The worst thing that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly. However, this is not a tragic situation, in my opinion. The happiest day of my life was many years ago when I was seventeen.

 

Salinger in”De Daumer-Smith’s Blue Period.”

Let me tell you a shitty story. I was seventeen, alright. Or eighteen–I barely remember–who remembers age when you feel like an alien inside a human body anyway. I was living and shit. Long story short

 

life was dumb and I was–

 

OK. OK. So I read somewhere some quote about Holden Caulfield. I believe it had something to do with acting mature and stuffs, something very relatable to me. It really was. Although now I’m ashamed to admit that. And that he thought everyone was phony. I was like, “Shizz man, this Holden Caulfield is me!” Nevertheless I was a phony too. The phoniest of the phoniests. I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was eighteen–and I was so proud with the fact that I read a classic literature that people of my age barely got their hands on. But it made you feel good, didn’t it? I thought, “Oh I am relatable to Caulfield. I have depression and I think he does too. Why are we so bitter and why do we think that people are phony?”

 

(As a matter of fact, I didn’t resemble Caulfield at all–I refuse to call him Holden because I have broken up this parasocial relationship ever since, he no longer is my pal–I read The Catcher in the Rye in the morning and evening at the time I commuted. Caulfield wouldn’t have done that–he would’ve observed people and said they were phony. I couldn’t care less about observing people.)

 

(I would flaunt to everybody that I had read The Catcher in the Rye and that I loved it so much.)

 

Our desire to be rescued is ridiculous, more so when we wish we were rescued by strangers and overromanticize this entirety of asymmetrical adoration. Two years later, I almost finished Sonny’s ouevre by getting my hands on Franny & Zoeey also Nine Stories. As a matter of fact, I have just finished Nine Stories right now. It was not a cataclysmic magnum opus, but it was perpendicular enough rendering me having an unfathomable desire to call him as I felt he was my friend already. But he’s dead. I think he’s the type of person who didn’t want his grave to be filled with flowers. I no longer felt the sentimentality I had felt when I was reading The Catcher but I was in RANCOR enough to write a letter to him–more like a litany. Wait, an anathema, I suppose:

 

January 21st 2015

 

Dear Mr. Salinger,

 

You may not know me ‘coz you’re dead and I’m still unluckily alive. I just want you to know that I have been your fan for the last two years and I’ve read three of your books that I could get my hands on in my country. They are The Catcher in the Rye, Franny & Zooey, also Nine Stories. I admire your works. They’re effortlessly magnificent. By saying effortless I didn’t intend to overlook your hard work that may not come to my knowledge. It must have been a magnificent affair. Kudos to your success in obfuscating them ‘coz they look so utterly effortless to me.

 

Upon admiring your works, however, I aspire to inform you that I regret that you drank so much alcohol when you wrote them that you killed the characters off. It made me so mad I wouldn’t mind courtesy in the next paragraph.

 

How dare you piece of shit play with my feelings. How dare you numb nut build up such tension, make me comfortable with the wordplay, relatable to the characters, and suddenly end the story in such a way that is very shocking and heartbreaking and you CASUALLY jump on to the next piece?!?! How dare you hide beneath the curtain of “short stories” to justify this kind of storytelling. You sonuvabitch are NOT responsible of the feelings invoked inside us. Why were you sack of fart famous, again? Oh, yeah, The Catcher in the Rye where you didn’t end the story responsibly too and you got AWAY with it. Mudafucka was a fucked up writer.

 

I love this fucked-up writer.

 

Pardon me and my profanity. I wouldn’t have done so if only you finished the stories responsibly.

 

However if you did, I wouldn’t have loved you.

 

There goes the dilemma.

 

P.S. I wish you all the best in your afterlife affair.

P.P.S. No need to reply this letter I’ll just crumble the paper and then post the content on the internet k.

P.P.P.S. Do you think there is a slight possibility that Caulfield was a phony too? I mean, phony phony. A phony who is so phony he could distinguish phonies from the sinceres. Also, would you tell if Caulfield would’ve liked me? Platonically, I mean. As a friend. I wanna have a camaraderie with him however he might tell that I am a phony. That kinda intimidates me.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

A.

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By the time I was writing this, it was roughly 4 hours after I finished watching Avenged Sevenfold’s live concert in Jakarta and I was just able to pull myself back up and re-adjust myself to my surrounding.

