The luxury of doing nothing

the luxury

THE ACCIDENT

Three Sundays ago I got into a single accident. On my way home from buying my favorite sweet treat, my scooter stumbled on a paving block and in split seconds, I was already on the ground and my scooter on me. The block seemed to be accidentally hauled right into the middle of the road from the unfinished sidewalk construction. The area around my left eyebrow got swollen from hitting the asphalt, and I got cuts and bruises all over my legs.A good couple helped me and took me to the nearest hospital. After spending some time at the Emergency Unit, that I night I stayed at my friends’ home, another good couple.
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THE CAST & CRUTCHES

A few days after the accident, an X-ray ruled I had a tiny fracture near my left ankle. The orthopedist put a cast on my leg which will remain there for the next two or three weeks. Good news is a surgery is not necessary.

Although I assume this condition is only temporary, this stupid, high-schooly cast on my leg has changed my day to day life. My mobility is suddenly cut short. I am in total dependence on crutches to get me to places, which are basically just the narrow spaces in my tiny place. I have not gone to work ever since, but managed to have my laptop sent from the office, not just for work but also to get rid off my guilty conscience over being absent in quite a while. It can also distract me from binge-watching Korean dramas on TV like there’s no tomorrow and worrying over what’s to eat and how I’m going to get it. Thanks to Go-Jek, I’ve got my meals covered. Some friends also delivered food to me. Not just for food, they have been my real-life “apps” when I need toilet paper, gas for my stove, and cigarettes. God bless their good souls!

THE GOOD SOULS

Let me start with this couple. The guy’s name is Angga, and the girl, Dewi. They were riding their motorbike when they saw me hopeless on the street that evening. They were the ones who took me to the hospital. Another good couple that evening was my best friend Netri and her husband. They have been very helpful since the first time I moved to Bali 8 years ago, but that night was particularly the greatest help they did to me. I was taken to their home after the accident, given food and anti-inflammation gel. When I returned to my place, they came to visit me and brought me (again) food.

And then, there were my collegues with the stuff they brought from oranges to toilet paper to… beer! *good bye medication*

THE DOING-NOTHING-NESS
Not every day I have the luxury of doing what I really want because work occupies most of my time. Even when I am home, I always have my phone in my hand and it is mostly work-related: responding to guest inquiries on Facebook, posting new images on Instagram, and work-related WhatsApp messenger exchanges. The accident was a game changer, even when it only lasted for some time.
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I was lucky enough Indovision recently had opened all of thei channels as reward for having subscribed to them for 24 months. Oh how I looooved just sitting there, watching Korean movies and series. Great titles, such as Oldboy, Memory of Murder, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, were treats. I also had the luxury of watching Game of Thrones season 6 world premiere! I ordered food, even cigarettes and coffee, from Go-Jek Apps. I am not saying I loved the situation, but I did have a pretty decent time in my confinement.

Tuesday Afternoon Reverie

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When life takes your hand to enter its torture chamber, let it be. Let it crush your particles it wants to crush. Let them die as their death marks the birth of those pink water lilies just outside your window.

If you are lucky — as lucky as I — I will take you inside and watch the water lilies grow, die, and grow again, playing our love recital.

2014 kicks off

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January 2014. I have given up making New Year’s resolutions. They’re useless and against the brevity of pleasure. Yet, I started off the year on a calm, slightly happy note. Nothing’s fixed, meaning that whatever I have is flexible for twists and changes. It’s like saying that your loving, sweet-smelling partner is planned to marry someone else he’s not in love with.

The cheesy last statement is not entirely figurative, I can tell you that now. The feeling of entrapment happens from time to time. Even though you have years behind you, still, you are left helpless when it comes around. Years only teach you to prolong your silence, holding back your anger a little longer. Years don’t teach you to be dead of emotions, especially when you were born with those intense feelings.

Exactly on January 1, 2014, I finished a pretty cool book “What French Women Know” written by Debra Ollivier. It compares and contrasts extensively between French women’s and American women’s views on love, sex, and morality. I called it cool because it is easy to read, matter-of-fact, and it is not afraid of being called stereotypical (the book scored pretty low on Goodreads, by the way, but I suspect it’s because most of the reviewers are Americans). Stereotypes can also teach you good lessons. I dare to say that because I believe most people I know are smart enough not to fall to petty judgments towards other people. I thought the book was cool because I am nearly as “messy” as the stereotypical French women described in it. “French women generally don’t strive for exalted standards of happiness, nor do they strive for exalted standards of moral perfection,” says Ollivier. There are peeps out there who think that mess is a preferable trait, or at least, they don’t give a damn.

A couple of days ago, I attended a wedding reception of a good friend of mine, an Indonesian, who married a French man. I assume my friend is already familiar with “French-ness” after knowing this lovely gentleman and being in the French circle in Bali for a couple of years. I assume she knows how to be messy and still appears fine. Well, I know she does because she is exactly the embodiment of that beautiful mess. And, as the night got late and the music got louder and the alcohol level got higher, my “dark passenger” got me under her control.

