Monday, May 30, 2011


I toss my pen away in despair. It is a bright purple pen, the brightest I could find. As if having a bright purple pen would cheer me up and give me the strength to continue my arduous trek through the pages of this vomit of a document.

I stare at it disbelievingly, refusing to comprehend how such a pretentious excuse for a product of intellect has drained so many valuable hours of my life.  How I sit with my purple pen and correct poor excuses for sentences instead of looking out my plane window at the twinkling lights below, instead of tossing away my worries together with my sweat on the treadmill, instead of writing nonsensical proses, instead of staring into space as I hug my mug.

I want to say "I cannot! I will not!"  I will remember this day forever as I submit my resignation letter in a few years time.  Life at a corporate desk reviewing black letters on white paper that have no life in them, just monetary words, legal words, pretentiously complicated phrases that die before they even begin because they are not meant to invoke any insight or emotion.  There is no sense in this lack of madness.


A slow post. Something to come back to like little bites of dark chocolate in between the pages of a boring novel (somehow intermittent guilt feels less guilty than a full block of guilt even though it will collectively sum up to the same result).  I am reviewing a document from hell that makes me wish zombies were real and I could turn into a mean certifiable one instead of being the half-dead work-slaved zombie that I am now.

The weekend in Bali seems distant and other-galactic from my cold office room. The wedding party was fun and riotous but I wish it had felt more Bali than simply the rooftop poolside party that it was.  I don't complain. The single girls were desperate for action but not me because I am tranquil and collected and I simply tell myself these boys are too stupid to approach me and that's why none did. One lucky fellow ended up kissing three girls in a row. It is funny because I am guessing he thinks he's got game whereas he is simply the whore of the night. Somehow in the exact same situation girls will be whores but guys will just be lucky or good at his game.

I danced with a young old friend instead and he tells me I'm gorgeous and he admires me "somehow". I don't get why Indonesians love to use "somehow" in the wrong moments.  It is probably a Javanese effort at euphemizing everything. He escorts me into my cab and as I give him my cheek he sneaks a dry peck on my lips. I get inside and Woody asks me: "Did he just kiss you?!" I giggle semi-consciously and say "That fucker. Yes. The bastard."  The next day Woody tells me that if I seriously end up with that silly guy it will break his gay heart. I dramatize my hurt offense at such a suggestion. His gay heart confuses me sometimes. Somehow (and this is the proper use for the word), I feel as if he might really love me.  But love comes in many shapes and sizes.

The next day Woody and I head to echo beach at Canggu, just the two of us as usual, armed with style. His scarf and shockingly stylish sunglasses, a bottle of wine, and three joints. The skies opened out limitless above us.  I lay back on the warm sand staring at the white cirrus clouds rippling across the sky like the surface of a light blue lake being gently stroked by the breeze. The actual breeze was stroking my skin. The scent of marijuana was as familiar and comforting as the sound of crashing waves. Nothing else I wanted to do, nowhere else I wanted to be.  But I sent Mr. Ten a picture message right there and then and told him I wish he could feel the breeze from where I was. Woody asks me whether I am going to date Mr. Ten.  I say I don't know, and why complicate things by asking questions?  

"I could fall for you." Mr. Ten once said.
"Does that scare you?"
"I live my life by heart, like a moth to a flame."
"Me too."

Ideally.  The word "want to" was missing from my sentence. "I want to live my life by heart."  But as Mr. Eight so wisely reminded me, even free spirits are limited by their own freedom. "You're a classic existentialist" he said. He told me that existentialists are people who want to be free but in so doing they limit themselves by the consequences of their own freedom.  I miss Mr. Eight too. With the mellowness of a cherished memory and the comforting warmth of having a truer friend than most true friends.

And then there are the random multitude of other men who are merely anthropologically interesting. I don't know why I talk about them but for some reason, and at the risk of cheapening down my life in this blog to flirts and affairs, they feel natural to write about. These days married men are making quite a comeback. I oblige with a dinner or two sometimes and I make a subtle but firm point of being purely platonic. They are happy with that. They tell me how interesting I am. God, they are so lonely. 

