Author Jackie

content/worship

i’ve been back in america for nearly three months now.

seeing what life is like here was shocking, and i’m glad that i forced myself to live differently for a year. and also, i knew that i wouldn’t be able to live the guilt down that i’d quit early. that there were things that i had missed out on for comfort’s sake.

i’m glad. and also sad.

now i’m in new mexico, in the house i grew up in as an adolescent. my mother has been living by herself in this big adobe castle on the mountain. which also makes me sad. i wish i could keep her company. but i feel like i’m only now regaining myself.

i’m certain there are a few things that i learned, music-wise, in padang panjang. but maybe it’s one of those “i’m going to realize that thing WAY later” sorts of things. haha, i kind of doubt it. but i’m always open to surprises.

there’s a practice that i’m trying to get myself into, which is writing in my physical journal before i do internet stuff. but there was a resume i had to send off, so i decided to split the difference and briefly write a bit in the physical journal and then address this neglected blog.

i want my days to have content and truth in a way that couldn’t have been possible if i’d never gone anywhere for a year. i definitely have a new reverence for privacy.

ok, time to run around in the foothills of the mountain.

Right here, right now

i’m sitting in front of the girls’ mess using wifi.

yes, wifi at school.

the school officials were giving us some bullshit story about why we can’t use wifi. that the internet bill hadn’t been paid and that the internet wouldn’t be working until maybe four months later. a lot of runaround. but basically the feeling is this: they have internet. and they don’t want us to use it. and are limiting internet use strictly for administration to check their facebook pages. i’d feel a little bit better about it if they at least played bejeweled or checked their gmail accounts or something. but goddamn. all facebook, all the time.

so, as atmosphere says… when life gives you lemons you spray paint that shit gold. and so, things for me, had become intolerable here. and then funny stuff was going on with the money. signatures appearing on behalf of people who have already left the country, taking half of some student’s scholarships, etc.

so i reported the asshole in the office to jakarta. and as professionalism goes in this country, they call his ass up. and then he gets me in a meeting with two men, his go-between and the guy who handles fondles our money. without informing beforehand as to what the meeting was going to be about. so then they confront me about the money and i tell them, well there has been a problem with corruption at this school (the rektor – head of school – had been put in jail for korupsi a month ago) so obviously when weird shit happens with money, obviously i will think the worst. and at the end of this meeting, they ask me to sign on behalf of the girl who already left the country on a document tracking the scholarships. and i told them, “i can’t do that!”

my roommate tells her boyfriend about this meeting, and her boyfriend and his friends want to get the story from me. they tell me they reported the last rektor for korupsi, and this would be an angle to get the asshole in the office kicked out. and they ask if i want to meet with the new rektor, while he is still new, still clean. i say sure. the next day, i go to the rektor’s house with trang and the other roommate’s boyfriend and some of his friends.

and the guy is pretty friendly, and shows us his photo albums of the times he’s traveled abroad to play music. and… i feel that he gets it. what it’s like to be abroad.

there are more meetings, and mister asshole keeps on trying to intimidate me but i think he’s a spineless creep. and know that he is largely unliked on this campus. and most likely, has a witch doctor hit on his ass. so he (and the iron nails in his liver or whatever the fuck happens when a witch doctor has put his bad juju on folks) is really the least of my concerns. and in the admin office now, they don’t call me by name, but refer to me as “the american.” this is what happens when you steal money from the friends of a korean woman raised in new mexico. awas. (beware.)

and the new rektor is all about quick results. and things so far have been looking great. we have a new carpet, a tv, wifi, bahasa indonesia classes… it’s such a good life that i can’t even believe it.

we bought a stove for our mess, which is reminiscent of camping, if only forest fires were permitted. the thing is scary, and i am regularly relieved that i haven’t burned my eyebrows off every time i have to light the damn thing. but it’s good to be cooking at home.

i also bought speakers, so it’s also really encouraging to listen to music i enjoy. as much as i love hearing autumn leaves and the saxaphone solo from careless whisper being repeatedly blared out of tune at 7 in the morning, i have discovered that i really need this soma. and it goes a long way, too. so there is balance to this belief that i have that most people listen to way too much music and are much too preoccupied and compulsively music-ing and not appreciating what they’re hearing.

i’m doing circuits in mess. and doing a 100 pushup program, inspired by donna. you can google it. i can only do good form pushups on the wall, but anything helps.

it’s my sissy, indonesian take of sarah connor in terminator 2. like, in the first terminator she’s cowering under a desk whimpering, eyes wild with terror, or in a scrap metal factory bugging out because this hand is clawing after her. but in terminator two, this tough-ass puta is doing pullups on her metal bed in an insane asylum. i have never been able to nor probably never will be able to do pullups, but it’s kind of like that. but more jackie-style, so i’m having a manic dance party for one listening to billy joel. absolutely determined to have a great time, damnit.

and general insanity abounds, but i will overcome this shit. even the petty and stupid. because i will use cheerfulness alchemy and spray paint this shit gold.

and i put myself in this position to make change happen and now i’ve got to step up and follow through. and it’s like a lot of the time i have to put myself in that headspace i would get in when i was working in residential care. i came here to relax. not like, be on top of things and rally a group of people and be resented en masse. which is fun. real fun.

