bunches!

Posted by Jennifer on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 – 11:12 PM


 [ Anita ]:  Hi Darling, thanks for all your support while we were over there. I think I would have fallen apart if I had to face all of that alone.

Posted by [ Anita ] on Friday, May 02, 2008 – 8:00 PM


 Jules:  Hi Anita,this was a fantastic read (as usual). I am sorry that you had to cut your trip shorter than you had planned, that is a bum deal. But I am really glad that you got to re-connect with your father and begin to start a relationship with him again. It’s nie to know that you are safely home now though (partially being selfish here), and OMG thank you for the laughs about Jennifer. *LOL* I can just imagine the look on her face with everyone staring at her…she’s so cute though, who can help that?

Anyhow, we love you two and are glad that you made it there and back okay. :)

Chris and Julie
Posted by Jules on Thursday, May 01, 2008 – 6:49 PM


 [ Anita ]:  Thanks! Yeah the being stared at thing really made for a lot of interesting experiences lol. One time Jennifer and I were on a horse and buggy ride around Yogyakarta and the wind was blowing her hair in a certain way that made her look like a stereotypical ‘fabulous American’… When the people on the sidewalks around us saw her they would freeze and stare at her like she was a movie star or something. I tried to convince her to do the Miss America wave but she wouldn’t do it. Bummer.
Posted by [ Anita ] on Friday, May 02, 2008 – 8:04 PM


 Naicpg:  Wow Anita!!! what journey!!! and iam just like wanting to read the second part right now!!!
theres a part on this one who took all my attention and caught my heart.
How about a hug Dad?

A hug? Yes of course.

Nice to see you again. Finally.

Nice to see you too.
Posted by Naicpg on Thursday, May 01, 2008 – 7:24 PM


 [ Anita ]:  Thanks Nairim!
Posted by [ Anita ] on Friday, May 02, 2008 – 8:06 PM


 Going to Indonesia. And meeting my Dad. After twenty years. (Part 2) 

Originally posted on: Monday, May 26, 2008


Well here it is finally done, the second part of the Indonesia blog. I can’t believe it took …so …freaking …long to finish. Some of it I can blame on being busy, but even when I did find the time to write mostly I just ended up staring at an eternally blinking cursor.

This was such a complex situation, with all it’s ties to my childhood and relationships and people that I’d never even met before this trip…I wasn’t sure how to explain everything without writing a whole novel about it. And I think part of me didn’t want to write about the seriously bad decision that I made over there. Did I really want to admit to the world that I had done something so horrible? Not really.

But in the end I decided to just lay everything out as honestly and simply as possible. I tried to get back to what I was thinking and feeling at the time…hopefully it all makes sense :).

A picture of the Garuda Inn, the hotel where Anita Wirawan, Jennifer Grattan, and Joe Wirawan stayed in Yogyakarta.
(The Garuda Inn)

My Dad had been writing me for a long time before I realized it. Obscure accounts that I hadn’t checked in years were suddenly bouncing me emails. Remember when I used to carry you on my shoulders across the street to Bronson Park? Remember that song I wrote for you? Remember our old house in Depok? Yes I remembered, but looking back on that stuff always felt like looking in on somebody else’s life with somebody else’s father. And now he was writing to me.

So I wrote him back. I talked about my childhood and my life now, and most of all my wife. Jennifer was horrified when I told her what I was writing, Now he won’t want to talk to you. she said. She begged me to keep our marriage out of the emails, at least for now. She knew that prejudice could end this thing quickly and then I would be crushed. My father is a 65 year old Muslim man from a 3rd world country. She said Not only is he old school, he’s OLD old school. But what in my life would be worth writing about if it didn’t include her?

As it turned out he didn’t stop talking to me. As it turned out some months later all three of us were standing together in the elevator of the Garuda Inn Hotel in Yogyakarta. My Dad was working hard to connect with Jennifer, even if it made for awkward elevator conversation…

Should I call you my son in-law or daughter in-law? It sounded funny but it wasn’t a joke. The real question was ‘How do you want me to relate to you?’ Nothing in his culture or life experience had prepared him for this situation. His daughter was married to a woman, which meant that the safety of traditional roles didn’t apply.