Woody tells me it is because they got married in order to fulfill society's expectations, and not because they had found the one, after first of all finding themselves.  It was a personal choice, but one that was wrought by social conditioning. I almost don't want to believe that. Woody tells me he decided to be gay so no one could pressurize him into getting married. He says the silliest things sometimes.

I don't want to be married and lonely.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


To be half-hearted is to be half-fake. And so is this job.  But I won't go there because why complain about the obvious.  Why complain about anything at all.

Mr. Nine once said "wow you complain a lot don't you". And I said well "nobody's complained about it before".

I would berate him as an asshole if it weren't for the fact that no heartbreak was incurred on my part. Besides, as he used to say about me, and I quote, I think of every asshole as just misunderstood or weren't hugged enough by their parents when they were little, like Pol Pot and Hitler.

He sets up a lunch meeting with me a while back.  Returns a few things I lent to him. Shows me pictures of his new girlfriend.  Tells me about his plans to visit her parents and other very serious things that I can hardly bring myself to write in public because it is simply none of my business. I warmly wish him success on all fronts. I suggest that he not to rush into things.  I am genuinely bubbly and cheerful.  He nods. He looks at me with concern and asks me whether I'm okay.  In general life, and specifically after the breakup. And were any tears shed?

Were any tears shed?? Oh the heavy lightness of a question.  The insensitive sensitivity of a question. The polite audacity of a question.

I turn my head away for a minute and pretend to be choosing my words.  Inside I suppress a mixture of guilt and lightheartedness.  I did not shed a single tear, you silly boy. But the concern on his face was not convincing.  It was the damnest thing.  I couldn't decide whether I would be disappointing him or reassuring him with my lack of a heartbreak.

I couldn't decide.

I finally tell him that it was exhausting (mainly referring to prior the breakup instead of post, but somehow forgot to add that little detail). He nods.  I gain a bit of confidence.  I tell him that it was tough, and therefore it feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  He nods again rather uncertainly.  I then tell him that I'm very happy with my life right now. Because I am. He smiles. Tells me that is good to hear.

I feel a little ridiculous that I am allowing myself to be subject to condescension from him just to reassure him that I am alright. At the same time I am not even sure that is what his ego wants to hear. 

I become slightly flustered.

But even assholes can fall in love or think they are in love.  And I've certainly felt that he loved me sincerely at some point, which is more than I can say for myself.  It is a shame that I realize post-mortem that I should never go through a relationship with only half a heart. So maybe I should just consider myself lucky and leave it at that.

He described his new relationship as "life-changing".  I smiled and told him I think every relationship is life-changing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Apparently a date tonight.  Set up by a friend based on certain criteria and so forth.  The boy immediately scans through my facebook page and probably figures that I'm cute and we have things in common, like photography. He quickly adds my bbm and texts me some preliminary questions, such as, "are you into photography?".  He sends me a link to his flickr site and it is named after his name + "aholic".  For example, if it were mine it would be "stellaholic".  Very original, you see. 

I flick through his flickr (there you go, flickr, I used the pun exactly as you envisioned) and find some very nice shots and street scenes. His camera is serious and his colors are considered. His travels are extensive and his eye is keen on little details that the audience will be surprised to realize look good when cropped in a little square frame.

I'm not impressed.

"Let's go photo-hunting some time," he says.  In the pictures he comments on what type of camera he used.  Maybe he discusses with his mates what ISO it was set on and so forth, I don't know.  I don't understand the concept of photo-hunting.  I travel for the sake of all five of my senses and to fulfill an unexplained hunger in my soul and I take photos to preserve them. He praised my pictures for being "raw" (well, that sounds appropriate) and professional-looking and I am mildly surprised at the fuss he's making.

