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George Richard Muller

My name is George Richard Muller, named me after my Opa. I am Dutch-Indonesian. I was born in Redondo Beach Hospital, the 2nd born of 5 boys, in beautiful Southern California. When I was 8 months old, my mother moved us to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest. Times were tough on my mom, being a single mother of 5 boys, but it was nothing short of an adventure everyday of my life and I don’t regret a single day. We spent the summers exploring the vast wilderness of mountains, discovering new camping spots, and places to let our imagination run wild. For a time, we had to live in the forest camping for weeks on end, moving place to place within the woods, even through the winters I had to do what it took to provide for my brothers and help my mother through tough times. I became a thief at a young age, stealing orders from McDonalds, breaking open toilet dispensers to take those big roles, showering at campgrounds. Living life on the wild side in a way most people will never know.

The years went by, things got better. We traded off between camping, a mobile home, a truck trailer, and  camper. We would break into vacation homes occasionally to take a hot shower, or wash our clothes. My perception of it wasn’t bad, I just hated other kids complaining about their problems when I’d kill for a fresh pair of shoes that fit. I grew angry in my youth at being bullied for being poor and having to wear the same clothes and shoes that were too big.

Time passed and eventually my mother found a man to love and provide for a woman who had five sons that were not his own. We didn’t take it easy on him. Things got easier as he moved us into a two bedroom house at the edge of the parking lot near Snow Summit, one of the local ski resorts. I still had the camper, my buddies would party there all night, or come back to it after skiing all day and night. They also used it as a safe haven after getting into some midnight mischief. Unfortunately, old habits didn’t die young, and my thievery and burglarizing days didn’t end when things got better. I eventually got arrested and went to juvenile hall when I was 15. From then on I stopped stealing and tried to do better but it was short lived, as I became an alcoholic and became addicted to prescription pain pills until the age of 20. That lifestyle did not end until a girl I had worked at a ski resort many years before called me. It was December 23, 2012 – I didn’t hear her voicemail until the 26th and I called her back immediately!

The woman who changed my life forever is Tara Hall, the Beautiful Dutch-Indonesian girl who shared the same heritage as me. Our love story is one out of a destiny- driven novel, brought together by the hands of fate. When I first laid eyes on her, all those years ago (at the age of 15) I knew there was something familiar about her, something unique. Her light brown hair reached far down her backside, past her butt (I cant make that sound romantic), and the color of her skin was unmistakable. I was pulled to her by curiosity until I rudely asked her,”what are you?” She replied, “Dutch.” I said,”uh-huh, that color comes from somewhere!”, to which she responded, “I’m Dutch-Indonesian actually, but nobody ever knows what that is.” It was love at first sight and I had thought to myself,”I need to marry this girl!” nothing happened between us for many years, as we had both moved away and had different things going on in our lives. But as fate would have it, we both moved back to Big Bear in 2012. She is my greatest inspiration to do good, and to strive to change into a better person – everyday!

In our second year together, I got a job working with the Forest Service working with a restoration crew on various projects. The Crew Captain was a retired Wildland Firefighter Battalion Chief, whose former career peaked my interest. The rest was history in the making, and the start of a fantastic journey back into the forest. I drove to Colorado for a quick Fire Academy to get my training, and worked with a fire crew the same year – The Mojave Greens Fire Crew  to be exact. My first big fire assignment was anopportunity to fight a fire in the heart of my home town. One of the proudest moments of my life, next to proposing to Tara. The year after, I got onto a Firefighting Helitack crew as a Helicopter Flight Crew member with the Apple Valley Flight Crew. My first of many flights to fight a fire was once again to my home Town, Big Bear.

As of this moment in my life, my fiancé and I are planning our wedding and looking forwardto starting our own family. To have our own bundle of Dutch-Indonesian children and making sure that they grow up knowing where they come from, and to be proud of our heritage and culture. My Oma and Opa always said,”Do not shame the Muller name” and “KANNIET IS DOOD JONG!” which means “cannot is dead youngen” these were some of the many inspirational things I was taught by Oma and Opa. They  both played a big role in the way I was raised. I will always do my best to remain grounded and humble like my Opa. He was a hard working man throughout his life, he was once a wealthy man in Indonesia. But,  like everybody else after the war, he lost everything along the way – except his family. When he came to this country he took any job he could, including cleaning toilets in dive bars. Still, he was the happiest and kindest man I knew. He always made sure that anyone who came to his door had a meal before they left, including the mailman. To me, being Dutch-Indonesian is to be a survivor, to be humble, and to serve others. I only hope that my Opa is looking down, and is proud of the man that I have become.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed my story, as scattered as it may be! SALAMAT!

