there are things that i just don’t have to say that i want to say anyway.
here’s one: if i knew now what i didn’t know then, i wouldn’t have done things differently.
i had a dream very early on that i went home back to seattle and i was hanging out with a friend i haven’t really seen in a very long time. i was in their house but for some reason my stuff was there, so i was like “oh hey cool, i can grab some of my stuff and take it back to seattle.” i went down stairs with an armful of shit and got to the car to put my stuff inside and realized that i left most of the things i wanted to take upstairs. my friend had already left with the key. and i was in a panic. and then i woke up.
another one is where i only have a few hours to grab all the things i want. i’m in a panic and i am trying to remember what i want. i have to leave very very soon otherwise i will miss the plane. i realize i forgot to bring the stuff that i don’t need in indonesia. my mother is there, screaming like a banshee at me because i’m going to be late. i wake up.
right, so my dreams are fun. i also feel very american dreaming about “stuff.”
last night i dreamt in indonesian. people say that you are beginning to become fluent in a language when you dream in that language. but the dream was of me not understanding a word of what anyone was saying and struggling to communicate.
when i was working at dick’s, all the employees had to work one weekend closing shift back to back with a weekend opening shift. so once a week i’d go to school then to work, go home to get shitty sleep where i’d dream about work, go to work feeling like shit, and then be dazed when i was off, my concept of time fucked sideways.
that’s what last night (and most nights) are like. so if you can imagine, i hardly feel well-rested after sleep here.
if you told me a year ago that i’d be waking up at 8 in the morning watching justin bieber video after justin bieber video, i’d tell you you were crazy.
this happened on a home visit. clearly i didn’t wake up at 8 upon my own volition. or watch the justin bieber videos of my own volition (i can’t not watch tv when it’s on, it’s really bad – like a more cooperative version of the beethoven’s 5th scene in a clockwork orange.)
what i’ve understood so of indonesians is that they are a tireless people. they don’t get tired. even in this equatorial sunshine, they’re fresh. disproportionately fresh to how little sleep they’ve gotten: hop into bed at 2 and hop back out at 6 looking and feeling great. it’s mind-boggling and somewhat troubling to me. when my hosts were like “jackie! wake uuuup!” i told them in my broken indonesian how i don’t understand how indonesians go to bed so late and wake up so early. with a hearty laugh, what i was told was this: “because indonesians are from another planet!”
i was mildly disturbed of course, because i was beginning to suspect the same.
we had the neighbors from hell for a while. in mess 6, a shitton of students were staying there during orientation/freshman hazing. i made a field recording of it, and it’s fucking hilarious because it sounds like they are IN our mess. and they’re cackling, discussing, scootering, shuffling around in flip flops… very active. at about 3 in the morning. and they (to my knowledge) are not under the influence.
later, i learned that in mess 6, they only have two mattresses. kristyna and i joked that the reason why they are up all hours is because they have to sleep in shifts on account of the mattress shortage.
indonesians can sleep through anything. in a room that is fully lit by flourescent light with tv on really loud and people talking really loudly. as they would say… “no what-what!”
i’ve gotten sick again. there is a bacterial circus act going on inside of my body.
being incredibly homesick doesn’t help. at all.
i had no idea i would be nearly as homesick as i am now. and so early in the game. it’s hard not to feel dismayed by this development. when i was talking to louis about a week ago, and how shitty life is here, he said “you got this.” i remembered it later on and i almost totally lost it. no, actually. i don’t. and i want to go home. now. just for like, a week. a vacation from this fucked up mess. i swear i’ll come back to the dump otherwise known as padang panjang.
to say that i want to key the car of the corrupt asshole who is supposed to be taking care of us but doesn’t is somewhat of an understatement. i want to pour sugar in the gastank and light the thing on fire. while his family is inside.
ok. i can really understand how headhunting was a tradition for so long in sumatra. it makes sense.