 

Man, are they awesome.

 

I’d liked them for eight years so I was getting really emotional when I knew they were coming here to Jakarta. I had no idea that five people’s presence could be so pervasive I practically was overwhelmed by their existence. There was some time that I FORGOT the lines in ALPOH–that I had usually memorized flawlessly–just because I felt so suffocated and I needed to breathe to calm myself down. I swore a lot as much as I praised the Lord a lot (yes I kept track of them–sometimes they both were formed in a single sentence I dare not say here due to its inappropriateness).

 

I got guitar pick thrown out by ZACKY VENGEANCE himself. Zacky Vengeance. The remarkable left-handed guitarist. One of the best in this entire world.

 

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I don’t know what to comment on their performance because they were just PERFECT and that word summarizes everything I need to mention about them. The crowd was crazy though, and I was in a love-hate relationship with them. I hate it when they tried to sneak to the front and steal my place and of course I am a strong woman who resisted all kinds of space-hogging by elbowing, yelling, and nearly punching. I have never been that barbaric in my entire life, usually I am a composed person. Wow. However, I love it when we raised our arms together with Matt’s lead, and in harmony sang together their songs that we knew so well. I love the chill I got when the crowd sang ALPOH with me. I can still feel the stingy sensation. I love it.

 

I usually take moving on as a no-brainer, however this one I’m not capable of. First of all, how dare they give me too much things to move on from. I don’t know whether I should move on from Matt Shadows’ irresistible dimples, Zacky Vengeance with whom I shared multiple eye contacts with, Synyster Gates’ quirky expressions yet still managed to pull his usual cool aura *), Arin’s not-so-newbie kind of shy and spirit, Johnny’s awesome hairdo that day, or everything altogether? Or when they started the awesome intro of Buried Alive? OR WHEN THEY CAME FOR ENCORE AND PLAYED A LITTLE PIECE OF HEAVEN MY FAVORITE SONG OF ALL TIME AND MATT ACTUALLY LED THE CROWD TO SING THE CHOIR PART?

 

It’s 5.29 a.m. now in Jakarta. Eight hours after their concert ended and I am still awake, listening to every song possible and remembering every bit of it. This is a decision I’ll never regret although I need to recalibrate myself and remember who I am again. But it’s worth it. Avenged Sevenfold is worth it. I have watched concert of one of the greatest contemporary bands and I’ve sung to the choir part of ALPOH with Matt leading it–my life is complete with these anyway.

 

*) he made cute faces when playing with his guitar such as raising one of his eyebrows despite his reputation for being a cold-hearted looking member. OMG he’s getting hotter and hotter the more you see him.

 

P.S. : For the upcoming one week, please understand if you try to talk to me but I just stare at a blank space instead, as well as being hysteric if you mention something remotely resembles “Avenged Sevenfold.”

This post is one month late and heralds the resuscitation of the blog. As a background, I had never dreamt of going on a trip. Abroad. Alone. But the last exchange term allowed me to being acquainted with amazing other exchangers from other countries who told me these stories of them going on solo trips. Okay, so I was challenged to go on solo trip myself I stressed myself out pondering this choice (anyway, I came to a paradox that pressing yourself to go on a vacation actually defeats the purpose of having vacation itself which is to release yourself from stress, but let’s leave this subject for another day). It then topped my bucket list.

 

So, one night, getting exhausted from doing my final essay, I went checking ticket price in a failed attempt to release stress (NUS essay requirements ARE CRAZY, you know) and guess who impulsively bought the ticket immediately????

 

it me

 

Bought a one-way Singapore-Phnom Penh ticket on December 20th, and another one-way ticket from Ho Chi Minh-Singapore on December 27th for almost S$180! The ticket to Phnom Penh was supposed to be cheap though like S$70-ish, however thanks to Singapore’s ridiculously expensive airport tax, it went up to be S$120-ish. The ticket from Ho Chi Minh to Singapore cost me only S$59 which was a very good deal.