OH

i went shoooooooooooopping for clothes, huhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh. my guitarist took me to this store he likes when we had to go buy a pickup for the violin, and boy oh boy. i was like a pig in mud.

i have a hoodie (which i love) and shirts (which i love). they are guy clothes, but they are awesome… and! in america i would still be considered a chick wearing them. i also got a chick shirt for performances. omg. i want to go shopping again, what an addiction. but the best thing about the stuff that i got is that it’s all indonesian brands, designed and made in indonesia. i love original designs so this is really fucking rad. like, i like stuff by canadian designers, so this was totally right up my alley and just fun. so much fun.

and i have decided: i am totally getting my septum pierced when i come back. in high school, put a ring on my septum and asked my friends what they thought of my potential new piercing, and one of them said “you look like a little bull!” and i was horrified. but still kind of always wanted to get one. so. i am gunna just do what i want. enough of worrying about what others think, seriously. seriously.

haters only know how to hate.

but i can have a maximally fun time with minimal materials.

i love you all and think of you on a regular basis. i can’t believe how busy i am with drama here. i miss my friends. and am looking forward to scotch. and good beer. and vegetables. and watching the big lebowski and pee wee’s big adventure. and going to shows. and freedom in general. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

I’m Gonna sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter (old – around 20 feb)

I’ve had to endure myself to an extent I didn’t think was necessary/possible considering how generally neurotic and self-critical I am.

But this past break and having to deal with my very angry self got me to a place where I was like, I don’t like myself anymore. I kind of loathe my really negative reactions to things. Yes, things suck here. Things suck really fucking bad here, actually. Especially compared to the lives of other Darmasiswa students currently living in Indonesia. In ways where I feel completely justified in just throwing in the towel and coming back to America.

There’s actually a lot that I can’t blog about, but if I were to use as a reason to come back to the states, any reasonable human would be like “yeah, you go and wave that white flag.” But since I am making myself stay here, now being completely aware of just how unsafe and unpleasant (invasive, rude, spying, etc, etc) the people here are, I don’t want to make myself more miserable than my suffering calls for.

I have a copy of Pema Chodron’s talks on Shanti Deva’s teachings on anger. And now I am really heavily investing myself in the teachings. It’s time for some really hardcore mind-training.

Part of what is making my experience as miserable as it has been is that I thought I was coming here to have a great time. Part of me thought I was gunna be swimming in the ocean like, every day, learning how to surf, checking out tight and bronzed bodies on the beach. This fantasy of mine is very beach-related.

Considering I am in like. Oh god. One of those nightmarish towns in Colorado that was in the documentary, Jesus Camp, it’s like, all expectations of what my idea of a good time have to be dropped. Right now, I’m just here to survive. And the Big Thing that I have to do is temper myself to deal with flagrant ignorance.

I was at the recording studio and the mother of the house, who works in the government, mind you, in anti-corruption, was asking about where I’m from. That old conversation again. But I’m not getting pissed. There’s a girl there, I’ll call her Pearl. After I give them my parents’ immigration story, Pearl asks “so are your parents from North or South Korea?” And then the mother of the house puts the edjumakayshun down on Pearl and says, “there isn’t a North or South Korea anymore. It’s just Korea now.” (!)

Even in America people will ask me the kinda silly question, North or South Korea? And I just briefly say, “people can’t go in and out of North Korea… I dunno if you’ve heard on the news how they’re always like, making nukes and shit or whatever. It’s kind of an insane communist situation over there, dude.” But hearing that the North-South thing is a thing of the past is a whole new one to me.

I just wonder where these ideas come from. Like the woman who asked me if I knew how to speak “Latin America.” Because she had seen the words “Latin America” on the news, and wondered if I knew that language. I explained to her how “Latin America” is a whole bunch of countries with lots of different cultures. And that a lot of those countries speak Spanish, variations thereof, native languages, and in the case of Brazil, Portuguese. And then she said, “oh, ok. But I just want to know if you speak Latin America.” No, because Latin America is not a language. Are you sure? I saw it on the news. Yes, I’m sure you can take whatever you misappropriate from the news because your the news in your country is a joke. Literally. In Indonesia, the evening news update uses canned laugh tracks. I was chatting with a friend and told her about it, she asked, “like America’s funniest home videos?” Yes, exactly like that. During interviews, you hear a laughter in a variety of colors; light chuckles, loud and appreciative, moderately receptive and understanding that yes, that was a joke and it was funny.

So this was just a week and a half ago… I’m in someone’s house and the news was on. They were covering this story about a girl who had beaten up another girl, so there you see video footage of the crime, someone had taken video of the incident on their cell phone. But in this footage you see other people, like standing right by the girl, also taking video. People surrounding this girl, making sure they get video of her getting slapped around by this butch girl who is on the chunky side. And… The laugh track is going this whole time you see the slapping and the chunky girl yelling and following after the skinny long-haired girl with the cowed head when she tries to make a feeble escape. The whole time, in varying levels of laughter, the canned track is going. Later, while the girl who assaulted the other girl is being interviewed by reporters in the police station (?!), there is also more laugh track. It actually was such a harsh cognitive dissonance, that I really did not know that I was watching the news. Like, does the Onion TV have a laugh track?! I don’t even think the Onion has a laugh track. Seriously, it was like watching a fucked up version of The Onion, SO WEIRD!

Every day is a new day of lowered expectations.

The headmaster of our school and his assistant were arrested for stealing 1.5 billion Rupiah. That’s a little over 1 million in US Dollars. Which is funny, because I remember seeing him in the lobby of the Administration building, showing off his new macbook air right out of the packaging it had come in. And I remembered thinking, “looks like someone went shopping with someone else’s money.” I mean, to manage something that modern in Padang Panjang is a totally not feasible. And fuck, new macbook airs are expensive in America. Like, to be an American with a macbook air is pretty like “hey, check this out.” No one owns macs here, let alone has seen a mac unless it’s one a foreigner brings in. It’s like he was showing his new Bentley in an Amish town.

And we still don’t have people taking care of our needs here on campus. No one to contact if something goes horribly wrong. I mean, there are numbers for us to call. But it’s not like they’re reliable. Or trustworthy. Or it’s not worth contacting those people because it’s not like we even want them to lie to us anymore when they say they’re going to help us but they just don’t. I swear I’m not complaining, but I feel like people need to know what it’s like here, how fucked up it is. Why I’m as desperate and lonely as I am. I need to feel justified and reasonable. In the face of complete and utter… Absurdity.