Days before that night, I experienced the expected pain of two people who see each other without commitment. It was a pretty messy stuff that involved a sleepless night and sickening dead silence before he came back to me on the next day, loaded with affection, putting everything back in order and me back under his armpit. Sweet, eh? Nah! In my friend’s wedding party, intoxicated, I was the one who stirred the calm universe with a betrayal (but how do you betray if you never commit in the first place? So I guess, it’s just a common-courtesy thing).

It is so much easier to blame it on the alcohol or ‘temporary madness’ for every mess you make. But think of this: cross the booze out of the story, will you still commit the “crime”? If it’s an attractive guy right in front of your nose (probably drunk, but attractive), and he’s into you, will you? Now, what if this attractive guy happens to be one of your best buddies whose darkness you know well enough? Will you?

I don’t indulge myself in extreme craziness, but then again, the question of “extreme” is very subjective. I don’t walk around showing my tits as I please. If anything, I embrace both my good nature and my “ugly” (sexy) side. I embrace the guilt and the pleasure altogether. 2014, 38 going on 39, comfortable in my own skin, and I keep juggling for balance in my waking, sober hours.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In preparation of the new year

Agnes Herdiasti desk

Wow! It’s been ages since I wrote on this blog. I saw that my last post was in January this year. So, I have been dilly-dallying, so to speak, for almost one year. A lot of things happened in my life during that time and I did not post a single thing. Unpardonable, for someone who claims herself a writer!

I have not quite gone off track from ‘penmanship’ at all. In fact, my current job as an E-Marketing/Public Relations requires me to write a lot, but not in a way that I used to do. I do press releases, blog posts for companies, feature articles, website content development, and the like. I do miss writing fictions and poetry with full understanding that I will not be able to do those again with restlessness and bitterness usually required of those kind of writing. Not anymore for now. I have been standing in the light of business logic for quite some time, I’m afraid I have lost my edginess in “beauty” writing. But I guess that’s nothing to fret about. When you write, you write; and as long as you can write, you write.

Right now I am finally back in front of my laptop. Yes: laptop. As much as I enjoy playing with my supercool smartphone, I do miss the convenience of typing on a regular 10-finger-friendly keyboard outside my regular office hours, posting non-work materials. Here I am, accompanied by a flask of green tea, menthol cigarettes, and a slice of simple happiness. What’s more? I’ve got myself a new book — bookmarked on page 42 — I can’t wait to finish and get inspired by; scents of a lover; and loads of Christmas cookies. I’m ready.

Or rather, I’m ready for the unexpectedness. Its familiar smell is comforting and driving you mad at the same time. Life is mischievous, betraying you when you least expect it, but you have no option but to make friends with her, dance with her. Do you have your wish list at hand? Did you make your travel plans and moves? Did you set new targets while some of your old ones are still neglected?

No matter what feng shui masters will tell you on TV in a few days to come, put on the best smile on your face throughout the next year. As for myself, that is a promise I think I can keep.

Christmas 2012 – everything’s not lost

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Last Christmas was not as merry as it used to be when my grandparents and my parents were still around. My grandma usually prepared a special dinner: biterballen for appetizer, oxtail soup for one of the main courses, and pudding (to die for) for dessert. Grandpa played the organ and sang, my dad and the rest of us eating heartily. The house was stuffed by family members from Jakarta, my aunt’s family, and relatives. We made a cave from cement paper for the nativity, and we decorated a plastic Christmas tree. It was noisy – the pleasant kind of noise.

Years passed, one by one family members was gone, replaced by the new generation. The tradition lived on, year by year. Then it disappeared in thin air. My grandparents and parents were long gone, sustained by us who have turned to Dickensian characters void of the spirit of Christmas that we once had. My Christmas recently was reduced into just a slightly different day. I went to church, called my daughter and my brother, texted other family members and friends with “merry Christmas” messages, and gave small presents to few people. Oh, and I also bought myself some presents: a pair of glasses (because I recently lost the one pair I had), and a small tablet I named Olie. Apart from those, I did cry over what I had lost.

This note is my tribute to what I still have in this life. I am grateful that I have a beautiful and understanding daughter. It may take several lifetimes to return her kindness. I am lucky that I have three cool brothers who in their own ways look out for me. I am blessed that I still have an aunt, my dad’s sister, who represents a parent to me. From my mother’s side, I still have other aunts and uncles who once in a while reach out for me. Next year, if God allows, we will gather once again in a big family reunion. And… here in Bali, I have wonderful souls around me, some are angels, I believe, who never let me go astray.

Everything’s not lost, as Coldplay puts it, and I am still counting up my demons. I still have a hope. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Regrets, Part Two (did I tell you that they kill?)