I was happy to see the two of them getting along so well. In one way it wasn’t too huge of a surprise since my Dad and I are similar in an uncanny amount of ways, so if I got along with Jennifer then it would make sense that he would too. But I expected homophobia to get in the way of a relationship between them. I could hardly believe my luck, it really seemed like my Dad had done the work to overcome those poisonous old social prejudices.

It turned out to be overly optimistic though. He had found the courage to confront prejudice in his own heart, but he couldn’t stand up to the fear of it in others. I was so surprised to have the bomb dropped on me in McDonalds of all places:

Please don’t tell my wife, she won’t understand. His wife, my stepmom. A very devout Muslim. A strong and resourceful businesswoman, she had built the house Jennifer and I were staying in on a really tight deadline, just so it would be finished for our visit. She also spoke no English. I had no clue that she was in the dark about my relationship and my life. This changed everything.

My Dad begged me not to tell her. Maybe later, maybe we can tell her later. Later. But later is wrong, later is impractical, later is a betrayal, and there might never actually be a later. I knew this, but I still agreed to do it. He had been trying so hard over the past couple weeks, I could see that. His fear was real, I could see that. I felt sorry for him and I let it get that the way of doing what was right.

But really I should have felt sorry for Jennifer, who with a few words had had the rug pulled out from under her. Goodbye to being part of the family, hello to being ‘the close friend’. That night I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and wondering what the hell kind of retarded jerk I had suddenly turned into. I’d had firsthand experience at being the invisible spouse and now I was inflicting that on my own wife. Now I was an accomplice in this lie that went against some of my very core values. Great.

And I didn’t realize it then but agreeing to lie to my stepmother meant lying to everybody around her too. But that’s the way that kind of thing is. One lie leads to another and before you know it it’s out of control…


Married and Unmarried

A picture of Anita Wirawan with her stepmother Naniek Wijaya in Jakarta, Indonesia.
(My stepmother and I.)

Anita Wirawan's stepmother Naniek Wijaya singing on stage.
(Impromptu karaoke at Taman Mini.)

Anita Wirawan's little brother Nabil Barry Wirawan getting on a boat in Ancol.
(Walking the plank.)

Much respect to people who have to live lives of secrecy. Seriously. All I kept thinking over the next two days was Oh my god some people live their whole lives this way. But for me in my life it couldn’t last, and it didn’t. Denying Jennifer as my wife even by implication felt incredibly sick and wrong. Every day Jennifer and I sat next to each other in the family van, being shuttled around by my stepmom and cousins. But we might as well have been somewhere else. We were just placeholders now.

And my poor family…they had no clue what was really going on. They practically killed themselves trying to make Jennifer and I happy. The constant little gifts and kindnesses were their way of letting us know that we were important. What they didn’t know was that accepting these things felt like stealing.

My stepmother couldn’t understand why I kept my distance from her despite the fact that she was doing everything she could to build a relationship with me. Maybe she thought I was mad at her. Maybe she thought I was rejecting her. But I just didn’t know if it was right to get close to somebody on the basis of a lie. I mean if she knew who I really was she might not even want to be in the same room as me. She never got to make that choice though.

Jennifer and I were to be special guests at an upcoming wedding. We were horrified. How would the bride and groom feel if they knew that Jennifer and I were together? And here we were about to attend a wedding yet playing pretend that our own marriage didn’t exist. My stepmother intended on dressing us in traditional clothing which has a special way of wearing it for married and unmarried people. Guess which way Jennifer and I would be wearing it? Yeah.

What the hell was I thinking to go along with something so fundamentally wrong? I had let myself be played by somebody else’s fears and it was time to put a stop to it. I had to tell my Dad that we were leaving.

It’s not lie. Yes it is.