Okay.

Growing up, my violin teacher was really scary. I pride myself on not having cried at a single lesson. She was notorious for making people cry.

But she had this sign in her studio: “If all else fails, lower your expectations.”

I guess that means all else has failed, hasn’t it? Hahaha. Oh man. But I’m not disappointed in myself, although this decision has risen out of the ashes of MANY disappointments.

The teachings Shanti Deva delivered weren’t about lowering expectations, but, I have to do what I can to be more understanding. And it’s not so much about lowering my expectations but more like, asking myself what I had expected when I find myself feeling disappointed. Which, living in such a flaky city as Seattle, you’d think I’d be pretty well-acquainted with this. But this is just testing me in a whole different way to be emotionally self-sufficient, and realizing that my disappointments stem from a dependence on something outside of myself. It’s lonely-making. Really fucking lonely-making. But I have to like, not get bummed out. I’ve decided that I’m going to bolster my mood by working out in mess (circuit training and committing myself to a push-up program) and enjoying what I can, when I can.

Of Shanti Deva’s verses, this is the big one that connected with me, and I’m going to use as the foundation for my outlook on the rest of my time here because I’m sick of whining:

“So come what may, I’ll never harm my cheerful happiness of mind. Depression never brings me what I want, my virtue will be warped and marred by it.”

I’m not going to be ignorant to the truly fucked up shit around me, because I think that it is so important to be realistic. But oh my god. I’m sick of bumming my friends out when I chat or email with them and I have nothing good to say. I’m really sick of it. There is no way to be comforted in what is an inherently uncomfortable situation. And I am going to squeeze whatever I can out of this goddamned hillybilly heap.

It’s like Bobi’s booger. These things that bum me out, I just let them get to me. They get under my skin, big time, and I go to PTSD replay-ville. Which triggers every other humiliating and depressing and angry episode in my life. I would tell people: “There is no amount of money you could pay me to relive high school.” But here. I. Am. Feeling every bit as constrained and housebound, angry, depressed, helpless, misunderstood as I did when I was 15.

A lot of the time I feel like I’m in prison, really. And like, any episode that gets blogged is like a spike in the status quo of general prison suckiness. I’m sure fun and constructive stuff goes down in prison, like making shanks from objects furtively squirreled away and hootch brewed from fruit cocktail. But what really stands out in the mind when it comes to the whole character-building experience of imprisonment is feeling unsafe, the threat of getting raped, being preyed on by fellow prisoners, prison beatings, etc.

The biggest thing is that it’s my sense of entitlement that I had coming into this experience that really makes me feel screwed over, so I need to drop that in order to get on my merry way. Like, a lot of Very Significant Things happened the year before I left for Indonesia where I was like “fuck, I deserve a rad vacation.” I’m not one of those that cruise around with a grand sense of self-entitlement. I couldn’t even believe I was going to get to come here and live out this equatorial beach fantasy, it was like, unbelievable for me that I would get to relax for a year. Now that I’m thinking about it, my naïveté is kind of cute n’ funny in a pitiable sort of way. So this whole “I had a shit time, when do I get my break?” mindset is pretty much dropped anyhow, because really, to people on the outside, my whole life is a pretty rad break. Going to Indonesia, aka paradise, is a rad break. And there are some Darmasiswa students that have gotten dengue fever, wow, talk about prison beating. And I being pissed off at my Indonesian friends when they’re being obnoxious is like, well, at least I have Indonesian friends that aren’t the kind that just want a foreigner friend out of a blanket obsession with all things Western (but I think not being white contributes to this.) And when someone comes to jerk off on my front doorstep, well. I’m still trying to finagle a positive take on that one.

Another source of entitlement stems from the fact that there’s no one in charge of taking care of us at this University when this is a… Scholarship program? What? And then they take some of our money from us every month for “rent” when Mess is complimentary housing. In Indonesia, Mess is complimentary lodging sponsored by the premises where the mess is located. For instance, there was a VIP mess at the botanical gardens in Candikuning. At train stations there is Mess provided for conductors. The campus mess is for when students are working on projects well into the night and need a place to stay on campus. I would feel a little better about them (and I use them because I have no idea who it is that benefits from our monthly scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Jakarta) dipping into our monthly allowance to live here if they helped or provided for us somehow in the way of using water. But. They’re probably buying really dumb and tacky shit.

Actually, no wait. Hold on. It’s not so much a sense of entitlement as much as it is that I was deceived! I was DUPED. Because this IS a scholarship program, there ARE supposed to be people in charge, people within this program are supposed to be making sure that we are safe and comfortable and entertained, even. At the other schools, their providers take them on little all-expense paid excursions. Sometimes, even to Bali. Trang was telling me how her friends in Bandung are taken care of. It was totally discouraging and we both had to like, not get too bummed out thinking about how filthy our bathroom is and what little assistance we get from the Admininistration here.

Another thing about the school: I’m a little underwhelmed by the courses offered here. I thought I’d be making myself a better musician in my time here. But I find myself avoiding playing violin because I’m afraid it’s going to have a negative effect on my already mediocre playing. I’ve also promised myself that I am going to take lessons when I come back and get myself into shape.

And most of the teachers here only have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. There are instrument electives, and for those classes it’s like, the whole semester is spent on learning one song. Other bigger group classes are like, learn a handful of songs and perform them for the group. I haven’t much to say for the music in West Sumatra, unfortunately. There’s brass bells that have interlocking melodies, which is interesting. Randai is probably the most interesting performance West Sumatra has to offer, it’s theater, dance, martial arts and music combined. Sort of like a rhythmic musical. I’m really glad the theater department here hasn’t discovered Rodgers and Hammerstein. Because they would probably go nuts and perform Damn Yankees with really broken English with horrifically out of tune orchestra of 7 accompanying the motley cast, inappropriately costumed.