"downtown lawrence kansas in black and white"

My previous post is a sketch on guilty feeling or regrets that I believe every human being has to some extent. Regrets have withering power that sucks up life energy in your marrow. They are friends to the gravity and can slow down your bounciness to zero.

Today I watched a CBS video that features Mel Greid and Michael Christian – the radio DJ’s whose prank on a nurse in London went horrendous. They were on air for the fist time after the suicide death of Nurse Saldanha was reported, expressing their regrets over what happened. In the last section, the reporter said that a survey was conducted to 11,000 Australians asking them whether they blamed the radio DJ’s for the death, and the result was 2/3 said the did not.

Does the statistics put Greig and Christian at peace? Assuming both individuals are normal people, I will bet my sanity if it does. The guilt will stay even if the survey resulted in 100% of respondents saying they’re not guilty. Can the curse of regrets be broken? Can the cycle of guilt-stricken death be cut off? Can time heal the wounds this time when the “crime” has claimed a life in such a terrible way? How else can Greig and Christian find consolation? Asking for forgiveness from the nurse’s children? That’s the least the can do. Elizabeth in Eat Pray Love created an ‘illusion’ (this is debatable, of course, depending on how you see it) that her ex-husband forgave her, despite their long and tiring marital dispute. That way she felt at peace and ready to start anew.

Does surviving from regrets mean escaping from reality? Maybe that’s what it takes to sustain guilt-stricken life. Do you pretend that everything is all right? When you have regrets in your life, you sometimes do have to fool yourself to put things back in balance. Problem is conscience is too smart to be duped. If you regrets are your debts, there’s no other way than paying your dues.

I’m sipping my apple-flavored tea, thinking of ways to be forgiven.

Before you make any decision, think of this: Guilt kills.

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A BlackBerry message came in this late afternoon from my neighbor Sherly. I’m hungry. Wanna join me to go to “Ahong” (name of a restaurant)? Hey, don’t know why but I’ve been thinking of my ex. I wasn’t that hungry, but I did go with her. I wasn’t interested in listening to any recounts, let alone about regrets & co., but I listened.

Sherly has not seen anyone for five years now. The last guy she went with was a guy called M. She dumped him because he could not afford having a four-wheel of his own… Well, to put it simply. His presence in her circle would only embarrass her. M – that guy – was furious when he found out that Sherly chose to go with another man who had all he didn’t. He screamed at her and said, “Remember this. One day you will regret it!”

And there at “Ahong”, tears pooled in the corners of her eyes, she told me that M just got married. His curse works! She said. I’m left alone and miserable.

My effort to console her only brought me to my own pain. Everybody has regrets in their lives. I remember bullshitting a few years back, telling myself and others that everything happens for a reason and that I don’t regret anything. Every thing that happens in this world happens for a reason, yes. The second statement, sadly, was a lie.

Over 10 years ago, a 3 years old girl had to let go of her mother at the airport. The mother went to the United States for study. The little girl is my daughter.  I have left her so many times. She has let me go so many more times. I know that she’s grown to be a beautiful teenager now, but her helpless small face at the airport is stuck on my mind.

And there, still at “Ahong”, I was the one weeping helplessly. Sherly was there looking at me. Empty plates. a tissue box, and a long pause between us.

Then, I remember a recent headline about a nurse in UK who killed herself because she regretted having released confidential information on Duchess of Cambridge to two caller-pranksters. The whole world is condemning these two terrible radio hosts whose joke had gone fatal. I have the feeling that the curse of guilt did not stop there. Remember Kevin Carter? The Pulitzer-recipient photo journalist was also killed by guilt. Regrets and guilt are beasts from the ancient time.

Sherly and I moved from our table and paid our bills.

My wish list – in random order

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  1. Smoking on a rooftop with my crush
  2. A Samsung Tab
  3. A NOAH album
  4. Visiting Gina in Costa Rica
  5. Visiting Susana Mariscal in Bolivia
  6. Visiting Eta in Semarang
  7. Owning a house with rooms to rent
  8. Owning an art & hospitality school
  9. A beagle or a pug
  10. Being a guest lecturer in return of a lunch!
  11. Work that includes a convenient housing
  12. Giving a scholarship
  13. Writing a book or two
  14. Visiting Boston (again)
  15. Seeing George
  16. Traveling around the world with Olga
  17. Remarried (with an extremely insightful, charming, good-smelling guy)
  18. Owning an online doll boutique/shop (a sex toy shop, maybe? hehehehe)
  19. Visiting the set of “Bridges of Madison County”
  20. Watching Cirque du Soleil
  21. Producing a contemporary theatrical performance about Indonesian culture
  22. A car with a driver
  23. A pink wrist watch
  24. A 2 day-reunion with Netri, Ana, Yoke, Etty, etc
  25. Sharing a stage one more time with Cici, Ninog, Bimo and Mas Yudi
  26. Visiting Lincoln Memorial (once again)