So I told him. In the car, after we went to dinner. I stopped him before he could open the door. I can’t do this anymore.

He froze. What? Can’t do what?

This lying. This is horrible, we can’t stay here anymore. There. That pretty much summed up everything.

No, Anita…

No more pretending, this is crazy. I’m not ashamed of my wife you know…

I know that. It’s different here, people take time to understand.

Then I’ll come back when they do. Anyway, they don’t even know so how will they understand?

No, what only matters is you and me, I’m your father… He said this a couple times in a row, it was really sad.

My father is the one that brought everybody into this mess. You shouldn’t have asked me to come here. You knew that if I knew about this I wouldn’t have come. We could have just met somewhere else, but nooo instead you decided to lie. And now I’m lying too Dad…

It’s not lie.

Yes it is.

It’s not lie.

Yes it is. It’s *all* lying and it feels horrible for Jennifer and me. We happen to like your wife you know, and everybody else.

Where is Jennifer? We should talk to Jennifer.

You know we can’t stay here, talking to Jennifer isn’t going to change anything.

Eventually we ended up in the house but the conversation was still the same. We found about a hundred different ways of saying ‘It’s not lie. Yes it is.’

Ironically, my Dad felt like I was the one who was being unfair. He felt that since he personally accepted Jennifer no questions asked and since he had been lavishing us with money, that asking to keep our relationship a secret temporarily (well, at least in his mind) was a fair comprimise. But some things just shouldn’t be compromised, especially when it comes to the people you love.

Dad didn’t see things that way though. If only I would just be patient everything would work out great…in the end. He talked about a famous Indonesian actress who had a sex change from male to female:

It took time and patience, but now people accept her and she even got married. That’s the way it is.

He brought up family members both on Jennifer’s and my side:

How long did it take them to accept you? Years!

Yeah but they knew the whole time that we were together Dad. We didn’t lie to them. Lying is wrong you know…

It’s not lie.

Yes it is.

The China Air Office

I grew up in a household ruled by neglect and isolated from most of my family. So when my friends were fantasizing about being the most popular kid in school, I was dreaming about dinner tables piled high with food and parents that asked me how my day went. But as I got older and the frustrations built up my mind went to things that were more attainable. Tall buildings were everywhere, and I would have these dreams about standing on rooftop ledges and just letting myself fall backwards. I thought back to that as I looked out at the skyscrapers of Jakarta. Dad was taking us to the China Air office to change our tickets and we sat gridlocked in rush hour traffic.

It just seemed so stupid and unecessary, all this misery because of deception. My Dad was incredibly desperate to see me after twenty years but he was also ashamed, embarassed, fearful. He juggled lies around and told himself that he would reveal to everybody that Jennifer and I were married…sometime…in the safety of a far off future.

Meanwhile I was crushed. His easy way out had gotten my hopes up. Here I was surrounded by all these family members that cared about me. It was something that I’d desperately wanted when I was younger and I thought I finally had it. But in the end it turned out that they only knew somebody else that looked like me and I wasn’t even in this story. My real self might as well be a thousand miles away. Or 7,078 to be exact.

I think Dad thought I was bluffing. I think he thought that I was just trying to force him to do things my way. But really I was just doing what I should have done in the first place. He looked surprised and miserable when I walked up to the China Air desk. He counted this as another great failure of his life.

If only he had planned better. If only he had pitched the scheme to me in the exact right way. If only he had spent more money or given me a nicer house everything would be perfect and everybody would be happy. It was hard for him to understand that happiness might have less to do with money and more to do with being true to yourself and others. We were alike in so many ways but this was the one difference that would separate us.

The view of Anita Wirawan and her father Joe Wirawan as the waited on the bus to the airport in Jakarta.
(Waiting on the airport bus.)

On the airport bus I sat in the window seat next to my Dad, awkwardly trying to balance a guitar between my feet so that it didn’t knock into anything. Well this was it, our last couple of hours together. Then it was back to words on a computer screen and staticky phone calls across the Pacific. We were both in shock, it all felt so final. The last time I left Indonesia there was no chance to say goodbye and we had lived with the legacy of that for twenty years. But now that we had the time it was…overwhelming.