So, I can’t candy coat my experience here. But I can strive to be objective and share the differences here through my blog. It is going to take a lot out of me to put up with what goes down, but as someone told me before: I live for oddity.

Disappointment, I have to learn to tolerate. Lies, also I have to tolerate. Subhuman treatment, also I have to tolerate. Anger, I need to sit through and tolerate. Sadness, I need to endure. All of these things are daily lessons to varying degrees but occurring daily. And I can’t always win, they get the better of me. And it’s not that the external circumstances are bad, the external circumstances draw all of these emotions out. It’s not a loss if my blood pressure goes up and I want to punch someone’s face into the texture of baby food, not because it’s a justified rage. But I’m working on it, every day and I’ll have plenty more chances to not get pissed off in rage-inducing situations. So when I think of the people who go on meditation retreats in Northern New Mexico, I think: Pansies.

But this ridiculous situation is so me. The torment, agony, madness. And then moments of pure perfection of absurdity and the grotesque. There was a man with down’s syndrome who go out our bus to beg. He had a ukelele and started howling atonally while strumming the uke for an uncomfortable amount of time. My company was snickering like little jerks in highschool. I had the biggest smile on my face, becausw this is the shit that I live for. A moment in time that disappears in less time than it takes to be made, like a sand mandala. I had to be lured in by a university leeching money off the Indonesian government in this vast corruption scam, live on campus where the students are like the children of the corn in the mountains of West Sumatra, suffer the idiotic questions of curious voyeurs just to see this, and fuck it, it is worth it.

happy violence day

last night i started laying down tracks at 11 and i was done at 3 am.

we had to sleep on the floor of the stinky studio, the power went out in the studio so no a/c. and so many mosquitoes. lots and lots of mosquitoes.

some of my bandmates got up early this morning, i hate waking up. so i tried to squeeze as much sleep out of that stinky floor as i could. but then i dreamt that i’d shat my pants. a big poo-loaf, in my pants. and in my dream, right before the panic stricken hijinks are about to go down, i thought, “there is no way i can cover this up or deny this.” and decided it was best to get up, because i really didn’t want to know what happened next. and to be honest, wasn’t completely sure if it hadn’t actually happened in real life. (it hadn’t.)

indonesians are… well, very indonesian about recording. one major thing: no one turns their cellphones off. so you can ear that eht-eh-eh-eh-ehhhh-eh-ehhhht sound from a cell phone signal jamming speakers. *recorded* INTO the track.

and the way indonesians can just pass out when they want to, at any random time of day, anywhere, with whatever activity surrounding them, and then just get up and be fresh, will never fail to boggle my mind. currently, i have two dudes randomly sprawled by me. oop, there goes one, he was summoned and just got up. i don’t get it.

which brings to mind this: the whole “good sleep” being akin to “good health” is totally psychosocial. indonesians have the WORST sleep hygiene (sleep with the lights on, music blaring, sleep wherever) and they’re the merriest motherfuckers you could ever meet. i don’t understand. what kills them is hard work (no, i’m not being a jerk, calling indonesians lazy!) a guy last night was saying “i like football, but it scares me how all of the football players just… die.” i haven’t read up on any statistics on it or anything yet. but i guess the exertion just wears them out to failure way too quickly. which, i guess is why they like resting so damned much.

oh, here’s a valentine’s day story.

i was sitting at this cafe in bukittingi with b. who is about to leave padang panjang for good (not that she was really around all that much) for malaysia. this guy is sitting there with a cat on his lap, and she says “aw, she likes you.” i was like “dude, that cat is a male.” and she asked me how i knew, to which i replied, “because that cat has HUGE balls.” then the guy lifts up the cat’s leg and b. makes a kind of face like she’s stifling embarassed laughter, and the guy says “the cat has two big balls.” and then this: “he is a cat because he has two big balls. but if he has four balls…” right away i ask “what is it if it has four balls?” and in that earnest and educative way, he says “it’s a ghost, hantu.”

so there you go. a cat with four balls is not a cat. it’s a ghost. or like, a zombie-cat. so count them balls and be careful.

time compass

my headspace has been really swimmey lately. i think about and have been remembering everything. like a really slowed down version of seeing a person’s life flash before their eyes. except more agonizing. a lot of agonizing. god, it sucks. i’ve made an absurd amount of really embarrassing mistakes in my life.

and then there’s this survey, in a link i found in the mail app on my computer. from years ago, but i retook it. and well, the results pretty much told me that which i think about constantly.

if you want to take the survey yourself, here’s the link

reconfirmation, over and over again.

if you read my old blog, then you know that i’ve even posted this link there. like, years ago.

my eyes are burning because i’m in a section of a house that is really poorly ventilated and everyone is smoking like a chimney and there are all kinds of air freshners around. aaaaaaghhhh!

oh, the pop band i’m playing in is recording an album here. that pop band’s name is cheerie plus. you know, it’s supposed to the french word for sweetheart, but grievously misspelled so it only laughs in the face of the perpetual state of irritability that i have come to live with. i’ve endured a few soundchecks in indonesia now. and i’ll have to say: what the hell. so overdubbing (hahaha, freudian typo just now – overdumbing) is extraordinarily frustrating.

now my burning eyes are evolving into a headache.

it’s the epic of gilgamesh up in here

our mess flooded again today, the worst so far. i was stuck in the admin building, while adult indonesians were pointing and laughing at me as i ate peanuts… when i thought i couldn’t feel anything more like a monkey in a zoo. and now i am eating my words prior from my colorful racial epithet.