i was walking up the road back to school the other night with paul and hidayah. some dude sitting at the flip flop shop yelled out, “hi jekky!”
i don’t know how this guy knows my name and i have no idea who this person is. which is to say… he knows exactly who i am, and wants me to acknowledge him even though i have no fucking clue who he is. in this moment, i am creeped out and wanting to cry because i am already feeling very homesick.
i don’t know how people get my FUCKING number and tell me “good night” and “good morning sweetie!” at very odd hours when i VERY SPECIFICALLY tell people not to give my number to others.
today i was really feeling shitty, but i had to get my passport scanned and just dreaded the walk to the karawitan (traditional music) department building. the eyes. hearing my name yelled out. the dread.
if i don’t come back a twitchy paranoid misanthrope, i will be a really. really. happy girl.
i realize i’m in southeast asia, but there’s somewhat of a misconception going on that it’s a vacation over here. because it’s not. i don’t know the language and there are no classes* for me to take. for some unpredictable amount of time at some point during the day, there is no water. sometimes i don’t have electricity. i don’t have close friends here like i do in seattle. i don’t have privacy. people are constantly trying to get my attention. i can’t be alone and i feel incredibly lonely.
but then there’s the tradeoff. if you told me a year ago that i’d be riding a dumptruck on an undeveloped road in west sumatra to go eat a communal meal off of a banana leaf, i would have told you you’re crazy.
but i wonder if having bragging rights to these singular experiences is really worth the squalor and the spirit breaking i have to go through during the day. spirit breaking like being in a group of indonesians and one of them saying: “when you first arrived you were chubby, now you’re slim… what happened, did you get sick?” no, actually, i’m not going to get engaged in a group conversation about my painful bacterial diet.
and also, the tradeoff isn’t proportional, either. the dump truck ride was ten minutes long. me having to be stuck in a really shitty living situation is every day for a year. i don’t want to do the math for how many minutes that approximately comes out to.
and i was trying to visualize the graphic representation of the loneliness/social exposure phenomenon here. i find that i am completely surrounded by people at all hours. but anyways, it would be like the supply and demand curves.
and i need to remind myself that desire is the root of all suffering.
when i was on my home visit, my host pointed to the mountains nearby.
“these are the ghost forest.”
“why ghost forest?”
“oh, because if someone goes in the forest, they don’t come back.”
“what about a group of people?”
“if we go into the forest a group of ten, only eight will come back. a person or two will get lost*.”
he didn’t have to tell me that. anytime i look at the jungle here, i get creeped out. it’s freaky beautiful, yes. but the consumptive energy of the jungle is salient.
*which is actually saying a lot, because indonesians are incredibly aware of each other’s current location.
i’ve tried to keep track of things, so i don’t forget. i spent a year in france in high school and i think my depression-addled brain getting it’s first taste of freedom was overloaded. i don’t remember as much as i feel i should. i keep on writing this same line in my journal, and for some reason i keep on thinking i haven’t written it yet:
“i wonder how much i’ve already forgotten.”
here are some things i want to remember:
a chicken in the back seat pocket on the bus (i don’t remember from where but i think it was coming back to padang panjang). i watch it’s reticulating eyelid close, the frail, wrinkly pink skin. it is in a black plastic bag that you’d get at a corner store. the old man who is taking it to the market is dozing off, wearing a muslim cap. it’s making beautiful little chirping, cooing sounds from it’s throat without opening it’s beak.
on a bus when it is already dark, i am sitting in the front with a friend. we are crammed in the front, four of us including the driver. the man sitting next to me has crippled legs. we’re travelling at normal speed, maybe at like 35 mph. there’s something lying in the road, and i see it’s eyes glint because it is looking at us as we go hurtling towards it, it’s a tabby cat and it stretches it’s paw towards us and the bus is big enough to if we did roll directly over it we wouldn’t have felt it at all. my heartbeat shoots up because i know that we pretty much just killed something. but i felt like it was looking right at me. and it looks like it put it’s paw out, mercy.
