A snippet…..

Asian Currency Crisis

1997 – 1998

A dear friend of mine – 7000 miles and a whole different world away…Octa told me how the IBC’s, that’s her an – Indonesian Born Chinese – were always looked down upon because all were presumed rich by the native Indos.’   

So you can see the land of Indonesia - where it is located.....
So you can see the land of Indonesia – where the country is located…..

Octa strongly disagrees with them, “We are not poor but I wouldn’t say we’re rich. My parents have always worked hard and have taught brother and I the virtue of saving money.  We buy our clothes at Wal-Mart not fancy designer shops.  We eat leftovers.  It’s not my fault the Indo’s think they have to wear designer everything. Or that they don’t do anything to conserve money.  I don’t have any, Indo friends but I really don’t care.”

Problems had been brewing for months in all of Asia.  It is a region that is home to 60% of the world’s people, and where many economies were growing by nearly 10% a year in real terms. By late 1997 however, the economic outlook for many of the Asian Tigers had changed drastically. An Asian Tiger is –  the very successful economy of one of the smaller Asian countries.  Before I began corresponding with Octa in January of ’98 there were many economic troubles for Indonesia and the whole of Asia.  Those were the years of the Asian Currency Crisis.

Everything came to a head in May of 1998 for Indonesia and it felt like I were right there.  Sadly, I was privy to Octarina’s plight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClwV_VkdYFY 

The despair on campus reminded me of the 60’s protests in the U.S. Except that is, that the people of Indonesia had real desperate reasons for protesting.

Octa’s school in Jakarta at Trisakti University on 12 May 1998 is where the worst of things happened.  She was in her room at the university.  I could see and hear most of what was going on thanks to Microsoft Meeting with audio visual capabilities. Things in her room which were perfect and precise, normally, today are all jumbled and disorganized.  Soon enough, I discovered why.  

I was getting real-time happenings at her school. I could hear much shouting.  

Octa said she was safe, “I’m upstairs in my room.  I’m watching the whole thing out on the mall.  I hear other student’s in their rooms shuffling things around – I wish Dad would get here soon! The day began eerily quiet. Now it is getting that way again. This is really terrible, Steve.  I wonder if they will be able to get here because there’s police, army guys and students marching down there on the square; there is a lot of shouting, and the traffic in the streets well It is at a standstill.”

“I know,” I replied, “I can hear them.  Are you as safe as you can be, Octa?”

“Aihhhhhhh,” she screamed, “The army guys are shooting and some of the students are down…”

I heard the gunshots…If she gets out of this mess maybe the Baptist Missionary, Mike, will somehow get her out of the country.

This all began while innocently reading a book (Memoirs of a Geisha) together. Even though we were 7,000 miles apart, we were brought together by that book, and the Bible, as we also shared verse.

Octa became, Sayuri and I became the, Chairman…and I think we were falling in love.

“I don’t know when we’ll see each other again or what the world will be like when we do. We may both have seen many horrible things. But I will think of you every time I need to be reminded that there is beauty and goodness in the world.”

  Memoirs of a Geisha is a 1997 novel by Arthur Golden — later adapted into a 2005 film — about the life of a famous geisha, Sayuri (formerly Chiyo), who was sold to a geisha house by her father at a young age to be trained in the profession. One day, she meets a man who becomes her main motivation to pursue a career as a geisha, although she soon starts to realize that he is unobtainable. Meanwhile, Sayuri becomes a pawn in an intrigue between two of the most successful geisha in the district. The plot is set in Kyoto, mainly in the decades around the Second World War.  

Sayuri...she had special eyes an exotic blue.
Sayuri…she had special eyes an exotic blue.

Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha


Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

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