but you know, the racial slurs in times of war make sense. i mean, the people that piss me off want to be my friend. they’re not like, shooting at me. so, i totally get it.

anyway, so i got a text message from kristyna (which i didn’t hear) that i should come back right away. but i saw it about two hours two late. i borrowed a laughing indonesian’s cell phone because mine had ran out of credit, and the little bit of intuition and anxiety in me that had told me: “hey what if your room floods?” was spot on. because she said “i saw water coming out of your room.”

my dread lies in this: i had just done nearly all of my laundry. and packed my bag for bali, which i leave for on friday morning. this bag is chillin on the floor of my flooded room.

i come back, and the carpet that was in our sitting room was outside, totally destroyed from the water. and i got to my room and told kristyna as i was unlocking it: “please look inside and tell me if i need to cry.” thankfully, it was mostly dry, but only flooded on the side that my wardrobe was on. dry bag. thank. fkn. awllah.

i pulled the wardrobe from the wall, which was soaking. and also revealed the lizard turds that were now floating in nasty flood water. the dirty clothes waiting to be washed by my door acted as a miniature levy and protected my bag. oh thank god.

later that night, i was sitting there with trang eating noodles. just thinking about how different i would have been feeling if my bag had been soaked. just how very, very ruined my night would have been. how much laundry i’d have to do. washing over half of all my clothes by hand. tears in eyes. and how i wouldn’t have been able to get over it.

and i remembered an incident that i really couldn’t get over from last week.

i went to the pasar to buy some pants with this femme from my vokal tradisi class, bobi. he’s a chunky femme with his hair dyed auburn, a soft high-pitched voice and a swish when he walks. i tried to explain to him why i couldn’t wear pants five sizes too small and explained to him that the pants that he was trying to sell me at his mom’s shop were giving me a huge muffintop. he said “tidak papa, jackie.” which is like, no problem, or, hakuna mata. “because we’re fat, we’re always going to have muffintops. tidak papa, if you have muffintops.” he kept on using the plural of muffintop.

i bought the pants.

because i’m an idiot. and there’s no high pressure sales like the indonesians can push. and now i have pants that are five sizes (at least) too small.

anyway, we were walking back towards campus from the pasar, and with his swish and his softy femme voice is chit-chatting about this and that and then HOLYSHIT, he just turns his head a bit, finger to the side of his nose and launches a booger out of it.

the velocity.

the size of it.

i was totally, totally shocked. the sound it made. the casual manner in which he so artistically fired the thing out of his nose. whaaaaat the fuck. and he keeps on chatting, and i think, i must have made some kind of face because i was so shocked.

i’ve seen people do that here, no big deal. i didn’t even really think too much of the really petite girl wearing a jiljab from the dance department who hunkered down in front of our mess and started to hack up a really fucked up loogie in my direct line of sight.

but something about bobi’s booger-arrow. oh my god. we kept on walking, he’s just chatting (to himself at this point) and i keep on replaying it in my mind, incredulous. he stops at a store and says, “i’ll stop here, be careful on your way back.” and i say okay and i am thinking to myself “i can’t get over this, i can’t get over this.”

so i’m eating my noodles remembering bobi’s booger and i am like “wow, i can’t believe i’m thinking about this now.” and i have to pause a little so i can regain my composure to eat again.

so yeah, i would have been washing my laundry with tears in my eyes thinking “i need to trust my intuition, wish i’d hurried back sooner, why me, i can’t get over this, etc etc” in general not being able to get over it. but instead. i’m sitting on the mattress in the sitting room, trying to stomach my noodles, rehaunted by the video playback of bobi’s booger.

more planning, more packing, then i’m off the baaaaaaaaaaliiiiiiii!

This year is new

The other day it was 1.1.11 and I was massively hungover from drinking lots of Seahorse on NYE. The Indonesians call it “scotch” which like most things here, is misleading use of the English language. I was talking to M, who said “Oh yeah, that stuff has the proof of Night Train. It’s basically fortified wine.”

So you can only imagine the self-loathing I awoke with the day after.

There was one point in my life where I was obsessed with smoking Old Golds and drinking Wild Irish Rose. Which I was reminded of during my riiiil bad hangover yesterday.

New Year’s Eve was a weird one, probably the weirdest I have had in my life. I recently joined this band, Cheerie Plus. As in, like Chèrie. But it’s very laissez-faire with spelling here. So, Cheerie Plus. Which is funny considering how pissed off I am most of the time. I play violin and keyboard. My relationship with the violin is growing to be more and more complex all of the time. I want to rock, but unfortunately, I’ve become a violinist. And I hate being a one-trick pony. So on the one hand, I’m happy to play because it’s the one thing I get asked to play. But on the other hand, I totally resent that it’s the violin that I’m playing. Like, when I watch videos of people thrashing violin covers of System of a Down, I frown. I frowwwwwwwn.

I almost feel a little too pissed off to continue to write, but I’ve got to keep up with the blog.

Anyway, I was told about two weeks ago we were going to play 20 songs. WTF, that’s a lot. Then we’re in rehearsal and I see there’s like 23 songs on the setlist. Shit, that’s sucky. And then we start adding more songs. And then we’re supposed to play with this child celebrity singer. “Artist” is what they call celebrities here (again with the misleading use of the English language.) And then we’re supposed to play with this female singer. I’ve been told we’re playing a religious gig. And that I have to cover my head.

So I sat with my band and tried to explain to them that I consider myself a feminist, and don’t agree with the priniciples upon which the jiljab lies. In very shitty Indonesian. So what they got out of it is that I don’t like to wear feminine clothes and they totally nodded sympathetically and said “oh, tomboy*.” Right. So then I just said “I’m not muslim so I don’t want to cover my head.” So they said they’d talk to the folks organizing the gig about it. Which, I doubted they would. But it was a paid gig and people don’t understand principles here. Feminism is an idea which is way over everyone’s heads here. I know that seems condescending, but I’ve tried it on people and they’re like “oh yeah, you like to dress like a boy.”

