Like most of my posts here, this on is also going to be an extremely ego-centric post.

My house in Jakarta is located in one of those homey areas, where families still gather on the weekends for football matches and everybody knows everybody else because the walls are so thin and the fences are so low.

So with the cheers from the crowd watching the football match on the field opposite our residence, proudly sporting my BINGO shirt, and glowing with shameless post-orgasmic joy, I walk into my own house.

It only took 30-minutes, from the moment I waltz myself in, for the house to tremble in rage and find me hollering marching stomping out of it, still looking like a full-blown war deserter: oversized backpack, sling camera bag, cheap slippers, bruised pride and wholesome discontentment.

The front gate swings open and slams closed to these:

Peachy, ain’t it?


Every household has its methods of disaster management.
GH2 had its quirks. RmhTbt has its shakes. And I have mine:
  1. Tell everyone that you’re pissed, thus are prone to induce even more harm to yourself. The sooner someone accompanies you, the less harm you may induce.
  2. Procure one or all of the following: something sweet, something to read, something to write on.
  3. Sit somewhere safe, and shut up until your brain regains its normal temperature, your face and eyes its normal color, and smoke stops from coming out of your ears.
TIP: Repeating Goosfrabaaaa…is only going to remind you of the Anger Management movie and piss you off even more.

The welcoming ritual between me and mama wouldn’t have occurred if I hadn’t told her that I’m considering switching into Indonesian citizenship, living in Indonesia for the rest of my life, and actually loving it.

The welcoming ritual wouldn’t have occurred if our conversation didn’t reach the more substantial elements of our relationships. So sticking to cooking, sewing, and hair/skin maintenance would have been better topics to tread on carefully.

The welcoming ritual wouldn’t have occurred if I weren’t so desperate to show her of all the things that’s been making me tick and click in the last 5 months in Aceh.

Why do I still tell my mama about things that I know she just can’t understand?
Because I still long for her approval.

Why do I still need my mama’s approval?
Because I don’t really believe in the things that I’m doing is worthwhile.

Why don’t I believe that what I’m doing is worthwhile?
Because I’m doing it out of vengeance.

Why am I vengeful?
Because I’m unable to forgive.

There, the entire purpose of living in Amman, in Aceh, in Jakarta, heavy drinking, highway riding, promiscuity, psychology degree, knowledge and keen sense for power, is just to avenge the people who refused to love me for what I am.

Allow me to rephrase that,
All the explosive decisions I’ve made are just to make up for my inability to really accept and forgive myself the way I am.

Look at it this way, if I really believe in what I’m doing, if I really believe that the purpose of living is for God and self-actualization, heck, I wouldn’t have such hard time trying to convince anyone about anything.

Life really isn’t about proving anything to anyone.
Life’s so much larger than that.
And if I, up until now, still want to prove anything to anyone, myself included, then all the good that I’ve done hasn’t been worthwhile, and all the bad I’ve done hasn’t fulfilled anything but that.

(stuffing out my cigarette, chugging in that last shot of Acehnese coffee, and taking a deep breath)

You know something,
With this much of fresh anger, I’m not ready to forgive my mother.
Not yet.

But I know how to get there.
And I’m writing it down here so that if I forget, someone out there will remind me of it.

I’ll tell you when I do get there; get to the part where I am able to forgive my mother.

By that time, I would have been able to forgive myself, and you, and everyone else.

You’ll see it in the voice that I write with.
Come to think of it, maybe when that happens, I won’t need to write anything here anymore.

And you’ll just have to be happy for me.



She was the first person in Meulaboh who asked about my Southerner’s accent, “Why you talk like that?”
She was my first friend in Aceh,
She’s the only person I’ve known to be so passionate about Yoga,

…she makes a pretty model, sweat and odd poses included…

Few days ago, she sent me a message from Nias,
“I’m having some serious pork BBQ for dinner tonight,”
I thought, this is the second time that she’s mentioned eating pork to us,

So I said to her,
“I’ll remember you every time I cook, just like how you’ll remember us every time you have pork. It’s nice the way we carry each other around in our daily habits, wherever we go.”

This is why nothing in the world, not even death, can separate you from the ones you love.

So remember them well.


Returning Favors

We were running out of private places to hangout.
I can’t stand crowds, and he don’t want the word to spread.
(It’s incredible how such a small community can be so desperate for ANYTHING to burn)

So he took me in his car to a very deserted area in the middle of a pitch black palm field.
He parked his car in front of an uninhabited house, and looked at me, “You’re sure about this?”
“Doubtless,” I grinned.

He got out of the car and came to my side, opening the door and sat himself in my place as I crossed over to the driver’s seat.
I buckle my seatbelt and remind him to buckle his.
I adjust my seat, the mirrors…
…release the hand break, pick up the clutch, press the accelerator…and d.r.i.v.e.


After a while, he broke the silence, “You really like driving, don’t you?”
“What made you say that?”
“Your face. It’s glowing with pleasure.”

[I’m not yet allowed to drive beyond gear-2, especially in these narrow, rural roads. I don’t mind; it’s his car, it’s his classes and he’s my tutor. The only thing that mattered is that I can drive.]