My Dad is only a couple years away from the average life expectancy of an Indonesian man, so I knew that this might be the last time I ever see him. What do you say to someone you might not ever see again? Everything. At least you want to say everything. I wanted to pour my heart out, cover all the bases, leave nothing to chance. The people around us happily chatted on their cell phones or read magazines or napped against shaded windows. For them this was just another couple of hours in life spent commuting to the airport. But for my Dad and I this could be it.

I had started the day angry and bitter. Once again I’d been cheated out of one of the most fundamental parts of life just because I was in love with a woman. I was fucking tired of it. I didn’t even want to talk to my Dad, one word answers and the cold shoulder was all I could do to contain my outrage. We got breakfast, visited the universities he taught at, a museum, the National Monument, etc. The whole time he kept talking to me and trying to make that connection, despite the silent treatement. Out of the blue he would tell a story about the past or ask me if I remembered a certain time that we had spent together. Or give me some piece of advice for the future. It was a lot of little things that seemed random on the surface but were deeply connected. This was our last day together and I think he wanted to say…everything.

But in this last part of the day things were more resigned. We quietly talked in broken sentences or just stared out at the Jakarta cityscape. It was hard to keep it all together through the grief. I noticed the tears so I nudged my Dad in the arm in that goofy way that I do when I’m trying to cheer him up.

I know. he said, But I’m going to miss you.

I’m going to miss you too. You can always write though. Or call.

Every week. If you don’t hear from me then something’s happened. Now you know where I live.

And that’s how it was. The trip had been an amazing life-changing experience but the end was overshadowed by the feeling of things left undone, and that there might never be another chance to make it right. We said goodbye at the airport security gate and then it was time to go. My Dad stood in the entryway calling out last words as I put my stuff through the x-ray machine. Almost everything he said started out with the word remember.

 Comments (from the original post): 

 Kram Retrop:  ……………..I dont know what to say………I think you did the right thing because fucked up feelings kill but FUCK that whole situation sucks……I can relate to some of it because of my own issues with my father, he wont see me at all, but If he did want to see me and put me in a similar situation I cant say I would have handled it as gracefully as you did. Im so sorry Anita, I really wanted things to go better for you.

Posted by Kram Retrop on Monday, May 26, 2008 – 11:01 AM

 [ Anita ]:  Hi Mark, thanks for the support. Don’t feel too bad, there was a lot of good stuff that happened over there I just haven’t written about it. As far as your Dad goes…well I hope that one day he wakes up and realizes what he’s missing out on. You don’t deserve to be treated like that by any means. But at least you turned out to be a better person than he is even through everything :)

Posted by [ Anita ] on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 – 8:52 PM

 Nairim:  All this is so tough Anita, You way to relate this trip and what happened in there.
I dont know which were the reasons for getting away from your dad first time. You say it has been 20 years or more. Now with this new meeting , old feelings could had come to surface again.
Very brave you are with this decision about being honest all the time for your marriage and yourself. Like you I feel its not fair with hiding something that important and fundamental in your life. I believe that every option , every desicion we make has to be 100 ourselves.
I think theres no secret of happines but doing what makes us happy. Pacefull with ourselves.
Its not because what others will think about us, because we live because of ourselves and for ourselves at first.
I say brave but at the same time so hard… It is true that In a 3er world country its not that easy to understand. even more for a older person who has lived with certains rules ..
Most of the time its the fear feeling with what society will say. What they taught to believe, how to behave, what its good and what is wrong.
But who decides what is good or wrong? I think thats not a concious decisicion but just a Ideal taken from all the enviroment …anyways.
I can understand how you felt, and maybe why you agreeded at first time. But let me tell you Anita, it takes a lot of courage and takes a good knowlege about who really are you and what you really want for doing what you did.
Its sad because like you said this could be last time betwen you and your dad.
Iam so agree with : at the end you just want to say everything.
I wish you happiness and love for your life.