Anyway, we played 9 songs total, and appeared on stage 4 times. The first time we were on, we played 3. Then 2 with the child celeb, 2 with the girl celeb, and then 2 rocking songs after midnight. After our first appearance, we were informed we had to tone our performance down. So the next two appearances we were seated. The last, I was able to take off my headcovering – a red kerchief I usually just wear around my neck – so I ended up looking like a retarded lesbian pirate when I had to put it on my head. Anyway, the last performance was pretty hilarious because the guys were jumping around and rocking out. And the woman running the show was dabbing at the sweat on her face looking totally agonized up at the stage trying to tell us to cut it out.

*Clothes here are really girly, as in, the kind of clothes that little girls would wear.

I’m going to Bali on the 7th to meet with my mom. It’ll be a nice vacation from this dump.

I was just standing around with some classmates today, class was canceled and they were just hanging out in front of the building, and this guy on a scooter who I’ve never met who was hanging with my friends asked me where I’m from. I said America. Which OF COURSE he didn’t fucking buy and told me “You’re not an American. Because you have Chinese-face.” Then I said I wasn’t Chinese, which he countered with “so you’re Japanese.” This particular social interaction that I have on a nearly basis never fails to piss me off, but the degree to which I get annoyed varies. But I manage to keep myself from mouthing off and calling them little brown monkey motherfuckers. Be horrified, but please understand how fucking burned out I am. And that there is no such thing as political correctness here, so it’s perfectly for them to be racist bastards. But since they don’t have reciprocal understanding of racism, to go there and call them brown monkey motherfuckers might rip a hole through their lackadaisical understanding that I am a foreigner devoid of emotion, thoughts, or an internal life. I exist, simply, to perplex and entertain.

The other night a classmate saw me holding snack cakes in my hand that a friend had handed to me and said “you can’t overeat, Jackie.” “Why not.” “Because you’re going to get fat.” OK. Fine, whatever dude. “I’m just drinking the water from this bag of snacks.” “Just don’t overeat. You’ll get fat.” OK. Fuck you too, buddy. Five minutes later, I’m still holding the same shit in my hand. “Don’t overeat, Jackie, you’re going to get fat.” I’m really glad I had a sadistic Korean mother obsessed with my fatness to train me for this endurance event. Or maybe my classmate was preparing me for my mom’s arrival in Bali. I can imagine us at a seafood buffet right now, my mom piling scallops onto my plate: “Jackie, you need to start exercising because you look so fat.”

I tried talking to another Asian American doing the same program as me, but she’s in Denpasar. With a shitton of rich white people around. It was a massively frustrating and disappointing experience, and I’m glad she’s around so many white people so she can keep up with her smarmy condescension. Because my ego is really in the dirt right about now. I have never been so aware of being a minority since Kindergarten when little kids would say shit about “ching chong eyes.” I’m glad political correctness has instilled a deep sense of guilt in white Americans. So that I can go about my business and not have people point things out like my Chinese face, slanty eyes, etc.

I’m bummed the fuck out and tired of people. Indonesians don’t know how to take “no” for an answer and I pity the fool who tries. Surely the curious Indonesian will ask you “why” until you say “yes.” To say that they are overbearing is putting it lightly. And I am frankly feeling like a piece of meat with Ching Chong eyes that can miraculously play the violin. And that I’m put in really fucking unfair situations with people. Like, I was going to help with this professor’s Master’s level exam at the end of December. But since people just don’t take shit seriously here (besides making sure that women are treated like children), the performance was moved to January. I’ve already made plans to meet with my mother in Bali in January, but I had people begging me to cancel. It’s not my fucking problem they have no concept of time here, and I’m not going to go back on my plans with my MOTHER.

But culturally, there are no boundaries here. That in combination with the no concept of time besides the present, is really fucking dangerous. And makes for a lot of drama. But in the cycle of samsara, we make our own suffering. I feel like I’ve been condemned to living her for a year because of all the dlisted I’ve read over the years.

When I think of Indonesia, I think of corruption, gossip and lies. People shirking off responsibility. Trying to blame the other guy. Bureaucrats who smile while lying to your face about really stupid shit: Mr. Middleman is supposed to send some document with my pictures attached to some office of the something or rather. But he’s lost the CD with my photos (on the red background) but he’s smiling and telling me that I must have forgotten how he’s given me back my photos already, so please, can I give him my photos? Just thinking about this interaction that’s gone down a few times already gives me enough energy I really believe my fist really could make it through his teeth and down his throat. This is human nature at it’s rawest, purest and most quintessential form.

My mind is blown on a regular basis. By shit that I see, by my own emotions on experiencing things.

I don’t think a veterinarian could come to Indonesia to relax. The animals here are in terrible shape. Pinkish dogs with liverspots and no fur, bitches with udders and vaginas that flop about when they trot around. Stretched out and put to heavy use from birthing so many litters. There’s this underdeveloped cat with some kind of fungal thing blooming all around it’s ears on campus. I went to the zoo in Bukit Tinggi. And I’m not die hard animal rights activist or anything, and I almost started crying because of the way the elephants are handcuffed. Literally unable to walk. And the big cats are miserably resigned to their horrible lives with rotting carrion and mud in their pens.

So I totally apologize for falling so far being on this blog, there’s a LOT missing. Seriously. Some beautiful moments. But for now I am burned out as fuck and basically never get time to myself.

There’s a song that I think of frequently, here. It’s Angeles by Elliott Smith.

