Monday, June 25, 2012

On networking

It's been a while.

I entered the fray and scanned the vistas.  The place was packed and, like all the trending places in Jakarta when they've just opened, felt like it wasn't in Jakarta.  The girls were not overly pretty but were dressed up nonetheless in business dresses that are quite fashionable it seems at the moment.  I was wearing a silk blouse and a loose tie, because I had felt like it when I left for work this morning.  I forgot to wear my contact lenses too, so ended up wearing my big hipster glasses. Pangs of regret and insecurity, but I sallied forth into the throngs of savvy future-contacts nonetheless.

My first targets were a hit.  One girl was from Peru and the other girl from Mexico.  Perhaps I notice kindred spirits first and foremost, perhaps some maddening radar I had not realized existed beneath my ignorant skull.  But they were of course lovely, happy, and charming. They made me want to talk about beaches and dancing, which of course we ended up talking about.

The next targets were old friends whom I knew from all sorts of places on so many different occasions but who happened to know everybody else on that one occasion. Default exclamations on how the world is so ridiculously small. One happened to be a colleague of Mr. Nine and we had a good laugh at how I used to date him. We both laughed wholeheartedly for reasons unclear to the other. Another offered me an exciting  project, which actually rendered my official task for the night completed, much to my disturbance. What have I become if I join events to meet new projects instead of new friends?

The last targets were the business school types: one boyish young American, one fast-talking Indonesian Chinese with an American accent, one tall Chinese girl whose posture slunked in the sexy way that comes from having had a fourth drink and plenty of nonsensical things to say.  We accused the American of not looking like the Hawaiian he apparently is, because he wasn't wearing a wreath of flowers around his neck. 

The drunk girl put her arm around me before she knew my name and asked the American: "Is she your girlfriend?"

The American said, "No, she's not my girlfriend, and I believe she's engaged."

I laughed warmly and held up my telling hand.  "She is engaged," I said.  The girls tittered over how he noticed.

I felt charmed at how I felt charmed about being engaged.  This was apparently a test that I had unwittingly bestowed upon myself tonight and only realized post-hoc. If I had been single it could have been a game that I had not played in a while. Would I miss it?  As it turns out there were no awkward tugs at my heartstrings.  I was actually longing for Mr. Right to finish his meeting and pick me up from that glitzy place.

They were apparently going somewhere else for the night and asked what I was doing.  I told them I was waiting "to be picked up".

"You're waiting to be picked up?  Girl you should do something about that ring if you hope to succeed in that."

We laughed like college kids and went our separate ways and now I don't remember their names.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On happiness

For a while it was bad and then good and then not so good.  There is no single year that compares to that one year circa 2009-2010 when everything was always so good even when bad things happened. Not being sentimental.  Just remembering that I too can feel alive and had felt alive for a sustained period.  Alive despite the fact that everything was good.

In this country, in this city, in this room where I work and become distracted by my work from the interesting things that should be distracting me from work, I have lost a little something.  Time, perhaps. Imagination, perhaps.

What's been happening lately?  Not much, same old.  They are burning books and banning mini skirts and jailing atheists and harassing lesbians and decrying sex education and attacking churches. The women don't want gender equality because it makes women smarter and leads to higher divorce rates. But everybody is still having sex and enjoying it, thank God. Everything good is a blessing from God, and everything bad is a result of our sins.   Mr. Right seems to think that last bit is a little unfair and innately flawed. We think that the liberal-minded Indonesians are a silent majority but suddenly Kompas releases a poll that shows about 70% of respondents want a more conservative government. Well that's swell.

This country, according to a poll by The Economist, is among the world's happiest countries. I would agree because essentially, happiness is indeed the culture.  It is not like in Russia where it is taboo to say you are happy because that would mean you have individual freedom to acquire happiness and who, in the name of dead communist warriors, gave you that right? No this is not like that. In this country you do not say you are unhappy, because that would mean that you are not grateful for what God hath bestowed upon thee. 

"How are you?"

"Alhamdulillah, thank God, I am healthy."

"And your family?"

"Alhamdulillah, they are healthy too."

You see.

So, since everything good comes from God and everything bad is a sign of ungratefulness to God, everybody wishes to have more God in their lives, in every aspect of their lives, in their spiritual, physical, sexual, and political lives. And to take it to the next level, everybody wishes to have more God in everybody else's lives.  My own mother laments and moans and complains. She worries that if I do not pray five times a day to God, how will she earn extra points to go to heaven if she is deemed to have failed to educate me in faith? And if I do not pray five times a day to God, how am I ever going to lead a happy life when God refuses to bestow me with blessings? It will be a tragedy of the worst kind, she warns.You will lead a miserable life.

I feel alive with anger and frustration and curiosity and the acute knowledge that I am happy of my own volition, even when I'm sick, or sinning.  I would be a little happier if I could make something of this stored pressure, instead of review contracts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On beauty

At lunch today the friend I haven't met in a while commented on my relationship status and casually told everyone that a couple of his friends sent messages to him expressing dramatic heartbreak because of that relationship status.  His wife then laughingly commented that when I dated the disastrous Mr. Nine, people messaged his ex to say, "are you suffering attacks of insecurity yet?"

The table turned to Mr. Right and demanded to know whether he knows he's got rivals. Mr. Right grinned and said he knew that from the beginning.

I'm starting to feel flattered and uncomfortable with the topic as it is not something I know how to respond to very well, except with good humor, which I manage. I am a little surprised, and if Mr. Eight were reading this he would probably protest and say, "No you're not surprised. You can't fool me."

Mr. Right would often say "I think you're extremely beautiful, but you don't notice that much."

Well it is a moot point to argue, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I have no business beholding myself more than I behold others. And how much I behold others!

I behold others to the point of distraction. I notice when they wear black soft-lenses to cover their black retinas because they do not believe that their black eyes are black enough. I notice when they wear fake eye-lashes to a wedding party and I notice how they do not look more confident than they usually are despite that extra mile, or extra centimeter of eyelash. I notice the bags the shoes the bags the shoes the bags the shoes the bags the shoes. They are not more beautiful.

I notice the tan line on the broad shoulders of a friend who loves to swim. I notice the ridiculously loud laughter of a friend lying in her sick-bed. I notice the little curls on a forehead which escape the straightening iron. I notice how the swing of your hip gives away the comfort level of your shoes.  I notice a curious question delivered with widening eyes. These are extremely beautiful.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Perhaps 85% of my daily stress involves mother. She often asks me why I am so impatient with her when I can be so patient with other people. I thought of asking her to ask herself why but of course she would not know either.

I thought of how I feel that I would be very stress-free and happy if she did not meddle into my affairs; but a second later I think of how that does not really make sense because without her I would not be this happy person that I am today.

Nothing really makes sense.