(You are not) Ruled by Hormones

Being a girl sucks. Every month we are taken on this rollercoaster ride of emotions whether we like it or not. Of course we don’t have to pay for the tickets, but we have to pay for any slip of words, sassy attitude, loss of friends we get from that rollercoaster ride.

My mom says, I should know when the hormones are kicking into gear. I have the power to control these feelings. These urges to point out everybody else’s fault except my own. The urge to cry my eyeballs out just by seeing a sentimental commercial. The need to eat everything on the menu and feeling effing fat and miserable afterwards (don’t forget the PMS bloating, where the water contained in your body is a lot more near your period making you look fatter). Then, once your period starts, you’ve lost all apettite whatsoever, for food, for life. Nah, just kidding about the last one. But the frequent trips to the bathroom, checking and changing pads or tampons isn’t exactly ‘ladida hahaha’ fun. You have to make sure not to leave traces of your monthly junk in the bathroom for the next person to scorn in disgust at. Your mom would have to engrain in your head from early on that a clean white underwear is a mark of a decent girl. Then there’s that pep talk you recieve on your first period, which contents are mainly; “you can get pregnant, stay away from boys.” My first reaction was, “Do I stay away from boys only during my period or like forever stay away from them But what about Dad?” << this question obviously was only voiced in my head.

This is what a girl has to go through, throughout her productive part of life. Don’t get me started on the ‘to wear or not to wear make up’ matter (I’ll rant about this in another post).  My PMS is rather weird if not that much different from other girls.  It goes quite like this:

  1. Two weeks before my period my boobies swell and hurt.
  2. One week before I get irritated easily. You make a mistake (especially towards me), I see it, you’re doomed.
  3.  Within the one week before, I crave spicy, sour and soupy foods.
  4. Within the one week before, I am always hungry.
  5. I feel like shit. Like, I’m the ugliest, unlovable, unworthy, piece of human being living on the surface of the planet. This is around 3 to 5 days before my period.
  6. I am bloated. So I am always considering gym memberships at these times.
  7. 1 or 2 days before my period, I can cry my eyeballs out over simply anything that hits the spot.
  8. 1 or 2 days before my period, I will feel the urge to make something. Amazing ideas or thoughts will just pour into my head, begging for release. Which usually only lasts for 12-24 hours, so don’t expect a best selling novel to pop out from that tiny time span. Perhaps just a blog post (like this one) or a neat piece of art.
  9. The period comes and I don’t want to do anything except lie down on my side or on my tummy. Not because I have mean menstrual cramps like most girls do. But I just feel drained (of course, I am only draining out my uteral lining) and don’t wanna, that’s all.
  10. I get back my self confidence on day 2 or 3, become my usual enthusiastic self. All the negativity hiding away someplace and just letting me be the agreeable, kind person I am (for two weeks).

I know all of the above is just a sign of having a healthy female body, of which I am grateful. And I have no objection to any of them. But I just feel, that being a girl (especially in Indonesia) comes with many hassles and life is not that easy on us. Therefore, we are the stronger lot.

I salute my mom, for being able to keep tending to us and everything despite being susceptible to the above wave of emotions too. But Mom, until I can be at least close to your sincerety and love, please bear with me and don’t snap at me on the above mentioned days. Even if you do, I still love you, forever.


Heart Workout

I wonder what God was thinking when he created Eve. Not a polar opposite to Adam. But with softer features on the outside. Creating some kind of diversion to the advanced machine she has on the inside. Including a powerful heart. She can multi-task. Her mind can focus on several things at a time. She can develop a human being inside her. She can produce milk. She has strong intuition and sometimes even sixth-sense like abilities when it comes to the people she loves. And all which can only work when powered by? Yep. Love.

I have come to a point. Where I know I can love just for the sake of loving. I do not need anything in return. Love doesn’t have to be reciprocal. It would be nice to cuddle and kiss the one you love. Indeed. But it would be terrible to cuddle and kiss the one you don’t, just because your body yearns it. While your heart burns for another. But, in any condition, I advise you to simply love.

At this point, though I know I’ve thoroughly ruined my chances with a certain guy. Yet, I know I can still live, write, draw, laugh, sing and be happy and cry. Because crying, you see, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sad and pitiful. It means you’ve a muscle called the heart. It sweats when you work it too hard. The bigger it loves the harder it works. And when you work it too hard it aches, like any other muscle. However, like any other muscle, if you work it regularly, it becomes stronger.

Sometimes you just click with someone and your brain goes into autopilot and makes all kinds of connections to make you feel good, feel hopeful and expectant. Sometimes you just want to rush into things and find out if your expectations can be met. But you (always) seem to forget that great expectations can be returned with great disappointments. So why not love just for the sake of loving? Giving? And not expecting anything in return?

Don’t complicate things. Don’t assume. Don’t hurt others. Just love, and let the Universe do the rest.

On Being In Two Places At One Time.

“It’s been raining a lot lately.” she said walking with a cup of tea towards the window. Her soft features against the grayish white morning light, looked like a painting. I was happy to be the only spectator of this beauty. A sleepy happy. 