But perhaps I am being too hard on him too soon.  (Which is also his fault because why waste time on standard banter over blackberry messaging when he could have saved it for the date?).  Okay, I'm done.  I will meet him tonight and see how it goes. Oh and by the way mother reminded me this morning to "be calm and not too illustrious because he might end up liking you and then you'll be in trouble".  She is impossibly the best.

Mother was right and I am in trouble.


The farthest shores are the warmest waves
Lapping gently at my toes in shivering ways
They know me and I know them
We're friends encapsulated in a stone gem

The mother knows not these hidden craves
Her tough soft fingers at my mind plays
I hide not, I want to be fluid, not phlegm
But she is a fragile thorny stem.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Talk

The Queen Boss called me in today for The Happy Talk.  Everybody knows what this is about. I know what this is about.

I bump into her in the kitchen and she starts complimenting my sweater.  "You look great!" she says.  She links arms with me as we walk out the kitchen and starts prattling about some student sponsorship proposal sent to her by a kid who mentioned my name. She draws me into her room and as she closes the door she lowers her voice and whispers, "are you happy?"

I suppressed a smile. I love when things are handed to me on a silver platter.

I allowed her to prattle on a bit more and as she progressed I knew she would make a few welcome and unwelcome suggestions. 

"I was just wondering whether you are alright, whether your salary is too small."

A welcome suggestion.

"I was wondering whether you're getting enough exposure, I think you need an Indonesian boss as well."

An unwelcome suggestion.

I wanted to tell her I absolutely love working with foreign bosses because they trust me and let me do whatever I want and keep off my back and respect my personal affairs. Plus, I don't have to act Javanese with them.

I didn't tell her that.  Instead, I told her that I will be asking for a mid-year salary review. She seemed quite satisfied.

She then said I strike her as the sort of woman who would be ambitious and driven even after I have a family, unlike my colleagues who have recently quit.   God people can be so prejudiced. 
I have precisely an hour to blow before 6pm comes to whisk me away on my taxi ride to meet my new diving instructor.  Exciting shiny new things.  I haggle these shiny items with the excitement of a Jakarta socialite anticipating the latest Hermes product-launch:  with a tingling sensation underneath the skin and a slight anxiety in the pit of my stomach.  Actually, the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach is PMS pain, so let's not over-romanticize it.

Apart from the above tingles I am in a foul mood.

Reason number 1 being that I met a friend whom I haven't seen for about two years yesterday and instead of feeling elated as I deem it appropriate to feel, I am instead reminded of how little maturity he has gained. He prattles about his achievements and plans with the expectant, beaming demeanor of someone who expects his audience (me!) to be equally thrilled, amazed, and proud for him.  He asks me how I am and when I tell him my stories he responds with the exasperating demeanor of someone who is convinced that he knows me more than I know myself.  He ridicules or praises other people in whom I have no interest whatsoever with the enthusiasm of a talk-show guest. The night ended with one very sad realization: I do not like him.

Reason number 2 being that I attended a small intimate musical performance yesterday by a talented fledgling singer, who sang her own lyrics with the quiet emotion of a woman who sings her own words. It would have been beautiful and haunting.  It would have been one of those unexpected performances where her love and pain would fill up my own empty emotional void and leave me full, warm, therapized.

But there were her friends.  And the toddler.

Her friends were the type of senior musician friends who seem to believe that they are a privileged audience, that the venue is their home, that they have heard her many times before, that she is cool with them. One kept texting on her blackberry and, although it was set to quiet mode, refused to completely silence it.  I could hear the tapping of her thumbnails on her keypads as the singer sang of the man she would give her life for.

The toddler would not keep quiet during the performance, and chose to prance about and exclaim things noisily as the singer sang of the silence she received in return for her expectations of love.  In between all this we could hear his mother and her ineffective, half-hearted "shhh"s, which only added to the noise.

The singer loved the toddler.  She would smile at him and extend her arms, while singing, as he pranced close to her on more than one occasion.  The singer was pretty, warm, gracious.  The toddler was a brat.

Apparently his mother was the singer's friend too.