 

I chose Cambodia and Viet Nam for some reasons: 1) they’re cheap and I was (am) a poor student, so that explains, 2) for a first-timer solo traveller, going to countries with similar cultures that feel familiar sounds safer and hence logical. Both Cambodia and Viet Nam are in South East Asia and based on my observation of Indonesia, Singapore, going to Malaysia and Thailand, they had felt familiar so I assumed it was safer to try my beginner’s luck in SEA countries, 3) going there from Singapore was cheaper compared to going from Indonesia (despite the airport tax), so I didn’t want to regret not going to countries close to Singapore, and 4) my exchange friends had gone there during recess week so I felt kinda competitive LOL. And the reason why I chose Ho Chi Minh and not Ha Noi was because the ticket price was cheaper to Ho Chi Minh and plus it was more feasible to reach it from Cambodia via bus, while Ha Noi is far way up there in the north side of Viet Nam, so Ho Chi Minh, which still shares borders with Cambodia, sounded a more reasonable place to go to at that time (though I wouldn’t resist going to Ha Noi some other time in the future–I heard it’s very beautiful!).

 

My journey was an 8 days and 7 nights journey and divided into 3 parts: Phnom Penh trip, Siem Reap trip, and Ho Chi Minh trip.

 

Phnom Penh : November 20th-22nd 2014.

I arrived on Phnom Penh International Airport on evening. After finding a hotel, I chose to not go anywhere on the first day because I was too tired from the flight (had to transfer in KLIA and for that I waited for 2 hours). So I enjoyed Cambodia the day after.

 

I hired a tuk tuk for my trip the entire day plus taking me from airport to the hotel for US$30. Why, I felt ripped off too. But turned out it was a normal price if you went alone, it would have been cheaper if I shared tuk tuk with other people. So, lesson learned: better go to Cambodia with friends if you wish to save some money. They had no recommended public transportation (seriously, I had done my research thoroughly but nobody mentioned taking public transportation in Cambodia! I wonder why) so it was either I took tuk tuk or taxi, and the latter one would obviously have been more expensive. You have to haggle too.

 

On my second day in Cambodia, I went to recommended place in Phnom Penh: the legendary Killing Field. It was depressing for me. Thousands of civilians were killed during Pol Pot regime, and I wasn’t a big fan of seeing the field where innocent kids were killed. It was pretty upsetting, but I learned a lot about Cambodian history. The place radiated this grim mood so if you get easily touched by sentimental, saddening story, I recommend save your US$6 and go somewhere else. The monument where they store the remaining skulls of the victims was pretty neat. We were also required to respect the souls of the deceased, of course.

 

Killing Field the monument

Killing Field the monument

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The tuk tuk driver took me to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum afterwards. It is also famous as the S-21–a secret prison where Pol Pot regime tortured his own people. I can’t remember the entrance ticket price since I went there for free–yeay for students discount (just say you’re a student and show your student card), but I guess it was around US$3. Like Killing Field, they still kept the remnant of the dark years intact. You’ll see rooms with torturing tools and machines there. Graphic pictures were there in other rooms where they displayed photographs of the victims as well, explaining how the torture procedures were done. In another building, they displayed the perpetrators of such heinous war atrocities, testimonies from the survivors, as well as their history, letters they sent to each other, and other details from the genocidal years.

 

Afterwards, the tuk tuk driver drove me to the national museum. They displayed a lot of Buddha statues there! To be really honest I didn’t find anything special nor new here because during my trip to some other countries I’d seen similar stuffs, although it is always interesting to see cultures influenced by Buddhism.

 

Cambodian National Museum

Cambodian National Museum

 

The next day, since I’d visited the most recommended places to go to in Phnom Penh, I chose to just stroll around and enjoy some tranquility. I heard the Silver Pagoda was near my hotel and I planned to go there but for some reasons I couldn’t find it. But it was okay, strolling around was more than enough for me. Plus, in Phnom Penh they had this shocking amount of pagodas! It was really satisfying. I saw tops of pagodas basking in the sunlight as I walked nonchalantly by. What a way to start your day.

 

Tops of pagodas basking in the sunlight

Tops of pagodas basking in the sunlight

What you see if you stroll around Phnom Penh

What you see if you stroll around Phnom Penh

 

Later on, I went to Central Market, a HUGE market where they sell various stuffs. A lot of locals shopped there. I went there to buy some souvenirs. Saw this “I Survived in Cambodia” shirt for only US$3, and after haggling I bought it for only US$2 (!!!!) I planned to wear that shirt once I finished with my trip to show to my friends that I survived that solo trip, LOL. However, I felt like the souvenirs that I bought (a miniature of Cambodia) were the result of a rip-off. I bought it for nearly US$10, while in Malaysia I had bought similar stuff for roughly US$5. I guess when you go on a solo trip there’s this moment of buffering where you are nice to everybody and don’t want to haggle that much (although in the end of the trip I turned to be a cruel haggler, be careful of what solo trip does to you).