“It is the rainy season, no?” I replied drowsily. Smiling, nestling my face back into the cool clean pillow. 

A lot. A lot.” she said. “Look. People are floating to work.” 

Not looking, I laughed and said,”Come back here you. No mention of the “w” word, okay. This day is ours. We deserve it.” 

When I didn’t hear anything, I stole a peek from where I lay. She stayed sitting by the window. Sipping her tea slowly immersed in thought. As if she was in another world already. Smiling contently. 

How is it possible for someone to be two places at one time? How is it possible to love two people at one time? I asked her once.

“It’s not possible. When you’re ‘visiting’ another place, you become absent in the place you began with.” 

She puts her cup on the window sill. Letting it continue her sightseeing as she climbed back into the crisp white covers with me.

“But you’re here aren’t you? With me. In this nice hotel on a weekday. Lying to your boss. Calling in sick.” I hugged her close making sure her whole being feels my energy and presence. 

“Yes.” she kissed my hands that met in front of her. Lovingly, each finger, then the insides of my palms. As if saying, “I love these chubby hands.” 

“I love this kind of music.” She said commenting on the contemporary gamelan instrumental playing in the background. It had some nature sounds mixed into it. Giving off a fake feeling we’re not in the center of a crowded messy city but somewhere exotic. 

Then she goes on telling me how she received a CD from a hotel in Singapore where she stayed at for business, in return for a comment she wrote in their guest comment sheet saying that she loved the hotel channel’s welcome music. She said the hotel was such a waste because she stayed there alone for two nights with a spectacular view of the Singapore Flyer. 

“I really wished I was staying there with someone. I sat by the window. Drinking in the view and cried thinking how badly I wanted to share it with someone.” 

I felt the longing in her voice and hugged her tighter. 

“It hurts.” 

I apologized and loosened my hug. 

“It hurts when I know you’re on good terms with her. It hurts even more, when I realize I’m the bad guy that secretly smiles when things go wrong with her.” 

She curls herself into a ball. Denying my efforts to pull her back into my embrace. 

“It hurt the most the first time, though. When you were so serious on telling me to go home. It felt like, you got what you wanted and after that you wanted me to get lost. I know your intentions were right. We should be extra careful. And I’m not known for going home late. But still, it hurt and I don’t want to feel that hurt again, ever.” she paused. “All I wanted was to cuddle for a few more minutes.” and her voice cracked.  

I pulled her to face me. Tears were running down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry.” I said with all the sincerety I had inside. Looking deep into her wet seeing marbles. 

She closed them and shook her head. 

“Mea culpa. It’s ok. It’s not you, it’s  me. Now please let go. I want to sleep.” 

But the water on the window and on her cheeks continued to flow. 

Random Page: 96. Winter Journal by Paul Auster

20A. 300 Eighth Avenue, Apartment 1-I; Brooklyn. A one-room studio on the ground floor of a six-story apartment building, located in the back, with a view of an air shaft and a brick wall. Larger than the maid’s room on the rue du Louvre, less than half the size of the Varick Street hovel, but equipped with a toilet and bath as well as various kitchen appliances built into one of the walls: sink, stove, and minibar fridge, which you rarely bothered to use, since this was a space for work and not for living (or eating). A desk, a chair, a metal bookcase, and a couple of storage cabinets; a bare bulb hanging from the middle of the ceiling; an air conditioner in one of the windows, which you would turn on when you arrived in the morning to filter out noises from the building (COOL in summer; FAN in winter). Spartan surroundings, yes, but surroundings have never been of any importance as far as your work is concerned, since the only space you occupy when you write your books is the page in front of your nose, and the room in which you are sitting, the various rooms in which you have sat these forty-plus years, are all but invisible to you as you push your pen across the page of your notebook or transcribe what you have written onto a clean page with your typewriter, the same machine you have been using since your return from France in 1974, an Olympia portable you bought secondhand from a friend for forty dollars–a still functioning relic that was built in a West German factory more than half a century ago and will no doubt go on functioning long after you are dead. The number of your studio apartment pleased you for its symbolic aptness. 1-I, meaning the single self, the lone person sequestered in that bunker of a room for seven or eight hours a day, a silent man cut off from the rest of the world, day after day sitting at his desk for no other purpose than to explore the interior of his own head.

Buying Chocolates. Lots Of Chocolates.

I remember you were suddenly able to walk quickly. There were half a dozen of us, rushing to COOP because some other members of our tour said the chocolate prices there were a whole lot cheaper. We rode the escalator that went beneath the intersection. And voila! we found ourselves in a small shopping district. So brightly lit and so airy, I thought we couldn’t possibly be underground.

And there it was at the back of the shopping district with bright orange letters you wouldn’t miss, COOP. Our last hope for chocolates to bring to our friends and relatives back home. Mba Siska one of your colleagues pointed the aisle were the best bargain chocolates were.

Almost instantly, I grabbed 5 bars of fifty cent chocolates. The brand design made them look like cheap bulk chocolates, but we thought, who cares as long as “Made in Switzerland” was written in the back.

