Monday, July 25, 2011

To exist.

To physically exist, I have lunch sometimes. With the people whose office rooms are next to mine or below mine or across from mine. I rarely see them.  I prefer to write during lunch break or just stare at my twitter-feed until my eyes hurt.

But they are nice people and they know I am nice. We exchange countless e-mails during the day bursting with niceties such as "noted with thanks' and "appreciate it" and "sorry for troubling you".  If I'm lucky we get to see each other on the hallways and I can compliment how much weight they've lost. When I'm feeling particularly personal I like to get creative and say "girl you are hot!".  When a girl says this to another girl it is a compliment, not a harassment. The recipient smiles and slaps the general air in front of her shyly, dismissively. 

Nobody really knows how to take a compliment. You can't say, "Thank you," because you are afraid that people will think that you agree with their compliment, which means you are full of yourself. You can't say, "No I'm not," because you're afraid that will sound like an outright disagreement with someone who just paid you a compliment, which isn't very polite.  You could say, "Amen. I hope that is a kind prayer that will be granted by God," which really works most of the time as it shows you are not only religious but also humbly cultured, but then again it only really works on old people.

The safest easiest way to take a compliment is to make a nonsensical gesture or meaningless utterance in what you hope is a humble manner and let it just float vaguely past the audience. Like slapping the air.

Of course, she isn't really that hot.  I probably just envy her legs.

Every self-help self-guide self-psycho-analysis book always says that one must venture out of one's comfort zone.  So when I start to feel too comfortable in my little office room with my choice of artwork on the wall with nobody I need to physically talk to except for the random hallway encounters, I have lunch.

When I do have lunch I realize two things:

1.  I have missed out on so many things. 

A group of colleagues have made a mailing list linking their personal emails together. This is to enable us to email each other when we don't feel like using the default office email to email each other like we do all day. An added value to this is that we can continue emailing each other even when it is the weekend, a luxury which office emails cannot facilitate.  I ignore these emails.

Another group of colleagues have made a blackberry chatgroup linking all the blackberry messengers together in one chat window. Here colleagues can exchange gossip, photos of their lunch, photos of naked celebrities, and other enlightening pieces of information.  I joined for two straight days and then kicked myself out, telling everyone that it was making my blackberry go slow.

I can't bother analyzing why, I really can't.  Perhaps I am a closet introvert. That is not the point.

Apparently one day a colleague posted a picture of himself and another colleague, in the middle of having a cozy candlelight dinner in what appeared to be a skyscraper in another country. He is married, she is not. The picture was posted on the blackberry group. Several months later it became apparent to everyone that they were having a full-fledged affair.  Everyone knew that they were doing things that everyone thinks everyone shouldn't be doing. Everyone knew that they fucked, in hotels, on neatly arranged weekly schedules.  Everyone knew that his wife had called her a slut  and everyone knew this because the wife had said it on twitter.  Everyone knew that she had responded to the wife by tweeting "I've already won the war".

Everyone, that is, except for myself.   Until a few days ago when I had lunch.

2. I don't really give a damn.

Orphan Express

It is an unprecedented charity plan.  The ladies have never thought of doing charity together before. That is why they are excited about plans to break fast together at the orphanage this coming fasting month. Apple is hardly containing her excitement.

"I'm soooo excited about our charity plans at the orphanage!" she says.  "While we're there I want to ask the orphans to pray that I will get married soon. You know how they say that the prayer of an orphan will be granted sooner by God Almighty, right? Berry, you want them to pray for you too, right?"

Berry agrees with enthusiasm.  She says "I doooo!!! Amen to that!"

Monday, July 11, 2011


I had it coming.  I knew I had.

Spending a weekend in Ubud with him was generally something of a passionate suicide. I live still but am dazed. It is not any label of feeling or hope or other banal beginnings of a description to any kind of established emotion. I refuse to declare anything except that the certainty I would come back to Jakarta, back home, in a daze of yearnings, is proven.  

Of course I would never have turned back even if I knew that with twice the certainty that I had. To make life simple, so says my friends.  Life is simple, just do what you want to do.  Don't over-complicate things, they say.  And I wouldn't. I would flow, leaping and frolicking like the froths of a shallow river over stones and pebbles and salmon spawn. The natural thing to do. But this stupor that I find myself in, on this gloomy Monday in my office, is not simple.

I am not over thinking or over analyzing more than normal. I have simply sat on my office chair unable to have a single coherent thought.  Just missing the wind in my hair as we cruise through the winding roads along green rice fields on his motorbike enjoying the little things and sleeping to the sound crickets and waking up to the sound of roosters and fussing over paintings and coffee. It sounds exotic, yes, and too obviously likeable and missable. Quizas, quizas, perhaps. So what. 

So fucking what?

Before we parted he gave me a book by Zadie Smith and inscribed in it he had written:  "To Stella.  A book filled with all the things you cherish:  Seeing, Reading, Feeling, Being, Remembering."   Each verb the title of the chapters of the book.

He watched the expression on my face and asked whether that was sufficient as an inscription.  I felt slightly crushed and could only manage a weak smile. The sensation of having someone know me and express it so effortlessly felt almost offensive. Tinged with the suspicion that he could find a million things fascinating to him whilst I am stupidly in awe of everything he finds fascinating. And he will leave and pursue his insatiable interests around the world whereas I am unsure of how to channel my insatiability, my millionth outburst of a half-baked idea.  Yearnings and yearnings piling up without form.

And I leave his atmosphere and his idyllic home to a place that has once more become confusing.  Every time I find comfort elsewhere, the comfort that I've worked hard to build at home falls away. Why does coming home always have to be hard? 

Yes. Yes. Yes I am disoriented today. Completely so. Like a little girl. I will get better tomorrow and work like an intelligent woman with a passion and vision.  But today I am burnt with pleasure and I am dysfunctional.