I asked him to light me a cigarette. The car slightly swerved as I picked it up from his hand, and I apologized.

“It’s fine; you’re controls are improving,” he took a drag from his own cigarette, and exhaled his thoughts, “why driving?”

“For the sense of competence,” I paused to concentrate when a truck passed by our car. “Baba still drives himself on 8-hour journeys from Jakarta to his village in the Middle-of-Another-Nowhere. And on these trips, I’ve never been able to say, ‘take a break and let me drive for you, Baba,’ and actually mean it, when I really, really do want to mean it."

I took a deep sigh, threw the cigarette out of the window and continued,
"There’s a distinct sense of satisfaction; when you can tell your dad to sit back and enjoy the ride for once in a while.”

I must've looked really sad when I said this, because I felt a pat on my head, hearing him say, “I make sure you will.”
He’s one person who knows a thing or two about unreturned favors to parents.

Yeah, we’re working on it.


Budi likes to play with hair: He grew up sleeping by his mother, holding the thick of her hair in his hand.

Sometimes at work, when I’m not looking, he pulls gently tugs my ponytail on his way out. It surprised me the first time he did it. Later on, when I knew why, it just filled me with fleeting warmth.

Yesterday, our friend and colleague - Gadis - joined us on our smokers' table, each of us exhausted with all the closing chaos that we’ve been bearing in the last week.

I asked Budi, out of the blue and after so many hair tugs, “so the longer the hair, is the more you like it?”
He grinned. “Very much,”
But Gadis was appalled, “Eeeewwwww! That’s gross! My husband says it gets in his nose if it’s unshaven!”

The silence that followed, and complete shock on our faces made her realize what a misunderstanding this had been.

She detached her head from her neck, stuffing it in her backpack from utter embarrassment, and against our explosive laughter, we heard her mumble, “I really, reaaaaally need to go back and see my husband. I’m not thinking straight anymore.”

This post should’ve been titled: Desperate Relocated Staff.


The Kind of Album You'd Wanna Show Mom...

...to convince her that what you're doing it worth while even though it doesn't include marrying a Saudi or making the kind of money that would buy you a crib in Hamra in Jeddah.

These photographs were taken on the field, in one of the closest refugee barracks for the tsunami victims. We were there for evaluation and...picture whoring.

Read on if you wanna know my impression on this experience:
We had an appointment with the female BINGO beneficiaries in a barrack residential area nearby; just to ask them how the BINGO has performed in the last 2 years of service.

Interview contents aside, it's amazing how these human beings are capable of surviving on such meager conditions. The latrines are all public, water runs only between 7 and 8 in the morning, and sources of income is extremely difficult to find.

It's equally amazing how children manage to make the best out of this. Children still have room to play and interract with the enviroment, each other, and their inner selves.

This pretty much confirms tells you to never lose my inner child through hardship.
Play safe, folks.


Lifestyle of Choice

The first time I told mom I wanted to live in Indonesia, she told me that I couldn’t afford living like an Indonesian.

With my fairytale upbringing, there’s no way I could live on grassroots.

No way could I stuff myself in rickshaws in sardine-can-typed buses when my brothers each have luxury cars by the dozens.

No way could a Saudi be living on a stipend of Rp3Million (that’s just $300 to you, including rent and utility) a month when my brother can make and spend SR30’000 in a day.

No way could a girl from Dar Al-Hanan could wear the same clothes for more than 5 years when it’s a brand new SR500 thobe for the boys every month.

No way could the owner of a four-poster bed could live in a 3x4 house and be happy sharing it with a cat and dog when the boys sleep and dine and entertain (oh, how the word seems to unfamiliar to me right now) in a 7-bedroom-9-bathroom showcase villa.

No way could I use a river (right in the open fuckinit! WOooOHOooO!) as my squat-toilet when the boys shit on marble and wipe with currencies.

If you haven’t noticed, I come from a bitchassfucking rich family by Indonesian standards. The RichDadPoorDad boys kept reminding me that, “Life is complicated with money, but it’s more complicated without it,” when I told him that I don’t like money because my arithmetic abilities sucked-disastrously.

How could your life not be so complicated if your freedom is bound to so much money-accessed locks?

How could you enjoy walking yourself to work when you’ve been floating over smooth asphalt, snuggled in so much leather?

How could you be silenced with the singing of croaking frogs and chattering crickets when the only music you hear were produced in studiorooms?

You can’t hear if you never listen.
I love you…
You can’t travel when you don’t have anywhere to go to.
You can’t want it if you don’t need it.
You can’t get it if you don’t touch it with your heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a mall-firefly. It’s every so often that I find my eyes glued on something begging to be bought. But with the grass tucked in my hair, I smell the fragrance that hushes the freedom of contentedness, “Do you need it, or do you want it?”

What’s your spellbound curse? How do you break it?

One Hundred Books in A Year: 17 Lessons Learned

Pexel 1.      Readers will read. Regardless to format or income or legality.   2.      Something to remember: The Prophet was illit...