Someone’s always coming round here trailing some new kill
Said I’ve seen your picture on a hundred dollar bill
What’s to you a game of chance is one
Of real skill
So glad to meet you Angeles

Picking up the ticket shows there’s money to be made
Go on lose the gamble that’s the history of the trade
Did you add up all the cards left to play
To zero
Sign up with evil Angeles

Don’t stop me trying now
uh huh uh huh uh huh
No one’s gonna fuck around with us

I could make you satisfied in everything you do
All your secret wishes could right now be coming true
And forever with my poison arms
Around you
So glad to meet you Angeles

Last night I was having these really intense dreams. That I was performing again, but I remember being partially conscious and thrashing around in my bed but also trying to cover my body with my hands because I felt like someone was in my room watching me*. Also something about being in the old house where I grew up. Somehow my mom was hoarding two of my dad’s corpses, and I saw their maggots setting on one of them. The other corpse was hidden somewhere. Anyway, I’m chalking up the dad-maggot dream to my dictionary being open last night while I was at dinner with my bandmate and seeing the definition of belatung – maggot (in corpses) – while I was eating.

*I also find it mildly unsettling that Kristinya asked me “did you hear something strange last night? Someone on our back patio walking around, trying to get into the kitchen through the back door? Or maybe I had strange dreams…” Basically around the same time I was having a weird dream of someone being in my room watching me, she was, too. Sometime around dawn. Which I guess goes to show that even the witch doctors here are every bit as much invasive voyeurs as the common Indonesian.

Last night, my bandmate was trying to convince me (in a really condescending fashion) over dinner that it’s okay if we hang out together alone. This mind you, is a commitment that I very grudgingly accepted. But he said he had to talk to me about the band. He spent maybe five minutes talking to me about the band. The rest of the time he tried to pull some guilt trip, that it’s not very American of me to be worried about what other people are thinking of me hanging out with some guy anyway. Because frankly, when I go somewhere and everyone starts cajoling the dude I’m hanging out with “hey, who’s that giiiiiiiiiiirl? Woooooohooooooo!” like they’re a bunch of middleschoolers is really irritating. I can’t describe what it’s like to walk into a place to eat or a store with a male, and have everyone turn around and start talking above you, about you. Looking at you while they’re doing this. But knowing that you’re helpless in responding. It’s a very dehumanizing situation, and I understand how people’s dogs feel when they are brought into bars. But I typically feel like a green and orange Great Dane.

Anyway. Maybe if he were better-looking I’d have less of a problem with being spotted around town with him and having ppl assume we’re an item. He’s trying to tell me he doesn’t like me, when he’s just some goofy 19 year old kid who gets that gaze and trips over shit and acts all awkward with me. I told him I don’t date bandmates but, he’s like “oh, it’s not a date when we hang out alone together!” But in the minds of Indonesians that see us together, we are. So I know he wants to be the cool guy with a foreigner girlfriend, even if it isn’t reciprocated from my end, but you can’t play a player.

Oh, I feel like Marlowe now, I can go on and on. Like blog which leads to an interminable vastness of internet – devoid of substance. Only opinion and the darkness of a consciousness limited by incomplete understanding.

Hell yes, the smell of garbage fire wafting in on the breeze. If I don’t come back with a variety of cancers due to the UV rays, garbage fires, besin (benzene?!) fumes, msg, cigarettes, questionable water and general toxic-toxicness… I will be surprised.

Happy New Year everyone. Continue to keep me in your thoughts, I will persevere and kick this year in the ass. Mostly because I have no choice but to stay here, hahaha. Fuck. Love to all, hope this year is far superior to all those that have passed.

and the fun continues

last night a random man came to campus on his scooter. he parked himself right in front of mess and started playing a porn flick on his handphone, aimed towards us and rubbing on his erection through his pants.

i was too disgusted to take his plate # and he was wearing his helmet so we couldn’t clearly see his face. we told him to get the fuck away.

the sickos know exactly where we live.

this story isn’t even a drop in the bucket.

but later that evening i was off campus at night watching a surprise wayang kulit performance with my classmates who i adore, which was beautiful.

an accurate prediction

before i left for indonesia, i was telling people:

“my life is going to be dramatically different from what it is now.”

boy, and that’s no joke. especially about the drama bit.

lemme rewind a little.

so before i left for sumatra, a friend told me i should get in touch with m., a former bassist in their band. little did i know how essential this contact would later become. i have no americans as a sounding board here, so just to be able to text or call a fellow american who has been in sumatra for years has been instrumental in keeping my sanity intact. m. has become indonesian, and there have been times when in talking to m. in perfect american english, i feel like i’m talking an indonesian. so having a friend whose mind is capable of thinking in both realms of cultural reality has been a godsend.

anyway, to the present.

someone started to send m. goofy text messages, starting last week. yesterday, m. called me saying that they had received a text at 4 in the morning in broken english. which followed up the next day with texts like, “i am a student at isi padang panjang.” “i know jackie ann from america who is of korean blood, rita from italy and oliwia from poland.” “i got your number from belda.” etc.

last week, a friend had invited me to their home for a muslim holiday. so it is highly likely that this “friend” took my phone while i just had it laying around and helped themselves to my text messages and phone numbers.

so, to be half a world away from close friends and family and to have this happen (when another indonesian had recently helped themselves to looking through the photos in my laptop, also very fun very cute) really fucking sucked.

i asked m. to send me the phone number, and sent anonymous a message that basically said this:

“you are an ignorant person who toys with others as a pastime. you must certainly be aware that what you’ve done is dishonest and bad. your conscience is sick. because of this, your life cannot be honest and you will never know true love. anyone you want to be close with will hate you because you are like this. this is no one’s fault but your own. i hope you want to become an honest person.”

i hate to get judgey on someone’s ass* but getting my FRIENDS involved in this perverted and voyeuristic prying is NOT fucking cool.