I forgot why I was being snappy at you. Perhaps it was because of all of the rushing and considering what to buy—taking things off the shelf and putting them back on the shelf– and then queueing, and then just me queueing alone because your friend said there was another aisle with cheaper chocolate. I guess I was irritated because our line was getting really short, two baskets full of chocolate at my feet and wondering how the heck we were going to fill our suitcases with this much chocolate let alone take them all the way back to the hotel.

I’m sorry for treating you the way I did. The way I sometimes still do. You are the sweetest, most patient and loving man I get to call my husband.

Message in a PET Bottle

Dear You,

I don’t know why the Universe picked you but you are definitely one of a billion. To open up a PET bottle with a letter in it takes a special kind of mind. A mind that doesn’t only see trash, but sees potential, sees the rolled up paper within as a pleasant surprise.


I have no name. I come from no where. I just happen to know the most common language on this planet. Okay, perhaps to narrow things down a bit, let’s just say I am an Earthling. I breathe. I eat. I breed. I die. Actually, I will die quite early compared to the latest statistics. I will die within one month, so says my doctor.

My previous letter was filled with all my complaints to The Big Guy Upstairs for the cards He decked me and how crumby my life turned out to be. Whoever got that one must be depressed as hell now. But I sure hope no one got that one. I hope the Universe deemed it too dark to consume and let it get bitten by a shark and leak and sink to the bottom of the ocean. I hope.

I hope therefore I live.

I don’t want to think of my doctor’s verdict. He isn’t God. I want to live in the present. I want to feel my fingers on this paper, writing with a pen instead of pencil, miserably making mistakes then mercillessly scribble away at it instead of using type-x. You can’t type-x life. You can’t delete memories of your first crush, your first love, your first marriage.

I love therefore I hope.

I love to see the sun rise and set. I love to see the moon in her different shapes. I love how the waves muffle the laughter and squeals of children playing with them or is it the other way around? I love how they hug me from behind and snuggle their chins on my shoulder blades and whisper, “I love you, Mama.” I love how little Luna skips along finding sea shells for our shell collection. “Look Auntie, it has a star shape on it!” she’d yell from somewhere, knowing it would be impossible for me to see what she’s holding from where I was sitting. I’d yell back, “That’s lovely, Darling!” giving her an approving nod and smile. She’d grin revealing the loss of her baby teeth. Then there would be Hans, sitting in a chair similar to mine reading a thick book, perhaps from my library. Using my imagination, I could see Hans immersed inside a huge bubble filled with soldiers, giant whales, floating pixy fairies, griffins, unicorns, giant beanstalks, detectives and race cars filled with gadgets. Hans, the blonde beautiful blue-eyed boy, my nephew the story-teller.

I’m sorry, I must be boring you with this. Talk about trying to hide my identity, eh? *laughs*

I’ll miss listening to my iPod. You know what? Now you can store up to thousands of songs in such a teeny-tiny device? Never in my early years did I think technology would be this brilliant and stylish. RIP, Steve. Thanks to him, and my generation X children and nephews, I have all the songs I loved ever since my childhood and a collection of folk songs from all around the world, including Balinese music that brings me back to my honeymoon days with Phillipe. I miss him. Also the soothing sound of Nina, my first born’s voice, singing the lullabies I used to sing to her. My favorite is her Barbara Streissand cover of “Smile”.

I’ve picked up my guitar again. David was like, “I never know you played, Mama!” and watched in amazement how I played and sang “Across The Universe” for him. It was like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it once you’ve learnt how. My fingers hurt after that single song though.

Ah, there I go again. I don’t even remember why I begun writing this letter in the first place. Like plenty of other things I forgot the purpose of doing in the first place. Like living. I forgot (well, we all have, haven’t we?) making a pact with God, ‘signing’ my life story and diving into my mother’s uterus.

You suddenly realize how much living is worth living when you don’t got much more life to live.

A Friend You Might Never Meet.

Playing Neruda

a humble attempt to mimic the master

♠ Flimsy dresses, soft carresses. You shift your weight and enter my gate. Wet with love from the skies above

♠ Honey dew, my sweet-scented muse. Rivers shiver, as everything else quivers

♠ Voyeurism at it’s naughtiest, is kissing the one you love, with eyes wide open

♠ The softest touch, is just too much

♠ The bloodshot eyes of those who cry, weary, teary, ever dreary

♠ As the moon dives into the sea. Phantoms search within the fathoms. For lust void of earthly dust

♠ I love you more than the sea. I love you more than you can see

♠ Alone. All one. Nothing but all. Everything but one

♠ Crossroads and crossword puzzles. On a gray Sunday afternoon, as the sky sighs and drizzles

What I Might Not Know

I might not have a sexy sultry voice, but I know the words to almost every song you know and would sing them to you for free.

Or if you ever decide to love me for me.

I might not be able to make mind-blowing poems, but I’m sure my love for you will blow your mind.

Because the greatest of poems are waiting in my heart for you to find.

I might not have slender legs and wear 4 inch heels, but I know how to bust a move in front of my mirror in my locked up room.

I might not know that despite it all you love me nonetheless.

But I’ve come to realize my PMS is such a mess.

Jakarta, 5 November 2011