we are going to take the bus to solok but there is a young boy of about eight by the side of the road shrieking and crying hysterically. a crowd of people are around him trying to calm him. i can see the boy’s arm, something has happened to him because there is a giant scab or something. the boy we are with on the bus says, “trauma, he can’t go on mobiles or bus.” the boy and his mother sit in the front. he falls asleep immediately and we travel peacefully.
me and a friend are walking towards school and we see a kitten in the road, just sitting there. we watch in horror as scooters pass by it, it tries to stand but it can’t, really. then we essentially and freak the fuck out as a bus passes over it. we’re frozen in shock and an old man in a nearby store picks it up by the scruff. it’s hind legs are curled up. the old man walks off with the kitten, holding it up to eye-level. i don’t know what happens next.
i’m sitting in a bus, crammed in with about 30 people. the bus we’re in is a little smaller than a suburban. there is a man hanging out of the open door. i saw a school bus go by the other day. this was a local bus, so about the size of one of those small boxy toyota vans. there were school boys hanging out of the open door, just holding onto it. it was raining.
there is a vibrating black mass in the bathroom. i think i know what it is based on it’s vague fuzzy shape. i shoo the ants away, and sure enough. it’s a lizard tail.
and there’s so much i’ve already forgotten. and it’s so impossible for me to write in my journal to remember because i can’t find the time to be alone. it’s expensive to be in the internet cafe frequently, and the bad man in the office who neglects us yanked the whole free wifi thing from under us without telling us.
so this is a whole lot at once.
being here has already warped my mind, and i just realized it last night.
nicholson had a short video clip about grenada, just a little “intro to grenada” to encourage tourism.
i watched it and felt a strange question welling up inside of me. which i knew i was influenced completely by living in indonesia.
“nicholson, i’m about to ask you a strange question… but are the beaches in grenada really that clean?”
there’s garbage EVERYWHERE. watching indonesians littler is a little heart rending. when the time comes where i am finished with something and there’s no place to throw it away, i have to hand it to an indonesian who can chuck it into the beautiful landscape with no looking back. and now i can’t imagine anyone living in a tropical paradise and not just thowing plastic cups out the bus window or burning piles of garbage. i just. can’t. but i can’t bring myself to do it.
the other day i was in the bus, crammed in, as per usual. my host is a big boy. he is shaped like a meatball and sweats when he eats, his eyes are squinty on account of his chubby cheeks. he does the thing that people do, the urgent nudging “look at me, watch me, look, look!” like, when he’s just saying something. or demonstrates how to eat something (that doesn’t need demonstration) or, or. i find myself becoming mildly annoyed on account of the prodding and questioning: “are you going to *poop* now?” (his eyebrows go up and there is an up inflection in his voice when he says poop). he makes me look at him when he sings really bad pop love ballads: “it’s because of you”.
so, we’re crammed in the bus and his sweaty tit is nuzzling the back of my armpit.
and i realize, we are one.
so i kind of feel like i’m in prison now.
the other day i got this idea in my head that i was going to give myself a stick n poke tattoo. that coupled with the persistent smoking and coffee guzzling makes me feel like i’ve never been more of a seattlelite than now. i just had to go to the jungle to have seattle sink it’s claws into me.
i have meth head skin on account of all the mosquitos that keep on biting. i’m allergic so it’s sooooo hard for me to not scratch the bites. i’m trying to eat more bitter food so the mosquitos stay away. but. we’ll see.
when i think of how people were saying “your skin and hair are going to be so beautiful there,” i scoff. people have some of the worst complexions here, and i’m sure it’s on account of the burning piles of garbage and whatever else seeps in the water.
the “gas stations” here that sell “gasoline” say “bensin.”
i wonder if “bensin” means “benzene.” aka the known carcinogen that is outlawed in the united states. just wondering.
i love you all, please pray for me while i am here. i could use all the spiritual backup support i can get. it’s easy to get bummed out here, everything helps.