m. has not received any new messages from creepy mcshittypants. and the anonymous has not sent me a reply.

there are beautiful and positive things that happen here, but the really sucky things that happen are undeniable.

i’ve been listening to a lot of pema chodron’s teachings, and there is one teaching from shanti deva that i’ve written and put on the mirror to read in order to steel my nerves:

“the cause of happiness comes rarely, and many are the seeds of suffering. but if i have no pain, i’ll never long for freedom. therefore, o, my mind be steadfast.”

coming back to seattle is going to be a vacation from my “vacation.” at least, i hope it will be.

i’ve been helping a friend here translate dialog from the 30 minute film he directed for his final exam.

i’ve got my work cut out for me because, well. i’ve got the vocabulary of a 3 year old.

to have fluency in bahasa indonesia by the time i come back home is truly unrealistic. and besides that, there’s bahasa gaul, conversational indonesian. and also bahasa minang, the local dialect here which is heavily used. and i mean, heavily. when i’m around my indonesian friends and they’re speaking in minang i am utterly clueless. and when they want to include me, they slow down and use simple bahasa indonesia. which i don’t always understand, either.

which makes me realize how much of a genius my thai roommate is. she can read thai, arabic and indonesian. three completely different scripts.

maybe all of the learning explains why i have a headache every day.

i got paranoid about scurvy today, so i bought a bunch of oranges in the market (and got ripped off by the vendor, surprise!).

i generally feel very unhealthy here, must be the msg that is in EVERYTHING and the bensin (benzene?!) fumes. or maybe gas emissions from the nearby “dormant” volcano which i honestly don’t trust considering all of the natural disasters that have recently gone down in indonesia in rapid succession of one another.

i don’t think it’s right to have a persistent low-grade headache. but it’s incredibly common. the translation of the commonly used word for this persistent low-grade headache on the label on my eagle balm (indonesian tiger balm) is funny. “pusing” is translated as “giddiness.”

if i were to come back stateside and tell someone i’m feeling “giddy” whilst rubbing my temples and grimacing, i’m sure people are gunna think i really lost it. like, really.

time to say something nice:

i really love my gamelan bali class. it’s challenging and fun. but my ears hate it. my classmates laaaaaaaaugh at me when i use earplugs. it just cracks their shit right the hell up.

i also enjoy my talempong class. talempong are 6 brass bells in myxolidian mode, the arrangement of the bells vary according to the song.

there are so many classes here, i wish i could take them all, but unfortunately, i am only one person. and a very achy, low energy person at that.

i’m really loving malaysian music, and hope i can bring back a melayu drum home. i really love it, the songs are pretty… kinda middle eastern sounding.

i told a friend here that i was sick, so she asked her friend to help me. and i received one of the most painful deep tissue massages i’ve ever gotten in my life. i was wearing only a sarong and slathered in coconut oil while one girl was doing incredibly painful work on my leg while i’m yelling out strings of explicatives and two other girls laughing heartily and dabbing at the sweat on my forehead saying: “jackie’s giving birth! hahahahah!”

indonesians love to laugh, and so we’ve shared a bunch of good laughs over all kinds of wacky stuff.

*okay, so i really enjoyed getting judgey on that particular person’s ass.

we believe and we don’t believe

so basically, the past blogs are leading up this this: that i want to make absoutely clear that i am not living in paradise, and am not a vacation. not even a national lampoon style vacation, everything that’s happened so far is like. on the verge of grotesque absurdity that i can hardly believe what’s just happened.

BUT

i am wearing sandals all the time. which might be one of those qualifiers for being on vacation… OR jesus!

anyway, when i get home, i can’t wait to use this product called baby foot. and who doesn’t love that name for a consumer product? anyway, my feet get really dry and cracked, oh it’s really bad. but not nearly as bad as my sister (who is always wearing clogs sans socks) and my mom who goes barefoot on the brick floor of our house in albuquerque.

ok, so it’s been established: this is no vay-cay. and my feet are all effed up.

now what?

the people here have the most beautiful smiles. which is a big deal, considering i live in seattle where eye contact is avoided at all costs. everyone smiles.

this land is rough, really rough. there’s something about being on the equator that is strange. two days ago, nicholson was telling me that when he wakes up in the morning and is on the patio making phonecalls back to grenada, he notices that the clouds move in the opposite direction of the sun’s path across the sky.

i don’t really know where to start next.

i saw a dog today riding in the trunk of a car, wearing that face that dogs get when they ride in cars. indonesians are horrifed by the thought that people live with dogs indoors. so, right. i see this dog. as we’re passing by (on a scooter, dangerously close), i see that it is chained. like, with very little slack. and the lid of the trunk is held open by a piece of firewood wedged in there just so. the dog’s head is basically by the chunk of wood. so if the piece of firewood were to give, i’m pretty sure the dog’s skull would be crushed.

the other day i saw children flocking towards the man selling chicken and sausage on a stick. so, i asked my friend “hey, what’s that i wanna try!” and he said “oh, it’s for children only…” but indonesians love making people happy, so we go up to the vendor. the children throw crumpled up rupiahs at the meat on a stick guy, pick out what they have paid for, and put it into the frying oil. you know. with their fingers. and then they watch their meat on a stick fry. faces inches away from the oil. and then when they’re done frying their sticks, they pick them out. again, with their fingers. and then dip the sticks in chili sauce and run away, dripping chili sauce and oil everywhere.

if something like this went down in america, the guy would be like: “get the fuck away from that are you crazy?” or a parent would come up to him and be like “we’re at a school get the fuck away from here with your frying death trap!” but not so much in indonesia.

i’m working with limited time, but wanted to share that.

also, i’m listening to pema chodron religiously and hoping that her soothing, soothing voice will give me a little clarity in all this madness. it’s the cheerfulness practice.