Posted by on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 – 9:26 AM

 [ Anita ]: Thanks Nairim :). I was very young when I left Indonesia the first time. It wasn’t my decision to go…one morning I was just told to pack a few things and that we were leaving. Next thing I know we’re on a plane bound for the US. It was an extreme turn of events in my life and it caused a lot of hard times in the years ahead. But in the long run I’m happy that it happened ’cause otherwise I would have never met Jennifer or have the life that I have now.

I think that’s great advice when you say that we should do what makes us at peace with ourselves. And if you don’t feel at peace in your life then it’s good to ask yourself why. Anyway that really got me thinking tonight so thanks for that.

Posted by [ Anita ] on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 – 8:53 PM

 Jules:  OMG!!! I had no idea!!!! I read your story and just cried, I don’t know what to say either. It kills me that he had not spoken to the family prior to you being there, and you are so much stronger than I could have been in that situation. ALL marriages should be as wonderful and as tight as yours and Jennifers. For both of you to take such strong stances for your own beliefs towards your families is deeply encouraging to others. I applaud you for your decision, I know that it must have hurt to no end, and I am so sorry that you both were put through that again. But I am so proud that you stood by what you both believe in, and for your love and respect for one another. You really took care of Jen, put everything aside to make sure that she was accepted too. I am just so sad for the both of you, and yet admire you both at the same time. I cannot even describe how amazing you two really are. Thank you for being ashiing example of what two people who REALLY love one another do for each other. You cast your own feelings aside and just completely feel the other person. No doubt the two of you would layyour life down for the other…it just absolutely amazes me. Most marriages aren’t that strong, adn the longer they last, the wose offthey are. However, you and Jennifer defy all odds and the longer the two of you are together, the stronger your bond gets.

I know that it must have been a hard story to write…But thank you for sharing what happened. I love you both, and while it hurts me deeply that you two had to go through such a hurtful time, you made the right decision in what was right. The two of you are incredibly lucky to have one another.

Love you both,

Posted by Jules on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 – 10:00 PM

 [ Anita ]:  Hi Julie, thanks for the support and for keeping up on the blog. You’re right, this one was really hard to write and it was even harder to hit the ‘Post’ button. Part of me just wanted to avoid talking about that part of the trip to anyone let alone post it publicly, but it’s comments like yours that make me glad I did.

Posted by [ Anita ] on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 – 8:54 PM

 Jennifer:  Hi Honey.

I know this was one of the most trying times of your life. The pain that you felt was unbearable and it hurts me tremendously that you had to go through that. Please know that you are an INCREDIBLE person, and that you are very loved. The friendships that you make are deep and true, and the people you surround yourself with feel a close bond with you.

What you did for me, for US, while we were there amazes me. I know that I would not have been able to handle it in the way that you did (and that is evidenced by how I told you not to worry about it, that I could live the lie). But its not true, I couldnt live the lie, I just didnt want to face it, and do the very very hard, but right thing that you did. And for that, I will always love you a little more (is that even possible?). Thank you so much.

We made so many wonderful memories, had so much good food, met some GREAT people, and I LOVE YOUR FAMILY TO DEATH! I do not regret going at all. I loved being so close to you, learning more about you from your dad, getting a baby book (even if you are a little creepy *wink*). I feel closer to you than ever now. Thank you for all those wonderful experiences.

I love you, I wish that I could express to you how much I love you.


Posted by Jennifer on Sunday, June 01, 2008 – 10:43 AM

 [ Anita ]:  Thanks darling. And thanks for helping me through what has been a really intense last few months. It was so overwhelming to go from zero (blood-related) family in my life to all of them contacting me at once. And then going back to Indonesia…well I think I would have completely lost it if it wasn’t for your support.