 

When it was 6 p.m., I had to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap! I was so excited for Angkor Wat. I took a night bus to go there. I forgot how much exactly it cost me, but it surely was around US$20. It wasn’t the most recommended bus company though, so if you want safety, prepare some more dollars to purchase a high quality ride.

 

There went my amazing trip in Phnom Penh. Originally I intended to cram the entire 7 days trip into one post but I guess it would just be a very heavy post, so I’ll just write about my Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh journey some other time.

I know I have been abandoning this blog for almost 4 months, I know, I know. My bad. School occupies me and life has been reaching out to me so I need to reciprocate.

Anyway, I’m thinking of making posts about short stories inspired by songs that I like. What do you guys think about that? The first that I’m thinking right now is the rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. I’ll start working of that…..soon.

In the mean time, pardon my absence. It’ll take a while. I enjoy life, I hope you do too.

See you in a foreseeable future!

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Three stories interwoven together in an accident, in a random city named Jakarta, in a random night. Gia (Adinia Wirasti) just got back from New York only to find out that the old Jakarta she had been missing had totally changed. Even her former best friend and lover back then in New York, Naomi (Marissa Anita) also succumbs to the same peer pressure to glue eyes on Blackberries and eat rainbow cakes, as well as consuming everything imported. Indri (Ina Panggabean) is a towel girl at a gym who tries so hard to climb the social ladder by trying to date a rich man who she met in a chatroom. Also, only to be disappointed at whom she meets. Ci Surya (Dayu Wijanto) is recently widowed due to the passing of her husband, until she finds out that her previous husband cheated with a love hotel singer named Sofia (Dira Sugandi). Three stories are resolved in a love hotel named “Lone Star.”

 

“Selamat Pagi, Malam” which also goes with “In the Absence of the Sun” is a cinematic ode to Jakarta, a city we often love and hate simultaneously. It offers honesty about what Jakarta is, both disgusting and sweet slices. From the snob urbans to a sweet restaurant waiter. It shows the bitterness of urbanization and it criticizes Jakartans obesession with everything imported, but at the same time still shows that despite all that, Jakarta is still a sweet place to seek for love and friendship. It does not preach the audiences, it honestly describes what Jakarta is up to right now. The biggest compliment must go to how the storytelling goes; it is not overdone. It’s not effortless non nonchalant either, but the dosage of sentimentality is just right. Sentimental enough (through the songs and the background of the characters) to make the audience dissolve into the story, but not forcing it to the extent of flowery words. That’s just it. Three Jakartan women who can’t find love, and they don’t just blurt tears, but the silence and the awkwardness are enough to absorb us.

 

Telling three different stories that somewhat must be jointed in a film is not an easy task. “Selamat Pagi, Malam” is simple enough for audience to understand what the movie is about yet complicated enough to make the story strong and the characters develop. It doesn’t rush the audience through all three stories; all is done in a nice pace that does not tire the audience. It’s a good thing that Director Lucky Kuswandi gets the exact tone, colour, and pace to this picture that makes it outstanding.

 

“Selamat Pagi, Malam” is not yet perfect. The conversations still feel dry sometimes. Jakartans don’t talk like that most of the time. Hopefully the exaggerated portrayal about Jakartans behavior is just a satire and not exactly how the filmmakers wanted to frame how Jakarta really is, because it’s too much, audiences will sure cringe seeing the excessive urban culture references offered in this movie. Blackberries use has waned, and is rainbow cake that overrated? As someone who has lived in Jakarta whole her life, I can assure you that although the urban culture is somewhat annoying, it is not as explicit as told in the movie. Hopefully, the way urban culture is portrayed is the only easy way for the filmmakers to convey the message that Jakartans behave like that, without wasting too much time, if not for the satire–I’d so love it if that meant to be a satire, though.

 

Being an embroidery of Jakarta citizens’ slice of life story, “Selamat Pagi, Malam” is one of a kind. I rarely enjoy Indonesian movies but “Selamat Pagi, Malam” entices me to love it as I love the night–a grandiose view that makes me wish I were somehow in love.

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