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Jennifer Ripassa

My name is Jennifer Ripassa. I was the first generation born in the United States to Dutch-Indonesian parents, both born in Surabaya, Indonesia, who came to this country with their parents, looking for a brighter future and a good education. (Thank you, Omas and Opas for making that crazy trip). I can’t believe all the racism, violence, and war our family had to go through. I know my Oma lost many family members in World War II, she witnessed so much torture, suffering and poverty. And when she had her own family, she did what she could to get them to a more promising future. I remember Oma Monod telling me how a letter from President John F. Kennedy gave them permission to live in the United States. Oma, of course, sent the first letter. She was such a brave lady. Oma Monod was born in Amsterdam. When she was 5, her whole family moved to Kediri, where her father became a newspaper man. Eventually they moved to Surabaya where she remained until my mom was born, after which they moved to Jakarta.

My Opa Monod was born in Sarolangun, Jambi Province on the island of Sumatra. His father was a Dutch colonial government official known as Assistant Resident of Jambi. His mother was Javanese. He lived with his mom in the kampong (village) until age 5, when his father married his stepmother. He was then sent to the Netherlands for school. Then Opa came back to Indonesia as a Dutch Marine fighting for continued colonial rule/against nationalism. He had cousins fighting for nationalism & became national heroes in Indonesia.

My Opa Ripassa was born on the island of Sumatra, from parents of mixed backgrounds… Ambonese, Javanese, Dutch. Oma was born on the island of Java from Dutch Parents and later, after having 7 children, migrated to the United States as a single mother. Unfortunately Opa passed away before my dad turned 2.

My parents met here in the United States through the Indo club called De Soos. And because both of my parents’ families were part of this club, I guess you could say that both sides of the family were involved in their meeting. My mom wanted to learn how to jive, and because she had seen how great a dancer my dad was, she asked him to teach her… and that’s how they met. I feel so blessed to have been able to watch them sing and dance in De Soos shows growing up.

Then there was the bowling league for De Soos and Rosi, which I feel so honored to have been a part of. Those Indos are such fun people, no matter how old. They never seem to lose their spark as they get older. It’s so great to see the Indo people keep in touch after all these years and keep bringing the younger generations of Indos together. That’s one thing I noticed. We love to dance and party and just be together! I hear of other families that dread family get-togethers. We just can’t wait to be together!

I remember around Christmas time with De Soos, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet would come! They were scary!!! I was always happy to see Sinterklaas, but hoping that I was good enough that Zwarte Piet wouldn’t take me away in their big potato sacks.

Going to school when I was younger, I remember my mom would pack me my Hagelslag sandwich for lunch. My friends would ask me every day, “Are you eating chocolate covered ants again? Ew!” They never asked to try, but I don’t think I’d ever want to share anyway. Chocolate sprinkles are still my favorite!!

Dad would always cook his famous Nasi Goreng in the wok. He taught me how to make Olie bollen and we attempted Tjendol, but it just never comes out the same as the ones we get from the Holland Festival/Pasar Malam or the Indo restaurants. But I am good at making Nasi Kuning with Beef Rendang! Yummy!!!   Now I’m craving some Pisang Goreng!

If you looked at my extended family, you’d see how mixed up we are. Some look Caucasian with their light skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. Then there are the ones like me, tan skin with dark brown hair and brown eyes. I love my family! What is there not to like about us crazy Dutch-Indonesians? We eat the absolute best foods, we have a crazy history, we have the best attitudes and sense of humor, we are amazing people… to name a few.

A little about what I do. I am an artist. I always have been. I get that from my dad, who has several great paintings of his own. The beauty that I now see in everything is inspired by my mother and especially my brother, Max, who was once a great artist… he was passionate in all he did and found beauty in everything. His memory and passion is with me every time I create. And my brother, Ahren… he’s also an artist. He’s a music producer, DJ and a great writer. We share a music/art studio and his music puts me in the artistic zone to create.

I am a versatile artist, skilled in a wide variety of mediums including charcoal, pastels, pencils, oils, acrylics and I’ve even airbrushed a few portraits. I’m regularly commissioned to create private custom paintings/portraits, usually of pets and loved ones. In 2007, I discovered the thrill and challenge of creating on the pavement, before a live audience, in a crazy timeframe, on surfaces that could make your fingers bloody, and during all kinds of weather: cold, hot, wet, windy… Street Painting had become my new love. I now travel across the country (hopefully around the world soon) sharing this new love. I love how street painting brings the pavement to life. It can be therapeutic and tranquil, and it brings people together.

Recently, I celebrated the Indonesian side of my family heritage, by featuring my beautiful mother in traditional Balinese dress, in a chalk street painting in Houston in November. The theme was “A Colorful World”. It was definitely awesome to share a little about Indos to so many people who knew very little to nothing about us. I am still learning about us! If you want to see more of my art: www.jennifer-ripassa.com.

My name is Jennifer Ripassa and I am a proud, artistic, SoCal Indo and will never deny where I came from and the craziness that’s happened to get us to where we are today. Our families before us endured so much suffering so that we could have a better life. Thank you, to my Omas, Opas and parents. I love you!