My only regret is that I didn’t immediately stand up to my Dad when he asked me to lie. It makes me think of the stories I heard when I was little about Dad having to sleep outside whenever he and mom visited her relatives in the South. I remember thinking ‘I would never tolerate such a horrible thing!’, but look what happened.

It was so great to see you with Nabil and Amelia, they adore you (especially Amelia). And I don’t have to tell you about how much my stepmom loved you lol. And you and Dad got along beautifully, that made me the happiest out of everything. But I know it also made it hurt even more when things came to light in the end. You’ve been treated so badly by so many of my family members over the years…their prejudice has robbed you of experiences that most people take for granted. The fact that you love and care about every single one of them even despite everything just shows what an amazing person you are.

It sucks to be excluded from my family because of prejudice. It sucks to have people stare at us on any given day just because we’re being affectionate to each other in public. It sucks to hear people say that if we got legally married then that would usher in the era of people marrying dogs or whatever creepy perverted scenarios they come up with to try and scare folks nowadays. It sucks to have to wait around for everybody to catch up to what we already know is true…or to maybe think that those we love will never catch up at all. But none of it would be as bad as to live my life without you. Or to have to pretend to the world that I’m not deeply in love with you.

Anyway, who else but us would appreciate the fun in getting lost in the woods at night without a flashlight? I guess we’re stuck with each other ;). Just sayin.

Love [ten years!!]
Posted by [ Anita ] on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 – 7:21 PM
Top Ten Things To Do In Indonesia A blog Jennifer wrote about our trip to Indonesia. It’s good stuff :) and it answers all your Indonesia-related questions like:

*What does it really mean when the say ‘English speaking’ tour guide?

*Why is driving/riding in a car/being anywhere near traffic in Jakarta not a good idea?

*What happens when ostriches attack?

read stories

Three Good Music Videos – Volume 1

 The Pinball Song (Eleven Twelve) 

Because it was regularly featured on Sesame Street ‘The Pinball Song’ was one of the first music videos many people ever saw and it’s a classic for sure. I always loved it because everything happened in time to the music which was not a real common thing for videos back then.

This version is a video and audio remix of #12 done by braces tower and gordyboy. Go ahead and try not to sing along in your head when you watch it I dare you :D.

Watch for:

123456. 78910. 11 12.

The Washington Monument turns into a cannon and shoots a pinball into Teddy Roosevelt’s mouth.

Herd of shoes with wings.

Can’t see this video? Click here.

Pinball Number Count (Wikipedia)

Download (legally) a free album by Braces Tower.


 A Wolf At The Door 

One of my favorite videos of all time because it’s just so different than any other music video out there. The song is by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke who was a new father when he wrote it and seems to have poured his fears about being a parent into this song with all it’s imagery of children falling into the hands of wolves and being held for ransom.

The video is by Gaston Vinas who does a great job of keeping everything in time to the music and creating an epic-dark-storybook sort of atmosphere that really matches well with the song.

Watch for:

Session with a wolf therapist.

Snowflakes falling in time to the music, very cool.

There seems to be something different about Santa…


Can’t see this video? Click here.

Gaston Vinas on DeviantArt

‘Hail To The Thief’ album by Radiohead.


 Least Complicated 

This video uses clips from the movie 5 Centimeters Per Second to go along with the song ‘Least Complicated’ by the Indigo Girls. First off extra points for doing an Indigo Girls song, second this video showcases some great editing skills by it’s creator Ruisdaelhopper.

The images are in time to the music (did I mention that I like that lol) but beyond that are arranged in a way that goes really well with the song without overdoing it. The movie’s great artwork just adds to the general awesomeness so take a look…

Watch for:

Unsent letters.

Pink cherry blossoms, which in Japan symbolize ‘the fleeting nature of life’.

Great use of transitions to show the passing of time.


Can’t see this video? Click here.

Watch more videos by Ruisdaelhopper.

Wikipedia entry for 5 Centimeters Per Second.

5 Centimeters Per Second Movie

‘Swamp Ophelia’ album by the Indigo Girls.